Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Film Not Video!

The Aviator

Like most people I don’t remember many things from when I was a child. Sporadic memories of playing sports, watching sports and simulating sports are all I really have left. I would have more memories if not for the numerous head traumas suffered on the ice, in the ring and on the gridiron. All chances of regaining my memory withered away in a cloud of marijuana smoke during high school and university.

One person I can remember from my childhood was Howard Hughes. I remember that he built the biggest plane in the world, that he was the richest man in the world and that he was the craziest man in the world. I always pictured him lying on top of piles of money gazing at his foot long finger nails while drinking from jars of his own piss. The Socialist Redneck also reminded me that he owned the airline with the yellow airplanes. I was now even more excited, Howard Hughes owned the airline that took Big Ell to Disneyland when he was only little ell.

A few weeks back we decided to see the
Aviator. I was excited that I would be able to fill in the blanks about Howard Hughes life and see if he did in fact drink his own pee. I figured that Martin Scorsese would be able to uncover all of the interesting details around Hughes’ life. I have seen most of his movies and they are usually interesting and always visually stimulating movies. The fact that he hasn’t done a great movie since GoodFellas didn’t deter me. I plunked down $560 NT (I brought Mrs. Big Ell), bought some popcorn and prepared to be entertained.

I learned some new things about Howard Hughes from the movie. I learned that he was a ladies man, sleeping with tons of Hollywood starlets like Katherine Hepburn and Ava Gardner. I also learned that he suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder. I am not sure if having OCD qualifies a person as crazy or just plain quirky. I learned again and again and again that he was an aviation pioneer, hence the title of the movie. He also really liked drinking milk and not his own pee. He did collect his own piss in bottles but who doesn’t! Like most other celebrities (brace yourself) he didn’t like the paparazzi. He also had lots of enemies including an evil senator played by Alan Alda and an evil CEO played by Alec Baldwin. Alan Alda is quite good as the evil senator and was nominated for a

After the movie I didn’t really know what to make of it. It was a good movie but could have been much better. Something seemed to be missing. Then I started thinking and decided that the first half of the movie was a far cry better than the second. Leonardo DiCaprio is good as the young cocksure Howard Hughes. The problem is that Cate Blanchett is great as Katherine Hepburn. She basically carries every scene she is in even if she looks like a MILF from the
Brass Ring preying on an unsuspecting Howard Hughes. The fact is that Hepburn was only two years older than Hughes. The movie bogs down when Leo has to carry it on his own. He has problems moving from the cocksure Hughes to crazy Hughes. He also looks like he should be getting carded at the beer store rather than testifying before congress near the end of the movie.

The movie was beautifully shot and entertaining at times. It was too long and didn’t really tell me anything new or interesting. When I got home I was even more curious about Howard Hughes. I figured there had to be a bigger story than rich kid makes movies, screws hot chicks, gets even richer, designs and makes planes, gets filthy rich, goes crazy, and gets stinking rich. I searched around and found all sorts of very interesting things that happened to Hughes after the movie ends in 1947.

In 1953, in an attempt to dodge taxes, Hughes set up the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. His attempt at a tax dodge morphed into one of America’s largest philanthropical organizations. This organization is now one of the world’s leading private sources for stem-cell research with an endowment of over 10 billion dollars. He also left behind a number of hugely profitable companies like Hughes Space and Communications Co. (1961), who design and make 40% of the world’s commercial satellites. Hughes Aircraft also became part of Raytheon in 1998 the makers of such wonderful anti-terrorism weapons like "Bunker Buster" bombs, Tomahawk and Patriot missiles.

Hughes also had a dark side. He was allegedly the money man in the CIA/Mob plan to assassinate
Fidel Castro. He also ‘loaned,’ $200 000 to Richard Nixon’s brother (the loan was never repaid) and the ensuing scandal may have cost Nixon the 1960 election. There is further speculation that Hughes may have been the reason behind the Watergate break in. Some believe that the botched burglary of the Democratic headquarters had been ordered by President Nixon's aides in order to retrieve potentially damaging papers showing payments from Hughes to Nixon. The office broken into belonged to Larry O'Brien, the Democratic National Committee chairman. Coincidently he had been a paid Washington lobbyist for Hughes since 1968. Hughes spent his last years living in Las Vegas where he purchased most of it from the mob. He basically legitimized and cleaned up Vegas so it could become what it is today, fun for the whole family. He was also advised by a small group known as the "The Mormon Mafia" due to the religious affiliation of many in the group. Some think they may have taken advantage of Hughes who was wearing Kleenex boxes for shoes at the time.

There you have it tax evasion, assassination attempts, Watergate and Mormons. Surely some of these tidbits could have been added to the script. Any of them would have been more interesting than the seemingly never ending account of making the film Hell’s Angels and airplanes. I really wanted to see him drinking his own urine but any one of these story lines would have sufficed. Rumor has it that one of the guys from
Milk (a local Taichung ex-pat band) drinks his own urine. He will probably be as disappointed as I was with this movie.


Fraser said...

After the movie I didn’t really know what to make of it. It was a good *mvie* but could have been much better.

The word "movie" is misspelled!

Sean Reilly said...

Spelling mistakes and armchair pedants aside, here's a huge order of gravitas for breaking through the one thousand hit wall!

Next stop, one million!

(Unless you were Chinese, in which case the next step would be ten thousand. Then again, they're still eating with over-sized toothpicks, and in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "They've seen the fork.")

LEe said...

I think it was awful.. Like a 'made for TV' movie. I sort of enjoyed the part when he was going on about the blue prints because thats the point at which i looked at my watch and worked out that i could leave soon. I'm more of an action man myself...
You get starworld so you'll know what im talking about:



Wide Awake Jake said...

Dog the bounty hunter is addicted to the drug Nicotine and he is constantly using while he gleefully prevents others from using their drug of choice.His son is also addicted to the drug nicotine and it would seem that they are hippocritsly indulging in shadenfrude and gettin paid for it ...