Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are promoting their movie “Lincoln.” They have some extremely icky things to say, including their youthful experiences relating to Lincoln.
This is a good time and place for me to make some comments about Spielberg’s work. I’ve seen Day-Lewis in one movie, which was “There Will Be Blood,” based on Upton Sinclair’s muckraking novel “Oil,” I enjoyed it, thought the script was well-written, and thought Day-Lewis did an exceptional job.
Spielberg’s another kettle of fish. I thoroughly dislike almost every movie he has ever made. I can’t sit through more than a few minutes of a good many of them that I’ve seen or sampled before wanting to escape the fakeness, the saccharine and gooey quality, the lighting, the gimmicks, the contrived nature of them, the attempts to manipulate the audience, and the rewriting of history.
He got “Amistad” completely wrong, and that could be a really great story. Cinque was an amazing character and should be the central character of such a movie. Even the name of this movie is wrong. It’s Cinque’s story. It doesn’t need imaginary scenes with the president. Cinque ended up going back to Africa and entering the slave trade himself.
“E.T.” I found simply sickening, like “Close Encounters.” I like “Jaws,” and that holds up quite well. Robert Shaw helps it greatly. I couldn’t stand more than a few minutes of “Schindler’s List.” “Jurassic Park” did nothing for me, it’s so childish. “King Kong” need not worry. His first movie “Duel” may well be his best. It’s a tight thriller, well done, well directed, and Dennis Weaver brings it to life. I liked “Raiders” fairly well, although he brings in those lights, romanticizes too much, and makes his suspense scenes so “huge” that the reality goes by the boards and we end up watching spectacle instead of feeling the suspense. “The Color Purple” is another one that I couldn’t stomach for more than a few minutes. I haven’t seen “Saving Private Ryan” and don’t intend to.
If Spielberg stays true to form, “Lincoln” will be another sickening movie. I have no desire to see it. Last night I watched an excellent movie “Sisters of the Gion,” a 1936 movie directed by Kenzi Mizoguchi about two sisters who are geishas. You couldn’t ask for a more penetrating, absorbing, enlightening, powerful, realistic and yet dramatic version of the personal and social reality of the lives of these two women and the men they encounter. It’s available on youtube.
Can a comparably realistic, truthful, and powerful account of a man like Lincoln be done in a movie? It would be a huge challenge. Such biographies almost always end up being heavily romanticized and falsified versions of who a man really was. Fiction is often the best way to reveal character in cinema. Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” is fiction. Movie biographies are notoriously phony and glamorized versions of the realities. One that I like is “Love Me or Leave Me.” Although I have no idea how true to life the movie is, it certainly is gutsy and shows people as they are. Doris Day and Jimmy Cagney bring an outstanding script to life.
Spielberg cannot resist messing up and overcoating most any material he touches with elements that undermine any movie and prevent it from being the art it might be, but that seem to ensure big box office.
UPDATE: I’ve now watched the 2 minute and 21 second trailer (preview) of “Lincoln”. My review of this trailer is that it’s the biggest pile of overblown bull**** that I’ve seen of any of the approximately 300 movies I’ve seen in the last 7 months. The horns blare and the chorus intones in worship America style, people overact outrageously, a black woman raises her face with tears in her eyes, and Lincoln fights momentously for the 13th amendment. Ho-ho-ho. None of it is believable. It’s waay over the top. Thomas J. DiLorenzo will have a field day on this movie.
Also, one person suggested to me that Spielberg’s later flics, Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can, are decent. I’ve got ‘em in hand but haven’t watched them yet. It may be awhile.7:17 am on November 9, 2012 Email Michael S. Rozeff