A historical romance with a then-unheard-of price tag, James Cameron's 1997 Titanic was the nearest thing to a Gone with the Wind-style cinematic event that the millennials could call their own. Now Titanic has bobbed to the surface yet again in a 3-D re-release, making a play for an audience that its original viewers baby-sat. Rewatching the affair between Kate Winslet's rebellious haute-monde refugee, Rose, and Leonardo DiCaprio's free-spirited steerage passenger, Jack (as in London), it's hard to find a line that might resonate across generations like a "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." But the enormous success of Titanic didn't come through originality; it came from punching clichés across with a seldom-seen directness and sincerity that seemed pure of heart, old-fashioned, or plain corny, depending on your perspective. CGI spectacle doesn't age gracefully, not even with a 3-D facelift, so today, Titanic must float or sink on the enduring charisma of its young stars. What is most remarkable, viewed with the hindsight of nearly 15 interceding years and almost as many torturous roles, is the sight of DiCaprio, famous bangs bounding as he runs through the ship's endless corridors, flashing a sharp little triangle of a mouth and actually smiling. You'll wish that DiCaprio's leap from matinee idol to Our Serious Actor had not completely smothered his ability, wonderfully evident here, to convey simple joy.
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