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Robert Zemeckis has spent the past decade directing 3D animated blockbusters (A Christmas Carol, The Polar Express), but he's returned to "adult" filmmaking with a vengeance. Flight (about a substance-abusing commercial airline pilot who becomes a Sully Sullenberger-like hero; see review in "Opening This Week") wallows in drug dens, ghettos, and dirty porn sets. It even seems to suggest that cocaine makes you better at your job.

"I know," Zemeckis said when I asked him about this on a recent visit to Boston to promote the film. "That's the real story!"

Another story is how he managed to get a film with such hardcore subject matter made by a Hollywood studio. "You know, we waived our fees, that sort of thing," he said.

Nonetheless, Flight might not pass the propriety test for Oscar consideration. "You're probably correct, sadly," he agreed. "But Denzel [Washington] deserves to be acknowledged. This is a damaged character. This couldn't just be a story about someone who is addicted until at the end they aren't. The real problem is inside of him."

Zemeckis also has an addiction: he can't resist taking his films to emotional and stylistic heights. "All my films are like opera!" he says. But though operatic, this film does not succumb to the current compulsion for 3D. Even so, will we be seeing this digital convert's past movies, like Back to the Future, retrofitted, George Lucas-style, in that format? "Never!" he says. "I don't even believe in or agree with some of the small stuff Steven [Spielberg] does; going back and digitally removing guns from policeman's hands in ET. I think that's bullshit."

Related: Being Scrooge, Christmas present, Review: Trinity Rep gets to the Heart of Scrooge, More more >
  Topics: Features , Robert Zemeckis, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, The Polar Express,  More more >
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