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Lincoln was a brilliant film that resonated with 150 years of history up to and including today's struggles over voting rights and even health care.

Argo was an OK political thriller much inferior to great films like Z, Missing or The Year of Living Dangerously.

Permit me to link and repost an excerpt from my December 5, 2012 Diary: I Saw Lincoln and Wept.  

   I wept because I remembered the faces of the free blacks rejoicing in the gallery when the amendment passed, and thought "do they have any sense of what's in store for them and their descendants in the next 150 years?"  Any sense of the struggles they faced against vicious efforts to undo what had been done in 1865? Jim Crow, the Klan, the Scottsboro Boys, Brown v. Bd. of Educ., the '60s and Civil Rights Laws, Martin Luther King, Jr., his assassination, the "Southern Strategy," President Barack Obama, racist backlash to President Obama.

    I wept because despite those struggles, the 2012 Election and the "War on Voting" showed that we still need to fight against the voter suppression tactics of loathsome, cynical politicians like Jon Husted, Tom Corbett and Rick Scott.   It is a disgrace that they are still seeking to overturn the very progress that cost 600,000 lives 150 years ago, and it is the media's lasting shame that they have not properly branded them as rogue racists.

    I wept because I continually thought of the struggle to pass Obamacare while watching the tactics used by Lincoln and his allies to get the votes to pass the 13th Amendment. The overt bribery and questionable deals made the supposed Obamacare "scandals" like the "cornhusker kickback" look like models of honest governance.  The cornhusker kickback was no worse than thousands of provisions inserted into thousands of bills throughout American history.  And yet it became such a symbol of supposed "corruption" that the "brilliant" Justice Scalia revealed at Supreme Court oral argument that he thought it made it into the final law.

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Wuz Lincoln Robbed?

63%54 votes
36%31 votes

| 85 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 07:58:14 AM PST

  •  meh (9+ / 0-)

    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    But it’s disappointing that in a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States, African-American characters do almost nothing but passively wait for white men to liberate them. For some 30 years, historians have been demonstrating that slaves were crucial agents in their emancipation; however imperfectly, Ken Burns’s 1990 documentary “The Civil War” brought aspects of that interpretation to the American public. Yet Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” gives us only faithful servants, patiently waiting for the day of Jubilee.

    This is not mere nit-picking. Mr. Spielberg’s “Lincoln” helps perpetuate the notion that African Americans have offered little of substance to their own liberation. While the film largely avoids the noxious stereotypes of subservient African-Americans for which movies like “Gone With the Wind” have become notorious, it reinforces, even if inadvertently, the outdated assumption that white men are the primary movers of history and the main sources of social progress.

    The nation’s capital was transformed by the migration of fugitive slaves from the South during the war, but you’d never know it from this film. By 1865 — Mr. Spielberg’s film takes place from January to April — these fugitives had transformed Washington’s streets, markets and neighborhoods. Had the filmmakers cared to portray African-Americans as meaningful actors in the drama of emancipation, they might have shown Lincoln interacting with black passers-by in the District of Columbia.

    http://www.salon.com/...
    If you’ve been to the movies in the last half-century, you know the White Savior genre well. It’s the catalog of films that features white people single-handedly rescuing people of color from their plight. These story lines insinuate that people of color have no ability to rescue themselves. This both makes white audiences feel good about themselves by portraying them as benevolent messiahs (rather than hegemonic conquerors), and also depicts people of color as helpless weaklings — all while wrapping such tripe in the cinematic argot of liberation.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:05:08 AM PST

    •  Not yet having seen Lincoln (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Laurence Lewis, stevej, SilentBrook

      nor having read much critical writing about it, I didn't realize this. What a pity. Of course, Spielberg has made a career of smoothing over rough edges, sanitizing unpleasant and complex realities for broad public consumption and reinforcing mainstream memes and viewpoints so no one is too upset or has their assumptions challenged. He has never made a "feel bad" movie.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:11:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You should see it before you accept that critique. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NYFM, moose67, KayCeSF, rb608

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:20:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is there to accept? (0+ / 0-)

          It's either true or not. Are you telling me that people who saw it didn't see what they say they saw?

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:23:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, I and others in this thread (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KayCeSF

            saw it and didn't see what Laurence et al. saw -- i.e., the the film was guilty of "white savior" flaws.

            The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

            by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:00:26 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Did Frederick Douglass play an important role (0+ / 0-)

              in the film, and if so was it historically accurate and consistent with the film's main theme and dramatic arc, the ratification of the 13th amendment?

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:33:05 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  it's well done (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kovie, stevej, SilentBrook, a2nite

        and very well acted, but it's spielberg. no nuance, no broadening of the mythological narrative, and in this case no black people in leadership roles.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:22:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Spielberg is sort of the Obama of moviemaking (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Laurence Lewis

          Great at grand storytelling and imagery, but ultimately lacking, IMO, in true depth and substance, preferring the comfort of well-worn tropes and memes. Both were more daring in their younger years, in their respective trades, but as they got older and more successful and established, they became more conventional and risk-averse, and more reliant on image over substance.

          I mean, in the political world, what could possibly be more akin to Spielberg's "pretty myth" mode of moviemaking than Obama's pursuit of the ridiculous, unnecessary and quite moronic "Grand Bargain"? At least ET and Jurassic Park were just harmless family entertainment. The "Grand Bargain" would harm millions and set us back years. Both, though, are based on myths.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:31:03 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MRobDC, Upper West, SilentBrook

            You're stretching it there a bit.  

            "Maybe we should march on the campus of the electoral college and occupy it until they change their vote"--some wingnut, Worldnetdaily

            by chicago minx on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:36:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  So you support the "Grand Bargain"? (0+ / 0-)

              Or believe that Obama's been playing it straight with us?

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:37:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •   Steven Spielberg makes films (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NYFM, SilentBrook

                Obama is president.  I see no similarities there.

                "Maybe we should march on the campus of the electoral college and occupy it until they change their vote"--some wingnut, Worldnetdaily

                by chicago minx on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:40:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Spielberg sells myths (0+ / 0-)

                  Obama does too. That he does much more than that doesn't make it not so. I suppose that some people truly believe that when he says he will do X, he will actually do, or try his best to do, X. But then some people believe everything they see in Hollywood films, too.

                  I'm amused that some people won't accept that mythmaking is a core part of politics, and always has been. Obama is a master at it. I wouldn't mind it so much as I know it can't be avoided, but I just wish he backed it up a bit more with some results, or at least genuine effort, and maybe fought a bit harder and was, you know, more Lincolnesque.

                  "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:54:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  seem my comment below (0+ / 0-)

                I oppose the Grand Bargain, and don't see any connection to the movie.  In fact, the opposite.

                The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

                by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:54:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I didn't say there was a connection (0+ / 0-)

                  Not directly, at least. But I do see a connection in that Obama, like Spielberg, tends to rely on pretty and comforting smoothed-over imagery, in his case verbal, to distort and distract from a far less gauzy underlying reality.

                  This is simply factual. Of course most pols do this. But it doesn't excuse it. I didn't vote for him to get pretty speeches about economic justice while he worked behind the scenes to screw the middle class with this idiotic "Grand Bargain", which some have disingenuously compared to Lincoln's "Team of Rivals" approach as some combination of political genius and pragmatism.

                  I think that both men, like Lincoln, are geniuses of a sort.

                  But not of the same sort.

                  "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:31:29 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  It's a bit more than a stretch (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Upper West

              Kovie obviously has an ax to grind with Obama and will use any opportunity to let us all know. No matter how ridiculous the comparison.

              •  Can you stick to the topic (0+ / 0-)

                and not resort to cheap, easy and lazy ad hom?

                Obama isn't in the myth-promoting business? Puhleeeze.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:43:39 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry -- I don't buy that analogy at all. (4+ / 0-)

            Spielberg showed Lincoln's rejection of any "Grand Bargain" that would compromise the issue of freeing the slaves -- even as to the timing of the amendment.

            I see the relationship to Obama in the astuteness (and ruthlessness) of his political sense -- e.g., manipulating the Southern delegation's progress.

            I don't agree with Obama's quest for a "Grand Bargain" either.  But Spielberg's Lincoln?  fighting a war that lost over half a million because he wouldn't compromise on slavery (in the beginning in the territories; later all).  And I think Spielberg brought that out very well.

            Brutal war scenes and battlefields strewn with dead soldiers are not evidence of a "Grand Bargain."

            The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

            by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:46:42 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  And, kovie, you are the ... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SilentBrook, a2nite

            ... Edward D. Wood, Jr. of dkos commentators. But I guess there's a place in the world for loud, bad low-budget obamasploitation posts.

            Risk-averse is the very antithesis of health-care reform. Repealing DADT is the very antithesis of risk-averse. You are making the silliest of arguments, and that, alone, makes the rest of your comment above "Plan 9 from Outer Space"-level tripe.  

            I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

            by Tortmaster on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:26:48 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Aw, well aren't you the astute blog pundit (0+ / 0-)

              I mean, with such insightful comments not in the slightest bit of an ad hom nature, how could anyone not confuse you with Edward R. Murrow (or Bill O'Reilly)? Where do I send the box of chocolates?

              Obamacare (not to mention finreg) was a travesty and he had to be pushed--hard--to overturn DADT. Now he's replacing his term 1 lackeys with another set of Wall St. and industry-friendly past and future lobbyists.

              But we're just supposed to cheer louder, because...Romney!

              Btw, given your NR rating, I wouldn't play with fire if I were you.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:29:02 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your threats and bad punditry ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                a2nite

                ... have no effect on me!  LOL.

                At least you're apparently no longer arguing that ObamaCare and the repeal of DADT were "risk-averse." That's what made your comment super-silly in the first place. (And that's not to mention his coming out for marriage equality and other issues). With you now claiming that someone made him do it, you lose all credibility, and with that, my work here is done. Up, up and awaaaaay!

                I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

                by Tortmaster on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:31:31 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Biden's "gaffe" and pressure from gay groups (0+ / 0-)

                  made him do it. Duh. But I do love how you're redecorated the truth!

                  Of course, with certain people, whatever he did and however he did it, it's the best thing possible and the best way to get to it possible--and by design, too. He ALWAYS hits the mark because the man cannot do anything wrong!

                  "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                  by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:45:47 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  I wept at one point, but found most of the film (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite

          pretty boring -- the best part was the tension between the Lincolns, which also involved, IMO, by far the best acting.  Tommy Lee Jones was, as usual, extremely entertaining, but all he was doing was playing TLJ in a wig.  

          And, yes, the White Savior factor was WAY over the top.  As a friend said, it was at the intellectual level of an old junior high civics book.  

      •  I don't think Shindler's List was a gloss over (5+ / 0-)

        it was pretty stark, violent and brutal...

        "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

        by Statusquomustgo on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:14:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There were the same sorts of criticism at the time (3+ / 0-)

          of elevating Schindler as the "Gentile Savior," minimizing Jewish resistance etc.

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:28:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  my great Aunt was in 3 camps, and the movie (4+ / 0-)

            was pretty accurate.  I realize there was Jewish resistance...  

            She was able to escape 2 times, the 3rd time they
            sterilized her for punishment.  She was sad all the time
            but she loved us like a momma Kodiak bear and made us
            treats all the time.  I miss her terribly...

            "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

            by Statusquomustgo on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:48:35 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Nor, in many ways, Saving Private Ryan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite

          But they both tended to resort to reductionist "Grand Themes" and "Good vs. Evil" storytelling, which I personally find annoying and cheap. History is vastly more complex and messy than most movies about it.

          I find movies less comforting movies like The Deer Hunter to be more realistic depictions of historical events, precisely because they're so detailed and messy and lacking in grand themes that make it easier to view them.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:42:16 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I guess I don't have the same take on it... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Upper West, VClib

            it's hard to pack so much into such a short amount of time
            you have for a movie.  

            "It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment." *Ansel Adams* ."Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."*Will Rogers*

            by Statusquomustgo on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:50:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  There's plenty of time (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              a2nite

              It's not about time, but how it's used. Spielberg is very much in the American tradition of grand storytelling moviemaking, which emphasizes grand themes over pedestrian reality. He doesn't exactly lie, he just smooths over rough edges to make them palatable for the majority of Americans who like it that way. Which isn't even necessary to make a popular movie, ironically, given the success of people like Scorcese and Tarantino, no shrinking violets of the movie industry. I guess it's just a reflection of Spielberg's own personality.

              Note that I think he makes great movies. They're just kind of "mushy".

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:58:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  In two hours it's often difficult to add all (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Upper West, a2nite

            of the nuances. A good mini-series, or a Materpiece Theater saga, can deliver much more because there is additional time. Lonesome Dove is one of my favorite books. The mini series, which was six hours, had the time to develop all the characters and the story, and that was all fiction. The Lincoln saga has so much complexity that treating it in a commercial movie format was very ambitious. I thought the Lincoln movie was exceptionally well done and very much enjoyed it.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:04:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I thought that the Deer Hunter (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              did an excellent job of showing how poorly-envisioned and run wars can destroy so many peoples' lives, in multiple ways. Granted, it was longer than 2 hours, but the point still stands. I also thought that Platoon did a good job of not glossing over the absolute good vs. evil memes of most US war movies.

              Spielberg doesn't play to the art house crowd, let's leave it at that.

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:37:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  I'm familiar with that criticism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, Ian Reifowitz, KayCeSF

      If it's a flaw it's not a material one.  You cannot escape that the 13th Amendment needed the votes of the (White) legislature and that is the main story.  

      I agree with the "White Savior" critique as to other films, especially "Mississippi Burning," but I strongy disagree that "Lincoln" is at all similar to that.

      I also strongly reject the "Civil War" favorable comparison to Lincoln.  That series in the end amounted to false equivalence of the two sides and reinforced the "lost cause" narrative that is much more damaging than whatever minimal condescension some people saw in "Lincoln."

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:14:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the blind side (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Upper West, Gooserock, SilentBrook

        was the absolute worst recent example. a shameful embarrassment.

        if you want to narrow the debate to those months, it's not much of a story. it lacks context. the film starts with lincoln talking to black soldiers, which i found deeply condescending. how about starting with frederick douglass talking to lincoln?

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:26:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did a bit of research (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYFM, KayCeSF

          and didn't find anything about Frederick Douglass, and any role in passage of the 13th amendment.  Maybe I didn't look for long enough, and would like to see that he had a role.  But I wouldn't throw him in just to remedy perceived "white savior" issues.

          If not Douglass (again, subject to research) who were the blacks who had a major role in the passage of the 13th amendment?

          As for context, even among low-information movie goers (i.e., probably most), the Civil War is so central in history that people went in with plenty of context.

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:41:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  again (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            stevej

            the passage of the 13th is a very small story within a much larger one. isolating it denies context. given lincoln's many political evolutions on slavery, and even why he opposed it (including that it drove down wages of working class white people), it would have been nice to have seen how lincoln became the champion of emancipation.

            The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

            by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:49:31 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KayCeSF, denise b

              it seems like you wanted him to make another movie.  I think the narrow focus was a great choice.

              The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

              by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:58:14 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  all historical events (0+ / 0-)

                happen within contexts. the scene of lincoln talking to the black soldiers was about setting context. so were the scenes with his sons. and his story-telling. we kept seeing the wise, principled lincoln, which is the myth. it wouldn't have required a different movie to show how he came to reach that point. it would have made for a better story.

                The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:02:26 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I think there is a valid critique (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Upper West

                  that the film shows the mythologized Lincoln and sanitizes him. I however don't agree with the critique that it pushes black characters to helpless roles awaiting a white savior when historically that is how things were.

                •  Lincoln's evolution is fascinating (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KayCeSF

                  Around the release of the film, people dug up his 1858 debate speech to try to tar him as a racist (which those words certainly imply.)  Of course, context mattered there, too -- Lincoln lost to Douglass and would really have gotten beaten very badly had he expressed abolitionist or equality views in that debate.

                  WEB Dubois had a great explanation of how much Lincoln's evolution meant to him.

                  But I guess we disagree as to whether showing that evolution should have been part of this Lincoln movie.

                  The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

                  by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:27:07 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Whatever movie someone makes (0+ / 0-)

                some people think it should have been a different one entirely. It's a type of criticism I can never understand.

                We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

                by denise b on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 06:49:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  And I find this whole argument, which is valid (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Upper West, NYFM

          at its core, to have gone too far. We're now at a point where any portrayal of white people being kind or giving to black people is now "part of the problem." Separate from the Blind Side. Gotta run, sorry about that. I really just came in to rec the diary.

    •  The movie is called "Lincoln" (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Upper West, KayCeSF, a2nite, denise b

      It was not, in the words of the NYT article, "a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States." It is a biography of Abraham Lincoln, in which the authors chose what they considered the most compelling aspect of his life, the fight in Congress over the amendment to end slavery. How could it not be centered around his actions? They never said the fight in Congress was the only aspect to the fight to end slavery. They acknowledged the important role that black soldiers played in that fight by showing Lincoln being influenced by black soldiers. But the movie is called "Lincoln." Lincoln was in the White House, in Washington, and dealt with Congress. What else could such a movie be focused on? Should there have been more than one scene showing Lincoln hearing from African-Americans? From a dramatic perspective, how would that have advanced the story? It would have been didactic and repetitive. For a biopic, they did just fine on this.

      I apologize, but I have to leave and can't debate this. I respect Laurence, and I'm sure neither of us will change our minds. But I have given this much thought since the movie came out and I believe that the criticism is unfair because of the movie's stated subject matter.

      •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KayCeSF, Ian Reifowitz

        (as you can tell from my comments.)

        I think the white savior criticism distracts from the very deep resonance of the film to the present that I wrote about (the art and sleazy side of legislating; the long march of civil rights progress; the despicable efforts at disenfranchisement).

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:32:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  it wasn't a biography (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite

        it was a sanitized snapshot that didn't even begin to explore how lincoln became lincoln. good bios do that.

        The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

        by Laurence Lewis on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:19:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The problem, as Lawrence Lewis makes clear,... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mikepridmore, stevej

    ...is that the film distorts the record despite Tony Kushner's claim that everything in the film "absolutely happened."

    Historians, even those who loved the film, don't agree.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:22:22 AM PST

    •  I don't think it distorts the record (0+ / 0-)

      in the way that "Mississippi Burning" (or for that matter, Zero Dark Thirty) do -- that is, to undermine its central theme.  I do think it wouldn't have been too hard to avoid something like saying the CT voted against it when they voted for it.

      (I think you mean don't disagree.)

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:36:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that's the failing (0+ / 0-)

      of all "true history" entertainment.

      It isn't "true", and it isn't "history" . . . but it is what people will "remember" . . .

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:41:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't have a problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KayCeSF

        if the film is true to the essence of the historical theme.  I think Lincoln definitely was.

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:55:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder how many actually read (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Upper West, VClib, SilentBrook, denise b

          Team of Rivals?  Wasn't the book about the messy legislation in D.C. more than anything else?  Well, that's how I read it, and writing a script from that detailed, awesome book had to be difficult to present in a movie about the Congress of that time, the congressmen from each state, and how they deliberated with President Lincoln to finally pass the 13th Amendment.

          Honestly, if people were expecting an updated historical movie a la Gone with the Wind, they were looking for another movie, not Lincoln.  A few people I know said they almost fell asleep during the movie... "I couldn't follow the conversations!" and the same people I know who won't pay attention to politics, facts, or anything else that might actually educate them about the history of legislation and how it works in our national capitol.

          I thought it should have won Best Adapted Screenplay from Doris Kearns Goodwin's study and final writing of her book.    

          I would rather spend my life searching for truth than live a single day within the comfort of a lie. ~ John Victor Ramses

          by KayCeSF on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:12:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  from what I know (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Upper West, SilentBrook

      we had three nominees this year that were flawed historical accounts, Argo and ZeroDarkThirty being the others. Lincoln was the least objectionable in terms of inaccuracy. IMO, ZD30 was a travesty.  Argo somewhere in between.

      •  Argo (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Upper West, SilentBrook, NYFM

        while it sounds sexy on paper (secret CIA scheme to sneak Americans out of hostile territory), the actual events weren't really, well, sexy. I liked Argo, I thought it was well made and well directed, but like any movie about a historical event, there are certain liberties taken. And I'm fine with that. If I wanted to watch a documentary, I'd watch a documentary.

        •  Argo was ok but lost me (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          varii

          in the finale.  The last second stuff was just not credible for me.  (others obviously had no problem with it.)

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:33:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The fictional airport/storyboard scene (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Meteor Blades, Upper West, varii, NYFM

            was fairly absurd and made the Iranians look like childlike imbeciles. And by Ben Affleck's own admission was inserted as a plot device and not to reflect how things actually happened.

            •  That's why I'm still (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              varii, NYFM

              scratching my head at the acclaim for the film.

              (personally, I really liked Les Miz.  but don't tell anyone)

              The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

              by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:48:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Part of it (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Upper West

                Is the "America, Fuck Yeah" aspect to it, part of it is the way it was filmed which took 70s styles and didn't make them look dated. And the screenplay was well written, I thought. Apart from the last 15 minutes.

              •  editing was phenomenal---incorporation of (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NYFM, Upper West

                real and staged footage was excellent--story was very good--it brought to light a story that was little known but extremely important (for those who want the actual account, we're free to read up on it)

                I thought Lincoln was definitely the best film, but Argo was really, really good.

                Anyway, it won in part because Affleck was shafted in the director nominations.  But it did win a lot at the Globes too.

                People like Canada.

        •  sexy? Certainly is---read Mendez' account here: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Upper West

          here

          I have no problem with Affleck's choice to  'Hollywood-ize' it a bit--I mean, obviously the airport chases scenes were just cinematic license.

          But the original story itself would also have made for excellent cinema.l

          I'm glad that Ken Taylor and the other diplomat (the resident where 4 of the Americans were staying) received a mention at the Academy awards.  

      •  Agreed. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Upper West, NYFM

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:31:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I respectfully disagree. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Upper West, NYFM, VClib

      Not the part about the record being distorted, because it always is when you have to condense a complicated story into a movie length script.  I disagree about the degree to which it was distorted.  With white men having all the power, there was a need for some white men to buck the system or it would never have changed.  

      Is it possible to interpret the movie as indicating that there were no black men capable of great intellect or the capacity to change their world?  Yes of course it is.  But there are also parts of the movie that can be taken to say the opposite.  For example, to me at least, S. Epatha Merkerson's character comes across as an equal to Tommy Lee Jones' character in spite of having almost no dialogue.

      To me the movie was mostly about the process of getting the 13th amendment passed in an environment that bore very little resemblance to that of the passing of the Civil Rights Act.  A movie about the latter that left out Malcolm, Martin and others would be an egregious twist of history.  In 1864, sadly, black men had far less influence over the process.  Just my 2 cents.

      The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

      by mikepridmore on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:52:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  1865 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Upper West

        The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

        by mikepridmore on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:55:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikepridmore, KayCeSF, bevenro

        I agree.  I actually think there's condescension in looking too hard for "white savior" themes when it's not applicable.

        The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

        by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:57:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  As historian Kate Masur points out... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikepridmore, NYFM

        ...the film strongly implies that Lincoln originated the 13th Amendment and was its strongest backer. He originally opposed it. The film plays on Doris Kearns's Team of Rivals theme showing Lincoln having a difficult-to-deal-with Cabinet even though, by the time of the vote, those Cabinet members who argued with Lincoln in the early days of his administration are no longer around.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:44:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed about those parts. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYFM

          It was the "white savior theme" I was specifically addressing.  Like most others here, I have heard and read discussions about how the movie was based on a short period of time and that various elements, while anachronistic for that specific time period, were somewhat representative of broad historical events.  

          Interestingly, as you mentioned, Lincoln's push for the 13th amendment in the actual time frame addressed is true enough, but a rather incomplete historical view.

          The ...Bushies... don't make policies to deal with problems. ...It's all about how can we spin what's happening out there to do what we want to do. Krugman

          by mikepridmore on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:20:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYFM

          Here's a critique of Masur

          On Sunday morning, a friend sent me a review of Spielberg’s Lincoln from the New York Times written by Kate Masur a professor of history at Northwestern University. Masur wrote, “It is a well known pastime of historians to quibble with Hollywood over details. Here, however, the issue is not factual accuracy but interpretive choice [emphasis added]. A stronger African- American presence, even at the margins of Mr. Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln,’ would have suggested that another dynamic of emancipation was occurring just outside the frame — a world of black political debate, of civic engagement and of monumental effort for the liberation of body and spirit.” Masur’s interpretive choice would have added affirmative action fiction to Spielberg’s Lincoln.

          Professor Masur’s recommendation that Frederick Douglass be portrayed in the movie is an interpretive choice that would have made the movie less factual. The focus of the movie was on the passage of the 13th Amendment. Douglass did not have a role in getting the amendment passed in January 1865. His monthly had even ceased publication by then. The professor’s review was essentially an admonishment to Hollywood to do what Glory did and make history fiction in order to get the token Negro in the inner circle of the film’s main character. And, of course, when it comes to contemporary Civil War scholarship at our finest institutions, Frederick Douglass is the affirmative action inner circle Negro. Fortunately, Spielberg did not lend his talents to such fiction.

          The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

          by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:47:10 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The focus of the movie was on the passage of... (0+ / 0-)

            ....the 13th Amendment, indeed. But by narrowing to the time frame in question, contrary to the claim of the link above, it distorts rather than strikes for interpretive accuracy. Neither Masur nor other critics are arguing that Douglass had to be in the room with Lincoln when he was arguing with his Cabinet over passage (that argument being an "interpretive choice" that is historically inaccurate).

            What is accurate is that Lincoln did not at first favor the 13th Amendment and it was Douglass who pressed him on it. As the black historian Jelani Cobb has written:

            “Douglass pushed Lincoln on this issue [the 13th] constantly and was consistently critical of him. Lincoln met with other black leaders in the White House where Lincoln floated the idea of black people leaving the country once we were emancipated. But Douglass blew a gasket. Lincoln sent several hundred blacks to Haiti where he envisioned creating a colony to deport African-Americans."
            So, "affirmative action fiction" strikes me as more than a little like "politically correct." The work of Douglass, the Women’s National Loyal League and thousands of other abolitionists, black of white were what was behind getting the 13th Amendment voted on in Congress. Lincoln obviously played a crucial role, but making the final moments seem like a life's work is a Spielberg and Kushner's "interpretive choice" that doesn't just fail to tell the whole story, but makes invisible a crucial element of the story.

            That is not, of course, their only mistake (in what most agree is in many ways a marvelous cinematic achievement). They don't even get the story of the blacks who are shown in the movie right, ignoring the fact that Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln's dressmaker and confidante was also founder of Contraband Relief Association that provided the vast number of destitute fugitive slaves and, later, wounded black soldiers.

            In none of these instances would it have taken Spielberg and Kushner more than a half-minute of effort in an already very long film to depict these characters and their role in the matter of liberation accurately. Nor would this have undermined  their depiction of Lincoln with "affirmative action fiction."

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:25:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  good point about the characters you mentioned. (0+ / 0-)

              There's a good discussion in the Atlantic with TNC, A.O. Scott and others on the "radicalism" of Lincoln and why liberals don't appreciate it more.

              As I wrote in my diary, it really hit home for me based on historical scope and resonance -- the foreboding of the bloody struggle ahead for 150 years; the ends/means debate as applied to the ACA and the outrage of vote suppression today so long after 1865.  Not many films capture the sweep of history and contemporary relevance the way Lincoln did.

              So either that overcame any qualms raised here, or I'm suffering from a case of suppressed white savior syndrome.

              (Glory comes to mind as having great historical resonance -- though I think even that was criticized for supposedly elevating the white roles.  I didn't agree.  I thought the four black soldiers, archetypes though they were, were extremely powerful.)

              The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

              by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 01:05:03 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I thought "Glory" was a terrific film... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Upper West

                ...even though it too invented things.

                I've been following the debate over Lincoln at The Atlantic and various other places since the movie first appeared. One really good thing about the film is that it got us to talking about the crucial issues of that era described, and doing so with some nuance. It sent me back to reading one of Foner's books I had never before read: Reconstruction: Amerca's Unfinished Revolution — 1863-1877. Highly recommended.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 02:00:50 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  I dunno, it's subjective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Upper West

    Both good movies.  The academy seems to vote for movies they love rather than movies they admire, so....

    "Maybe we should march on the campus of the electoral college and occupy it until they change their vote"--some wingnut, Worldnetdaily

    by chicago minx on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:22:54 AM PST

  •  I'm not sure Salon knows about slavery (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM, Upper West, KayCeSF
    These story lines insinuate that people of color have no ability to rescue themselves.
    So at what point in history did enslaved blacks rise up and rescue themselves from forced slavery? If you want to make a movie about Nat Turner, make that movie. If you are making a movie about passing the 13th Amendment, as Lincoln was, it's kind of hard to portray slaves as being an active part of that process when they weren't.
  •  Personally, I liked "Life of Pi" and "Silver (0+ / 0-)

    Linings Playbook" best.  Lincoln came in third.  It is really a matter of what resonates with one's own life.... and the voting members of the Academy, of course.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:45:29 AM PST

  •  Double meh - in a year when there's no (0+ / 0-)

    My Cousin Vinny under consideration, IMHO the entire country has been robbed.

    Come on Hollywood, get with it!  People go to the movies to be entertained, not to be saddled with all this historical and educational shit.  Heck, that's what they invented DailyKos for.

  •  Django Unchained (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    varii, Upper West, a2nite

    should have won.

    If only for the sole purpose of watching right wingers FREAK THE FUCK OUT because last year's best picture was a movie about black people rising up and obliterating rich white people in the goriest manner possible.

    That, coupled with the First Lady's appearance, would have probably caused more than a few right wing seizures.

  •  hmmm (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NYFM

    Lincoln was an above average period piece... without the great Lewis it would have been boring...for me PI was the film that swept me away...The one film I did not want to win was Grey. ..

    Beasts is a movie everyone should see not because it is the best... just because..

    (as for robbed? The failure of Benny A. TO NOT BEING EVEN NOMINATED for director..)

    ashes..ashes..we all fall down

    •  On Beasts (0+ / 0-)

      The little girl was fantastic and the film was interesting.  But I walked out thinking, "Was that about fighting for the right to live in squalor?"

      Guess I'm too pragmatic and pedestrian sometimes.  I did think Pi was great though.

      My pick after Lincoln would be Holy Motors.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:53:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No, I don't think Lincoln was robbed. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    I thoroughly loved the movie, but mostly for DDLewis' extraordinary portrayal of the title character.  The rest of the movie was fine, but not spectacular; though the movie itself may have simply been overshadowed by Lewis.

    Argo was my pick of the four nominees I saw.  I have an objecttion to the historical inaccuracy of giving the US CIA the bulk of the credit while ignoring the role of the Canadians; but as entertainment, it was quite well done.  Of course, I was a young adult at the time and could easily understand the context.  Perhaps that enhanced my appreciation for it despite not being a big Affleck fan.

    So no.  Lincoln was a good movie, and DDLewis was superb, but I liked Argo more.  Then again, I'm just glad it wasn't Les Miserables.

  •  In the poll, the "Wuz Robbed" have it (0+ / 0-)

    at least so far, although that's not reflected by most of the comments. Thanks to the lurkers, then.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:51:23 AM PST

  •  Lincoln loses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Upper West

    to a CIA handled version of orientalist dreck called "ARGO" where the wily Americans are always just wily enough to escape the clutches of the zombie-like beardy weirdy gangs in 70s-era Iran. The same Iran who we are conducting covert war against AS WE SPEAK.

    Color me surprised. Affleckted and crew are the deigned messengers. Well I never.

  •  Les Miserable was robbed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Upper West

    Lincoln was an over-hyped made for TV movie directed by an increasingly passionless Spielberg who managed to actually make a fascinating story uninspiring. I love politics, process, and the machinations of sausage making, and I still found the movie slow and anti-climactic.

    The script was an historical fiction, not just in the easily verifiable things the movie got wrong, but in the overall tone and temperament of the time. It's similar to when you see an old western made in the 70s and all the characters have 70s hairstyles, except here replace hairstyles with world views. The script read like a construct of a PR firm, carefully weighing how to present things to appeal to modern viewers.

    Some argue that it is unfair to expect historical depth and accuracy from a 2 hour film. Which is probably true. But if the form doesn't allow you to depict historical events accurately, then don't make the movie at all.

    Daniel Day Lewis was excellent but even his performance was over-hyped, lacking the intensity of greatness, not to mention ego that Lincoln certainly possessed. I don't mean the intensity of the moment or of convictions which the scene used at the Oscars clearly demonstrated. I'm talking about the intensity of power. DDL's Lincoln didn't have it. Instead, he turned Lincoln into a modern intellectual, likely to appear in a Woody Allen movie. It was silly.

    And then there's the look of the film. Stark, colorless and frankly ugly. Spielberg's repeated use of cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and his propensity for desaturated, sepia-like effects has worked well in a few Spielberg films. But it's scarred far more. Of course, this is a personal taste. I got bored with these types of film effects years ago playing with Photoshop. And that's what this film, and all Spielberg's recent films, reminds me of: someone who's just gotten a new Photoshop plugin and can't stop using it on everything.

    Clearly, the best picture this year was Les Miserable. It had the best performances, the best production, the best costumes and makeup,  and a truly inspired and original script. It was a stunning achievement. But Les Miserable didn't serve a propaganda purpose for the corporate nqational security state. So it received zero hype.

    Argo? What a joke. Argo was mediocrity in full blossom. It was entertaining, but easily forgettable. It had some good qualities. But better than LM? Or Life of Pi?

    Please. This, along with 0 and Lincoln, were pure politics. Anything that reminds people of how evil Iran is is good. Anything that props up the USA's myth of how heroic it was to storm in, shoot an unarmed man, and then dump his body in the ocean, is "good."

    Lincoln, like Kearns Goodwin's book before it, was meant to remind us of the virtues of aisle crossing, compromise, and ultimately the centrism of Obama. Team of Rivals!

    Of course, the same Wall Street villagers trying to sell everyone on their brand of neoliberal "centrism" didn't have much to say until the Republicans had begun to deconstruct and it was clear that the Democrats were about to seize power.

    Hollywood is nothing but a giant Wurlitzer for the plutocracy now. And the Oscars, along with the media hype surrounding them, are just another page from the play book.

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)

      obviously disagree about Lincoln.  I don't think it pushed centrism.  I think it pushed getting done what needed to be done, no matter how.

      But I strongly agree about Les Miz.  The direct singing really worked, the cast was great (even Crowe -- his singing was mediocre but not terrible), the sets were great.  

      The audience where I saw it was completely riveted, except when they were crying.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 01:45:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I enjoyed Lincoln, thought that Daniel Day-Lewis (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Upper West

    did a phenomenal job portraying the man.  He was spooky good as he is in all of his roles.  He deserved Best Actor.

    I'm glad Christoph Waltz won for Django because I think he was terrific in that movie.  Tommy Lee Jones' role was more near-cameo than supporting role so I didn't think he deserved Best Supporting Actor, although I can't think of how many more times he might be nominated, as great an actor as he is.

    In all fairness since the movie was called "Lincoln" and the events leading up to the Civil War and the passing of the 13th Amendment took years and were chock full of nuance, the critics should really sit down and STFU or better still - do their own friggin' movie and see how that goes.  Mr. Spielberg handled the smallest portion, the tiniest slice of history with PRESIDENT LINCOLN as the focus.  It wasn't meant to be some sweeping, all-encompassing or near all encompassing epic film.  Ken Burns could hardly contain the Civil War in his series so I think folks should lighten up on Mr. Spielberg already.  He captured the melancholy not only of the man but of the period in general.  You could feel the pain of our nation and President Lincoln's from the first frame onward.  

    My personal feeling is that Argo was NOT Best Picture of the Year, merely lobbied hard for with the members of the voting academy.  I thought Lincoln should have taken Best Picture also.

    Just my two cents.

    "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." Ted Kennedy 1980 DNC Keynote Speech

    by Dumas EagerSeton on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 02:44:19 PM PST

  •  If you think that Lincoln was robbed (0+ / 0-)

    Argo f...

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