Saturday, July 23, 2005

Movie Review: The Bloviator

Oops. I mean "The Aviator."

Oh my freakin' g-d. I watched this movie about Howard Hughes last night, courtesy of Netflix. The only good thing I can say about the movie is that I didn't pay eight bucks to see it. I know, I know: It won Academy Awards (tm). Leo was a revelation. Gwen Stefani shone in her big screen debut. Kate Beckinsale did a star turn as Ava Gardner.

So so so so so SO wrong.

Let's start with the fact that the movie is TWO HOURS AND FIFTY MINUTES long. I've flown to Denver in less time than that. The movie quite literally traces Howard Hughes' life from the late '30's through his death. Every scene was designed to make the point that HH was a perfectionist who would go to any lengths to Do It Right. OMG, it was excruciating. The first 30 minutes of the movie focused entirely on his perfectionist pursuit of making the movie Hell's Angels. Perhaps the director of The Aviator was trying some cinema verite, where we the audience get to experience the numbing tedium and micro-detailed existence of a person working for HH himself back in the day. Either way, it was painful movie watching.

Let's move on to the actors:

Leonardo DiCaprio. Um, what can I say except that he is not Johnny Depp. At every stage of HH's life, Leo simply grows a moustache, grows a beard, puts on glasses, takes off his clothes, etc. At no time in this movie did I ever become unaware that I was watching Leonardo DiCaprio playing the role of Howard Hughes.

Gwen Stefani. Appears in the movie for all of 90 seconds. Has about 4 lines. Whatever. Not sure what the buzz was all about.

Kate Beckinsale. Boring. Totally freakin boring. And another cast member who never actually inhabited the character she was given. It was "oh there's Kate Beckinsale doing a crap accent while mistaking petulant scenery-chewing for what should be simmering-to-boiling ire." And, unfortunately for the lads, she didn't even get her newly-enhanced and horrifically stretch-marked t*ts out, which we know Ava did quite well in real life...although I think hers were real. Total waste of a part. It should have been Liv Tyler or Scarlett Johansen; someone more sultry, more tempestuous. Kate was fat-free, no-sugar vanilla pudding to the real Ava Gardner's cherries flambe.

The One Bright Spot: Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn. Wow! She was fabulous; she had all of the verbal and physical elements in place without becoming a caricature of the real woman. The only bummer is that, once again, the movie fell flat where her storyline was concerned. She and HH broke up after she met Spencer Tracy, but only after months of neglect and disrespect from HH. The movie goes from them having one argument to her walking in and saying she has fallen in love with someone else and is leaving. All I was thinking was "could we have spent less time watching HH select one of his airplane's steering wheels from several design options and more time showing how he slowly became a recluse by shutting people out of his life one by one?"

At the one hour-forty five minute mark I gave up and went to bed. I simply physically couldn't watch any more of the excruciatingly detailed-and yet-slipshod pseudo-character study of Howard Hughes solely in the name of getting on the Oscar buzz bandwagon.

Bottom line? Save yourselves, readers! Don't believe the hype! Rent "Finding Neverland" instead. Or Porkys. Or Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Whatever gets you excited. But do, I beg you, avoid The Aviator as if your Friday night depends on it.


Vigilante said...

Thanks for the 'warning-off', E. But I already had my radar set to avoid Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

E said...

A wise, wise policy, Vigilante. Perhaps I should sign on to it.