Tag: Leonardo DiCaprio

BLOG: A Spotlight on the 88th Academy Awards

What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)
What other picture did you think I would use for this post? (Credit: Getty Images)

by Ken Bakely

First off, yay Leo!

My personal prediction score was 17/24, or 71% (about par for the course). I’m happy that my bet on Spotlight winning Best Picture panned out. It’s not my favorite out of the nominees, but I’m not overly upset that it won. It was great to see Mad Max: Fury Road take home six statuettes, and even more wonderful to witness 87-year-old Ennio Morricone win his first competitive Oscar, clinching the Best Original Score award for The Hateful Eight, following an unprecedented career of more than six hundred projects over the past seventy years. Interestingly, Mark Rylance was able to capture the Best Supporting Actor trophy, after many (myself included) had long switched over into believing Sly Stallone had the Oscar in the bag. The word on the street is that Rylance hardly campaigned at all, so it was up to the studio’s PR department to rally the votes.

Continue reading “BLOG: A Spotlight on the 88th Academy Awards”

The Great Gatsby – Review



by Ken B.

DISCLAIMER: I saw this in 2D. If you think A) 3D is the future of cinema and is the most magnificent thing ever and B), an adaptation of a book of this magnitude really needed 3D, I can only say this.

The Great Gatsby may hold the title for the most tiring movie I have ever seen. Many times, it jumps around with no real aim I could understand, and when it does find a focus, you really can’t be bothered to care. But this isn’t a bad movie, per se, as it’s clear that those working on it were dedicated to what they were doing. I just wish what they were worth doing could honestly fill up 143 minutes.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book is considered one of the best in 20th century American literature. I’m not familiar with it, but you shouldn’t have to be to watch a movie. The story is told through the memories of Nick Carraway (TOBEY MAGUIRE), who is writing about a man he knew in 1922, a strange man named Jay Gatsby (LEONARDO DICAPRIO). Every week, he throws a lavish party which brings nearly the collective population of New York City to his mansion. No one really knows about him, for he rarely opens up to anyone. But Nick is different. Through a maddeningly fast car ride into downtown New York, Gatsby recalls his life story, in away that he sounds almost as narcissistic as that Lights Camera Jackson kid.

Anyway, members of Nick’s family are also around for this, especially his cousin Daisy (CAREY MULLIGAN) and her husband Tom (JOEL EDGERTON).

Baz Luhrmann, who directed this movie, along with movies like Romeo + Juliet (which also featured DiCaprio in a prominent role) and Moulin Rouge, takes a big, bright kind of styling. I like that, but sometimes I felt it goes a little too over the top. Sometimes, when the character of Nick Carraway is writing his experiences, the words fly up from the page and appear either in the forms of handwriting or typewriting. This only reminded me of how a similar technique was used in one of the worst movies I’ve seen in my life. I dunno, that has nothing to do with my thoughts of this movie in the end, but I thought I’d point that out.

A decision that a lot of people are divided on is the inclusion of music from rapper Jay-Z into the movie. The movie probably wouldn’t be that different with or without it – and the people that are completely turned off by this factor probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the movie if the modern music hadn’t been around.

The acting is what you’d expect – these are talented actors working with a somewhat well written script. DiCaprio is convincing as the perhaps-slightly-insane multi-millionaire, and Maguire, during the wraparound scenes as a man in retrospect, does well in his role.  Mulligan and Edgerton might not be as memorable, but there are no real lapses of talent.

The Great Gatsby can be called little else than excessive – no one really wanted another movie about the book, since there has already been multiple. Even on its own merits, this can’t be called anything else than average. It’s a visual spectacle – but it’s long and forgettable as well. I think fifteen or twenty minutes could have been cut, to be honest. The decision on whether it’s worth your time and money is up to you. But it doesn’t need 3D. It really doesn’t.

Buy from Amazon: Book / DVD / Blu-ray / Blu-ray 3D 


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape – Review

Bonnie and Gilbert Grape try to figure out why Arnie is running around on the front lawn rambling about being stuck in multi-layered dreams on the RMS Titanic.


by Ken B.

This movie takes place in a house in the American Midwest. The house is certainly lived in, and that’s apparent from the outside. Inside, things become complicated. There are four kids, all at or close to adulthood. There’s Amy (LAURA HARRINGTON) and Ellen (MARY KATE SCHELLHARDT), but we don’t know much about them. We care the most about Gilbert (JOHNNY DEPP), and how he takes care of Arnie (LEONARDO DICAPRIO), who is mentally challenged and is about to turn eighteen. The father killed himself many years ago, and his wife, Bonnie (DARLENE CATES), fell into depression and compulsive overeating which leads her to be more or less physically unable to leave the house. She doesn’t want to leave, either, she’s too afraid of what people might think.

That’s all you need to know about What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, an efficient, atmospheric drama directed by Lasse Halstrom. It captures a mood early on and doesn’t let go. I like it when a movie can find it’s proper mood and stay there.

The characters are convincing as they are written, no matter how minor, and the acting put into them solidify their existence. DiCaprio’s portrayal of the mentally disabled kid Arnie, is convincing – very much so. The character of Gilbert, which requires a deep understanding of the actor having someone dependent on him, is well played by Johnny Depp. And the morbidly obese mother is played by Darlene Cates, who had little previous acting experience before this. It is clear that when she exits the house at one point and is ridiculed by the residents of her small hometown, the pain she expresses is drawn from personal experience.

According to the iMDB, the music was written by Alan Parker and Bjorn Isfalt. While viewing the movie, I noted that the piece played during the opening credits re-occurred far too many times throughout the rest of the movie. Writing this review a day later, I can hardly remember the melody. I’m going to call that a positive. It could have been worse. Music doesn’t really play a big part here

Regardless, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is a very good movie. Well, it’s a different kind of good movie. What I mean by that, is that most good movies you’d have no problem watching again and again. I’ll say that this one is different. It’s admirable drama, but I’m venturing a guess that it won’t work on repeat viewings. It depends on the audience knowing nothing about it from the start. By saying that, it’s not degrading the movie, it’s just pointing out the fact that a story like this works best when you don’t know what’s happening next. Simple as that.