Customer Review

185 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose one name and go by it..., January 7, 2012
This review is from: J. Edgar [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
A scene at a clothing store in which John Edgar Hoover is told he has bad credit finds him telling them that they are incorrect, they must be speaking of another John Hoover. They ask if he is indeed John Hoover and he says yes but adds that he signs his name different ways, not usually just plainly as John Hoover but with his middle name or E initial included (his mother did always call him Edgar). The shop owner then tells Hoover to open up a new account and sign it with one name and to go by that name. John takes the application form and writes J. Edgar Hoover.

To me this scene is symbollic of the larger film. J. Edgar Hoover is a film about a man who, like many of us, had many sides and aspects that composed who he was. He was greatly conflicted about which side he should portray publicly and stumbled rather awkwardly in his younger years, illustrated wonderfully in the film, until finally deciding that J. Edgar Hoover was who he was going to be. That was the side he was going to live publicly and the person he was going to be, right or wrong, with full conviction. The rest of the film shows us the consequent problems, struggles and complications that follow from this choice.

I was concerned that this film wouldn't live up to my expectations, others have been rating it rather ordinary and others negatively, few seem really excited about it after having viewed it. In a way I can see where they are coming from. It is a long film with dark moody colors, almost as if Eastwood wanted it to be black and white, and a lot of dialogue that moves quite fast without much regard for helping the audience along or spelling things out. All that aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and while it didn't blow my mind or leave me with any great revelations about my own life it was a great movie experience and had me thinking and entertained the entire time I was watching it.

I'm not sure where all the more negative or critical reviews are coming from, perhaps people have high standards from Eastwood and expected something groundbreaking, perhaps they just expected something different, but after all the negative or ho-hum opinions I had heard about this film I was pleasantly surprised and recommend it for fans of drama or biopics. I especially recommend it for those like myself who have been waiting for a more compelling film this movie-going season.

Perhaps I enjoyed it more because I have seen a truly terrible line of recent films in cinemas, Jack and Jill being the latest before seeing this (that movie was awful, so awful. I thought it would be bad but in an over the top funny way, it was just bad). So maybe my enjoyment was raised during this film because other recent films have left me underwhelmed and bored or wanting my money back. I haven't seen an excellently crafted film in theaters since The Help and haven't even thought one merited repeat viewings since the surprise that was 50/50. This film didn't knock me out but I will definitely watch it again and will likely even buy it on Blu-ray because I want it to be part of my collection and think it will become more engaging upon future viewings.

People are complaining about the old age make up, it never bothered me once despite other reviewer comments making me more critical than usual. People say there are many impersonations of presidents and such that are distracting, the only one that felt as much to me was Richard Nixon's brief appearance towards the end because it was so over the top. People say it drags, but I was never wanting for it to hurry or speed along, I was always compelled with what was on screen. There are complaints that the broken narrative is confusing and jumps too much, it's fairly straightforward with only two timelines occuring. Hoover in his old age is dictating his past for a manuscript and both these timelines are otherwise chronological and move forward with one another. People say there is no real message or overriding theme to speak of, I think deeper digging and repeat viewings will find them more well constructed than others are giving credit right now. Most of all though, even if some find merit to these criticisms I don't find that any of them would keep the film from being enjoyable as a whole.

This film may be getting less positive reviews because people thought it could have been so many things that it isn't. In the end I feel Eastwood and the writer picked a direction and identity for the film and much like J. Edgar they decided to move forward with full conviction. It is what it is and any negatives don't outweigh all the positives it brings in my opinion, but everyone will judge the film differently I suppose, much like everyone has different opinions on J. Edgar Hoover the man.

It may also help me that I'm very interested in history and this time period. Also in how institutions such as the FBI got built up and came to be (the film does an excellent job at explaining how the bureau slowly found ways to gain power and independence). Anyways, give this film a chance, I give it five stars because I may not have LOVED the film but I did love the experience of watching it, if that makes sense.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 13, 2012 7:14:07 AM PST
i have not had the chance to watch the movie yet, but really am looking forward to that experience. i think a lot of people who go to the movies want nothing more than to be totally entertained and don't really pay attention to anything that might be considered dark or deep. that attitude has given many a great movie and bad rap. thank goodness i take each movie for exactly what it is meant to portray so enjoy many that get bad reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 8:49:32 PM PST
leonine says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 8:53:24 PM PST
You're just talking to Maggie Devens right? Because I have seen the film

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 3:31:25 AM PST
I,d like to congratulate you for this great review of J.Edgar,I,ve just recently seen the Film,and I agree with every word you said,that,s why I think it,s a GREAT review,ha!
Seriously though,I,ve seen a few of the "oscar nominated films",by and large I thought they were "poor",but J.Edgar is FILM-MAKING,as we,ve come to expect from Clint Eastwood.
As a Scot/Brit, my knowledge of J.Edgar Hoover is limited to the usual "description" of the man,so I found J.Edgar to be very informative,I thought Mr Eastwood,s Direction was bang-on,he left "the viewer" to have his/her own opinion of J.Edgar Hoover,Clint didn,t decide for us,and I congratulate him for that.
Well Done Reconnecting,an EXCELLENT review,in every way,CHEERS Pal.
Davy Cairns,Scotland.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 29, 2012 3:55:14 PM PST
B Richards says:
Magie`s comments weren't a review of the film you dolt...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2012 10:16:16 PM PDT
Celie says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on May 16, 2012 9:03:11 AM PDT
I just thought the film was a hot mess. I blame Eastwood. DiCaprio does what he can, but in the end, the film is so all over the place, it never gets into any kind of groove. Half the time I wondered what decade the film was in. Too confusing for its own good. And lets face it, DiCaprio pulled off Howard Hughes in grand style with Aviator. Not sure he can top that bio pic.

Posted on Jul 16, 2012 12:56:06 PM PDT
If nothing else J. EDGAR is worth seeing for Leonardo DiCaprio's performance but like you, R.T.M.C., I like the film a lot. I see the average customer review is three stars and remember the film coming and going quickly in its theatrical release, and part of the reason for that is probably the high expectations Clint Eastwood has set for himself. Nice problem to have, if you ask me, having made so many great films that your latest, while good, nonetheless disappoints your audience because they anticipated excellence.

Posted on Aug 16, 2012 10:42:08 AM PDT
JBGood says:
How come no one mentions the English accent used by DiCaprio? He's horribly miscast in this role.

Posted on Aug 24, 2012 5:10:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2012 5:24:14 AM PDT
Rob says:
"This film may be getting less positive reviews because people thought it could have been so many things that it isn't."

This is spot on and it's typical of Eastwood's recent work. He's telling the stories he wants to tell from the angle that interests him (invariably a deeply humanist one) , and there are some viewers - including Eastwood fans - who are simply not understanding that. Look at the slams for Invictus, Hereafter and J Edgar here on Amazon. Many of the complaints bear no relationship to what Eastwood is actually doing which is working in genre before going off in very un-genre like directions. Invictus looks like a sports movie or maybe a biography of Nelson Mandela, but it's not actually either of those. It's real interest is in the strategic genius of a man who unified a country on the brink of civil war via a sporting event. Hereafter looks like a tale of the afterlife but it's really about the value and importance of the life we're living now. It's not a ghost story. And poor, misunderstood J Edgar is not meant to be a biography of the FBI but the story of a man who doesn't know how to express his feelings, who's never been taught how to love and whose instincts, bottled up inside him, manifest themselves in ugly ways in his professional career.

You can see what I mean about Eastwood working 'in genre' but then going off in a direction of his own choosing. And long may Eastwood continue to do so. If the price for that is a barrage of critical slams from frankly uncomprehending viewers then at least there are plenty of us out here who do understand and appreciate what this great American filmmaker is doing.
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