Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president... Period. I know there's a couple others that may be in the running for this title, but for me it is most definitely Lincoln. You've got George Washington, father of our country. He was considered a traitor by the Engilsh, but he believed in a great nation, and he fought for it, kicking redcoat booty all over the thirteen colonies. Then you have FDR. This optimist dragged us out of the Depression with his NEW DEAL. His unfailing optimism jolted the spirit of America. And of course, William Henry Harrison. His 32 days in office opened our eyes to something that still plagues us today, pneumonia. That guy did nothing in office except get sick and die... But heck, I liked him.
It's Lincoln though who I admire most. He had the most difficult task of reuniting a broken nation and at the same time, making all men, no matter their color, equal.
This couldn't be an easy task. And you find out how he got it done in the Steven Spielberg film, "Lincoln."
I'm not going to take you through the history books and school you up about the Civil War. I am going to tell you what I thought of this film as it flows out of my fingertips.
The film tells the story of the last few months that Lincoln was in office. The war has been going on for years and there is so much bloodshed. Lincoln has a chance to end the war but if he ends it too soon then the southern states will just reinstate slavery in their states. What Abe needs to do is get the 13th Amendment passed before the war ends. The 13th amendment will abolish slavery forever. Here's the problem, the House of Representatives is leaning toward NOT passing the 13th Amendment, and Lincoln can't have that. Lincoln knows in his heart that slavery is SO WRONG, and he doesn't want this Nation to crumble, so he does some, let's just say, "shady" stuff to get the votes he needs to get the Amendment passed.
This is why I liked Lincoln. He wasn't afraid to do the wrong thing to get the right thing done. Honest Abe may have not been the most honest person in the world, but he did have morals, and I admired him for that.
There are many other underlying stories in this film, like how Lincoln's son NEEDED to be in the Army, fighting for his country. Or how his wife, Mary Todd was somewhat of a loon. (Those are my words, not the film's.) But the most important story is the 13th Amendment. Abraham Lincoln had such foresight that he was looking generations ahead instead of just at the immediate future. Lincoln was a deep thinker... and he had a great beard.
This film is littered with talented actors. Maybe too many. You have Daniel Day-Lewis portraying Lincoln. He is perfectly cast. He looked the part, and he played the role majestically. All this man does is take roles that'll garner him Oscar nods. I looked at his bio and, seriously, he's never been in any "What were you thinking?" movies. I mean, even the best actors have one bad film on their record. Not this guy. His great films include "Gangs of New York," "There Will Be Blood," "My Left Foot" and "Last of the Mohicans."
And there are a slew of other accomplished actors in this epic film also. Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Tim Blake Nelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Hal Holbrook, Lukas Haas, and Dale DeHaan are just a few... Do you think that's a lot of people? It gets quite confusing.
Ok, I'll say it right now, this column is called "Matty's Movies" NOT "Oscar's Movies." And I'll probably get ripped by my fellow professional movie reviewers out there, but I thought this film would have been a little more entertaining. I know what "Oscar" is saying right now, "What does Matty know? Matty's an idiot!" Well listen Oscar, I KNOW FOR SURE that Daniel Day-Lewis will be up for Best Actor, and deservedly so, but my God, the story was slow, deliberately slow. And Lincoln was slow, deliberately slow. I think Spielberg was timing Lincoln to the actual speed of the film... At times I was drifting off, and that's not a good thing when a movie reviewer drifts off and starts thinking about other stuff, like, "I wish all the men in the town of Norwood would bring back wearing stove-pipe hats. I've always liked the look of them and it would be nice to tip your stove-pipe hat to a fellow townie."
"Film drifting." It's not good... and when it happens more than once in a film, it's bad. I was watching Sally Field play Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln. I didn't like her at all. I think she was poorly cast. I started "drifting" while I was looking at her terrible dress and all I could think about was my senior prom date. My date's dress was disgusting... Come to think of it, my date was disgusting too. Now before you go getting mad at me for ranking on my date, I must tell you that my date just so happened to be my best friend Dan Drummey. We wanted to make a splash at the old shin-dig so he wore an "off the shoulder" light blue dress and I wore a simply dazzling black tuxedo. We were going to the prom! Well, we got to Lombardo's in Randolph and made our way to our grand enterance at the ball. My principal knew my crazy antics and we were denied access to the gala. So now, me and my date (or whatever you want to call him/her/it) are stranded in Randolph, walking around, me in a tux and Drum in a dress... I'm not gonna lie to you, it was pretty funny. Finally someone picked us up and the rest is history. I will say Dan makes for a great best friend, but as a woman? Gross. On a quick side note, we were probably one of the first couples to do same sex prom dates! And although it didn't work, we can proudly say we paved the way for the future same sex prom dates.
Oh no, now I'm "drifting" during my review and that's not good either. What I was trying to get at earlier was that the movie was lethargic. I know you have to have a certain pace to a film, but at points, this film seemed to be crawling. Also, (and this is going to anger my comrades) there were too many characters! You have the entire House of Reps, the Union Army, the Confederate Army, senators, cabinet members and all sorts of people bouncing in and out of scenes. I know I should follow the story better, but at points I couldn't tell who was who and what was what. You understand? Me either. I know for sure though that I will see this movie again and I will understand it better. I think that its a film you need to see twice. (Well, I need to see twice. You probably only need to see it once.)
Let me give you some positives of the film. Tommy Lee Jones had a great role as Thaddeus Stevens, a Republican who was secretly in love with his black housemaid. I loved his role and that storyline was cool.
John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson and James Spader. These three were... I'm not even sure who they were except they seemed to be like mini-mafia men, going around, trying to "persuade" some of the congressmen into voting the correct way. Whoever they were supposed to be, I liked them.
And of course, Lincoln. Our 16th president shaped our country into what it is today. He had guts... More guts than anyone could imagine. Just imagine if he didn't do what he did. This country would be terrible. I've said it before in my column, I couldn't live in a country where all men AREN'T created equal. What makes one man better than another? The color of their skin? Are you kidding me? That right there is the root of all ignorance. Just hearing about racism makes me want to fight, fight and vomit. Why do I get to do something and YOU can't? I'm no better than you. (If anything, I'm worse!) It angers me to think of how the slaves lived back then... and had to put up with all that crap. Like I said, I know who I'd stand next to and fight with. And I'm glad my man, Abraham Lincoln had the balls to stick up for what was right, even if it wasn't the popular choice.
And that's why I think he was our best president.
I'm sorry, this review is all over the board. To put it best, I love the history of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, but I think Spielberg may have stretched this film out a little bit long though. Which is weird because it only takes place over the last few months of his life. I didn't hate the film, I kind of liked it. (Yeah, I guess I liked it.) I was just expecting so much more. More what, you ask? I have no idea, just more.
Trust me on this though, just because I didn't love this film doesn't mean it won't be around come awards season. Daniel Day-Lewis WILL be up for "Best Actor," Tommy Lee Jones SHOULD be up for "Best Supporting Actor," Steven Spielberg WILL be up for "Best Director" and "Best Picture" and Dan Drummey WILL be up for "Worst Dress... Ever."
Well, I'm off to the theatre.... Hopefully I don't have the same outcome as Abraham Lincoln.
Matty W. Kelley, Norwood Patch, reporting.
FUN FACT: SPOILER ALERT: Abraham Lincoln dies at the end of this film at 7:22 a.m. on April 15th 1865... Just 105 years, 350 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes before I was born. We were ALMOST Irish twins... I hope I didn't ruin the ending for you.
FUN MATTY FACT: Seeing that it's Thanksgiving, I figured I'd give you a "Holiday Matty Fact." When I was around 22 or 23 years old, my buddies and I would go to the swamp on Turkey Day morning and rip beers. I got crushed and went back to my apartment (known to many as Graceland). I was freezing, so I turned on the stove to warm up my hands... and passed out. My buddy "Roachford" smelled me burning and put me out. I had my favorite "Faith No More" concert shirt on that day and it burnt a giant hole in the middle of it... That was a sad day. I LOVED THAT SHIRT!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
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