The Aviator

  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Producers: Michael Mann, Sandy Climan, Graham King, Charles Evans Jr
  • Writers: John Logan, Michael Mann
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, John C Reilly, Ian Holm, Kate Beckinsale, Jude Law, Alec Baldwin, Alan Alda, Brent Spiner, Frances Conroy, Willem Defoe

The Aviator has no opening credits other than the title. The film begins in 1914 with nine-year-old Hughes being bathed by his mother, who warns him of disease: “You are not safe.”

The film next shows him in 1927, as a 22-year old preparing to direct Hell’s Angels. Hiring Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly) to run Hughes Tool Company, while he oversees the flight sequences for the film, Hughes becomes obsessed with shooting the film realistically, even re-shooting the dogfight himself. By 1929, with the silent film finally complete, Hughes realizes the premiere of the The Jazz Singer, which was the first part-talking film, means that sound films would soon become the industry standard. Hughes re-shoots Hell’s Angels with sound, costing another year and $1.7 million. Hell’s Angels released as a sound film in 1930 is a huge hit, and Hughes also produces Scarface (1932) and The Outlaw (1943). However, there is one goal he relentlessly pursues: aviation. During this time, he also pursues Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). The two go to nightclubs, play golf and fly together, and as they grow closer, move in together as well. During this time Hepburn becomes a major supporter and confidant to Hughes, and helps alleviate the symptoms of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. As Hughes’ fame grows, he is seen with more starlets.

Hughes successfully test flies the flying boat himself. After the flight, he talks to Dietrich and his mechanic, Glenn Odekirk (Matt Ross), about a new jetliner for TWA (the Avro C102 Jetliner) and makes a date with Gardner at a celebration party on the Long Beach shoreline. Hughes seems free of his inner demons until he sees three attendants in business suits and white gloves edging towards him, which triggers an obsessive-compulsive fit as he begins repeating “The way of the future.” Dietrich and Odekirk take Hughes in a bathroom and hide him there, while Dietrich fetches a doctor and Odekirk stands outside guarding the door. Alone inside, Howard has a flashback to his boyhood, being washed by his mother and resolving he will fly the fastest aircraft ever built, make the biggest movies ever and become the richest man in the world. As the film ends he mutters “the way of the future… the way of the future” into a darkened mirror.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

  • Directors: Woody Allen
  • Producers: Charles H Joffe
  • Writers: Woody Allen
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Orbach

The film is set in New York City and follows two main characters: Judah Rosenthal (Landau), a successful ophthalmologist, and Cliff Stern (Allen), a struggling documentary filmmaker. The two men are each confronted with moral crises.

Judah’s crisis concerns his affair with a flight attendant Dolores Paley (Huston). After it becomes clear to her that Judah will not end his marriage, Dolores, scorned, attempts to inform his wife of their affair. Dolores’ letter to his wife Miriam (Claire Bloom) is intercepted and destroyed by Judah, but she sustains the pressure on him with her threats of revelation. She is also aware of some questionable financial moves Judah has made.

Early in the film, he confides in a patient — Ben (Waterston), a rabbi who is rapidly losing his eyesight. Ben advises openness and honesty between Judah and his wife, but Judah does not wish to imperil his marriage.

Desperate, Judah turns to his brother, Jack (Orbach), a small-time gangster, who hires a hitman to kill Dolores. Later, before her corpse is discovered, Judah retrieves letters and other items from her apartment in order to cover his tracks. Stricken with guilt though, Judah turns to the religious teachings he had rejected, believing for the first time that a just God is watching him and passing judgement.

The film ends with a narration by Prof. Levy, who had earlier committed suicide, about the interplay between morality and happiness.

What Women Want

  • Directors: Nancy Meyers
  • Producers: Susan Cartsonis, Bruce Davey, Gina Matthews, Nancy Meyers, Matt Williams
  • Writers: Josh Goldsmith, Cathy Yuspa, Diane Drake
  • Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei, Alan Alda, Ashley Johnson, Bette Midler

Nick Marshall (Mel Gibson), a Chicago ad executive who grew up with his Las Vegas showgirl mother – and so has an alpha male view of women, which works well for him when it comes to getting men to buy beer or cars or getting most women (such as a coffee attendant Marisa Tomei at a local shop) to fawn over him. However, just as he thinks he’s heading for a promotion, his manager Dan (Alan Alda) informs him that he needs to hire the talents of Darcy McGuire (Helen Hunt) to keep the ad company ‘fresh’ and get new clients. Thus, his ego is bruised and he gives the cold shoulder to Darcy in the process.

Compounding his problems, his estranged 15-year-old daughter Alex is spending two weeks with him while his ex-wife Gigi goes on her honeymoon with her new husband. Alex sees Nick as someone she’s embarrassed to have as a father, and is not interested in his being ‘protective’ when she brings a boyfriend home.

Needing to prove that he’s still ‘the best’ to Darcy and Dan, Nick attempts to think of ad angles for a series of feminine products that Darcy gave out to the workers. While in the bathroom, he accidentally slips on some bath beads and falls into a bathtub while holding an electric hairdryer. He tries to get out, but slips and the dryer falls into the tub while he still has one foot in, jolting him with electricity.

Nick then goes over to Darcy’s apartment and explains everything to her. Darcy regains her job and is forced to fire Nick. However, she finds that she has romantic feelings for Nick as well, and is willing to forgive him.