View Full Version : THE AVIATOR, reviewed by Chris knipp

Chris Knipp
12-20-2004, 10:06 PM
Crazy about flight

What's the point of a biopic, anyway? Is it meant to be a sort of crude cloning, like a waxworks effigy at Madame Tussaud's but with moving images? Or is it meant to delve into the secrets, show us the real man or woman behind the public mask? In the case of Howard Hughes, we already know all about the weirdness. What Martin Scorsese means to do is to show that Hughes was also a heroic figure in the history of aviation, and a playboy who had a great deal of fun. That may be a bit of a stretch: Hughes's story is full of epic foul-ups, spectacular wastes of money and time and lives to satisfy his mistaken whims, not to mention morally dubious actions; but nonetheless Scorsese's new movie, which focuses on Hughes’s early, triumphant decades, is fun to watch. It soars and sparkles. As for the man behind the mask, it shows us some of that, obsessively chronicling the obsessive-compulsive behavior to a degree the average viewer can hardly take; but the gaiety and pizzazz and boldness we'd forgotten about are what the movie wants to play around with. One of Hughes's best moments illustrated in The Aviator is the time he protected Spencer Tracy and Hughes's old flame Kate Hepburn from the scandal-mongers. She gave Hughes the gate, but he remained loyal. He did a lot of other bad stuff; but the finale of the early life of Hughes as seen by Scorsese is his standing up triumphantly to the sleazy politician, Senator Owen Brewster. Even when he descends into repetitive madness in the movie's last scene, the phrase he's repeating makes Hughes sound like a pioneer: it's "THE WAY OF THE FUTURE...THE WAY OF THE FUTURE...THE WAY OF THE FUTURE...." And the memory the movie leaves us with is of flashy clothes, daring-do, and pretty women.

This is where Leonardo DiCaprio comes in. Did Scorsese just choose DiCaprio to get a big budget for his aviation epic? I don't think so. There's more logic in it than that. Yes, Leo is too young-looking and reedy-voiced, but the movie in many if not all respects works anyway, and so does DiCaprio's performance. It's fun seeing the fine clothes and high life. DiCaprio looks great all duded up: his face and body fit quite well with 20-'s-30's-40's styles, and he's equally believable as party boy and ladies' man.

Scorsese's version of Katherine Hepburn -- who turns out to be one of the linchpins of the movie -- isn't too far off. At least her story gibes with the way the actress herself tells it in her memoir, About Me, which explains how her ex-husband's presence and her family's snobbish, clubby ways put Hughes off, how she discovered he was hard of hearing but tried to hide it, how they were too much alike to stay paired off for more than a couple of years. Cate Blanchett as Hepburn however not only doesn't look at all like her (she isn't as sharp and stylish), any more than Leo looks like Hughes; despite her obvious mimicry of the voice, she also doesn't really deliver her lines with the clarity, the rhythm, and the panache that Hepburn unfailingly had. But hers is essential as the liveliest female presence and so very much needed in this macho story about a boy and his toys.

The Aviator isn't too long if you accept that it's an epic. But can you do that? It's a colorful and unique story, but beyond that it doesn't quite know what it is, a clinical case history, a piece of hero-worship, an epic, a tragedy, or a comedy, and so it self-destructs, almost, toward the end, when the fun ends and the craziness increasingly begins to take over. We can certainly be glad it wasn't cast in the form of a solemn tragedy. It could have been made a comedy throughout. Hughes's obsessive-compulsive/paranoid meltdowns are tragi-comic. They're also rather catching. As soon as the movie ended I went to the Mens' and gave my hands a very thorough washing -- everything is so dirty! Yech! -- and the handwashing-scenes are pivotal -- epic in their intensity. Yes, Scorsese does do the obsessive-compulsive thing tellingly well, even if it seems more suited to a smaller, less flashy movie, something more on the order of Requiem for a Dream, or The Machinist, or the wonderful opening sequence of Jonathan Demme's almost forgotten Melvin and Howard, which captures the feel of the late Hughes persona splendidly, and sympathetically.

The aviation sequences are so amazing you wonder how they did them. One simple answer is, by spending lots of money. They must have cost as much as Hughes's extravagant projects. Again, this aspect of the movie is a bit of a whitewash, because DiCaprio makes crashing planes look heroic rather than foolhardy.

People have commented on the "clever" (actually too obvious) way breasts and clouds are connected, and how Hughes's fondling of a woman segues into his feeling of a new plane's shell for perfectly flush rivets. What's clever is how DiCaprio's face as he "flies" is both rapt and manic. Aviation comes to life as a higher calling, perhaps one of the great ones of the twentieth century, but technological progress as a kind of madness, a Luddite's "I told you so."

Leonardo is not so good as a crazy man. Growing a beard only makes his face look younger. We can believe him as a wild spender. It's harder to believe him as a recluse. (He's more often seen walking around buck naked than cowering in a corner.) But whatever you say, this movie's fun. At least it is till the craziness takes over. And even then it's fun, because Hughes is seen rallying from his longest crazy spell to triumph before the Congressional committee, stomping out to general applause. And DiCaprio works because he has the power to dominate the scene. What is best about DiCaprio is his exuberance -- always -- and his boldness, and those are the aspects of Howard Hughes Scorsese is playing with.

All the way through Leo does that wrinkled-brow charming-eyes look Orson Welles used to do, and you think of Citizen Kane. The Aviator may not be Scorsese's Citizen Kane but it's a fascinating movie and much more successful than the ill starred and lugubrious Gangs of New York. There are numerous splendid spectacles in The Aviator and they all have a glitzy glamour about them and are perfect for the wide screen in a big Cineplex. But is this what made the Scorsese of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas great? No. He's been seduced, not by money, but by movie grandeur, and he's moved far away from his noirish New York roots. In that he somewhat resembles Zhang Yimou, who's also moved toward pure spectacle, and with even better results -- not, of course, doing the biography of a modern figure.

The question remains: why do directors do biopics? Is Scorsese really looking for himself in the mad failed movie director, the obsessive compulsive recluse, as Oliver Stone is said to see himself in the megalomaniac Alexander obsessed by his mother? That may be a better answer than it seems.

12-27-2004, 01:29 AM
Now my turn ... hee hee ...

What I thought is good?
-- 3 memorable scenes
(i) the doorknob scene
(ii) the hearings scene with the Senator
(iii) the plane crash scene
-- The performance of ...
(i) Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and ... * drum roll * why few (if any at all) mentioned Alan Alda (Senator)?! Alan Alda was VERY good. ;)
-- The set and the costumes

What I thought could be better?
-- I do NOT mind a 3 hours movie, but I thought the screenplay could be "tighter", and if I am NOT too ambitious, the 3 hours (or even 3.5 or 4) could highlight more about his childhood or his old age ... * greedy *

In sum, worth watching.

12-31-2004, 12:39 PM
I do this sometimes, but today its only because Im going out to breakfast....just saw The Aviator last night and it blew me away. I think this may be the best film of 2004! ! ! ! Real comments to follow...Huevos Rancheros are calling.


01-02-2005, 03:12 PM
The Aviator is definitely a film that soars and sparkles Chris.
Good choice of words there- the film is probably more glitzy than the real events.

Leonardo DiCaprio seemed very comfortable playing Howard Hughes; he did his homework. He might get an oscar nod. He's believable enough as Hughes. Great point about the Charles Foster Kane echoes. I was thinking about Welles a lot during this movie.

I saw this film yesterday at a sold-out screening (everybody must have been dying to get out of the house) and it is definitely in the top 3 of best films of the year.

The best thing about the movie is the camerawork. Robert Richardson's photography and lighting are so pleasing to my eye that I would watch this film silent and feel no loss. The man behind the look of Bringing Out The Dead & Kill Bill is already an industry legend if you ask me. Check out Bob's resume on the imdb- dude's got some FILMS under his belt...

Some scenes I loved:

-The golf game between Howard and Katherine Hepburn- a fine lifetime achievement award clip for Cate Blanchett.

-The premiere of Hell's Angels. Leo arrives with Gwen Stafani (holy dogshit is she hot!) and "talks" to the press.
Awesome scene; very brief, very odd, but it's such great cinema

-The sfx for the flying scenes. First rate.
I don't know about you, but I found it easy to believe Leo is test-flying airplanes. The shots of him in the cockpits seem damn real....
The crashes seemed real, the Spruce Goose seemed real,
Marty, you got your money's worth in special effects. Let's hope AMPAS fucking notice that fact.

A few things that bugged me but had nothing to do with the movie:

The scene where Kate Hepburn is telling Howard about the theatre and seeing an Ibsen play had some people sitting near all a-titter. I'm guessing they were theatre actors or patrons because they seemed to want the whole theatre to know that they were cultured- "oh, I love Ibsen!" "Yeah, he's right up there with George Bernard Shaw..."

I wanted to smack them. Who cares that you know who Ibsen and Shaw are? Fuck off with your pretentious, egomanical attitudes!
Beware! There are many socially inept people out there who THINK they are worldly. And they want you to know it. So my advice if you run into someone like the above, butt into their conversation and be even more pretentious than they are:

"Oh, you like Ibsen? Well you must like Genet then! Don't you love the ending to THE BALCONY? Running into the alley, the machine-gun fire, the mildness, the unction, the absolute rapture!Do tell of the exquisite emotions you feel when you see a fine production of Henrik's.....

Ugh. I love art and all that, but Jesus, somebody must stop the art-snobs. You would think people who claim to be intelligent would be able to take stock of their own projections...

Sorry, what were we discussing? The Aviator. Right.
Great film.

01-09-2005, 04:38 AM
Martin Scorsese’s biography of Howard Hughes’ most productive years is distressingly impersonal and while any Scorsese is better than no Scorsese, “The Aviator” has the feel of a debt being repaid to Miramax for making “Gangs Of New York”. His commitment seems so low-level that what used to be a deliciously rigorous style here seems reduced to a series of trick shots that have less to do with burnishing an impression than with going through the motions of creating something merely impressive. The only time Scorsese appears engaged is in the first third in which Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) directs the aviation picture “Hell’s Angels” and then tussles with censors with a frenzy reminiscent of the director himself. The rest of the film evolves into a “movie” movie with real characters portrayed by actors who act as if they’re in a movie (particularly Oscar-baiting Cate Blanchett, as Katherine Hepburn, who appears to have watched “The Philadelphia Story” one too many times). It takes DiCaprio almost two-thirds of the picture to discover Hughes but he finally does as he ages into a deeply troubled hermit who still can muster the courage to vanquish the foes, Senator Ralph Owen Brewster (a very good Alan Alda) and Pan Am head Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin), which have conspired to break him. In Hughes’ later years, DiCaprio bears a definite resemblance to him, but it’s also at this point that he bears a striking resemblance to the young Orson Welles, which further connects to the film’s thematic links—and, it would appear, Scorsese’s way of passing the time for most of the film—to “Citizen Kane”: John Logan’s workman, easy-solution script (he blames Hughes’ mother) attempts to portray him as a rich kid whose upbringing has traumatized him into an obsessive who lives to control the lives around him; and I swear Howard Shore’s score seems at times to purloin Bernard Herrmann’s. All that seems to be missing is Rosebud. Entertaining and oversized but not particularly memorable—you get the sense it started receding from Scorsese’s memory after the premiere.

Chris Knipp
01-13-2005, 02:25 AM
bix171:Very interesting comments, though I don't share a lot of your evaluations; I can't see why you don't see that lots of the early parts are thrilling. It's a bit perverse to say the young DiCaprio is better as Hughes ages, but I think he's good all through. Another, darker more brooding and crazy film needs to be made to show the later Hughes.

"John Logan’s workman, easy-solution script " -- yes, but doesn't that intentionally make it part of a great Hollywood tradition, much like the condensation of the Ellroy novel for L.A. Confidential? How else can you do a screen epic?

Another note on Hepburn. Hope Johann doesn't think this horribly pretentious and go into another of his anti-snob rants (Thanks for the always fun and positive enthusiastic comments though, J.): A friend of mine went to see the movie with her aged mother who actually knew Hepburn. They thought they'd gotten her completely wrong, and they got bored and walked out. I repeat, if you listen to Hepburn and listen to Blanchett as Hepburn, Blanchett doesn't truly understand how Kate spoke and just copies the superficial sound of it. This is one of my big disappointments, but maybe on re-seeing the movie I'll feel differently.

I shoiuld have said that Alda and Baldwin were good. They are fine and so is just about everybody. And so are the mockups of the flying, which are some of the most exhilarating sequences in the movie.

I group this movie with House of Flying Daggers --- two big, colorful, magnificent holiday treats from two great genius filmmakers---whose ability to handle mind boggling complexity of "mise en scene" and make it all dazzling and pure fun is simply awesome.

01-13-2005, 05:45 PM
Chris I don't wish to demean your review by adding a long comment. Your review is precise and on the mark. If you don't mind, I simply want to add my comments after seeing the film today. Thanks.


Howard Hughes was perhaps the most liked and admired industrialist in the first half of the Twentieth Century. The public ate him up like the popcorn the newsreels sold in the lobby. What’s not to like? He loved flying, beautiful women, and was an outspoken person who always told the truth. At least, that is what his publicists would have us believe. The public bought it, until Hughes’ empire came crashing down shortly after his death. Then we learned the real truth about Howard Hughes: that he fired people because he was paranoid; that he was obsessive-compulsive; he had mysophobia (fearing of becoming dirty from germs); and he was delusional.

Howard Hughes was also brilliant and conscientious. He helped Kate Hepburn and Spencer Tracey out of trouble (along with many others not mentioned in the film). He practically wrote the book on commercial aviation, or at least the people who worked for him did. He loved to fly. For Hughes, flying was more an obsession than a joy. He had to do it faster and better than anyone else, and he did. He made TWA one of the major carriers in America.

Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” is a close personal portrait of this complex and pitiful man who struggled his entire life against a mean spirited competition and his own demons. Scorsese has beautifully filled the screen like a grand canvas with larger than life images and caricatures of the famous and infamous Hollywood elite. From the graceful Katherine Hepburn to the gross overt quality of Errol Flynn, sooner or later, many of the stars involved with Hughes, show up in one form or another. I had heard so much of Cate Blanchett’s performance, how she nailed Hepburn. The voice, yes, but in appearance, Katy was one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood. She did not have a bulbous nose. Yet, it is Leonardo DiCaprio who carries this film and delivers in the most crucial scenes, almost unbearable to watch. DiCaprio pours his heart and soul into the part, coming away with a meaty portrayal, easy to be proud of for later generations. Whether he gets his long deserved Oscar or not, his should be one of the five nominations.

Just when you think Howard Hughes has faded into history, we, the general public, get to resurrect our fascination with Hughes’ life during this film. We become voyeurs to his private hell unfolding before our baffled senses. His life was so public. Still, we watch intently as Hughes slowly disintegrates further into manias he can no longer escape from. Even with the help of friends, it is too late for Hughes, despite his heroic final public appearance, he is doomed to spend the rest of his life trapped inside a nightmare governed by the rules of an obsessive-compulsive. Martin Scorsese has crafted this slow undoing of Hughes sanity filled with heroism when he succeeds, and piteous woe when his mental diseases overcome his progress. Martin’s picture of Hughes is filled with a stark unveiling that makes our peering at Hughes life an embarrassment to ourselves, and Martin Scorsese’s direction worthy of our praise.

01-13-2005, 11:56 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Chris Knipp
[b]I can't see why you don't see that lots of the early parts are thrilling.

In actuality, I said that it's the early parts that are the most interesting (although the film held my attention throughout) and it certainly seems as if Scorsese is most interested here; certainly the manic drive that informs Scorsese's films is kindred to Hughes' drive. After that, the film gets rather pedestrian.

It's a bit perverse to say the young DiCaprio is better as Hughes ages, but I think he's good all through.

DiCaprio has grown into a very good actor. I didn't think much of him in the beginning ("What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and "This Boy's Life") but he's gotten much better since "Titanic". He was competent throughout "The Aviator" but, to me, only came alive when he could go off a bit. Perhaps he identified with Hughes' madness. Fortunately, he never hammed it up.

"John Logan’s workman, easy-solution script " -- yes, but doesn't that intentionally make it part of a great Hollywood tradition, much like the condensation of the Ellroy novel for L.A. Confidential? How else can you do a screen epic?

I'm not sure the comparison is apt. "L.A. Confidential" was an adaptation of a novel. This isn't so much a condensation of a life as an excerpt from one. But it's real (at least purportedly) and concerns itself with Hughes' life's midsection. I would guess it's easier to streamline a biography that edit a novel for cinematic purposes.

I just think Logan's screenplay was just too reductive. Even my wife, the first person to admit she doesn't give a shit about film construction, leaned over and said "Always blame it on the mother." The movie runs almost three hours and boils explanations down to one or two short scenes or comments (that line about Hepburns' brother killing himself had virtually nothing to do with the movie; it seemed to exist to prove how much research was done) just so it can focus on exciting plane crashes.

I guess that's why they called it "The Aviator". Sigh.

Chris Knipp
01-14-2005, 02:22 AM
You are right. I misread you about the movie's beginning. I confused two things you said: that DiCapro gets better as the movie progresses, while (in your view) the movie goes the other way toward the "pedestrian.". I'm sorry about my misreading. I don't have a strong opinion on this. In general I like that you expressed a sharp dissenting critical viewpoint about the movie. I don't really want to have an argument with you. Your observations are very interesting, as I've already said. What I remember about The Aviator is the sweep and grandeur of it. It's a movie with a lot of class, and it's fun, which to me Gangs of New York and a lot of Scorsese's recent movies haven't been.

We could argue on and on about the issues you take up. I will leave it to other people to comment. Basically I take it you think the movie is worth seeing, though not a masterpiece. I'd agree with you on that.

Your comments on DiCaprio are hard to pin down. I still think your views on him seem a bit perverse. Arguably he was brilliant when young, in Gilbert Grape. The Academy thought so and so do I. Some consider him too reedy-voiced and baby-faced to play a mature man. Just as I think he is equally good throughout The Aviator, I think that he has been good throughout his so far still short if meteoric career. If he's growing better, maturing, that's great. Stagnation would be unfortunate.

You're probably right about my comparison with L.A. Confidential. A different kind of thing, though the screenplay of it is a condensation of a fiendishly complex set of plots by Ellroy. Yeah, "blame the mother" is a simple thing, but then, the Illiad is about the wrath of Achilles. That's the story of the epic: Achilles was angry. And the entirety of Milton's Paradise Lost is about "Man's first disobedience, and the fruit of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste brought death into the world. " A complex work needs a simple idea to unify it.

But that doesn't make the writing of Logan for The Aviator worthy of Homer or Milton. Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote (http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/1204/041224.html), "Lots can be said for The Aviator as entertainment, though not much for it as edification. John Logan's witty yet shallow script suggests we'll learn something significant about the psychology of Howard Hughes (1905-'76), but it doesn't deliver." That's not the fault of so much of the opening Rosebud-esque scene but of everything that follows.

01-25-2005, 08:47 AM
Originally posted by hengcs
-- The performance of ...
(i) and ... * drum roll * why few (if any at all) mentioned Alan Alda (Senator)?! Alan Alda was VERY good. ;)

HOORAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I was right.

oscar jubis
02-22-2005, 01:16 AM
Glamorous entertainment with excellent production values. Perhaps enough to sneak into my Top 10 Films in English, especially when I focus on the exhilarating flying sequences and period recreations. HH's pop mythology provides more than enough interesting material for 169 minutes. I bought into these actors playing these engaging characters so casting and acting are a non-issue for me. That aside, let's get into some issues raised and a couple of new ones.

*Bix calling the film "distressingly impersonal" prompted me to ask myself: What is it that makes it a Scorsese film? Assuming everything else remains the same, how is the resulting film different than The Aviator as directed by say...Ridley Scott or Michael Mann? Don't assume that I found fault with Marty's direction, I'm just trying to locate his signature.

*I find myself more comfortable discussing the film's "limitations" than its "weaknesses" or "flaws". Seems to me that the filmmakers have accomplished what they set out to do, but as far as content (I'm speaking here mostly about the script) The Aviator is not very ambitious. Bix (again) refers to Logan's script as "workman, easy-solution" and "too reductive". This resonates with me. The film consists of legendary moments of HH's public persona (pop mythology), depiction of his obsessive/compulsive symptoms and his dealing with knowing he's not "normal", and one little bit of conjecture (as far I know): a brief opening scene that some (especially those unfamiliar with OCD etiology) will use to blame it all on mom. Bix and his wife are too wise and knowing to fall into the trap. It would've been better to excise it all together, rather than mislead the lay audience _OCD symptoms may be trigerred by environmental cues and stress, but the cause is, to a large extent, faulty "brain chemistry".
The film strives to elide the controversial (his drug addiction post-accident, for instance), the complicated (his politics, including reaction to the HUAC), and "messy" stuff such as whether anyone got hurt or killed when he crashed the XF-11 and how that information was kept from the public.

Chris Knipp
02-22-2005, 02:30 AM
I'm glad you as a psychiatric professional focused on the opening "imprint" scene.
a brief opening scene that some (especially those unfamiliar with OCD etiology) will use to blame it all on mom Your point is well taken: this is passé pop psychology--(perhaps deliberately? since it's frequently said to be an intentional link with Citizen Kane). But while Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is now known to be due to "faulty brain chemistry" (not itself a very scientific-sounding way to put it, but I grant that it's valid), isn't it also possible that an overprotective mother may create lasting insecurities and reclusiveness of feeling and behavior in an oversensitive son? (I saw such a pattern in my own father, whose mother wouldn't let him play with the neighbor kids because they were too 'rough' and too 'dirty,' and who was never relaxed with people and spent his latter years rarely going out -- though he hardly could have been said to have OCD.) I think people discussing the movie have muddled the complexities by concluding that all Hughes' pecularities are explained by saying he had OCD.

Aside from this issue, I nonetheless of course agree with you as many would that the screenplay of The Aviator isn't profound. (But can you give examples of biopics whose structure lends itself to a deep and subtle analysis of the person whose life is being presented?) I repeatedly used the word 'fun' to stress that -- its lightness and superficiality make it frothy and enjoyable -- and also to contrast the film with Scorsese's other frequently un-fun films -- perhaps one reason for your finding it hard to see the special Mark of Marty in this one. It has the grandeur of mise-en-scčne of Gangs of New York in it, but unlike that, isn't a disaster but a success.

02-26-2005, 02:30 AM
The link between Huges' psychological disorders and his mother have not been established. That was only eluded to in the film because the jury is still out on that conclusion. No more than homosexuals are created by domineering mothers or abusive fathers. There were apparent flaws in Hughes perception of the world that may have been more congential than environmental. Those manifest themselves later in life, especially under stressful conditions. Running an empire and being pressured to be "creative" all the time can warp the sanest person into doing rather absurd things. Look at Bill Gates. Compare the early Bill to the current one, who runs a large conglomerate. Social pressure, peer pressure, acquisition of wealth, being isolated and surrounded by those who only agree with you, have a tendency to corrupt the most sincere. Look at Nixon. Look at Bush. The historical imperitive is omnipresent. Hughes not only suffered from OCD, but behaved as if he were a savant autistic. That would certain explain his creative side, but not the side that could function enough to fly a plane or drive a car. As someone pointed out, Hughes couldn't open the door to restroom, but he could french kiss a harlot off the street. A strange mixture of a man who epitomizes a dichotomy.

When Clint wins the Oscar, I will spit at the screen.

Chris Knipp
02-26-2005, 03:43 PM
(Originally posted by cinemabon)
When Clint wins the Oscar, I will spit at the screen.
Wow! That's pretty strong! Would you care to explain why, or are we supposed to just know? I think handicappers regard Clint as the favorite now, and I don't begrudge his film its recognition. In fact, the Best Picture candidates this year are all worthy ones, in my opinion: The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby, Sideways, Ray, and Finding Neverland are all good movies and I very much enjoyed watching every one of them. I would personally like Before Sunset, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Undertow, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, and my other US ten best choices to get more consideration, but you have to be realistic about what kind of vote produces the Oscars and what kind of Hollywood machine the nominations emerge from, and this time those have not served us as badly as they have in other years. None of them, or their makers, will arouse my ire. It is not unusual for the truly finest film under consideration to be a runner-up rather than the winner, at best. We can only be happy that some superior work gets mentioned, and this has always been true at Oscar time. When something extraordinary actually wins, that's really grounds for rejoicing, but it happens only once in a blue moon.

I differ with you also on saying that in The Aviator the link between Hughes' mother and his disorders is "only alluded to." The movie focuses meaningfully on Hughes' mother's encouragement of a fear of germs in a powerful opening scene. This is more than a mere allusion; it is a heavy foreshadowing--though it may be an allusion to the early parts of Citizen Kane by the cinephile Scorsese to set his movie in a greater tradition than he can quite hope to live up to. Undoubtedly there's truth in the rest of what you say, that isolation, power, and great wealth contributed to Hughes' eccentricity and madness, as they may have done (or may currently be doing) with the other magnates you mention.

02-28-2005, 12:45 AM
The director was overlooked again at the Oscars.

Chris Knipp
02-28-2005, 01:46 AM
Yes, it's a shame, isn't it? I hope you didn't spit, though!