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' The Great Gatsby'

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained

Like a superhero version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's American classic, this Baz Luhrmann-directed "Gatsby" is bigger and bolder than previous versions.

Leonardo DiCaprio is Jay Gatsby, a self-made millionaire who yearns for Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan), living across the bay with her old-money, polo-playing, philandering husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton).

As luck and fate would have it, Daisy's Midwestern cousin, Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), has rented the house nestled next to Gatsby's Long Island mansion. He is the story's narrator, a witness to the excesses of the 1920s.

Nick becomes the keeper of secrets, about Gatsby -- who lives amid a swirl of rumors about his upbringing, his involvement in World War I and his fortune -- and his love for Daisy, about Tom's affair with the wife of an impoverished mechanic and about events that ultimately leave three people dead.

Mr. DiCaprio is effortlessly charming in the lead role and really shines when he digs a little deeper -- into nervous energy or white-hot rage. Ms. Mulligan makes for a Daisy who is wounded by her husband's infidelity and yet unable to muster the strength to take control of her destiny or to own up to her actions.

Thanks, in part, to executive producer Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter who contributed to the soundtrack alongside other mainstream, hip-hop or indie rock artists such as Beyonce, Lana Del Ray and Jack White, "Gatsby" feels very contemporary. In fact, it seems like a "Gatsby" for a new generation, one that needs to be engaged at all times so no one reaches for a smartphone.

At 2 hours and 22 minutes, "Gatsby" feels about 10 minutes too long, but the adaptation is dizzying in its detail, energy and look.

Rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language. Extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes, music videos, deleted scenes and "Razzle Dazzle: The Fashion of the '20s."

-- Post-Gazette

' Pain & Gain'

2 stars = Mediocre
Ratings explained

A fast-talking Mark Wahlberg is ringleader Daniel Lugo in this violent action film based on a true story. He enlists Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) in a plot to kidnap a wealthy odious Miami businessman (Tony Shalhoub). They plot to strip him of everything he owns, from his luxurious home and offshore account to his businesses and even family.

It all eventually leads to the longest, most expensive case ever tried by the state's attorney's office in Florida with 100-plus witnesses and 10,000 pieces of evidence, according to Miami New Times, which chronicled the case of the Sun Gym Gang in a widely read series by Pete Collins that inspired the movie. Michael Bay directs with characteristic energy and style and lets an ad-libbing Rebel Wilson as a naughty nurse steal her scenes.

"Pain & Gain" is no "Fargo," which wore its violence and black humor as a badge. Other than Ed Harris in a small role as a private investigator, "Pain & Gain" gives the audience no one to gleefully root for -- before or after the chain saw comes out.

Rated R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use.

-- Post-Gazette

' Tyler Perry Presents Peeples'

Craig Robinson, "The Office" co-star and Judd Apatow utility player, makes a play for leading man with uneven results in "Tyler Perry Presents Peeples," a bland, quickly disposable romantic comedy.

Playing opposite Kerry Washington -- in a wan, underwritten departure from her wildly popular "Scandal" persona -- Mr. Robinson sings, mugs, riffs and vamps his way through a barely warmed-over version of "Meet the Parents" redux. He plays Wade Walker, a would-be child therapist who has carved out a living singing inspirational songs to school children.

Wade's girlfriend, Grace Peeples (Ms. Washington), is a successful lawyer and has studiously avoided introducing Wade to her high-achieving family for fear of their disapproval. Wade finally decides to take matters into his own hands, following Grace to a Peeples family weekend at their gorgeous beach house in tony Sag Harbor. Mr. Robinson maintains his signature openness and warmth throughout "Peeples," which marks the directorial debut of Tina Gordon Chism (best known for co-writing the wonderful "Drumline" as well as "ATL"). And he's surrounded by consistently game supporting players, who at one immensely gratifying point include Melvin Van Peebles and Diahann Carroll.

The schematic script and clunky pacing of "Peeples" notwithstanding, Ms. Chism clearly has a knack for casting and humanistic stories. With luck, her sophomore outing will find her in more assured control of stronger material.

Contains sexual content, drug material and profanity. Extras: commentary with Ms. Chism, producer Stephanie Allain and actors Mr. Robinson, Ms. Washington, David Alan Grier, Tyler James Williams, Kali Hawk, Malcolm Barrett and Kimrie Lewis-Davis; "Meet the Peeples" three-part featurette, gag reel.

-- The Washington Post


"At Any Price": A son rejects the family business to race cars. Dennis Quaid stars.

"Tales of the City: 20th Anniversary Collection": Peabody Award-winning mini-series starring Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney, Billy Campbell, Thomas Gibson.

"Online": A man discovers changing a person's life with the click of a button can have consequences.

"Elementary -- The First Season": CBS detective series starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.

"Seattle Superstorm": Strange object crashes and creates a massive storm.

"Stranded": Crew of a U.S. military moon base is cut off from Earth. Christian Slater stars.

"Q -- The Winged Serpent": Michael Moriarty film now available on Blu-ray.

"Sapphire and Steel: The Complete Series": Includes 34 episodes of the British sci-fi series starring Joanna Lumley and David McCallum.

"Billy the Kid": The future criminal and a bounty hunter work together to get revenge. Cody McCarver stars.

"Monsuno: Combat Chaos": Five episodes of the Nicktoons animated series.

"The Idolmaker": Taylor Hackford film about a music promoter driven by his desire to discover the next big act.

"Among Friends": A murder mystery night goes bad when someone decides to use the evening for revenge.

"Damian Lewis Double Feature": Damian Lewis stars in "Friends and Crocodiles" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

"Sons of Anarchy -- Season Five": Cable series starring Ron Perlman.

"NYC Underground": Friends end up on the run after making a deal with a gangster.

"Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection": The police drama starring Helen Mirren is now on Blu-ray.

"Missions That Changed The War: Germany's Last Ace": Gary Sinise narrates the documentary that explores the downfall of Nazi Germany.

"A Company Man": A hitman tries to escape his bloody past.

-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers


First Published August 29, 2013 4:00 AM


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