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Featuring an impressive performance from Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, and the beautifully understated direction of Clint Eastwood J. EDGAR ($36) is a well-crafted and highly entertaining film biography of the legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Told largely through flashbacks, J. EDGAR looks at the life and career of J. Edgar Hoover… a man of secrets, who kept tabs on everyone and was feared by everyone, even presidents, due to the information contained in his secret files. DiCaprio is mesmerizing to watch throughout the film, whether it be as the overly ambitious youthful Hoover, who is still bound by the apron strings of his mother Anna Marie (Judi Dench), or as the older and somewhat self-deluded Hoover, who comes to revel in power, and begins to believe the revisionist history of his own public persona as truth. J. EDGAR dances around aspects of Hoover’s private life and his personal relationship with his protégé, FBI Associate Director Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer), depicting it as a chaste longtime love affair, due to Hoover’s self-loathing of his own homosexuality… something instilled in him by an overwhelming maternal bond. The cast of J. EDGAR also features Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Damon Herriman, Jeffrey Donovan, Ed Westwick, Ken Howard, Stephen Root, Denis O'Hare, Geoff Pierson, Lea Thompson and Gunner Wright.

Warner Home Video has made J. EDGAR available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation beautifully renders Tom Stern’s darkly stylized cinematography. J. EDGAR offers impressive sharpness and fine detail in the image, although shadows loom large on good portions of the film, giving the false impression of less detail. Texturing is excellent and facial details, like fine lines and imperfections in the actors’ skin are readily evident. Hues tend to be rather subdued throughout, as though the cinematography were trying to emulate black and white in a color film. Blacks are pitch perfect, and the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast has been given a stylistic push, while some shadow details are purposely obscured. The elements from which J. EDGAR has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. A fine level of grain gives the image a nicely organic appearance.

J. EDGAR is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design isn’t particularly aggressive due to the fact that J. EDGAR is a dialogue driven dramatic story, with period settings. As expected, the forward soundstage dominates with strong channel separations that enhance a few more active sequences. The surround channels doe come into play from time to time, but largely offer ambient sounds and musical fill. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is impressive, which largely benefits the musical component- namely Clint Eastwood’s jazz influenced score. The bass channel keeps the sound effects grounded, but the bass is limited by the nature of the material. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French 5.1 Dolby Digital channel track is also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as J. Edgar: The Most Powerful Man In The World, a brief program on the real life man. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray. An authorization code is provided for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film, which is just a stream away.

As I stated above, J. EDGAR is a well-crafted and highly entertaining film biography of the legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The Blu-ray presentation is quite excellent. Recommended.


J. Edgar (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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