The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A feast for facial hair fetishists

with 17 comments

beards
OK, I give up.

I tried to come up with a dignified way to begin this post about Lincoln.

It could be something about the historical importance of one man, something about courage, leadership, power and the responsibility that comes with it.

Another option would be to hail Daniel Day-Lewis for his arguably convincing performance as the famous president.

Or perhaps I could have reflected on some of the big changes that society has gone through over the last decenniums: the abolishment of slavery, women’s rights and more recently the acceptance of gay and lesbians. What are the mechanics? How important are the individuals for them to happen? What is the net major change that we will go through? A complete switch in how we look at animal rights?

And what would Lincoln think of the media landscape if he had lived today? Would he be on Twitter?

I thought about all of this and turned every stone to find something clever, insightful to say.

But the image that kept coming back to me was anything but dignified. What I saw in front of me thinking back at Lincoln was beards. Hundreds of beards in all shapes, one uglier than the other, dancing around my head like the pink elephants encircling the wasted Dumbo.

You see: Lincoln is a hairy movie, probably the hairiest movie I’ve seen, far succeeding Hair, which is thoroughly shaved. Even The Hobbit, with all its variations of facial hair can’t compete. The dwarves looked funny enough, but they’re just 13, where Lincoln has a full house of representatives in moustaches and beards.

According to IMDb they needed ten hair stylists, two additional hair stylists, one  assistant hair stylist, one hair department coordinator and  one department head stylist to make it Oh,and I almost forgot: one hair stylist assigned especially to tend to the hair of Daniel Day-Lewis. Go figure.

There’s no doubt that this is a feast for facial hair fetishists. (Personally I’m not one of those. Unless you’re Gandalf, Dumbledore or Santa Claus, I think most men look better with their faces clean.) The question is: can I recommend it for other reasons?

Un-engaging
Frankly I’m not sure what to say. It’s well-crafted the way you’d expect from a movie of this size and John Williams’ score was less on-the-nose than I had feared. This is a movie that speaks more to your intellect than your heart and I think the amount of enjoyment you get from it correlates to how much you know and how interested you are in American history. I dare say I think it works better for an American than a European audience.

But I can’t get around that I could feel the long running time in my body. Some movies sweep me away to the extent that I lose sense of time and space. But in the case of Lincoln, I was fully aware of where I was during the entire movie, and I knew exactly how much that remained of the movie, second by second.

I try not to use the word “dull”, sine it’s such a subjective term, but let’s put it this way: I wasn’t very engaged by it. No heart pounding, no tears welling up, nothing. Well, apart from this urge to rewatch The West Wing, the same thought as I had after watching The Ides of March. Will there ever be any movie or TV series with a political theme that can match it. I doubt it.

Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, US 2012) My rating: 3,5/5

Written by Jessica

February 7, 2013 at 1:00 am

Posted in Lincoln

17 Responses

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  1. I’m an American. Lincoln was even born in a county bearing my family’s name. Allegedly, the doctor that delivered Lincoln is a distant relative of mine (this seems unlikely but it’s fun to tell people).

    And having said all of that… I thought the movie was pretty dull (or dry or whatever adjective you’d like to use). I felt like it was too bogged down in the politics to feel human- too much of the political procedure and not enough of WHY that political procedure was so important.

    I was even impressed by the actors playing politicians. Walton Goggin and Michael Stuhlbarg are two of my favorite up-and-coming actors, and I’ve long been a fan of Tommy Lee Jones and David Costabile. Those actors made the political proceedings as enjoyable as possible… and it was still really dry.

    None of that’s to say that I think it’s a bad movie. I understand why it got an Oscar nomination and I enjoyed it enough. But I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here, Jessica.

    Also, beards are great.

    John

    February 7, 2013 at 4:18 am

    • Wow, you’ve got some connections there! No wonder you seem like such a smart guy. You’re basically a relative!

      I agree with everything you say apart from the beards. Sorry, can’t help it!

      Jessica

      February 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm

  2. Ah yeah, civil war facial hair :) Look up pictures of some of the civil war generals to see some more examples.

    I thought the film was great, very stagey (I mean I could imagine it transferring well to stage). I’m intrigued to read the book that it was adapted from. But Django was so much more fun and memorable.

    spinks

    February 7, 2013 at 4:23 am

    • I thnk the competition is fierce right now. Lots of great movies opening as we’re catching up on the Oscar candidates. And compared to those, movies such as Zero Dark Thirty and Django, this is isn’t on the same level. In another part of the year it might have gotten a slightly more favorable review.

      Jessica

      February 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

  3. “Lincoln is a hairy movie” Love it :)

    I did really enjoy Lincoln but I agree that it would work a lot more for American audiences in my opinion. It does get a little bogged down and heavy at times but I think the performances pull it through.

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    February 7, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    • It’s absolutely not a bad film. And I’m actually a sucker for American rhetoric. But it was a little dull. Maybe they should have hired Aaron Sorkin for the writing.

      Jessica

      February 7, 2013 at 10:11 pm

  4. I was expecting something less than a 3.5. I’m generally cold on LINCOLN too and I have wondered aloud if it’s the lack of a vested interest in its politics which contributes. The film is not poorly made but it oftentimes feels staid for me, and in theory I feel this premise would be something which moves me more, but alas no.

    I did love Sally Field, though.

    Andrew K.

    February 8, 2013 at 12:22 am

    • I’m known to be generous in my ratings. :)
      I wasn’t too keen on Sally Field tbh. Or rather: not too keen on her character the way she was written. Nothing wrong with the actress. I thought she was a little bit too much of a tearful, crazy bitch. They should either have made more of her or excluded her entirely. It was the same with JGL. His participation was pretty much wasted.

      Jessica

      February 8, 2013 at 9:16 pm

  5. Great post, Jessica. Loved the title! It’s crazy how many “hair people” worked on this movie. I had no idea.

    I thoroughly agree with: “This is a movie that speaks more to your intellect than your heart and I think the amount of enjoyment you get from it correlates to how much you know and how interested you are in American history.”

    I liked this film; thought it was well-made but it’s a movie you can’t get excited for or be passionate about, I think.

    fernandorafael

    February 8, 2013 at 8:58 am

    • Thanks Fernando! I think there are a few movie bloggers that are passionate about it but they’re definitely in a minority. I would be a little surprised if it got the best pic award at the Oscars.

      Jessica

      February 8, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      • I really thought it was the one to beat a couple of weeks ago but I think the frontrunner is now Argo.

        fernandorafael

        February 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm

  6. Very hobese review here Jessica. I appreciate that. There are not many around right now. Too many are hailing this as the best of the year but for some reason I keep putting off. I love Day-Lewis but I get the inpression that this might be a slight slog.

    Mark Walker

    February 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    • That should read “honest”! Damn iPhone! ;-)

      Mark Walker

      February 14, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    • D-Lis great, but it’s not the Moive Of the Year to me by any means. I can understand why it feels more important to Americans.

      Jessica

      February 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

  7. I’m with you on this one Jessica. It is very nicely made, but it did bore me quite a bit. Maybe it’s because I don’t know enough of American history, but I just wasn’t engaged by it, just like you.

    Nostra

    March 20, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    • It’s been a month since I watched it and I barely remember a thing. Not a good sign…

      Jessica

      March 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm


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