Monday, December 5, 2011

The Aviator

Howard Hughes was one of the world's richest men, inheriting a drill bit fortune from his father, conquering Hollywood in the late 20s and early 30s as an outsider (as well as several of it leading ladies), and making his name as an innovator in the field of aviation. Yet, he carried a chip on his shoulder and his personal demons, perhaps stemming from a domineering mother, haunted him for his entire life. Martin Scorsese's "The Aviator" is a fascinating look at Hughes' life as well as a glamorous postcard to the Golden Age of Hollywood. From his monumentally expensive and expansive three year filmation of "Hell's Angels", to his romances with Lana Turner, Katharine Hepburn, and Ava Gardner, to his setting the flight record, purchase of TWA, and battles with Juan Trippe and Senator Owen Brewster, Scorsese adds his tremendous flourishes to John Logan's screenplay. Playing Hughes from his early 20s to late 40s, Leonardo Dicaprio is astounding in one of his finest roles which is more of an organic creation than it is an imitation. Numbers of fine actors fill supporting roles throughout the film, but here are a few of the best: Cate Blanchett in a spot-on Oscar winning turn as Kate Hepburn, and true lost love of Hughes. John C. Reilly as his tireless and beset assistant Noah Dietrich. Alan Alda in a delicious role as the disingenuous Senator hoping to use Hughes' military fraud case to propel his political career. "The Aviator" is an exciting demonstration of a star's acting capacity as well as the skills of an inimitable director at the top of his form.