November 23, 2012

Lincoln

A riveting political and legislative adventure, and a biopic of Abraham Lincoln, all rolled into one. Daniel Day-Lewis does a perfect job. We know Lincoln (and Day-Lewis) too well to ever forget this is a movie, but he does a perfect job of what we can realistically expect from a man playing such an icon. This feels like a perspective of what the man was really like.
I really appreciate biopics that use one pivotal event to describe a man. My main problem with A Beautiful Mind is that it covered decades of the man's life. Most of Lincoln covers a few weeks only, the leadup to the House vote on the 13th Amendment. Spielberg (with writer Tony Kushner) create a West Wing-style political thriller that feels completely contemporary, while simultaneously depicting Capitol Hill, 1865 in all its colorful differences.I especially loved the hallways of the White House and the Capitol Building clogged with office-seekers and constituents petitioning their government.

What a wonderful cast. One critic wrote "If Day-Lewis weren't in the movie, then Tommy Lee Jones would have stolen the whole thing" and I agree. I especially liked the lobbyists Seward hires to sway Democratic votes: James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson? What a trio! Spader is especially colorful - clearly he and Spielberg felt the movie needed to be leavened with levity.

It must be nice to be Spielberg and cast whoever you want in your films: I count SEVEN Academy Award winners or nominees in the cast:
  1. Daniel Day-Lewis
  2. Sally Field
  3. David Strathairn
  4. Hal Holbrook
  5. Tommy Lee Jones
  6. John Hawkes
  7. Jackie Earl Haley

Fun Fact: Hal Holbrook and Joseph Gordon-Levitt share a birthday, February 17 (56 years apart)
Theater Note: Before I had a child (and babysitters) I didn't care when a movie started. Now I am pissed off when they start showing 20 minutes of trailers at the time the movie is scheduled to start.
(With Emily, Black Friday 2012, Aviation Plaza Linden, NJ)