Mr. Hoover And I

The last film of radical documentary filmmaker Emile de Antonio (Point of Order, In the Year of the Pig), completed only a few months prior to his death in December 1989, proves to be not only a moving testament to the power and conviction of his career but also a remarkable formal departure that’s pungent and provocative. Addressing the camera, de Antonio mounts a comprehensive frontal attack on J. Edgar Hoover, discussing in detail his own FBI file, which he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and which ran to more than 10,000 pages. He proceeds from there into a witty and forthright self-portrait that includes a lengthy conversation with composer John Cage about indeterminacy, a discussion with a college audience about the McCarthy and the Iran-contra hearings, and a good many personal reminiscences. De Antonio comes across as an excellent raconteur and a lucid political thinker, and his unorthodox method of cutting between several different blocks of material creates a number of interesting ambiguities. In all, a fascinating, self-reflexive personal essaycomparable in some respects to Orson Welles’s Filming Othello. (JR)

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