My commitment to this blog has been bimonthly at best this year. My commitment to film may be worse than that these days. But now that November is in full swing, my trips to the theater should become more frequent. So, I suppose I’ll just dive right in:
Review: J. Edgar
There was a time, maybe five years ago when I would defend Clint Eastwood’s work as firmly as any fledgling movie buff of the ‘aughts could. Million Dollar Baby came out in theaters at a time when I began to notice the skill of an actor transforming into a character, or a director’s ability to create atmosphere on screen that made me feel a certain way. Eastwood was one of those directors, and I awaited his films’ release dates with great anticipation.
And those dates have come one after another almost every year since MDB‘s release, and the films have been getting much, much worse. Eastwood is wearing thin (literally–sometimes I wonder if his skin will break like saran wrap stretched too far, but I digress). My assumption is that he is pushing himself too hard, rushing through his projects, taking on too much work (please PLEASE stop scoring your own films). His recent work has been collectively too long (read=rushed through the editing process), uneven in tone, and meandering towards perplexing conclusions that seem slapped on and unsatisfying. These troubles make for a disappointing J. Edgar biopic, but most frustrating is the watered-down, sympathetic version of a complex figure in history.
I’ll own up to some ignorance on my part–though I do have a B.A. in history, I did not know very much about Hoover before the film (in fact, I suspected that my friend and I were going to see a film about this guy). I had no knowledge of his political background, his legacy, or anything. J. Edgar is not a political drama or epic biography. It is a portrait of a man struggling with self-loathing from societal expectations, though not a good one.
This side of Hoover is certainly interesting, though in a film structured as the sweeping historical biopic Eastwood had us anticipating, it feels like it doesn’t belong. J. Edgar would be an ambitious project for any filmmaker, but Eastwood’s rush job leaves us with a frustrating, scattered picture, with no real attempt to show us any convincing version of J. Edgar Hoover.