J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Uri » Mon Jan 09, 2012 6:33 pm

After seeing him in Revolutionary Road, I said that DeCaprio reminded me of Mickey Rooney – it seemed that he was destined to go from an extended period of being a teenager straight into old age, without ever being an adult man. This particular quality, which hindered most of his performances in the last decade, serves him just fine here, since J. Edgar is a portray of a man – and because of this man's significant place in his country's history, a portray of a society – which is in a state of an everlasting arrested development, a fascinating study of a state of mind which to some extant is stuck in a constant prepubescent limbo. Hoover's inability to fully accept his own sexual identity, his inhibitions and fears, his child like fabricated self-image, his dependency on strict routines and rituals for reassurance, his need for other people to mirror him favorably – it all being very intelligently conveyed, and again, accumulates into something which is way beyond a character study, but a great deciphering of some very basic traits, of a very fundamental mechanism of the American society.

On a side note - about midway through watching the film, I had a very strange moment when I realized that the matronly actress playing Lela Rogers was none other than Lea Thompson. And it's the same actress whose greatest cinematic moment was playing the mother/love interest of another star of the Rooney/DeCaprio mold, Michael J. (yes, J) Fox, in another very American saga about this kind of limbo. And she's playing this woman whose her greatest onscreen moment was in another great film about American arrested development and sexual confusion, The Major and the Minor, in which she played the mother to her of screen daughter, Ginger, who was at one time famously involved with that aviator, Howard Hughes. Just saying.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:15 am

koook160 wrote:
rolotomasi99 wrote:
koook160 wrote:I won't lie, I despised this film with great intensity. DiCaprio gave one of his worst performances, possibly the worst of the year, as hoover. He chewed the scenery like a rabid dog. It was a pathetic "Look at me, I'm acting!" performance that deserves no recognition. Hammer, I will grant, was good as Tolson. He was far more convincing than his hammy costar. It's still not a "Best Supporting Actor" material performance, though. Pitt, Brooks, Stoll, and others were better than he was.


Stoll? How was he not chewing the scenery? Everything in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was over-the-top and Stoll was no exception.


Because that was the character. Of course he was over-the-top, it was a comedic performance. I'd say he was really the only good thing in that film.


I would imagine Ernest Hemingway was a larger than life character, but so was J. Edgar Hoover. How could DiCaprio have played Hoover without being over-the-top? I would imagine the real Hoover did some scenery chewing himself. Why do you think over-the-top is acceptable (or even required) for comedic performances but not dramatic performances?

Orson Welles in CITIZEN KANE, Elizabeth Taylor in WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF, Anthony Hopkins in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Forest Whitaker in THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, and many others gave over-the-top dramatic performances. Do you think all of these types of performances are bad?

I am not even trying to convince you DiCaprio gave a good performance (even though I believe he did). I just disagree with your idea that any dramatic performance that is over-the-top is autimatically bad. Likewise, I disagree that all comedic performances should be over-the-top.

J. Edgar Hoover was a ridiculous person, and DiCaprio played that perfectly.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby flipp525 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:32 am

koook160 wrote:
rolotomasi99 wrote:
koook160 wrote:I won't lie, I despised this film with great intensity. DiCaprio gave one of his worst performances, possibly the worst of the year, as hoover. He chewed the scenery like a rabid dog. It was a pathetic "Look at me, I'm acting!" performance that deserves no recognition. Hammer, I will grant, was good as Tolson. He was far more convincing than his hammy costar. It's still not a "Best Supporting Actor" material performance, though. Pitt, Brooks, Stoll, and others were better than he was.


Stoll? How was he not chewing the scenery? Everything in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was over-the-top and Stoll was no exception.


Because that was the character. Of course he was over-the-top, it was a comedic performance. I'd say he was really the only good thing in that film.

Corey Stoll is definitely on my Best Supporting Actor wishlist this year. I also don't see a Woody Allen film this popular going into the night without at least one acting nomination in tow. As Okri stated, I called him many months ago.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby koook160 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:11 am

rolotomasi99 wrote:
koook160 wrote:I won't lie, I despised this film with great intensity. DiCaprio gave one of his worst performances, possibly the worst of the year, as hoover. He chewed the scenery like a rabid dog. It was a pathetic "Look at me, I'm acting!" performance that deserves no recognition. Hammer, I will grant, was good as Tolson. He was far more convincing than his hammy costar. It's still not a "Best Supporting Actor" material performance, though. Pitt, Brooks, Stoll, and others were better than he was.


Stoll? How was he not chewing the scenery? Everything in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was over-the-top and Stoll was no exception.


Because that was the character. Of course he was over-the-top, it was a comedic performance. I'd say he was really the only good thing in that film.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby rolotomasi99 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:26 am

koook160 wrote:I won't lie, I despised this film with great intensity. DiCaprio gave one of his worst performances, possibly the worst of the year, as hoover. He chewed the scenery like a rabid dog. It was a pathetic "Look at me, I'm acting!" performance that deserves no recognition. Hammer, I will grant, was good as Tolson. He was far more convincing than his hammy costar. It's still not a "Best Supporting Actor" material performance, though. Pitt, Brooks, Stoll, and others were better than he was.


Stoll? How was he not chewing the scenery? Everything in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS was over-the-top and Stoll was no exception.
"When it comes to the subject of torture, I trust a woman who was married to James Cameron for three years."
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby koook160 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:42 pm

I won't lie, I despised this film with great intensity. DiCaprio gave one of his worst performances, possibly the worst of the year, as hoover. He chewed the scenery like a rabid dog. It was a pathetic "Look at me, I'm acting!" performance that deserves no recognition. Hammer, I will grant, was good as Tolson. He was far more convincing than his hammy costar. It's still not a "Best Supporting Actor" material performance, though. Pitt, Brooks, Stoll, and others were better than he was.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby rolotomasi99 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:49 pm

flipp525 wrote:
OscarGuy wrote:Let's not blame the film's woes on old age makeup. If the film fails to register a nomination for DiCaprio or Hammer, it's because no one really loved the film. Admired it maybe, but not loved it. I'm leaning towards Hammer as the best supporting actor of the year personally, but The Academy isn't going to give him a nod.

And clearly hideous old age makeup didn't affect Bette Midler's chances at getting an Oscar nod for For the Boys in '91.


I think actors have great sympathy for anyone who has to act with old age make-up on. Also, the make-up for DiCaprio had to factor in Hoover's incredible girth, while Hammer was portraying someone who suffered a stroke. I think their fellow actors were probably quite impressed these guys were able to give such emotional performances despite all those restrictions on the movement of their faces.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby flipp525 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:32 pm

OscarGuy wrote:Let's not blame the film's woes on old age makeup. If the film fails to register a nomination for DiCaprio or Hammer, it's because no one really loved the film. Admired it maybe, but not loved it. I'm leaning towards Hammer as the best supporting actor of the year personally, but The Academy isn't going to give him a nod.

And clearly hideous old age makeup didn't affect Bette Midler's chances at getting an Oscar nod for For the Boys in '91.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:28 pm

Let's not blame the film's woes on old age makeup. If the film fails to register a nomination for DiCaprio or Hammer, it's because no one really loved the film. Admired it maybe, but not loved it. I'm leaning towards Hammer as the best supporting actor of the year personally, but The Academy isn't going to give him a nod.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Sabin » Thu Jan 05, 2012 1:20 pm

It's a shame. Had Hammer better old age makeup and perhaps if he big blow-out scene with Leo in the hotel room been played better (or just given a take two), I don't think anyone would bat an eye at a nomination, that he'd be a foregone conclusion even without benefit of having so recently appeared high profile in The Social Network. Because of his old age makeup, I'm not so sure. It's as if he really can't give a performance under all of that.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:40 am

Big Magilla wrote: Today's ignoramuses may think Hoover was either a former president or the inventer of the vacuum cleaner.


And you know how shocked I was when I knew that Hoover was such an unknown figure in his own country.

As for Hammer, well, I didn't know his personal story but he certainly looks like one who comes from a wealthy social environment. A female equivalent, by the way, would more easily be nominated in the Best Supporting category - beauty can get votes there, and Armie Hammer is very handsome. But he's a man, so that won't help. He's a good actor though.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 05, 2012 7:32 am

I wouldn't feel too sorry for Armand (Armie) Hammer, scion of one of the wealthiest families in America. He'd be a natural to play his grandfather (oil tycoon; avowed Communist; staunch Nixon supporter) who led quite a colorful life for 92 years, though he is even more obscure today than J. Edgar Hoover. Today's ignoramuses may think Hoover was either a former president or the inventer of the vacuum cleaner. Hammer in his lifetime was was thought to be either the founder of Arm & Hammer or named after the company. He was, in fact, neither. He was named after a character in an Alexandre Dumas novel, though he later owned sizeable shares of stock in the company.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby ITALIANO » Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:48 am

Hoover is certainly seen under a much too positive light - I'm not sure that the Italian audience I saw the movie with, mostly composed of Leonardo Di Caprio fans, even at the end really had an idea of who this man really was and his role in the history of the United States. I must also admit that they never seemed bored though, and some were obviously moved.
I wasn't moved but I was always interested - there are many interesting details, details that even I didn't know about. "My" movie about J. Edgar Hoover is probably a completely different one, closer in spirit and approach to Paolo Sorrentino's Il Divo - but this is Clint Eastwood, so I knew I couldn't expect that. And the movie is always absorbing, rarely banal (except maybe when it portrays Hoover's cliched relationship with his mother, a character without much subtext that even Judi Dench's acting couldn't make unpredictable), and very informative. Unfortunately, it's also a bit flat - the narrative structure, while quite complicated, doesn't really reach a "crescendo". There are so many good things in it that probably one shouldn't complain too much, but it's a pity that, though it tries, it never goes really deep, and for this reason it's not as memorable as it could have been.
And then there's the make-up. It's not just that it isn't a very good job - the problem is that it appears so OFTEN. We have seen bad make-up in movies before, but if it's only in, say, the last ten minutes it's not nice but it's more bearable. But here these masks occupy probably one-third of the movie, and it's simply too much. There's a good scene towards the end, the last meeting between Hoover and Tolson - it's beautifully written and well-acted, but it's not as powerful as it could have been just because of those plastic faces.
It's Leonardo Di Caprio's most complex character ever, and his performance is technically competent and emotionally sincere, deserving of the nomination it will almost certainly get. But as good as it is I still see the teenager playing the grown-up, even when Hoover is supposed to be old and dying - less than in The Aviator maybe, but the problem is still the same. This will certainly be his best nominated performance in the Best Actor category, but not his best nominated performance ever.
But I agree with Damien on Armie Hammer - who's perfectly cast and represents the much-needed "heart" of the movie. It's ironic, by the way, that this is probably one of very few movies which portray a homosexual relationship that lasts for decades, and I must admit that if it's so believably depicted - despite, again, that make-up - it's not just because of the way it's written but also because of the way it's acted by the two men. Of the five nominees at the SAG, though, one won't come back at the Oscars because Albert Brooks will take his place, and I'm afraid it will be Hammer.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Damien » Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:42 pm

This is a solid, well-crafted biography maintains the interest while never becoming particularly exciting. Other than excellent performances, the picture doesn’t offer much of anything that you couldn’t get from reading the Wikipedia entry on Hoover, although the film does make half-a-stab at positing that Hoover was so driven and strait-laced because he was never comfortable in his own skin. Unlike in The Aviator where he seemed like a kid playing grown-up, DiCaprio here creates a believable, fully developed individual, and he accomplishes the feat of making Hoover, if not exactly sympathetic, at least unexpectedly affecting (and like most people on the Left at the time, I hated Hoover and cheered when he died). Armie Hammer is terrific, and he’s especially adept in his youthful scenes in which he effortlessly conveys a sense of self-assurance and self-admiration that so defined the privileged class at the time. And he is – despite the awful makeup – extremely moving in his later years. On the other hand, an unrecognizable Naomi Watts’s secretary makes little sense at all. Just about every scene is well-handled, the period recreations first-rate and the movie is intelligent and expects its audience to be well-informed about history or politics and culture and sociology. It simply doesn’t add up to much, unfortunately.
6/10
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Damien » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:37 am

dws1982 wrote:My worst of the year is easily The Conspirator, with In A Better World not far behind. Granted, I don't know a great deal about the Sino-Japanese War, or the Nanking Massacre, but I thought City of Life and Death was fascinating--one of the few war movies that approaches Come and See in its unflinching portrait of the brutality of war.


These are the notes I wrote when I saw City of Life and Death back in May:

Impressively mounted but largely incoherent, and the film is basically unrelenting in its chronicling atrocity upon atrocity, seeming to take almost glee in wallowing in the violence and human degradation. It also is too sentimental -- with no good reason (such as with the prostiture) and the soldier (seemingly the only one) with convictions and regrets. One doesn't get to know any of the characters well enough to make us particularly invested in their plights, other than as generic victimes in crimes against humanity. The most intriguing character is the German running the refugee center -- a seemingly oxymorinic Nazi humanitarian, and we don't get to know him nearly well enough. The outstanding production design is the best ting about the picture, but it would have benefitted director Chuan Lu to have watched The Four Days Of Naples to see how this type of film should be done.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell


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