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Lincoln (2012) Review

It’s tough to say what we have more of: Movies that Steven Spielberg attaches his name to, or the number of reviews for Steven Spielberg movies.  Maybe Mr. Spielberg should take his name and endorse my reviews so views and comments will finally pop up.

The hype surrounding Daniel Day-Lewis as President Lincoln has swelled so much that it seems to have left Anthony Hopkins as Alfred Hitchcock in the dust.  Does anyone else find it creepy how close Anthony Hopkins name is to Anthony Perkins from Psycho?

But enough digressing, we’re here to talk about a movie guaranteed to sweep up Oscars simply for being the cinematic equivalent of a typecast.  And if you think Oscar bait can only work so many times, need we remember the eye-rolling predictability of The King’s Speech winning Best Picture two years ago?  The very premise of Lincoln is a catalyst for what the senile blokes at the Academy are suckers for: Lincoln’s strives to pass the thirteenth Amendment.  Some have even taken the film’s plot as reason to stake claims that it really isn’t about Lincoln, that the film deserves–get this–a different title.

This type of claim only then begs the argument: Just where does the focus lie?  Is it really on Lincoln or the days leading up (and in) to the abolishment of slavery?  Or is it really about the role Lincoln played in the closing days of the Civil War, leading to one of history’s greatest landmarks?  It’s ultimately one of those cases where what you bring and expect from the film is going to directly impact how you react.  What must be made clear is that this is far from a character study, since the naysayers do have a point in that Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t have much to work with.  In fact, I can’t even point to an arc in the Lincoln we’re given on-screen.  What’s at his disposal is less a character and more a role, a piece of history.  The man is literally a walking speech, a story waiting to happen (which the film pokes fun at).  We get so much of this that I actually wanted less talking and more silent emoting or brief responses between characters.  Our first scene with Lincoln actually accomplishes this in a proper way, making the President seem more human and less like a piece of theater.  It’s just a shame this doesn’t define his other key moments and might leave you constantly disillusioned.

If Lewis isn’t convincing us with his make-up and testing us with his speeches, then it’s Tommy Lee Jones who sweeps up our attention and laughing strings.  As Thaddeus Stevens, Jones is the political embodiment of a riot–and then some.  The man practically steals what short scene him and Lewis share as he proves to be that scumbag character you’d disparage in real life but want to elect as a character.

Even for a slow, two and a half hour movie, there are still points of Lincoln that feel tragically abandoned.  One key area is with Joseph Gordon Levitt as Lincoln’s son, who’s only given so much time and doesn’t leave much of an impression, save one bitter scene.  The film seems to subtly hint at the development of a relationship or dynamic between the two, yet this is never truly realized.  Granted, this asks another whole plotline, and all the while the focus is stuck on the 13th Amendment.  Still, we definitely could have had a few minutes more with Lincoln Jr. so as to get a plate without room for sides.  Most of the interactions take place between our political characters and, if not them, then Lincoln and Sally Field as his wife.  The two have a rough passion in both their roles and between each other, which makes the realization they’re married simultaneously convincing and shocking.

Clearly, Lincoln seems to be filmed and released for the sake of being a showcase for its talented cast.  This is all some of us really need in order to become immersed and, if your theater is anything like mine (people three to four times my age) then an applause is only inevitable.  But something tells me the reasons for such a reaction will vary from person to person.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Blog, Film, Film Review, Movie Review, Movies, Review

 

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Quote Review: Bowling for Columbine (2002)

“If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?”
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”

Moore’s works clearly aren’t intended for everyone, and though one might argue his recent films (Fahrenheit 9/11) don’t hit the right mark, what can’t be denied are the valuable points made here. It’s incredible that even with the film having been released nearly a decade ago, we still have the same problems going on. And like a proper documentary, the analysis we get throughout most of the film isn’t the (only) final point made. Yet what’s best is that Bowling for Columbine doesn’t try to force its own ideas, but rather leaves the audience wondering what to think and do after watching. The topic being discussed is more important than the filmmaker’s own views or personal thoughts.

What did you think of Bowling for Columbine?  Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

 
 

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Quote Review: Dances with Wolves (1990)

“The only word that comes to mind is harmony.”

Probably Costner’s single greatest accomplishment, the story told in Dances with Wolves is one that’s every bit as familiar as it is resonating. There’s a definite level of honesty throughout as the cast give the Sioux Native American tribe justice. Enough emotion is created without going overboard, and it’s nice to see that the film doesn’t end on a preachy note. It might be lengthy, but because of all the enrichment present, anyone interested in the film’s tale shouldn’t have a problem staying seated for 3 hours (or longer for the even more fulfilling extended cut).

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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Quote Review: Hugo (2011)

“Don’t forget to smile.”

Hugo succeeds as a beautiful tribute to the passion of film-making while possessing a strong heart to both its characters and its story. It’s a rare feat, and especially so given what Martin Scorsese has directed for his entire career. As a result, Hugo easily manages to be one of the year’s best releases and a must-see for anyone with a distinct passion for the history and beauty of film.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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Quote Review: Zodiac (2007)

“I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him.”

Describing Fincher’s Zodiac as a serial killer thriller would be like saying 127 Hours is about a man stuck in a canyon for five days. Rather than being a spiritual sibling to 1995’s Seven, Zodiac instead takes the ultimate path of an ambiguous mystery for its journey. The time-span and investigation jumps forward very repeatedly, essentially to the point that it’s easy to become annoyed by the film’s inability to stay in one setting for enough time to settle down and develop. Then again, this is more or less what the film also tries to express through the runtime, particularly with Graysmith’s character. In the end, Zodiac goes from being easily dismissible, to borderline convoluted (not necessarily for the wrong reasons) and, by the time the credits roll, leaves your head with the feeling it’s come out of a fatal boxing match.

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in Film Review, Movie Review

 

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