Saturday, December 22, 2012

Film Review: LINCOLN

This afternoon it was snowy and cold, and with my husband recovering from surgery--don't ask-- going out in the weather was ill-advised. Still, craving an experience, we went to see "Lincoln," figuring it's two-and-a-half hours someplace warm, with popcorn. Plus we heard it was good, and for me it would also be educational since I ignored the Civil War years in high-school and thus know only what I gleaned from "Gone With the Wind" (which FYI was a whole lot better movie, what with Rhett and Scarlett's passionate affair, although personally I preferred Ashley.) Directed by Steven Spielberg, that nice Jewish boy who had thrilled us in the past with too many movies to mention, what's not to love?

Turns out plenty.

First of all--and I hope I am not giving anything away here-- by the time Lincoln gets shot I was glad to see him go. Played by Daniel-Day Lewis, a dead ringer for the penny (see photo), he is sober, somber and serious to the max; no wonder his wife (Sally Fields in what I hope was a fat suit) was so depressed--Abe was such a downer! Talk, talk, talk, and given to long, meandering stories that were not at all funny, although I suppose he was considered "droll" back then, before Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld invented humor as we know it today. Okay, so he freed the slaves, and that was a great thing, but who knew he did it in such an underhanded way, sending out his minions to snag votes by any means to pass the 13th Amendment?

Oh well, you can't change history, and I am not going to slide down the rabbit hole of politics right now. This is a movie review and Hollywood is the issue, not Washington. The fact is that far too much time is spent in dark, smoky rooms crowded with a lot of speechifying, gray-faced, paunchy men sporting wigs, mutton chops, top hats, waistcoats and watch fobs. The film's opening scene holds such promise, with soldiers stabbing each other on the field of battle and grinding each other's faces into the mud. It was quite a spectacle, with that cast of thousands we have seen before, and I was prepared to hold my hands in front of my eyes for much of the movie. That proved unnecessary, as the only other time we saw battle was shortly before the end when Lincoln surveyed the killing fields of St. Petersburg, and by then everyone was already dead. (I certainly hope those were not real horses.)

All this was set to a sound track suitable for any funeral, making the whole experience bleak and dreary. An exception was Tommy Lee Jones, who of course acted circles around everyone else, although his wig was so silly and ill-fitting you could hardly watch. Also fun was the formerly hot and now just vaudevillian James Spader, who injected some life into the proceedings by saying "fuck" a couple of times. In the end it's a feel-good movie: you leave feeling really good about the invention of electricity and the decline of the top hat.

1 comment:

  1. I went away feeling stupid.....the Republicans back then acted like the current day Democrats and I wondered how that happened....