The Twenty-First Century

J. Edgar [2011]

I approach every Clint Eastwood picture with the hope that it will be worthy of his reputation and extraordinary gifts as a filmmaker. “J. Edgar” marks the first time he has worked with Leonardo DiCaprio, who has matured year by year and benefited from his association with legendary director Martin Scorsese. And, of course, Eastwood has assembled a gold-plated roster of collaborators for the project, including Oscar winning “Milk” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, not to mention a cast including Naomi Watts, Judy Dench, Armie Hammer (who played both Winklevoss brothers in “The Social Network”) and Josh Lucas. Any film involving these talents is automatically worth seeing, and cannot be dismissed easily. DiCaprio has already played so many real life characters before, including billionaire Howard Hughes in “The Aviator”. In “J. Edgar”, he plays America’s most feared cop, first in his twenties, and later on in his seventies. Don’t mind the lousy make up, because DiCaprio does wonders with the role. Until his death in 1972, J. Edgar Hoover ruled the Federal Bureau of Investigation like a madman no one would dare approach.But Hoover had secrets too, as we learn that he was dominated by his mother, and had homosexual tendencies, at least to some degree. I don’t know what Hoover’s purists will make of it, but I personally thought it was awfully impressive. Some have called this biopic superficial. I thought it was straight to the point and completely absorbing (regardless of the fact that the make up sucks). Of course, Black’s script isn’t always steady on its feet, especially when it jumps back in forth in time. But for the most parts, it works. And I loved watching great actors at work; Judy Dench and Naomi Watts are both good, but this is definitely DiCaprio’s show, and he gives it his best, as usual. No way you will be able to forget his performance. Only stupid Oscar voters do that. Thanks to Clint Eastwood and DiCaprio, “J. Edgar” is solid stuff, even with all its flaws. The only remaining question is why Armie Hammer’s old-age makeup so astonishingly bad. That’s a mystery I’m determined to solve.

Rating: 3/4

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