The city had been buzzing for months about Warner Brother’s remake of one of the greatest American classics “The Great Gatsby”. Anywhere you went it would be of no surprise to hear people speculating regarding this film by an award-winning Australian director Baz Lurhman starring Leonard DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire and Joel Edgerton.
The first official screening on May 6 was hosted by Margaret J. O’Connor of MarCon Communications and held at the AMC River East Theatres.
The guests, comprised of many of Chicago’s notables, arrived decked out in their finest Gatsby inspired threads. Before the film started Margaret O’Connor thanked the sponsors and their guest for attending, and thanked the underwriting sponsors: Warner Brothers, ReachMail and Michael O’Meara DDS.
As the film was mostly shot in Australia it was only fitting to have a brief introduction by Lorenzo Strano, Deputy Consul-General of Australia in Chicago. He welcomed guests and spoke of the beautiful scenery depicted in the movie. Following Strano’s greetings, Bill Zwecker, entertainment columnist for Sun-Times and entertainment contributor for FOX News, spoke of his encounter with Mia Farrow; where she mentioned her excitement of the remake and the film director’s fresh interpretation of the book. Zwecker then introduced Chaz Ebert, who spoke about her late husband and their mutual anticipation of seeing this film. She concluded by adding that the book, The Great Gatsby, holds a special place in her heart as Roger and she had an excerpt of it read at their wedding. Before returning back to her seat she embraced Bill Zwecker as the room fell silent for several seconds during this emotionally filled moment.
Although I did not have an opportunity to personally meet Roger Ebert, I looked forward to his reviews, albeit not always in agreement with them. His reviews were insightful and would at times spark my interest in some of the overlooked films. I wonder what he would have thought about this remake. Would it be “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”?
I found this movie entertaining with beautiful scenery, enticing us to visit Australia. On the other hand, this film felt exaggerated, where style over ruled substance. The music, produced by Jay Z,failed to transport me to the era, but rather felt misplaced. Perhaps this was the Luhrmann’s intention all along?
Following the movie, the evening continued with guests making their way to Maxim’s, known for its striking décor, an exact replica of the famous Parisian restaurant. When it opened its doors in 1963, it quickly became one of the hottest spots favored by celebrities and Chicago’s elite. This venue is now owned by the City is only available for private events.
Upon arriving to Maxim’s, parked under the grand canopied lighted walkway awaited a 1931 replica of a baby blue Ford Phaeton loaned by Mamie Walton, who received it as a gift from her husband on her 50th birthday. A few feet across was a yellow 1946 Lincoln convertible. In the spirit of the theme, four female and two male models were dressed in Gatsby attire. Kate Johnson Artistry created the fashion model installation.
As guests descended down the grand staircase, period appropriate music tunes, hand-picked by Stanley Paul played in the background. Maxim’s, French restaurant inspired décor along with “Gatsby” themed worn by the guests helped to transport them to the 1920’s. Lively chatter about the feature was heard all throughout the restaurant.
Those in attendance were treated to passed hors d’oeuvres from Pure Kitchen, cupcakes from Rodwall Couture Cupcakes, libations from St Claire Vodka, Chocolatier Wines, Vita Coco products and Processo. Other sponsors included Chicago Sky, Kate Johnson Artistry, Jon Recana Photography and Uber. All guests received gift bags from event sponsors filled with a toothbrush and floss, a mini cupcake, a mini pecan tart, Warner Brothers supplied a mix of items from Great Gatsby water bottles, martini shakers, shot glasses, iPad and iPhone covers and screen wipes and a copy of the Sunday Splash.
An unforgettable evening, catering to the most discriminating taste would not be possible without the support of evening’s underwriting sponsors: Warner Brothers, ReachMail, Michael O’Meara DDS & MarCon Communications.
Media Sponsor: Sun Times Splash and Charity Partner: Big Cat Williams Charities.
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Photos by Jon Recana, Alex Riemann