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Movie Review: J. Edgar

Alternate Title: What a Drag

Story: Sigh. I was hoping for so much more from Oscar winning director Clint Eastwood and Oscar winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. The 50 year span of the career of J. Edgar Hoover has been fodder for many films and TV shows. He has been played by over 30 actors along the way.

So what was wrong with this version of the life of J. Edgar Hoover? It is painfully slow - plodding, at times. Eastwood chose to highlight Hoover's dictation to a secretary of how he wanted the FBI (and himself) to be remembered in history, through vignettes. Those of us (on the left) that lived through the era of J Edgar do not remember him fondly. The erosion of one's rights and privacy by Hoover and the FBI are more blatant now than ever.

Eastwood skims over important moments in time as the FBI grows more powerful each decade. I would have liked to see more about how Congress ceded power to the FBI, but that too, is glossed over. Essentially, whenever an interesting moment in history comes to the front, it is viewed more like a trailer to another film and then we are on the the next topic. Aurgh.

Hoover himself is treated with a combination of fact and rumor. Did he have a homosexual relationship with his lifelong pal, Clyde Tolson? After viewing this film - one cannot but connect the dots. Was he a cross dresser? That scene heard giggles all over the theater.

Long, long story short - you can pass on this film.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XULIO67YIRA

Acting: Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover was fine once you get over the latex mask. Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy really had nothing to do in her part. Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson was fine (except for his latex mask as he aged). Josh Lucas as Charles Lindbergh was a forgettable Nazi. Jeffrey Donovan as Robert F. Kennedy was fine in his very short scene. Judi Dench as Hoover's mother, Annie is always good and is the busiest actor around.

Predilection: None - other than I like political films.

Trivia: Screen writer Dustin Lance Black is a former Mormon. He has won two Writers Guild of America Awards for his work on the television series Big Love and an Academy Award for the 2008 film Milk. Check out the Five Myths About J. Edgar Hoover from the Washington Post here. http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-j-edgar-hoover/2011/11/07/gIQASLlo5M_story.html

Food: Many scenes took place in restaurants where mostly meat and potatoes were the 'all American' fare of the day.

Sex Spectrum: An implied and at time overt relationship between Hoover and Tolson is a running theme throughout the film.

Soundtrack: Typical Eastwood tracks,

Opening Titles: The opening scene features an elderly Hoover dictating his view of the FBI's rise to power to a secretary.

Visual Art: The film has an overall sepia and at time, black and white overtone to recall days of yore.

Theater Audience: About a dozen other early Saturday morning movie goers like me. One other woman laughed at the short scene that featured Nixon.

Weather: Not a factor.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: The Government's slow take over of our rights and privacy made me squirm.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch about 20 times.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Either would do for this clunker.

Length: Overly long at 2 hours and 17 minutes.