...or the amazing chronicles of everything that I like and stuff.
Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN is about men, in rooms, talking. It has, seemingly, every good actor ever, and one of the greatest american directors alive today, one of the best composers in the business, a cinematographer at the top of his game, and a fantastic script. And it’s about men in rooms talking.
I didn’T repeat that last bit to discourage you from seeing the movie. I loved the movie. It has one great dialogue scene followed by another, for two hours. And what’s more, the stakes are high. These dialogues matter. Great men are talking, and their words will shape history. It’s riveting.
It’s also a beautifully shot movie. Janusz Kaminski has been Spielberg’s director of photography for well over a decade now, and I understand with the beard refuses to let him go. Since there was not much in the way of artificial lighting in 1865, Kaminski uses natural light whenever he can and what results is often absolutely beautiful.
Spielberg is all subtlety in his camera work here. It just flows with the dialogues, pushing in slightly when needed, panning softly accross a room to find a specific reaction, often just standing almost still, almost, like a child listening to every word of a wonderful story.
John William’s score is also very subdued. If a lonely piano echoing a few perfect notes to accentuate a moment is all that is needed, this is what Williams will go for. No imperial march to be found here.
All of this in the service of the words. Words given to today’s most capable actors. There isn’t a sour note in the bunch, of course, and it would take days to list all the great performances, but I have to mention that, as expected, Daniel Day Lewis makes an astonishing Lincoln. From his posture to his frail yet powerful voice, to his conviction and his incredible charm, to his weariness, this is another performance for the books by this incredible performer. And wouldn’t you know it, Tommy Lee Jones shows up and steals every scene he’s in. He is fantastic and his character (Thaddeus Stevens) is so well written I found myself eagerly anticipating when he would show up next, and giddy whenever he did.
LINCOLN is a long movie, but it kept me engaged and I found pleasure in every scene, just spying on these great men trying their damndest to change their nation for the better, while lesser, but no less capable men try their damndest to stop them. It makes for great cinema.
This is a Shane Black movie, people, it’ll be fucking good.
Check out the trailer in glorious quicktime HERE
I keep starting this article and erasing everything and starting over. The third time it happened, and I found myself looking at the blank screen yet again, I had a moment of clarity and I smiled. How ironic. There is a real parralel to be made between what I was experiencing and the movie itself. A stop and a start and a stop and a start… except the movie never stops, and only starts at the beginning. This was making sense a minute ago. Maybe I should start over…
Whenever I write these little recommendations for you, when there’s a movie I love enough to sit down and write some words about it, trying to convince you to shell out ten bucks to go see it, I make a point of avoiding to tell you the story, even a synopsis. Sometimes it’s hard but I think it’s worth it. There is nothing that compares to going to see a movie fresh, knowing as little as possible about it. That’s what happened with Holy Motors for me, I hadn’t seen a single trailer. I just went because I heard it was amazing. The funny thing is that if you asked me for a synopsis I’d be hard press to give you one.
I think Holy Motors was made in an alternate dimension where the French new wave re-birth of cinema from the sixties never stopped blooming, and five decades later, Holy Motors is it’s glorious, epic climax. It feels like it is the result of decades of cinema getting crazier and crazier, exploring more and more possibilities of what storytelling can be, and where it can go. Except cinema didn’t do that. In the eighties cinema mostly settled down and got content with itself and where it was at. There are exceptions, of course, but my point is that Holy Motors is kind of a miracle. I can’t trace it’s lineage. What led to this? This brilliant, chaotic, sublime bit of storytelling. How does this happen?
Leos Carax, the man who wrote and directed this film, is a mad genius. After ten years away from long-form storytelling (his last feature length film was 1999’s Pola X, since then he has done a series of short films) he comes to the plate and bats such a homerun it feels like he has never stopped.
The film is centered around what is without a doubt one of the best performances of the year: Denis Lavant’s mysterious man in the limousine. I do not want to give too much away but the actor gets to use every trick in the acting book. It’s all there, up on the screen for every moment of the film’s running time, and it is a virtuoso performance that has to be seen to be believed.
There are dozens upon dozens of memorable moments in the movie, all swimming in my head right now, vying for attention, but one resonated with me more than others: a simple scene of a old man lying on his death bed, and a young woman by his side, saying her goodbyes. The scene is perfectly executed and the way it finishes is nothing short of brilliant. Also, the fact that it works at all, on an emotional level, far enough into the movie that you kind of understand the mecanics of the film, makes it even more admirable.
Holy Motors is not a movie for everyone, but I really wish everyone would see it. It’s bold, daring, unique, more than a little brilliant, and proof that cinema is alive and well, and that the artform can still feel nothing short of vital.
That’s all I will write about it, sorry for the shortness of this post but this is a movie I’d much rather think about than write about, so I’ll leave it to better men than me to do the heavy lifting.
007 promotion done right.
Community will be back on October 19th!
New trailer for JACK REACHER sells me. This looks like a fun throwback movie with good badass dialogue.
Fun poster for this Pacino/Walken/Arkin vehicle.Check out the trailer in glorious quicktime right here.
Darondo - I'm Lonely
Darondo - I’m Lonely
How great is this song! I LOVE the vocal performance!
Finally! Marvel confirms Edgar Wright’s ANT-MAN and gives it a November 6th 2015 release date! The film was co-written by Wright and Joe Cornish, writer/director of last year’s excellent Attack the block. The two also co-wrote The Adventures Of Tintin: The secret of the unicorn, together with Steven Moffat. The Lesson here: they know how to write a great film.