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Lincoln – back to a simpler time

Paul Peterson

I know I should once again be swimming with the masses but then again it might be getting a little late for that given my age and impending dotterage. So while I make you twist in the wind for one more week to figure out whether Team Edward or Jacob has my fancy, or while we all wait breathlessly to see if Kristen Stewart has developed even one acting skill, I need to review Lincoln.
As much as I predicted, Denzel Washington will receive a nomination for his role in Flight, Daniel Day Lewis will win it for Lincoln.
Who is this guy?
He’s the Meryl Streep of dudes.
While I know it’s important that actors like Sean Penn help us live our lives by telling us how to vote and think and raise our children, I actually prefer my actors to act and then shut the hell up.
Day Lewis does exactly that. He emerges from the shadows of his most recent role, becomes whatever character he’s assigned, and then recedes to jolly old England. Lewis is Lincoln. This is the definitive role. Until now, I think the Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure Honest Abe was the gold standard but this is now the bar by which all others will be measured.
It is an Oscar worthy performance.
He’s humble and soft spoken and really is of the people, but capable of brokering back room deals that will eventually free the slaves.
He loves his wife even if he’s a little afraid of her and commands attention and inspires loyalty. He is a moral man but not locked into ideology. His struggle is to get the 13th amendment passed before the war is over because he knows the southern states will kill the amendment. He needs the war to end, to stop this senseless slaughter, but not until he has his amendment.
It’s an agonizing struggle and Lewis captures the range of emotions and struggles facing the humble man from the backwoods.
The film is directed by Spielberg. You may have heard of him. Adapted by Tony Kushner for the screen from a book by the preeminent historian in the US Doris Kearns Goodwin, this is an amazing gathering of talent.
The supporting cast not only is all star, but their roles are meaty and significant. Tommy Lee Jones as the Rep torch bearer on abolition is really strong. Every time I think that cat’s career is about to assume room temperature, he pulls a phoenix. He’s very good here and might see a supporting actor nod. James Spader, David Strathairn and Joesph Gordon-Levitt all play significant roles in portraying Washington back in the day This is not the capital we see in Washington This Week. This is a den of thieves and carpetbaggers and while Lincoln might be motivated by doing the right thing, the people who support and oppose him seem to care nothing about the issue and only whats in it for them.
It’s a tough watch at times.
You have to be into the issue
You have to commit to the film
It’s long and there are a lot of speeches.
A lot.
Lincoln weaves this spell and then there’s the pontificating by Tommy Lee and Straithairn. Lots and lots of speeches.
It’s distracting.
If you don’t know much about American politics this will be an eye opener.
Spielberg focusing his camera on this portion of Lincoln’s life and eventual death is a good choice. It shows the politics and the philosophy that eventually result in one of the worst periods in history being brought to an end, and we need to watch this film and have the kids in school watch this film and get people talking about it.
Lest we forget can apply to a lot of things.
We’ve come a long way but there is always room to move further along and remembering where we came from is always a good idea.
This is a biopic in the great tradition of that genre and this team pulls off a cinematic triumph.
See this film in the cinema. It deserves the broad canvas a theatre offers.
Take someone with you.
It’s a great film and an even better story.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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