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Leonardo DiCaprio

The Revenant (2015)

7851989_fc819d0327a9899589c1a220af8b6bc8_wmDIRECTOR: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL REVEAL IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

For the follow-up to his 2014 Oscar-winning offbeat comedy-drama Birdman, Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has chosen to take the saying “revenge is a dish best served cold” very, very literally.  The Revenant is inspired by the true story of 1800s frontiersman Hugh Glass, which also inspired the 1971 Richard Harris film Man in the Wilderness, but takes its share of liberties with the true story, and the two loose versions of Glass’ tale are different enough to each be judged on their individual merits (The Revenant is not a remake of Man in the Wilderness, merely inspired by the same story, and does its own thing).  In a year with its share of survival stories hitting theaters, it’s better-crafted than In the Heart of the Seaand far more dark and brutal than The Martian (compared to The Revenant, The Martian is practically a comedy).  In its “man vs. Nature” narrative, sometimes existential tone, and unflinching bleakness, it’s a cinematic cousin to both the Liam Neeson drama The Gray and the gritty Australian revisionist Western The Proposition.  The Revenant is hardly the “feel good” movie of the year, and it definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those to whom the subject matter appeals, it’s a visceral, immersive, and uncompromising film experience. Continue reading

The Great Gatsby (2013)

carey-mulligan-600DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Debicki, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, Amitabh Bachchan, Jack Thompson

REVIEW:

 

I’ll get this out of the way right upfront: I have never read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, now considered a staple of American literature (though it was received poorly at the time, perhaps partly due to its social commentary on 1920s excess), so this review will not include comparisons to the book or any previous film adaptation (the most prominent of which came out in 1974 and starred Robert Redford in the title role), merely review this as a stand-alone film.  Continue reading

J. Edgar (2011)

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood

CAST:

Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench, Naomi Watts

REVIEW:

During his forty-eight-year reign as director of the FBI, John Edgar Hoover was regarded by many as the most powerful man in America.  Continue reading

Inception (2010)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Tom Berenger, Lukas Haas, Michael Caine, Pete Postlethwaite

REVIEW:

Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Prestige) reportedly spent ten years writing his screenplay for Inception. Watching the film, one can see how it might have taken so long. Some will no doubt find Inception confusing. It definitely is not a movie where you can take a trip to the restroom, and requires a commitment of close attention and concentration, but I don’t see that as a bad thing. Continue reading

Gangs of New York (2002)

gangsDIRECTOR: Martin Scorsese

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, Brendan Gleeson, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson

REVIEW:

Martin Scorsese’s attempt at switching gears from gangster movie to historical epic, Gangs of New York is a bit of a mess, but it’s enough of a lavish, sumptuous, epically-mounted, lively, colorful mess that the grand guignol spectacle often propels us along through its formidable 3 1/2 hour runtime (it’s the kind of movie of Gone With the Wind-sized proportions that Hollywood seldom attempts to make anymore, one that would have come with an intermission halfway through) despite an excessively drawn-out and somewhat scattershot narrative and a reach that sometimes exceeds its grasp.  The result is not likely to go down as one of Scorsese’s enduring classics on the level of Raging Bull or Goodfellas, but it’s a sporadically rousing and always colorful blood-soaked love letter to a forgotten corner of American history. Continue reading

Titanic (1997)

DIRECTOR: James Cameron

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Gloria Stuart, David Warner, Bill Paxton, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Victor Garber, Bernard Hill, Danny Nucci, Jonathan Hyde, Suzy Amis, Eric Braeden, Jenette Goldstein, Ioan Gruffudd

REVIEW:

With sci-fi thrillers like The Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, and The Abyss, and the action-comedy True Lies under his belt, James Cameron turned his sights in a totally different direction for his next project….a romance set onboard the notorious ill-fated luxury ship the RMS Titanic. Nearly anyone knows the basics of the story of the 1912 disaster, with more than 1,500 of the 2,200-plus passengers, including many rich and famous of the day, perishing at sea when the “unsinkable” ship struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, but none among the many, many films to deal with Titanic had the means to bring the massive ship and its end to the screen with such visual splendor.  To draw crowds, Cameron centered his script around a star struck love story, cast with primed-to-explode heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and soon-to-be Oscar nominee Kate Winslet.  Titanic clearly struck a chord with audiences, standing for twelve years as the highest-grossing film of all time, surpassed only by Cameron’s next film, 2009’s Avatar.  Unfortunately, it’s also overrated, and the story doesn’t equal the spectacular visuals surrounding it. Continue reading

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