Few of the powerful men who helped shape America in the 20th century are as polarizing as J. Edgar Hoover considering the peaks and valleys of his nearly half-century-long reign as the director of the FBI and his closely guarded private life. However while there is much to debate about whether the heroism of Hoover’s early career outweighs the knee-jerk paranoia that clouded the end of his run at the Bureau and about what really turned on this lifelong bachelor one aspect of Hoover’s life is inarguable: this was a man who possessed a rare gift for establishing and maintaining order. Everything that fell under his control was meticulously kept in its place from the fingerprints on file in the FBI’s database to the cleanly shaved faces of his loyal G-Men.
It’s an unfortunate irony then that J. Edgar the biopic focused on this ruthlessly organized administrative genius is such a sloppy awkwardly assembled mess. Its lack of tidiness hardly suits its central character and is also shockingly uncharacteristic of director Clint Eastwood. The filmmaker’s recent creative renaissance which began in 2003 with the moody Boston tragedy Mystic River may not have been one defined by absolute perfection—the World War II epic Flags of Our Fathers for example is no better than an admirable mixed bag—but it comes to a grinding halt with J. Edgar Eastwood’s least satisfying and least coherent effort since 1999’s True Crime. There’s no faulting the attention paid to surface period details—every tailored suit and vintage car registers as authentic—but on the most fundamental level Eastwood and writer Dustin Lance Black (an Academy Award winner for Milk as off his game as Eastwood here) haven’t figured out what kind of movie they want to shape around Hoover’s life. For two-thirds of its running time J. Edgar devotes itself to an overly dry recitation of facts about its title character which is about as viscerally thrilling as reading Hoover’s Wikipedia page and then makes a late-inning bid for romantic melodrama totally at odds with the bloodless history-lesson approach favored by the preceding 90 minutes.
The non-chronological narrative structure Black adopts to tell Hoover’s story only adds to the overall disjointedness. Star Leonardo DiCaprio is first seen caked in old-age makeup as Hoover conscious he’s nearing the end of his tenure at the Bureau dictates his memoirs to an obliging junior agent (Ed Westwick). As Hoover describes how he began his career the movie jumps back in time to depict that origin giving the false impression that the dictation scenes with old Hoover will act as necessary structural connective tissue. Instead Black eventually abandons the narrative device altogether leaving the movie rudderless in its leaps backwards and forwards through time. As a result the shuffling of scenes depicting the young Hoover achieving great success alongside his right-hand man Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer) and those portraying the aging Hoover abusing his power by wire-tapping progressive luminaries (such as Martin Luther King Jr.) that he mistrusts feels frustratingly arbitrary. There’s no real rhyme or reason to why one scene follows another.
DiCaprio does his best to anchor the proceedings with a precise authoritative lead performance. Although his voice is softer than Hoover’s he mimics the crimefighter’s trademark cadence with organic ease and more importantly he manifests Hoover’s unbending fastidiousness in a number of ingenious details like in the way that Hoover reflexively adjusts a dining-room chair while in mid-conversation. But Black’s limited view of Hoover as a tyrannical egotist—the script is close to a hatchet job—denies DiCaprio the chance to play a fully three-dimensional version of the FBI pioneer. Hoover is granted the most humanity in his scenes opposite Hammer’s Tolson which are by far the most compelling in the movie. Possessing no knowledge of the secretive Hoover’s romantic life Eastwood and Black speculate that Hoover and Tolson’s relationship was defined by a mutual attraction that Tolson wanted to pursue but Hoover was too timid to even acknowledge. Hammer so sharp as the privileged Winklevoss twins in The Social Network is the only supporting player given much to do—Naomi Watts’ talents are wasted as Hoover’s generically long-suffering secretary while poor Judi Dench must have had most of her scenes as Hoover’s reactionary mother left on the cutting-room floor—and he runs with it. His mega-watt charisma is like a guarantee of future stardom and he’s actually far more effortless behind the old-age makeup than veterans DiCaprio and Watts manage to be.
While the unrequited love story between Hoover and Tolson is clearly meant to provide J. Edgar with an emotional backbone the movie takes so long to get to it that it feels instead like an afterthought. Where in all the dutiful historical-checklist-tending that dominates the film is the Eastwood who flooded the likes of The Bridges of Madison County Letters From Iwo Jima and last year’s criminally underrated Hereafter with oceans of pure feeling? He’s a neo-classical humanist master who has somehow ended up making a cold dull movie that reduces one of recent history’s most enigmatic giants to a tiresome jerk.
Whether you're a dog person, cat person, bird person or the less common but equally enjoyable pig person, it's hard to deny that an animal companion makes life a little bit better. The right pet can grow to become more than just a non-Homo sapien house-dweller that occasionally poops on the floor and chews on furniture; it can become a friend, a best friend, one as loyal and chipper as the best of humans.
Unfortunately, a trustworthy pet can quickly—and without warning—become a savage, destructive, mouth-foaming terror, a beast bent on annihilating anyone who crosses its master's path, and occasionally, the master himself.
The lovable monkey Caeser, from the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is a prime(ate) example of when a loving creature can turn from good to bad, not adorable aww-look-what-such-and-such-did! bad, but bad bad.
Hollywood has a history of delivering up some of the world's most pestilential pets—here are a few of the nastiest:
Cujo from Cujo
In Stephen King-land, pets are rarely symbols of cuteness or, uh, cuddly-ness; rather, they are almost always murderous devils, as in the case of cinema’s most infamous St. Bernard, Cujo, a doggone (hehe) serial killer. Remember: Have your pets spade, neutered and vaccinated for rabies!
Church from Pet Sematary
The Stephen King house-pet demonization, Exhibit B.—this time it’s a cat. For some people, cats have an evilness about them naturally, but Church from Pet’s Sematary? Well, she’s a different breed of disturbing, even before coming back from the dead to terrorize people.
Gremlins from Gremlins
Everybody’s favorite ‘80s-movie creature not named E.T. is cute as a little lost duckling poking its little head out of a box. But ducklings don’t spawn reptilian bloodthirsties! Or shoot guns. (Probably.)
Beethoven from Beethoven
Aside from being so huge, cumbersome and rambunctious that he ruins stuff (i.e., family barbecues), there is nothing that technically makes Beethoven a terrible house pet. But that doesn't stop Charles Grodin's George Newton from feeling the wrath of God every time Beethoven pulls one of his zany stunts. He would have preferred adopting Cerberus over the infamous St. Bernard.
Harry from Harry and the Hendersons
Who knew Bigfoot could be so gentle and caring and possess a million-watt smile?! Who cares?! He stinks, he ruins everything, and he runs away constantly! And imagine the shedding.
Alvin, Simon and Theodore from Alvin and the Chipmunks
We could deal with Alvin’s smartassery and the combined jackassery of all three chipmunks—and hell, it’d be a cool icebreaker to have those pintsized buffoons hangin’ around the house. But the helium voices...good God, those voices.
Dug from Up
The novelty of an anthropomorphic pooch, like Dug, would wear off quickly, because if every time it barks counts as a human-voiced conversation, it'd basically never shut up. Even if you could program it back to “dog mode,” it’d be impossible to un-remember the creepiness factor of it all.
When The Adjustment Bureau hits theaters this weekend, I'm sure we'll all be looking forward to some of that Matt Damon charm, but he's not the only draw for us ladies. The film also stars John Slattery and since he's one of our favorite silver foxes, we thought now would be an appropriate time to share our top ten gray-haired heart-breakers of all time. So what makes for a fantastic silver fox? Well, it's not just a salt and pepper or gray set of locks. There's a certain je ne sais quoi about these men. Many are funny, dapper, or distinguished. Many are well-dressed, have an alluring quality in their voices, or are just so damn good at their job that it's sexy. So without further ado, here are our favorite silver foxes, in no particular order.
Even before he got into movies, or started wooing ladies as Mad Men's Roger Sterling, or selling Lincolns as a super sexy car to anyone with a pulse, Slattery was still breaking hearts -- just on a smaller scale. He not only sweet-talked Eva Longoria's character into marriage on Desperate Housewives, he also did the same thing to Sex and The City's Carrie Bradshaw; and he played a very important and powerful politician each time. It's hard to pinpoint why, but Slattery is undeniably sexy. There's a reason no one questions the hold Roger Sterling has on Christina Hendricks' Joanie.
Are you really going to argue with Dirty Harry? Really? That's not possible. Then you have all the spaghetti westerns he starred in like The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Those roles alone should give anyone enough reason to swoon, but let's add to it his multiple Oscars as a director and his turns as a composer and even as the mayor of Carmel, California. He's also served as a member of the California State Park and Recreation Commission and taken many other efforts to protect and preserve California's natural beauty. So wait, he's a great actor, great director and he cares about the environment? Awww.That's what we call a jackpot, ladies.
Words are failing me, because if I need to explain why Clooney is a total babe you're probably deaf and blind and aren't reading this anyway. The voice, the smirk, the talent, the muscles, the brains, the sense of humor -- it all works together to create a man who's irresistible to pretty much any woman ever. Why do you think he's dated so many women who look like they were created in a Victoria's Secret laboratory? Because he's unrealistically sexy. Let's add to this that he cares about the world SO MUCH. He recently contracted malaria because he was in the Sudan helping Google and the UN stop a civil war from breaking out. Read that again, because I've seen it 10 times and I'm still in disbelief. I'm going to have to stop because I'm about to faint just thinking about him.
Smart, sexy, svelt; what more can you ask for? Cooper probably gains most of his points for being a well-spoken journalist who recently risked his life to broadcast the crisis in Egypt, but even before his death defying reporting last month, he was still a total broadcast babe. So maybe you've never watched Anderson Cooper 360 -- which I'll admit was getting a little fluffy on the news side for a while there -- or you were annoyed with his Kathy Griffin-assisted New Year's hosting gig, but just look at him in that suit and tell me he's not attractive. Go ahead and try because I guarantee I won't comprehend a word of it. He's a silver fox; case closed.
The original James Bond may be 80 years old now, but he's a classic silver fox and to be fair, he's probably one of the best looking men to ever reach that age bracket. Connery's iconic Scottish brogue is a symbol of classic Hollywood and classic badassery, even in his old age, I think most people would be unwise to cross him. He's always been one of the best wooers of women and I think his legacy will always reflect that. Heck, I've shamefully seen First Knight TWICE just because he plays King Arthur in it. If you need more proof, check with People. They named him the "Sexiest Man of the Century" in 1999. Can't really argue with that, can you?
Here we have a man who I know every movie fan misses immensely. He was not only the picture of Hollywood glamor. He didn't only have a 1000 watt smile. He didn't only have the most piercingly beautiful blue eyes to ever sell salad dressing. He was a talented and beloved actor and director and race car driver and humanitarian. He's like the original Clooney except he also drove race cars and I'm pretty sure Clooney has no plans to put his face on boxes of delicious popcorn.
Here we have another political hottie. Stewart is hilarious; spewing his pointed and biting political commentary four nights a week and holding many crooked pundits and politicians more accountable than any governing body. Someone who's the smart and funny and strikes fear in the hearts of Bill O'Reilly and politicians alike and wears those incredibly well tailored suits is worthy of our attention.
Yeah, he's getting a little past his stage where he could be considered terribly foxy, but let me remind you that Martin has fulfilled the silver part of the silver fox title for as long as we've known him as a comedian. From the time he sang "King Tut" on SNL, to the time he named his dog "Shithead" in The Jerk, to playing The Father of the Bride, Martin's got the funnyman appeal with a little touch of that undefinable quality we mentioned up top. Add to all of this that he's a pretty talented banjo player and damn good author and you've got the total package.
Oh hello, Dr. McSteamy. You don't have to actually watch Grey's Anatomy to understand why this guy made our list. Just look at that jawline and those alluring eyes; they're like the Death Star's tractor beam and we're as helpless as the Millenium Falcon. (Sometimes I can only explain things in Star Wars terms. It's a disease; they're still researching the cure. In simple terms, that whole Death Star thing means he's sexy.)
Danson's a silver fox that we love because of his old television persona, Sam from Cheers. The reason he's still foxy now that the show has been over for so many years is because he's taken that Sam Malone charm and aged it like a fine wine, combining it with his famous snark and parlaying it into roles like George Christopher on Bored to Death. Or maybe it's the way he somehow pulls off the aging Clark Kent look, but does it really matter? He's a bona fide silver fox, end of story.
November 04, 2008 12:48pm EST
Although he breaks no new ground Allen masterfully milks the laughs out
of every situation as the movie transforms from crime caper to
rags-to-riches farce to screwball romance. Don't expect the brooding
(and humorless) introspection of "Deconstructing Harry" here. This is a
light broad comedy that promises nothing but a good time. Rejecting the
sentimentality that bogs down most comedies Allen freely and savagely
mocks the lead characters as they try to blend into New York society.
One of a handful of actors (Jack Nicholson is another) who can play
alternating shades of the same character and make it look easy Allen
here does what he does best. Add Ullman Hugh Grant Elaine May and Jon
Lovitz and you have a wildly humorous cast pulling off great material.
May is exceptional as Ullman's low-watt cousin guaranteeing a laugh in
every scene she's in. Could a supporting Oscar nod be in the offing?
Like clockwork Allen delivers a film every year. Sometimes it's a
disaster ("Deconstructing Harry") sometimes it all comes together ...
and this is one of those times. Allen is the master at assembling and
directing exceptional casts creating characters that reflect us at our
most neurotic and making us laugh. "Small Time Crooks" plays to all of
Allen's strengths and reminds us what going to the cineplex is all
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it made. His screenwriting career is on the rise his first movie's just been made and he's got a cute girl. Life is good--until the House Un-American Activities Committee mistakenly fingers him as a Communist and he quickly falls from the A-list to the blacklist. Getting dumped by both his studio and his girl is nothing a little drinking can't remedy but after drowning his sorrows he nearly drowns himself when he decides to drive drunk and his car veers into the river knocking him unconscious. When Peter comes to he can't remember who he is or where he came from so he's taken in by the kindly people of Lawson a burg stuck in time and still mourning the loss of many of its sons in World War II. They mistake him for Luke Trimble one of their long-lost boys who went MIA in World War II and are overjoyed at his return. Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau) whose zest for life had dwindled so much that he let his beloved movie house The Majestic fall to ruin but with "Luke's" return he plans to reopen it. Celebrations abound. Peter-as-Luke even returns to his relationship with fiancée Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile Peter may have forgotten who he was but the Feds haven't and they're on his tail.
When Carrey's given the right material like he was with The Truman Show he can exhibit moments of greatness. The Majestic doesn't give Carrey the leeway to show his quirky sensibilities demanding that he play it straight throughout the movie (there are a few--too few--glances at humor that Carrey doesn't play up). To bring off the kind of schmaltz this movie oozes Carrey had to bring something of an edge to his character. Instead Peter is neither likable nor unlikable coming off as a bland confused schmo until the climactic end which after two hours of his weak personality is wholly unbelievable. Landau is unexciting as a caricature of the sad sentimental old man without hope--you want to sympathize but there's something faintly chilly about him. Holden's liberated-woman lawyer might have played better in a contemporary movie; she looks and acts too much like a modern-day actress trying to portray a woman of the '50s.
Was this some kind of vanity project dreamed up by a director too taken with his own greatness and past success? Was Frank Darabont envisioning an It's a Wonderful Life for the next generation? (Psst…it's likely the majority of the modern moviegoing public doesn't know who Frank Capra is and could care less especially when the movie is as slow and as completely unbelievable as this one.) Apparently Darabont's in love with his own direction because hardly a moment goes by without some lingering reaction shot. Darabont took an intriguing story about amnesia and mistaken identity and slathered it with sap. Old-fashioned period stories can be lots of fun but it's imperative they be able to keep a present-day audience's interest by including a bit of modern wit and pace. Unfortunately this sticks to the straight-and-narrow. Nobody's going to buy the two-dimensional main characters the shiny happy townspeople or especially the schlocky my-country-'tis-of-thee finale. In its favor The Majestic's ultimate message is a nice one. The movie does have its heartfelt moments and its '50s feel is authentic if a little polished.