I’m super excited. This will be the first guest post on this blog! I let some friends and family know I’d like to get their thoughts on the books they’ve been reading and movies they’ve been watching. And really, you don't want just my opinion, now, do you?
I received the first one from my awesome mom-in-law, Laura. So, sit back, read and enjoy her review of J. Edgar!:
This is my first movie critique but I’m inspired by Sarah to share some thoughts after watching J. Edgar last weekend. My partner Carol and I were looking forward to seeing it. Leonardo DiCaprio. Clint Eastwood directing. We don’t go to the movies often but we didn’t think we could go wrong with this one, and we even sprang for hot dogs, popcorn and soda to do it right, the cost be damned.
Bottom line, we felt like we got our money’s worth.
I can’t exactly explain what we were expecting, but looking back at other Eastwood-directed pictures I should have maybe been more prepared for the overwhelming character analysis that was the main thrust of the picture. The social and cultural changes that occurred during Hoover’s reign as Director of the FBI from 1924 to 1972 were enormous. That was entertaining backdrop for the characters’ choices as they progressed in their careers, and we got a bit of a history lesson along the way. Every so often Carol and I would turn to each other and mouth “I didn’t know that happened then.”
If you’ve read anything about this movie, you probably already know that it “outs” J. Edgar and his male assistant/companion. Their relationship and the relationship of J. Edgar and his loyal secretary, and his relationship with his mother who was very involved in his life were shown in context with his public, professional role as the man who almost single-handedly built the FBI into a powerful organization with the ability to not only catch the bad guys but also sway the political decisions of Presidents.
When I left the theater, I felt like I’d just seen a beautifully performed live play, and I would actually like to see the movie again with that frame of mind going in. This is not a movie with a lot of special effects and some scenes could even be considered a bit naïve in their production … if we judge it against the many movies made today with both casual and calculated special effects to sweep us along the plot of the story, if there even is one.
There were, of course, major makeup effects to age Leonardo and supporting characters, but again I had the feeling that this was the stuff of a live stage performance and for me it enhanced the sense of understanding that this film was not just about a different time, it was about a different way of living. However, it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun, so it’s still possible to relate to many of the characters’ challenges and quests.
Thank you, Laura!