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.

Blood Diamond

  • Directors: Edward Zwick
  • Producers: Gillian Gorfil, Marshall Herskovitz, Graham King, Paula Weinstein, Edward Zwick
  • Writers: Charles Leavitt
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Djimon Hounsou, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Michael Sheen, Arnold Vosloo

Set during the Sierra Leone Civil War in 1999, the film shows a country torn apart by the struggle between government soldiers and rebel forces.[1] The film portrays many of the atrocities of that war, including the rebels’ amputation of people’s hands to discourage them from voting in upcoming elections.

The film begins with the capture of Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou), a Mende fisherman, by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels when they invade the small Sierra Leonian village of Shenge. Separated from his family, Solomon is enslaved to work in the diamond fields under the command of a Warlord called Captain Poison (David Harewood) while his son Dia is conscripted into the rebel forces, the brainwashing eventually turning him into a hardened killer. The RUF use the diamonds to fund their war effort, often trading them directly for arms. While working in the RUF diamond fields as a forced laborer, Solomon finds a large, pink diamond inside a big, broken pipe in the diamond fields. Claiming that he must go to the toilet, Solomon hides the diamond between his toes to try and sneak it away to bury it. However, moments before government troops launch an attack, Captain Poison sees Solomon hiding the diamond. Captain Poison is injured in an attack by government forces before he can get the stone, and both he and Solomon are taken to prison in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Solomon travels to London and, with the help of Bowen, he trades the diamond to Simmons for £2,000,000 and the reunification of his family, making the exchange as Solomon’s wife and children arrive via a Lear Jet at a London airport. Bowen, who secretly photographs the deal, later publishes a magazine piece exposing the trade in “conflict” or “blood” diamonds. The film ends with Solomon smiling at the photograph Maddy took of Archer earlier, now published in her magazine along with the complete story of their journey, before addressing a conference on blood diamonds in Kimberley, South Africa, describing his experiences. This refers to an actual meeting that took place in Kimberley in 2000 and led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which seeks to certify the origin of diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds.

Edge of Darkness

  • Directors: Martin Campbell
  • Producers: Graham King, Tim Headington, Michael Wearing
  • Writers: Screenplay, William Monahan, Andrew Bovell, Television series, Troy Kennedy Martin
  • Genres: Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic

As homicide detective Thomas Craven (Mel Gibson) investigates the death of his activist daughter (Bojana Novakovic), he uncovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion that attracts an agent tasked with cleaning up the evidence…

The Departed

  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Producers: Brad Grey, Graham King, Brad Pitt
  • Writers: Original Screenplay, William Monahan, 2002 Screenplay, Felix Chong, Alan Mak
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin

The film begins in South Boston and Charlestown, where Irish mob boss Francis “Frank” Costello (Nicholson) beguiles a young neighborhood boy named Colin Sullivan (Conor Donovan), who enters into Costello’s criminal underground at a young age. Years later, Colin (now played by Damon) completes his training for the Massachusetts State Police, graduating as a state trooper. Colin, who quickly distinguishes himself, is assigned to the Special Investigations Unit (“SIU”) of the State Police by SIU’s Captain Oliver Queenan (Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Bryce Dignam (Wahlberg). However, Colin’s expressed intent is to serve as a double agent for Costello within the police force.

In another State Police training program is William “Billy” Costigan Jr. (DiCaprio). After his graduation, Queenan and Dignam interview Billy, convinced that his family ties with the Boston underworld make Billy unsuitable for anything other than undercover work. Billy agrees to work for Queenan and Dignam’s undercover division of SIU and become a mole in Costello’s crime family. To make his new identity believable, SIU creates a false assault conviction for Billy; he serves a jail sentence, is placed on probation, and attends mandatory psychiatry sessions. Billy’s police academy record and file are concealed from the department, leaving only Queenan and Dignam with any knowledge of his true identity. In the meantime, Billy’s relationship with his psychiatrist and Colin’s girlfriend, Madolyn Madden, also deepens and the two eventually sleep together.

After attending Billy’s funeral, Colin returns home to find Dignam waiting in his apartment. Dignam, knowing of Colin’s treachery and escape from punishment, shoots him through the head with a suppressed pistol, then exits the apartment. The film ends with a lone rat crawling on the apartment’s balcony railing, which frames the gold dome of the Massachusetts State House in the background.