Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Being honest about Abe


I have wanted to see Steve Spielberg's Lincoln since the hype started months ago.  I've always been fascinated by our sixteenth president, the myth and the man. And from the previews and accounts, watching Daniel Day Lewis portray Lincoln was as close to seeing the real thing as one can get (if you don't count Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln...and I don't).

Since I have young children, I haven't seen a movie at a theater that didn't involve Disney or Pixar Studios and computer generated characters in at least five years. So I was resigned to not seeing Lincoln until it made it to cable or Red Box. But my wife, bless her soul, had a Groupon ticket to the local theater that expired this week so she suggested I use it to take my mother-in-law there where Lincoln was premiering just before President's Day.

The theater was packed, but we found okay seats towards the back of the theater and settled in for 2 1/2 hours of what I hoped would be greatness. The movie opens with a brutally disturbing battle scene that leads you to believe Lincoln is going to be an action film. But the few seconds of action in the opening is pretty much the last you see of the battlefield.

What follows is 2 1/2 hours of a 19th century version of the West Wing, fraught with enough political minutia to satisfy your most die hard wonk. The problem is, watching how 19th century politics works, although historically significant, is about as entertaining as watching paint dry while you are making sausage.

Don't get me wrong, the attention to detail in the film was amazing, as was most of the acting (though I don't think Tommy Lee Jones was acting and he looks old enough to have been in the Civil War). But if the costuming was accurate, ill-fitting suits were fashionable in the late 19th century. Daniel Day Lewis is amazing and he does portray a multi-faceted Lincoln who was a great leader and compasionate father. The problem is that the movie seemed too much like it was trying to make a dramatic version of a 50s educational film about how a bill becomes a law.

And, through Spielberg's intense lobbying efforts, Lincoln will likely win "Best Film" honors at the Oscars. But honestly, I don't think it is the best film. It's a good film and a significant film, but I'd be hard pressed to say it is the best film.

Though it was better than Madagascar 3, Brave in all honesty was more entertaining.

Perhaps I need to get out to films made for adults more often.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Feeding at the trough of disillusionment

I was at a meeting the other day where a guy flashed up a slide depicting something called the Gartner Hype Cycle that shows the life cycle of "new" technology. Normally my eyes roll back into my head when a slide containing a graph appears in a meeting. But this one had cool points on it like the Peak of Inflated Expectations, the Trough of Disillusionment, the Slope of Enlightenment and the Plateau of Productivity.

It was like something out of a Candyland board game for IT bureaucrats. Not that I imagine IT people play any games that aren't generated by an APP or an X-Box.

I have to say I was pretty enamored with the Trough of Disillusionment. I have spent many years there in blog land with my eye on the Slope of Enlightenment. But it is quite the slippery slope and I keep wallowing in the trough whimpering and muttering Marlon Brando lines from Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, the Godfather and Apocalypse Now (nothing from Don Juan DeMarco) . It sounds something like, "Stellaaaaaaaaa, I could have been somebody, I could have been a contender, but instead I'm a punk. But someday, and I'm not saying this day will ever come, I may call on you for a small favor, but tonight you sleep with the fishes. Oh the horror....Don Juan DeMarco...that's a film offer I should have refused!"

I realize it is gibberish, but what do you expect from the Trough of Disillusionment.