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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lincoln (2012)

As the American Civil War rages on into its fourth year, President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day Lewis) is determined that the 13th amendment abolishing slavery be ratified and he's willing to do anything necessary to push it through. Rather than focusing on Lincoln's entire life or entire presidency, Steven Spielberg and his writer Tony Kushner (ANGELS IN AMERICA) concentrate on the four month period from January to April 1865 when the House Of Representatives debated the issue as Lincoln's team attempted to collect enough votes to pass the amendment. But when a film starts with soldiers reciting the Gettysburg address to Lincoln on the battlefield, you know you're in trouble. It's Spielberg at his most manipulative. You can feel him pulling the strings, "this is where you tear up", "this is where you cheer", "this is where you gasp" etc. It's a well intentioned bore of a history lesson (I've had college professors who made American history more interesting) redeemed by two first rate performances by Daniel Day Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones and a very good one by Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and their acting is enough to pull you through the sluggishness of the movie. Even John Williams' underscore is a snooze. The massive cast includes Joseph Gordon Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, David Strathairn, David Oyelowo, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, S. Epatha Merkerson and Gloria Rueben.

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