Lincoln (2012)

lincoln-poster_743x1100Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: Low. I expect it to be boring.

Personally:
twostar

Technically:
threestar


Contrary to what the title suggests, Lincoln isn’t a biopic. It’s the story of how Lincoln the politician, despite all the odds stacked against him, managed to pass the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States. And that’s pretty much it. If you’re not into political maneuvering, specifically 150-year-old political maneuvering, do not watch this movie. It won’t do anything for you, because it’s not for you. This one’s strictly for the history buffs, the people who gleefully dig into historical texts and huge scholarly examinations of centuries-old presidential tenures. For them, I’m sure this is easily one of the best films of 2012. But for me, it was a slow, lengthy movie that had a climax without any excitement as the outcome is already well-known by any self-respecting American. Is there really anyone out there that white-knuckled it through the vote counting scene, as the filmmaking would suggest you’re supposed to do? I highly doubt it. Maybe kids, but I can’t imagine kids would even make it that far.

My favorite scene was the film’s first, an incredibly brutal, muddy Civil War battle. I know that’s cliché for the action movie lover to say, but it’s not an action scene. It’s impeccably well-filmed, and its careful use of slow motion brings the brutality of this long-dead, close quarters style of war to life; I felt transported back in time. The following scene shows Lincoln conversing with a couple of black soldiers after the battle, and here the illusion shatters. Two white soldiers walk up, and I swear on everything that is good in this world my first thought was, “I wonder where Bill & Ted here left their phone booth.” Then my girlfriend basically said the same thing, without any prompting or suggestions from me. These guys were awful, just awful, and in the shots of Lincoln talking to these guys you can also clearly see the rain shooting in opposite arcs from the sprinklers perched above the camera’s line of sight. These are small components of a short scene in a long movie, but they were merely the beginning of my issues with the film.

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Stay Hungry (1976)

Stay HungryStarring Jeff Bridges, Sally Field, Arnold Schwarzenegger, R.G. Armstrong, Robert Englund, Helena Kallianiotes, Roger E. Mosley, Woodrow Parfrey, Scatman Crothers, Kathleen Miller, Fannie Flagg

Directed by Bob Rafelson

Expectations: Low. I just expect to see some good, young Arnold.

twohalfstar


Geez, what a weird movie. Its tone is pretty heavily in the drama department, but at times it ventures so far into absurd comedy that it’s hard not to shake your head and cautiously laugh. What’s even odder is that the film’s best and most successful bit of comedy comes right amidst the most fucked up dramatic situation, so laughing at it just seems wrong and out of place. It’s genuinely funny (strangely enough in something of a Hercules in New York kinda way), but due to the tone of everything surrounding it, it’s hard to understand what the filmmakers were going for.

Stay Hungry is about Craig Blake (Jeff Bridges), a rich kid who’s had everything given to him his whole life. His parents have just died and now he’s in charge of their estate. For some reason, he’s working for a real estate agency that is buying up properties for some shady reason I didn’t specifically pick up on. They need Blake to convince the owner of the Olympic Spa to sell his place to them, but because he’s got no ambition to do anything, he doesn’t much care about buying the place. Instead, he decides to befriend the people there, specifically Joe Santo (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Mary Tate (Sally Field), and see where that leads. He’s just so carefree, man.

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