The Aviator

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lye2003
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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:22 am

screening review posted at AICN courtesy of Gabriel
Salutations Harry,

Long time reader of AICN - First time reviewer here. I attended a screening of The Aviator at the Directors Guild in Los Angeles the other night and thought this was my chance to share a review. Hope you like it enough to post it!

I must first note that I am not a big Scorsese fan. I tend to like the performances he gets from his actors - like Bob, Cathy and Joe in Raging Bull or... well, can't think of any others right now. Oh, I did like DDL in Gangs... and Linda Fiorentino in After Hours. Oh, I LOVED Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn't Live Here anymore, but I think she's just a great actress. Anyway, I think his films have great camera moves and not-so-great storytelling. At the risk of sounding like a film heretic, I just don't get Mean Streets. I thought Gangs was a mess.

Anyway, even with these negatives going against him (in my book) I thought The AViator would be interesting because it is a bio pic and Howard Hughes did lead a very interesting life before he went cuckoo and ended up hitchhiking with Paul le Mat. Also, I'd just gotten the latest Vanity Fair with Leonardo on the cover and was impressed how grown up he is. So I took my wife and we headed off to the DGA theatre for a 9pm screening - which didn't start til 9:30 because the earlier screening & Q&A of Phantom of the Opera was running long and late. My sister - let's call her Moonhead - caught that screening btw and she said it was not that good. I was not surprised because I couldn't stand that musical. Maybe it's because I caught it the very last week of its multi-year run here in LA and the theatre was full of Phantom fans who sang along to every song. I didn't get it and I thought the chandelier drop was just hokey. Or maybe it was just the cheesy electronic music. Sorry, I digress. FInally, they let us in and we found some decent seats and the show started. Fortunately, I had crossed the street earlier to get my first cup of coffee from the Coffee Bean & Tea since going off caffeine for a week - drinking nothing but carrot juice in the morning, hey it really works and wakes you up - and so I was BUZZED and awake.

The Aviator covers Howard Hughes' early dashing years in Hollywood when he was a millionaire playboy. After a Rosebud-like intro where his young mom is washing a young Howard back in Houston - I guess there's an epidemic of some sort - and then we cut to an airstrip in Van Nuys where young Howard is directing ####'s Angels. I loved this part because I love movies about movie making - whether it is Lost in Oblivion or Day of the Locusts or my fave The Bad and the Beautiful - it's just a lot of fun and the audacity of Howard Hughes spending his millions on this epic is a lot of fun. Leonardo di Caprio really does a great job as Howard Hughes - he has black hair and the same facial structure and just a great cocky ebullient energy. But most importantly he is able to convey Hughes' love for flying and filmmaking.
The flying sequences reminded me of the pool sequences from The Color of Money - a lot of nifty camera work that is kinda distracting, albeit fun. Some of the CGI was obvious - check the window at the end of the movie when Hughes is flying the Spruce Goose - it quivers. Also, its been years since the CGI waves at the bow of the Titanic and the CGI waves under the wings of the Spruce Goose do not look convincing.

Back to the story. We follow Hughes' ups and downs making and remaking ####'s Angels. John C. Reilly gets hired as his business right hand man. We then see the premiere with a don't blink cameo by Gwen I-sing-with-a-gurgling-throat Stefani as Jean Harlow. And then the best part of the movie happens - Cate Blanchett enters as Kate Hepburn. As good as Leonardo was, Blanchett steals the picture. Her Kate Hepburn is a real person, not just high cheek bones and a New England accent. Plus, the two have great chemistry which is important since this relationship is presented as the central love story. They were a lot of fun together. I should note that I was basically aware of Howard Hughes life - he designed aircraft and dated starlets and then ended up with long hair and longer fingernails. Other than that, I wasn't really up on the details so I really enjoyed learning about this character and how he lived - the life of the man behind the myth as it were. If Hollywood is a dream factory, then this was the ultimate dream life - you're rich, you're dating not just Tara Reid starlets, but literally iconic movie stars and you're also inventing airplanes - oh, and directing movies which is cool just by itself. Come on, thats a deam life and this part of the movie is a lot of fun.

I'm not big on spoilers, so I will end this review shortly. There's a lot about Howard Hughes - d'oh, this IS a bio pic - like I didn't know he was kinda deaf. All the airplane stuff was fascinating. His derring do and love for the thrill of, well, aviation is very well presented. I didn't know Hughes bought TWA. Alec Baldwin shows up as Juan Trippe - head of Pan Am - and is presented as Hughes' arch enemy - basically Alec is doing the same role he has been doing sincer Glen Garry to the Cooler, i.e. the supporting role of the slick bad guy - he does it well, but it was nothing new. Kate Beckinsale is BADLY miscast as Ava Gardner - come on, she looks nothing like Ava Gardner. And after Cate as Kate - well thats a tough act to follow. I don't know who could have played Ava - maybe Deborah Unger, but she might have been too old and she's always sweaty anyhow. The whole Ava part did not work for me at all. Alan Alda does a nice job as slimy Senator Brewster from Maine who is in Trippe/Baldwin's pocket and gives Leo/Howard a tough time until a nice Senate Hearing scene where Howard Hughes pulls it out - Leo was great here as well. I must say again, I was really impressed with Leonardo's portrayal of Howard Hughes- he should get an Oscar nod - and Cate Blanchett too. Alec Baldwin already got nominated for paying this role in the Cooler, so sorry Alec.
Now I knew that Howard Hughes was nutty in the end of his life - and in The Aviator they start to show the seeds of his nuttiness - sort of an obssessive-compulsive disorder. Then he really goes a bit mad. Again, Leo was great with all his tics and repetitions and torment. It reminded me of how good he was back in Gilbert Grape. This is how good he was - in some of the "nutty" scenes, Leo is naked, but you're not thinking about his nakedness, you're thinking about how crazy this guy is.

In summary, I enjoyed this movie, but it lacked a certain oomph - like a story arc or somethig. Its a great character study and Leo and Cate are great and great fun to watch, esp. together. The world they lived in - Hollywood in the 30s and 40s - is lovingly recreated and fun to visit for a while. The aviation theme doesn't really gel with the dramatic story, although they do a good job showing us Hughes' passion for flying (even though it is overkill to have Howard Hughes actually say -as he does towards the end of the movie - how much he loves flying and how its his life etc. Come on, I'm not a moron, Marty!) Frankly, there is a lack of mood in this movie - as odd as that is to say - and having enjoyed Michael Mann's Collateral which had so much mood, maybe he would have done a stronger job than Mr. Scorsese. But the truest review is whether you tell your friends and family to spend 10 bucks to see it in a theatre when it is released and I did - because of Leo and Cate's performance and chemistry - thats so rare in movies these days. So what was supposed to be a dramatic historical bio pic turns out to be a good romantic drama - so if you liked Titanic and Gilbert Grape then this a Leonardo di Caprio movie for you. :D :lol: :)

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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:29 am

Another review courtesy of Aurlie from UK Daily Telegraph

Howard Hughes flies again (Filed: 19/11/2004)

John Hiscock reports from Los Angeles on the first screenings of Scorsese's long-awaited Hughes biopic 'The Aviator' and the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantom of the Opera'

I have just seen early screenings of two of the most eagerly-awaited American films of the year: Martin Scorsese's The Aviator and the screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. One I found enjoyable; the other was a disappointment.

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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:36 am

THE PRODUCERS with Graham King
Graham King who is the producer for both GONY and THE AVIATOR. He said..the 91 days with Scorsese was the best time of his career. His daughter saw THE AVIATOR 3 times already and loved it..she is only 15 years old.. He is a very fussy producer and claims that you have to have the right chemistry and to feel right, he felt that with both Scorsese and Leonardo. He mentions how expensive it was to have Dante Ferrenti..he is the best but expensive...and Marty likes to have the best and spend money..lol...so Graham..had to curve the expenses..You could tell, he is beaming with pride over Leonardo..as he kept going back to him..he mentioned Leo and him went over books and articles on Howard Hughes. .that Leo is driven by character roles, thats why he takes a long time to find the right film to do. He mentioned about the fires in California last year, they were in San Bernadino airport and you could see the ashes falling from the sky...so they lost a day of filming. He mentioned this is Scorsese first commercial movie and the audience is going to be pleasantly surprised how Marty is telling the story. He reminded Scorsese to keep the pace..and which Marty did :lol:

the rest of the time Graham talked about ALI, and TRAFFIC..but he kept wanting to talk about THE AVIATOR...he was glowing and very proud over Leonardo and Scorsese..you can see he adores them :)

Thanks to chrismtl :D

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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 12:52 am

and more:
Thanks to foxgirl on wc1.worldcrossing :D
On FOX news there was a segment with Russ Letherman who's the critic at Moviefone.com about the holiday movies. Letherman talked about Alexander, Closer, Ocean's 12 and finally The Aviator. Letherman was very high on The Aviator. He also said nice things about Leonardo. The interviewer said tell me about The Aviator which stars Leonardo DiCaprio. Letherman said Leonardo is a very smart actor who chooses very smart roles. That's he's very selective and doesn't do 12 films a year.Letherman noted that The Aviator is directed by Martin Scorsese with a cast that includes Alec Bladwin and Cate Blanchette. Letherman says The Aviator could be a big hit and that we will see the film come Oscar time.

Letherman did not say whether he had seen The Aviator (or any of the other films) but we know The Aviator is being screened for critics, so he may well have seen it. He was very high on The Aviator and Closer, positive about Ocean's 12 and not so positive about Alexander which he said could be the bomb of the holiday season. :)

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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:08 am

Another good word on Leo :

From USA Today's Scott Bowles' weekly box office chat today, November 22, 2004:
New York, NY: Hey Scott. I'm starting to get a little nervous that I haven't heard much buzz about The Aviator. I've found anytime a big film by a big director with a big star comes out without a lot of buzz from test screenings and such, it ends up a stinker (i.e. The Terminal). Do you think that's what's going on here. BTW - caught Sideways this weekend, definitely the best picture of the year thus far!

Scott Bowles: I saw 'Aviator' last week, and have to say I was really impressed. It's long (2 hours, 50 minutes), but does a fantastic job of recreating the era both in Hollywood and the world of flight. This is Leonardo DiCaprio's best work since 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape,' and should garner a Best Acting nod for him and a Best Director nomination for Martin Scorsese. And while I enjoyed 'Sideways,' my favorite film of the year remains 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.' Any other nominations out there for Best Pic?

St. Paul: Who are your Oscar Movie and acting favorites for this year? Thanks, Nick

Scott Bowles: Best Pic: 'Sideways,' 'The Aviator,' 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' 'Finding Neverland' and 'Million Dollar Baby.' Actor: Johnny Depp, Jamie Foxx, Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio and Liam Neeson. Actress: Kate Winslet, Annette Benning, Hilary Swank, Audrey Tatou and Imelda Staunton.

http://cgi1.usatoday.com/mchat/20041122001/tscript.htmhttp://cgi1.usatoday.com/mchat/20041122001/tscript.htm
:)

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Postby lye2003 » Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:27 am

More Aviator News:
Report from recent screening for Hollywood Foreign Press

LOOKS LIKE THE AVIATOR WILL TAKE OFF AT THE GOLDEN GLOBES AND OSCARS based upon theresponses it got at a recent screening for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Many award-watchers believed that the biopic starring Leo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes could crash and burn much like the last film directed by Marty Scorsese: Gangs of New York. But our spy reports, "'The Aviator, to the surprise of many at a recent screening for the Hollywood Foreign Press, kept most of its promises as an award-worthy epic. Though the length (2 hours, 45 minutes for the unfinished version shown) was a bit long winded for a few, many believed that the biopic of airman and playboy Howard Hughes paid off in all the ways that 'Alexander' did not. Nominations for Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio seemed a lock, and even Best Picture appeared reachable. The audience offered enthusiastic applause when the movie ended, and responded well to the comic moments -- particularly Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Kate Hepburn, which has suddenly leapt into the running in the supporting actress race."


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