The Great Gatsby

Here’s another pretty good movie that seems not to have found an audience. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of a self-made man whose pasha-like wealth is based on financial manipulations no one understands, probably speaks more to the modern era than it did to America of the 1930s or 1950s. And this version of the story is much better than the rather soulless Robert Redford version.

Australian director Baz Luhrmann has a reputation for being over the top — but that seems appropriate for Gatsby, whose entire raison d’etre is being over the top. The “East Egg” and Manhattan locations are impossibly opulent, while the middle-class enclaves the beautiful people barely notice as they gas up are a surreal, dystopian landscape — Salvador Dali meets Bladerunner. Leonardo DiCaprio, a famously internal character, was born to play Gatsby, a man who has buried his real self so deep even he can’t find it. Toby McGuire is fine as the narrator, and even Carey Mulligan, an actress I don’t like very much, is pretty good at Daisy.  I’m not saying this is the definitive Gatsby — but it’s well worth your time.

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Rush

This movie about guys who do crazy stupid sh*t for a living, and the women who love them, seems to have been lost in the Gravity well — which is too bad, because it’s pretty good. Not since the 1960’s film Gran Prix have we had such a close-up view of the Formula One racing circuit. The photography has only gotten better — the driver’s eye views of the race track, particularly in bad weather, are particularly awesome.

But you don’t have to be a racing fan to appreciate the drama of this epic battle between a high-living Brit and an almost comically anal Austrian for the overall racing prize in 1976.  It’s the human drama of athletic competition — although in this case, it seems the competition is for who can take the craziest risks and stay alive. The movie features generally good performances (except for Olivia Wilde, who is predictably awful). And It’s emotionally moving in a way you wouldn’t expect.