Just weeks after President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) is reelected to a second term in 1864, he pushes for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution that would outlaw slavery and involuntary servitude. It had already passed the Senate, but it stalled in the House of Representatives.
At the same time, word comes that the Confederacy is ready for peace discussions between the North and the South as the Civil War rages. The Senate figures that if peace is secured, there would be no need for the amendment to pass, and things could go back to the way they were before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Lincoln knows that the proclamation, as an executive order, could be challenged after the war.
Lincoln, directed by Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg, is an intimate study of the man, his family, his cabinet, and political machinations to achieve the end of slavery and bring the Civil War to a close.
There are no shabby performances in Lincoln. Day-Lewis’s Oscar-worthy turn is extraordinary. After watching the scene where he tends the fire and then kneels down so his son, Tad (Gulliver McGrath), can climb on his back for a ride to bed, I knew I was seeing something great and unforgettable.
Sally Field excels as the emotionally uneven wife, Mary Todd. Tommy Lee Jones, as Representative Thaddeus Stevens, who has to compromise ideology for terminology that turns the tide in the Senate, deserves an Oscar, too.
Day-Lewis, with the help of makeup wizardry and a compelling script by Tony Kushner, is Abraham Lincoln.
A-3, PG-13 ■ Brief violence, graphic imagery, mature themes.
The Twilight Saga:Breaking Dawn—Part 2
Newly converted vampire Bella (Kristen Stewart), her husband, Edward (Robert Pattinson), and daughter, Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), are at home in Forks, Washington. They are surrounded by other vampires and by Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a wolf, and his pack for safety. The child is in mortal danger because the Volturi—the most powerful group of vampires in the world— believes she was born a vampire and is a threat to them because she will be uncontrollable.
But, in reality, Renesmee is half-vampire and half-human because she was born before Edward turned Bella into a vampire. The Volturi and the Cullen clan meet so that Aro (Michael Sheen) can discover the truth and desist. They engage in a grand battle that will determine the future for all.
It’s a challenge to review this film—one that could have easily ended with Part 1 (2011). A case could be made for hints of Mormon theology in the film, such as the immortality of marriage and family.
The filmmakers, through special effects, succeed in turning the conclusion of author Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novels into a film with startling imagery. They more than make sure fans will be satisfied with the ending, which is a little different from the book. There just wasn’t a lot to the film but huge box-office receipts.
A-3, PG-13 ■ Intense vampire violence.
Silver Linings Playbook
Former high school teacher Pat (Bradley Cooper) returns to his parents’ home in Philadelphia after spending time in a mental institution for severely beating his wife’s lover. He is diagnosed as bipolar and wants to save his marriage and get his job back, but refuses to take his medication.
Pat decides, instead, to train and meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a young widow, while running in the neighborhood. They are attracted to each other, but both have serious emotional issues. Pat realizes that Tiffany can get a letter to his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), despite the restraining order she has against him. In return for the favor, Pat agrees to become Tiffany’s ballroom dancing partner so she can compete in an upcoming contest.
Pat’s therapist tells him to come up with a strategy so he will respond appropriately instead of fighting when stressful situations come up. Add to the mix Pat’s father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), an obsessivecompulsive who gets into fights over his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team, and the stakes for a happy ending rise considerably.
Cooper and Lawrence have great chemistry, and Jacki Weaver, who plays Pat’s mother, is the calm, sane presence in this chaotic world wrought by good people who struggle to be the best they can be.
The title, Silver Linings Playbook, reflects Pat’s strategy to look for silver linings in life as well as in the family’s favorite football team. The film is one of the warmest, quirkiest love stories in years—a perfect blend of humor, pathos, heart, and hope for flawed and broken humanity. This film may rival Lincoln for Oscar attention.
Not yet rated, R ■ Language, brawling, and mature themes.