(Steven Spielberg, 2012)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Daniel Day-Lewis' incredible performance anchors Spielberg's wordy political drama allowing the narrative an access point to reign supreme over the masses.
'Lincoln' could well be the least 'Spielberg'-esque film Steven Spielberg has ever made. Gone are the sweeping vistas, epic action scenes and even John Williams' score is talked down from the usual dizzy melodic heights, but that's not to say that 'Lincoln' is dull, even when the majority of the scenes are interiors of people in wigs and suits talking about American politics.
Tony Kushner's script largely dispenses with backstory, instead focussing solely on the last four months of Lincoln's presidency - a time when the president (Day-Lewis) worked hard to end the American civil war while abolishing slavery just before he got assassinated. He's got a haunted, depressed wife (Sally Field) to care for and confide with, just as his son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is returning home determined to enlist in the war that Lincoln is prolonging just enough to pass his historical 13th amendment to end slavery.
This is no family drama; there are a lot more characters to contend with. Lincoln's main confidant William Seward (David Strathairn) hires smarmy WN Bilbo (James Spader) and his associates (John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson) to secure some votes from the opposition even if it means playing dirty, prompting a great scene in which Spader, Lee Nelson and Hawkes perch themselves from the upper seats of the United States House of Representatives observing how politicians squirm at proposed bills, knowing which ones would be easily led and which are off limits before they move in for the real hunt.
During these all-important moments set in the Constitution debates, Tommy Lee Jones does his best work in years as abolitionist Republican Thaddeus Stevens - a man of secrets, passion and biting wit forever in danger of falling on his own sword but he'd set himself up for the fall just to get a point across to an audience.
Jackie Earle Haley plays the leader of a Confederate delegation heading towards Washington to negotiate peace but that'll never happen if he knows about the plan to abolish slavery - remember that slaves were dealt with as a commodity and such a move would effectively strangle half of the civil war's economy. The military angle is portrayed by a splendid Jared Harris as Ulysses S. Grant. There are plenty more angles too, all populated by excellent actors whose familiarity and grace helps make the complex ideas much easier to follow, but it's Lincoln (and indeed Day-Lewis) who so masterfully guides his audience towards their places on the domino board with his warm stories, simmering passion and even jokes before sitting back to watch the pieces fall with such stately intellect.
More moments of Lincoln on his own would've gone down well, but instead we get to see a man of the people turning the cogs with brave precision - there are only a few scenes of Lincoln at his most vulnerable and the assassination isn't even one of them. Instead he's seen as a fixer who glides through society almost like a ghost, willing people to change their minds with his stature and authority.
There would be a temptation to make this an all-American flag waving epic, but this is a true political drama. It is less concerned with American history or even the president himself. Instead, it spellbinds its audience with a guided tour of the political machine. It could be any country at any time - the interactions here are universal.
Kushner's script has so much to say, urgently pushing out so much great dialogue via the trained mouths of some of Hollywood's finest. That is joy enough, but when the message is so important it makes the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. Spielberg wisely lets Kushner and Day-Lewis spearhead the endeavour, but while his usual flourishes are subdued there is no denying that this is a master director at work. And this is a true American masterwork.
Watch the UK theatrical trailer and view more stills from 'Lincoln' HERE at Cinemas Online.
Other film news
The turning point for the modern Mexican horror genre occurred in 1993, when a certain Guillermo Del Toro burst onto the scene with his inventive and brilliantly creepy film Cronos. Del Toro, along with the likes of Alfonso CuarÃ³n and Alejandro G IÃ±Ã¡rritu, went on to carve out careers in Hollywood, the latter two directing acclaimed Oscar-winning films The Revenant and Gravity, and pushed open the doors for a new wave of young Mexican directors. CuarÃ³n and IÃ±Ã¡rritu, no less, have given plaudits WE ARE THE FLESH, the extraordinary and unsettling debut film from Emiliano Rocha Minter
Jeff Bridges seems to have been around forever, but has undoubtedly improved with age like a fine wine. Bridges secured his first major role in The Last Picture Show in 1971 but did not pick up his first Academy Award until 2009 for Best Actor in Crazy Heart and the Californian is a strong candidate for Best Supporting Actor at this yearâs awards ceremonies for Hell or High Water, having already picked up a Golden Globe nomination.
Now considered one of Hollywoodâs leading action stars, Liam Neeson wasnât always the go-to man for high-octane thrills. His big breakthrough was in Steven Spielbergâs war drama Schindlerâs List which he followed with everything from political biopics like Michael Collins to Christmas rom-coms in the form of Love Actually, before the Taken saga propelled him to action thriller infamy. Itâs fair to say that Neeson has collated an extremely eclectic list of films for his CV...
A furry caper for all the family, NINE LIVES takes audiences on a journey of self-discovery, and reminds us all who and what really matters just in time for the Christmas season. With an award-winning cast, impressive CGI animation, and feline wit, cat lovers and dog lovers alike will be sure to enjoy this hilarious and heart-warming tale of redemption.
Ahhh, Audrey Hepburn - the definition of cinematic grace and style (as well as being a vastly underrated dramatic actress). Thanks to our friends at The Rug Seller, we're thrilled to share with you an Audrey Hepburn style guide infographic for any of you would-be starlets looking to nail that Breakfast at Tiffany's look in the comfort of your own home!
Get your own backstage pass with The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years, on Blu-ray, DVD & 2 Disc Special Edition from November 21st. The Special Edition has 100 mins of extras including; unseen interviews with Paul and Ringo, five rarely seen full length performances of The Beatles live in concert, plus a 64-page booklet with rare photos from The Beatlesâ private archive - a must-own for all fans!
Following the runaway success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvelâs sequel to the sci-fi action franchise starter sees the Guardians fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quillâs true parentage. Check out the first trailer and poster, right below this official synopsis:
New research by comparethemarket.com has revealed the best and worst car films of all time.
Brothers and Sisters is back in cinemas with a new epic spot for Pearl & Dean celebrating the unseen heroes of the film industry.
To celebrate the release of Deepwater Horizon, based on the true story of the devastating 2010 incident and starring Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Dylan OâBrien, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich, weâve taken a look at some of the greatest true stories ever told on film.
Most film fans will admit to reveling in the glory of siege thrillers. Who doesnât somewhat sadistically enjoy sitting comfortably, watching those on screen suffer the horrific, claustrophobic stuff of nightmares? In homage to all films that have incidentally saved on expensive production costs by filming the entire movie in (mostly) one setting, we pay tribute to the newly crowned leader of said genre - Green Room out on Blu-ray and DVD September 19. Weâve listed some of the most genius, gripping films to get you in the mood. Ready your inner Houdini, here are the top ten movies all claustrophobes should give a wide berth.
Saul Bass: 20 Iconic Film Posters book review
By Jennifer Bass and Pat Kirkham
Laurence King Publishing
September 2016, Â£19.95
You know when you're looking at a Saul Bass design (or someone ripping him off). The deceptively simple style, the direct focus, the twisted shapes, the solid colours, the striking fonts, the fact that you've been staring at it for way too long as the story within creeps out to greet you... Yes, this is the work of a master.
Starring Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, Batman: The Killing Joke arrives on Blu-rayTM, DVD & Steelbook on August 8, is available on EST from July 26 and comes to Vue Cinemas for one night only July 25.
Tale of Tales tells the story of a bitter quest of a Queen, two mysterious sisters who provoke the passion of a king, and a King that marries his daughter off to an ogre. These tales are inspired by the fairytales by Giambattista Basile and stars Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, Vincent Cassell, and Toby Jones
With the Best Picture Oscar winning modern masterpiece The Revenant arriving on DVD and Blu-ray from June 6th, now's a perfect time to look at the film's facts and figures in a fantastic infographic.
With the added bonus of the show now being ahead of its source material, nobody knows exactly what lies ahead. Even though weâve loved and lost many of our favourite characters, we wanted to find out who GoT fans will be getting behind this season. Casino Bonus Tips have conducted a survey of fans to find out which characters they are rooting for. Weâve grouped the top five below, along with why you should keep an eye on them in season six.
As the Oscar nominated Rocky sequel Creed steps out of the ring and to Blu-ray everywhere, let's take a look at the modern classic's stats by the numbers...
Catch 22 meets Shutter Island, William Peter Blatty's The Ninth Configuration is as deranged and as brilliant as that mash-up promises.
Movies based on video games are always action packed with great characters that are already loved due to their game counterparts! Over the years all types of video games have been brought to the big screen, and to celebrate Ratchet & Clank coming in to cinemas on April 29th, we take a look at some of the best game to film adaptations.
Fargo: Year 2 is out now on Digital HD and on DVD from 25th April, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. To celebrate the release, we've got an exclusive "Dancing" scene clip from the brilliantly thrilling and darkly funny offshoot of the Coen Brothers' Oscar winning film classic.