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Reel Critics: J. Edgar misses the forest for the trees

Few figures in America ever hold serious political power for half a century.

Senators Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd, as well as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, are among the few who did. But no one held as much power as J. Edgar Hoover did as head of the FBI for 48 years from 1924 to 1972.

Clint Eastwood directs “J. Edgar” in old fashioned Hollywood style. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an Oscar worthy performance as the complex and enigmatic icon. Naomi Watts as his secretary, Armie Hammer as his longtime male companion and Judi Dench as his overbearing mother are all excellent.

Using flashback, the plot jumps back and forth in time. The aging FBI director dictates his memoirs while the screen illustrates the stories he tells. He begins with the anti-communist raids of the 1920s and the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. Shootouts with gangsters, civil rights demonstrations and the Kennedy assassination are all part of the background.


But all these major historical events get brief mention on screen. They take a back seat to lengthy speculation about Hoover’s odd personal life. This minimizes the impact of the big issues that could have been the heart of this film. It diminishes the full force this well-crafted film might have had.


Immortals is more style than substance

Not even the most dazzling eye candy (okay, not Mickey Rourke) can compensate for a klunker like “Immortals.”


Everything is so stylish – even the weapon of mass destruction has sequins – perhaps the producers of “300" thought we wouldn’t notice a story that makes little sense. This is such a muddle of Greek mythology. And who knew Zeus, Poseidon and the gang did Pilates.

King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is seeking a trophy (did he just call it the Epilator?) that will make him immortal and maybe remove chest hair too. He is also on a mad quest for the Virgin Oracle (the lovely Frieda Pinto) who knows where it is.

She gets a vision of Theseus (stalwart Henry Cavill) as the one to lead the Greeks out of danger. Her visions are never wrong, he’s a hottie, who are we to disagree? Sweet dreams are made of this.

If you like human shish kebab, this is your movie. Mickey Rourke gouges, impales and smashes nearly every living thing in his path with relish (hold the mustard).

We are warned that if the Epilator is found, it will unleash mayhem beyond all comprehension. Guess that means a sequel.

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender’s office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.