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Feb. 6, 2005

This "Aviator" can fly

by Grace Harter, Page Editor
There aren't many people like Howard Hughes. He poured millions of dollars into films while the common American suffered from the Great Depression. He courted a series of celebrities like Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner and Jean Harlow, and dined with the likes of legendary swashbuckler Errol Flynn. And his response to news that he's losing hundreds of thousands of dollars on any of his projects is a simple "So?" and a cavalier shrug of the shoulders.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in Oscar favorite "The Aviator."
Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in Oscar favorite "The Aviator."

The movie follows Hughes as he builds a fabulous and glamorous career of moviemaking, designing airplanes and schmoozing with the Golden Age of Hollywood's best and brightest. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hughes in the fantastic biopic, "The Aviator," the newest movie from director Martin Scorsese. DiCaprio is utterly captivating as the young and dazzling Hughes, who darts quickly from being self-confident and charming to dangerously obsessive compulsive. Hughes goes from wooing young girls in glamorous restaurants to locking himself in public bathrooms because of his aversion to touching restroom door handles. DiCaprio plays both sides of Hughes equally well, and his Oscar nomination is well-deserved.

The movie is also packed with more stars appearing in cameo roles. Gwen Stefani and Jude Law play Jean Harlow and Errol Flynn, respectively, in very small roles, while Kate Beckinsale plays Ava Gardner in a larger role. It's fun to see contemporary stars try to take on the roles of legends like Harlow and Flynn. Unfortunately, Stefani and Law are in the film for too short a time to really judge whether they managed to convincingly portray their famous characters, though Law seems believable in the few minutes he is onscreen as the dashing Flynn.

Similarly, veteran actors Willem Dafoe, John C. Reilly and Ian Holm all stop in the movie for bit parts. Dafoe has a few lines as a slimy tabloid reporter, while John C. Reilly plays Hughes' frustrated financial manager. Holm is quirky and cute as a foreign professor Hughes hires on to do odd jobs for his enormous company.

Cate Blanchett takes on the enormous task of playing the quirky Katherine Hepburn, a love interest and great friend of Hughes. Not surprisingly, Blanchett excels at the role, managing to master Hepburn's famous mannerisms Hepburn's fans will easily recognize.

The film has received much critical acclaim and a whopping 11 Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Director and Best Film. Alan Alda, who portrays a creepy Senator determined to destroy Hughes, was deservedly nominated for Best Supporting Actor, while Howard Shore's sweeping score for the film also garnered a nomination.

"The Aviator" has visually beautiful aerial shots, a strong storyline and a multitude of impressive characters. The film deserves every nomination it has received and will no doubt do well at the Oscars this month.

"The Aviator" (170 minutes) is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language and a crash sequence.



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  • C-man on February 7, 2005 at 8:26 AM
    it must be good; eric glover even liked it
  • Darkness brother on February 8, 2005 at 5:48 PM
    If Superman liked it, ya know its gotta be worth it. COME IN THE DARNESSS
  • took you long enough on February 9, 2005 at 6:46 PM
    come on SCO what took so long to review this movie
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