My Thoughts on Lincoln

14 Jan

A few weeks ago, I entered a theater to see the movie ‘Lincoln’. And then four score and seven years later, I left that theater.

I bet you thought I was going to write about the Golden Globes, didn’t you? Well, you’re right, that would probably make more sense. But I’m a little bit tweeted out on that one, and on a delay, so I thought instead I would write about the Spielberg-and-Kushner, much-lauded, probably-going-to-win-the-Oscar-except-that-Argo-won-it-last-night-and-does-that-change-things?, felt-like-we-were-experiencing-the-events-of-American-history-in-real-time, not-a-short-movie ‘Lincoln’. Which, on the whole, I would say that I admired more than I loved – it’s beautifully done, but you never forget that this is a NOBLE IMPORTANT film about a NOBLE IMPORTANT part of American history. But of course, I had more specific thoughts, many of them about 1776. So here they are, in no particular order:

-Daniel Day Lewis? More like Daniel DAY-UM! Lewis. (see what I did there?) Seriously, that guy is a good. fucking. actor.

-Hey, remember that time that the movie ended? It was about twenty minutes before the movie ended. Why did they do that? Lincoln walking down the stairs heading off to his fate was poignant and acknowledged the future without actually showing it. And then they showed it!! Unnecessary.

-Was I the only one who thought for just a moment that maybe an angel was going to crash through the window at that staircase moment? I sort of want to see the scene of Lincoln with the congress of angels.

-Okay, I am very happy that they made a weighty tome about a very important person and moment in American history, but let’s be honest, it would have been much more fun if it had been more like the jaunty musical 1776. Come on, you know I’m right!! There were definitely heavy moments when I thought, just sing about it, guys! Come on!! Look, I’ll do it for you:

(to the tune of ‘But, Mr. Adams’):

Mr. Lincoln, but Mr. Lincoln
Though abolition you desire with much intensity
For long-winded stories you show a propensity
So of opponents in the congress there’s a density!

See? Way more fun.

-Similarly, there’s ample room for a ‘Lees of Old Virginia’ comedy romp. There’s Lee Pace! Tommy Lee Jones! Uh,  Joseph Gordon Lee-vitt! Daniel Day Lee-wis!! It writes itself.

-Real question: is this movie going to bring around a trend for man shawls?

-Also real question, rhetorical version: how great are the actors in this movie? How great is it seeing all those theater actors? Watching those congress scenes I thought to myself, how did I not notice when this was filming!? The theater district must have had tumbleweeds blowing across it since every New York actor was off on the set. And you know who are fucking great? New York theater actors. More of them in movies, please. But not so much that they stop doing theater.

-It should also be noted that both Michael Stuhlbarg and John Hawkes were in this movie (and in the same scenes!), two of my primary celebrity dream husbands. If Nathan Fillion had been in the back as, say, a saucy delegate from New Hampshire or something, I think my ovaries might have exploded.

-Jared Harris, who played Ulysses S. Grant, also played Lane on Mad Men and David Robert Jones on Fringe. So in one year he played an American civil war icon, an unhappy British office worker in the 1960s, and a time-traveling supergenius who gets cut in half by a black hole. Not a bad year! I hope he’s one of those people who writes Christmas cards with updates included.

-I have to admit, before I saw this movie I was a little jaded about Tommy Lee Jones, and thought that he pretty much played the same thing every role. But this reminded me that although he isn’t a chameleon, he is incredibly good at showing the layers of vulnerability below externally tough characters. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing, but when I got home I found myself thinking more about Tommy Lee Jones’ character; I think I cared about him the most.

-Also points for James Spader, who looked like he was having so much fun that it gave much-needed fun injections in an otherwise not-so-fun movie. I love actors like him and Jude Law who seem freed by not being as studly as they once were; it’s like they can finally unleash the character-actor beasts within.

-Could there be a special Oscar Category for Best Intentionally Terrible Wig? Because Tommy Lee Jones’ hideously lank tea cozy of a topper deserved its own movie.


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