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Thread: Lincoln

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    Lincoln

    Saw Lincoln yesterday and thought that Daniel Day Lewis, James Spader, Tommy Lee and Sally Field gave amazing performances! One of the better films I've seen in a long time Agree? Disagree? Discuss

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    My take on it: the performances were amazing. The movie itself as a movie - not so much. I can still see the performances in my mind's eye, but not any specific scenes. I had forgotten the movie part by 24 hours later.

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    I thought the acting was fantastic, my only complaint is I had trouble keeping track of all the different politicians portrayed, so it got a little confusing for me.

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    I was disappointed in the film. Daniel Day Lewis was brilliant, as expected. And the attention to detail given to the political process was commendable - but IMO, no very interesting.

    And some of the political discussion was way over the top.

    In short, I thought the film had too many old white men with scraggly/ugly beards, and some of them were rather lousy actors.

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    Loved it! The actors were top-notch. There is so much written and filmed about Abraham Lincoln -- he is an outsized, larger than life figure (have you ever seen the Lincoln Memorial in person?).

    There simply aren't sufficient words to describe the beauty, truth and immediacy of the great acting performances. I didn't even recognize James Spader. I think to enjoy the movie, you kinda need to know or understand the back-story and something about politics and about history, and about acting, and about the 1860s -- the way people lived then, and about the Civil War, and indeed about filmmaking. Also, perhaps it might help to have read Doris Kearns Goodwin's remarkable book: Team of Rivals, upon which the story is loosely based. Goodwin's book was over ten years in the making. When Spielberg learned that Goodwin was writing a book, he secured the film rights from her before she was even close to finishing the book -- he admired her writing and her knowledge of history and politics that much. It is a huge book and a full biography of Lincoln that (despite everything already written about him) yet sheds fresh light on certain aspects of his life, and of his Presidential administrations. It explores not only his life, but the lives of the men in his administration. The film, just like the book really places readers/ viewers (inside the frame) in the moment with these extraordinary historical figures. They live and breathe, and it feels like we are taking part in their daily lives.

    But the film had to be pared down to focus on only one significant aspect of Lincoln's heroic out-sized life and presidency. The script went through numerous overhauls. It wasn't until Tony Kushner (Pulitzer-prize winning playwright) came aboard that the focus began to take shape. I think it was a good decision for them to focus on the amazing battle to pass the 13th Amendment, with just giving a flavor of other aspects such as Lincoln's relationship with his wife and sons, and his relationship with the men in his administration, in particular with Secretary of State William Seward (portrayed by David Strathairn). I didn't know a lot about Thaddeus Stevens who was a leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives. He was also a radical abolitionist. What makes the film fascinating beyond the Lincoln portrayal is the parallels with politics and political battles today. Nothing much has changed except for the amazingly ironic fact that the Republican and Democratic parties today are so different from their makeup and philosophies back then.

    The other fascinating thing about this film is the astounding wisdom and foresight that Lincoln possessed. He knew that it was not enough that he had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He had to get the 13th Amendment passed in order to ensure that slaves would remain free, at least in the legal sense of the term ... as indeed African-Americans continued to struggle for their actual freedom and for their rights as citizens and human beings well into the 20th and 21st centuries, inspiring other so-called "minorities," ethnic groups, women, gays and lesbians, etc., to battle for their rights and freedom too. A highlight of the movie is when Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln (and he IS Lincoln in this movie) explains to the lesser mortals in his administration exactly why he needs to get the 13th Amendment passed, and why it is the right time to fight for it, and why it is so urgent and necessary.

    Sally Field is astonishing as Mary Todd Lincoln. If Sally Field, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Tommy Lee Jones don't all win Oscars, along with Spielberg for directing, justice will NOT be served.

    http://news.yahoo.com/video/lincoln-...220018087.html Great interview with Steven and Daniel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=...ture=endscreen Great interview with Sally Field re the role

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/rac...lm-fest-377317 Article on buzz about the film

    http://awardsline.com/2012/12/20/tom...porting-actor/ print interview with Tommy Lee Jones

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thaddeus_Stevens Wow!

    http://awardsline.com/2012/12/19/sal...actress-oscar/ print interview with Sally Field

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hdvyvLhw2s unrelated to Lincoln -- Sally Field's youngest son presents her with an HRC (Human Rights Campaign) award -- very poignant
    Last edited by aftershocks; 12-27-2012 at 10:35 AM.

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    So, aftershocks, I take it you really liked the film then?
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    I am a big Civil War buff, so I am really looking forward to seeing this.
    Can't wait till I get over this Flu or whatever the heck I have so I get out and see some movies.

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    I really liked it, but it might be because I'm comparing it to the other movie I saw recently Les Miserables. You really see the differences between a director who knows what he's doing (Spielberg) and one who thinks he can make a movie around a sequence of close-ups (Hooper). I liked that it concentrated on a specific point in Lincoln's life instead of trying to cover everything and enjoyed Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones.

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    I couldn't wait to see it, and I saw it in its first week. I really liked Lincoln, for the acting (particularly DDL), and for the details Spielberg put in it. I liked it that the movie focuses on a very short time in Lincoln's time in the WH, and on his legacy- abolishing slavery/13th amendment. It was exciting to watch history on the silver screen. I felt that it lacked the intensity of some of the other top movies (I have not seen ZeroDarkThirty yet). Still, this should be a strong contender for Best Picture. I am rooting for it.

    I have not read the book 'Team of rivals' but I heard that only a very small part of the book is used in the movie.

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    ^^ Yes, Doris Kearns Goodwin's book is a huge tome which explores Lincoln's entire life with a major focus on his Presidential administrations, including wonderful portraits of the men in his first administration, many of whom were his political rivals. That's why it was so difficult and took so long for the filmmakers to come up with a script for a 2 1/2 hour movie (which is long for movies, but not nearly enough time to do the entire book justice). They were smart to focus down, particularly on the historic passage of the 13th Amendment which was not a slam dunk to pass like those of us who are not political or Civil War era history buffs might have thought. Goodwin's book could easily be made into a 12-hour mini-series and still not cover everything she wrote about Lincoln's life and the lives of the men in his administration. Her book is a tour de force.


    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post
    So, aftershocks, I take it you really liked the film then?
    Yes indeed, I really enjoyed the film and I could watch it again to discover more of the nuances. I like that the film is challenging to watch and to fully understand. The way it is written, directed and acted treats the audience like they are intelligent human beings who have minds of their own. It makes the audience (those intelligent enough to be intrigued and challenged) want to seek out more information about the characters, the incidents and the time period. The film provokes, challenges and entertains at the same time. Some people don't like Steven Spielberg or his movies, but he is truly a master filmmaker who often makes the complex look simple and easy.

    I like the meticulous attention to detail (authenticity of that period). They beautifully reconstructed the way the Lincoln White House looked during the 1860s, which I found compelling and educational. And once again, both the Goodwin book and the film have a depth and immediacy that places readers/ viewers inside the story, like we are part of it. We can see and feel the humanity, the inner and outer struggles, the flaws and human frailties, the prejudices, the complexities, as well as the heroic qualities of some characters and of the time period in which they lived. It's a film and so of course it provides in essence only a small snapshot, but it does so with a great deal of resonance and specificity.

    BTW, I don't feel that Lincoln is the greatest film ever made, or even the best that Spielberg has ever made, but it clearly is a very good film created with a great deal of devotion, integrity, expertise, and attention to detail. I neglected to mention in my earlier post that Tony Kushner also most definitely deserves an Oscar for the screenplay (adapted from another source). I will be very disappointed if at least Kushner, Field, and Day-Lewis don't win Oscars and Golden Globes for their work (and SAGs also for Field and Day-Lewis). I think Spielberg, and Jones deserve the Oscar and other awards too (and even James Spader should be nominated), but granted there are a lot of wonderful films, directors and actors contending for deserved honors this year, so it may not be a slam dunk for Lincoln to win Best Picture and Best Director, but it will surely be nominated in a number of categories for all the major film awards.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129z0IN6y3k Interview with Joseph Gordon-Levitt who portrays Robert Todd Lincoln

    Interesting interview ... especially the part about how Spielberg made the set environment so easy and conducive for actors to do their best work, and how Spielberg centered everything on the set around Daniel Day-Lewis, even to the point of always addressing him as "Mr. President."

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    I definitely want to see Lincoln again, because I am sure I missed a lot of the details in my first viewing.

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    To be honest, while Daniel Day-Lewis (will win Oscar easily IMO) and Sally Field were solid and gave good performances. The film itself was rather disappointing. You could definitely tell it was Spielberg's handywork by the "Look at us!" "Look at what we did!", and "Look how great we are!" It was a rather blatant attempt (in my view) to buy Oscar votes for best picture with the kind of feel-good story that Oscar voters love. It just kind of wrecked the whole thing for me.
    Kyle

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    Interesting true story. I was at my dentist's office having my teeth cleaned. The dental hygienist told me about her friend who is a waitress at a local restaurant in the foothills of Western CT which is frequented by Daniel Day Lewis (there are a lot of celebrities and movie stars who have houses there). One day her friend was his waitress and she had the audacity to tell him that she didn't like "his film". After he had paid the check and left, there was an outsized tip(this is far less than an upscale restaurant), with a note on the napkin that addressed her by name with the message that he apologized that she hadn't enjoyed the film and that the tip was in refund for her movies tickets!

    Upshot: She's an idiot and he is the ultimate class act!

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    ^^ Wow, amazing ... both the audacity of the waitress and the absolute classy response by Daniel Day-Lewis. After hearing that story, I admire him even more if that's possible. You can tell from DD-L's interviews how utterly kind, intelligent and reflective he is as a person, as well as how devoted he is to his craft. DD-L is so NOT full of himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sk9tingfan View Post
    Saw Lincoln yesterday and thought that Daniel Day Lewis, James Spader, Tommy Lee and Sally Field gave amazing performances! One of the better films I've seen in a long time Agree? Disagree? Discuss
    I'm going to go see it after the New Year (as well as Les Miz) when I finally have some decent time off. I've heard such great reviews and I love ALL of those actors! I'm sure I won't be disappointed. I didn't know James Spader was in it-my first memory of this actor is from "Pretty In Pink" when I was a kid! I loved him best in "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" though.

    Quote Originally Posted by sk9tingfan View Post
    Interesting true story. I was at my dentist's office having my teeth cleaned. The dental hygienist told me about her friend who is a waitress at a local restaurant in the foothills of Western CT which is frequented by Daniel Day Lewis (there are a lot of celebrities and movie stars who have houses there). One day her friend was his waitress and she had the audacity to tell him that she didn't like "his film". After he had paid the check and left, there was an outsized tip(this is far less than an upscale restaurant), with a note on the napkin that addressed her by name with the message that he apologized that she hadn't enjoyed the film and that the tip was in refund for her movies tickets!

    Upshot: She's an idiot and he is the ultimate class act!
    I just don't think it was very polite of her to make a negative remark about his film. Something like that could have spoiled his enjoyment of his meal. I feel bad for Mr. Lewis-and what a class act he is indeed!

    Okay aftershocks-you've talked me into buying Ms. Goodwin's book! I'm intrigued! And thanks very much for all the links! I'm having a good time reading through them!
    Last edited by Sasha'sSpins; 12-29-2012 at 05:24 AM.
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    I agree that the movie, while having some OUTSTANDING performances, is a bit flat for me. However, I thought the choice of focusing on the passage of the 13th amendment was brilliant. It allowed Spielberg to show Lincoln as the consumate politician that he was, and DDL brought that to life with his incredible performance.

    It is very much worth seeing the film, just to see the excellent acting. DDL will easily win an Oscar, Sally Field might too. And I think the adapted screenplay might as well. But I doubt the film will.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    There simply aren't sufficient words to describe the beauty, truth and immediacy of the great acting performances. I didn't even recognize James Spader. I think to enjoy the movie, you kinda need to know or understand the back-story and something about politics and about history, and about acting, and about the 1860s -- the way people lived then, and about the Civil War, and indeed about filmmaking. Also, perhaps it might help to have read Doris Kearns Goodwin's remarkable book: Team of Rivals, upon which the story is loosely based. Goodwin's book was over ten years in the making. When Spielberg learned that Goodwin was writing a book, he secured the film rights from her before she was even close to finishing the book -- he admired her writing and her knowledge of history and politics that much. It is a huge book and a full biography of Lincoln that (despite everything already written about him) yet sheds fresh light on certain aspects of his life, and of his Presidential administrations. It explores not only his life, but the lives of the men in his administration. The film, just like the book really places readers/ viewers (inside the frame) in the moment with these extraordinary historical
    Thanks for your mention of this book. I picked it up yesterday and am enjoying it very much! What a great read!

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    ^^ Glad you are reading the book, KCC. I need to revisit it myself since viewing the film.

    So, Lincoln has received the most Oscar noms, which isn't too surprising. I am very impressed with the film and with the acting in particular, but as I mentioned before, it's not the greatest film ever made. I haven't seen many of the other nominated films, but I hope to at least before the Academy Awards broadcast.

    Today I came across the linked NPR interview with civil war historian, Bruce Levine, who interestingly points out some of the historical flaws in Spielberg's film.

    http://www.npr.org/2013/01/08/168793...uilt-a-new-u-s

    I do think that Spielberg was cognizant of the fact that Lincoln's views vs those of the Radical Republicans in regard to slavery is a very complex and multi-layered issue, which he could not effectively treat in a 2 1/2 hour film. In addition, I think Spielberg's small scenes with the black soldiers, the blacks entering the halls of Congress, and the reactions of Lincoln's butler and the comments/ scenes with Mrs. Keckley (Mrs. Lincoln's seamstress and devoted companion) were intended to give a flavor re the complexity of issues that we as intelligent viewers would necessarily have to look more into beyond the film for deeper knowledge and understanding. There might have been a better or stronger way for Spielberg to emphasize within the confines of his film the extent to which black people were fighting for their own freedom and advancing the cause of freedom, but a totally different film will likely have to be made to do that subject full justice. Perhaps it is a subject Quentin Tarantino should tackle for his next movie project. I haven't seen Django Unchained, but I mean it looks to me from the trailer like been there, done that many times before, especially in the 70s (albeit the 70s is QT's aesthetic). But that's a different thread topic.

    Obviously, Spielberg's aim is a loving and humanly balanced portrayal of Lincoln, not necessarily a specifically accurate to the letter portrayal. However, I agree with the civil war historian, Mr. Levine, that Spielberg could have provided a bit more context re how the 13th Amendment first came to be proposed, i.e., it was not a pet project of Lincoln's from the beginning. He came around to it later with a hefty push from Thaddeus Stevens and the Radical Republicans. The way Spielberg crafts this persnickety complexity in the film is perhaps a bit too simplistic, but again Lincoln IS the hero of Lincoln.

    It seems to me that Thaddeus Stevens' life and career is colorful and fascinating enough for it's own full-length film, with Tommy Lee in the role. On NPR, near the end of his interview, Mr. Levine also tries to downplay Stevens' rumored intimate relationship with his "quadroon" housekeeper, Lydia Smith. But there seems to be enough evidence to show that they were at the least "extremely close" (see Wikipedia entry for Stevens). The fact that neighbors affectionately called Lydia Smith, "Mrs. Stevens," and that Thaddeus Stevens left Lydia a large sum of money in his will, and that they were both raising the nephews of her deceased former husband ... Well, Mr. Levine's humming and hawing about Stevens and Smith on NPR seems a bit reminiscent of the knee jerk denials by numerous historians for years re Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his wife's maid, Sally Hemings (DNA evidence along with anecdotal evidence has proved beyond a reasonable doubt Jefferson's long term sexual relationship with Hemings).

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    I just got back from this film and my two takeaways were that I knew it was a Spielberg film in the first 5 minutes, and I had no idea that I was going to see a comedy. Lots of jokes. The most enjoyable thing about the film was identifying the actors in bit parts. As a narrative, it didn't have anywhere near the emotional impact that the music and moody lighting indicated. DDL was great though.
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    I saw it yesterday and thought it was very interesting. I spent part of today reading about the 13th amendment and some of the people portrayed in the film.
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