Monday, November 21, 2011

Creepy Time

You’re only as sick as your secrets, and after watching Clint Eastwood’s new movie, it’s obvious that J. Edgar Hoover was one sick puppy.  Dangerous, too boot.  So that old maxim should be changed to read. “You’re only as sick and dangerous as your secrets,” and Hoover hand and kept many, many secrets.
Clearly, Director Clint Eastwood in his old age hasn’t mellowed.  He seems to be getting downright flinty, Gran Torino-get-off-my-lawn crabby – gimlet-eyed comes to mind.  Which makes this film extremely odd. 
For over two hours, he absolutely savages Hoover with an unblinking eye.  The man was sick, obsessed, seriously weird, dangerous, phony. The movie is filmed in the cold, icy light and grey, washed-out color Eastwood used in a previous film, “Changeling,” which drops the temperature of the theatre to zero and makes all the characters look like the vampires from “Twilight” have already paid them a visit and sucked all the life and blood out of them.
Then, in the middle of this ice-cold, savagely, almost satirically cruel movie, Eastwood proceed to tell us a tender . . . love story. The effect is absolutely disorienting.
Worse, the relentless, intimate focus of the camera puts the viewer into the very uncomfortable position of being a voyeur watching two hours of  intimate, embarrassing unmasking of a failed, sad soul – his good deeds soon buried with him and his appalling weirdness left standing as his malign monument.  Then at the end, we’re supposed to be moved to sympathy for this twisted sister  because he supposedly had at least had one real, true thing in his life: His need for and love for his long-time companion Clyde Tolson.
 But even that romance was hard to believe because it was impossible for me to believe these characters were whole enough to feel anything called “love.”  Neurotic need, self-serving manipulation, folie a deux, toxic attachment, yes.  Love?  Not so much.
  Not to mention, I had real trouble overcoming all the surrounding  ice to see much of anything redeeming about any of these characters.  Hoover and Tolson lived a life of lies, Hoover’s assistant, Helen Gandy, (played by Naomi Watts) was a world-class enabler who stood by her boss as he trashed the law and trampled on the Constitution and grew to wield such power that he could threaten Presidents.
In his earlier movie, “Unforgiven,” a young man says to Easwtood’s character, after witnessing a killing, “Yeah, well, I guess he had it coming.”  To which Eastwood replied, “We all have it coming, Kid.”
In J. Edgar,  perhaps Eastwood has found the perfect illustration of what may be Clint’s ultimate pronouncement on the world.
Amazon Games

If you’ve ever ordered a book from Amazon and wondered about the “star” ratings and “reviews,” well, Los Osos writer Anne R. Allen has a great new blog on writing, and has posted a great tell-all as to how that system works. Publishing is changing quickly now, so if you’re still thinking Publishers, hard-bound books, bookstores, etc,.  here’s a chance to Zoom! into what’s really going on.  It's a great read.



Anne R. Allen said...

What an insightful review. I've seen clips, but kept feeling Eastwood kept such a dispassionate distance that nothing seemed very engaging. Sounds as if I may have been right.

And thanks a bunch for the shout out for my blogpost on Amazon reviews. People in the publishing community can get pretty insular, so we don't realize other people don't have a clue we're in the middle of a major revolution, and Amazon is our new overlord.

Churadogs said...

I think it was that odd dichotomy --on the one hand the story and style (and icy "look") was all cold, furious, take-no-prisoner Harry Callahan, down-the-barrel-of-a-.45 killer-squint -- absolutely creepy and chilling. Then in the middle of it all, these tender, weird moments of . . . "love?" or something. It was jarring. but, overall, I found the whole movie two hours of creepy. I couldn't wait to get out of the theatre and go home and take a bath.

And, yes, "normal" people have no idea of the Amazon games and the publishing biz. So your excellent head's up is certainly in order.