movie reviews

I was supposed to write (repeat 10,000x) but instead I sat my ass down this weekend and watched films.

Lincoln (2012)

I didn’t pay much attention to this Steven Spielberg film when it first came out, despite the buzz it generated. In my head, I described it derisively as “Oscar bait”. I thought it would be one of those biopics that would tell the story of the title character’s whole life, from his birth to his death, dripping with forced, completely unsubtle veneration. I hate that. If a storyteller wants me to admire someone, I’d like to come to this admiration on my own. I don’t need anyone shoving heroism down my throat. It’s a turn-off.

Lincoln astounded me. The film focused on the political maneuverings that led to the passing of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery and ending the American Civil War, showing Lincoln’s brilliance as a statesman, and his decency as a human being (a decency apparently not shared by several of his colleagues). I was unsure about the tone the film would take before I started watching. Solemn? Somber? Rah-rah-USA-forever? The film opens with Lincoln telling a soldier (who remarked that the President had “fluffy hair for a white boy”) that his barber hanged himself and “He left me his scissors in his will.” I was hooked. This Lincoln, who loves to make a point by telling long anecdotes, parables and jokes, is funny. He loves telling stories so much that at one point, one of his  men shouts in frustration, “You’re going to tell one of your stories again! I have no time for your stories!” Though the film is set against the backdrop of the four-year Civil War, it is unbelievably hilarious. I enjoyed the insults hurled during the House debates for the amendment (“You unnatural noise!”), and Mrs. Lincoln’s long-ass, tear-himself-a-new-one speech to a visibly irked congressional leader Thaddeus Stevens.

Clocking in at 2 and a half hours, Lincoln has a lot of bright moments, touching moments. Daniel Day-Lewis deserves all the accolades he received for this brilliant performance.

Mientras Duermes/Sleep Tight (2011)

You live in a secure apartment building, with a concierge filtering visitors, but how safe are you, really? This Spanish psychological thriller should kick your paranoia into overdrive. It’s a nice, slow burn, though it got me thinking: why won’t people in this building invest in deadbolts?

Tell No One/Ne le dis à personne (2006)

This French thriller is based on the 2001 novel by American author, Harlan Coben. Alexandre Beck is a pediatrician who loses his wife to a brutal murder eight years ago. But is she really dead? He receives an email with a video link, showing his wife, Elizabeth, older and alive.

I read and loved the novel back in high school (it’s the kind of book I passed on to classmates for them to read), and was glad to revisit it in a new medium. The novel’s plot is pretty airtight, with twists and turns along the way, and the film adaptation does not disappoint.

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