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TCU rises 20 places on influential U.S. News & World Report ranking

St. John's College in Annapolis, Md., has long disdained the rankings game. The liberal arts school, which focuses on the great works of Western civilization, was known for not responding to requests from U.S. News & World Report for information that the magazine uses to sort the nation's colleges.

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New arena at Will Rogers takes shape


The proposed Will Rogers Memorial Center arena continues to take shape as voters head for a Nov. 4 election to decide whether to approve new taxes to help pay for the $450 million facility.

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Fort Worth-based Woodmont plans $80M Hard Rock Hotel retail center

Woodmont Outlets of Fort Worth, an affiliate of The Woodmont Co., has partnered with Cherokee Nation Businesses for a proposed upscale retail development at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

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Barnett still packs economic punch, study finds

Despite reduced drilling and unstable gas prices, Fort Worth continues reaping the rewards of the Barnett Shale, according to a newly released study by The Perryman Group.7

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Cooking Class: Fort Worth chef brings home the gold

Toques off to Timothy Prefontaine. The executive chef at the iconic Fort Worth Club is currently the best in the nation, according to the American Culinary Federation. Prefontaine earned the title of 2014 U.S.A.’s Chef of the

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Review: 'The Great Gatsby'

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"The Great Gatsby" stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the glamorous, elusive billionaire; Toby Maguire as his modest, admiring neighbor Nick Carraway; Carey Mulligan as Daisy; and Joel Edgerton as Daisy's husband, Tom Buchanan.
Credit: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Tom Charity

Special to CNN

(CNN) -- "Great Gatsby" director Baz Luhrmann isn't the type to be cowed by literary pedigree, not even that of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

His movies, including "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet," are like watching a three-ring circus. They revel in surface, spectacle and sensory overload. They're audaciously, passionately artificial and at the same time unabashedly romantic -- post-modern pop medleys aimed at the heart, not the brain.

Perhaps Luhrmann even identifies with Fitzgerald's Jay Gatsby; after all, they're both decadents.

But Fitzgerald wasn't Gatsby, and Gatsby could never have written such a novel. It takes an observer like Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) to distill the finer sentiments from this sorry tale of the super-rich, and Luhrmann isn't that. He's an extrovert who wants to thrill us and immerse us in his giddy daring. The last thing he wants to do is sit back and watch.

There are no two ways about it: "The Great Gatsby" is misconceived and misjudged, a crude burlesque on what's probably American literature's most precious jewel.

Warning bells go off right from the first shots of a CGI version of New York's Long Island. The camera is in a state of constant agitation, while the actors -- and they're good actors -- seem to have been instructed to vamp. Either that, or they decided it was the only way to compete with the film's garish hot deco.

But let's give Luhrmann his due: The man does cut a good teaser. The idea to swap Scott Joplin for Jay-Z and ragtime for rap was a bold and brilliant choice. Casting Leonardo DiCaprio as the glamorous, elusive billionaire Gatsby and Maguire as his modest, admiring neighbor was right on.

Carey Mulligan as Daisy wasn't as inspired. She gets the sadness of the character but not the flip side of her personality, and she's just not a bright enough spark to keep Gatsby's torch burning for so long.

And shooting in 3-D? Look at "Hugo" and "Life of Pi": It could have worked.

Yet Luhrmann seems utterly bamboozled by the technique, as if it's thrown off his rhythm. The early scenes especially are likely to induce motion sickness, and not just because Nick is getting drunk on New York's high society. We know Luhrmann can throw a wild party, but the movie doesn't build or grow; it just keeps hitting the same high notes until we go numb to the din.

And if he's lost in the loud revelry, Luhrmann is completely out of his element in the more intimate scenes. The reunion between Jay and Daisy is played for laughs (and it gets a couple, too), but Luhrmann shortchanges whatever it is that pulls these lovers together. For such an elaborate display of courtship, it's a remarkably unsensual affair.

Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" will endure this indignity as surely as it outlasted previous versions with Alan Ladd and Robert Redford. It's a shame, though, since the novel's depiction of a society dancing on the edge of a precipice is so timely. It's hard not to feel angry at the waste.

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Arena
What do you think of the new plans for a new Will Rogers arena and changes at the Convention Center?