Thursday, November 10, 2011

J. Edgar

My View:  J. Edgar  (2011)  Directed by Clint Eastwood, this film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as longtime head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, who, with almost a 50 year reign, was able to stay in power by using a combination of PR, lobby tactics and amassed secrets on the most powerful men in the U.S. government.  Hoover, though, had secrets too:  a controlling mother, a speech impediment, a fetish for women's clothing and a life-long love affair with his second-in-command, Clyde Tolson (played by Armie Hammer).  This is a flawed movie that tries to cover too much ground (get the extra large popcorn because this movie is more than 2:15 in length) and is hampered by a script that seems to want to spell out every little nuance in the plot.  DiCaprio is superb in the role, and his older J. Edgar is almost picture-perfect, but he has to give way too many long speeches. It's almost as if Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter, doesn't think we, the audience, can figure out a darn thing.  I also found that Armie Hammer, who played Hoover's right-hand man and love interest, was a little lacking in keeping up with DiCaprio's acting skills.  I also think Eastwood has a tendency to stay with a camera shot too long, which makes a long movie seem longer.  There is one reason to see this movie - Naomi Watts who is brilliant as Hoover's long time private secretary and keeper of the secret files. This could have been a much better and faster movie if it had just concentrated on one segment of Hoover's life instead of covering his lifespan.  My rating:  Cable   J. Edgar Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  Take Shelter (2011)  Michael Shannon plays a husband and father who begins seeing things and has a series of apocalyptic visions. His family has a history of mental illness; his mother was diagnosed when she was the age that he is now.  Shannon decides to build a storm shelter to protect his family, a decision that could cost him everything he loves.  This is an Oscar worthy role, and Shannon plays it masterfully by showing the torment and confusion on his face as he tries to decide to give into the visions or fight them.  Jessica Chastain is perfect as his long suffering wife who tries as best she can to comprehend and stand by her husband, even when his behavior becomes baffling.  Though I didn’t like the ending, I was completely impressed by Shannon’s acting abilities, which makes this film worth seeing.  My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Take Shelter Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time):
#31 Best Film
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)    Errol Flynn is at his charismatic best in the role of Sir Robin of Locksley, a nobleman who defies the Norman authority to bring back the rightful King of England.  Olivia de Havilland is the beautiful Maid Marian, and Basil Rathbone plays one of the greatest screen villains of all time, the dastardly Sir Guy of Gisbourne.  This is a cinematic masterpiece with huge sets and bright, full vibrant costumes that fill the screen with amazing colors.  But, make no mistake, this is Flynn’s movie, and he is incredible in it, as he seemingly has a twinkle in his eye in almost every scene.  This is a film where, after you see it, you’ll say to yourself, “They don't make them like that anymore.”   The Adventures of Robin Hood Info
Forgotten Film:  The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) When I was a kid, my parents wouldn’t let me watch horror movies, so when I became a teen, I relished the late Saturday night horror movies, and this film was one of my favorites.  In this film, doctors are murdered in bizarre ways, and each death represents one of the nine Biblical plagues.  What evolves is that all the doctors had been involved in an unsuccessful operation on a wife of one Dr. Phibes, causing her death.  Now Phibes has risen from the dead to get his revenge.  Vincent Price is the perfect blend of horror and absurd for the role of the mad doctor, and the death devices are so clever in how the deaths are triggered.  This is an enjoyable, campy film and even if you don't love horror flicks, you’ll love this one.  My Rating:  Full Price   The Abominable Dr. Phibes Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)   I felt this was one of the better films of the summer, where Harry, Hermione and the gang are on a mission to defeat Voldemort or die trying.  Daniel Radcliffe shows that he has a future in acting, and it doesn't hurt when your supporting cast is made up of Maggie Smith, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter.  This is a satisfying end to the series, and even if you haven't seen the other films, this one stands on its own.  My Rating:  Full Price   Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Only Seen in Trailers but Just Looks Like a Bad Idea):  Joyful Noise  Two women fight over the direction of a church choir as it gets ready for annual competition.  The two women are Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.  There won't be room on the screen for anyone else.   Joyful Noise Website
Weird Credits:  From the credits of Margin Call:  Helicopter double of Mr. Irons

Flictionary (A Definition of a Film Term) :  Loader:  The loader used to be responsible for the loading of the film into cameras, but now almost all films are shot digitally and there isn't any film.  But the loader is also responsible for handling the clapper, which is a device that is filmed before each take to sync sound and identify what scene is being shot.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  War Horse  Director Steven Spielberg brings to the screen a film about a young man who has an emotional connection to a horse he raised from birth.  The horse is then sold to the army to be used in the trenches of World War I.  Even though the main character is too young to enlist, he heads to France to find and save his horse. This film is sure to be an Oscar contender.   War Horse Website
Until Next Time!

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