Lincoln Movie Review
2012-12-21, 7:47 p.m.
Here is a review of Lincoln. It will spoil it all because unless you're too young to read, you know how it ends.
The movie focuses on the last few months of the war/Lincoln's life, as he's trying to get the House to pass the 13th amendment outlawing slavery (the Senate already passed it). Lincoln is convinced that (a) it's the right thing to do, and (b) it will end the war immediately. But some folks want to have peace talks (sounds like this was being done under cover) and most people want to wait and see if those pan out first. Lincoln and his bros spend a lot of time wrangling votes. The movie is one of those where most of Hollywood has a part in it, and you're just trying to figure out who the hell that familiar face is under the bad hair and muttonchops. (I love Lee Pace, but I could not peg him at all and thought Wood was being played by the guy who plays Nevile Longbottom.) Overall, this is a great profile of "How A Bill Becomes A Law, Except It's An Amendment, 1860's Version."
Daniel Day-Lewis...well, as someone who has seen "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln" at Disneyland many, many times, he has playing him DOWN. Especially the voice. Lincoln has quite the sense of humor and shows it off. He tells one story about how he defended a woman who killed her abusive husband in self-defense and how the guy even said in his will that his wife probably killed him. Nobody actually wanted to convict the woman, so Lincoln had a "private conference" with his client, told her to get a drink of water in Tennessee, and returned alone. Nobody minded. Love the frontier justice. The other story I liked (note that this starts out with a guy being all, "Not another story!" and stomping out of the room), is a joke Lincoln tells about Ethan Allen going to someone's house where they have a portrait of George Washington in the water closet. Then the house owner wanted to poke Allen with a stick about it, and Allen was all, "No, it's perfectly appropriate, because nothing gets the English to (er, polite terminology I can't recall for "shit their pants") when they see Washington." Hah.
Also frigging brilliant is Thaddeus Stevens, played by the ever-crusty Tommy Lee Jones. Stevens is all for racial equality and interracial dating, and at one point has to claim he's only for equality "legally" in order not to scare people off from the vote. Then half the room is all, "You liar, we all know how you really feel, you've said it 5 billion times," and he recovers by insulting someone and saying, "We're all equal, even this idiot." He'll say anything to get that vote passed. Stevens is great because I think he viciously insults every single dude he speaks to in the movie. The only people he doesn't insult are women. One of whom is the First Lady, who insults the hell out of him at a reception, but he can't do anything about it.The other...well, after the amendment passes, he borrows the original bill, takes it home for the night, and has his black housekeeper/girlfriend read it aloud to him in bed. AWWWWWWWWWWWWW. He also has a great line about how he's always working for the people even though he can't stand most of them, and also his wig is bad. I loved him.
Sally Field has the "token lead woman" role as Mary Todd Lincoln. Yeah, this is another sausagefest movie. There's one scene where a random woman comes in with her husband and Lincoln and his men ask her opinion of the amendment--yeah, right, would this happen? She can't vote, so what do they care? And the second female lead is Mrs. Lincoln's black lady's maid, who has a few good lines here and there. My mom loves Sally Field--my mom is the blond, blue-eyed version of him, really. She does the best she can with that character and her whopping depression/dead child issues. Lincoln's dealings with her are very well done.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Lincoln's oldest son, who hasn't been allowed to join the military and it's very socially awkward/embarrassing to not have joined up. Especially if you're him. Lincoln is all, "Well, unlike the other dads, I can make sure you don't join up," but caves like right after he says it. Though his kid does get a cushy job as some kind of aide to Ulysses S Grant, so he could be relatively safe for a few months.
There is one use of the n-bomb in this movie. There is another character in the House who flat out says that he hates black people because his brother died--and he actually says "black people," not the n-bomb. Not that I am an expert in historical language, but didn't they say "Negro" back then when they were being polite, and the n-bomb when they were being hateful? After I got home this night, I saw an interview with Jamie Foxx about making Django Unchained, and he was talking about people using the n-bomb in that movie and how that made him uncomfortable, except that was historically accurate at the time, etc. So yeah, the lack of ah...insults kind of stood out in that moment as being false.
The makers of the movie can't resist being kinda foreshadow-y at the end by having Mary be all, "History is only going to see me as your nutcase wife," and showing Lincoln's graceful "I wish I could stay, but we've got theater tickets" exit from the White House. As they showed him walking away, I thought, "Man, just stop the movie right here. I don't want to see him get shot." Well...the movie doesn't QUITE do that.They do cut to a theater scene, except it's Lincoln's youngest son Tad at the theater--another theater-- with a babysitter or something. Poor kid is just watching the show and some dude runs out on stage and yells, "The President has been shot!" And that's how the kid hears about it. It's just extra weird. Who in the 1860's sent their kid to a separate theater show? I didn't think having kiddie shows only was a thing that early in time. So the end was...off.
Overall, it's pretty good, if you are into that sort of thing/movie and can stay awake for 2.5 hours, which my fellow moviegoers ah, didn't do.