From The Vault Of Art Shay: Gatsby In Real Life
(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week, Art reviews The Great Gatsby and shares photos of real life parallels to F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic.)
We've all been on what most of us Bronxites used to call tender-hooks, waiting for the reviews of the crazy mixed-up Colossus of the Jazz Age — Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
The latest Gatsby iteration is a minor masterpiece by a wildly talented Australian theatrical joy boy of our time, Baz Luhrmann. Baz was playfully given his Israeli nickname by his now late father Leonard, a farmer and movie theater operator in the small Aussie town of Heron Falls. His mother, Barbara Carmel, was a dance instructor and preferred his real moniker "Mark Anthony." Baz's work is so controversial one critic recalls being so bored by his Moulin Rouge that, when someone's pocket phone went off, he was thrilled that something surprising had at last happened in the theater.
All the other reviewers suggest that (even in the non 3D version now sharing screens at our multiplexes with its flatter twin), Gatsby is a pleasant but flawed work of barely three stars. But in these days of cars flying around and metallic men hinting that titanium sex is just out there beyond the green light on Daisy's what's up dock, in the coming now that refuses to be swallowed by the recently departed present or something, it may be on its way. Carrie Mulligan dances her way into tinsel town as the best flapper since Joan Crawford high-kicked Walter Huston to the sack in that India mission.*
(*Ed. Note: Art is referring to Rain, a 1932 film starring Joan Crawford and Walter Huston. —CS)
Go see it for being a cinematic toy box of the Twenties, built shakily atop one of the great visual literary masterpieces of our time, midway in the career of an unstoppable director from Heron Falls, New South Wales, who has also directed Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Baz's genius is for showing, not telling. How he must have squirmed showing sexy golfer Jordan Baker responding to a private command appearance by Gatsby-rather than leaning on the brilliant-made-for-movies- text: "She got up slowly, raising her eyebrows at me in astonishment and followed the butler toward the house, I noticed that she wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes-there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon golf courses on clean, crisp mornings."
If you can't wait until this time every Wednesday to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.