Monthly Archives: February 2005

The Aviator

Despite having been very impressed by him in Romeo and Juliet and Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio has never really had much appeal for me as a star. His heartthrob status has got in the way of my appreciation of him. (I still haven’t seen Titanic, and have no particular plans to.) But The Aviator has changed all that. His performance as the obsessively driven Howard Hughes is, quite simply, spectacular. It’s a demanding role, calling for a convincing portrayal of both fierce determination and drive and introverted neuroticism, and DiCaprio pulls it off like a master. Scratch that, with this role he shows that he is a master.

But even with this performance, DiCaprio doesn’t own the film: Cate Blanchett races off with an amazing piece of character acting as she totally becomes Katherine Hepburn. The supporting cast, from small parts such as Jude Law’s Errol Flynn, to major antagonists like Alec Baldwin’s Juan Trippe, is stellar. (Definitely a candidate for the award for best use of the word “fuck” in a serious screenplay*.) Even at a challenging three hours long, the film is never less than totally engrossing. A masterpiece.


Kevin, Rob, and Sam are a group of friends with a game they call “Foolproof”: they meticulously plan out robberies just to prove that they could pull the jobs if they wanted to. But they never go through with them–until someone steals the plans for their latest stakeout, and gets away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in diamonds. At first they hope they can just keep quiet and let the whole thing blow over, but then the mastermind behind the stolen heist approaches them with an offer they can’t refuse: help him pull an even bigger robbery, or he’ll send their original plans, along with incriminating fingerprints, to the police.

As heist capers go, this isn’t bad. The screenplay is good: it explores the dynamics within the group very nicely, and uses shifting allegiances to provide tension right to the end. The excellent Ryan Reynolds plays Kevin fairly straight, which is appropriate for the role, but kept me expecting more deadpan humour than the film is geared to deliver. David Suchet as the criminal mastermind Leo Gillette prickles with diamond-hard menace, and often threatens to overwhelm the rest of the cast. This lack of balance–the question of whether it’s going to be funny or deadly serious–keeps the film from achieving a better result. (It’s still definitely not bad, though!)

Mean Girls

Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) is an innocent teen who has been home-schooled by her parents most of her life, but now she has to face the real thing. She initially makes friends with a couple of the class outsiders, but when the “Plastics” (a clique of the richest, most beautiful, and most obnoxious girls in the school) invite her to join them, her friends encourage her to accept the opening. Their plan is for Cady to infiltrate the clique and bring back juicy insider information. But as Cady spends more time with the Plastics, she becomes more and more like them, until her friends start wondering if she has turned to the Dark Side. Subtle in places, spikily barbed in others, it’s a lot funnier and more interesting than your standard teen comedy.