Movie Review: The Aviator (2004)

Short version of Howard Hughes’ remarkable life and times

Written by John Logan
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Leonardo DiCaprio … Howard Hughes
Cate Blanchett … Katharine Hepburn
Kate Beckinsale … Ava Gardner
John C. Reilly … Noah Dietrich
Alec Baldwin … Juan Trippe
Alan Alda … Senator Ralph Owen Brewster
Ian Holm … Professor Fitz

This review stems from a “rewatch,” the first viewing occurring on New Year’s Eve.  It’s a fairly long movie and our group was there through the ending into the new year in a nearly empty theater.  But this is worthwhile moviemaking; the writers give us a true American hero who takes on the State and, at least for a while, wins.

Hughes was the son of a Texas oilman-inventor who set up a company and earned a fortune; the old man died when Howard was 18, leaving Howard as a multimillionaire engineering student.  The Aviator follows Howard from 1930, when he produced the movie Hell’s Angels, to 1947 when, at the age of 42, Howard flew the H4-Hercules aircraft he had designed and built (aka the Spruce Goose).

Following the death of his parents, Hughes moved to Hollywood and to become a movie producer.  He was instrumental in the launch of Jean Harlow’s career, and he took a special interest in other celebrity movie femmes in those days.  He produced and directed Hell’s Angels (Harlow) as well as The Front Page, Flying Leathernecks, and ScarfaceContinue reading

Movie Review: Robin Hood (2010)

Prince of Thieves rallies the Magna Carta __ 5/10

Robin HoodPrince John: [sarcastically] Would every man have a castle?
Robin Longstride: In England, every man’s home *is* his castle.

So whatever you think you know about Robin Hood, throw it out the window before inserting this DVD in the player. Otherwise, it will conflict with not only history but with every account of the band of merrie men we all grew up with… from the 1950s TV series on Disney, to Robin and Marian with Sir Sean Connery (1979), to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. And I guess there’s a Robin Hood BBC TV series available, who knew? Finally, another one I haven’t seen but may be the best of the bunch, the original Hollywood Errol Flynn version the Adventures of Robin Hood. It’s a trip to browse Robin Hood on Netflix or Amazon. Continue reading

Movie Review: Pushing Tin (1999)

Fast-paced air-controller drama unto Zen _ 8.5/10
Review by Brian Wright

Pushing TinZack looks around at his colleagues, these controller-magicians who keep the skies safe by coming to work, day after day, and pulling rabbits out of their scopes. “This whole job is an endurance test, from the first day until you retire. And you know who holds the whole thing together? We do. We don’t do it for the FAA, and we don’t do it for the airlines. We do it for ourselves. We just keep pumping tin.” He turns to his scope and watches as it fills once again with blips—six jets from the south, four from the west, four from the north—American 1438, turn right heading 260! Traffic off your 3 o’clock!—planes and then more planes, no end in sight. — from New York Times Magazine, article by Darcy Frey, “Something’s Got to Give,” March 24, 1996.

TRACON air traffic controller: “You land a million planes safely, then you have one little mid-air, and you never hear the end of it.” Continue reading