Clint Eastwood, 81 year old and definitely in peak form, tells the story of John Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI. If you are like me, somehow ignorant about this controversial figure of American history, this movie – whether you like it or not – would at least play the role of an instructive documentary. It is not exhaustive, but it still gives a fair account of Hoover’s long carrier at the Bureau of Investigation (from 1924 until his death in 1972)
That being say, it is much more than a documentary. I usually don’t have a lot of interest in wathching autobiographies, precisely because they often look like « fake documentaries » to me. If the purpose is just to tell the story of a movie star or a famous politician, following the classical pattern – difficult childhood-the increase in power and the fall and/or the dark secrets of private life – I rather watch a documentary with real file footage. We certainly cannot blame Eastwood on this point. « J.Edgard » presents a clever portrayal of Hoover. If there are bias towards the most polemical aspects of his life (the suspicions of homosexuality in particular), it is made with caution and with enough latitude to let a power of interpretation to the audience.
Yet, despite its obvious interest, « J. Edgard » is not a likable movie. Even visually: The colours are very contrasted and bright, reflecting the coldness of the character. That’s somehow disturbing and unpleasant to watch, and at the same time it is the sort of detail that makes this movie artistically intestering. There is also the ageing of all the characters. The make-up is quite obvious and unsetting for this very reason. Some have criticized the movie for this poor make-up, as if they were not able to make it more natural. I believe on the contrary that it is totally intentional (Eastwood does not lack financial means to make his movies after all). Why this choice? That remains unclear… Leonardo Di Caprio is very convincing in the role though, at every stage of Hoover’s life.
Wathching all these characters getting older is naturally quite pathetic. It is a clever way to suggest the impressive lenght of Hoover’s carrier… to a certain extent. The movie seemed really, really long and the ending interminable.
In other words, « J. Edgar » is certainly a captivating movie, presenting a nuanced and intelligent point of view on this controversial figure. Even though I cannot say I « liked » it per se: it does not make part of these movies that you will watch again with pleasure.
Vancouver is known to be a very active filmmaking location. That’s where you can find the lovely vampires of the Twillight saga for example (You will be nice to notice the irony there!) But the city is also host to one of the five largest film festivals in North America, The International Film Festival. For this 29th edition, the program included 386 films. I have seen only two of them. Few in quantity, but they were totally worth it in quality.
- « Sleeping Beauty » directed by Julia Leigh. A quite disturbing and original movie that you expect to watch in a film festival. Unfortunately, the most interesting aspects of the movie are quite overlooked as the director tries to cover a wide range of themes. The result is that the main subject – what could happen to you while you are sleeping? – arrives surprinsingly late and remains secondary in the end. It gave the most powerful scenes of the movie though.
- « The Artist » directed by Michel Hazanavicius. It was a great experience to watch a movie starring Jean Dujardin in Canada and it totally worthed the stress we’ve been through while waiting in the long line, wondering whether we could get in or not. It is absolutely worth watching, at least for the experience of a silent and black and white movie. But you find many other sources of satisfaction, with the music, the choregraphies, the actors, and, last but not least, with the adorable dog that might even upstage Dujardin’s performance.