Wednesday, April 24, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "Lincoln"

MOVIE REVIEW
Lincoln
_______________________

I finally got the chance 
to see Lincoln. And 
although reviewing a 
film six months after 
its release is about as
 relevant as analyzing 
the Electoral College 
breakdown of the 1976 
Ford Carter election,
I still felt compelled 
to share.
 _______________________

Thank goodness movies today aren't always about sexy vampires dealing with their complicated lives, sexy teens battling each other to death, sexy teachers struggling to finance a boob job, or vulgar teddy bears. Sometimes in our sophisticated iGadget era, substance and quality actually prevail over that — other stuff.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Lincoln is truly epic. And as a true blue American history buff, it was right up my alley.

Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, the film offers considerable insight into the personality and character of America's 16th president, Abraham Lincoln — a man who was arguably the nation's all-time greatest leader — a man who, in fact, was NOT a vampire hunter.

Oh sure, the two-and-a-half-hour running time might be a bit long for some movie fans, and it may move a bit too slowly for others. But Lincoln recreates in gritty detail a tumultuous chapter in our nation's history — a story that requires and warrants ample time to play out. And there is much to be learned here. Lincoln projects vivid snapshots of war, death, hatred, rotting bodies, severed limbs — and in the end, freedom for all. Now that's a story — one that should appeal to even the most savvy Call of Duty enthusiasts. Shouldn't it?

More specifically, the film focuses on the last few months of Lincoln's life in early 1865 — primarily his efforts to pass (force) the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution through the U.S. House of Representatives. An objective considered impossible to achieve by most Washington insiders of the day.

And I certainly buy the accounts of Daniel Day-Lewis remaining in character throughout the film's production, as he seemingly became Abraham Lincoln — a well-deserved 2013 "Best Actor" Oscar nod indeed.

For her part, Sally Field's portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln was nailed perfectly. Oddly, when I think back to what I learned about Lincoln in school, what comes to mind first is not the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment or his tragic assassination — what I recall first are the disturbing accounts of his wife's often unstable behavior. Likely suffering from what doctors today would diagnose as bipolar disorder, Mary Todd endured near constant migraines and bouts of depression throughout her adult life. Truly a no-nonsense-type gal, the First Lady was over-bearing, to say the least — reportedly beating her husband across the nose with logs. Even Mary Todd herself confides to her husband late in the film that history would likely reflect more on her mental illness than on his accomplishments.

Other stellar Lincoln performances include David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward, the ever-ass kickin' Tommy Lee Jones as Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Jackie Earle Hardy as Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, James Spader in a less slimy than usual role as lobbyist William Bilbo, Lee Pace as the unlikable loudmouth New York Democrat Congressman Fernando Wood, Bruce "D-Day" McGill as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant.

Yes, American history, particularly presidential American history is my bag, man. And I applaud Steven Spielberg for bringing this chapter of our nation's history to the big screen — and for doing so without making Abraham Lincoln a vampire teddy bear school teacher who's trying to finance a boob job while abolishing slavery. Hey, ya know, that just might work!

-Christopher Long
(April 2013)

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4 comments:

  1. So, If Abraham Lincoln was a vampire teddy bear school teacher who's trying to finance a boob job, who would have been the Zombie? There's got to be a zombie....

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now THAT'S a great question, Vince!

      The zombie would have been Jefferson Davis, played by Woody Harrelson.

      Thanks for asking.

      TTYS,
      Chris

      Delete
  2. Fine review Chris. Had a great time with a movie that not only informs, but entertains a lot as well. Wish school was more like that, then I definitely wouldn’t have been dozing off so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Dan the Man! Long time, right?

      Ah yes -- some of the most restful zzz's of my teenage years were acquired in class. But you're right, this film succeeds where our public school system now fails. Great observation.

      TTYS,
      Chris

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