Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.


LincolnCinema Monolith: 8/10 Film Reel
IMDb: 7.4/10
The Arizona Republic: ****½ out of 5

Released November 16, 2012
Rated PG-13
150 minutes

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by Tony Kushner, based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Lukas Haas, Michael Stuhlbarg, Jared Harris

Director Steven Spielberg scores again with another compelling historical drama, this one centering on President Abraham Lincoln’s attempts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the Unites States Constitution, which would abolish slavery and hopefully hasten an end to the Civil War. This narrative is the main focus of the film, but along the way Lincoln must also contend with his recent re-election, concern from his colleagues over possible harm to his good standing with the public, a battle with his older son over quitting school and joining the war effort, and worry for a wife who seems to be falling apart at the seams.

This was a more cerebral and character-driven film than an action-oriented one, with most of the story taking place not on battlefields and open country but inside courtrooms and the White House, where Spielberg’s perfectly executed direction, plenty of solid acting (Sally Field, David Strathairn, and Michael Stuhlbarg were my favorites), a realistic array of sets, costumes, and makeup, and exquisitely framed and photographed shots kept the film on an entertaining and educational course. For me, this last aspect was the one to be most appreciated: the look of the film was simply sensational, and put you squarely in the heart of the nation’s capitol circa 1865.

However, all of this took a deep back seat to the work of actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who was just remarkable and shockingly authentic as Lincoln, giving an Oscar-winning performance that—with expression, delivery, tone, and nuance—had you convinced that he was actually Abraham Lincoln. Granted, there exist no motion pictures or audio recordings of Lincoln, but Day-Lewis did his research (even going so far as to visit a museum in Illinois and asking to hold letters written by Lincoln to his generals), and I’m convinced he played the part of the president to a level of perfection never before realized in previous films.

If I had to nitpick, I would say that Lincoln was maybe a little dry in spots; at 2½ hours, that’s a lot of talk, discussion, conversation, and courtroom lectures playing out over most every scene. Perhaps if the spectrum had been widened a bit, showing us more of the life of Lincoln and less of the amendment proceedings, these lulls could’ve been avoided. As it stands, this was still an exceptional visual and storytelling experience, and a memorable look at an important facet of Lincoln’s presidency.  (8/10)

Lincoln - photo theater crop

17 comments on “Lincoln

  1. Stu

    I think we’re pretty much in exact agreement on this one. There’s so much to admire, and you’ve picked out a lot of it, but just to reiterate Day-Lewis is so damn good you believe he’s Lincoln from the first scene to the last. And great performances by the supporting cast (the three you mention in the review are excellent). I was also impressed by the sets and the lighting, but yeah…because it dragged a little here and there I’m in no rush to sit through it again. A film to be admired rather than loved, perhaps?

    • Todd B

      Yes, I feel the same way…to be admired rather than loved. Or as I always tell people about certain films: it was worth watching once, but I’d never need to own it. And a bit of trivia about Daniel Day-Lewis that I was not aware of: in the history of the Academy Awards, he’s the only male actor to win Best Actor three times.

      • Stu

        Fascinating…but he’s no Katherine Hepburn!

      • Todd B

        He’s no Katherine Heigl, either!

  2. grandrapidsgirl

    Will definitely have to add this to my “watch list”. Sounds great! Interesting choice from you. Thanks Todd!

    • Todd B

      That’s funny…Brent thought it was an ‘interesting choice’ from me as well; he was surprised to see something reviewed besides a baseball film, a classic, or a sci-fi flop! I guess I should warn you: every now and then I’ll surprise you all with a bit of culture, instead of the usual giant leeches, problematic umpires, and ministries of fear. Thanks Julie, and let me know when you check this one out!

  3. grandrapidsgirl

    Precisely! Fortunately, I understand you to be quite “cultured”. Looking forward to the next review. 🙂

    • Todd B

      Why thank you, Julie! Look for my next bit of culture, Night of the Blood Beast, coming soon!

  4. grandrapidsgirl

    Oh here we go… back to the “B”s! On the edge of my virtual theater seat!

    • Todd B

      Because of your overwhelming interest, I may have to fast-track Night of the Blood Beast and get it reviewed and posted ASAP…along with Creature from the Haunted Sea, From Hell It Came, Robot Monster, and King Kong vs Godzilla!

  5. I’ve yet to see this one but intend to. Sometimes it takes me years to get to these. I just saw the first Matt Damon Bourne flick so you get the picture. Seriously though. I’ll get it done.

    • Todd B

      I seem to remember you having thousands of DVDs in that spare room of yours, so I can imagine how long it might take to get to some of them. And what did you think of The Bourne Identity? Will we see a review soon? I’d say the Bourne series is one of my favorites of all time, and I’m really looking forward to seeing the new one. I just hope they don’t screw it up!

      • Movies do get lost in there under posters, books and other movies. No review other than monthly recap. I liked it overall. Nice cast to boot. Part 2 after I get back from an east coast trip.

      • Todd B

        I picture your upstairs movie attic as resembling something like the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark; if you happen to find the lost ‘spider pit’ sequence from King Kong up there, let me know. And have fun on your trip…if you come back with anything less than thirty horror and sci-fi DVDs in your suitcase, I’ll be sorely disappointed.

      • I wish somebody would find that spider sequence. As for me, it’s a quiet holiday but I did post a pic on Facebook page of finding 6 rare Duke titles so all is not lost.

      • Todd B

        Have you ever seen Peter Jackson’s version of the spider pit sequence? It’s on that King Kong 2-disc set that came out several years ago…it’s pretty cool.

      • Yes. That was indeed cool.

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 222

From the Monolith: 123

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