Sunday, January 02, 2005

The Aviator

I’m not sure why this movie was made. Prior to seeing it, I was under the impression that it would focus on Hughes making Hell’s Angels. That was not the case. The movie started on the set of Hell's Angels, alright, but that was just the beginning of a quickly paced, yet pondering look at a heavy chunk of the man’s life. In the tradition of Gangs of New York, Scorcese doesn’t know which way to go with this movie, and, as a result, it is bloated with lots of interesting stuff, but nothing except the shell of a character to tie it all together. Obviously, Hughes was an energetic and driven fellow, if not a quirky to downright paranoid, but for the sake of a feature lengthed film, one has to decide which way to approach the story. Are we going to focus on Hughes the plane fanatic? Or Hughes, the movie mogul? Or Hughes, the playboy with a penchant for being reclusive to a fault? Scorcese never made that decision. The only way to successfully transfer the life of Howard Hughes to film is to concentrate on something specific. The making of Hell’s Angels would have been a perfect angle to show Hughes as all that stuff. It could’ve even been about his relationship with Katherine Hepburn or even Ava Gardner.

Other Bad Stuff: Cate Blanchett made a valiant attempt at portraying Katherine Hepburn, but it seemed over the top. I wouldn’t fault Ms. Blanchett, though. Scorcese’s portrayal of the period came from the childhood Scorcese watching the films and newsreels with wide childish eyes. I’m sure Katherine Hepburn was a most outrageous person, but, for the first half of the film, she was portrayed as her character in Bringing Up Baby.

Good Stuff: Jude Law made a damn good Errol Flynn. The actress who played Ava Gardner was very nice to look at. Plenty of airplanes and some good aerial shots. A fake looking, but enjoyable lift off of the Spruce Goose. A dinner with the Hepburns. And a few other details.

Conclusion: Scorcese should narrow down his stories and stop making 3 hour epics.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Hill said...

Well, Scorcese hasn't made a feature shorter than 120 minutes since 1986. He might consider doing so for a change.