J. Edgar Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2012
Great performances by DiCaprio and Armie Hammer. The film is put together well.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2011
A very believable portrait of a very unhappy person who could never accept himself. Excellent film, well written and acted, with DiCaprio giving an outstanding performance. The "aging make-up" of the main characters is rather poor, in my opinion, though. However, the overall quality of the film made me forgive that thanks to Clint Eastwood's style of directing....
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2011
"Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little in order to keep your country safe."

J. Edgar Hoover, powerful head of the FBI for nearly 50 years, looks back on his professional and personal life.

Told largely in flashbacks that span the first indications in 1919 of a Bolshevik revolution threatening America, to 1972, when Hoover died, J. Edgar stars Leonardo DiCaprio in a mesmerizing performance as the tough-as-nails FBI man who prided himself of getting rid of the rotten elements in American society, and ordering his bureau and his agents to live up to his professional standards of loyalty and patriotism. Both Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black depict the great things Hoover's FBI did, but they don't whitewash the fact that he was also a shameless, unapologetic huckster and salesman at boosting the FBI image at home and abroad, sometimes taking credit for certain big FBI catches (capturing the killer of Charles Lindbergh's baby; the killing of Dillinger) that he was never even present at-and, of course, the fact that his relationship with his close aid Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) was, how shall we say, more than merely professional.

Eastwood, more content now to be behind the camera than in front of it, gets a great performance out of DiCaprio, as well as solid turns by Naomi Watts (as Hoover's long-time secretary Helen Gundy), Dame Judi Dench (as his mother Annie), and Jessica Hecht as the notorious subversive Emma Goldman, most of them unrecognizable, including DiCaprio, under all the prosthetics and make-up, but still able to deliver the goods. As a director, Eastwood proved long ago, going all the way back to his directing debut Play Misty For Me in 1971, that he was more than just Dirty Harry or the Man With No Name, that he was a director of offbeat and extremely challenging projects, whether or not he was also on the other side of the camera as an actor. Recent films of his like Changeling, Letters From Iwo Jima, Invictus, Hereafter, and Million Dollar Baby proved this; and J. Edgar does as well.
Super Reviewer
August 11, 2012
A sensationally acted yet stone cold look at the start of the F.B.I. and its maker, J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio). While DiCaprio gives yet another ferocious, amazing performance, Dustin Lance Black's script seems more intent on dealing with Hoover's rumored homosexuality instead of the more interesting people and situations he was involved with. While the rumored, seedy parts of Hoover's life take center stage, the more interesting meat of the story is given not enough attention. Not to mention Black jumps all over the map between old Hoover to young Hoover, enough to make one's head spin instead of dividing those sections up more skillfully. With all of that said, it still remains a largely interesting, if quite flawed, picture, that is almost worth recommendation due to DiCaprio's awesome performance alone. Sadly, it just misses the cut, instead settling for a mediocre though missable look at a compelling figure who deserved a better biopic than this.
Super Reviewer
½ August 21, 2011
Given the director, subject matter, and people invovled, I had some really high hopes for this one. Sadly, it's a real misfire, and that's a shame too, because this really had the potential to be great.

I think that perhaps maybe one of the biggest problems was the subject matter itself. J. Edgar Hoover is one of those historical figures that is really incendiary and will stir up a lot of feelings from people on all parts of the spectrum. He's one of those people whose legacy is so contested that it would have been difficult to do a film on without causing a fuss no matter how it was approached.

And that's probably the best place to start. I kinda think like maybe this project wasn't really all that doable, no matter the strengths (combiend or not) of all involved. I didn't like the non-linear narrative, finding it unnecessary, and the broad scope of the picture made it seem even more weighty and overloaded. Maybe screenwriter Dustin Lance Blakc should have taken a page from his previous (and Oscar Winning) script for the biopic Milk and just focused on the most interesting parts of the subject's life and career instead of trying to cover such a wide swath.

Also, what doesn't help is how Hoover is a guy that it's hard to separate reality and myth from, and trying to get real truths to come out is near impossible. I knew some things about Hoover going into this, but by the time the film was over, I felt I learned both a lot and yet not really much of anything at the same time. The film just plods along and shows that Hoover had secrets and issues, but the film really doesn't have the guts to deal with any of it beyond a cursory level. I know Clint's an old fart, but I refuse to believe that he's lost his balls. There's no way. And if that's true, then we've really reached a sad time.

Thankfully, the film is somewhat saved by soem strong performances. Maybe not the best work from anyone in the cast, but still, they're at least a little more than trying. DiCaprio excels at thsi sort of thing, but he's done it better before. Hammer, Watts, and Dench are fine, but I was left very underwhelmed by them, or at least how their characters dealt with things. And Watts in general, despite trying her best, was really underused given the type of chcaracter she played. Perhaps it would have been better to cast a lesser known or heck, even a complete unknown.

Tom Stern, Eastwood's go to cinematographer as of the past several years puts in some terrific work here, and indeed, the film is gorgeous to look at, with the use of chiaroscuro really standing out. However, I think even that gets overbearing at times, and the use of darkness and shadows goes a little too far and really overdoes it in terms of symbolism. Still though, Stern's a guy who will someday be remembered for his work (I hope). Also, the make-up effects are actually quite good too. DiCaprio looks better in them than Hammer, but still, the end results are impressive.

All in all, the film at least tries, even if not very much, and it doesn't really accomplish much. I'm not even sure that Eastwood or Black know how they feel about Hoover and his legacy, hence while the film is the way it is. You could give it a watch, but only if you feel you must and truly believe that you aren't going to feel let down in some capacity.
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2011
A good movie, but by the standards Di Caprio and Eastwood usually set, not a very good movie. Clint is starting to wobble in his late years: his films are getting longer, less efficient, less original, and less affecting. This movie, particularly, uses one interesting twist in the way it tells its story: putting the narrative in the hands of Hoover, writing his autobiography. Also, where this one comes up short is in the music, which Eastwood and his son have yet again written on the same three piano keys. When Clint's good, he's great, but J. Edgar is not one of those occasions. The story is too linear, and loses steam in its thorough faithfulness to the details. It's an accurate biopic, and interesting because of the fate of the most important information Hoover collected at the FBI. It's also a good follow-up to Milk in writer Dustin Lance Black's career, and solidly written. However, as with Invictus, the expectations for this film are too high. It's decent, but don't go in expecting any more than that - you'll be disappointed.

UPDATE: I liked this film a lot more the second time through, and bumped up the rating half a star... it's too easy to take Eastwood's technical proficiency for granted, and watching it again, the details came to life a little more... on the other hand, though: wow, was Armie Hammer's makeup bad...
Super Reviewer
November 11, 2011
Director Clint Eastwood has a lack of passion for his subject. It's as if he was handed a school assignment regarding a figure he couldn't care less about. As a result we're left with a man we have no interest in as well. Eastwood's condemnatory take is of a man out to destroy people's reputations while simultaneously trying to hide his own true sexuality. Hoover was a polarizing figure. Great biographies have been made concerning individuals far less likeable or interesting than Hoover, but they had a focus that engaged the mind. The narrative here is disjointed. Clint Eastwood's bloated opus lacks a defining moment as it trudges on for a seemingly unending 2 hours and 17 minutes. He superficially touches on assorted controversial aspects without ever delving deeper as to why we should be fascinated by this man. Random samples of Hoover's existence are presented one after the other without any unifying thread other than the man at the center of it all.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2011
The Most Powerful Man in the World.

Very good biopic film! Eastwood delivers a dark brooding, and rather objective look at one of the most controversial and polarizing figures in America. While the story itself may not be overly compelling, it does offer explanations behind some of the motivations that made up the man, John Edgar Hoover. As for Leonardo DiCaprio, it's difficult to explain just how outstanding his performance is. It could have been a caricature, but instead he affords Hoover the respect his place in history demands. The 50 years of aging through make-up can be startling, especially since the time lines are mixed up throughout. His speech pattern mimics Hoover's, as does the growing waist line. There are some Citizen Kane elements at work in how the story is told and how it's filmed, but Eastwood wouldn't shy away from such comparisons. Visually successful, the film conveys the shifting time periods very well. There isn't an overabundance of special effects to recreate the past. The naturalistic appearance of the clothes, sets and props are welcome and feel genuine. J. Edgar is one remarkable film from the remarkable team of Eastwood and DiCaprio. Go see it!

Biopic of J. Edgar Hoover told by Hoover as he recalls his career for a biography. Early in his career, Hoover fixated on Communists, anarchists and any other revolutionary taking action against the U.S. government. He slowly builds the agency's reputation, becoming the sole arbiter of who gets hired and fired. One of his hires is Clyde Tolson who is quickly promoted to Assistant Director and would be Hoover's confidant and companion for the rest of Hoover's life. Hoover's memories have him playing a greater role in the many high profile cases the FBI was involved in - the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the arrest of bank robbers like John Dillinger - and also show him to be quite adept at manipulating the various politicians he's worked with over his career, thanks in large part to his secret files.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2012
Geez, I'm in the minority on this one too. DiCaprio should have won an Oscar for this one. It's amazing the way Eastwood dealt with Hoover's homosexuality. And it's also interesting that Eastwood was able to make such a bastard seem almost a sympathetic character. Nuff said.
Super Reviewer
½ November 12, 2011
Darkly lit & dreary with some of the worst old age makeup ever seen and a confusing non linear storyline. Some decent acting is wasted on a dull script.
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2012
A top FBI officer rumored to be a cross-dresser and closeted homosexual. That's an interesting dough right there to start with. How could Hollywood afford to miss it?? No doubt, this shady character deserved to be played on-screen, but it fails to do justice enough to this controversial figure's biographical tale. Leonardo continues to excel playing real-life characters, so his outstanding performance wasn't quite a surprise here either. Movies with time jumps back and forth isn't quite up to my taste, but I found myself comfortable with it sooner than I'd ever expected. But another problem was that there was hardly anything worth looking forward to in this story; you already know where it's going, and it shouldn't have been this predictable. Eastwood smartly throws in the Lindbergh kidnapping plot to add to the thrill, but that doesn't help much. Wasn't there any other less known mystery that the guy solved? Or were there, but couldn't be told for they lacked enough thrilling elements??? Whatever. To sum up, the movie aces in performances, but disappoints with its content.
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2011
Clint Eeastwood has pulled yet another masterful film. Eastwood is a powerhouse in the film industry, he keeps on making quality film after quality film. J. Edgar is yet another great film from the director. Starring Leonardo Dicaprio in the title role. J. Edgar is compelling biopic that is very underrated in my opinion. The film is flawed, but the performances delivered by Leonardo Dicaprio more than makes up for its slight mistakes. This is a well conceived film that shows the secret life of J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI. throughout the film we get a glimpse at how powerful Hoover becomes, and how he uses his wit to influence politicians to create the best police force. J. Edgar is a terrific film that details Hoover's secret life, and alleged homosexuality. Now, before you dismiss this film as a "gay film", this is really not the case. The film though hints on such as aspects of Hoover's sexuality, it shows how Hoover became a man feared and revered. Clint Eastwood is a great director and presents us with a terrific film, his eye for substance over cheapo thrills is what makes his film unique films to watch. This is Eastwood's best biopic si9nce Bird and J. Edgar is a well crafted film with a great cast. Dicaprio is excellent in this role, and in my opinion he delivers one of his best performances since The Departed. What really stands out with this film is the fact that Leonardo Dicaprio and Clint Eastwood collaborated on this film. The result is a stunning biopic with a great story. I really don't understand why this film has gotten so much flack. I thought it was a brilliant, near flawless picture that told a terrific story. The only weak points of the film is that I felt they could elaborated more on the wave of bank robberies in the early 1930's, as John Dillinger was one of the first criminals to really establish the FBI as a Federal police force. Before Dillinger, the bureau of investigation didn't have that much power. However after the criminal careers of Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson. These criminal precipitated the need of a Federal task force, and in many ways helped form the modern FBI. I felt that it was something that could have been elaborated a bit more, however for the most part, the film does a great job at being a thrilling biopic. Some people May be disappointed by this film of course, but this is a biopic, so go in expecting a story, people talking with a bit of action, and you may not be disappointed. This is a smartly crafted film that is held together by a compelling story and phenomenal acting. The film will appeal to people interested in history, as this one tells an important story that is essential to the formation of modern crime fighting in America. Clint Eastwood tackles his subject with great understanding of its topic. Ultimately that's what we get on-screen, a portrait of a man bent on doing what's right for his country, only to be conflicted by the secrets that could destroy him. Leonardo Dicaprio does a phenomenal job at playing a man conflicted by his own personal morals. If you're looking for one of 2011';s most underrated films, and ultimately the most underrated performance, J. Edgar is a fine flick to watch. Expect a film that is clearly misunderstood, and if you're a Clint Eastwood fan, like I am, you'll appreciate the film for what it is, an underrated work of misunderstood brilliance. Clint Eastwood has delivered yet another film and this is probably going to be seen as one of his most underrated works as a director.
Super Reviewer
October 7, 2011
The Most Powerful Man in the World

Nicely Done

Clint Eastwood nails it again, and so does DiCaprio. This is a good film, not amazing, but a good film that will only appeal and please political heads or history geeks, but either than that if you aren't under those categories you should watch this.

The movie tells the internal and external conflicts of J.Edgar Hoover, the director of FBI and hence one of the most important man on earth. From his political conflicts to his sexuality, Eastwood does a good job in creating an interesting autobiography of Mr.Hoover.

DiCaprio has really made his way out from being a silly actor to being one of the most looked up for and serious actors of our generation. He really stands out in this movie, he develops a complex character that Hoover really was and thereby paints a vivid and legit picture of this character.

Eastwood is also one of those directors that has really gotten to me lately. I've only became a fan of his work since Million Dollar Baby, but since then he has shown some serious, not western passion for film making, and is truly talented.

The makeup in this movie is divine. Well only really Hoover's because Tolson's is awful. But definitively something impressive.

Overall a good film, only recommended to those interested in slow political films that's gist is to elaborate on one of the worlds most famous and powerful icons.

J. Edgar Hoover: " It's time this generation learns the difference between villan and hero. Even great men can be corrupted."
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2012
This was a interesting story. I heard some people complaining in the theater that it was very slow. But if you expect big explotions and car chases and all that...you're not gonna get it. Cause it's a real story. And it's not slow if you know what to expect...there's allways something happening. And you can allways take some time of just to enjoy the acting. And the makeup looks pretty good as well.....At least Lenny D's makeup. Clint did a good job behind the camera. Nothing spectacular...but solid
Super Reviewer
February 6, 2012
'J. Edgar'. A strange love story featuring a fine Leo DiCaprio, but a weak script and even weaker make up.
Super Reviewer
December 25, 2011
Leo is my favourite actor but I was disappointed with J Edgar. This is probably the least favourite of his movies. Leo gives an excellent performance as always but J Edgar Hoover is just such an unlikeable person. He had a formidable career as the head of the FBI for 48 years, the movie touched on some of his cases but mainly focused on his relationships with his PA, assistant and mother. I found the movie slow moving and the make up that made the characters old wasn't very convincing. Judi Dench portrays his mother who is very domineering. Some of the scenes between Edgar and Clyde were quite ridiculous.
Super Reviewer
½ January 13, 2012
A complete disaster that portrays Hoover as a weak, petty, selfish, insecure and intolerant man but we never find out who he really was or why we should at all empathize with him. Besides, the over-unsaturated cinematography and the dragging pace keep the audience even more emotionally distant, while most of the actors are over-the-top and the makeup is atrocious.
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2011
J. Edgar is not as great as I had hoped but it was still a good movie that was definently worth seeing, if only to watch one of the best performances from Leonardo DiCaprio. Critics seemed to be very harsh on the film mostly for a very slow story, weird make-up, and even non coherence. But what the majority agreed was great was the incredible performance from DiCaprio which I agree was the best thing about the film. I understand the critisism to be honest, but I looked past the negatives and looked at the positives, which is why I enoyed it more than others did.

The story is about J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) who was the man who started the CIA, and it shows the very serious and important moments in his life that formed him to become arguably one of the most powerful man in the history of America. It also chronicles his life about his racism, his relationship with lifelong partner Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), his relationship with his strict mother (Judi Dench), and some of the crimes he had solved in his years in the CIA.

The plot of the film was very slow and confusing to be honest, but that is not to say it was as bad as critics said. I found it very hard to follow but I began to understand better and better as the film went on. True it was pretty pointless showing Edgar as old man when we are already trying to understand his younger years but only a minor problem with the story. I think it would have been an incredible story if they had just had coherence and had made it clearer what was going on, but I still enjoyed learning about Hoovers life and his relationships he had with people. Some people claimed they had trouble keeping up with all the different stories the film had,which was probably the hardest thing for me as well. The characters were well done because they were real. I have read about these men and I think Dustin Lance Black has kept them true to the historical figures. Overall the plot was a bit of a disappointment on some levels, but on many other levels it was a very decent imaging of the like of J. Edgar Hoover.

The cast was the best thing about the film if you ask me, because an incredible cast is lead by one of the best performances of the year from Leonardo DiCaprio. Leonardo DiCaprio has always been my favorite actor, I know to many of you that seems kind of stupid, but he is part of my generation of actors and i have never seen a film of his I disliked. In this film he does not just play J. Edgar, he embodies this man and does one of the best performances he has ever done, and it is just hard to explain how great and Oscar worthy his acting was in this film. Armie Hammer played an incredible role as well. I knew after seeing The Social Network that his career would be going places, and so far I think its true. Judi Dench was great as always, but I did not expect a great actress like her to ever fail in a serious movie like this. Naomi Watts is also good with her role and if you have done your history then you would know that her role was very important to the life of Hoover. The rest of the cast was also great and this was by far the highlight of the film.

J. Edgar is not Clint Eastwood's best film by any means, but here he has given us a very decent biographical story on Edgar's life. To be honest I had not known anything about Hoover until I saw this film, all I knew was that he made the CIA and that was it, but with this movie I have been given more information about this man then I could have ever dreamed of so I give credit to Eastwood for at least attempting to make a perfect film about this man, and although it was not perfect, it was still decent if you ask me. With a decent story, incredible cast, and decent direction I believe that this was simply was a pretty good film that is definently worth a watch.
Super Reviewer
½ April 26, 2011
"J. Edgar" is the kind of mediocre and overwrought biopic that always manages to finds it's way into theaters during awards season each year. It's two-dimensional characters and uninvolving, tedious plotting make for a film that isn't just redundant; it's borderline unlikable! A more hefty running time usually never phases me, but I felt every minute of "J. Edgar." I guess that's just because I didn't care for a single character or situation. Most perplexing is the fact that this film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who over his career has proven to be one of cinemas most iconic and talented figures (both in front of and behind the camera). This is a rare and unexpected misstep, but I assume the problems lie within a screenplay that just wasn't worth committing to film. Leonardo DiCaprio, along with Eastwood's usual tight direction, is the film's best attribute , but even his full commitment can't save a broken product that stumbles almost from start to finish. This is biopic movie making at it's most mundane.
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