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Reviews Mixed on “J. Edgar” Movie

 
 
By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Friday marks the official general release of the much awaited “J. Edgar” movie produced by Clint Eastwood and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

The reviews are mixed, so I thought I’d post some  from papers around the country. The movie, way before its release, became controversial because of its suggestion that J. Edgar Hoover was having an affair with his right hand man Clyde Tolson.

I’d like to hear what you think. Send your comments to lengela@ticklethewire.com. I’ll try to publish as many as I can.

Here’s some of the reviews.

Washington Post

By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post

Anyone with strong opinions about founding FBI director J. Edgar Hoover is unlikely to come away satisfied by “J. Edgar,” Clint Eastwood’s ambitious, ultimately deflating portrait, which somehow manages to elide his worst abuses of power while making a burlesque of his personal vulnerabilities.

Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) shrewdly organize “J. Edgar” around secrets – those that Hoover wielded in order to gain and keep power for an extraordinary 48 years at the bureau and those that he kept about his own intensely guarded private life. But because Hoover so adroitly avoided leaving any kind of paper trail, much of “J. Edgar” necessarily hinges on speculation and hearsay, especially regarding his intimate personal and professional relationship with Associate FBI Director Clyde Tolson.

To read more click here.

Los Angeles Times

By Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times Film Critic

“J. Edgar” is a somber, enigmatic, darkly fascinating tale, and how could it be otherwise?

This brooding, shadow-drenched melodrama with strong political overtones examines the public and private lives of a strange, tortured man who had a phenomenal will to power. A man with the keenest instincts for manipulating the levers of government, he headed the omnipotent Federal Bureau of Investigation for 48 years. Though in theory he served eight presidents, in practice J. Edgar Hoover served only himself.

Starring an impressive Leonardo DiCaprio and crafted with Clint Eastwood’s usual impeccable professionalism, “J. Edgar” gets its power from the way the director’s traditional filmmaking style interacts with the revisionist thrust of Dustin Lance Black’s script.

To read more click here

The Orlando Sentinel

By ROGER MOORE
The Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel
Although the screenwriter of “Milk” didn’t script a “gay fantasia” on Hoover’s successes and monomaniacal excesses, he has written a film that provokes more inappropriate laughter than any mainstream period piece since Oliver Stone’s “Alexander.”

It’s fascinating to interpret Hoover’s career through his twin obsessions — his experiences battling Bolshevik bomb throwers in the “Red Scare” of 1919-1020 that made him fear communists more than mobsters, and the conflicted, “my big secret” that was his personal life, which made him a fussy hypocritical moralist.

But if you’re not snickering at the sight of Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime “close associate” Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer of “The Social Network”) in bathrobes, reading Hoover’s “secret files” on the sex lives of the powerful and giggling like a couple of gossipy queens, you’re going to be in the minority.

To read more click here.

The New York Times

By MANOHLA DARGIS
New York Times

Even with all the surprises that have characterized Clint Eastwood’s twilight film years, with their crepuscular tales of good and evil, the tenderness of the love story in “J. Edgar” comes as a shock.

Anchored by a forceful, vulnerable Leonardo DiCaprio, who lays bare J. Edgar Hoover’s humanity, despite the odds and an impasto of old-coot movie makeup, this latest jolt from Mr. Eastwood is a look back at a man divided and of the ties that bind private bodies with public politics and policies. With sympathy — for the individual, not his deeds — it portrays a 20th-century titan who, with secrets and bullets, a will to power and the self-promotional skills of a true star, built a citadel of information in which he burrowed deep.

To read more click here

The New York Daily News 

By Joe Numaier
New York Daily News

Despite over two hours’ worth of recalling, recanting, stonewalling and bullying, the secrets that lie at the heart of “J. Edgar” remain hidden.

That may be because director Clint Eastwood’s movie is of two minds about J. Edgar Hoover. The longtime FBI “head cop” is a hard-working, but narrow-minded patriot, an upholder of a limited definition of honor and a corruptible battler of corruption.

That can be a plus in a bio-pic, but in a movie whose scope is several decades’ worth of law and order, fair-mindedness often turns into fuzzy noncommitment.

At least Leonardo DiCaprio, grounded and sure, has commitment to spare. His portrayal of Hoover is undeniably terrific.

To read more click here.

The Wall Street Journal

By Joe Morganstern
The Wall Street Journal

As the peerlessly powerful and widely feared director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the course of almost five decades, J. Edgar Hoover saw himself in a constant state of war—against radicals, gangsters, Communists and any politicians, including presidents, who tried to get in his way. “J. Edgar,” with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, is at war with itself, and everyone loses.

Clint Eastwood’s investigation of Hoover’s life and tumultuous times seeks the cold facts behind the crime-fighter myths, the flesh-and-blood man behind the dour demeanor and the rumors of homosexuality. Yet Mr. Eastwood’s ponderous direction, a clumsy script by Dustin Lance Black and ghastly slatherings of old-age makeup all conspire to put the story at an emotional and historical distance. It’s a partially animated waxworks.

To read more click here.

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Happy Veterans Day from ticklethewire.com

istock photo

 

A Secretive Nixon Said the Wealthy Better Equipped for Ambassadorships

white house photo

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

Assuredly the  Occupy Wall Street folks would find President Nixon’s grand jury testimony of interest.

In newly released documents of President Richard Nixon’s 1974 grand jury testimony, the president admitted to giving precedence to wealthy campaign contributors when assigning foreign ambassador posts.

The president maintained that such assignations were not “commitments” made for contributions. Rather, the president reasoned that big contributors, who are generally wealthy, have justified their qualifications by the mere fact of their wealth.

“Certainly, no sale of ambassadorship should be made,” he told investigators, “but, on the other hand, the fact that an individual has proved himself on the American scene, has proved himself by legitimately building a great fortune, rather than being a disqualifier should be a factor that can be considered and should be considered in determining whether he should get a position.”

Much of the questioning surrounded whether or not an explicit agreement of a “commitment” had been made between among Nixon and his advisors, trading ambassadorships for campaign contributions.

Nixon later stated that he gave “top consideration to major financial contributors mainly for the reason that big contributors in many instances make better ambassadors, particularly where American economic interests are involved.” Still, at times it seems hard to draw the line of distinction.

Regarding another appointed ambassador, Nixon stated, “Pearl Mesta wasn’t sent to Luxembourg because she had big bosoms. Pearl Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution.”

In Nixon’s opening statements to the grand jury he expressed the “vital necessity of confidentiality in presidential communications,” saying that information he may reveal to the grand jury, if circulated in the press and among the American public, could hurt American interests.

He cited reports then in newspapers of past presidents okaying assassinations, saying such disclosures, though probably untrue, were not in the public interest. “This is the reason why I have resisted in the courts … attempts to impinge upon the privileged status of such conversations,” he said. Only with absolute guarantee of no disclosure, Nixon told investigators in his opening remarks, “I will reveal for the first time information … which, if it is made public, will be terribly damaging to the United States.”

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The NRA Guns for Atty. Gen. Holder

By Allan Lengel
for Salon.com

While an apologetic Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. went before a Senate committee this week to talk about a failed gun-walking program, the National Rifle Association was gearing up its campaign to get Holder fired.

In a new, slick 1 minute and 55 second television ad flush with with Fox News footage, the NRA expressed outrage over the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm’s gun-running operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. Under the supervision of ATF officials, the operation let guns get into the hands of criminals on both sides of the Mexican border. The NRA claimed Holder perjured himself before Congress and lied about what he knew about the operation and urged the White House to fire Holder. Holder has adamantly denied lying.

The NRA has honed in on Operation Fast and Furious in order to advance its agenda of undermining, not just Holder but the president. The misguided operation, run by ATF officials reporting to the Justice Department, encouraged Arizona gun dealers to sell weapons to “straw purchasers,” with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of many of the guns, and some surfaced at crime scenes on both sides of the Mexican border including one involving the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry last year in Arizona.

To read full story click here.

 

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

 

Better Late Than Never: Nixon Library to Release Nixon’s Grand Jury Testimony on Watergate

 By Allan Lengel
ticklthewire.com

Better late than never.

The Nixon Presidential Library in California on Thursday is making available Nixon’s grand jury testimony about the Watergate scandal, the Associated Press reports.

This should be interesting.

The public release of the material comes four months after a judge ordered the June 1975 records unsealed.

“This is Nixon unplugged,” said historian Stanley Kutler, a principal figure in the lawsuit that pried open the records, AP reported.

Still, he said, “I have no illusions. Richard Nixon knew how to dodge questions with the best of them. I am sure that he danced, skipped, around a number of things.”

AP reported that Nixon was interviewed near his California home for 11 hours over two days.

To read more click here.

 

“Geezer Bandit” Chalks Up #15 in Calif.

"Geezer Bandit"/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

That rascally bandit known as the “Geezer Bandit” continues his elusive ways.

On Wednesday, the FBI issued a statement that the bandit, who appears to be in his 70s, had hit his 15th bank in the San Diego area on Sept. 30, the Associated Press reported.

The robbery occured  at a Wells Fargo bank inside a Vons grocery store in La Jolla, Calif., AP reported.

AP reported that the bandit approached the teller counter, pointed a revolver pistol at the teller and demanded money.

The Geezer Bandit began is robbing ways in 2009.

A $20,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the robber’s arrest and conviction.

Some have speculated that the Geezer Bandit may actually be wearing a very-well crafted Hollywood quality mask to make it look as if he’s a senior citizen.

 

Late Agent’s Family: Holder Must “Take Responsibility”

Brian Terry

By Danny Fenster
ticklethewire.com

In more sobering news…

The family of Brian Terry, the border agent killed  last year near the Arizona border, issued a statement on Wednesday in response to US Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The message: Holder needs to “take responsibility” for their son’s death, reports Arizona affiliate of ABC.

Holder was testifying about ATF’s failed Operation Fast and Furious, which encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw purchasers, all with the hopes of tracing the weapons to the Mexican cartels. ATF lost track of plenty of those weapons, some which surfaced at crime scenes including the one where Terry was killed.

Authorities have been unable to determine whether the two weapons found at the scene were actually involved in the shooting.

Holder stopped short of actually apologizing during his testimony before the committee on Tuesday.

“I certainly regret what happened to agent Terry,” he said when Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn asked if Holder would like to apologize for Fast and Furious.

“I am a father of three children myself,” Holder said. “We are not programmed to bury our kids.  It pains me whenever there is the death of a law enforcement officials, especially under the circumstances that this occurred.  It is not fair, however, to assume that the mistake that happened in Fast and Furious directly led to the death of Agent Terry,” he testified.

To read more click here.