26 December 2004 | colonel_green
The Katharine Hepburn Show.
Before Howard Hughes was a recluse so reclusive as to out-Salinger J.D. Salinger, he was a big time stud, who made big movies, flew fast planes, and courted gorgeous ladies; so say Martin Scorsese and John Logan, architects of this latest Hollywood biopic.' Leonardo DiCaprio continues his trend of turning in great performances with great directors, playing Howard Hughes between 1927 and 1947, the years where Hughes conquered the worlds of film and aviation, making room for romance with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). In later years, Hughes's mental problems would become legendary; at this stage in the game, he suffers only from pronounced germ phobia and mild obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is all expertly depicted by Scorsese, Logan, and DiCaprio. Stealing all her scenes is Cate Blanchett, who should start making room on her mantle for her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It couldn't have been easy to play an iconic movie star like Katharine Hepburn, but Blanchett aces it. Kate Beckinsale, Kelli Garner (Faith Demorgue), and Gwen Stefani (Jean Harlow) are the other women in Howard's life, although none are as clearly defined as Blanchett/Hepburn. The villains of the piece are Alec Baldwin and Alan Alda, playing, respectively, Pan-American Airways CEO Juan Trippe and Trippe's bought-and-paid-for politician, Senator Ralph Owen Brewster. Both excel, with Alda coming off as both slimy and goofy at the same time. Alec Baldwin, like Cate Blanchett, steals every scene he has, playing Trippe as a delightfully suave villain. In his final scene he delivers a wonderful monologue on the future of Hughes's Trans-World Airline, and caps it off with the most hysterical use of the F word in many years. Also appearing: the dependable John C. Reilly as Hughes's business manager Noah Dietrich; Jude Law, who apparently can't go two weeks without seeing himself in a different movie, as movie legend Errol Flynn; Brent Spiner (yay!) as airplane executive Robert Gross; and Willem Dafoe as a photographer. "The Aviator" is overlong, and drags in places, but it is a great movie. I rate it a 9/10.