Lincoln

Culture Warrior

Twelve years ago, the western and the musical, two genres that were incredibly successful during Hollywood’s heyday, had been considered long dead with no hopes of a revival on the horizon. After all, why would either of these genres make a comeback? The western is a remnant of a sense of American cultural imperialism and pre-Howard Zinn history-writing long past, and the film musical requires such an astounding degree of suspension of disbelief that audiences who seek special effects that blur distinctions between the fabricated and the real simply aren’t willing to engage it. But lo and behold, on December 25th, 2012 (always a day for big movies), a western (Django Unchained) and a musical (Les Miserables) will be launched into wide release on the heels of outstanding buzz (sure, Tarantino’s film is a revisionist western, but since revisionist westerns have been around for nearly fifty years, let’s just refer to them as the current standard western, shall we?). It’s difficult to say how this particular revival of these Hollywood genres has taken place. Of course, the unexpected success of previous films of these genres that took a risk with audiences (3:10 to Yuma and True Grit, Moulin Rouge and Chicago) certainly helps create the terrain for more such films, but this doesn’t necessarily explain why updated versions of classical Hollywood genres come back into style. Arguably, there are a multitude of genres we could use today, but unfortunately have no contemporary examples of. For instance, the ’30s and ’40s-style […]

read more...

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that falls in love with you all over again, five nights a week. It’s also a movie news column that’s debuting a new element this week — the MNAD Mini-Review — a chance for its author to deliver even more commentary, but in short, capsule review style bursts. Look for these all throughout awards season (and perhaps beyond). DJANGO! – We begin this evening with the hottest story of the weekend: people have seen and reacted to Django Unchained. It was a slow weekend, what can I say? Alas, there was great praise for the latest of Quentin Tarantino. But more on him later. For now, there’s Django buzz, and /Film is recapping it like a motha… 

read more...

In an off week at the box office, it was the battle of three holdover releases, with all of the new films dropping well down the charts. From Killing Them Softly‘s lukewarm 7th place finish to horror film The Collection, it was not a great weekend to be new to theaters. The films with previously built success — from the wildly passionate fanbase film (Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2) to the one with a half-century of history (Skyfall) to the one with Oscar written all over it (Lincoln) — were the ones that brought home the bank in an otherwise warm weekend.

read more...

Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

This was a major holiday week in America, so FSR content was a bit lighter than usual. And yet you may have been too busy traveling to follow the site over the past few days anyway. If so, the most important thing you missed is our post highlighting all the things we’re thankful for this year. Among them is you, whether you’re one of the longtime loyal or one of the many who’ve just started reading us this year. Now, even though the holiday is a couple days past, we want to thank you for once again catching up with us here at the Reject Recap as we give you another rundown of our best reads from the past seven days. As always, first we remind you to check out our reviews of this week’s new releases: Life of Pi; Red Dawn; Hitchcock; Rust and Bone; and The Central Park Five. We also re-posted our Silver Linings Playbook review since the film went wider this week. Among the films, it looks like we recommend Rust and Bone and Central Park Five the most. We haven’t published a review of Rise of the Guardians yet, but we invite you to read our interview with the animated film’s director, Peter Ramsay, the introduction for which offers some critical praise. This week we also watched and commented on new trailers for Now You See Me, Parental Guidance, Admission, Chasing Ice and Jack the Giant Slayer. Watch those and all our latest Short Film […]

read more...

Criterion Files

Since his infamous assassination in Ford Theater was re-imagined for D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, American movies have been just as fascinated by Abraham Lincoln’s image and legacy as American culture at large. Besides the general veneration directed towards his name, there are specific reasons why Lincoln has been a subject of considerable preoccupation in the moving image. Lincoln is an icon ubiquitous in American culture; his face resides on our currency and his larger-than-life status has literally been set in stone by the Lincoln Memorial. But at the same time, Lincoln occupied the Office of the Presidency years before the emergence of mass media as it is recognizable today. Having died several decades before the first images were captured on film, history knows Lincoln only through still portraits. On the one hand, this reality has emboldened the notion that Lincoln was a uniquely authentic President; this Kentucky rail-splitter of modest means and education didn’t have to perform leadership for microphones, mass-distributed newspapers, or television cameras. On the other hand, the pre-cinematic status of real-life Lincoln emboldens curiosity about Lincoln the symbol versus Lincoln the human being. Live action cinema forces a rendering of reality concrete even if its subject matter concerns the mythic and the symbolic; any cinematic rendering of Lincoln may pose answers to a variety of questions, including details as difficult to know certainly as the sound of his voice.

read more...

Culture Warrior

In 1989, two major studios released films about race relations in America that couldn’t be more different. Driving Miss Daisy, Bruce Beresford’s adaptation of Alfred Uhry’s successful off-Broadway play, was a heartwarming tearjerker about a rich, isolated elderly Jewish woman who comes to the astounding revelation that her friendly African-American chauffeur is often subject to discrimination in the South during the 1950s. Do the Right Thing, meanwhile, enshrined Spike Lee’s place on the cinematic map. Its pull-no-punches mosaic of conflicting, negotiating racialized voices in contemporary Bedford-Stuyvesant refused happy endings and clear answers, leaving critics and audiences in a gray area where they couldn’t decide whether the film was a lament over the brick-wall met by post-Civil Rights discourse, a call to violent action, or something else entirely. The relative critical and economic successes of both Driving Miss Daisy and Do the Right Thing paved a crossroads for future representations of African Americans in mainstream American cinema: should they pursue the direction of  affirmation and closure in the face of racism dismissed as a problem solved long ago, or strive for contemporary relevance and a refusal of easy answers to complex questions? Time and again, Hollywood has overwhelmingly preferred to continue in the direction of Driving Miss Daisy. As a retelling of history, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which chronicles the hard-won political gymnastics enacted in order to get the 13th Amendment passed and abolish human slavery in the US thereafter, would seem to continue Hollywood’s preference to gaze backwards at race relations […]

read more...

With an estimated opening weekend of $141.3m, it’s not hard to foresee a future in which The Twilight Saga makes some sort of cinematic comeback. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 may be the “final” entry in this series, but a money train like this is hard to stop. We’re reminded of this as we see a new Star Wars (the last of which opened higher than any other Star Wars movie at $108m on opening weekend) back in development. To say the very least, the Summit Entertainment accounting department is not impressed with your dancing on the vampire romance saga’s grave. It’s already working on a script for three more films starring a CGI sparkly child.

read more...

Sally Field in Lincoln 2012

Should we reward the films that challenge us? More pointedly, is that the role of the Academy Awards? Sasha Stone opened her State of the Race column this week by raising that very question. The two most recent Best Picture winners, The King’s Speech and The Artist¸ don’t exactly demand soul searching. They “offered a path of least resistance; they delivered a lot but asked so little of us in return,” she explains. Yet in 2012, a year of such great political conflict and often ugly national bickering, we might be in the mood to laud films that strike closer to our core. For Stone, this leads directly into a proclamation of Lincoln’s historical weight. Her argument casts Steven Spielberg’s film as period piece that reaches into the present, calling on us to examine our wounds so that we may prepare for the future. There is no better time for such a powerful work about America to arrive and take Oscar gold, reminding us to continue on the road to a better society in the spirit of the Great Emancipator. The same logic can be applied to other films in the race as well, from Argo to the (as yet unseen) Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty.

read more...

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

Editor’s note: Lincoln gets its full theatrical release tomorrow, so please enjoy a re-run of our AFI FEST review of the film, originally published way back on November 9. It opens with a battle. Not the sort of battle we’ve come to expect from movies these days, not one punctuated by booms and blasts and bullets, but one that feels almost eerily and unnaturally quiet. There are hordes of soldiers attacking each other left and right, to be sure, and as they grunt and grasp in hand-to-hand (face-to-face, really) combat, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln immediately lets its audience in on what sort of film it is going to be – a personal one, a deeply felt one, and one startlingly free of what we’ve come to expect from big, bustling films about horrific wars and the beloved men who carry them out. No, Lincoln is not exactly what you’re expecting it to be – and it’s all the better for it. The plot of Lincoln can be briefly explained in few words – it centers on the last gasps of the American Civil War and President Abraham Lincoln’s (Daniel Day-Lewis) attempts to end it and get the Thirteenth Amendment (the one that outlaws slavery and serves as a a much stricter take on the Emancipation Proclamation) pushed through the divided House of Representatives. Adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s meticulously researched (and nearly 1,000-page long) “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” screenwriter Tony Kushner and Spielberg have distilled down […]

read more...

James Bond in Skyfall

Put simply, Skyfall performed just as expected — it went big. Led by strong performances from Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Javier Bardem as a delicious entry into the James Bond rogues gallery, Sam Mendes’ 23rd Bond film found itself atop them all with an outstanding $87.8 million domestic opening, besting the previous entry, Quantum of Solace‘s $67.5 million. It also became the fourth biggest opening of 2012, behind The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games. Not bad for a 50-year old man with a gun.

read more...

Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

We aren’t really going to be seeing Star Wars rumors and updates all the way through 2015, are we? As much as that might be the boost the American economy needs (when bloggers make money, bloggers spend money…), it could become very tiresome and result in absolutely no excitement for the actual film upon its release. Maybe once a director is chosen we’ll see a decrease in coverage. Well, maybe we’ll at least see a stoppage of “this director isn’t directing Star Wars” posts, unless we get a start on carrying them over to Episode VIII. Before we look at the week that was mostly just more Star Wars content, here’s your weekly reminder to read our reviews of new movies in theatrical release (Skyfall, Lincoln, Chasing Ice, Starlet, The Comedy, 28 Hotel Rooms, and The Citadel) and interviews with Skyfall producers Barbara Brocoli and Michael G. Wilson and cinematographer Roger Deakins and 28 Hotel Rooms composer Will Bates. We also watched new trailers for zombie movies World War Z and Warm Bodies, Wong Kar-Wai‘s The Grandmasters, Arnold Schwarznegger‘s The Last Stand, Alan Moore‘s Jimmy’s End, the remake Silent Night, the 3D re-release of Jurassic Park and our very own exclusive debut of the new spot for the wonderful Only the Young. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week after the break.

read more...

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the definitive voice heard late at night. Well, it depends upon what room of the house you’re in, but it’s pretty unmistakable. It’s loud, it talks about movies and TV shows and it does not appreciate it when you just feign interest. We begin this evening with a shot of Ken Watanabe in the forthcoming Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. See, they remake our stuff, too. Although I’m sure this will be much better than the American version of Ringu.

read more...

Life of Pi AFI FEST

October offered up plenty of films to give this awards season a proper start. Ben Affleck once again showed he’s got one of the best eyes for tension working today; John Hawkes gave another year’s best performance in Fox Searchlight’s The Sessions; Martin McDonagh made another wicked, original dark comedy with real bite; and, who could forget, The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer made a huge box office smash which received unabashed praise up the wazoo, especially for the seamless makeup work. While I wish Cloud Atlas did fit that description, at least for a few more years the trio’s daring and moving film will go down as a box office bomb which may or may have not been ahead of its time. No matter how Cloud Atlas stands up in a few years, it was the type of ambition which served as another reminder of how important going to the movie theater is and to truly have experiences while you are there, be they good or bad. With November 2012, there are plenty of movies to have a similar experience with, from Ang Lee‘s Life of Pi to a triumphant new Bond movie. Keep reading to find out what other eight movies you must see this month.

read more...

As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

read more...

As 2012 begins to wind down, your trusty LA Rejects, Kate Erbland and myself, plan to take on one final film festival – Los Angeles’ AFI FEST. AFI FEST differs from June’s Los Angeles Film Festival as the cooler temperatures (cool, not cold, I know it’s LA) of November seem to bring out slightly heavier fare. Plus, AFI FEST is located in the heart of Hollywood with many screenings taking place at the historic Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian Theaters, giving further weight and importance to the selections shown during the festival. This year, AFI FEST brings us some of the year’s most talked-about films while also getting in a few last world premieres. The festival boasts an impressive list of titles on its roster, but we have rounded up the six must-see films that should be on the radar (and schedules) of all festival attendees. And for those who cannot attend, make note to track these films down when they come to you. AFI FEST runs from November 1st until November 8th.

read more...

Some of you may already know me by my Twitter handle: @thefilmcynic. It’s a name I’ve gone by for nearly a decade (so, before current social media outlets), because I’m very cynical about the film industry and try to keep my expectations low. I’m also very cynical about the Academy Awards and awards season in general, because we devote so much focus on them — with a wide spectrum of positive and negative angles — and they’re really a bunch of malarkey (much like the V.P. debate, which has inspired my newfound obsession with that word). So, the higher ups at FSR have asked me to write a cynical column devoted to the Oscars. The first one is inspired by the films Seven Psychopaths, Looper and Lincoln and their celebrated performances. As someone who has studied acting (I’m not very good at it), I’ve long taken issue with the way people look at film performances, because there are just so many different kinds. But there are two real distinct types that we tend to recognize while watching and writing about movies that aren’t acknowledged by the Academy: realistic and artificial. The former has been a big favorite since method acting came into play, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to that style nor does that style necessarily always mean realism. The latter could be more expressive and therefore goes back to the dawn of cinema and its silent performances or could even be more stiff, if that’s what’s intended. Directors who […]

read more...

In America we have neither kings nor gods. Our brief experiments with any cult of personality ended badly, though they inspired some excellent movies along the way (All the Kings Men and Gabriel over the White House spring to mind). We have put our greatest presidents on mountains and given them monuments on the National Mall in Washington, but we’ve never admired them with the same spirit as the divine right of European monarchs or the fanatical devotion required of totalitarian dictatorship. Biopics of our Commanders-in-Chief are often either ambiguous critiques, like Nixon, or flippant light pieces along the lines of NYFF’s Hyde Park on Hudson. This history makes Steven Spielberg’s newest undertaking almost unprecedented. Lincoln is an earnest attempt to give Honest Abe a cinematic apotheosis, the kind of hero-making treatment rarely given one of our leaders on film. This is also a new path for Spielberg himself. Previous capital-I “Important” films have focused on a more collective triumph of the people, from Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List to the more directly applicable Amistad. Where those works take a wide look at the trials, tribulations and heroics of large and varied casts, Lincoln puts on its blinders and focuses on a very specific period in the life of a single icon. Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner are only concerned with a few short months in early 1865 — telling the story of the arduous passage of the 13th Amendment through the House of Representatives — and nothing more. […]

read more...

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

While much of the FSR family is busy in our hometown of Austin, Texas, gorging themselves on equal parts barbeque and genre films at dear old Fantastic Fest, the rest of us must attempt to extract some joy from future festivals that we’ll be able to attend – like Los Angeles’ own AFI FEST. To that end, the Hollywood-based festival has just announced their Closing Night Film: the world premiere (swank!) of Steven Spielberg‘s Daniel Day-Lewis-starring Lincoln. The film will close out the festival on the evening of November 8 at the “historic” (and historically beautiful) Chinese Theatre. “Steven Spielberg epitomizes American filmmaking,” said Jacqueline Lyanga, Director, AFI FEST, “and who better to tell the story of one of the most significant figures in our country’s history. In this important presidential election year, Spielberg’s Lincoln reminds us that the challenges of the past remain as relevant today.” Spielberg has previously been the recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award (in 1995) and, just last year, his The Adventures of Tintin closed that year’s festival.

read more...

Lincoln Movie 2012

Well, this is classic Steven Spielberg, cribbing slightly off Glory. It’s uplifting and terribly sad, with a sweeping slow score and a range of beautiful shots. Judging from the trailer for Lincoln, this movie is going to pull every ounce of emotion right out of our veins, and with Daniel Day-Lewis in the spotlight, the chances of veering into cheesy heartstrings is diminished considerably. The best part is how subtle Day-Lewis is and how calmly the trailer sells him as the president. There’s nothing overly bombastic or showy, and it reveals the distinct possibility of Day-Lewis completely inhabiting the role of what must have been the most conflicted leader in our nation’s history. Check out the trailer for yourself:

read more...

Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln. Google. It’s a natural fit. The first official bit of footage from Steven Spielberg‘s highly anticipated Lincoln has finally arrived, and it’s done its damnedest to make Lincoln and Google seem simpatico in ways no one has ever dreamed. At least there’s voiceover by David Oyelowo to give this glorified commercial some actual gravitas. We won’t get a full trailer for the film until this Thursday at 7PM EST, but this remarkably slim teaser trailer is much more concerned in letting us know that said trailer premiere will be followed by a “Live Google Hangout” with Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. That’s just a string of stuff I don’t understand, but perhaps you young’uns out there will get what it means and can participate. Check out some fresh looks at the back of Daniel Day-Lewis‘ head after the break. Presidential!

read more...
  PREVIOUS PAGE
NEXT PAGE  
Twitter button
Facebook button
Google+ button
RSS feed

published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3