0 - No Redeeming Feature
1 - Poor
2 - Passable
3 - Good. Rent it.
4 - Excellent!
5 - Must See!!
LINCOLN (2013 - UK Certificate 12)
When you have a cast that includes Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levvitt, David Strathairn, John Hawkes and James Spader to name a few, the latter two of whom have great fun as a couple of flies in the Democrats' ointment, you really want to ensure you're getting the mileage from them. Unfortunately, as terrific as the performances are, many parts register as less important, and more passing. In fact, I maintain this would have made a better TV series akin to Band of Brothers, which was a great success, than it does a movie; everybody involved would have had a role that felt utterly complete, the consequence of which would have been a more involving drama .
With all of this said, it does pick up the pace nicely for the second half, looks beautiful, and features flawless performances from Tommy-Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, with the most interesting character arc, and Daniel Day-Lewis, who has undoubtedly defined Abraham Lincoln so perfectly, any efforts in future will be unable to compare. There is some fantastic dialogue going on through the movie, and as heavy as some it is, it does not detract from how monumental a piece of work Spielberg has created. This is a film that may well be studied as part of school curriculum, full of stagey, "history lesson" tone; it is to the individual audience member to decide whether of not they like that.
So, classic performances in a film as monumental as its poster suggests, which just happens to not be the masterpiece I wanted. Nevertheless, Daniel needs to make room on that Oscar shelf of his.
Catch it if you like: Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee-Jones, The Consipartor, The West Wing
THE BOOK OF ELI (2010 - UK Certificate 15)
The Hughes Brothers have been responsible for some interesting work, with the biggest note going to Menace II Society and Dead Presidents in the 90s; few could say their work is without its fascinating elements, and with The Book of Eli they deliver a movie that is full of great bits and pieces, if not wholly successful. Gary Oldman is terrifying as Carnegie, leader of a band of misfits whose sole purpose is to locate a book, the one of its kind remaining in tact after a great war that scorched and ruined the old world. Denzel Washington is Eli, a man who walks west, knowing he will find a place where the book he carries with him can be put to good use in the new world. Their paths inevitably (and conveniently) cross, and so begins the allegory.
To rent or buy.
Catch it if you like: The Road
INFAMOUS (2007 - UK Certificate 15)
A star-studded cast all turn in terrific performances in a film that was quickly overshadowed by Capote, but if you though Philip S. Hoffman gave a good performance as the man (which he did), then you haven't seen anything yet. Our very own Toby Jones disappears here, in the second unbelievable screen transformation I have seen this week! Recommended viewing.
To rent or buy.
Catch it if you like: Capote, In Cold Blood.