Friday, January 07, 2005

Notes on The Aviator 

For me, you'd have to work really, really hard to mess up a movie about Howard Hughes, and Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio are not up to the task. Hughes is such a fascinating character, for his accomplishments as well as his personality, and the movie doesn't even get through the second half of his life. Granted, there's very little known about that period, and I'm not sure how they could have made the movie that long (it's already 3+ hours), but I encourage you to at least read the Wikipedia entry on Howard Hughes to get some of the information about his bizarre later years.

So, again, hard to go wrong, I really liked it. But there were some problems. Others have pointed out that the fact that Howard Hughes was comfortable flying experimental planes of his own design, but unable to touch a doorknob presents certain problems for a filmmaker (as accurate as that may be). Scorcese's solution to this seems to have been to show his mother teaching him to spell "quarantine" at the beginning and leaving it at that. It didn't work that well. The movie also ran a bit long, and certain segments could have been cut out entirely as they didn't really add enough to justify their added runtime.

Cate Blanchett is excellent as Katharine Hepburn. I never thought I could see Leonardo DiCaprio pulling off Howard Hughes, but by the end of the movie, I wasn't thinking about it much. I'm not saying he was as good as Blanchett, but he was surprisingly good. The cinematography wasn't particularly notable, though, which seemed a bit unusual for a Scorcese film. A lot of the scenes involving planes were computer graphics, and he really didn't seem to know how to put together a CG shot very well, either. Still, there is a memorable (and very disturbing) sequence involving a plane crash.

Hmm, it's interesting that you had that reaction, because I was wondering about that aspect of the movie: Basically, a film maker needs to make choices with how OCD (something I have, but very mildly) is portrayed. I think Scorcese went the route of "here's a camera pointed at the guy as he would have lived" without much explaining, other than that quarantine scene.

I thought the non-explaining route was good, because then there was no chance of messing up what OCD is like (e.g., instead of something like "let's make his symptoms cinematic!"). The cost of not explaining is that people who don't know much about OCD will either be confused, or think the film makers did a poor job of it.

Anyway, as far as cinematic portrayals go, Aviator is very accurate. In the scene where that guy moves Hughe's pea and he just can't eat the meal: things like that have happened to me. The handwashing scene where he ran out of towels was all too familiar (I too have done the house cat strategy of waiting by the door until someone opens it). Also, it hit the nail right on the head with *when* he would get the compulsions: you saw them the most when he was most stressed ("show me the blueprints"), and when he was relatively stress-free you didn't see much of it at all. The lint scene was also not over the top. (In fact, it was overall much better than how As Good As It Gets showed OCD, which would get a C+. Though the rest of AGAIG was pretty good despite that.)

Anyway, the point is that the compulsions can change based on what you're doing. In important things like test flights and senate hearings he could have internalized it all to blinking differently or something else less noticeable.

To me, his story is a sad one, because behavioral psychology and drugs today could have completely treated him. He might have been even more productive and happy. And, yes, it would probably be Prozac that he'd take.
hughes was one strange duck, man. it would be great if somebody could find some substantial record of how he spent his last several living years, because i'm fascinated to know what the hell was going on in that dude's head.

two things hughes excelled at: keeping his name a household known item, and financially ruining companies. sure, he did have quite a bit of entrepreneurial success, but the guy also had a habit of failing a substantial amount of the time.

i dunno if he would have even opted to take medication to cure his ocd, because it was the odd quirks that kept people talking about him. above all else, he seemed to want to capture peoples attentions and keep their focus on himself, whether it be flying some of the stunt planes in his own films during his youth, or jarring up his liquid waste (supposedly) and using tissue boxes as shoes in his later years.
Only for your car! immobilizer diagnostics ECUReader visa
alfa romeo relay rights alfa romeo air bag sensor available alfa romeo detonation toyota with toyota

alfa romeo equipment machinery
alfa romeo engine intensive intensive
alfa romeo replace

Thank you!
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?