Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Movie roundup

OK, running behind as I am: one old, one new.

Ocean's Twelve: terrible.

Ocean's Eleven was fun fluff; but this one is forced and dull. The performances are limp: Brad Pitt and George Clooney don't spark off each other this time. And the plot's confused: the first movie's cat-and-mouse one-big-heist concept worked, but this one is a series of damp squibs with no real payoff.

1/5: a waste of 2 hours.

The Aviator: excellent.

It doesn't pull its punches: the trailers focus on Howard Hughes the aviator, but more of the movie is about Hughes the womaniser, the paranoid, the compulsive. We're shown how Hughes' odd behaviour affects those around him, but then we're shown how terrifying everyday situations appear to him: dirt, the public gaze, unfamiliar foods. One scene in particular brings this home: Hughes, in a restaurant bathroom, washes his hands compulsively to the point at which they start bleeding; uses all the towels; and is trapped in the bathroom by the dirty doorknob. A lot of "what a goofball" tittering from the audience early in the scene; but gradually, silence, as they realise that this isn't funny for him; it's painful.

It's not a happy story, and it's certainly not a happy ending; but we already knew that. It is however a story very well told.

Cate Blanchett plays very well as Katharine Hepburn; just up to the edge of caricature, but just enough within it to get away with it.

And an amazingly good performance by Leonardo DiCaprio — who would have thought he had it in him? Very measured, and full of little touches: I particularly liked the very brief shot in which, after taking his personal soap out of its case, he quickly but carefully aligns the two halves of the case with the edges of the sink.

4/5: often uncomfortable, but compelling.