The Aviator Martin Scorsese

The Aviator Martin Scorsese
Getting past the ridiculousness of having a competition for a piece of art — and ignoring the fact that Martin Scorsese has never received his due as the greatest living American filmmaker — The Aviator is a wonderful, spectacular and beautifully crafted film that will find its rightful place in American cinema and a worthy spot in Scorsese's astonishing catalogue. He's great, okay? But he's not the revelatory one in this epic biography of Howard Hughes, one of America's last great tycoons — that spot belongs to Leonardo DiCaprio, who helped shepherd this project from its conception and, after filming Gangs of New York with him, convinced the director to take it on. Scorsese knew nothing about aviation, but then again, he didn't like boxing before making 1980's Raging Bull either. Matching Scorsese's visual acuity is a career-making performance from DiCaprio, who inhabits the young tycoon's ambitions, his energy, and his slow decline into the depths of his psyche as he battles obsessive-compulsive disorder. In fact, the entire ensemble is at the top of their game: Cate Blanchett's Oscar-winning turn as Katherine Hepburn has to be the acting challenge of the year; Kate Beckinsale's Ava Gardner is delightful; John C. Reilly's sidekick proves him to be the next Karl Malden as a character actor; and Alan Alda (as a corrupt Senator) and Alec Baldwin (as the head of airline competitor Pan-Am) play Hughes foes with relish. As a DVD, The Aviator is no light evening snack — this is a two-parter in film studies and aviation history, as featurettes explore both the filmmaking process and Hughes's role in early flight. The fast-talking Scorsese gives some of the best commentary around; his encyclopaedic knowledge of film history is matched only by his enthusiasm. Seamlessly constructed and masterful on every level, The Aviator is a modern masterpiece. Plus: featurettes, Hughes's history in aviation, an evening with DiCaprio and Alda, more. (Warner)