Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Aviator

This was the movie that people thought should have won best picture?

I haven't seen Million Dollar Baby, but I'm ready to place bets that it's better than this movie. On the other hand, the Oscars are filled with movies that are completely forgettable. Can you tell me who won best picture 3 years ago? (I had to look it up... it was Chicago, which was so bad I couldn't even watch it on an airplane).

The Aviator was nominated for exactly two reasons:
  • Scorsese has been repeatedly left in the cold by Oscar and once again they wanted to build him up and knock him down.
  • ANY, I repeat, any movie that further glamorizes Hollywood, tells Hollywood lore, or is somehow Hollywood insider junk will end up being nominated.
I think I've written this before here, but the Oscars were created by Douglas Fairbanks to try to legitimatize movies compared to the theater. That's one reason that any movie that makes Hollywood seem dignified must get nominated. To perpetrate the illusion that movies are meaningful, Oscar must be granted on widely known movies that seem to separate Hollywood from its typical cesspool fare. As we all know, movies are a hand waving magic trick compared to the saw-the-lady-in-half type of tricks that theater productions have to go through in producing hours of continuous entertainment. Not that I don't find the theater extraordinarily boring and painful to my knees since the chairs are too small.

The Aviator turns out to be almost three hours of DiCaprio acting a bit nuts. The problem with this movie, as it is with most docu-dramas, is that you don't know where reality ends and fiction begins. I find a lot of the scenes unbelievable. How could someone so detatched be so successful in life? The only scene that had any redeeming qualities to it was the Senatorial Inquisition that Hughes faced in the late 40s. Almost everything else seemed to be explaining his life to us.

Example: Pan Am's Juan Trippe (played by Alec Baldwin), comes to Hughes in an effort to acquire TWA. In the lengthy dialogue spoken through a door (effective, though boring), Trippe basically lays out all of the reasons Hughes must sell. He goes through the entire situation of the shareholders, the share prices of the two companies, loans, etc..

Now, do you really think this is what was spoken between Trippe and Hughes? Of course not. This is a fabricated replica of a private conversation, mostly structured to let the audience know what the hell is going on. Imagine 2-3 hours of that and you basically have The Aviator.

Again, like many docu-dramas, you come out thinking a History Channel documentary would have been far more interesting than something this fictional with big-name actors. Their acting was pretty good, considering they had very little to work with, and Scorsese pretty much mailed this one in.

By the way, this is a perfect example to demonstrate my rating system. There are four types of movies.
  • Good, good - the producers intended to make an excellent movie and it turned out good as well. Most movies are intended to be excellent so most good movies fit in here. Examples include Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Diner, Schindler's List, Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption.
  • Bad, Good - the producers intended to make an A-list movie and it turned out really sappy, cheesy and bad, yet is widely thought to be good. The king of all examples for this type is Forrest Gump.
  • Good, Bad - the producers intended to make a "B" movie and it turned out really awesome. Cult classics are in this category: Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, Evil Dead 2, John Carpenter's The Thing.
  • Bad, Bad - The worst of the worst usually end up here: Nothing But Trouble (possibly the worst movie of all time), White Noise, Police Academy 5, Skyscraper (starring Anna Nicole Smith).
My rating for Aviator: Bad, Good and wait until it's on cable, if at all.


Jason Luther said...

The DVD actually includes an episode of the History Channel show Modern Marvels.

Libor said...

I can't agree more. Also, reading a quick biography suggests that the parts of his life after ~1945 are far more interesting and subject to interesting speculation, so what the hell are they wasting an hour focusing on him making a movie? I mean the connections with the CIA, the kennedy assasination, nixon, watergate, bay of pigs, spy satallites, etc...

I've got to agree that a History channel show would be far more engaging. As for DVD extras, I don't believe in their existance.

In the end the hype and the man's real life far exceeded this steaming pile.

Trimbo said...

Not to mention Glomar Explorer. I watched a Modern Marvels or Heavy Metal show on History channel about that operation alone. It was an operation funded by the CIA to try to recover a sunk nuclear sub. The cover was Hughes claiming the ship was some kind of underwater mining ship for manganese!

They almost were able to do it. The sub was in the grasp of the Glomar's giant claw but it broke away and they only got some part of it.