Reason Writers at the Movies: Peter Suderman Reviews J. Edgar


Associate Editor Peter Suderman reviews Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar Hoover biopic J. Edgar in today's Washington Times

Spoiler alert: J. Edgar Hoover was gay—maybe.

The history is complicated and subject to dispute, and the truth about the founder and longtime director of the FBI may never be known. But "J. Edgar," Clint Eastwood's new biopic about Hoover, makes its feelings about the famous federal enforcer plenty clear: Despite his reputation as an enforcer of conventional moral norms, the man was probably a homosexual, although he may have never admitted it—even to himself.

Mr. Eastwood's take on Hoover, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is characteristically humanizing, and impressively balanced given how polarizing his subject can be. Mr. Eastwood doesn't cast judgment on his subject, but he does provide plenty of fodder for anyone who'd like to bang the gavel himself. The problem is that Mr. Eastwood's unwillingness to cast judgment, while commendable, also manifests itself as a sort of shapelessness, devoid of any larger, nuanced argument about the man. All Mr. Eastwood really has is a single, simple idea: thatHoover's self-repression might have driven his never-ending inquests into the personal lives of others.

Whole thing here

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  1. Hoover introduced the modern Federal security state, fucking bastard.

    1. You should be a movie director!

    2. Didn’t he have a lot of help with that?

      1. Yes, he did. I mean, the Volstead Act (as one prominent example) seemed to lead to the sort of criminal enterprise that made a Federal security state appealing.

  2. Cracked informs me that Hoover was not homosexual. And my eyeballs inform me that DiCaprio is six inches taller than the man he’s playing.

    1. And a lot prettier.

      What ridiculous casting. Eastwood must be finally going senile.

    2. Cracked says that the “Hoover was a transvestite” legend is bogus. Cracked is correct.

      But Hoover was almost certainly gay.

      Transvestite and gay are not the same thing.

    3. Roy Cohn (who would know) once said that Hoover was probably gay but was so terrified of sexuality that he just could not face the issue.

    4. I agree, definitely an interesting casting choice. Besides, I thought DiCaprio was Martin Scorcese’s bitch right now.

      For what it’s worth, Billy Crudup (aka, Dr. Manhattan) did a pretty convincing portrayal in Public Enemies.

  3. You can’t complain about Hoover enlarging the power of the state when your agricultural city-STATE has been used to restrict the free movement of peoples by using artificial lines of demarcation.
    Officer, am I free to gambol?

    1. when it’s time for leaving, I hope you’ll understand / that I was born a gambolin’ man

      1. So your father was a gamboler down in Georgia?

    2. Can I fluff you, J. Edgar?

      I promise I won’t use teeth or anything.

  4. A dilemma. I generally don’t like Leo, but I lurv me some Clint.

    1. I really hated Leo, but The Departed turned me around. He looks significantly less mentally challenged as he gets older.

      1. He was so good in Romeo + Juliet, which they recently re-released. Really true to Shakespeare despite the anachronistic treatment.

        1. Yeah that was actually pretty badass. They stuck to the script pretty well.

          I really can’t hate Leo anymore. Besides RJ all of this old shit sucked and as a teenage boy when Titanic came out I must of made tons of Leo=gay jokes. But he took a hiatus and has done alot of good movies and roles since then. Props to him.

          1. Clint and Leo are both two of the best IMO.

        2. That movie made me swear off watching anything directed by Baz Luhrmann. It was like watching Mountain Dew or Jolt Cola on celluloid.

          1. You say that like it’s a bad thing. I think Luhrmann excels as a stylist.

      2. He’s okay, but he’s also quite overrated as an actor (not his fault, of course). In my opinion, anyway. Not sure how he and Scorsese got so attached.

      3. To me, aging Leo looks like his face is collapsing in on itself. He might look less special needs, but he sure ain’t one of those men that gets better with time.

        Also, what R C said. If Clint directs it, I’ll give it a shot. Although I finally got around to watching Invictus and was a little underwhelmed. Mighta been the MATT DAMON.

        1. Is it just me Dagny or is he not aging well at all? To me he is already as creepy looking in his 30s as Nicholson is in his 70s.

          1. Don’t be hatin’ on Randall P. McMurphy, AKA Jack Nicholson!

            I have Netflix and I am on holiday, I think I will watch Cuckoo’s Nest right now.

        2. I really like DiCaprio. Basketball Diaries, Shutter Island, Inception and the movies he’s made with Scorcese are all exceptional in my opinion.

          1. Not to mention Romeo + Juliet. To answer your question, John…yes. But so far, I think the incipient seediness of Leo’s mug is working for and not against him.

            1. I didn’t realize there was all this dude love of Romeo + Juliet out there. I always loved that movie too.

              1. I have always and will continue to hate it. But while Leo and Danes were merely meh shading into boring, John Leguizamo was the real bullet to the head of the production.

                1. That movie was a joke. I can’t stand it. There is a special ring in hell for the people who thought it was a good idea.

                  1. I guess Romeo + Juliet was polarizing. Clearly it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine.

                    1. Why Art? Why? You seem to have such a level head and good taste in other things. How could you like such a MTV joke of a movie?

                    2. The dialogue was really good (ha ha ha), and I think the liberties taken with the format enhance such a fundamentally sound but ultimately faithful adaptation.

          2. I thought he was good in the Howard Hughes biopic. He is a good actor. His problem is that he always looks like a child. His looks don’t serve him well.

            1. Tell that to his legions upon legions of hot, young female fans.

      4. the Departed was just a mish-mash remake of the Hong Kong Infernal Affairs

        1. I love me some Hong Kong gangster flicks but I also appreciate well made American adaptions.

          Definitely gonna rewatch Election this weekend.

        2. Any film that shows the defenestration of Martin Sheen is worth the price of admission.

      5. He was great in Blood Diamond–actually looked and acted like a real adult.

    2. I am torn in the same way as you. Waiting for the G. Gordon Liddy review of J. Edgar before I decide to watch it on cable.

  5. A guy who was probably gay is played by a guy who is probably gay. NTT…

    Hoover should have been hung for being a cunt, though.

    1. If that were a crime, we’d all be hung.
      Not that I’m not.

    2. Have you seen Leo’s girlfriends? Dude has dated some of the finest dime pieces on the planet. You can’t seriously believe they are simply the world’s hottest beards, can you?

      1. The guy dumped Bar Rafeli. That either means he is gay or he is absolutely the biggest bad ass of all time. I mean seriously, he can look at her and go “I got tired of her shit and found someone better”. If he can, I tip my hat.

        1. Better keep your hat-tipping hand strong 😉

  6. Is it better than the movie JFK’s portrayal of him banging 20 year old Mexican poolboys?

  7. I might consider seeing this, as long as I can be certain that deranged moron Scorsese had nothing to do with it. I vowed never to watch another one of his excreta after that abomination of self-congratulatory masturbation Gangs of New York. It seems as if he and DiCaprio are more often than not some kind of package deal.

    1. Read Levon Helm’s book sometime. In it he talks about the making of The Last Waltz. Sorcsese screwed the entire rest of the Band to make it look like his buddy Robbie Robertson was the leader (he wasn’t). The whole movie is one giant insult to everyone but Robertson. Will never watch that movie the same way again.

    2. We part company on this one. To me, Daniel Day-Lewis made that movie.

      1. The whole cast was great.

  8. Romeo + Juliet

    Was that the moronic teen gangstaaaaah version? What the fuck is wrong with you people?

    1. ^^THIS^^ Claire Danes is one of the worst actresses anyone ever took seriously in this generation. That movie is horrible.

      1. I think Cameron Diaz actually has her beat. She was getting touted for about six YEARS as The Next It Girl after The Mask came out, and the only reason she actually made it big was because of a stupid semen joke. I’m still not sure if that’s a greater indictment of her or society as a whole.

  9. Apropos of nothing; Titus was a fucking awesome movie.

    1. Yes it is. Hopkins, Shakespeare, what is not to love?

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