In an earlier post, I mentioned how movie reviews can be a great place to learn GRE vocabulary in context. Whatever your perception of movies is – whether you see them as a trashy, debased form of art, or as the apotheosis of creative expression – movie reviews are usually written in a thoughtful, probing manner.
Below is a nuanced take on the new Leonardo DiCaprio Film, “J. Edgar”, based on the life of the much reviled 20th century figure J. Edgar Hoover.
I recommend reading the entire article – though here, I’ve excerpted only one paragraph.
Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” is, of all things, a portrait of a soul. The movie is a nuanced account of J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a sympathetic monster, a compound of intelligence, repression, and misery—a man whose inner turmoil, tamed and sharpened, irrupts in authoritarian fervor. Eastwood and the screenwriter Dustin Lance Black have re-created that period in the nineteen-twenties and thirties when a righteous young man with a stentorian style could electrify a nation. Outraged by scattered bomb plots and shifting values—what seems to him the moral chaos of modern life—Hoover senses that Americans need safety, or, at least, the illusion of safety, and he becomes the vessel of their protection, exercising and justifying, with ironclad rhetoric, his own dominance.
Nuanced (adj.) – subtle, have many different shades
Turmoil (n.)– a violent uproar; chaos; commotion
Irrupt (v.) – to break forth violently (think of erupt)
Authoritarian (adj.) – absolute (in terms of rule); autocratic, domineering
Fervor – passion and ardor
Stentorian – describing a voice that is loud and powerful
Ironclad – (in terms of an agreement or rule) one-hundred percent
Again, I would recommend reading the entire article, and looking up all those words you do not know.
For the intrepid out there – write your own movie review using twenty GRE words (they don’t necessarily have to be from this article). Of course, that movie does not have to be J.Edgar, which, despite the David Denby’s panegyric, is mostly getting tepid reviews. And, as much as possible, try to mirror Denby’s writing style, i.e avoid writing sentences like, “The movie was very lugubrious”.
Good luck, and, if you feel like you’ve written a Denby-esque review, send it this way, and I’ll excerpt a little of it on the blog!