Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lincoln: A rare IM movie review.

When my daughter was young our VERY best times together were watching movies on the weekends. It was time that was sacrosanct in our family, and NOTHING was allowed to interfere because I often worked long hours and did not have much time during the week to spend with my little girl.

As she grew older she, of course, developed her own tastes and it became perhaps the MOST easily recognized difference between the two of us. Simply put, she dislikes most of the movies that I love, and that sentiment is essentially shared on my side as well.

And to be honest, of the two of us, SHE really has the more highly developed cinematic palate. She likes art films, quirky independent films, and offbeat romantic movies.

In a nutshell, I like to watch things blow up.

In other words I usually go for the big blockbusters, or horror films, like for instance "The Avengers," the new James Bond movie "Skyfall," the "Total Recall" remake,  the Wachowski brother's "Cloud Atlas," or the horror film "Sinister."You get the idea.

Now don't get me wrong, I ALSO enjoy other less visually stimulating movies as well, However I usually choose them for my Netflix queue,  and watch them while exercising instead of in the movie theater while stuffing my face with movie theater popcorn.

However this last weekend I decided I wanted to see a more mature movie (You know one that my kid would have actually gone to with me if she were still in town), and chose the movie "Lincoln," which is based on the book by my favorite historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

I won't go too deeply into the movie (Spoiler alert, the Yankees win the war. You might want to break it to your southern family members gently.), however I will say that it was extremely good and extremely convoluted.  I actually learned quite a bit and found myself very caught up by, and entertained with, the process of passing an amendment, which essentially is the focus of the movie.

However there was one moment that almost completely took me out of the movie.

As the Republicans (Who believe it or not were the GOOD guys in this film!) were making political deals in order to get the votes needed to pass the 13th Amendment, I suddenly noticed that the movie audience, made up entirely of middle aged or elderly patrons, were quite literally holding their breath in anticipation of the outcome.

It made me wonder if they perhaps were unaware that the slavery had indeed been abolished and that there was really NO question as to the outcome of this vote. Or did the almost exclusively Caucasian crowd hope that perhaps THIS time the outcome would be more to their liking?

I'm not sure, but it was sort of comical to watch the suspense overwhelm them. I suppose that could be attributed simply to excellent film making of course.

Oh and it was indeed an EXCELLENT movie. The cinematography was gorgeous, the sets stunningly realistic, and the acting was just this side of incredible. Part of me wants to say that Daniel Day Lewis was "unbelievable" but that is actually the incorrect term to use, in that he was actually "believable" instead, and that was what made his performance so remarkable. The man was not simply playing Abraham Lincoln, he BECAME Abraham Lincoln.

All in all it was quite the movie going experience, and I recommend it for anybody who really enjoys historical dramas, good acting, or engaging writing.

I'm not saying that it couldn't have been improved by at least one costumed superhero fighting on the side of the Union soldiers, or a zombie or two livening up the Chamber of Congress, but you know nothing's perfect.

Now if you will excuse me I have an Adam Sandler movie to watch while I work off some of this movie popcorn.


  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Gryphen, I recently read Vic Armstrong's book, "The True Adventures of the World's Greatest Stuntman". Since you are a guy who likes to "watch things blow up" it's a fascinating read on how they do that. He's worked on a lot of Bond movies, etc. and the book is packed with great stories. Since you mentioned Daniel Day Lewis'portrayal of Lincoln as BECOMING Lincoln, I'll share this tidbit from Vic's book: Daniel Day Lewis plays Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in "Gangs of New York", one of the films where Vic was stunt co-ordinator. Daniel "never left character on or off the set, and scared the Hell out of everybody". To catch up with him in the hotel bar at the end of the day, he was a kind, soft spoken guy. On the set....yikes.

  2. I'm with you in my taste in movies Gryphen. Entertain me is my movie-going philosophy; either make me laugh or get my adrenaline flowing. The only exception would be a historical movie like this - total history geek here. Can't wait to see this movie - thanks for the review!

  3. Balzafiar10:45 AM

    "I'm not saying that it couldn't have been improved by at least one costumed superhero fighting on the side of the Union soldiers, or a zombie or two livening up the Chamber of Congress, but you know nothing's perfect."

    Every movie needs a chase scene and at least one Nazi to more-or-less attract patrons of a certain mindset. How about adding a high-speed wagon chase through the streets of Washington, perhaps a wagonload of Nazis trying to outrun the Feds?

  4. Anonymous10:57 AM

    I love Daniel Day Lewis! I do want to see this movie. Might be a good Thanksgiving night movie to go to.

  5. jcinco11:33 AM

    OMG, this is amazing, I was just thinking about posting about this wonderful movie I saw last night as O/T. but I see Gryph has already started a thread!! thank you! It was an incredible movie, the acting, the directing, the cast...I believe DDL to be the greatest actor of our times. I love Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook was marvelous as was Sally Fields as Mary Todd. Of course I can't go without mentioning the one I consider to be the sexiest man alive, James Spader. Yes, he's put on a few pounds and lost a little hair..makes no difference to me, he's my man & always will be!! :)
    This movie comes out at a time when many of us question just how far we are from those days of horrific racism..the r's want it to be like that again. I want my country back, they are destroying it with their hate, intolerance and racism.

  6. Anonymous11:48 AM

    Gryph! Adam Sandler?......ugh!

  7. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Am hoping to see it too.

    Funny that the topic here is about TV's. Ours just blew out last night while we were watching. Poof, gone. Today, we got a new one. All bigger and better and HD and stuff. Love historical movies, and love it even more when they steer clear of too much over-dramatization; I feel staying with the historical social norms and authentic conversational style of the day make it more enjoyable.

  8. Smirnonn11:54 AM

    Agreed, excellent film, Gryph! Movies are a wonderful way to have a "time out" from the daily grind and just spend time with friends and family. That and cooking :) Nothing got my kids more excited than having them help me with dinner only to have dinner in front of the home theater watching a great story :)

  9. Saw it yesterday...Loved it! It was funny how I got anxious during the voting scene, even though I knew the outcome..made me chuckle at myself ;)

    1. Anonymous3:33 PM

      Yep edge of seats even though we knew the outcome - of the vote, of the war,and of the assassination attempt. And we saw this in downtown Chicago- not a white, right bastion. So 'd say great film making and acting,though I do question the cheesiness of the romantic relationship of Stevens and his housekeeper as a reason for his abolitionist views.

      Loved Spader, too. But really fell in love - not with DDL, but with Lincoln.

      Heard a neat interview on NPR with the sound guy - they wound and recorded Lincoln's watch ticking - in the scene where it is suspended in front of him, it was Lincoln's carriage door closing, etc.

  10. Anonymous1:00 PM


    This might get their attention...

  11. Anonymous1:43 PM

    I really want to see this movie and I've had Team of Rivals sitting on my desk waiting until I wrapped up my school stuff. Thanks for the reviews- they are convincing me to put the writing aside and get to the theater.

  12. Just came from this movie. Brilliant performances all around. I was struck by the focus on Lincoln's sense of humor.. reminded me of our POTUS.

  13. Anonymous2:54 PM

    I am a big fan of Lincoln. Part of it is because I live in Illinois and he is a big cheese around these parts but also because I happened to have been born on the date of the Gettysburg Address. Yay Lincoln!!

    Will make sure I see this movie.

  14. Anonymous3:11 PM

    You obviously didn't see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. Didn't miss much. Not nearly as clever as Shaun of the Dead or Fido.

    Hubby & I had a rare day off together, so we opted for the new James Bond. Not disappointed--first few minutes compared favorably with the famous action packed opening of Indiana Jones. If the audience didn't get the comparison, there was another drinking contest scene.

    Lincoln is on our list, too, but here in the hinterlands, we sometimes have to wait a while before it shows up.

    1. Au contraire mon ami, I most certainly DID watch "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter."

      I figured with vampires AND Abraham Lincoln how could I go wrong? Well I did go wrong and was sorely disappointed.

      "Lincoln" is a far superior film, despite the egregious lack of vampires.

  15. Sally in MI5:00 PM

    I have felt for a long time that the south really wants another shot at the Civil War, because they are SURE they can win this time around. Look who wants to secede..not Ohio or New York. These 'patriots' still fly the Confederate flag (and we wonder how they can still be enamored with's been 150 years since the Civil War, and only four since her montrous defeat!) Look at their fears about guns and the government. They think they would be better off with NO central government, all the guns they need to shoot everyone who ticks them off, and no durn taxes to pay for safe food, air and water. Why don;t they talk to Mitt..I'm sure he has a couple islands he'd be willing to sell them. I'll help them pack.

  16. Anita Winecooler9:38 PM

    I'm a huge fan of horror and suspense movies as well, though I'm not into car chases, if they're done well and add to the plot, I'm fine with it.

    We're holding out to see "Lincoln" as a family over Thanksgiving weekend. (Our daughter's coming home from college for the first time). We'll probably squeeze in the new Bond Movie I saw the Patrick Stoner interview with Sally Field on PBS she says we'll see a much more engaging Mrs Lincoln than we're led to think, and he gave Lincoln five stars.

  17. Daniel Day definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for this because the guy is so good that it’s not even funny. Also, the rest of the cast is pretty great, too, especially Tommy Lee Jones who may be looking at another Oscar-win this year. I don’t know, though. Nice review Gryphen.

  18. Anonymous5:24 PM

    I'm an older white guy, liberal, voted for Obama twice. I saw the movie and if you were in theatre with me as the drama increased on the run up to the 13th amendment vote, then you were paying more attention to me than you were to the movie. You put me into a box into which I do not belong. You chuckled knowingly about that right-wing old white man who still doesn't know what he aactually does know.

    Had you left your attention fully on the movie rather than focusing on old white people so you could put them in a box to confirms your stereotypes of what an old white man is, doubtless you would have been equally caught up in the suspense. You would not have even noticed the old white guys.


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