Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lincoln ain't stinkoln!

  As a man who is neither a student of history or a follower of politics, you would think that Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" would be the last film I would want to see. Although it IS a very political film, and very much a "talking heads" film, I have to say- I enjoyed it immensely. This is to be a spoiler-free review, so don't worry if you haven't seen it yet.
  For one thing, acclaimed director of photography Janusz Kaminski makes this film's visuals absolutely soar. The photography, lighting, composition is nothing short of brilliant. If he doesn't win the Oscar, I'll eat my hat. I don't often wear a hat, but I'll make an exception in this case. Kaminski has worked with Spielberg many times, including on "Munich," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Schindler's List," all of which were equally beautifully photographed.
  While we're talking about brilliance, let me also praise Daniel Day Lewis, who I think is one of the best actors working today. His Lincoln is absolutely incredible. There's been talk in some circles about the voice being odd, but if you look beyond the modern Lincoln stereotype with the deep voice, and go back to the actual man, you'll find that Lewis absolutely nailed it. He spent an entire year finding this character and perfecting Lincoln's "thousand yard stare" and his regional dialect. He speaks like Lincoln, looks like Lincoln, and moves with Lincoln's tall, stooping gait. Again- Oscar. Nobody else stands a chance.
  The supporting players are fine, too, including Tommy Lee Jones as a biting Thaddeus Stevens, and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Joseph Gordon Levitt is great as always as Lincoln's eldest son, Robert. James Spader and his band of miscreants are hilarious, and David Strathairn turns in a solid performance as William Seward.
  As far as historical accuracy goes, I can't say. Often, filmmakers will alter dates or combine several real life characters into one amalgamation in the interests of brevity. There are conspiracy theorists who claim Lincoln didn't really give a damn about slavery, and only wanted to reunite the country because the government was losing money due to most of the nation's seaports (and taxable trade) being in the south. I prefer to go with the version of history that I learned, and the one that's on display here.
  If you are easily bored, or only like movies where lotsa stuff blows up real good, don't go see this film. If you want to get an amazing insight into one of the most volatile periods of our nation's history, and an intimate look at one of our greatest presidents- or you just want to see a very well made film- do go see Lincoln.

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