Perhaps Leo DiCaprio has been too busy. Too many films. Cigarettes. Models. His ubiquity and inflexible physiognomy appear to have inspired industrial-scale quantities of online waggery querying why he is the same character in every movie, or why all his characters inhabit the same universe. He is the muse of an army of amateur David Thomsons. Off-screen, even his peers show short shrift. Elderly coffee salesman George Clooney recently expressed concern with Leo's Entourage lifestyle. Seems as though handsome, talented, multimillionaire movie star DiCaprio just can't catch a break. The Wolf of Wall Street, his latest flick, at least delivers the reassuring prestige of a Key Arts Award-winning trailer. But even the best preview in the world can't keep us from feeling this is another Martin Scorsese mash note to his beloved (40-year-old) boy wonder.
Alexander Payne makes very few movies—but when he does, pay attention. Think Election. Or Sideways. When he casts not just the very great Bruce Dern but Stacy goddamn Keach in a black-and-white movie about an old coot who believes he's won $1 million, then just get out of the house, sink into a movie seat, and don't ask too many questions. Nebraska also stars Bob Odenkirk, so now you are definitely sold.
For reasons inexplicable to an increasing proportion of the population, many of whom are married, people get married. A useful subject for a movie then, since folks love to see what they know on screen. The Best Man Holiday is, its trailer tells us, such a movie. It's also a group-of-friends-reuniting-in-New-York movie. In New York at Christmas. In New York at Christmas, plus some of the people sleep with the people they're not supposed to, and one of them, seemingly, is a nymphomaniac. This is a modern comedy that may be the very definition of bet hedging. Still in doubt? The soundtrack features some tune called Blurred Lines.
Elsewhere this week, the ill-used and always underestimated Shia LeBeouf gets a chance to shine in Charlie Countryman, a passionate-looking debut feature about an American tourist in Europe who finds himself out of his depth in a romantic triangle that also includes a properly terrifying Mads Mikkelsen.
Palette cleanser of the week is Dear Mr. Watterson, a documentary about the 10-year romance Americans had with a small boy and his Tiger, aka Calvin and Hobbes. It's like a wormhole into a time of Barnes & Noble bookstores on every corner, videos from Blockbuster, Seinfeld on the TV, TV on the TV only, Tom and Nicole, music on portable CD players, no mobile phones. And round here, it was all fields.