Saturday, November 24, 2012

Spielberg's 'Lincoln': An Extraordinary Movie

Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is all you have every right to expect from a man who can make movies as well as they can be made. I don't know if this is his best, but it's close.

The riveting and brilliant script by Tony Kushner, based on Doris Kerns Goodwin's Team of Rivals, covers four months near the end of President Abraham Lincoln's life when he was fighting hard to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (freeing the slaves) passed. The writing is as a much a star in this production as anything else, and there is plenty of competition for "star" status.

Spielberg's direction is all but flawless: measured, dark, thoughtful and often very funny, as you would expect from Lincoln. Several actors had me whispering "Academy Award" as the movie progressed. Daniel Day Lewis' Lincoln is, of course, exemplary. Sally Field nearly steals the movie as Mary Lincoln, a woman with more problems than you can possibly imagine. David Stratharian, as Secretary of State Seward, is forceful and often dominating. There are a dozen others (including Tommy Lee Jones) who have moments of brilliance--all combining to give a look, a feel and a sound that rings with authenticity. (By the way, look for Kevin Kline as a wounded soldier in a tiny cameo role.)

Makeup, lighting, set design, sound ... all of it are first level, but it's the story that is simply extraordinary and worth the two and a half (three if you run into the technology glitch we hit) hours you'll spend in the theater, living a piece of American history that could have come from the halls of Congress yesterday. You'll recognize many of today's personalities and you'll see a House of Representatives that is the equal of today's in its absolute inability to understand its responsibility to the American public.

Heck of an experience.


  1. So I watched "Beasts of The Southern Wild" last night. Your post about it is so misleading. It's a beautiful film. The only point you made that I agreed with was about the shaky cam. It was totally unnecessary. Melancholia had the same issue. Other than that though, it was damn near perfect in every way. If you couldn't understand the accents then maybe the audio system wasn't balanced well.

    I also watched "The Life of Pi" and it was even better. Almost perfect. There's a lot of films I'm looking forward to seeing before Lincoln, but I've heard nothing but good things about it. Does he kill all the vampires?

  2. I was going to see "The Life of Pi," but now that you've endorsed it, I think I'll see something else. Our tastes couldn't be more different. "Beasts" was simply awful.

  3. You know what I hate? When I write a thoughtful reply and then accidentally click something and lose it all.

    "Life of Pi" is heaps better than "Beasts". We actually have a fair amount in common and it's possible that our disagreement over "Beasts" is just a one-off thing. If you see "Pi" and leave the theater disappointed, then we can cease all movie-related communication. I feel confident that you won't, can't be disappointed by "Pi".

    I'll leave you with a link to my "Pi" review but I'll spare you the upcoming "Beasts" review when it's done. Also, while you're there you might check out the excerpt from my new 99 cent ebook, short story.

  4. Dusty: Hmmm. How does one publish a 99-cent e-book?

  5. I ask because that's about all mine are worth.

  6. That's how I felt too. Just figured I'd give it a try. I used Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. There are a bunch of different options to choose from. To price at 99 cents you have to choose a 35% royalty rate. 70% rates are only for books priced 3.99 and up. However, 70% rate doesn't include all amazon territories, plus there's download charges that are waived with the 35% option.

  7. Dusty: Thank you, sir. I'm thinking of updating and re-issuing my memoir (trouble with memoirs is that you're not dead when you finish and I've done a lot of living--some of it very successful and instructional--since the book was done).