Wednesday, April 4, 2012

J. Edgar

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

J. Edgar - 2 out of 5

Clint Eastwood is very hit or miss when it comes to his directing choices.  Films like Gran Torino, Mystic River and Unforgiven are amazing!  But for all those, we get something like Letters from Iwo Jima which, on paper, sounded amazing as Clint was showing World War II from the Japanese perspective.  Instead, what we got was nothing but lip service to the Red, White and Blue as it was filled with dialogue kissing America's ass.  Clint's 2011 bio-pic about the cross-dressing creator of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is one of those films that falls into his "miss" category.

"I believe we need to go deeper..."
That can either be a Inception joke or a joke about Hoover's homosexual ways.
Take it however you want it.

 A bio-pic about J. Edgar Hoover seems, on paper, to be mildly interesting as the man gave birth to the F.B.I. and, in doing so, we got Mulder and Scully and the X-Files.  However, a sloppy presentation, bad casting choice and slow-moving story makes for an incredibly boring film.  The majority of the film feels like it was lit by a small flashlight on a cameraman's key chain as there are literally entire sequences of the film that are impossible to make out what exactly is going on.  We all know that lighting can create atmosphere, tension and emotion but seemingly refusal to light scenes kinda destroys all attempts at making these elements.  If Clint's intentions were to make us, the audience, use our imaginations and make our own film in our heads, then congratulations are in order because that's what he accomplished.  During sequences I couldn't see what was going on, I just imagined that Hoover put on a horned Viking helmet and started to battle a griffin in mortal combat...or maybe they played Mortal Kombat, I don't know.

I literally have no idea what is happening in this scene.  I assume it involves the Safety Dance.

Along with the film's extremely slow moving pace, the film's biggest detractor was the casting choice for the closeted F.B.I. Director.  Leonardo DiCaprio is a great actor whom I've recently come around to thanks to his epic performances in Inception and Shutter Island.  However, his abilities feel wasted as his performance in this film comes off more as a satire or cartoon of Hoover than an actual representation of the man.  Hell, the only man who really seemed to fit into his role was seeing the best burned spy on the big screen as Bobby Kennedy; Jeffrey Donovan.

Jeffrey Donovan seemed like the only reasonable casting choice in this film.

Finally, one thing remains that keeps this film from being taken seriously...the make-up effects.  Rather than cast an older gentleman to play Hoover when he gets older (or the other characters who age with the man in the story) it was decided they would put DiCaprio into make-up that is less convincing than the make-up used to make Johnny Knoxville look old in the Jackass films.  Honestly, I have to ask:  Did they get some old man masks on clearance from a Halloween Express store that was about to close for the season?

After seeing this come out of the make-up trailer, you would have thought Clint would
have said, "This is a joke, right?  How's the make-up really going to look?"
I'm sure he also would have used the word "punk" somewhere in that statement as well.

The only real saving grace to this snoozer is the fact it is well edited.  The film doesn't tell a linear story as it is told from Hoover's perspective, dictating his life story to young agents.  The film jumps back and forth from his active duty days to his active duty in his pants days as an old man.  These are cut together beautifully and creatively.  Sadly, that's really all that's good about the film because Hoover's life really wasn't at all that interesting.  Sure he was a closeted homosexual and possible cross-dresser but his man love was only touched upon and not that large of a focus and the cross-dressing...not touched at all.  And after sitting through this, a man in drag would have only helped the film.

J. Edgar is a lackadaisical, meandering film about a man in our country's history who's story wasn't that interesting to begin with.  With weak performances, laughable make-up effects and a story that can make even the biggest F.B.I. buff (if they exist) struggle to stay awake, this film is one that I could have gone without seeing and have been totally fine with. 

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