Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Phil sees J. EDGAR at the Camera 7 Pruneyard-November 14, 2011

Usually my Mondays at work are both physical and plagued with long hours. To help unwind and relieve my tension and stress, there is nothing more therapeutic than going to see a movie. So after work today, I headed back to the Camera 7 in the Pruneyard Campbell to see the new film J. EDGAR by famed and celebrated director Clint Eastwood.

Theatrical Movie Poster (2011)
This biopic tells the life and times of J. Edgar Hoover, one of the most important figures in American history. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hoover, the face of the FBI for more than 50 years. Through flashbacks and reminiscent memories, we learn about the man behind the FBI: a young and zealous man who had very big plans for himself, his rise in power as the head of the FBI, his personal files that contained enough evidence to bring down presidents, politicians, and criminals alike. All the while Hoover was keeping a secret; a deep, dark secret that could have destroyed his life, his reputation, and his career. Those who knew his secret was his mother Annie (Judi Dench), his personal assistant Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), and his second in command Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), the only man that Edgar ever loved but couldn't.

Brilliantly directed by Eastwood, the film offers us an insightful and compassionate portrait of one of the most private and complex men in U.S. history. Eastwood's directing is simply flawless; precise shots, beautiful set ups, excellent sweeps during the action scenes, intensive close ups when there's drama, and the candidness when love is present. Eastwood carefully takes his time when unraveling the hidden obsessions and insecurities of a man who had hidden his true self from the same country he swore to protect. He wasn't just hiding in the closet, he nailed it shut so no one could ever enter. But when he met Mr. Tolson, he knew this was the man he wanted to spend the rest of life with, however, it was disguised as a working relationship. But for Edgar, it was better than nothing. Eastwood also wrote the soundtrack and acted as producer along side another famous Hollywood director, Ron Howard!

Teaming up with Eastwood for this biopic was screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, the man responsible for writing the Academy Award winning film MILK. It is interesting to see these two individuals working together. Black is openly gay man, whose writing offers different dimensions to gay persons, whether it be Harvey Milk of J. Edgar Hoover. His talent is to make these extraordinary, larger than life heroes and reduce them to their most basic components that makes them human. Real people with real problems, other than just being gay. However being gay is important, but Black processes that rare talent of telling a story that both gay and straight audiences can relate to. It is the human condition that unites us all; our struggles, our fears, our triumphs, and our tragedies.

Let it also be known that DiCaprio's performance in the film was riveting, bringing multiple sides of J. Edgar to life. His fierce, determination, and aggressive persona blended with his momma boy's complex was quite astounding, bringing such depth and clarity. The special make-up team of Sian Grigg and Duncan Jarman did an incredible job of aging DiCaprio's Hoover into his twilight years. Watts also gives a great performance in the film as well as Hammer, and they both have a great make-up artists aging them as well. Of course, Judi Dench is knocks it out of the park when she's in front of the camera as always.

J. EDGAR is a triumph in the world of filmmaking! Sincere, unapologetic, moving, and absolutely stunning! The film should be receiving several Oscar nominations next year. Overall, a vital cinematic experience that you should not miss!

J. EDGAR is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the South Bay. To view showtimes, visit their website at www.cameracinemas.com

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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