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  • The Aviator Should be Grounded

       January 31, 2005

    Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that everybody but you loves. The Aviator is up for 11 Academy Awards, but after seeing it I was shocked. Shocked! It's nowhere near as good as some movies that were snubbed, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Hotel Rwanda.

    The movie covers a twenty-year period in Howard Hughes' life (from about 1927-1946) before he turned into a complete lunatic. But even with taking just a portion of the man's life they try to do too much. The movie is about Hughes' descent into madness, about Hollywood filmmaking, about his romance with Katherine Hepburn, about his love of aviation and about TWA's battles with Pan-Am and corrupt Senators. Whew. That's a lot, and if the movie had a strong narrative maybe it wouldn't matter. But it doesn't. It meanders along. And, at 3 hours, it's way too long and still not satisfying.

    (As an aside, why in the world don't long movies have intermissions anymore? It's just cruel to expect people to sit there for 3+ hours without a potty break. And, The Aviator makes it even worse by having a scene around the 2 hour mark highlighted by dozens of bottles of urine. Thanks guys!)

    On the positive side, the acting and special effects are top notch. Leonardo DiCaprio goes to town with his showy role, although I thought that Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner were more interesting.

    Some of set pieces were just wonderful, particularly Coconut Grove nightclub, a place inhabited in the 30s by the likes of Hepburn, Gardner, Gary Grant, Jean Harlow & Errol Flynn. I can't help but think that that would have made a fantastic movie. I'd love to watch, say, the story of the manager of the Coconut Grove or a spunky waitress or any kind of Copacabana story. That's what most frustrating about The Aviator: with a little more focus it could have been a wonderful film about any of these things:

    • the doomed romance of Howard Hughes & Katherine Hepburn
    • the aviation genius of Hughes and his loyal engineer Odie
    • daredevil pilots as they use their skills for both the entertainment industry and the military
    • the corporate battle between TWA and Pan-Am
    • Juan Tripp, the head of Pan Am

    Instead, I think it will stand alongside other overrated Oscar winners like Gladiator, Driving Miss Daisy and The English Patient.

    Posted by at January 31, 2005 12:42 PM

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    #  March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM      Converted_Comment
    Converted comment: Posted by: JoeFriday at January 31, 2005 09:30 PM

    kris, I haven't seen it yet, but your critique is exactly what I was imagining.. of course, I also think Leo is a bit of an asshat who's crowning achievement was yelling "I'm king of the world!" to a huge chunk of ice.. altho he was entirely too convincing in his role in What's Eating Gilbert Grape

    But yes, we know Hollywood doesn't actually choose good films for their awards.. they choose based on who the star is and how recently she compared republicans to repugnant reptiles (as was the case with Julia '5 Mile Smile' Roberts)

    #  March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM      Converted_Comment
    Converted comment: Posted by: kris at January 31, 2005 09:40 PM

    Well, I may be one of the few people that still admits to liking Titanic. Just because it was popular doesn't mean it was a bad movie.

    Also, I don't think Clint Eastwood is a Hollywood liberal ;-)

    I wouldn't try to apply some ideological test to the Best Picture winners. I think it's just a lack of taste and/or imagination that sometimes keep the best movies out of the running.

    #  March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM      Converted_Comment
    Converted comment: Posted by: Drew at February 1, 2005 09:29 AM

    I thought Leo was outstanding, and overall, I liked this movie a lot. That said, I wouldn't vote for it for Best Picture. Top 5? Yeah, based on its acting, technical merit, and general grandeur.

    There's no doubt in my mind that ESOSM deserved a nomination.




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