42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity
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...
Published 20 months ago by L. Power
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting narrative about a complex, ambiguous figure
Everything that Eastwood directs is, in my book, a must-see. I was especially interested in this film, about a quirky public figure who did much good and much damage. I read a bio of JEH that traced his rise as a pioneering law enforcer of genius to his decline as an old-fashioned hack who had outlived not just his usefulness but his time. It is absolutely true what they...
Published 21 months ago by rob crawford
Most Helpful First | Newest First
42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity,
This review is from: J Edgar [Blu-ray] [US Import] (Blu-ray)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 River, Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby.
When I heard Clint Eastwood was doing a movie about Hoover, I admit I was somewhat excited, although it would be a challenging movie to do.
I wondered would it deal with the relationship with the Kennedys, conspiracy theories, Hoover's alleged homosexuality, and alleged crossdressing, if it would deal with the entire career, if it would dare to show him in all his unpleasantness and darkness.
If Hoover were alive today, I think he would be horrified at this movie. Undoubtedly, no such movie could have been made while he was alive.
J Edgar deals with the entire span of J Edgar's career and makes brave choices in portraying the relationship between he and his No 2, Colson. The screenplay was written by same person who wrote the screen play for Milk.
With Martin Scorsese making his first movie apart from DiCaprio in 12 years Leonardo does an outstanding job in the title role, as does Armie Hammer in the role of Colson. Naomi Watts plays Hoover's long time secretary to whom he proposes early in the movie, and Judi Dench plays his domineering and controlling mother.
We see certain conflicts, and Hoover's use of Machivellian tactics in pursuing communists, upholding his position as head of the FBI through investigating the high ranking politicians who proved a threat. Whatever one thinks about Hoover one has to acknowledge some brilliance particuarly in organising, popularising the use of fingerprinting evidence, organising a national criminal database leveraging the Lindbergh tragedy to increase his own powers, and creating a highly respected investigative organisation.
It was interesting to see how he was able to use propaganda to boost the reputation of the FBI. At one time the gangsters seemed to hold sway in the public consciousness as heroes, until the FBI's machine gun toting G men replaced them. We also see Hoover's vanity and narcissism in full display, and his racism particularly towards Martin Luther King.
The Hoover story unfolds with Hover dictating his memoirs to a succession of agents. Why would he not use his secretary for this? It seems he wishes to tell his story to these people for vanity, and to promote himself as a legendary icon.
In reality, Hoover was a temple of secrets, and probably the least likely person you could imagine would write his own memoirs. Although, he secretly tape recorded JFK, and MLK for exmaple, his relationship with Colson could possibly have ended his career if the true nature of the relationship became public. It's well known for example that Hoover did not allow women agents, nor did he hire African Americans. Yet, we have him dictating his memoirs at one point to an African American agent.
One of the challenges with the story was the lack of a continuous protagonist, he mostly does battle with entities rather than individuals, such as communism and organised crime. By the 1960s apparently, he got soft on organised crime, while Bobby Kennedy got hard. Yet we have only two scenes in the movie with Bobby Kennedy.
Another difficulty is the excessive use of makeup on several of the actors. With DiCaprio it's fine, but with Naomi Watts, and Arnie Hammer they wear bloodshot contact lenses which was over the top and unnecessary, and distracting. Old people do not necessarily have bloodshot eyes.
I thought the performances by both DiCaprio and Hammer were deserving of Oscar recognition, though neither were nominated.
While Clint Eastwood has probably brought me more enertainment than anyone as both an actor and director, I am not as staunch a supporter of this movie as the others in recent years such as Changeling, Gran Torino, and Invictus. Nevertheless I give it 4 stars because I think it was a very challenging movie to do well.
I hope this was helpful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars J Edgar,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)The film was interesting and informative and portrayed the man realistically. Leonardo DiCaprio did the role justice. I've seen it before and decided to buy it as a present for my brother who also enjoyed it. It arrived on time and there were no problems.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal exploration of a mythic character,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)I will be short on this film because it probably is one of the best by Clint Eastwood.
First the actors. They have to cover a whole life and it starts in their early twenties and ends in their late seventies with diseases and death. It is not only a question of special makeup effects but it is a question of deportment, behaviour, rhythm, flexibility, credibility at any age in their facial expressions and their language. It takes time, a lot of training and great talent to do that. If it were easy they would all do it. Very few actually can.
Second the institutional subject. The creation of the FBI. Its transformation from a semi-clandestine agency to a scientific, well trained and very effective and diligent institution. The film is clear how difficult it was to get laws passed and finances granted by Congress. Some of the arguments were opportunistic and some were logical, but they all had only one aim: to get what it needs to become the best. J. Edgar Hoover was in a way irritating in his way to serialize the action of the FBI for the nascent mass-media that the radio and the cinema were becoming. He was extremely disturbing in his umbilical ego-centeredness or ego-centricity. But that was him and the actor is able to render this cold, calculated and very tense character who had a problem with public elocution and had managed to overcome it with an extremely strict discipline.
That leads to his action and his vision of the FBI. He was extremely authoritative and manipulative. He never took no for an answer and for him one no was always a disguised and hidden yes. He accumulated information on all the people he could one day depend on, politicians, congressmen and justices or judges, to blackmail them if necessary. He generally had his way and one of his major failures was with Martin Luther King that he could not blackmail into refusing the Nobel Peace Prize. The film is at times on the very verge of being embarrassing, though it only speaks of dead figures because it is dealing with rumors on Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Richard Nixon and a few others. I am not even sure some of the information is not frankly false.
But Clint Eastwood is a patriot and he shows the patriotic side of the character with insistence and weight, to the point of reaching bigotry at times, for example on the subject of racism. He built the FBI in the fight against the anarchist and communist movement in the 20s and 30s, against the gangsters of the 20s and Prohibition, against the Germans in the 30s too, without specifying the political innuendo of the national reference in 1934 among Americans questioned by the FBI about someone who had a German accent. No nuance. Clint Eastwood gives his matter raw and uncooked at all.
But Clint Eastwood reaches beyond these elements to capture the real personal and intimate dimension of his character. And here he is not using innuendo and allusions. J. Edgar Hoover's relation with his direct deputy is seen as a sentimental relation on the side of the deputy and an emotional relation on the side of J. Edgar Hoover himself. The tremendous condemnation of any gay orientation by his mother creates in him a tremendous struggle due to his attachment to his mother. The truth will come at the very end with a friendly even paternal kiss to his deputy on the night before dying. He will explain how he recruited him because he needed someone and he knew that young man needed a strong paternal figure that he accepted to be.
Of course the revelation of the love of that young man for his boss is dramatized by Clint Eastwood, and maybe even too much because that was the intimate and private life of two men who did not reveal anything in public, far from it. But it is done with such delicacy, tenderness. J. Edgar Hoover appears in the film as having compensated the absence of a father figure and the presence of a strong authoritarian mother figure on his side, by playing that father figure with his direct deputy who needed such a father figure. The compensated lack of J. Edgar Hoover became the satisfaction of the need of his deputy. So much alike and yet so different.
That personal touch in this film makes the film a lot more fascinating because it speaks of something that may happen to anyone: love is the only thing that survives in life and is stronger than even hatred as J. Edgar Hoover explains as he is climbing the stairs to his bedroom for the very last time in his life.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise, late masterpiece,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)This is a wise, mournful, profound late masterpiece from Clint Eastwood.
Easily his most ambitious project, it is a sweeping historical epic, spanning decades and a love story, whose poignancy is all the more powerful because it does not excuse the evil Hoover did as director of the F.B.I. A great movie that demands multiple viewing to appreciate the layers of meaning and incident encoded into the tight and highly compressed zig-zagging narrative.Technically, J. Edgar is a tour de force..low-key lighting, desaturated colour palette, period details of sets and costumes all feel impeccably right.
J. Edgar is an audacious mix of darkness, intelligence and complexity aimed at adult viewers that may seem out of step with contemporary critical tastes, but it also seems destined to age exceedingly well with time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye opener.,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)Leonardo De Caprio plays the part of J Edgar Hoover superbly.
You fee the underlying sexual tension between the two main characters which leaves you thinking " Is he?"
seeing the power that he (Hoover) held over the Kennedys was a very small part of the film but so intriguing.
I loved it!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Directors' commentary? More value added please!,
This review is from: J. Edgar - Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + UV Copy)  [Region Free] (Blu-ray)A simple request.
I enjoyed this movie, it was low intensity drama but high octane history and with nice period reconstructions. I found the frequent flashbacks distracting at times but it covers a long life at the heart of momentous events. It is about the man not the desk he sat behind. The film explores Hoover's relationship with his mother, his loyal secretary Helen Gandy and his working and personal relationship with Clyde Tolson. Tolson was his deputy, companion and homosexual partner but the details - emotional and mechanical - have never really been defined. I noticed, and I am not that well read, numerous errors and inaccuracies. You can find your own but Helen Gandy took weeks to destroy Hoover's private files after his death. The film implies it was done in hours thwarting Richard Nixon's desire to get his hands on them. Hollywood!
A good directors' commentary to add historical and political depth should have been provided. Most people buying this DVD will be interested in the politics. This is a serious biography of a controversial man who held a degree of power never to be concentrated (we can but hope) in one pair of hands again. Many scenes allude to his malign influence - for example with Bobby Kennedy - but these are dramatic interpretations. Some parts need explanation to all but the very well read, for example what was that tape Hoover was listening too when he heard the JFK has been shot, what was it telling us about (which one or JFKs women or harem of prostitutes was it?). On a personal level, his father appears early in the movie stricken by dementia, tell me more. They depicted Hoover's ideals, he was a patriot at a time when America did have violent and motivated internal enemies. He built an organisation which has served the nation, technically one of the finest police forces in the world. Hoover always had powerful personal enemies determined to bring him and the FBI down. Above all he was a consummate Washington politician protecting and expanding his power. The FBI is a relatively modern entity - a hybrid of crime busters and secret police. A very hard balancing act not envisaged by the Founding Fathers. It is a huge tale to tell and this movie by concentrating on an entire life is too ambitious to do anything but scratch the surface.
By directors commentary I do not mean the usual tripe of toadying and production trivia. I mean an explanation of what the writer and director were telling us about this man, their interpretation. For example Ken Loach's film Land and Freedom (the Spanish civil war) was as drama a fine movie but the excellent directors commentary explained such a lot. That extra dimension was worthwhile. J Edgar is entertaining and if that is all you want then fine - but it could be more, informative and generating understanding. The premium paid for Blu-ray and the capacity of the disk is more than adequate handle a commentary. They did - on my copy - add 17 sub title and 8 dubbed languages and a rather cursory mini feature. And I bought the ""Ultimate"" edition in a tin box ! Clint Eastwood and Dustin Lance Black (director and writer respectively) should do better. For a tiny amount of money they could get a good American political historian - no shortage of them - to do it.
The importance of Hoover is to challenge the vaunted American myth, that they are the "land of the free". The FBI is (and to an extent has to be) a secret police force. The paradox is Hoover intruded into the private lives of so many yet was able to keep his own life secret. His story is the manipulation of power and fear, to build his enduring empire. What were in those private files? Yet there was a time when communists, anarchists and organised labour challenged the fabric of America. Was revolution possible, who stopped them? And do we not all wonder if we had Hoover's power how would we have behaved? Would we become voyeurs, addicted to other people's sex lives, pulling the political strings and pursuing our own petty vendettas? Uncomfortable when you think about it.
Am I alone in wanting a bit more?
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting narrative about a complex, ambiguous figure,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)Everything that Eastwood directs is, in my book, a must-see. I was especially interested in this film, about a quirky public figure who did much good and much damage. I read a bio of JEH that traced his rise as a pioneering law enforcer of genius to his decline as an old-fashioned hack who had outlived not just his usefulness but his time. It is absolutely true what they say about him, that he should have retired a hero in 1940, but instead he held onto power and abused it and the nation. He was corrupted by the power that he held for far too long and became a political player whose methods can only be described as manipulative and even evil.
That story is complex and difficult to tell because of the subtleties that must be addressed. JEH was from a time so removed from ours it is hard to imagine, when anarchists and bolsheviks were a great "threat", homosexuality was not discussed, and the existence of organized crime was denied. JEH has an impossibly strange accent and 19C mores, an anachronism waiting to happen. To be honest, Di Caprio only partially carries this off in spite of being a first-rate talent - his accent is not believable and he ages unrealistically.
I enjoyed this, but will not buy it as I won't want to watch it again. It is a relatively weak film experience. While not spectacular or of typical hollywood hyperbole, I did not get much of a sense of history or public purpose. Eastwood refuses to sensationalize or speculate on JEH's sexuality and rightly so. But there is something too labored about his portrait.
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy... but ultimately boring,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)I'd read good (mainly) reviews of this movie, and of course Leonardo di Caprio is always captivating to watch. The performances and cinematography were great, and overall the story behind the mighty J.Edgar Hoover is interesting -- I don't know how historically accurate it is). But.... how slow it moved along. I tried a couple of times to watch it but actually got so bored that I switched it off before the end.
I paid full price at a shop for this DVD, and after a week or two put it for sale on Amazon. Even offered at a pound nobody wants it. It sits here on a shelf and will be donated to a charity shop soon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)very good condition also availability better at amazon than Ebay!!
Good Good Good XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Change your feedback..... as why should i spend my time of more words than I want to stating the good bad ugly of the product
5.0 out of 5 stars THOSE WHO FORGET HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT,
This review is from: J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  (DVD)The movie opens in the 1960's. The FBI wants to investigate MLK and the SCLC, but RFK doesn't want to allow it until the FBI has a tape of JFK in a compromising position. The movie flashes back to Hoover's involvement in the Palmer Raids and the deportation of a US citizen, Emma Goldman. It uses the flashback method to show us events in the past that shaped Edgar's way of thinking. He was a stickler for details and liked science, especially that fingerprint thing. We also get a glimpse of his fight with organized crime and becoming a hero in the Lindbergh trial. The movie skirts his cross dressing save for a story told by his mother of another boy. It also touches on his homosexuality, but doesn't focus on it except for one scene (man kiss).
Leonardo DiCaprio played J.Edgar similar to how he played Howard Hughes. The script brings out the complexity of Hoover as both a genius patriot and a blackmailing diabolical man. It shows him as reluctant to spy on reporters for Nixon and someone who disliked Joe McCarthy. An interesting movie for any history buff. It connects to our present era of terrorism and extradition.
one f-bomb, the cs word, no nudity, shadow sex with noises.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
J. Edgar [DVD + UV Copy]  by Clint Eastwood (DVD - 2012)