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THE AVIATOR

Howard Hughes.
Wacky guy.

Another bio-pic where I really know nothing about the subject. The Aviator, directed by Martin Scorsese, tells the story of Howard Hughes, one of the richest men since God, and unknowing sufferer of OCD!
Leonardo DiCaprio gives a truly inspired performance as this troubled man who combined his love of flying and aviation and making movies.

Like I said I don’t know much about who Howard Hughes really was. All I’ve ever really known about him is that he was a reclusive billionaire. In The Aviator, Scorsese only focuses on the time between the late 20’s to the late 50’s. So we get to see stuff about Hughes’ most famous films, Hell’s Angels and The Outlaw, which of course starred Jane Russell’s breasts. There is also brief mention of Scarface, which of course was later remade with Al Pacino expounding on the dangers of performing cunnilingus. But back to the matter at hand…

This movie is very well directed and it’s never boring. I mean I couldn’t care less about airplanes and the history of flying in America, etc., but the enthusiasm and passion shown by Hughes as he constantly tried to one-up himself (and Pan Am’s Juan Trippe, played with loathsome charm by the always awesome Alec Baldwin) is infectious. And damn, the plane crash scene is pretty amazing. Horrifying and painful, but amazing.

The acting in this film is incredible.
I know very little about Katherine Hepburn, and in fact, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve basically dwindled her down to a stereotype for Parkinson’s Disease. (It all started with a wickedly funny Dana Carvey impression of the screen legend starting a car. I’m such a bad person.) But if she was really anything like how John Logan wrote her in the screenplay, she seemed to be a pretty amazing force of nature. From film clips I’ve seen of her and the snippet of interviews I’ve seen over the years, I have to say that the amazing Cate Blanchett seems to be channeling Ms Hepburn. It is truly a mind boggling performance. Blanchett just disappears completely into the role, and The Aviator is all the better for it.

I also know very little about Ava Gardner. All I really know of her is this one famous photograph in which she looks incredibly beautiful. Well, since I don’t know her personality or mannerisms at all, I have to say Kate Beckinsale gives a very good performance as an actress named Ava Gardner. She was very likable. Her chemistry with DiCaprio was very good, but I much preferred the scenes between Hepburn and Hughes.

Alan Alda and Alec Baldwin do very good jobs as what amounts to the villains of the film. Alda’s character is such a jerk it’s annoying, but he plays it so well, you almost like the guy. Well, no, not really. And Baldwin. Damn. Nice job. He oozes…smugness? Is that the right word? Is that even a word? Well, I’m going with it for now.
John C Reilly is one of the best character actors ever, and here is no exception. He’s just a likable guy, and his demeanor brings every role he plays to the forefront. Great actor. Nice job.
Matt Ross plays Glenn Odekirk, or “Ody”, Hughes’ go-to-guy for all things aeronautical. Ross looks familiar to me, but I can’t place him, but I think he did a great job here. He holds his own with DiCaprio in every scene, and that’s actually saying a lot. I also liked the fact that Ross’ and Reilly’s characters, although basically Hughes’ “yes-men”, said “NO!”, quite a bit. I dunno if that’s Logan’s embellishment or historical fact, but it made for interesting chemistry.

You know, when you’re a young stud who gets to have sex with the likes of SuperModel Giselle (her last name escapes me, but you know who I mean), you shouldn’t be allowed to be a good actor too. A very good actor, at that! I mean, it hardly seems fair. But DiCaprio is a very talented actor, who gives his performances his all, and it shows. When things are going well, and Hughes’ is all get up and go-go-go, DiCaprio shines with youthful charm. You can’t help but like the guy. When things go sour, DiCaprio is both sympathetic and creepy. You feel bad for the guy, but he’s quite repulsive. A truly great performance.

So this is a pretty glowing review, but I did have some problems with The Aviator. At times, the whole thing seemed over the top…sort of like a stereotype of the quick talking Hollywood pictures of yesteryear…and I just don’t think life was ever really that kinetic. I also wasn’t crazy about the way movie ended. We don’t all know the story of Howard Hughes. The movie just sort of ended, and personally, some clue as to what happened next would have been nice. But despite these complaints, The Aviator is a good movie.

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