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Di Caprio nails Edgar J -- to the cross

"J Edgar" by Clint Eastwood starring Leonardo Di Caprio as Hoover the anti-Red obsessed faggot G-man.
Very artfully lensed in Rembrandt like chiaro-oscuro and meticulous attention to period detail (the 20s, 30s 40s, etc)
Di Caprio's physical transformation in the film is a masterpiece of maquillage such that he is not even recognizable as himself in the latter stages of the central character's lifetime. This is a light year better than Dicaprio's ridiculous impersonation of Howard Hughes a few years ago for Scorcese. This time, under Eastwood's demanding direction Leonardo (at the still tender age of 36!) got it right --with a vengeance. His best work ever. He did get into J. Edgars skin and slipped out of his own --except for maybe a few barely noticeable Capriotic tics here and there. Bravo, Leo --you might get an Oscar for this shot, and if you do nobody will argue the point. But the makeup staff deserve an even bigger Oscar -- Incredible, down even to the hanging neck, pulled mouth edges, and old age blotches on the other guy -- Clyde Tolson, associate director of the FBI and probable lover of J Edgar. Tolson is portrayed by 25 year old actor Arnie Hammer who ages even more realistically and dramatically than Di Caprio, such that it is truly hard to believe the actor is fifty years younger than his role!
Di Caprio is on screen almost the whole time, often in facial closeup, narrating the events of his life to a reporter which is the frame of the story, and is seen at various stages of the hoover life cycle, as a young man on a bicycle in 1919 to a half nude dead man on the floor of his house in 1975, discovered by his male live-in "partner". Eastwood does not editorialize or demonize Hoover too obviously turning in something very close to an objective docudrama --except for one minor pitfall -- there is plenty of docu, as almost every main point of the Hoover bio is covered from the Bruno Hauptman kidnapping case to the friendship with Nixon and the contempt for Luther King -- with many original TV clips shown -- but -- the whole thing is so talky and artsy fartsy that there is very little drama -- in fact, after a while it gets pretty boring -- not quite wanna-walk-out boring -- but glance-at-the-watch too see what time this will be over with, boring --although you know you have to stick it out to catch the end credits (There were no opening credits!) -- so you can see who played Nixon (dead dead ringer!), Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Charles Lindbergh, Bruno Hauptmann, Robert Kennedy, Colonel Schwartzkopf (of "Gang Busters" fame) and other walk of fame figures along the way ...
Worth seeing just for the historical recapitulation of the Hoover era -- clearly one of the most Machiavellian figures of America's XXth century -- and for Leonardo Dicaprio's remarkable transformation, both physically and as an actor -- but a truly gripping movie this is unfortunately not -- Clint is just getting too artistic for his own good these days. One wonders what a more dynamic director like Oliver Stone might have done with the material.
Alex,
Viewed opening night at the FOX, Westwood,
November 11, 2011.
Veteran's Day in Los Angeles.

by Alex De Leon


Ps: Hoover's mother fixation, cross-dressing and homosexuality are all picturized one way or another and Dame Judith Dench of England turns in a very strong mother role which is pivotal for the Hoover character development. Di Caprio's next role will be Jay Gatsby for Baz Luhrman.

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