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Plot: Biopic of billionaire Howard Hughes, starting with his early filmmaking years as owner of R.K.O. Pictures, but mostly focusing on his role in designing and promoting new aircraft. Hughes was a risk-taker spending several fortunes on designing experimental aircraft and eventually founding TWA as a… Runtime: 170 min Release Date: 14 Dec 2004
This is an astonishingly beautiful and moving film. Martin Scorcese has created a seminal work -- one that brings the harrowing, big-studio, adult movie making of the 1970's and totally reinvents and reinvigorates it for today's audience.The story traces the rise and demise of billionaire Howard Hughes as he struggles to find meaning and purpose in a life unfettered by concerns of money, talent or opportunity. Whether trying to get a plane off the ground or a young starlet into bed, Hughes attacks life with a fierce gusto -- plagued and prodded by obsessive compulsive germphobia that <more>
constantly threatens to consume and defeat him.DiCaprio is amazing! It's the performance no one thought he was capable of. It is a dynamic, smart, funny, articulate, intense, mature and ultimately harrowing performance that relaunches his career as one of American's finest actors. At the end of the film, you just want to take him in your arms and sob. It's really that good.Cate Blanchett is incredible as Katherine Hepburn. At first, I was a little thrown by how bravely she attacked the Hepburn trademark voice, but I was completely won over by the second line. It is a tender, funny, incredibly convincing star turn that supplies the heart for the first half of the film. The scene where she takes Howard home "for dinner" with the family is a classic! Kate Beckinsale does a surprisingly fine job with Eva Gardner -- conveying the slow burning passion of this Hollywood icon without ever lapsing into mere mimicry.But, in the end, this isn't a love story -- it's a war story -- a war between Howard's unstoppable will and his fierce inner demons battling for Howard's soul. It is the major relationship in the movie and the true heart of the film -- one that fuels his eccentric genius and yet constantly threatens to rip his life apart. He tries to ignore it by sleeping with every beauty in town. He tries to outrun it, building faster and faster airplanes. Yet, it is his one constant companion from early childhood to his ultimate, inescapable end. And it is this relationship that leaves you devastated at the end of the film.Brilliant!
Leave it to Martin Scorsese, he is one of the few reliable directors who graces in age, still manages to make outstanding movies. I thought his previous film; GANGS OF NEW YORK was the best film of 2002 and still stand by that comment . Scorsese who was once known for showing us the gritty realistic world of New York City's "Mean Streets" with the Little Italy thugs MEAN STREETS , anti-hero loners TAXI DRIVER , fallen hero RAGING BULL , bizarre world of Soho AFTER HOURS , realistic thugs GOODFELLAS , gangsters controlling Las Vegas CASINO; it wasn't in NYC, but it <more>
still had the similar theme , guilt ridden paramedic BRINGING OUT THE DEAD , and the war between immigrants GANGS OF NEW YORK . This is the Scorsese that all of us know about and remember. Yet Scorsese was also responsible for telling us about a single mother in the southwest struggling to survive ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE , the final farewell concert of a fantastic rock/folk group The Band THE LAST WALTZ , and the story of Jesus Christ LAST TEMPTATION OF Christ . Now Scorsese has become the storyteller of one of the most enthusiastic and eccentric billionaires of recent years, Howard Hughes.In THE AVIATOR, Scorsese portrays Howard Hughes Leonardo DiCaprio as several different roles: filmmaker, womanizer, entrepreneur, engineer, germ-phobic, and aviator. The film tells about the achievements that Hughes accomplished such as the movies HELL'S ANGELS & THE OUTLAW, the building of an airplane that can fly above 20,000 feet, acquiring TWA and making it a international airline, and the design and building of the largest airplane ever the Hercules now known as the Spruce Goose . Yet Hughes went through so many conflicts with his business: Pan Am Airline chief Juan Trippe Alec Baldwin , Maine Senator Ralph Owen Brewster Alan Alda , Louis B. Mayer Stanley DeSantis ; his romance: Katharine Hepburn Cate Blanchett , Ava Gardner Kate Beckinsdale ; and himself: paranoia, and obsession compulsion disorder.THE AVIATOR discusses all of those elements in rich detail, that after watching the movie, you begin to realize the amazing accomplishments that Hughes did. Wonder why the only thing we most remember about Hughes was being a recluse who was afraid of germs. And would like to know more about Howard Hughes and see the films that were discussed in the film.This isn't a Scorsese film that people want another TAXI DRIVER, GOODFELLAS, CASINO, or RAGING BULL would expect. This is a different kind of Scorsese, one who is telling a story about a man, who is no different that him. A dreamer who dreams big and ignores what his advisors, and partners tell him, then come up with projects with amazing results. DiCaprio proves that he his under-appreciated actor in this film. While most of the public see him as that goofy kid who shouts, "I'm king of the world!" in TITANIC. Yet most don't realize his talent with such roles as in WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. THE AVIATOR shows that DiCaprio is a great actor, giving a realistic portrayal of the eccentric Hughes in some scenes, and a man who cleanses the germs that represent people he dislikes or negative incidents. Blanchett does a amazing job with her performance of Katherine Hepburn with the way her head is tilted back to the pronunciation of words to the snobbish like personality she has when she is around her parents. While Beckinsdale also does a great job playing the very sexy Ava Gardner who has a love/hate relationship with Hughes, a woman who hates him at times, but will help him when he needs help.The supporting performances by John C. Reily, Ian Holm, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Danny Huston, and Matt Ross are all top rate and also deserve recognition as well.And Scorsese proves that he one of the best directors of all time with several elements. First the pacing of the story, the film never drags and at running time of 169 mins. it kept my attention on what was going to be happening next. Second, some of the scenes of the film were of complete beauty and wonder. One scene that blew my mind was during the filming of the aerial scenes from HELLS ANGELS which showed how dangerous it was filming the dogfight scenes from that film, seventy years before computer generated images would replace that technique. Third, the acting by the actors was top notch and very convincing. Finally, the story of Howard Hughes himself was unique and original and I think there will never be another person like Howard Hughes. This has been quite a year of movies: COLLATERAL, SIDEWAYS, KILL BILL VOL. 2, THE INCREDIBLES, RAY, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT, THE TERMINAL, FAHRENHEIT 9/11, BOURNE SUPREMENCY, OCEANS TWELVE, CRIMINAL, SPIDER-MAN 2, MEAN GIRLS, HARRY POTTER & PRISONER OF AZKABAN, and SPANGLISH were all films that were amazing and all were among my favorite films of this year yet I still need to see LIFE AQUATIC and FINDING NEVERLAND . But I think it will be hard to beat THE AVIATOR, for it's story, characters, and epic feel. The Academy has snubbed Scorsese for 30 years; they did the same thing for Roman Polanski until THE PIANIST. Now I think its time for the Academy to acknowledge Scorsese for his craft and technique. While some people will believe that Scorsese should have won his Oscar back in 1980 with RAGING BULL, or in 1990 with GOODFELLAS, I feel that it's time to recognize Scorsese for something! And THE AVIATOR is one film that I think that most Scorsese devotees like myself feel is worthy of recognition. Plus, if this movie wins both Best Director and Best Picture, then two of my favorite directors will win Oscars Scorsese and Michael Mann, who produced AVIATOR .So that is why I am rooting and hoping that THE AVIATOR will collect Oscar gold. The best movie of the year, and don't miss it!!!!! ***** Out of five
There is no doubt that THE AVIATOR is the masterpiece of both director Martin Scorsese and actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio becomes Howard Hughes. The actor is so profoundly absorbed in the role that the DiCaprio we know from other films cannot be found in this film. It is a bravura performance of great depth and magnitude. DiCaprio richly deserves his first Academy Award.I have never know much about Howard Hughes. This film opened my eyes to him as a personality, a businessman, aviator and his lavish lifestyle. DiCaprio no longer is the "pretty boy" from other films. The <more>
expressions he takes on are not handsome, the deeply furrowed brow, one could actually watch him, as Hughes' character, think his way through challenging situations, the mark of a highly gifted actor. Watching DiCaprio evolve into the paranoid schizophrenic Hughes in the latter part of the film is a stunning example of pure acting. Leo deserves recognition for recreating a most difficult personality.Though the film is long, it never slows down nor gets boring and it commanded my attention from start to finish. It is masterpiece cinema for these two men and for other actors too. Cate Blanchette must be commended for her role as Katherine Hepburn. Every role was played by first rate actors.If you want to understand a piece of American history from the 30s through the 1940s, this film will illumine you. It may not be the greatest film ever made but it sure is cinema to the max and worth seeing, without a second thought.
Before Howard Hughes was a recluse so reclusive as to out-Salinger J.D. Salinger, he was a big time stud, who made big movies, flew fast planes, and courted gorgeous ladies; so say Martin Scorsese and John Logan, architects of this latest Hollywood biopic.' Leonardo DiCaprio continues his trend of turning in great performances with great directors, playing Howard Hughes between 1927 and 1947, the years where Hughes conquered the worlds of film and aviation, making room for romance with Katharine Hepburn Cate Blanchett and Ava Gardner Kate Beckinsale . In later years, Hughes's <more>
mental problems would become legendary; at this stage in the game, he suffers only from pronounced germ phobia and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is all expertly depicted by Scorsese, Logan, and DiCaprio. Stealing all her scenes is Cate Blanchett, who should start making room on her mantle for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It couldn't have been easy to play an iconic movie star like Katharine Hepburn, but Blanchett aces it. Kate Beckinsale, Kelli Garner Faith Demorgue , and Gwen Stefani Jean Harlow are the other women in Howard's life, although none are as clearly defined as Blanchett/Hepburn. The villains of the piece are Alec Baldwin and Alan Alda, playing, respectively, Pan-American Airways CEO Juan Trippe and Trippe's bought-and-paid-for politician, Senator Ralph Owen Brewster. Both excel, with Alda coming off as both slimy and goofy at the same time. Alec Baldwin, like Cate Blanchett, steals every scene he has, playing Trippe as a delightfully suave villain. In his final scene he delivers a wonderful monologue on the future of Hughes's Trans-World Airline, and caps it off with the most hysterical use of the F word in many years. Also appearing: the dependable John C. Reilly as Hughes's business manager Noah Dietrich; Jude Law, who apparently can't go two weeks without seeing himself in a different movie, as movie legend Errol Flynn; Brent Spiner yay! as airplane executive Robert Gross; and Willem Dafoe as a photographer. "The Aviator" is overlong, and drags in places, but it is a great movie. I rate it a 9/10.
A Vivid Portrayal of a Crippled Colossus (by noralee)
While "The Aviator" is Martin Scorsese as a for-hire director, he barrels into it with the same visual zeal for exposing the surface excesses and tragic consequences of unbridled capitalism of 1930's/'40's Hollywood and the aviation industry that he did for the Gilded Age of "Age of Innocence" and the Las Vegas of "Casino." There is more than a passing resemblance to "Citizen Kane" in story arc and style as the outsider millionaire Howard Hughes seizes the popular imagination to take on The Establishment of the media moguls, business <more>
competition and the Congress while bedding stars and battling personal demons amidst a loyal coterie. The metaphors come together in a foreboding scene within the klieg lights of a Hollywood premiere as Hughes, with Jean Harlow on his arm in a cameo by Gwen Stefani, is blinded by light bulbs that crash onto a red carpet strewn with broken glass and is too deafened to partake in PR banter.From the opening shots of the making of "Hell's Angels" Scorsese ties together the two improbable if it weren't true twin obsessions of Hughes, movies and airplanes, so we also see the source of the director's interest in the project. Scorsese's love of old movies comes through as he really gets into Hughes's upstart movie-making techniques outside the studio system and the ratings board. There's almost too many movie clips though I've seen interviews where Scorsese's descriptions of the airplane footage in the original "Hell's Angels" are more thrilling than what's actually re-created here , but they serve as a haunting backdrop for Hughes's deterioration as he silhouettes against replays of his films like Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard." Leonardo DiCaprio is surprisingly and astoundingly effective as he wouldn't naturally seem to resemble the imposing Hughes. Perhaps that's why Scorsese uses an unusual, for him, number of close-ups which emotionally work as an entrée to Hughes's perceptions, enthusiasms and psychological problems. While DiCaprio is aided by excellent make-up and hair styling as he ages and the character matures and changes, the accent, body language, tortured expressions and seductive intensity are all his. The movie powerfully shows how involved the self-taught Hughes was in the design of his innovative planes and his gutsy piloting. I hope DiCaprio's youth appeal will bring in younger audiences, as the few in the audience I saw it with were clueless about the historical figures and references in the film.I was leery of anyone taking on Katharine Hepburn so I was surprised not only how good Cate Blanchett was but even more surprised by her chemistry with DiCaprio, which I thought originally was as odd a casting pairing, as well, Hughes was with Hepburn. They really make it work, both together and in a fast-talking dinner with her intellectual, politically active Yankee family.Alan Alda is terrific as the corrupt senator, but I was surprised that he had his New York accent rather than adopt a Down East one as he was supposed to be a Maine senator. Even in comparison to the climactic Senate hearings in "The Godfather," this ping pong conflict is exciting, helped by the exaggerated production design and theatrical lighting that reflects how Hughes sees the match up in his shaky mental state. There's no hearing room in Congress that large or would have photographers that close. Also in the ensemble Alec Baldwin and John C. Reilly are almost too restrained as, respectively, the Pan Am CEO and Hughes's COO. Ian Holm is delightful in a very small part that helps to show how Hughes kept around him a small group of loyalists who enabled his eccentricities. Jude Law as Erroll Flynn is a cameo and seems to be there only to represent the conventionally dissolute Hollywood as opposed to Hepburn and Hughes being in a parallel trajectory.Kate Beckinsale is just pretty and has none of Ava Gardner's earthy presence nor brazenness. Even though she talks frankly, she is not a tough dame and she just seems to be playing dress-up in the extravagant period costumes.Sandy Powell's period costumes are wonderful, even the men's clothes are eye-catching in how they set off the actors' bodies, yet are stylistically appropriate.The production design is a bit over the top, but it emphasized how outsized Hughes's environment was, as a billionaire controlling a huge airplane factory and airline and as a Hollywood arriviste in the glamorous nightlife. The flying special effects, particularly of the breathtaking Beverly Hills crash, fit the overall tone.The cinematography is ravishing, over a wide variety of settings and environments.As usual for a Scorsese film the period song selections are superb. Stay through the credits to hear a Leadbelly song about Hughes. It's fun to see both Rufus and Loudon Wainwright as nightclub entertainers. Howard Shore's score is a bit overpowering, but does work with the exhilarating aerial shots.
Not many directors can say that their film-making careers haven't become as predictable as the next day, and for all its ups and downs and questionable choices, Martin Scorcese, with or without an Academy Award for Best Director, can stand proud and say that he is one of those few who have made at least one stellar film per decade since he began making films in the 1970s and continues making high-quality films for the serious moviegoer. Or, as it could be said, he makes the films he wants to make whether they become critical successes or failures.Coming out of GANGS OF NEW YORK he decides <more>
to film this biopic about media dinosaur Howard Hughes at a time when the average moviegoer is more interested in the likes of Paris Hilton and her increasingly cretinous presence which has nothing to bring to society except smutty videotapes. In a year filled with biopics, THE AVIATOR is an important one, if trivially flawed, because in taking such a character and without sentiment analyzing his truly remarkable but ultimately tragic life he achieves a sharper view. Leonardo diCaprio as Howard Hughes does not have even a remote physical resemblance to the actual man, but there was no doubt in my mind that he was Hughes from head to toe. It's as if he studied Hughes through film reels because he gets him right and that makes his performance multi-dimensional. Watch a short, apparently unimportant scene with a bar-waitress early in the film and see how this establishes who he is in relation to women, what he thinks of them. Watch how diCaprio brings Hughes obsession with perfection and cleanliness to life: in film-making, in building the perfect plane. And watch those testosterone-fuled sequences in which Hughes breaks aviation records almost killing himself at one point .It can be said that THE AVIATOR is divided into two parts: The first half, which focuses on Hughes relationship with screen icon Katharine Hepburn Cate Blanchett , and the second half which takes off from where she leaves and his obsessive-compulsive disorder, previously kept under control suggesting she gave him some stability , comes flooding through unmonitored. During the first half of the movie DiCaprio and Blanchett create a perfect pair of social outcasts, and had the film ended there, this would have been a powerfully tragic love story. I got the sense, without reading Kate's autobiography, that these two really loved each other and were each other's complement. Hepburn's mercurial approach to Hughes must have obviously intoxicated him, and I could perceive through Blanchett's flawless conveyance of Hepburn that she was intrigued by this odd man, and of course, being so cerebral, she felt compelled to getting to know him. However, their differences could not have been better reflected in the disastrous scene when Hughes meets Hepburns family and though they remained together a bit longer, his womanizing was the cause for her abandonment of him and the gut-wrenching sequence in which be burns his clothes and orders work associate Noah Dietrich John C. Reilly to buy him more.The second half doesn't lag. It does feel a little episodic, but Scorcese manages to make transitions smooth, while introducing players in the latter part of his life, such as Ava Gardner, Juan Trippe, and Senator Ralph Owen Brewster. As the case with many of Scorcese films, length and editing is an issue, and reducing the inclusion of starlet Faith Domergue would have been preferable, but again, Scorcese is making the film he chooses to make and this is really a quibble in my behalf, because soon later Hughes is back in action defending his usage of his own money during the war against accusations from Senator Brewster Alan Alda, playing him like a snake . No punches are also thrown when the aforementioned OCD kicks in and Hughes starts to see things and becomes a virtual recluse, urinating into glass jars and watching the same movie over and over again the movie in question was not THE OUTLAW as seen here, but the usage of this archive footage seems appropriate since it sums up his attitude toward women and a lost love in Kate Hepburn . Here is when DiCaprio really sinks his teeth into his role in making Hughes a broken man unable to cope with his madness and needing to defend himself against Brewster and Trippe.Regardless to minor character inconsistencies and half-told story lines and that many of the actors look nothing like their real-life counterparts i.e. Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow, Jude Law as Errol Flynn, and a glaringly miscast Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner , THE AVIATOR is solid entertainment and highly recommended to anyone who loves old movies and old Hollywood.
Scorsese has such an encyclopedic knowledge and understanding of cinema that every shot, however inventive and daring, is effortlessly composed. The direction, editing and cinematography are all the first-rate work by individuals who are clearly masters of their profession and the production design, costumes and makeup are the best you'll see all year. Their efforts combine to create a world of rich and lavish color, of excitement and glamour. Who wouldn't want to visit THIS Cotton Club in 1935? It's hard to imagine who could trump the technical team for Oscars this year.With such <more>
a perfectly realized world in which to perform, the actors universally do an outstanding job. Despite the criticism of the hardcore DiCaprio-haters, the unprejudiced will observe an excellent performance that takes genuine risks and convincingly conveys the passing of more than twenty years. Importantly, DiCaprio more than holds his own when paired with Cate Blanchett and especially Alan Alda, who both give equally note worthy performances. Blanchett's interpretation of Katherine Hepburn seems spot on, and anyone familiar with the late actresses mannerisms will appreciate the hard work that clearly went into the recreation. Alda, one of the most consistently underrated actors around, delivers another masterclass in restrained character building as he oozes ambition and political dishonesty from every pore.And yet, despite the obvious talent of all those involved and Scorsese's ability to effortlessly fill three hours, something about The Aviator fails to completely satisfy. Without wanting to sound like a film student, movies should, ultimately, be ABOUT something; love, honor, courage, redemption, the BIG ideas and themes that are the fuel of the plot. What was the drive of The Aviator? A rich guy recklessly spends lots of money to indulge his personal obsessions and gets away with it. We're never told how his experiences change him, and without change there's no journey. Considering the screenplay was written by John Logan, who usually displays a keen interest in showing the emotional evolution of his characters, the oversight is inexplicable. Ultimately then, much like Gangs of New York, The Aviator is simply the sum of it's parts, and however brilliantly those parts are realized, there doesn't seem to be a bigger theme to underpin and drive them.The Aviator is a perfectly realized recreation of the era and one well worth experiencing. But the lack of a real emotional journey suggests 'all gloss and no substance', and ultimately prevents the movie from being truly great.
Martin Scorsese's most recent ambitious project does not disappoint.I just saw this film in a special preview for NYU film students, with Martin Scorsese there to discuss and answer questions after, and I must say, it was pretty phenomenal. It is Martin Scorsese's best work since Goodfellas this is obvious and most probably his best work since Raging Bull. DiCaprio's character study of Howard Hughes, and his devotion to this role, is exquisite and reminiscent even of Robert De Niro's in Raging Bull. The film is lengthy, but this compliments it, for the story is riveting and <more>
the production is practically flawless even the combination of computerized processes and more traditional photography was smooth and effective .The presentation of the film, in an evolving color from two-tone Technicolor, as Martin explained it to us, to three-tone, to modern by the later sequences is absolutely stunning, and the cinematography by renowned Robert Richardson, ASC, is some of the best I've seen and, in my opinion, deserving of an Oscar .Cate Blanchett was impeccable as Katharine Hepburn, though, at times, I felt that the complexity of her character was never really deeper than a surface analysis.She did her role flawlessly, but this is not to say that it really Alec Baldwin portrayed one of the flattest villains I've seen in a major motion picture, but, again, this is about Howard Hughes, and DiCaprio's performance is worthy of an Oscar nod at least, and perhaps an Oscar Win certainly the best performance I've seen all year .One of my few complaints, though, is the lengthy sequences featuring Howard Hughes as a solo aviator. Though interesting, entertaining even, the film was long enough already, and did not require such an exhaustive analysis of individual flight procedures.Also, it seems that some of the themes were almost too redundant, such as the ways in which Hughes' psychological problems were performed. Much of the Hollywood history is good, even interesting, but it also sometimes seemed a bit self-indulgent, to the point where you questioned the necessity of ALL of those nightclub sequences in the film.But, besides those relatively few complaints, it is a spectacular film.In all: do not miss it.3.5/4
"The Aviator"--a biopic of Howard Hughes-- is clearly one of Scorsese's lesser works. Still, a lesser work from Scorsese is far superior to the greatest work of your average director. Here's the rundown:The first quarter of the film is a total triumph, showing the young Hughes' bold endeavors in film when he produced what was at the time the most expensive and lavish film ever made. Scorsese tipping his hat to old Hollywood is the most fun he has had since "Goodfellas." The costumes, set designs, and pacing of this portion of the film are stunning and suck the <more>
viewer in.The rest of the film, despite Scorsese's amazing and vivid attention to detail, is a muddled mess, giving us glimpses into Hughes' obsessive and compulsive ways, his womanizing, his ambitious foray into aviation and the early days of commercial flight, his fight against Congress at the end of WWII, and the notorious plight and ultimately single flight of his infamous "Spruce Goose." It's all semi-educational and semi-entertaining, but in the end I think the complicated life of Hughes remains a mystery.As for the performances, they are amazing thanks in most part to Scorsese, the ultimate actor's director . Leonardo Dicaprio in the title role gives yet another performance that goes against my natural loathing of him, and although he seems a bit too boyish playing Hughes in the latter years and the film really suffers for it , he's impeccable for the better part of the film. Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn is simply stunning and steals every moment she is on screen. Her look, her mannerisms, and her speech perfectly match the screen legend to a haunting degree. Alan Alda and Alec Baldwin in supporting quasi-villain roles are methodically perfect. And the nicest surprise was Kate Beckinsale, a normally flaccid actress, playing Ava Gardner. She came across as gorgeous, intelligent, and maximized her minimal screen time without ever overtly stealing her scenes. Like Sharon Stone in "Casino" and Cameron Diaz in "Gangs of New York" Scorsese once again coaxes a great performance out of an otherwise unremarkable pretty face. In the end, "The Aviator" flies high thanks to Scorsese and the acting, even if the real person it depicts remains lost in a muddle of half truths and speculation.