Wednesday, November 9, 2011

J Edgar

To quote Cup from earlier in the day of Monday's screening of J Edgar, "Who is his agent?" Leonardo DiCaprio only does high caliber work. Only Oscar bait with acclaimed directors (in the bio pic genre see also Scorsese's The Aviator and Leo's Howard Hughes). My response was, can you imagine what would happen if he did a rom com?! Everyone would lose their minds.

Even if I had not known ahead of time that Clint Eastwood was the director, after the first two notes of the title credits played over the WB studio logo I knew from the score. The movie has Eastwood's consistent quality with excellent storytelling and direction. The costumes, make-up and set design are very well executed and are a necessity for this type of movie.

Bio pics, are tricky. The history major in me wants to start Googling immediately to verify information. I have to force myself to stay focused on watching the movie. In J Edgar, multiple eras are shown and the film details Hoover's life from 1919 until his death in 1972. All these different times in US History certainly make me think of AM studies movie reviews. My all-time favorite school assignment from my favorite class and teacher in high school. J Edgar would end up being an option for multiple units.
I was eager to see Leo's Hoover interact with Nixon. Wow, the paranoia there. No shock, according to the movie they were on each other's lists. Though Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger was not critically acclaimed nor did it score major box office, I rooted for Johnny much more than I did for Leo as Hoover. There were at least three scenes that were depicted in both films. It almost lends credibility to both projects. Maybe both just reinforce mythology and misinformation. I have not finished my Googling.

My take away was that Hoover was a very sad, pathetic man, paralysed and motivated by fear. He certainly built the FBI into the modern institution that it is today. Hoover relentlessly lobbied for the centralization of finger printing. The movie also hints that modern counter terrorism tactics had their start with Hoover. Regarding his personal life, I couldn't help but wonder about how the stereotypical things we've all heard about J Edgar Hoover end up in the movie. Was the movie accurate, what sort of evidence to those details being true exists or how watered-downed was the portrayal? An Armie Hammer-Leo hook up, not to be found. I won't be specific about what is in the film, but I was disappointed.

When I saw written by Dustin Lance Black in the end credits I knew instantly that he won an Oscar three ceremonies ago and I was in a full fledged Oscar flashback to 2009: I could remember that Hugh Jackman hosted. Laura's cake was the clock in Benjamin Button (and she was pregnant -- much like she will be this year). Kelva, Cup, Emily, my mom, Kate, Anne, Marla, Kim, Tina and Jerre were also in attendance. Unfortunately I did have to resort to imdb to recall what movie Dustin Lance Black won his Best Original Screenplay Oscar for -- Milk. Interestingly enough, another bio pic with political and gay issues. Seeing J Edgar before the release date already felt a bit like an official beginning to my Oscar season. All the Oscar trivia and memories that came to mind and then the announcements of the change in producers of the telecast this week cemented it. The last movie I reviewed was Tower Heist. It was directed by Brett Ratner who was going to produce the Oscars in 2012 and starred Eddie Murphy who was going to host. Both have since resigned and the show is without a host. Ratner resigned after using a gay slur and speaking about his own sex life. Brian Grazer is the new producer of the show and he produced J Edgar with Eastwood and Ron Howard. Very interesting indeed.

Jeffery Donovan was a great Robert Kennedy. Certainly no characterture or impression. Christopher Shyer who portrayed Nixon was also impression free, more so than I would even say the Nixon in Nixon/Frost -- also Oscar season in 2009. Donovan's work on Burn Notice does showcase his ability to master all accents and styles. Donovan must be an Eastwood go to supporting player as he was also the dislikable detective in Changeling. Another film that was part of 2009's Oscar season.

Public Enemies with Johnny Depp was released in 2009 but did not have any Oscar nods in 2010. Someday Leo and Johnny will get their Oscars. It will be interesting to see what role J Edgar has in this year's Oscar race.

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