Tuesday, September 20, 2011

'J. Edgar': Is this the trailer of an Oscar contender?

By Sarah Sluis

I love early fall. As the weather changes, all the trailers for the hotly anticipated holiday releases drop, hinting at what's in store for audiences. I've already been disappointed by We Bought a Zoo's maudlin sell and shocked by The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn's racy content. Now comes the trailer for director Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, a biopic of J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime head of the FBI. This is the kind of movie that has "Oscar" written all over it, but execution is everything. The trailer raised expectations for me, with plenty of surprises and interesting facts to pique my interest and make me want to learn more about this man's political impact.

Here are some of the surprises and highlights from the trailer:

1. The biopic will cover his childhood. Judi Dench plays Hoover's mother, and their close relationship is definitely going to be used to explain his hunger for power. Say hello to Freudian mother issues.

2. Star spotting. Shirley Temple pops up in the trailer, as does another starlet with a platinum perm. When it comes to the D.C. elite, I'm pretty sure all the major leaders and power players will be represented.

3. Hoover goes to the front lines! I pictured the movie being more of an office drama, but Hoover appears to be present during certain raids. Explosions, machine guns, wiretapping and mob arrests will help amp up the drama of the picture.

4. Corruption! Hoover's known for abusing his power throughout his decades-long reign, so what to focus on? The trailer includes some illegal peeking at the file of Eleanor Roosevelt (suspected of having trysts with other women), and second, there's implications of blackmailing of the Kennedy clan. Newsreel footage of Martin Luther King Jr.'s and JFK's assassination also figured into the trailer, so Hoover's response to those events should also show up.

5. Homoeroticism? Hoover was suspected of being gay, and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) isn't the type of person to be shy about exploring that aspect of his life. In the trailer, there's a look and an emotional exchange between his "number two" Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer from The Social Network) and Hoover, but it appears to be more on Tolson's side than Hoover's. Based on the trailer alone, it appears that Hoover's too tightly wound to come out of the closet.

Before watching the preview, I was thinking to myself "Another biopic?" Didn't Leonardo DiCaprio already do the aging thing with The Aviator? And hasn't Clint Eastwood done enough serious historical dramas? Now that I've watched the trailer, I'm sold, and excited to learn more about Hoover beyond what's on his already juicy Wikipedia page.

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