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'The Aviator' flies

First things first: "The Aviator" is a stylish, sweeping, — well acted film that lushly captures Hollywood's golden age, that period — between the 1920s to the late 1940s when silent movies passed into history, — eclipsed forever by the larger-than-life "talkies."

It was onto that stage that Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) — stepped, in his early twenties, flush with millions from a Texas tool — company, and determined to break into the movie business with his first — film, "Hells Angels," an extravagant blockbuster costing millions. He — quickly became a fixture on the Hollywood nightclub scene, always with — a glamorous movie star on his arm.

In the mid-1930s he turned to aviation and, though unschooled, — began designing and building bigger and faster planes, breaking speed — records, and dreaming of flying people from coast to coast and then onto — Paris. He was rich enough to make his dreams come true, at least in part. — He was also hobbled by a personal flaw -- he was an obsessive compulsive — -- which he was ultimately unable to either disguise or control.

Howard Hughes lived large. Possessing a vast fortune can — open doors, and can make a person who is inherently not all that interesting — appear interesting, as if the patina of wealth can be translated into — character and insight. The problem with Howard Hughes was that while he — was an eccentric, often brash and not adverse to taking huge risks, at — his core, at least in this film, he isn't that compelling as a person. — For reasons that are never clear, the director, Martin Scorcese ("Raging — Bull," "Goodfellas," "Gangs of New York"), doesn't linger on those moments — when Hughes seems most vulnerable and exposed. Instead he skips from event — to event in Hughes' life without much reflection on what is driving the — man.

It's possible that while Hughes made a splash wherever — he went, at his center he wasn't equal to his public persona. And perhaps — not the best choice for a biopic that runs 166 minutes. Hence, like Hughes, — there is something missing in "The Aviator" that makes if feel, in the — end, hollow. In fairness, it could be argued that no life has a distinct — narrative arc; rather it is composed of hundreds of disjointed vignettes — that may or may not have a sense of forward momentum. Time passes, things — happen, but what does it all mean? That's always the challenge of a biopic. — To give meaning to those vignettes.

True, Scorcese does chronicle Hughes' decline, showing — how his paranoia and his obsessive compulsive tendencies finally come — to dominate his life. And though Hughes accomplished a great deal in aviation, — he will always be known for being a reclusive millionaire who one day — crawled into a cocoon, hermetically sealing himself away from everyone, — eventually becoming addicted to drugs, and sadly died alone. The irony — is that while Hughes spent millions on movies and planes, he never sought — out the best medical care money could buy thus allowing his personality — disorder to consume him.

Scorcese is a deeply talented filmmaker whose career spans — decades in Hollywood. His movies are emotionally taut, often filled with — violent energy, and beautifully filmed. "The Aviator" has many scenes — that reflect Scorsese's prodigious talent and love of moviemaking. "The — Aviator" also proves to be an artful homage film wherein the director — recreates a time when Hollywood was luminescent, brimming with possibilities. —

Though much is unresolved in this movie, it is beautifully — made. And not to forget a powerful performance by Cate Blanchett who portrays — Katherine Hepburn, perhaps the one woman Hughes deeply loved and never — go over.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Bekinsale. — Directed by Martin Scorcese. Rated PG-13. Ashland Cinema.

Aviator —

6 Golden Globe Nominations including Best Drama, Director, — Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actress, Score

A biographical chronicle charting the early years (1920's — - 1940's) of tycoon Howard Hughes, the eccentric billionaire industrialist — and Hollywood mogul famous for romancing some of the world's most beautiful — women.

Directed by Martin Scorsese ("Goodfellas," "Raging Bull," — "Gangs of New York")

Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Alan — Alda, John C. Reilly, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani

PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, nudity, language — and a crash sequence, 170 min.

Closer —

Five Golden Globe nominations for this uncompromisingly — honest look at modern relationships. This is a story of four people - — their chance meetings, instant attractions and brutal betrayals. Julia — Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Clive Owen.

R for sequences of graphic sexual dialogue, nudity/sexuality — and language. 98 min.

Darkness —

A family moves into a charming old house in the remote — Spanish countryside. Day by day, a strange force - something ancient and — wicked - begins pulling the family apart.

Anna Paquin, Lena Olin, Giancarly Giannini

PG13 for disturbing images, intense terror sequences, — thematic elements, and language, 102 min.

Fat Albert —

The misadventures of a group of boys growing up today — in a Philadelphia neighborhood, based on characters created by Bill Cosby.

Omar Grandberry, Marques Houston, Kenan Thompson

PG for momentary language, 93min.

Finding Neverland —

Five Golden Globe nominations for a tale of fantasy inspired — by the life of Jame Barrie, the author of "Peter Pan." Set in London in — 1904, the film following Barrie's creative journey to bring the character — of Peter Pan to life, from his first inspiration for the story up until — the play's premiere. Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie.

PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. 101 — min.

Flight of the Phoenix —

A plane crashes in a sandstorm, and a group of people — struggle desperately to survive. Their only hope is using the wreckage — of the plane to cobble together a craft to carry them to safety.

Dennis Quaid, Giovani Ribisi.

PG-13 for some action, language and violence. 113 min.

Kinsey —

3 Golden Globe Nominations including Best Motion Picture — Drama, Actor, Supporting Actress The life story of Alfred Kinsey, a man — driven to uncover the most private secrets of the nation, and a journey — into the mystery of human behavior. In 1948, Kinsey irrevocably changed — American culture and created a media sensation with his book, Sexual Behavior — in the Human Male, followed shortly thereafter by one on the human female. — Written and Directed by Bill Condon ("Gods and Monsters") Liam Neeson, — Laura Linney, Chris O'Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton, John Lithgow, — Tim Curry, Oliver Platt

R for pervasive sexual content, including some graphic — images and descriptions, 118 min.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Intelligent, charming, unlucky siblings Violet, Klaus — and Sunny are left orphaned after a house fire. They're sent to live with — Count Olaf, a distant relative who has dastardly designs on the family — fortune. Based on the first of three books in the Lemony Snicket series. — Jim Carrey, Meryl Streep, Jude Law

PG for thematic elements, scary situations and brief language. — 112 min.

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou —

With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that — killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes — his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his — son. Quirky fun.

Directed by Wes Anderson ("Royal Tenenbaums," "Rushmore," — "Bottle Rocket")

Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, — Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum.

R for language, some drug use, violence and partial nudity, — 118 min.

Meet the Fockers —

In "Meet the Parents", Greg Focker came to know his soon — to be in-laws. Now it's his parents turn. But the hyper-relaxed Fockers — and the tightly wound rneses are woefully mismatched.

Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, — Blythe Danner, Teri Polo

PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language and a brief — drug reference, 115 min.

Ocean's Twelve —

Danny and his gang head to Amsterdam, Rome and Paris for — new heists, where they contend with Terry's revenge, Europol, and a mysterious — French rival. George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, — Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia

PG-13 for language, 125 min.

Polar Express —

A boy who still believes in Santa Claus despite the skepticism — of his peers, is rewarded for his loyalty when a train pulls up in front — of his house on Christmas Eve to take him to the North Pole. Written and — directed by Robert Zemickis ("Castaway", "Forrest Gump", "Back to the — Future"). Based on the popular children's book by Chris Van Allsburg. — Tom Hanks (digitized animation). G/100 min.

Sideways —

A struggling, 40ish novelist is frustrated over his stalled — career and the fact that his struggling actor buddy is about to get married. — With their emotional baggage in tow, the two set off for a week of debauchery — in the Napa Valley wine country before the wedding. Paul Giamatti, Thomas — Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh

R for language, some strong sexual content and nudity, — 125 min.

Spanglish —

Culture collide as a beautiful native Mexican woman, the — mother of an equally stunning 12-year-old girl, becomes the housekeeper — for an affluent Los Angeles family.

Written and directed by James Brooks. Starring Adam Sandler, — Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman.

PG-13 for some sexual content and brief language. 128 — min.

White Noise —

A successful architect's peaceful existence is shattered — by the disappearance and death of his wife. He is later contacted by a — man claiming to be receiving messages from the wife through EVP - electronic — voice phenomenon. Michael Keaton, Deborah Kara Unger, Chandra West, Ian — McNeice

PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and language, 98 — min.