Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Aviator

2004 - Dir: Martin Scorsese
Scheduled to play on 26th January, 2008 - three days before the show it was discovered that all the UK prints had been scrapped. We still hope to show it sometime in the future.
In his last two decades squillionaire Howard Hughes sealed himself away from the world. It’s this recluse that most people think of when they hear his name - yet Hughes started out as a rich young man from Texas, the heir to his father's fortune, he made movies, bought airlines, was a playboy who dated Hollywood's famous beauties. If he’d died in one of the plane crashes he survived, he would have been remembered as a golden boy. “The Aviator” concentrates on this gloriously positive period of his life.
It’s a stylish and exciting glimpse behind the scenes at Hollywood in the 1930s with a bit of adventure and a splash or two of romance. It’s a BIG film made in the old style by veteran director Martin Scorsese. Hughes is played by the versatile Leonardo DiCaprio whose fascination with the man was largely the reason the film was made. For DiCaprio, the allure of Hughes was not only his remarkable ambitious drive but also his lifelong battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The actor got so immersed in the role that he admits that he developed a fear of walking on cracks in the pavement.
For many the appeal will be the spectacular reconstructions of many of Hollywood’s most daring stunts - this time in colour and widescreen. For others “The Aviator” will provide a much needed shot of glamour with portrayals of the young Kate Hepburn (Cate Blanchett) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). The film certainly expresses Scorsese's zest for finding excitement in a period setting, re-creating the kind of glamour he heard about when he was growing up.
This film stops short of chronicling Howard Hughes’ descent into madness but the spectre is always present at the feast. In a plane, he's fearless, but he's terrified of germs, and eventually his phobia makes him a voluntary prisoner. We see it coming, but more poignantly, he sees it coming just as clearly. The more we know of what eventually happened to him the more we appreciate the desperation behind Hughes’ apparent zest for the good life. Despite the behind the scenes traumas it has to be appreciated that the chances of a present day Howard Hughes coming along in these over-regulated and political constricted times is as remote as pigs flying - unless Hughes had the pigs under contract. The man's towering achievements and deep neuroses make for a fascinating, fantastic and far reaching film. If it weren't based on a real person, no-one would dare write such a character for fear of being locked up.
· The director designed each year in the film to look just the way a colour film from that time period would look. Achieved mainly through digitally enhanced post-production, Scorsese recreated the look of Cinecolor and two-strip Technicolor. As Hughes ages throughout the film, the colour gets more sophisticated and full-bodied.
· Scorcese originally wanted to shoot the film in Academy ratio, 1.33:1, the same screen shape as films of the period and indeed all films up until about 1956. Unfortunately, he found that modern cinemas are generally not properly equipped to show anything but WideScreen 1.85:1 or CinemaScope 2.35:1 films. The FeckenOdeon is proud to boast that we are equipped to show all films in their original format.
· Shooting of the film was delayed by the destruction of sets by massive forest fires sweeping California in 2003.
· As a matter of historical fact: Kathryn Hepburn didn’t leave Howard Hughes for Spencer Tracy. They broke up long before she met Tracy
· In the 1928 section of the film, Hughes orders "10 chocolate chip cookies" - which were not invented until 1933 (not may people know that!)

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