Friday, November 11, 2011
On paper this movie has Oscar written all over it. It's a biopic and Oscar loves a biopic. It stars three time Oscar nominee Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular character and features Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench as his mother. And it's directed by four time Oscar winning director Clint Eastwood. But does it live up to expectations? Sadly, it does not.
Let me cut right to the root of the problem. Clint Eastwood is quite possibly the most overrated director in the history of filmmaking. This is not to say he's the worst director, mind you, but just the most overrated. Let's have a quick walk down memory lane. He won the Oscar for 'Mystic River' and 'Million Dollar Baby', both extremely overrated and way too melodramatic. He made 'Gran Torino', which was overrated and way too unrealistic. And most recently he made 'Invictus' and 'Hereafter', both overrated and way too dull. And now this, a story about J. Edgar Hoover and the birth of the FBI, with really interesting material like the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, and a proven lead actor, and yet it's almost, but not quite, a bore. (Robert DeNiro was guilty of the same crime when he directed 'The Good Shepherd' detailing the start of the CIA. Perhaps actors should stick to acting.) So stop the madness! Stop giving this guy awards for turning what could be great films into mediocre ones. I'm sorely disappointed. And yet, even under Eastwood's poor direction, and even with abyssmally distracting and downright laughable makeup for the aged Hoover and his right hand man Tolson, there's still a really interesting story here. And that makes it worth a watch for film buffs and biopic fans alike.