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Movie Review: The Aviator

Alternate Title: Fly Me to the Moon

Story: There can be no denying that director Martin Scorsese makes great films. They are indeed flawed, but if you like passionate filmmaking than you should see this fine film.

Most of us remember Howard Hughes from bizarre tabloid mentions in the 1970s. His obsessive compulsive behavior, his phobias, his self-confinement on the top floor of the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas and the whispered rumors about his abnormal lifestyle can be compared to the snickering about Michael Jackson today.

Scorsese chooses to highlight the early career of the genius and adventurer. We are all better for his choosing to focus on the achievements rather than his later behavior. From a script by John Logan we meet the daredevil, the womanizer, the dreamer and the inventor. The guy who was an epic film director, an aviator and engineer and the inventor of the half-cup bra. (Mammaries are featured in this film.)

Mainly told via vignettes (many which were too long and unnecessary) we see the young genius and risk taker at his best. I enjoyed the sequences related to the execution of many aviation ideas and his sparing with a Congressional committee.

With all of that said -- it was too long. At almost three hours I kept thinking that if the Concorde were still flying I could be in England before the film was over.

Acting: Leonardo DiCaprio was a fine, youthful Howard Hughes. He nailed his passion, his obsessions and his larger than life personality. Cate Blanchett as the young Katherine Hepburn was perfect. Alan Alda as the bad-ass Congressman was terrific (I like when actors play against type). Alec Baldwin was also good as the competitively evil Juan Trippe of Pan Am.

Predilection: I like Martin Scorsese and tend to forgive his excesses because he is such a terrific film maker.

Critters: Ants

Food: Lots of milk, booze, steak and peas.

Visual Art: The attention to the period detail was wonderful.

Blatant Product Placement: Do bankrupt companies such as TWA and Pan Am count in this category?

If you are interested in reading about airline bankruptcies, checkout www.centennialofflight.gov/essay/Commercial_Aviation/Bankruptcy/Tran9.htm

Soundtrack : Soaring (forgive the easy use of the term).

Opening Titles : Simply the slick logo of the Aviator.

Theater Audience: Less people than would fit in a small plane.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: Anything with Howard Hughes as a topic has to get at least a 1.

Drift Range: I only drifted when I was getting antsy and thought about where scenes could have been cut.

Squirm Scale: 0

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Perhaps.

Nit Picking: Did I mention it was too long?

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. For some other of my favorite Martin Scorsese films try renting: Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence, Kundun, Casino, Cape Fear, Goodfellas, New York Stories, The Color of Money, After Hours, The King of Comedy, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and Mean Streets.

Length: Two hours and 48 minutes!