27 December 2011

J. Edgar

Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Dustin Lance Black

J. Edgar turned out to be a lot more interesting than I initially expected. For an hour or so I was thinking, "this is the Oscarbaitiest piece of shit I ever sat through," but then I realized Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black were up to something kinda interesting. Structurally, their film is as tricky and sophisticated as The Social Network, blending a present-day narrative with two flashback storylines from different points of view; Black ups the ante by having the same character enunciate both of them: Hoover (Leonard DiCaprio) reliving private memories regarding his mother (Judi Dench) and his chastely homosexual relationship with associate Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer); and Hoover the unreliable narrator revising his own professional history. (We observe the sad, sad process of a bitter, broken man trying to invent for himself a heroic arc.) I thought it was interesting how Black and Eastwood try to subvert, or at least complicate, the old-fashioned, law-and-order, silver screen-style archetype Hoover embodies—and Eastwood used to embody—by suggesting he was a mincing mary behind closed doors; at the same time, Eastwood's grasp of gayness sometimes struck me as unduly flamboyant. (Like, that cross dressing scene is a doozy of high camp.)

Keep reading my conversation with Benjamin Sutton at The L Magazine

Watch the trailer:

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