DiCaprio seems to amaze me with his string of exceptional performances (Blood Diamond, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, Inception, Shutter Island) and he once again delivers as the founder of the FBI who kept a file on everyone and was the most feared man in America. Told as a sort of memoir, Hoover is nearing the end of his life and calls in an agent to write down his story.
Starting with witnessing the near assasination of a Senator. He finds a leaflet supporting the US Bolshevik movement (the forerunners of the Communists) where a failed bomber blew himself up instead of the Senator. As 10 more bombs are set off by the same group, Hoover begins his first mission to wipe out the most serious threat to the US government. Will the approval of the Senator, Hoover assembles government agents to track down and dismantle the organization behind the bombing.
Men who were "desk jockeys" and former police are now thrust into being field agents, performing raids and beating up and arresting enemies of the Goverment. Hoover uses his influence to get them guns and many of them had never used a gun before.
Along the way, the movie depicts what Hoover expects from his agents, that is no "family ties" and a total dedication to the agency and eliminating enemies to the Government. There are continued hints that something is not right with Hoover's psyche as he is dedicated to his mother and totally awkward around women. He feels like he is supposed to be with Helen Gandy but has a weird way of expressing it to her. He then hires her as his secretary and asks her to keep secret files on others for him. One great scene shows how he comes up with an idea for a government database for fingerprints.
Hoover is later introduced to a young man named Clyde Tolson. Tolson is not suited for the agency but Hoover is so attracted to him that he insists on hiring him. Tolson will end up being his lifelong companion.
The movie presents the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in an interesting fashion and shows how it propelled the agency to have its National Jurisdiction of kidnapping cases.
This movie is an excellent look at history and what really keeps the movie going is the excellent performance of DiCaprio. He along with Tom Hanks are the two actors in Hollywood that can make a hit out of just about any tale!
Possible Spoilers Alert. I really enjoyed this film. I found it quite fascinating that the FBI had such a hard battle to get initiated into American government and that each new President wanted to fire Hoover and disband the FBI. Without Hoover, we wouldn't have FBI, kidnapping wouldn't be a federal crime (brought on by the Lindberg kidnapping), the agents wouldn't be armed or have any right to arrest criminals, and we wouldn't have a fingerprint database … more
I rated J. Edgar a four based on Leonardo's DiCaprio's performance. Clink Eastwood slow placing seems completely appropriate to me in this film, although I have read many reviews complaining about the pacing. At two and a half hours the movie is long, but I was kept spellbound by Leonardo's tranformation into J. Edgar Hoover. In my opinion he is a shoe in for a best actor nomination this year. I thought Judi Dench was excellent as always playing J. Edgar's … more
There is no question that J. Edgar is a remarkable man. He is the father of the Federal Bureau of Investigations and revolutionized the logistics of crime scene forensics; nevertheless, like any other man, he is not one of immaculate morality. There were accusations of corruption and disapproval over his use of espionage in his lengthy 48 years as the FBI’s director that began in 1924 and ended in 1972. Behind the scenes, he had an egotistical … more
Throughout an illustrious directing career Clint Eastwood has delivered outstanding movies such as Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby, for which he has won five Academy Awards, for best Picture, Best Director, and including the Irving Thalberg Life Achievement Award. My personal favorite of all his directed movies is Gran Torino. The actors who have worked with him have been blessed with Oscar: Gene Hackman for Unforgiven, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn for Mystic … more
One of my longstanding fascinations with history is the way we deify or vilify historical figures. Yes, we all know that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson preached big words about freedom while holding slaves, but those are just two examples, and neither one tells the full story: There are documents which indicate that Wash and TJ were aware of their hypocrisy, but thought slavery would fade away naturally in time. Martin Luther King was known for his dream, and for principled non-violent resistance. … more
Star Rating: Leonardo DiCaprio has proven himself a masterful actor, but his performance in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar is sure to put him on the same shelf as Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, Viggo Mortensen, Johnny Depp, and Christian Bale – actors who inhabit their roles so convincingly that the real person essentially disappears. As J. Edgar Hoover, who became the head of the FBI in 1924 and remained so until his death in 1972, DiCaprio thoroughly captures … more
By Joan Alperin-Schwartz Every once in awhile, you experience a performance by an actor that simply blows your mind...And that's exactly what happened to me, when I watched Leonardo DiCaprio portray J. Edgar Hoover in Clint Eastwood's new film, 'J. Edgar' .What makes a great performance are the subtle things an actor does...things that inform the character...a gesture, a … more
Eastwood's filmic account of Hoover the Voracious, the Fastidious, the Venal - self-aggrandizing, mother's son, political paranoiac, closet queer, social inept, vindictive bureaucrat - exudes twentieth century Americana ethos, highlighting the contentious FBI director's harried exploits and tortured, marginalized private life. Alternating betwixt Hoover's ascension and heyday in the nineteen twenties and thirties and his twilight years in the sixties through … more
This speculative biopic of the controversial FBI director stars Leonardo DiCaprio. The story opens in 1970, as Hoover is dictating his history of the Bureau; in flashbacks, we see his pivotal role the Lindburgh case and his battles with Communists, the Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Martin Luther King, Jr. He was also obsessed with his doting mother (Judi Dench) and his long-time Assistant Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). The story is, in turns, exciting and boring, heartfelt … more
I first got on this blog to discuss my first passion which is books. Since I have gotten on I find that books are only a piece of this blog and I can discuss just about anything that comes to mind. It … more
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