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Aviator, The

Director:  Martin Scorsese
Year Released:  2004
Rating:  3.0

Sure, Leonardo DiCaprio may be miscast as eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes and sure the film loses energy as it goes on and yes a lot of it is done in a very comic book fashion (with Cate Blanchett playing Katharine Hepburn as a caricature) and yes, Mr. Scorsese does take delight in casting rock stars like Gwen Stefani as Jean Harlow and sneaks Jude Law in there as randy Errol Flynn - but I think this is his best fiction film since Goodfellas. Scorsese's such a movie buff that he knows Hughes didn't direct all of Hell's Angels or The Outlaw - and he goes around the idea that for all of Moneybags Hughes' investing he didn't exactly make a lot of profit (his giant plane never made it very far off the ground, either, though you wouldn't know that by this depiction) - but that's hardly the point of the movie, just like Oliver Stone's Alexander is hardly about history. Like Alexander, The Aviator is as much about the director as it is about the protagonist - both Stone and Scorsese are filmmakers who have been around for a long time, who see themselves as figures like Alexander and Hughes (respectfully), take giant chances, lose, stand up for themselves and move onward. For that, it - like Stone's film - has a kind of lunatic grandiosity, a glorification of some of the giants of history: it's overindulgent and campy but deserving of some warped kind of respect. Flaws and all, this is as close to personal filmmaking as Hitchcock's Vertigo (though not exactly as brilliant, you get my point). Auteurists: rejoice.

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