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Thompson on Hollywood

Eastwood, DiCaprio, Hammer, Black Talk J. Edgar: DiCaprio Wanted to Gain Weight

The crowd at the Los Angeles County Museum screening of J. Edgar rose to their feet when three tall straight guys—Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer—joined diminutive gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black onstage at the Bing for a Q and A moderated by the NYT’s Charles McGrath. While Eastwood grew up with top cop J. Edgar Hoover, Black and his cast did not, and had to pore through reams of research to understand the restrictive mores of a time when to be openly gay was simply not allowed. DiCaprio and Black seemed more critical of Hoover—“he was a political dinosaur at the end of his career,” said DiCaprio, “he was a crockpot of eccentricity…didn’t adapt to civil rights…was obsessed with power”—while Eastwood seemed more admiring of Hoover starting thumbprints and his quest for law and order. That tension is in the movie, for better or worse.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 6, 2011 10:13 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar: Review and Round-up

All eyes are on the last batch of major year-end movies to be factored into the Oscar zeitgeist. Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, at least, will play better for the older Academy--many of whom lived through the decades depicted in this ambitious J. Edgar Hoover biopic dominated by Leonardo DiCaprio's moving performance in the title role--than the wider moviegoing public. Eastwood acknowledged this during his intro at Thursday's AFI FEST opening night unveiling at Mann's Chinese, thanking Warner Bros., his home for 41 years, for supporting so many offbeat projects that were not mainstream: "Sometimes they turned out pretty good," he said. Indeed, Eastwood has delivered a consistent string of quality films, even after his career peaks, the Oscar-winning Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. Written by Milk's Dustin Lance Black, J. Edgar cross-cuts between the old Hoover, not willing to release his hold on the reins of power after 48 years and eight presidents (many of them afraid of his secret files), and flashbacks to his life from age 19 through his rise to power at the Bureau of Investigation (eventually the FBI). Hoover started out responding vigilantly to terrorist violence and wound up corrupt, paranoid and egomaniacal. More details and a round-up of early reviews are below.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 4, 2011 7:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments

Oscar Talk: DiCaprio vs. Clooney, J. Edgar, Muppet Movie, Young Adult’s Theron, War Horse

  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 4, 2011 10:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Oscar Talk: Shame's NC-17 and Fassbender, Whither Clooney, Chastain, Doc Race, Year-End Critics

In this week's Oscar Talk, Kris Tapley and I debate the Shame NC-17 issue. Will Fox Searchlight be able to push Michael Fassbender for an Oscar nomination? (I weigh in on this here.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 28, 2011 4:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Peter Bart on Clint Eastwood and J. Edgar

Clint Eastwood, the wily old coot, has long been adept at winning friends in influential places, and knows how to work the press better than anyone. His usual early-screening suspects include such critics as Scott Foundas and Todd McCarthy. Perhaps betraying his lack of awareness of how behind-the-pay-wall Variety is, Peter Bart was one of the hand-picked folks tipped to an advance Carmel Film Festival showing of J. Edgar, which opens the AFI Fest November 3 before hitting theaters November 9: At a moment when Hollywood is flailing about with tired remakes, Clint Eastwood, one of its more senior filmmakers, seems more determined than ever to stake new ground. His gripping new film "J. Edgar" is the polar opposite of contemporary studio product -- a searing biopic about a megalomaniacal right-wing ideologue. Under his four-decade reign, J. Edgar Hoover used the FBI to blackmail presidents and manipulate the media to mold his image as the nation's lone protector against gangsters and "Bolsheviks." Top politicians and reporters were scared to reveal that J. Edgar (superbly played by Leonardo DiCaprio) was a mama's boy with a gay lover. Eastwood's picture opens Nov. 9, so I am not going to review it here other than to say that it's consistent with Clint's legacy. His protagonists are a study in surprise -- who else would roam from Dirty Harry to Walt Kowalski (of "Gran Torino"), from Josie Wales to Nelson Mandela, from the troopers of Iwo Jima to a "Million Dollar Baby."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 24, 2011 9:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments

AFI FEST Books Polanski's Carnage as Gala Centerpiece, Adds Screenings

Following the lead of Venice and the New York Film Festival, this November's AFI FEST has booked Roman Polanski's four-hander comedy Carnage (December 16) as its gala centerpiece at Mann's Chinese on November 5th. Adapted by Polanski and Yasmina Reza from her hit play God of Carnage, the movie stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly. Here's a round-up of reviews and look at the film's award prospects.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 18, 2011 6:10 AM
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  • 0 Comments

And the Nobel Prize for Film Goes To...

And the Nobel Prize for Film Goes To...
Seeing that the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded last week, to Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, Matt Brennan got to thinking: What if there were a Nobel Prize for Film? This week’s “Now and Then” column revels in some of the possibilities. Check out the trailers and post your own picks in the comments section below:
  • By Matt Brennan
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  • October 10, 2011 5:07 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Poster Watch: Eastwood's J. Edgar Features Angry Multi-Colored DiCaprio

New word on Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar from someone who has seen it: Leonardo DiCaprio is even better as the old J. Edgar Hoover than he is as the young one. The movie, written by Milk Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black, cuts back and forth between the beginning and the end of Hoover's stellar five-decade FBI career, and suggests the tragedy of a hidden romance between the FBI chief and his longtime assistant Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). And yes, DiCaprio gives an Oscar-worthy performance. "To me, it's really a story of how absolute power corrupts absolutely," the star told EW. "He was always an outsider."
  • By Anne Thompson and Sophia Savage
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  • October 7, 2011 4:19 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Oscar Talk: Ides of March's Clooney vs. Gosling vs. Hoffman, Supporting Categories

Oscar Talk: Ides of March's Clooney vs. Gosling vs. Hoffman, Supporting Categories
Now that we've both seen George Clooney's political thriller The Ides of March, Kris Tapley and I dig into not only Oscar prospects for that film, but the list of supporting players in contention for this year. We also debate the respective box office fates of Drive and Warrior as well as how success in theaters impacts a film's awards chances. (CORRECTION: Yes, Clooney won best supporting actor for Syriana and not Good Night, and Good Luck.)
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 30, 2011 4:15 AM
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  • 2 Comments

Descendants, Clooney, Streep Top Gurus 'O Gold Oscar Rankings

Descendants, Clooney, Streep Top Gurus 'O Gold Oscar Rankings
The Gurus have spoken. Post-festivals, Alexander Payne's The Descendants (1) has taken over the frontrunner spot from Steven Spielberg's unscreened period war adventure War Horse (2). Interestingly, Spielberg was considering submitting the film to Venice but decided not to do so. He usually likes to wait until the last possible minute to show his films. It's better NOT to be at the head of the pack, anyway. The Descendants' George Clooney (1) is also at the front of the Best Actor race.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 27, 2011 5:10 AM
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  • 2 Comments

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