Martin Scorsese's Howard Hughes biography flies high and mighty when it does indeed fly--down on the ground, it's aloof, cold, a little slow, but you get the impression that Scorsese doesn't notice. He's an extremely self-satisfied filmmaker and doesn't bother to pick up the pace. He should have. When Hughes begins to deteriorate, the movie gets bogged down in the same red-tinged psychological muddle that doomed the entire midsection of "New York, New York". The period flavor--as with "New York"--is careful but disappointing, and Leonardo DiCaprio is serviceable in the lead but nothing grander, nothing more than workman-like (his little boy voice strains throughout, cussing like a kid playing grown-up; his height doesn't detract however, and his weight and demeanor seem very correct). Cate Blanchett playing Katharine Hepburn is too fast at the beginning, but finds a more appropriate style; unfortunately, there's too much of her, and Scorsese's lighting fast editing fails him in this instance. We don't need to see Hepburn arriving at the movie studio, turning the lights on and meeting a handsome admirer. Whose story is this? The sequence around the Hepburn family dinner table is, however, a smash, and Blanchett is lovely in her period wardrobe. I didn't believe for a second the impersonations of Jean Harlow (very minor) or Ava Gardner (a big problem) ...and what happened to the "Outlaw" controversy? It seems to take place off-screen. The editing also slips in the final third, allowing scenes to run on too long, letting shots get ahead of themselves (as with DiCaprio behind the wheel of the Hercules, seeming to turn the plane too early). The music is great, the cinematography terrific, the thing LOOKS good. But it's a great big lump of expensive coal. ** from ****
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