Sunday, January 06, 2013

Lincoln

I'll go see anything that Spielberg puts out. But I also feel like I'm pretty honest with myself about whether or not I think the movie is any good or not. So ... with that stated, I think this movie is very very good. In fact, if Spielberg had just fired Tommy Lee Jones's makeup person, I'd rank this even higher. It is definitely Spielberg's best non-animated film since Catch Me if You Can and possibly even Saving Private Ryan.

In fact, I'd put this up there with Private Ryan and Schlinder's List as top Spielberg "serious" films. No question. He should make more historical films when they are this good. It's interesting - he already made one film that largely focused on a legislative battle over slavery (Amistad) but this one was much better.

Part of what makes it so good is the non Spielberg-ness of it all. No overwrought John Williams score (although John Williams did do the score.) No melodramatic crap. The first scene is post battle - he didn't even give us a battle scene - and I love that.

Daniel Day-Lewis can be cartoonish in a good way. Luckily, there's no cartoon here. He brings the complexities of Lincoln to life. And I loved his voice. I'm not an expert on Lincoln but the Tony Kushner script did a good job of pulling together different strands of his life in an entertaining, concise way. I loved the stories Lincoln would tell to drive home his point - they seemed rambling at first and then would become crystal clear by the end. And it was a smart move to limit the film to just a few months at the end of the war.

The drama is compelling and the political maneuvering is fascinating. The indoor cinematography is great as well. What's not to like about this film. Now all I've got to do is see that Michael Apted film about the legal battle in England to abolish slavery and see how it compares to this.

Directed by Steven Spielberg
2012
Times Sq. 25

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