J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:44 pm

dws1982 wrote
After today, that list grows to four: The Tree of Life, Of Gods and Men, City of Life and Death, and Hugo. What a great year it's turning out to be.

Now, this is interesting to me. I saw Hugo today and am currently sorting my thoughts out on it. It's not what most people are going to expect. It's one of the most stunningly beautiful films I've ever seen, but I found some of its overly reverential tone towards cinema in the second half a bit monotonous and repetitive. I would love to know what you thought of it, Daniel.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby dws1982 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 8:26 pm

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.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Damien » Fri Nov 25, 2011 7:55 pm

dws1982 wrote:
dws1982 wrote:2011 has brought at least three films that I truly love, and would rank higher than anything from 2010

After today, that list grows to four: The Tree of Life, Of Gods and Men, City of Life and Death, and Hugo. What a great year it's turning out to be.


City of Life and Death -- really, Daniel? Wow, For me, it's the worst film of the year so far, with only Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life approaching it in terribleness.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby dws1982 » Fri Nov 25, 2011 6:37 pm

dws1982 wrote:2011 has brought at least three films that I truly love, and would rank higher than anything from 2010

After today, that list grows to four: The Tree of Life, Of Gods and Men, City of Life and Death, and Hugo. What a great year it's turning out to be.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Sabin » Fri Nov 25, 2011 12:23 am

"J. Edgar reviews AND Fall-Out" indeed.

Yeah, that's all fine and good. And moreso Dustin Lance Black does a very good job of not just creating a travelogue through history. He uses the history surrounding J. Edgar to excellent effect. I love particularly what he does with the Eleanor Roosevelt letters. I'm not sure if I find the undercurrent "nutty" as simply dramatically engaging. Black has written one of the more exceptional political American epics in some time. But I'm sorry, Clint Eastwood isn't really the man to effectively dramatize it. I read what you say about Armie Hammer, but these are surface parallels that for my money aren't really explored in the direction. There's also a degree of comedy in this film that is not explored. The schismic dichotomy between Tolson's looks and ambitions in contrast to Edgar's is partially the stuff of comedy, and while Hammer does what he can with the film I don't think that Clint Eastwood is really all that interested in those aspects of the film.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby dws1982 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:34 pm

Sabin wrote:I saw dws write something about loving J. Edgar somewhere but I can't seem to find it just now. So I'm sure there's a way to consolidate those who have actually seen the film together...

Look towards the bottom of page four or top of page five. "Love" might be an overstatement--although 2011 has brought at least three films that I truly love, and would rank higher than anything from 2010--but I really did think it was interesting in a lot of unexpected ways. I really liked the nutty undercurrent, though, and the way Black used Tolson's reveal about Hoover to totally change what we think about all of the flashback sequences. I think it probably would've worked better as a six-part HBO miniseries or something, although I doubt Eastwood would work in that format.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Sabin » Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:36 pm

I saw dws write something about loving J. Edgar somewhere but I can't seem to find it just now. So I'm sure there's a way to consolidate those who have actually seen the film together...

There is a great scene where J. Edgar is going over the list of applicants with Helen Gandy. She reads off one after another and why they don't fit the profile of what he is looking for. He asks about that fellow, Mr. Tolson. She tells him again what his credentials are, which is to say why he doesn't fit the profile. J. Edgar scowls and looks out the window. Knowing Edgar far too well, she gives him a citation or two from Mr. Tolson's resume that would constitute consideration, and in his reserved Edgar fashion he leaps at the chance to bring him on, even though Helen knows it represents a slight bending of Edgar's principles to get what he really wants. Thus in some fashion, J. Edgar is a screenplay about people who view this funny, fussy little man from afar and have a better grasp on him than he does; and it's about two people very close to him, who see him for the lonely man he is, start off amused by his way, and then come to love him for his dedication.

Clint Eastwood does not direct this film. Dustin Lance Black wrote this film. And so, this is a great disappointment.

I haven't seen Hereafter, so I cannot comment on that film. Clint Eastwood's best films are about vaguely mythic people with clear drives, ambitions, and desires. That's why his best films of the past decade are Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima. His characters in those films state their directives on the page, thus complementing his manner of filming. The characters in Changeling and Mystic River required a steadier hand and some ingenuity in dealing with their more complex motivations, and thus the films coast on evocative imagery and the approximation of drama. I know that Daniel wrote that J. Edgar's imagery of Americana is very strong, and it is. Some of the cinematography is slightly too drab and dark, but it's a powerful looking film. Clint Eastwood is our elder statesman, and doing the interview circle he is routinely asked about what J. Edgar means to him and what he thought about him then versus now. Clint has nothing to say. I don't think that Clint Eastwood is making a movie about that man, I think he's making a movie about this script and it's not an incredibly good one. Dustin Lance Black has written a TON of subtext into this script that is woefully, woefully unexplored. This is a more intricate piece of writing than his screenplay for Milk, which is a much, much better film because there was so much joyous energy in that film. J. Edgar is a humorless film that intermittently works quite well, and is ultimately of interest because Clint can't steamroll all of Black's intelligence.

There are remarkably lazy touches in this film. You can practically hear Clint saying "Yes, yes. That's fine." off-camera. This film has the worst Fake Nixon I have ever seen in my life. Horrible. This Bobby Kennedy is pretty bad too. And while Leonardo DiCaprio's old age makeup initially looks a bit problematic, he quickly begins to melt into the role. Armie Hammer though looks horrible. Just horrible. Like a Madame Toussaud dinosaur. He looks 127 years old and can't emote through it. It is such a painfully bad decision to make him look this way that the blame cannot be shared in any way. It's Clint's fault for seeing Armie walk on-set and not say "What the fuck is this?" I bet the film will still get a makeup nomination and for DiCaprio it probably should. He's quite good in this film, and although I think the film lets him down a bit this is probably his Best "I Need To Learn That I Should Not Be Doing Impersonations Or Accents -- But I Really Want To!" role to date. Howard Hughes remained a distanced figure, but J. Edgar does not. His clipped speech has a sadness to it. And although I think his Old J. Edgar needed a bit more personality, the role isn't a bad fit for one of our most fussy actors. He's probably going to get nominated. Armie Hammer and Naomi Watts just don't have much to do. There's a lot on the page that doesn't really get explored, especially for Naomi Watts. And Hammer has a pretty pathetic screaming fit at DiCaprio in pretty much one of the most pivotal scenes of the film that (coupled with his old age makeup) will likely sink any chance for him to get recognized for this role, a role which is really a perfect fit and could have seen a lot of interesting nuance brought to the table were anybody but Eastwood directing.

I'm guessing nominations for DiCaprio, Art Direction, and Costume Design. Makeup is possible. His Original Score is very lovely but not in the film enough. Nothing more.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby criddic3 » Sun Nov 20, 2011 4:21 am

Dien wrote:
criddic3 wrote:It's also interesting that, in light of how popular JFK was (and how revered he is today), the Kennedys made a lot of enemies.


It's a side-effect of reaching to the top. Unless you inherit a fortune, the surest way to become successful is dirty dealings and screwing people over. There's also luck. Luck is very fickle, though.


Well, John Kennedy had his father to do the dirty stuff ... but ironically one of reasons Nixon and Hoover both disliked the Kennedy family was their Ivy League, in their view arrogant, life-long wealth. Like him or not, Richard Nixon climbed from fairly humble beginnings to reach the presidency. Fair or not, some people resented the Kennedy brothers. Nixon had another particular reason to after he lost narrowly to JFK in the 1960 election I would say.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Dien » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:34 pm

criddic3 wrote:It's also interesting that, in light of how popular JFK was (and how revered he is today), the Kennedys made a lot of enemies.


It's a side-effect of reaching to the top. Unless you inherit a fortune, the surest way to become successful is dirty dealings and screwing people over. There's also luck. Luck is very fickle, though.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby criddic3 » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:14 pm

Dien wrote:
ITALIANO wrote: By the way, in this and other movie-related boards Americans often refer to J. Edgar Hoover as "obscure", "not very well known", etc. Hello? We are talking about one of the most important, influential figures in American history - what do you study at school? Only Washington and Lincoln?


You're not too far from the truth. Just add MLK Jr. and JFK and you have the stardard curriculum for U.S. history for grades 1-12.


Hehe. Well, I was particularly interested in political history. So when the high school teachers taught about Gandhi or Richard Nixon, I was fully engaged. I had a few really good "social studies" teachers. I was always grateful that when they got to Watergate, my teacher was pretty fair-minded about Nixon's involvement in the cover-up. It was also around that time, I believe, that Oliver Stone's movie was in theaters. Back further, in middle school we were also shown "Eyes on the Prize." Now that I watch Fox News fairly frequently, it's kind of fun to know that Juan Williams also co-wrote that documentary series. But I don't recall too much being said of J. Edgar Hoover, other than he was a controversial figure and a powerful man. Of course, being a huge Sinatra fan, I know of his years of trying to find dirt on The Chairman of the Board. It's also interesting that, in light of how popular JFK was (and how revered he is today), the Kennedys made a lot of enemies.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby OscarGuy » Sat Nov 19, 2011 8:43 am

The film doesn't delve far into the Nixon/Hoover relationship, but it does suggest that Hoover was no "hand-maiden" to Nixon, matter of fact, it suggests that Hoover still did whatever the hell he wanted and that Nixon hated the guy because of the supposed file he had on him.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Damien » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:59 am

I wasn't taught J. Edgar Hoover in school because throughout my grammar and high school years he was still in power. But by high school, we were aware of what a despicable figure he was, a hand-maiden to Richard Nixon.

The TV show The FBI -- starring reactionary actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. -- was very popular in the late 60s/early 70s, and for earlier generations there were a series of B movies Paramount did in the late 30s (e.g. Persons In Hiding)which extolled the Federal Bureau of Investigation and were introduced by the pudgy, unappealing Hoover. He also sanction the 1940s radio program, "This Is Your FBI." He was one of the most admired men in America until people -- especially the younger generation -- wised up in the 60s and saw him as the lousy despot he was.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Dien » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:54 pm

I think it also depends on the region you were taught history in. I'm a child of South Carolina and as such, I received a South Carolina education (we're in last with student performance but in the top ten for overall grades... what?) Then you have to consider which history books your school purchased, what year you went to school, etc.

Edit: Misread. The "grade" chart was a score for education reform. Apparently we know we suck and we're doing something about it.

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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Sonic Youth » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:28 pm

I don't know about anyone else, but they absolutely taught about Hoover in my American History classes. I remember we spent a good portion of time, when we got to the 1950s and 1960s, studying about McCarthyism, the Civil Rights battles (one teacher devoted a week to showing us "Eyes on the Prize"), the Cold War, frequent assassinations, Vietnam, etc. We wrote papers, watched documentaries on McCarthyism, etc. Hoover was not emphasized in class as much as McCarthy was (maybe that's why he's considered obscure, because McCarthy overshadows him?) but my teachers didn't shy away from showing the ugliness of those decades. I'm only speaking for myself, of course. I don't know if everyone else had a similar experience.

And please don't ask me anything else about it in more detail, because back then I was a terrible, extremely disinterested student. If there was a class devoted entirely to Hoover, it's possible I skipped it.
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Re: J. Edgar reviews and fall-out

Postby Big Magilla » Fri Nov 18, 2011 4:57 pm

I don't think they teach Hoover in school, but he is such a well-known figure in pop culture - TV as well as film - that it seems to me kids would have at least heard of him if not know his story. On the other hand the film is not being marketed to the action crowd.
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