Lincoln

Oral American Cousins, Political Haberdashers, And The Beard Of The Year

To be honest I didn’t know that guy on the five-dollar bill was a real person until I saw Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. I had to ask another theatergoer after the film. I’m joking. I knew he was a real person, I just didn’t think he was so darned important and poetic, dagnabbit! I’m still joking, and so is Honest Abe, from every hickory stump he can lay his tails over in Steven’s Victorian opus.

Lincoln cajoles, recites anecdotes, and draws from a seemingly bottomless well of folkloricisms and oral American cousins. He makes Jeff Foxworthy look like Mummenshanz. Abe keeps us bound in his well-timed fury. His aura is unmistakable, biblical, and the events that surround the final four months of his life canonical.

Canonical also are the libraries of study devoted to this man and his life. Sandberg, Ford and Fonda, and now Steven and Daniel Day-Lewis in a film that is annoyingly good, with its heavy-handed poeticism and its Oscar pedigree cast and crew. I dare say I saw uncredited cameos from Russell Crowe and Gary Oldman in wigs as members of Congress, but I suspect I might be wrong.

The Beard of the Year Golden Globe will almost certainly go to that rascally scrubber Mr. Day-Lewis sports.

Lincoln surrounds itself with tragedy and political haberdashers, Shakespearean fools worthy of Sorkin masquerading as Kushner. The cinematography is ripped with the requisite religious iconography so relegated to Father Abraham the Deliverer, and the lighting is positively evil in its perfection. He is both the crucifier and the crucified, and gives ‘bathed in a heavenly light’ new meaning, almost becoming a parody in its goodness, like a Mathew Brady wrought in early Thomas Cole or Frederic Church.

The Beard of the Year Golden Globe will almost certainly go to that rascally scrubber Mr. Day-Lewis sports. It is an obstinate, thatchy protuberance that, rumor has it, never broke character or needed a comb off-camera.

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