Movie Monday: ‘J. Edgar’ in limited release

Secret agent man

J. Edgar gets off to a shaky start, but it grows on you. Our first sight of Hoover is of DiCaprio pinched into an overdone old-man latex mask that looks comical, like Lord Voldemort in a Brooks Bros. suit. The film is bookended by the sunset of Hoover’s life while recording his memoirs, and the start of his career, only until about 1935; that leaves a generation of villainy during the Cold War and Civil Rights Movement almost untouched by Black and director Clint Eastwood. Some things had to come out, of course; but the gap feels gaping.

None of this is to say Dustin Lance Black’s (Milk) screenplay doesn’t succeed on several levels. He portrays Hoover as a spiritual brother of Norman Bates: Emotionally arrested, mother-obsessed (a scene where he dressed in his dead mom’s clothes is singularly creepy) and expressing his frustrations in inappropriate ways.

3 out of 5 stars. Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Judi Dench. Rated R. 145 mins.  Now playing in limited release.

—  Rich Lopez

Dustin Lance Black, Leo, weigh in on ‘J. Edgar’

You can read my review of J. Edgar here, but check out this interview by Chris Azzopardi with J. Edgar screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and actor Leonardo DiCaprio:

No milk for Dustin Lance Black — the 37-year-old filmmaker who says he feels 10 years older today — on this recent morning in a suite at a Beverly Hills hotel. Instead, the screenwriter is nursing a hangover after the premiere J. Edgar, with a bottle of water, joking that “it just means more honest answers; the filter’s down.”

Even without the last drops of Jack and Cokes flushing from his system (proof: lots of bathroom breaks), Black’s always spoke his mind. It’s how the writer has become one of the most admired LGBT activists of our generation, passionately speaking out on hot topics like Prop 8, being a lapsed Mormon and curious dinners with Taylor Lautner (more on that later).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Black defends ‘J. Edgar’s’ gay content

Last week, I wrote about a report that Clint Eastwood was getting snippy at questions about the “gay side” of his biopic J. Edgar, about the closeted FBI director. The script was written by Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (right), who has had some success with gay profiles (Milk). Well, now Black goes on the record to the film’s defense. In Next magazine, he says this:

“I wrote this with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine company, and there was never any limitation in terms of where I could or should go except they were very interested in finally figuring out the truth about Hoover. We all wanted to find out what really happened. What was his sexuality. What did it look like. I wanted to get to the truth of his political work and the things that deserve applause and things that were heinous. The gay stuff was only ever going to be a third of it. It’s not Milk, but it’s there. When I finished a draft I liked, and think I got to what the truth is, it’s a story that reflects what gay life was like pre-Stonewall, which was very different from what it looked like for Harvey Milk. That’s the script Clint and the studio read and I’ll tell you what — not only did Clint and the studio never cut or change a word, they never had a note about it. Clint said some things that were so incredibly moving that he understood the struggle young gays go through today. If anything, Clint made it even more human and universal.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio sound like they are about to de-gay Black’s Hoover script

In an interview with GQ, Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio under-emphasize the gay aspect of tyrannical FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s reign in their upcoming biopic, J. Edgar, E Online is reporting. Considering that its screenwriter, Dustin Lance Black, won an Oscar for his screenplay to another gay bio, Milk, their comments sound very disrespectful. Sigh. Well, we still plan to see it. It comes out Nov. 9.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Surge in homophobic comments on the air can only mean one thing — it’s football season!

Dan Hampton, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman who now apparently works as an analyst for the MSG Network, used a homophobic metaphor to disparage the Dallas Cowboys on the air over the weekend.

“The Cowboys think they’re Clint Eastwood,” Hampton says in the above video clip. “They’re more of the Brokeback variety if you know what I’m talking about.”

Hampton’s co-host responds by saying, “No I don’t, please explain.”

Instead of explaining the Brokeback comment, Hampton goes on to make an even more offensive one. Referring to an upcoming game in which the New Orleans Saints host the Minnesota Vikings, Hampton says, “The Vikings need to go down there and hit that town like Katrina.” (Video is below.)

What an idiot. Let’s hope MSG cans Hampton by the close of business Tuesday. If they do, we’re sure it will be mostly because of the Katrina comment. After all, homophobia is probably encouraged on these stupid shows to boost ratings.

UPDATE: Hampton has apologized for the Katrina comment on Pro Football Weekly, but not for the homophobic remark about the Cowboys.

—  John Wright

DMN columnist Dreher calls me 'a neurotic teenage girl' and 'a screaming meemee'

Last week I called departing Dallas Morning News opinion columnist Rod Dreher an “accessory to murder” for his recent piece attacking the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, an organization designed to protect LGBT youth. Well apparently Dreher just couldn’t handle this at all, because yesterday he lashed out on his Crunchy Con blog by calling me “a neurotic teenage girl in the body of a grown man” and “a screaming meemee,” whatever that is. Ironically, Dreher’s childish, homophobic rant is tacked onto the end of a blog post that features recent comments by Clint Eastwood, who laments in talking about his new movie “Invictus” that we’ve seemingly become a nation of intolerant, juvenile extremists. So basically, Dreher proceeds to do exactly what Eastwood is railing against. In case you’re wondering, Eastwood is a libertarian and a supporter of full LGBT equality, and I’m pretty sure he’d say the only thing we shouldn’t tolerate is intolerance — or, in other words, people like Rod Dreher.

UPDATE: I just noticed that Dreher’s new boss was one of the largest individual donors to Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in California. Dreher is leaving The DMN to work for the John Templeton Foundation, which is headed by John M. Templeton Jr., who along with his wife gave about $1 million in support of Prop 8. Templeton was criticized for the donation since the John Templeton Foundation claims to be apolitical and is in fact barred from political activity because it’s a 501(c)(3). Shocking!!!

—  John Wright