The Great Gatsby
Distributor: Warner Bros.
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that bling in Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” which arrives six months after its originally scheduled December release date but maintains something of a gussied-up holiday feel, like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as staged by Liberace. Indeed, it comes as little surprise that the Aussie auteur behind the gaudy, more-is-more spectacles “Moulin Rouge” and “Australia” has delivered a “Gatsby” less in the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel than in that of its eponymous antihero — a man who believes bejeweled excess will help him win the heart of the one thing his money can’t buy. Cinema audiences can prove as fickle and elusive as Daisy Buchanan, too, but it’s a fair bet that a starry cast (and soundtrack) and sheer curiosity value will power this Warner/Roadshow co-production to career-best box office numbers for Luhrmann (a record currently held by “Australia,” at $211 million), if not quite enough to justify its supposed $127 million budget.
— Scott Foundas
Domestic comedy “Peeples” may appropriate its entire premise and plot structure from “Meet the Parents,” but its heart is suffused with French cinema. Not the cinema of Godard or Rivette, exactly, but rather that specific strain of heated, horny, hyperactive farce that Gallic auds actually attend. Set amid the bourgeois black upper class rarely glimpsed on film, and driven by the discreet charm of lead Craig Robinson, writer-helmer Tina Gordon Chism’s debut pic deals out generous doses of anarchic hijinks without stressing over the narrative connective tissue in between, and the end product holds together just well enough. Modest B.O. beckons.
— Andrew Barker
Distributor: IFC Films
Hot on the heels of “Kill List,” British director Ben Wheatley applies his unique blend of run-and-gun naturalism and scabrous black humor to “Sightseers,” a wicked little pic in which a tacky couple discovers that cross-country road-tripping makes it surprisingly easy — and fun! — to knock off the more obnoxious characters they encounter en route. After their pilot proposal was deemed too dark for the telly, sketch comedians Alice Lowe and Steve Oram refashioned the idea into a feature whose built-in cult appeal should make a modest killing for IFC, which acquired the twisted Directors’ Fortnight title while touring Cannes.
— Peter Debruge