J. Edgar. 2011
I can’t begin to express how lousy this Clint Eastwood directed movie is and who with this undertaking brings a new mature superficiality to American movies. Eastwood goes back and forth and back and forth in time to tell us his dreary story of J.Edgar Hoover (and our country) without any verve or intensity. Everything is at the same level, its neither high nor low, just boring and visually dark, which is a trademark with Eastwood. It seems that Eastwood and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s big ah ha moment is the overused mother shtick and they hit us over the head with it. Here we have Hoover’s very deep, dark and disturbing relationship with his mom who is poorly played by a hideous looking Judi Dench, and how this poisonous relationship explains everything about this unhappy distorted and ugly man and by using this chestnut they avoid any real sense of understanding who he really was. Maybe if the film had a better script, (this one is dreadful) with some flesh and blood characters, instead of a runway of wax museum figures, each one more jaw dropping then the next, maybe if this film had some truthful and honest performances, that gave us some insights into this complex and dangerous man then maybe we would have a movie worth watching. The makers of the film are clearly but cowardly interested in the love relationship between Clyde Tolson and Hoover. Tolson who is played by the sweet Armie Hammer who in his later years scenes has more rubber packed on his face to show old age than even Sam Jaffe did as the High Lama in Lost Horizon. He almost doesn’t look human but appears like some weird monster from another planet and you worry that he’s going to crack apart in front of our eyes. Eastwood shows their relationship on tippy toes, he never tells us why Tolson and Hoover were in love, I mean there must have been something about J.Edgar that Clyde found lovable and appealing, but we never see anything pass between the two that would make us even begin to understand the attraction and why this relationship lasted for so many years. Also wasted is Naomi Watts as Hoover’s loyal secretary, who knows where all the bodies are buried and also gets to wear lots of old age makeup. Eastwood tries to cover a lot of plot, there’s The Lindburg kidnapping, gangsters, communists, peeks at his troubled relationships with the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King and Eleanor Roosevelt who is finally outed, and other famous figures including (my favorite) Ginger Rogers mother who freaks out J.Edgar when she asks him to dance with her at a swank nightclub. “I don’t want to dance with women” he later tells his Mom, who decides to teach him how to dance while telling him what happens to daffodils “I would rather have a dead son than a daffodil for a son.” The movie is ugly looking, claustrophobic and sloppily made (one scene has Ms. Dench on her death bed, and in the next scene she’s dressed to the nines at a movie premiere in New York City with the boys. Back from the dead as the saying goes. One of the worst films of 2011.