Lincoln Screen 18 articles

Lincoln

2012

Lincoln Poster
  • Whenever Day-Lewis is required to take on other Lincolns, such as the beleaguered family man, the role seems to split into separate characters rather than deepen into a single multilayered one.

  • Day-Lewis amazes, as usual—he genuinely plays a man, not an icon—but the movie, title notwithstanding, isn't really about our 16th President. It's about the eternal battle between the executive and legislative branches, an exceedingly dry and convoluted subject that's ill-served by Kushner's verbal curlicues (at least in this medium) and Spielberg's eagerness to please.

  • Anti-romanticism is all the more ideological because it pretends to have no ideology, to be the “plain truth” that demonstrates the falsity of romantic visions. And this movie is anti-romantic because, to be blunt, it is anti-revolutionary. In this movie, “things happen” through patience and compromise, not through steadfast idealistic struggle.

  • The Academy is forever being lambasted for its wrong decisions, but I think they made the right choice here: this year’s winner, Argo, is a much more fleet and skilfully-engineered movie than this long-winded civics lecture – and, though Argo takes liberties with History (its climax is entirely fabricated), Lincoln is guilty of a more heinous sin: it views the past from the sanctimonious pulpit of the present, and condemns it for being the past.

  • Kushner’s formalized but fascinating talk often leaves little in the way of overt emotion to guide some of the movie’s very best moments; searching in vain for an emotional pinpoint, Spielberg offers moments that are surprisingly un-Spielbergian, that lend his Lincoln an impressive breadth of thought and zone of inward shadow.

  • It’s eminently watchable, but Lincoln’s larger purpose and relevance for Now remains elusive. Released against the backdrop of a contentious election in which the former party of Lincoln (the Republicans) relied heavily on racist dog-whistle cues to rally the faithful, dialogue about white people having lost their moral compass suggests one reason.

  • In large part, Lincoln manages [to create surprise and suspense around history’s foregone conclusions] by dramatising the relationship between speech and thought, thought and deed. It is a movie of minds being made up, so dependent on oratorical manoeuvring that there often seems little for Spielberg to do by way of signature ‘cinematic’ touches other than, with DP Janusz Kaminski, to pour shafts of backlighting sunbeams through windows into underlit rooms.

  • Lincoln is overlong, and as it nears its inevitable end, with the commander in chief slain off camera, the director lets his film lurch before somewhat sputtering to a halt. But what the movie finally communicates is that which seems most fortunate about Lincoln's life: Though he died as a direct result of his tide-turning actions, the president seems to have been given just enough time in this world to change it.

  • The gambit of Spielberg’s Lincoln is to humanize this almost mythic figure. Its triumph, thanks largely to an erudite and ambitious screenplay that places utter faith in the intelligence of its audience, authored by the playwright Tony Kushner, is to do so without trying to deconstruct his greatness.

  • If this is Oscar bait, then that term has somehow been radically altered. (Leave it to Spielberg to rewrite the rules.) Defiantly intellectual, complex and true to the shifting winds of real-world governance, Lincoln is not the movie that this election season has earned—but one that a more perfect union can aspire to.

  • Directed by Spielberg from a screenplay by Tony Kushner that at times attains startling rhetorical beauty and intimate grandeur, this film portrays a man who is every inch the American hero and ideal of yore yet also a moody sage, a sly political genius, an emotional sponge, a moral compass balancing contradiction and compromise.

  • [Spielberg] has outdone Griffith and Ford and then some, crafting a thrilling, tragic and gripping moral tapestry of 19th-century American life, an experience that is at once emotional, visceral and intellectual. In a mesmerizing collaboration with a great actor (Day-Lewis) and a visionary writer, Spielberg has captured Lincoln as a shrewd political leader and a man of his time rather than a brooding philosopher-poet on a pedestal (although there’s some of that too).

  • As imagined by Spielberg and Kushner, Lincoln’s Lincoln is the ultimate mensch. He is a skilled natural psychologist, an interpreter of dreams, and a man blessed with an extraordinarily clever and subtle legal mind. A master storyteller who speaks in parables and employs slyly self-deprecating humor, he is a small “d” democrat glad to converse with anyone, willing to shoulder the solitary burden of historical tragedy, and, although capable of righteous wrath, ruled by compassion for all.

  • The combination of Steven Spielberg and America’s most beloved President might seem like a recipe for sentimentality. But the surprisingly spare, riveting Lincoln is after something more complex. At once a further mythologizing of Honest Abe and an absorbing demystification of 19th-century politics, it’s one of the most mature films Spielberg has made.

  • Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is a work of sufficient richness to instantly invite repeat viewings. It is a history film that dares to pile on verbal and visual details thickly and rapidly enough that a second viewing may be necessary simply to register all that is going on.

  • There's so much palpable, productive tension between past and present in this film; between historicity and mythologization; usefulness and verisimilitude; intimacy of scale and staggering ambition; the ebullience of triumph and the specter of grief; aching beauty and the pervasive stench of death. It's a cinematic equivalent to the profound power of Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address.

  • [The scene where Lincoln and his wife talk about his dream] could be read as either an arbitrary acknowledgment of Lincoln's documented interest in psychic phenomena or a brief opportunity for Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski to reprise their watery fishbowl motif from Minority Report, but it really serves the more interesting, ambitious purpose of establishing Lincoln as a comedy of the narcissism that binds prophecy with political policy.

  • Weird. Because at a text level, this is exemplary. But I’m coming around to the idea that Spielberg isn’t quite suited to it, his usual paternal obsessions and emotional crescendos shoehorned (chillily) into a narrative about compromising your beliefs and/or playing dirty for a perceived greater good.

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