Monday, December 27, 2004

The Aviator 

The Girl and I stopped at the movie theater in Woburn on our way home Christmas night, and saw The Aviator. We were not alone in our Christmas night movie-going, as the theater was packed for the 8:00 pm showing of this three hour film.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars and excels in this Martin Scorcese project about Howard Hughes, from the filming of his ground breaking, Oscar nominated 1930 film Hell's Angels through the lone flight of the Hercules (aka Hughes Flying Boat), better known to history as the Spruce Goose, and to a glimpse of his vision for the future of jets. I saw the Hercules in its former museum hangar in Long Beach, right near the Queen Mary. It's an astoundingly massive piece of engineering. I can't imagine what it must have been like to see it flying over the harbor. You'll have to travel to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in Oregon, where the craft has been since 1992, if you want to see it now.

In The Aviator we see Hughes go from an eager young man ready to conquer the world to a man in his 40s who engineered many revolutions, most notably in this film in aviation and film making, and who while he still retains his eagerness for the next big thing, has had to deal with a lifetime of internal battles as well as crushing physical injury, and who had the psychic and bodily scars to prove it. He battled the laws of physics, the Board of Censors, the price of fame, business competitors, OCD and more than a touch of paranoia, the FBI, IRS and United States Senate.

DiCaprio deserves whatever rewards come his way for this performance.

Cate Blanchett also nailed her portrayal of Katharine Hepburn, whose relationship with Hughes ended with the commencement of her decades long relationship with Spencer Tracy. Katharine Hepburn is one of my personal heroes, and Blanchett does her honor.

Kate Beckinsale is noteworthy as Ava Gardner, as is John C. Reilly as Hughes' long-suffering right hand business manager. For you Trek fans, keep an eye out for Brent Spiner.

I had mixed feelings about the manner in which they wrapped it up, but after pondering it for a couple of days, I think it's a work of genius. The Aviator has already received a good number of awards and nominations, and you should definitely look for it to be among the Academy Award nominees in more than one category, to be announced on January 25th.

Reality Check: The Girl liked it, but felt it was too long. She agrees that Leonardo DiCaprio is a very talented young actor, and urges everyone to see What's Eating Gilbert Grape (I rather shame-facedly admit to not having yet seen it...).

For more on Howard Hughes:
Wikipedia entry
IMDB entry
The Howard Hughes Corporation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:43 AM