Lincoln and the Theater

Originally this was going to be a review of a new theater in St. Louis, the MX on Wash Ave. I got an invitation to the sneak preview grand opening tonight, and I thought I’d have a lot to say since it’s a fancy new theater in a hip area of town, and they’re doing the whole order-fancy-food-while-you watch thing.

However, it’s impossible to review the theater based on the experience because it wasn’t the full experience. They weren’t serving food–it was more like a glorified reception where you have to pay for popcorn, and you got to watch a movie afterwards. I could say some nitpicky things about the temperature or the lighting or the leather seats or the positioning of the concession stand, but most of those will be fixed when they actually open, and when you can order food from your seat, who cares about the positioning of the concession stand?

The one unique thing I can comment on is that they’re offering gourmet popcorn flavors, including truffle salt, the one I tried. Although it was a little light on the special salt, whenever I got a kernel with the magic mixture, I was a happy man.

However, I do have some things to say about the movie, Lincoln. It was mostly filmed in my hometown of Richmond, and one of my friends has a small part in it (chin with beard, almost off camera), so I’ve been obligated to see it since the moment it was released. I wouldn’t say I loved the movie–I’ll explain why in a second–but I think it’s worth watching.

  • Daniel Day-Lewis is spectacular, as always. His voice, his gait, his posture, the wrinkles around his eyes–I am in awe of this man.
  • The movie is packed with historical figures and famous actors (or maybe Spielberg got the real historical figures to reprise their own roles. Who knows. It’s Spielberg we’re talking about). There were so many of them and many were unrecognizable due to their beards that I wished they were all wearing name tags that said their historical name and the name of the actor.
  • Spielberg’s lighting guy (who might be Spielberg, but I like to give credit to the guys behind the scenes) is amazing. There are a number of places where the lighting creates an amazing movie moment–maybe it’s Lincoln’s silhouette against a bright window or the wrinkles in Tommy Lee Jones’ face–that made the movie look like a masterpiece of art.
  • Spoiler Alert: The scene where they ratify the 13th Amendment is pretty awesome. The way Spielberg captures it on film is nearly perfect. And even as the House is passing the amendment that makes all men equal in the eyes of the law, the congressmen are making incredulous comments about, for example, women voting. It made me think about how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go before we treat all of our fellow men and women as equals.
  • The one area where Spielberg faltered was editing. I don’t think he ended the movie in the right place. I think he included a storyline involving Lincoln’s wife that was downright boring–save that for the director’s cut. And the opening scene fell really flat for me. It involves a creative expression of the Gettysburg address, but it felt really forced.

Have you seen Lincoln? What did you think?