March 01, 2005

The Aviator

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It's Oscar time, and the Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator is a brave, bombastic and huge-scale historical epic aimed directly at the Academy's collective heart. So for sheer brevity it deserves many of the kudos it's received, especially in a season where so many other epics flopped (lookin' at you, Alexander). The movie carries a tremendous weight, and at times appears to buckle – but comes out in the end relatively unscathed. Leonardo DiCaprio, fighting his own version of Matthew Broderick Syndrome (that of perpetually looking like a teenager), performs admirably as the straw that stirs this enormous drink. Peripheral characters zip by in a blur as the film sprints through Hughes' salad days as a playboy movie producer, namely Cate Blanchett, game enough to tackle the role as Katherine Hepburn. Cameos abound.

It's extremely hard to make a decent blockbuster – what with all the fingers in the pot – but when it happens it really pays off. Master & Commander, the Spider-Man movies and Scorsese's own Gangs Of New York are recent examples. The Aviator comes fairly close, but comes off a little disjointed as it rushes from one scene to the next.

Side note: I actually sought out theater management to fix the projector's colour problems early on in the movie. Anything green was showing up as a bluish gray, most notably a sequence on a golf course. The next night on the Oscars the same sequence was shown – bluish gray. Turns out it was an intended effect meant to look like an old-timey colour print. I felt like a total heel.

Theater idiots: A few old ladies beaked at how loud the trailers were.

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