Lincoln


When reflecting on Steven Spielberg's films, one doesn't have to consider if the movie was visually stunning, intelligently crafted or well-acted. Spielberg, who I consider along with Martin Scorsese to be the two greatest living Hollywood directors, attracts superior talent from among actors, cinematographers, set designers, etc. His movies are always put together marvelously, but that does not always translate into box office success. No, in appraising Spielberg's work, one asks what it is that sets his latest offering apart from the rest of his impressive catalog. In the case of Lincoln, it's Daniel Day-Lewis's towering performance as the 16th president during the weeks shortly after his re-election when he waged a historic war of politics and principles pushing for congressional passage of the 13th Amendment. In essence and effect, codifying his Emancipation Proclamation.  Day-Lewis's rendering of Lincoln is near perfection -- or maybe it is ABSOLUTE perfection for I cannot imagine any other actor pulling on Lincoln's lanky shell without even a hint of self-consciousness or theatrics. His performance is uncanny and unaffected. The other extraordinary element is the Oscar-caliber screenplay by Tony Kushner, known best as the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Broadway stageplay Angels in America. Kushner, who also wrote the screenplay for Spielberg's Munich, has put such marvelous words in the mouths of his principal players -- Day-Lewis, Sally Fields as Lincoln's slowly unhinging wife Mary, Tommy Lee Jones as Lincoln ally Congressman and radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens, among a host of others -- that I felt a little high from the loftiness of the oratory and humanity in its sentiments. Lincoln is a splendid motion picture from its totally disarming start to its (typically Spielbergian) tearful ending. Highly Recommended.

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