Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lincoln (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis does not carry an axe in this movie.
Daniel Day-Lewis does not carry an axe in this movie.

Rorschach! Freddy Kruger!
The Confederate States Of America VP!
At a glance:
While thankfully avoidin the hollow stylings in disappointin recent biopics such as, say The Iron Lady (2011), US$50mil DreamWorks/Fox project Lincoln (2012) is a laborious Steven Spielberg exposition on presidential academia, obviously aimed away from the same audiences who were lappin up Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) back in June. That is to say, this drainin, 150-minute history lesson is unapologetically talky and probably serves as school syllabus material as well as conversation fodder to the real-life U.S. presidential election in a matter of days. The same writer-director team last did Munich (2005) together, if that helps you picture what kind of biopic this is. Adapted from a 2005 biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin, it reportedly focuses on the final four months of Honest Abe's life, and central to the proceedings is the technical, even mathematical aspects of how the Thirteenth Amendment (abolition of slavery) in 1865 came to be. The timin of its release is supposed to echo the upcomin 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Bad news on the doorstep:
By now you'd have figured out that I'd appreciated more help for the uninitiated, as this movie speaks directly to those already familiar with American history. With only title cards to punctuate the course of events, my movie experience at an advance screenin at Cineplex Odeon Winston Churchill in Oakville, Ontario, was compromised by my poor familiarity on the subject matter. Perhaps you'd want to read a more qualified review, say from Variety's Peter Debruge but even he writes that Lincoln "offers a largely static intellectual reappraisal of the great orator... Spielberg's most play-like production yet... a style that will keep many viewers at arm's length."
Perennial wonderment:
Can Daniel Day-Lewis ever put a foot wrong? By most accounts, the man has outdone himself again with several months of exhaustive method actin, what with the huge amount of dialogue, he definitely did need to stay in character. However, Tommy Lee Jones as radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens provides the moral heart of the story that audiences can relate to with ease.
Sally Field got a great run-out here.
Reminds me of:
Seein Sally Field again reminds me of Forrest Gump (1994). How I wish there were more roles like these for her so we can see her more often. She played Peter Parker's Aunt May in this year's Spidey movie but I stayed away from that one. Other big name cast members I recognise include Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Lincoln's eldest son Robert), Tim Blake Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley and John Hawkes.
Most memorable line:
Probably said by Tommy Lee Jones.
Tommy Lee Jones - the most fun character here.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
Abraham Lincoln is here portrayed as an endearin storyteller and warm family man but I wished more could be brought up about how he's allegedly as racist as any other, or that he was more Jewish than Christian, or any of the less desirable qualities that have been claimed. The movie doesn't allow him much room as a table-thumpin public defender hero either because his motivations and emotions are presumed onto us without an arc. Spielberg's slave movie Amistad (1997) was more accessible to me and I'd recommend this only for DDL if you're not academically interested in AL.