Gordon & Barbara in Paris

Gordon & Barbara in Paris
Here's Looking at YOU

Thursday, November 17, 2011

J. Edgar

J.EDGAR--Directed by Clint Eastwood/Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts/written by Dustin Lance Black/rated R/2hr28min

Bifocal Review
Barbara and Gordon Rich

(B) I kept waiting for something in this film to be worth my time and money. It never happened. I have seen better make-up on corpses in funeral homes. It may have been the lighting and the close-ups that made it all too obvious, but seeing the pores of actor’s skin was not necessary. In fact, it was extremely distracting. I found myself dozing off, and if it wasn’t for the ONE explosion in the movie, I would have. DiCaprio, in this film is like asking Sinatra to chant in a monotone. My point is this: A great artist was wasted. Sadly, my dissatisfaction with the film in general, soured my opinions about the other great performers that were sprinkled throughout the movie. One and one-half binoculars is my rating and this mostly for set-direction and score.

(G) I really WANTED to like this film for two main reasons. First, I often am accused of being too hard on Clint Eastwood as a director. I thought that this would be a chance for him to prove me wrong about his heavy-handed direction and unnecessarily frequent close-ups without any dialogue. I also think that Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the finest actors we have in America today. Too often, however he seems to take on roles that rely almost entirely on his acting ability. As we know, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “a single actor doth not a movie make.” Unfortunately, J Edgar’s full value is summed up in a final line in the film, (again I paraphrase) that we are doomed to repeat history that we don’t know anything about. In this case, J Edgar Hoover the first director of the FBI held sway over the Bureau and many presidents and related world figures for almost forty years. By now, however, there is probably not a single person on the planet who doesn’t understand the concept that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” We should not have to pay $10 and sit through an incredibly boring movie for reinforcement of that concept. There are literally thousands of bloggers (and other fine, real journalists) out there who are reinforcing this tidbit of knowledge with us on a daily basis, for free or nearly free, and if I am reading a column or blog and feel as though I am falling asleep I can turn the page, click elsewhere or even nod off without feeling guilty. I didn’t have those options with this film. I give it a reluctant 2 binoculars and only because of my preconception that DiCaprio is a fine actor. I think Barbara will probably regale us on the horrors of bad make-up in combination with unnecessary close-ups in high definition, so I’ll just leave it at that.

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