Friday, November 23, 2012

Lincoln: The Great Storyteller.

Don't you just want to slap that face?
The best part of Lincoln, is the amazing tangents that Daniel Day-Lewis takes us on.  Certainly, the film is purportedly a tale of overcoming ignorant white people and changing history, but it would have been dull and predicable without Lincoln's penchant for storytelling.  Some of the tensest moments of Lincoln are broken up by a non-sequitur from the commander-in-chief.  His whimsical nature is the highlight, and it's probably enough to make the rest of the film worthwhile.

Most of the political focus is more enjoyable than expected.  The battle to pass the 13th Amendment could have easily been an exercise in sedition.  Spielberg loves to pull at the heart strings, and the subject of slavery is always good for a little rabble-rousing.  Thankfully, no one falls in love with a horse in Lincoln.  When Lincoln isn't available to tell stories, Tommy Lee Jones, a beautifully cranky old man, steps in to belittle some Democrats and generate chuckles.  Somehow, this makes the "white people saving black people" narrative feel a whole lot more effective than Hilary Swank showing up in the inner city and teaching the black kids how to raed.  And spel.

So, Lincoln is at its best, a historical comedy.  At it's worst, it's Sally Field whining and Joseph Gordon-Levitt being overzealous.  I can handle JGL adamantly wanting to take his mustache to war, but Sally Field should have been assassinated instead of Lincoln.  Absolutely every scene in which Sally Field speaks is enough to pull the viewer out of the rest of the film, and sometimes she's so insanely bad that I forgot that I wasn't watching War Horse.  Lifetime will be calling her soon to play a husband-murdering, baby-stealing transsexual.

In an amazing plot twist, Lincoln gets assassinated at the end.  It seems an afterthought considering the pace of the rest of the film, and probably should have been left out of the film altogether, but we can forgive Spielberg simply because he doesn't show Sally Field moping about it.  Lincoln is a biopic that doesn't seem like a biopic, and it's the first one in a while that I've actually enjoyed.


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