Friday movie roundup: A dazzling 'Gatsby'
Yes, it's great.
Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" is an eye-popping visual feast of Jazz Age excess, with Luhrmann's over-the-top visuals neatly matching the appearance-is-everything mindset of its title character (played with charm and intensity by Leonardo DiCaprio). The cast, which includes Carey Mulligan as the waiflike Daisy Buchanan and Tobey Maguire as the ever-observant Nick Carraway, is perfect in this feverish adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel.
Another fascinating take at an obsessed character is Matteo Garrone's biting satire "Reality." It centers on a Neapolitan fishmonger (Aniello Ariel) who auditions for the Italian version of "Big Brother" â and, when he's convinced he's a shoo-in for the show, becomes paranoid that TV producers are watching his every move. Garrone's fluid camera and Ariel's unhinged performance highlight this powerful look at how TV "reality" can blind people to the reality around them.
Utahns will want to see "Bidder 70," which gives a long view of a story they know well: The arrest and trial of Tim DeChristopher, the Utah environmental activist who put in fake bids at a BLM auction of oil and gas leases in December 2008. Filmmakers Beth and George Gage chronicle the long lead-up to the trial, and profile DeChristopher as he finds his voice as an activist.
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" is an absorbing character study engulfed in a lackluster political-thriller plot. It centers on Changez Khan (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani professor accused of inciting Muslim extremists. But as Changez talks to a reporter (Liev Schreiber), he recounts his previous life as a Wall Street analyst whose life changed on 9/11. Melodramatic touches, and slight miscasting of Keifer Sutherland (as Changez' New York boss) and Kate Hudson (as Changez' artist girlfriend), swallow up director Mira Nair's portrait of a character caught between his two homes.
Lastly, there's "Peeples," a comedy starring Craig Robinson ("The Office") as a guy intent on proposing to his well-to-do girlfriend (Kerry Washington), but having to face her imperious father (David Alan Grier) first. It wasn't screened for Utah critics.