Wednesday, 15 December 2004


People blog about their obsessions, and one of mine is Martin Scorsese movies. He has a new movie coming out tomorrow, The Aviator, and it will probably cut into my blogging time.

Here’s an excerpt from a NYT interview with Scorsese:

With “The Aviator,” the pressure is on, because assignments should be hits, to enable quixotic auteurs to win backing for the movies they really want to make. Mr. Scorsese’s labors of love – movies like “The Age of Innocence” (1993), “Kundun” (1997) and “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988) – aren’t the kinds of projects studios line up for. His most recent film, “Gangs of New York,” released two years ago, was a 25-year labor of love whose box office returns weren’t overwhelming in relation to its $100 million budget.

Jay Cocks, a screenwriter who is Mr. Scorsese’s friend and sometime collaborator (on “The Age of Innocence” and “Gangs of New York”) explained the difference for audiences: “Movies like ‘Age of Innocence’ are what my wife calls eat-your-spinach movies. ‘The Aviator’ is not an eat-your-spinach movie. This is dessert.”

At least that’s the hope. As Hughes, Leonardo DiCaprio is meant to supply the sugar rush for the young moviegoers who make films into blockbusters. Mr. DiCaprio has been the driving force behind “The Aviator.” He is the reason it was made and the reason Mr. Scorsese, who directed him in “Gangs,” was offered the picture when Michael Mann decided not to direct.

I was apparently one of a few that really admired Gangs of New York and I’ve generally liked everything Scorsese has done, with the exceptions of The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun. Yes, I liked The Age of Innocence, too.

My personal favorites are the troika: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas, but as I said above, I like pretty much everything he’s done, with the noted exceptions taken into account.

Sunday, 26 December 2004

The Aviator

In spite of a good deal of trivial knowledge on other subjects, I went into The Aviator knowing almost nothing about Howard Hughes other than he was involved in both movies and airplanes, and little more. Knowing a good deal more now, having seen the movie and read a bit on him, he seems like a fascinating figure with most of the qualities one expects from someone that accomplished so much.

He was eccentric, to put it mildly. He had an apparent mental disorder and he’s remarkably like the typical Scorsese protagonist. He’s tormented, he treats women like objects—though he needs them horribly to stay balanced, and his life becomes increasingly unbearable as he distances himself from them—but he doesn’t descend into violence (at least in the movie), unlike Travis Bickle or Jake LaMotta.

I’m surprised to say that this movie is better than Gangs of New York, but not by much. It took me a while to forget that Leonardo DiCaprio was playing Hughes, but after thirty minutes or so I had accepted it. DiCaprio did a really good job, but it’s hard for him to age as a character. He still has a boyish quality. Oddly, though, in spite of this, he got better as the movie progressed because the movie works well. In spite of its length (almost three hours), I never looked at my watch, which I did about twenty minutes into Ocean’s Twelve.

It’s a fascinating movie and, if you like Scorsese movies, you will love this one. Surprisingly little violence, almost no nudity (typical) but some bizarre dementia, like obsessively peeing in bottles and becoming reclusive.

[I said I would see it a couple of weeks ago, but obviously didn't since it only went into wide release yesterday.]