I finally got around to watching The Aviator. I have no logical reason why it took this long, although I suspect I was subconsciously afraid it would suffer the exact problem that I found it to have.
Biopics are often well-acted, filled with interesting moments, etc., but they almost always fail to be about anything. Usually this is most obvious in their lack of story, or directionless story at best. And here I specifically refer to biopics as the movies that are about a substantial period, decades, of the life of their subject. I think true stories, even ones with a clear specific lead characters, that take place on a limited scale, are an entirely different game.
The only exception to this problem that I've thought of so far is Malcolm X, and I think the lion's share of the credit for that should go to Alex Haley. After decades of examples, however, I will accept that there are a couple of others hiding here and there, either unseen by me or currently eluding my memory, without conceding the premise of the rule.
On the opposite side of the storytelling spectrum, I've recently read Harvey Comics Classics Volume Two: Richie Rich as well as some classic Carl Barks stuff, found in the likes of Carl Barks' Greatest DuckTales Stories Volume 1, and I must say there are incredibly valuable storytelling lessons in many of these old children's humor comics, I promise. Beautifully simple, well-told stories. Not all of them necessarily, but more than enough to make me glad I made the effort.
I'm currently back to work writing... although perhaps only a practice run.
I'm working on adapting a short story that I'm 90% sure is in the public domain. Sure, I could take the time to do better research to alleviate that 10% doubt, but that could only derail me while I'm on a roll. Besides, I'm learning valuable lessons, I think, in what works in adaptation - and updating, to some degree. Not to mention structure. It's largely easier to spot and play with structure in an existing story and place your tent-stakes, so I'll have a clearer vision of it, and how to use - or even purposefully avoid - it in original works.
It's also important to keep the lessons of the classic children's humor comics in mind when "adapting" a story in which you will ultimately need to invent more new material than there is original material to include... a person could - and many, many have - jump off the deep end working with that.