J Edgar Hoover

Culture Warrior

Warning: This post contains spoilers about J. Edgar. For the past few years, I haven’t been much of a fan of Clint Eastwood’s work. While he no doubt possesses storytelling skills as a director and certainly maintains an incredible presence as a movie star, I’ve found that critics who constantly praise his work often overlook its general lack of finesse, tired and sometimes visionless formal approach, and habitual ham-fistedness. When watching Eastwood’s work, I get the impression, supported by stories of his uniquely economic method of filmmaking, that he thinks of himself as something of a Woody Allen for the prestige studio drama, able to get difficult stories right in one take. The end product, for me, says otherwise. While I was a fan of the strong but still imperfect Mystic River (2003) and Letters From Iwo Jima (2006), the moment that I stopped trusting Eastwood came around the time the song “Colorblind” appeared in Invictus two years ago, throwing any prospect of nuance and panache out the window. Eastwood, despite having helmed several notable cinematic successes, has recently been coasting on a reputation that doesn’t match the work. He is, in short, proof of the auteur problem: that we as critics forgive from him transgressions that would never be deemed acceptable with a “lesser” director. As you can likely tell, my expectations were to the ground in seeking out the critically-divided J. Edgar. I was prepared, in entering the theater to watch Eastwood’s newest, to write an article about […]

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In Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, the director once again returns to his cinematic bread and butter with a large-scale historical epic, this time focusing on an American institution and an American icon. As J. Edgar Hoover, Leonardo DiCaprio attempts to navigate the personal and professional life of America’s first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a man bent on uncovering the secrets and deceits of others, even as he too viciously guarded his own perceived defections. Hoover was a man obsessed with big ideas and even bigger ideals – especially the concepts legacies, notoriety, heroism, and adoration (particularly of the public variety), but J. Edgar is at its best when it sticks to the smaller moments of the man’s big life. Despite predictably fine and focused details like historically accurate (and gorgeous) sets, costumes, and props, J. Edgar skimps on the big framework, unable and unwilling to scale back on its story, leaving most of the film feeling somehow both bloated and empty.

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The first official image of Leonardo DiCaprio playing the gangbusting icon in Clint Eastwood‘s J. Edgar has been released (as you can see above), and it’s just a taste of what the make-up department has in store for the actor as he journeys through the neck-flap, skin-sagging years of J. Edgar Hoover’s life. The film will see DiCaprio wear a ton of aging make-up, because he’ll be playing the adult version of the nation’s former top cop through his rise to power in the 1920 through the man’s death in 1972. Consider it a reverse Benjamin Button. It looks great, but the bigger concern is that Eastwood seems to think he’s a one-take director at this point in his career, and he’s not. His last few efforts have been sorely lacking. However, maybe a biopic about absolute power is just what the doctor ordered. As such, by way of comparison, check out this picture of J. Edgar Hoover to give you an idea of how close DiCaprio is and where he’ll be headed.

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Charlize Theron hasn’t had a starring role in a major movie since Hancock, and even then she didn’t have just a massive amount of screen time. Not counting that, the last time she was front and center was Aeon Flux. To bring some perspective to the plate, Theron may very well be one of those actresses that’s incredibly famous, but hasn’t been in a great starring role for seven years. Sidenote: Aeon Flux does not count as a great starring role. However, it looks like the actress is kicking it into high gear, because her name is attached to all sorts of movies she can’t possibly do at once. She was in talks to appear in the J. Edgar Hoover biopic being made by one-take director Clint Eastwood, but she’s bowed out of that gracefully. Now, she’s only double booked.

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Leonardo DiCaprio

Deadline is reporting this week that Leonardo DiCaprio is in early talks to star as J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood’s Hoover biopic. DiCaprio is said to be interested in starring in this period flick about the early years of the FBI.

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After seeing Invictus get rightfully shut out on Oscar night — lets fact it, folks, the movie was bad — director Clint Eastwood is moving on to what is sure to be his next Oscar-grab biopic. This time, he’s bringing his lens back into the confines of the United States, putting focus on the controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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