| The Aviator (2004) |
I remember the news stories that came out after Howard Hughes' death. A gas station attendant, who had met Hughes only once, claimed a piece of the millions based on a note allegedly scribbled by Howard when his car broke down. Another story said that when Hughes wanted ice cream, he would buy an entire ice cream truck and have it driven to his home.
At the theatre I saw mostly older people who probably heard the stories long ago and wanted to hear the whole story.
There were some thrills and wonderment in this very long (2hr & 45 minute) film, but mostly it made me feel uncomfortable. Right from the opening scene his mother baths him as a young boy, but he is obviously too old to be bathed by his mother. The idea is that his unhealthy relationship with his mother was the seed for unhealthy behaviors later in his life.
Leonardo DiCaprio is seen nude from the back and side a fair amount. In this case the nudity is intended to strip away the dignity of the character. It makes him look small and pathetic. This is a new trend, which we also see in TV commercials including over-weight, hairy men nude or in swim suits. Similarly in "About Schmidt", the audience has to watch him every time he goes to the washroom.
To me this is hitting below the belt. Few people look like models with their clothes off and even Queen Elizabeth goes to the washroom now and then. We know it, but we don't need to see it. It is unfair and even a bit brutal.
DiCaprio is brilliant as always, but he is perhaps a little too youthful for the role. Cate Blanchett does a marvelous job of Katherine Hepburn, complete with the irritating warbling voice. You would swear it was her.
While this film was produced to exacting standards and appears to tell Hughes' story fairly accurately, the entertainment value is a bit less that I expected from the advertising trailers. The film left me feeling thoughtful and unsure of how to process it all.
If you are curious about Howard Hughes and want to learn more, then this is the film for you. If you just want to be entertained, then you should probably look elsewhere.
- Reviewed by Paul G.