Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lincoln (and an anti-bonus and a bunch of news!)

The days when biographical movies tried to give us the whole picture of what someone was like seem to be behind us, and I can't say that's a bad thing. The only thing that movies like that have ever done is give just information to not matter. You just can't get all of history, not even the significant history, of a person into two hours.

Spielberg's new movie, Lincoln, focuses just on the event of passing the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, but, within that event, he manages to capture the essence of who Lincoln was so that we feel we are getting so much more of him. If it doesn't sweep the Oscars this year, it certainly deserves to. The screen writer certainly deserves the credit, as the script, the dialogue, was magnificent (and Tommy Lee Jones in particular took full advantage of his lines, stealing nearly every one of his scenes).

Daniel Day-Lewis also deserves an Oscar, for there was none of him in this movie. The man is amazing and frightening in his ability to assume a character. He completely disappears; only the character remains. This ability is such that he actually had to take a break from acting after his role in The Boxer, because he couldn't find himself again afterward. He spent a year in preparation for his role as Lincoln, and the result of that was that he became Lincoln. He's remarkable.

All of the acting was excellent. I already mentioned Tommy Lee Jones and how he had some of the best lines in the movie, but, really, everyone performed admirably. The performances given are a testament to the quality of director Spielberg is. I have to also specifically mention David Strathairn. He outdid himself as Secretary of State Seward. I like Strathairn, but I've never thought he was particularly great or anything, but he was great in Lincoln. As was James Spader. But I could just keep going on about the spectacular performances, so I'm going to stop. You'll have to trust me. Or go see the movie, which you should do anyway.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the movie, though, has to be one that was unplanned, because I don't see how you could plan for something like this unless you can see the future. The focus of the movie is the political landscape of the time, and, if you think things are bad now, and I'm not saying they're not, you should do some research about how things used to be. If you think our politicians take part in name calling, you haven't seen anything. Heck, they used to beat each other up or even have duels over their political positions. Anyway, the interesting bit is how the parties have changed. Abraham Lincoln made the Republican party into a viable entity, which they had not been before his election, and they were at the forefront of social justice. The Democrats were pro-slavery, anti-equality, everything the Republicans have come to be. It was interesting to see how the roles of those two parties have changed over time with, now, the Democrats at the forefront of social justice. However, it is still mostly the south that is anti-social justice. Yes, I can say that, because I came from there. I know how it is and what it's like. At any rate, it's interesting that we just had so many of the themes from the movie played out on the political stage during this past election, and it shows just how much more work we have to do as a civilization before we actually achieve social equality for all members of society.

This is a must see movie if there ever was one. It highlights just exactly why we consider Lincoln to have been our greatest president and the tragedy of his death. Go see it.

As an added bonus, I'm gonna toss in a second review, but this one is more of a warning.

I finally watched Prometheus (as a result of not having a computer), and, boy, am I glad I did not pay money to go see that in the theater. It might actually qualify as one of the 10 worst movies I've ever seen. What an incredibly lousy piece of film making, and I feel bad for some of the actors... okay, I feel bad for Fassbender and Theron for being in it. Fassbender had the only role, as David, that was worth anything, and he did a good job in the role; it's just too bad the movie was a total waste. And Theron was just there for her name in a completely worthless part.

The movie starts with a series of disjointed scenes that, in the end, have nothing to do with the movie. They're supposed to supply background, but each of them is completely useless. 15-20 minutes of movie that could have been replaced with something that actually made sense. Then, once the movie really starts, we're subjected to just about every sci-fi cliche in the book. Too many characters that have no purpose other than to be there to get killed. The scared crew members that get lost on the alien ship. The guy who is just plain stupid and tries to touch the cute little alien. The sudden storm that causes a disruption to what's going on. The dropped object while running from the storm that causes someone to almost lose her life. It was predictable and stupid. Every single bit of it.

In fact, it was so predictable and stupid that it made me not be able to stop watching it, because I kept thinking "surely, there must be something more to this." I mean, this was a big movie. It's Ridley Scott. There must be something more, right? No, there's not. The characters do things for absolutely no discernible reason and things happen because they are the things that happen in these kinds of movies. What a waste of two hours of my life.

And now for the news:

Item #1: Part 9 of Shadow Spinner will be available for FREE! on Friday, November 23.
Because it's Black Friday, I've decided to make the entire series so far also available for FREE! This is a great opportunity for you if you don't have it or if you are missing pieces (like that pesky jigsaw puzzle with the three pieces missing right from the middle) or if you have a friend that doesn't have it. That's all nine parts of Shadow Spinner available on one day for FREE! And, as an added bonus, "The Evil That Men Do" will also be available for FREE! Don't miss out, and don't let any of your friends miss out either! Deals like this don't just come along everyday! No sir! In fact, I can say that they only happen once or twice every 90 days, because that's how often Amazon let's me do it. Merry Christmas! Or, um, Happy Thanksgiving! Trust me, you'll be thankful to have gotten all 10 FREE! parts!

Item #2: Happy Thanksgiving! Save me a piece of pie!

Item #3: The Merry Christmas To All (e)Book A Day
Traveling Blogathon
(of Doom!)

Did I get all the words in there? I think I did... Yeah, okay, they're all there. Mr. Briane Pagel is hosting a blogathon where he convinces us all to give away books. "But," I said, "I'm already giving away a bunch of FREE! stuff on Black Friday; isn't that good enough?"
"No!" he said, "You must give away more! Where's your Christmas Spirit?"
So I looked for my Christmas Spirit, and I couldn't find it. It's always crawling off and hiding, so I sent the cat off to look for it, because the cat likes to get into strange places. Like this:
It wasn't in there, but there is a story behind that that will come later. Eventually, after much looking, we found my Christmas Spirit hiding under my bed. Well, maybe it wasn't hiding. I think there was something going on with the dust bunnies, but we didn't look too closely.

At any rate, Briane is hosting this blogathon thing that is all about Christmas and giving stuff away, so you should all follow this link and go read about it and, maybe, get signed up. I think it's probably even okay if you don't have a book of your own to give away, because you could always give away someone else's book, and what a great Christmas type thing that would be, because you's be supporting one writer by giving his/her book to one reader. That's like Double Christmas!

I'll be hosting on November 26, December 10, and December 17, so make sure you drop by on those days, but, also, go check out the complete list of participants at that link and make notes to stop by. I already have Monday's post ready to go, and I think it's something you won't want to miss.


  1. You're right - we wanted to like it because it was Ridley Scott. He has made duds before though. We just forget that.
    And everything I've heard about Lincoln says that it will indeed sweep the Oscars.

  2. I'll have to see Lincoln at some point. My sister the civil war buff also really liked it. I've always liked Straithern since he was in "A League of Their Own" and he's especially good in "Goodnight and Good Luck" which was another sort of biopic.

    I think you're right that most biopics don't try to give the complete story. Like last night I watched "De-Lovely" about Cole Porter on Netflix and it starts when he's in his 20s or 30s or something. If not for some mention of him being from Indiana I'd have no idea where he grew up or anything like that. Which in a way is a bummer sometimes because it'd be nice to see a little more about what's supposed to make these people tick. But there's only so much time.

    The problem with Prometheus was it was supposed to be this big epic sci-fi movie but really it was just a dumb haunted house movie, except the house was an alien planet.

  3. I went and saw Lincoln on Monday. Started sort of slow, but once it got going and the tension built it was very good. Daniel Day-Lewis is genius. So remarkable how much they made him look like Lincoln.

    Happy Thanksgiving. And you can have all the pecan pie. I like pumpkin myself. :))

  4. I... do not remember the Blogathon conversation going EXACTLY like that. But I probably was really drunk on absinthe.

    BIOPICS: I do not like them. I'm not sure why except that I don't like biographies, in general. On the subject of Daniel Day Lewis "being" Lincoln, I heard a story from Sally Field that he would text her and sign the texts "Abraham Lincoln," which makes me think that this method acting stuff is a lot of hooey because if you "are" Lincoln you probably oughta not text. But everyone's saying "Lincoln" is great, so I'm probably just biased against it.

    PROMETHEUS: I didn't dislike it as much as you did, but I did find parts of it annoying and in retrospect it didn't make much sense. I and The Boy agreed it should've been longer: there was something, I think, there that could have been a great story but in the interest of expediency much was cut out, and in the interest of cinema-ry or whatever they had to cut corners. I myself was bugged by the ARCHAEOLOGIST who somehow figured she was qualified to THAW OUT AND ELECTRIFY an alien brain to make it work and then was surprised at the unexpected results, but that's something that was done because you already had way too many people in that movie to juggle around for two hours.

    BLOGATHON: I'm going to download all your stuff for free to undermine the free market and ensure that our communist muslim president can achieve his evil goals of making sure we all have health care.

  5. This is such a relevant post for me right now.

    My wife and I watched Prometheus last Friday night and we both disliked it a great deal. I thought it was an absurdly stupid film with little point. It was almost enough to make me swear off space epics. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I'm glad you gave it the review you did. Like so many FX laden films nowadays, I think this film sacrifices story and viewer involvement for a series of silly stuff. It's another one of those films that seems like a 2 hour trailer for a film that has yet to be seen. The film makers are trying to do too much I think. I've been going back to watching older films lately--they often do a cleaner job of telling a story.

    I love biopics except I am disappointed when they make up a story to replace what would have probably been a more interesting story to hear the truth. I wish they wouldn't change things like that. I'm anxious to see Lincoln after hearing so many great reviews. In the meantime I've got Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter to watch this holiday weekend. I don't know anything about this part of Honest Abe's life. I hope they didn't just make this up. It sounds totally believable to me that a politician could be a vampire hunter. These days I might believe anything.

    Tossing It Out

  6. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't like Prometheus. I just assumed I wasn't one of the cool kids.

    I'm looking forward to Lincoln. I know nothing about him except that he was a President who was shot so hopefully I'll learn something.

  7. Alex: I think Scott is, perhaps, overrated as a director. He's only actually made a few movies that were better than adequate: Alien, Blade Runner, and Thelma & Louise (please don't say anything about Gladiator, that movie was awful). Those 3 were great, but the rest... meh at best.

    PT: Yeah, you're right about Prometheus. I think he also tried too much to duplicate Aliens but without the marines. Bad idea. Big planetary haunted house with all of the expected scares. bleh

    L.G.: Day-Lewis is scary genius. I wonder sometimes if he even knows who he is anymore.
    Hey, I like pumpkin, I just prefer pecan.

    Briane: I'm sure that's how it went. I have a transcript somewhere.
    They didn't mention the texting on the thing I was listening to on NPR the other day, but my understanding is that he only stays completely in character when he's on set. Still, he was amazing.

    So much of Prometheus didn't make sense. Why would they take the archaeologists at all? Or guys that would run away at the sight of a dead alien? Didn't they do psych evaluations on the crew? And howling? Really? It was just poorly constructed.

    Lee: That is exactly what I felt like at the end of the movie, that it was just a launching point to whatever it is that Scott really wants to do. Prometheus was so bad, though, that I have no interest in whatever he wants to do next. And it makes me scared for the new Blade Runner movie which I had been excited about.

    Sarah: You should definitely see Lincoln! From the stuff I've checked on it, it seems to be pretty right on, historically speaking.

  8. I loved Lincoln when I went to see it in theaters last weekend. It's absolutely Oscar worthy and one of the best films I've seen this year.

    Me too, I HATED Prometheus! Not my type of movie!

    Can't wait to see Life of Pi this weekend though! Still dying to see Breaking Dawn - Pt. II :(

    Great post! :)

  9. Lincoln sounds like an interesting movie. I need to go see it.


  10. Hey Andrew! I really want to see 'Lincoln', I'm all about fantastic acting and I've heard so many great things about it...I've never seen 'Prometheus'...it's just not my thing. I haven't seen any space alien type movie for 30 years because I hate them all...well, 'hate' is a strong word, let me rephrase.....I heartily dislike them all..so glad you found your Christmas Spirit under the bed...I feel you should bring some of those dust bunnies in for questioning..sounds like there was definatley something untoward going on. My Christmas Spirit was last seen rummaging through the charred remains of the General Store in Spuzzum, BC....that was years ago mind you...no telling where it is now...probably at a cafe in old Montreal, trying to order something without snails in it, in pidgeon French...anyways, have a Happy Thanksgiving Andrew...all the best to you and your family!

  11. Livia: I don't know how I feel about Life of Pi. I may wait to rent that one. However, I really want to see Silver Linings Playbook.

    Gina: You do need to go see it. Go now!

    Eve: Your Christmas Spirit wasn't responsible for those charred remains was it?
    All of the dust bunnies got away.

  12. Lincoln sounds amazing; I've always been a fan of his. ;-p I do find it somewhat heartening when I look back at the historical political situation. We aren't really getting worse, even though it feels like it. Things aren't hopeless. Look how far we've made it despite politics. We're not going to crumble and disappear. There needs to be far more change, though, and things need to get better.

  13. I'd definitely be in when it comes to seeing LINCOLN. I haven't seen PROMETHEUS, but I really wanted to. The build-up to it was so huge. But I have heard from a few people that it was "eh", and after reading your review...I dunno. I won't be paying to see it even from a video store ;) But I will still watch it so I can make up my own mind.

  14. Shannon: Yeah, things still need to get better, but, at least, we aren't stepping out and having duels anymore when we disagree.

    Trisha: I often have to see/read things to make up my own mind about them, because I like a lot of things that most people don't, so I can understand the need to see it to decide for yourself.
    However, I did warn you...:P

  15. I adore Daniel Day-Lewis. His performance in There Will Be Blood blew my mind. I'm not all that into whole iconic American icons thing, but I will look forward to seeing Lincoln for the sake of seeing a great performance. I'm glad you liked it.

    Prometheus. Wow. I was so totally looking forward to it, and yikes. It had absolutely nothing of the brilliance of the original Alien film or any of its increasingly flawed but cool sequels. It was an insult to the franchise.

  16. Elizabeth: Yeah, Prometheus was beyond disappointing.

  17. Daniel Day Lewis is a real chameleon. If he gets nominated, he should win just for his body of work.

  18. Maurice: Well, he has won two best actor Oscars already, so it's not like he's unappreciated. He certainly deserves it for this role, though.