The Boyfriend of the Week

June 20, 2013 [comment on this write-up]

Look, I don't know. I can't explain it. You can go your whole life without ever once thinking Leonardo DiCaprio is cute, and then suddenly, in a single weekend, you can get a really bad summer cold and spend three days renting DiCaprio movies off, and then realize, oh my god, he's, like, almost 40 now, and doesn't he look good? Plus, that furrow between his brows -- he comes with STORAGE SPACE, people (seriously, you could put a suitcase in there! Free up some space in the garage! It's tremendously handy!).

Oh, hey! Hi, everyone! Sup? It's been a while, I know. I've been dealing with some stuff and everything (WHY DOES EVERYTHING HAPPEN SO MUCH?) and I had trouble finding inspiration to keep the Boyfriends of the Week flowing. I can't promise "I'm back" now, but at least I can get the "Best of 2011" stuff down and give you all a nice brow furrow to look at while you cast your eyes right to find the latest book, TV, or movie reviews I've written (been keeping the blog going this whole time and I highly recommend it, though, obvs, I have a clear bias).

Did you guys know Leonardo DiCaprio was an actor I couldn't stand looking at for years and years? I'm pretty sure I've ridiculed him and his fans more than once on this web site, lo these many years. It was while he was in his 20s, really, that I found him so insufferable -- he went from cute little kid in What's Eating Gilbert Grape to that incredibly annoying self-assured 20-something that everybody else was fawning all over and he knew it, which was the worst. I don't have a lot of patience for people like that -- at least, I didn't when I was also in my 20s. Honestly, look at that photo of him on the right there -- who doesn't want to punch that guy right in the face?

But now, to be quite frank, I suddenly find him absolutely dashing, and not just because he's a year younger than I am but looks about 10 years older. Though, of course, that is a plus. (I'd warn you all not to smoke, because that's surely why he's as grizzled-looking as he is, but then again, I did just tell you I think he's dashing, so talk about mixed messages.) (DON'T SMOKE, THOUGH, SRSLY.) His face these days sometimes suddenly reminds me of someone I once knew, and other times it reminds of my husband. Overall, it's a nice combination of associations.

Perhaps more importantly, however, he's grown into a damn fine actor, despite the fact that, having just sat through seven of his films in a row, I can tell you with confidence he has played exactly the same character in every movie he's made SINCE Gilbert Grape. How do you think he got that brow furrow? It's from furrowing his brow all the time in serious, serious movies, that's how. The only thing that ever changes when it comes to the roles Leo plays is his accent, and even there it's safe to say he's also very consistent(ly botching it, sorry).

Time to make a romantic comedy, though, kiddo. For reals. Just do it, man. Just go for it. Try new things. Explore. Isn't that what we're supposed to do in our 40s? I mean, not that we're in our 40s or anything. . . (Yet.)

In any case, here's what I just watched, in case you're curious.

This Boy's Life (1993): This film came out just slightly before What's Eating Gilbert Grape, which I've seen too many times to watch again any time soon (despite its greatness). It's based on the memoirs of Tobias Wolff (Leo plays Toby) and is about his mother's attempt to find a better life for them both, after divorcing his father. She heads West with Tobias, ultimately landing in Concrete, WA and falling for a guy named Dwight (Robert De Niro), whom she ultimately marries. But while she doesn't seem to see Dwight for who he really is (a bully, complete with the dismally low self-esteem that borders on self-contempt), Toby sure does. And watching him struggle -- this little kid -- to grow up fast enough to protect himself from his horrible step-father is, well. . . it'll break your heart, is what.

The Quick and the Dead(1995): As far as I know, this is as close as Leo has ever come to making a comedy, and it wasn't on purpose. Here he plays the vengeful son "Kid" of Gene Hackman's character Herod, come to shoot him down in a tournament in the streets. Oh, Sam Raimi. I don't know WHAT you were thinking. I love this movie so much; it's THAT bad. It's just SO BAD. So wonderfully, delightfully bad. So good. SO GOOD!

Gangs of New York (2002): Wonder of wonders, I had never actually gotten down to the business of watching this famous Scorcese film until last weekend. I've been hearing people rave about it for years -- and I remember it earning gazillions of Oscar nods as well. To be honest, though, I'm not sure I get what you guys all dug about this flick. I mean, it's fine. But it's not spectacular. And frankly, when I wasn't busy rolling my eyes at Cameron Diaz, I was noticing all the insanely numerous continuity errors, which were so insanely numerous they started to get really distracting. Did we just not care about those back in 2002? Maybe we didn't. In any case, it's fine. It's a movie that is fine. I like watching Leonardo DiCaprio scowl, and he does a lot of that in this. I read a bunch of reviews mocking him for botching the Irish brogue, but really, he's playing a boy who grew up around Irish people for about 6 years and then was sent to grow up in an American orphanage -- I wouldn't expect a kid like that to come out sounding like Ewan McGregor. In any case, I'm glad I finally watched it, though I don't sense I'll be repeating that experience any time soon.

Catch Me If You Can (2002): Amazing, really, that the Leo in this movie is the same age as the Leo in Gangs of New York, because he looks older. Maybe Gangs of New York aged him an extra 5 years? I could see that happening. In any case, this is a fine little romp -- there's not any real weight to it, but it's fun. It's sort of a comedy, I guess? Only, it kept making me cry, so HA FRIGGIN' HA. (The only time I ever cry at movies -- or, at least, ADMIT to crying at movies -- is when I'm sick, by the way. I did a lot of bawling last weekend. EVERY MOVIE LEO IS IN IS A SAD MOVIE. Have you guys noticed that? Yeesh.)

Blood Diamond (2006): I had somehow completely managed to overlook this movie about the African diamond trade, and, you know what? I can imagine it took a lot of flak, but I still enjoyed it. Leo plays Danny Archer, a white-Rhodesian diamond smuggler with a heart of gold (buried pretty deep, but it's in there), and when he's not chain-smoking, scowling, and talking SUPER funny, he's kind of interesting to watch. Worth a gander, I would say, but I don't think "You know, in America it's 'bling, bling,' but out here it's 'bling, bang.'" was a line I was supposed to snicker at. Go watch it -- you'll see what I mean:

Shutter Island (2010): This movie doesn't hold a candle to the novel by Dennis LeHane, but it's glumly atmospheric, which is just what I needed on Saturday when I was feeling the most wretched. Did I review this movie on my blog? Oh yes, I did. Here: This is one of the first films to fully showcase the suitcase-worthy brow furrow -- it even made it onto the poster -- which makes it a keeper despite its many flaws.

Inception (2010): Well, duh. SO GREAT. This might be the movie that got me to rethink my position on DiCaprio, now that I think about it. It was something about seeing him as the husband of Marion Cotillard -- he suddenly seemed like a grown up to be contended with. Respected. I can't explain it. But I also can't say enough nice things about this movie, even while I have a few bones to pick with it (see original review: When I saw this movie in the theater for the first time, I had to pinch my lips shut so I wouldn't yell out, "HOT DAMN!" when the final credits started to roll. Nobody likes it when someone does that. Only, the thing is: HOT DAMN, this movie is just so creative and fun. I love it when a movie surprises the heck out of me, and that's what Inception did, about 50 different ways.

So, that was the Rhinovirus & DiCaprio Grumpfest from the weekend. I have, of course, seen a number of his other films over the years -- The Aviator, mandatory viewing once my Dad became the executive director of the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in Oregon where the Spruce Goose is currently living; Django Unchained, which I recently raved about already; The Departed, which should always only ever be pronounced "The Depahded;" The Beach, forgettable; Titanic, please kill me; and also, let's not forget his glory days as Luke Brower on Growing Pains (check out that picture! Adorbs! Also: video clip!).

Do you all hate me now? For caving in on the Leo thing? For abandoning you for 18 months? For whatever else I may have done lately? It's okay, I can take it. My goal is to do better. But we'll see what happens.

MacGyver Factor Score: 91.398%.

Seriously, dude, romantic comedy. Get on that. The Wolf of Wall Street (Leo's next picture) isn't going to do your worry lines any favors, is what I'm saying. Really, smoking and drinking aside, I think it's reasonable for us to put a little of the blame for Leo's premature wrinkles on Martin Scorsese, who keeps putting him in such frowny movies. The two of you -- knock that off. Go make a comedy. Surprise us. You can do it. I have faith in you.

[comment on this write-up]

Back to the Boyfriend of the Week homepage.