‘Aviator’ a long flight
If you book a trip with “The Aviator,” prepare for a long flight that doesn’t go very far. Director Martin Scorsese should have taken a cue from Howard Hughes and been more obsessive in editing his footage.If I sit in my seat for almost three hours, I want to get somewhere – say, New York – or at least arrive at an understanding of what Hughes accomplished throughout his life.Instead of delivering a full-service flight, “The Aviator” serves peanuts.
After Googling Hughes, I discovered he holed up in a Las Vegas hotel and continued his decline into his butt-naked, obsessive, finger-nail-growing hell for the last 20 years of his life. By the time he died, the Treasury Department had to use fingerprints to identify his body because his appearance had changed drastically and few people had seen him for years.He inherited money from his family’s tool business, never graduated from high school, failed in his first movie attempt, earned an Academy Award for “Two Arabian Nights,” lost $1.5 million with “Hell’s Angels,” built a theater that acted as a clandestine meeting place for spies with ties to the CIA, manufactured spy satellites in the 1950s, involved himself in Nixon conspiracies, married two Hollywood starlets and survived several plane crashes that caused brain injuries, which probably complicated his obsessive-compulsive disorder. His Hughes Surveyor spacecraft made the first soft landing on the moon in 1966.All of these facts would create a compelling story. None made it into “The Aviator.”
Instead, the story repeats itself like Hughes’ compulsion itself.We learn he was obsessive compulsive. We learn that means he repeated phrases. We learn he freaked when someone touched his plate or glass. We learn obsessive compulsive disorder can become personally destructive. Oh wait, if we ever picked up even the tiniest amount of psychology, we already knew that.So what do we really glean from the movie?
Only a skeleton biography of one of the most visionary men in history.While Leonardo DiCaprio does a stellar job portraying Hughes, the script itself lacks the passion of other biographical films, such as “Ray.”While the scenery of roaring ’20s parties soars with beauty and the basic story holds some interest, “The Aviator” doesn’t warrant such a long flight.
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