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Film reviews

Feb 7, 2013

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Don't rushSteven Spielberg’s critically venerated biopic of America’s beloved top hat wearing president, which arrives gift-wrapped in a thick padding of ‘for your consideration’ packaging, says more about the veteran director’s approach from what it doesn’t depict.

I kept waiting for a single moment that never arrived, that distinctively Spielbergian scene of full dairy flair that comes every time he makes a historical and or/ political film, of which Lincoln — set during the American Civil War, when Honest Abe set about freeing the slaves — is both.

There were the obscenely parochial bookend sequences in Saving Private Ryan (1998). The wreath-laying epilogue in Schindler’s List (1993). The way the horse cranes its head, against a crimson sunset in War Horse (2011). The glazed image of Djimon Hounsou in front of a sapphire-tinted starry sky in Amistad (1997). Spielberg’s record of historical recreations is well documented — which is to say, expect a dollop of cheese.

The closest we get in Lincoln is a warm fuzzy fade from the golden light of a candle to the impeccably well dressed man of the hour, but cheesy isn’t the right word. It’s a handsome transition that fits the tone and atmosphere of the film hand in glove. There’s also an opening scene in which four soldiers recite to Abe the Gettysburg address, and it plays a little too stagey, a little too contrived. But that distinctively Spielbergian moment never arrives. Continue reading “Lincoln movie review: four snore and seven years ago”

Daniel Day-Lewis and Abraham Lincoln

News arrived last Friday that Daniel Day Lewis, the picky, brilliant 53-year-old method actor who famously demanded to be carried around the set on a stretcher during the filming of My Left Foot has signed on to play Abraham Lincoln in an upcoming biopic to be directed by Stephen Spielberg.

Since The Boxer (1997) Day Lewis has appeared in only four films: Gangs of New York (2002), The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005), There Be Blood (2007) and Nine (2009). He got nominated for an Oscar for two of them (Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood) and won for There Will Be Blood, which – hello understatement – is a pretty decent strike rate. Continue reading “Daniel Day-Lewis to star as Abraham Lincoln in Spielberg biopic”