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Sharing Popcorn: Lincoln Movie Review

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 05:06 PM CDT
Bettie Cross:

Epic director epic subject = epic movie, right? For the most part, yes.

First of all, if you we're hoping to see Lincoln's life story, you'll be disappointed. The film only covers the period after The Emancipation Proclamation through passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery. Spoiler alert: Lincoln dies at the end (but it is not treated as a major plot point). Daniel Day-Lewis is terrific as Abe, an affable, folksy Reagan-esque president prone to drifting into folksy stories to illustrate his point. His easy-going style makes his occasional outbursts of frustration or anger that much more marked in comparison. Day-Lewis totally dissolves into the role and will probably be nominated for an Academy Award.

It's obvious that Spielberg can hire anyone that he wants, and it shows. The rest of the roles are over-cast with such recognizable actors that you can hear the audience giggle with recognition each time a new face pops up. Maybe it's because I'm a Texan, but it's hard to wrap my head around Tommy Lee Jones as a Yankee congressman from Philadelphia. David Straitharn, James Spader and Hal Holbrook are among some of the other stars you'll see in powdery wigs. Sally Field plays an unlikable, but good Mary Todd Lincoln. She swings from tortured as a mother who has lost a son to illness, to torturous as a hard-as-nails wife and First Lady.

Even Lincoln himself wasn't fully convinced that the Emancipation Proclamation would survive a negotiated peace with the South, so the clock to pass the amendment was ticking. Watching the strong-arming, sweet-talking and back-door playoffs it took to get it passed, you realize that politics really haven't changed all that much since the 1860's.
Lincoln is rated PG-13 for for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language. It opens in Austin on Fri., Nov. 16.

Ken Wilson/Ken the Critic:

Even though Steven Spielberg is in his mid-sixties, the one thing that you can tell from Lincoln is that he is still at the peak of his career.  Lincoln is basically a history lesson that we all learned about in grade school.  Lincoln is trying to pass the 13th amendment to abolish slavery while he's in the midst of the Civil War. There is a lot of chamber meetings where the Democratic Party is fighting the amendment because if they let black people be free, they believe America will change for the worst.  What's to come? Black people may be given the right to vote as well hold office and they are astonished by the very thought. President Lincoln believes that all men are created equal and pushes the emancipation.

Daniel Day-Lewis is completely transformed into honest Abe during the end of his time struggling with his family life as well as his political agenda.  Daniel Day-Lewis definitely deserves another Oscar.  Spielberg hired an all-star cast including Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones and even though their performances are strong, they took me out of the film.  They seemed to overshadow Day-Lewis for me and I wish they would have had more of a transformation.  It's refreshing that this war film isn't of World War II, but this one is really is more about Lincoln.  I also would have liked to have seen more bloodshed to emphasize how difficult the struggle really was.  The film is stunning nonetheless.  

Sharing Popcorn: Lincoln Movie Review

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