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Peter Bart on Clint Eastwood and J. Edgar

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 24, 2011 at 9:40AM

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."
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Thompson on Hollywood

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."


This article is related to: Directors, Studios, Reviews, Interviews , Clint Eastwood, Warner Bros./New Line


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.