Tag Archives: Tommy Lee Jones

“Lincoln” (2012) – Review

Click on image to view trailer

Click on image to view trailer

Director:  Steven Spielberg

Writer:  Tony Kushner

Stars:  Daniel-Day Lewis, Sally Field, David Stratharin, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Lee Pace, and Gulliver McGrath

The story of Lincoln is a story of a man who rises to the occasion and do what he must.  It is the story of the last days of his presidency as he moves to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, and at the same time moves to end the war.  After an initial battle scene, the film moves to the political machinations of Washington D.C. and the horse trading required to get something done.

By focusing the script on only the last four months of Lincoln’s life the film is able to show us the man and not the myth.  It also shows us the damage slavery caused on the morality of the nation.  The passage of the 13th Amendment was not assured.  There were those in the Union that feared its passage would cause a domino effect of blacks being considered equals to whites, eventual voting rights issued to the black man, and then universal suffrage for woman.  We discovered the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves but only those in rebelling states, and its wording and authority was more akin to confiscated  war booty then freeing a people.

The look of the film is in washed out blues and grays, with the only warm light coming from dim candle light.  All the faces are ashen and haggard; the clothes and buildings weathered and dirty.  This is a time of an exhausting war.  The only signs of civility are to either put on a brave face or for some political gain.

In this world is the lone towering figure of Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis); not above the frae but a part of it.  And even though he is “the President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power,” he is not above the Law.  He must come down from Mt. Olympus and get his hands dirty.  Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is strong but exhausted.  A man who is a teller of stories, but capable of making decisions that will result in the loss of many lives.  A man who stands alone, for his family stands second to his responsibilities to the Union, and his confidants are not privy to all his thoughts & actions.  In the end he is a man with a strong moral compass, and is willing to make the hard decisions to make something right.  If in the end the cost of freeing the slave is the loss of more life, then he is willing to make that sacrifice to do what is right.

Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln strikes the right balance of a character who knows that she is both a hinderance and an asset to her husband.  She is barely able to keep it together when called to be strong, but then is insightful at moments of weakness.  Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens is a fire-brand and great orator, and performs memorable verbal duels with an equally motivated–and unexpected–Lee Pace as Fernando Wood.  The remainder of the case is equally gifted, with James Spader as the bacchanalian lobbyist W.N. Bilbo stealing every scene he is in.

Lincoln makes us connect with its subject and time by demystifying the man and making us privy to the historically accurate and ultimately dirty business of politics, as well as genuinely care for the outcome of all the players involved.

Grade = A

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“Captain America” – Review

Click on image to view trailer

 

Director:  Joe Johnston
 
Writers:  Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Two Others
 
Stars:  Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell
 
I really enjoyed Captain America.  It’s a good superhero, popcorn, and summer movie.  It is also very reminiscent of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which they reference when Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) mentions that the Furor is looking for trinkets in the desert.  Part of the fun of watching this film was catching all the references:  the Wilhelm scream, the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi sound effects during the motorcycle chase in the jungle, and others.
 
The story is straightforward and does a good job of helping you identify with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), aka Captain America.  The scenes in the beginning of the film when he is a ninety-eight pound weakling are surprisingly effective.  If you are familiar with the comics, then you’ll recognize the origin story is fairly accurate, with some add-ons from the pre-Samuel L. Jackson influenced Nick Fury character.  You also feel for the character when he realizes that he is wasting his potential on the USO tour to promote war-bonds instead of fighting the enemy.  Chris Evans is decent; Tommy Lee Jones steals every scene he is in;  and both Hugo Weaving and Hayley Atwell are really good.  Credit must also be given to the writers for how the movie begins; the Titanic style present-day shots caught me by surprise.  The direction was good, and the look of the film was great.  Though I will say that I do not like it when cutting-edge technology of the past looks a little too similar to cutting-edge technology of today–the pod in which the Captain is created and the controls of the enemy flying wing, for example.  But those are minor quibbles.  This is a good movie for the whole family on a Saturday afternoon.
 
Grade:  B
 
P.S.  Captain America tangent:  though I only purchased a few issues of Captain America when I actively read and collected comics, for some reason the character resonates with me.  It really affected me a few years ago when Marvel killed the character at the end of their Civil War story line.  I also like how they depict him in the Ultimates Universe.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s a yearning for a simpler more good vs. evil time that he represents, but I really like the Captain America character.  I’m happy the filmmakers did a good job with this film, and we will see him again in the upcoming Avengers movie.    Thank you for giving Cap his due.