I never really had much interest in seeing Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator when it was in theatres – biopics don’t really do that much for me – but I decided to rent it this weekend anyway. After all, I didn’t know boo about Howard Hughes so it should have been educational at the least. And hey – all those Oscar nominations, how could I resist?
As it turns out, it was pretty good. “Lavish” doesn’t begin to describe the production values – it made me realize how rarely I see any big-money Hollywood films that don’t involve craploads of special effects. Scorcese was definitely on his game when making this film. Leonardo DiCaprio also turned in quite a good performance as the eccentric industrialist/pilot/playboy, though I felt his pretty-boy looks were working against him as the film went on. He looked like a perpetual 20-year old which took away from some of the presence that you’d expect Hughes in his mid-40s to possess. The supporting cast was also quite good, though I remain unsure how I felt about Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Katherine Hepburn. She seemed a little over the top in her mannerisms, but maybe that’s how the actual Hepburn was? I found her a little scenery-chewing in her first few scenes but settled down as things progressed.
Another thing – and I don’t know if I mean this as a complaint – is that the narrative felt hollow, for lack of a better word. Maybe Scorcese should be commended for not trying to take an obvious angle on things, for trying to keep more of a documentarian’s eye, but the whole film felt like a series of vignettes from throughout Hughes’ life without much in the way of explanation or rationale. I realize that the main point of the film was to portray the essence of the man, and not necessarily all the dates and facts, but it was a little frustrating at times – a stronger narrative thread would have made a good film even better (though The History Channel documentary on the bonus disc was actually quite good at filling in some of those holes).
I finally made it to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival yesterday although it’d been running all weekend. It’s funny – my tastes in music and film run to the indie end of things (obviously) but when it comes to comics, I’m pretty coventional cape and cowl. Maybe it’s a comfort food sort of thing, but while I’ve read some of the more high-profile indie stuff (Strangers In Paradise, Bone, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, etc), and while I quite like some of it (and quite dislike some of it) I always seem to come back to primarily mainstream stuff from the Big Two. So in an effort to expand my horizons beyond the spandex set, I picked up a few things that I hoped would introduce me to some new stuff.
I’d read excerpts of the Flight anthologies in Free Comic Book Day samplers, so had a pretty good idea of what I was getting with the proper paperbacks (a wide range of creators contributing pieces with an aeronautical theme). I haven’t actually gotten into them yet but am sure there’ll be good stuff in there. Brad had encouraged me to check out some of Brian Wood’s stuff, so I got a couple issues of Demo, a 12-issue series of standalone stories about people with what would usually be considered “powers”, but in a very real world context. Pretty good, I will have to find the rest of this series. Finally, I got both volumes of Scott Pilgrim, which had been recommended to me in the past by Kevin as being right up my alley. It’s a cute series done by a local guy (and set right here in T.O.) about a twenty-something slacker musician guy who has to fight his new girlfriend’s seven evil ex-boyfriends kung fu-style in order to keep her. It’s kind of roughly drawn at points and the storytelling can get a little erratic/confusing, but it’s got a goodly amount of charm and is pretty funny. Plus the characters hang out in Lee’s Palace! It’s like my life, except almost completely not. It’s also being made into a film by the guy who directed Shaun Of The Dead. Go local talent!
And oh yeah, I got this awesome Bone figurine for free from the Scholastic press table, who have done a beautiful job with the colour Bone anthologies. I leafed through the first volume of the colour version there and was very pleasantly surprised how effective the colourization is. For some reason, I’d sort of expected it to be done more primary colour-ish, but instead they use really subtle and muted tones to enhance the fantasy-like setting. I wish I could find a sample page from the collection to show, but I’m not having any luck. It’s not enough to make me re-buy the series, but it is quite lovely. And the video game is looking pretty sharp, too.
You know, I used to want to be a comic book artist. Then I stopped getting better as an artist somewhere around age 14. My grade 11 art teacher actually recommended that I don’t pain. Ever (he was right, by the way. I’m awful in the medium). Oh, cruel fate.
Scotsman.com presents a history of Scotsmen Teenage Fanclub and Filter has an mp3 from the new record to whet your appetite before it’s official North American release next Tuesday.
np – Luna / Rendezvous