Tag Archives: lincoln

Tommy Lee Jones’s 10 Best Movies

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones has a career of crusty and cantankerous curmudgeons stretching back nearly 50 years.  From working oil rigs in Texas, Jones ended up at Harvard rooming with eventual US Vice-President Al Gore.  Despite some early successes in The Coal Miner’s Daughter and The Executioner’s Song, the veteran career actor really didn’t become a star until the early 1990s: after over 20 years of putting in his dues.  Lonesome Dove, JFK, Under Siege, and then his Oscar-winning turn in The Fugitive turned him into one of Hollywood’s most reliable actors.  Jones’s Texas roots always give him a grounded authenticity whether he’s playing a Man in Black, an ally of Lincoln, a military man or a grieving father.  He is a master of economy with emotional range, allotting just enough for what the scene requires, but always leaving the audience with a feeling that there’s more going on behind his steely gaze.  Quite simply, if you see Tommy Lee Jones is in a movie, you have to pay attention to it.
Continue reading Tommy Lee Jones’s 10 Best Movies

Phantom Thread Trailer #1 (2017) *Daniel Day-Lewis in His Final Film*

Releasing Christmas Day, among a glut of other films will be an odd-looking film about a dressmaker that will be the final performance of one of the greatest actors of all-time.  Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Boogie Nights) was announced earlier this year by Daniel Day-Lewis as his final performance.  Day-Lewis has always marched to the beat of his own drum, and it’s entirely possible he’ll change his mind at some point in the future.  However, if this is it, this is an extremely strange trailer for an odd-sounding movie to finish a career on.  Daniel Day-Lewis is the only actor in the history of the Academy to win Best Actor in a Leading role three times, the final time coming in 2012 for his best performance, in my opinion, in Lincoln.  I’m not a particular fan of PT Anderson, so I may let Lincoln stand as my last remembrance of Day-Lewis onscreen, but if he’s done, he’ll be remembered as a giant.  Full plot details below from Coming Soon. Continue reading Phantom Thread Trailer #1 (2017) *Daniel Day-Lewis in His Final Film*

My Favorite Scene: Lincoln (2012) “True North”

Lincoln is a supremely frustrating movie for me, and exemplifies everything that’s gone wrong with Steven Spielberg as a director.  The opening scene is almost laughable.  It seems like something out of a third grade play.  As always, Spielberg couldn’t end his film when he had the perfect moment (the long way down the hall on the way to Ford’s Theatre).  This film, though it wandered a bit in-between these moments, was about the passage of the 13th Amendment.  Everyone knows Lincoln was assassinated.  It would have been a far more poignant ending to see him walking to his death then to spend another twenty minutes showing it.

HOWEVER, Lincoln is still a must-see film because it contains one of the best performances by any actor in any role ever.  Daniel Day-Lewis is famous for subsuming himself into the characters he portrays, but his Oscar-winning turn as our 16th President was on another level altogether.  Lewis had to overcome everyone’s preconceptions of who Lincoln was and turn him into a real man for the audience.  That’s a tough task when you’re talking about the most deified figure in American history.  This scene is fantastic, but almost any time Lewis is on the screen you can’t help but marvel at the deftness with which he pulled off one of the great performances of all-time.  I just wish he’d had a director who could have shaped a better movie around it.
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln

Top 5 Movies for MLK Weekend

Top 5
This weekend here in the States most of us have Monday off to honor the memory of slain Civil Rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  While I’ve never seen a great biography of King (though Hampton Sides wrote an amazing account of the events surrounding his last days called Hellhound on His Trail), there are many movies in every genre that honor his ideals and showcase aspects of the trials he, and anyone, who has had to fight discrimination, have had to endure.  I’ve picked one of my favorites from Law, Politics, War, Sports and Science Fiction that I feel show insight into this troubled area of the human soul.  I hope everyone has a great weekend. Continue reading Top 5 Movies for MLK Weekend

Steven Spielberg’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies (NEW FEATURE)

Steven SpielbergA new feature here at Killing Time.  We’re going to look at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give it a grade and then average them out to see where they stand.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give it the same treatment to see how an artist is doing now against their very best work.  If you have ideas for other kinds of artists to grade, let me know.  This is a bit of an experimental try for me so I’m totally open to tweaking suggestions.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals if they fall within the last 10 projects).

I have a difficult relationship with Steven Spielberg.  Is he one of the greatest directors of all-time.  Yes.  Do I feel he should have stopped making movies about ten to fifteen years ago?  Absolutely.  Spielberg suffers from an inability to end his movies when they need to end and he’s lost his guts.  The Spielberg that had the T-Rex eat the lawyer off the toilet is gone.  He’s been replaced by the Spielberg who photoshopped walkie talkies into the hands of the cops chasing E.T. and Elliot because it was “too scary”.

His contributions to film are undeniable.  In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best action-adventure movie of all-time.  It’s flawless.  Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List are two of the most important and best motion pictures ever made.  I so wanted last year’s Lincoln to be of that caliber, but the truth is that Daniel Day-Lewis carried that film and saved Spielberg from an embarrassingly childish opening that would have been laughable in a third grade play, rabbit trails that took the focus off the 13th Amendment (which is the POINT of the film) and a perfect ending missed.  That shot of Lincoln walking down the hall on the way to the theater?  Fade to black.  That’s it.  That’s all you needed and something of that ilk happens every time.  He’s great, he’s legendary and he frustrates me more than any director still working.  Let’s look at KT ratings for the latest ten Spielberg-helmed projects:

1. Lincoln (2012)……………………………………8.50
2. War Horse (2011)…………………………….5.50
3. The Adventures of Tin Tin (2011)…6.25
4. Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
5. Munich (2005)*………………………………..2.50
6. War of the Worlds (2005)……………..5.75
7. The Terminal (2004)……………………….8.00
8. Catch Me If You Can (2002)………….9.50
9. Minority Report (2002)…………………9.00
10. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)..4.25
* On Munich, I don’t think I’ve ever been more offended by a movie’s ending than Munich’s.  It’s inexplicable, obscene and four years after 9/11 in such bad taste that I don’t even know-to this day-why more people didn’t pitch a fit over its ham-handed opportunism.

1. Shindler’s List (1993)……………………..10.0
2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)…………..10.0
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)……..10.0
4. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)…10.0
5. Jurassic Park (1993)……………………….10.0
6. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)……..9.75
7. Jaws (1975)……………………………………….9.50
8. The Color Purple (1985)…………………9.50
9. Catch Me If You Can (2002)…………..9.50
10. Amistad (1997)………………………………9.25
I personally don’t like Jaws or The Color Purple very much (yes yes, whatever, boo hiss to you), but I can’t knock the craft of the film making or their importance in the history of cinema.  The top four you can arrange pretty much any way you’d like.  I think Jurassic Park is just below Raiders in terms of summer blockbuster perfection and when you’re talking about movies of this caliber (especially the top of the list) you can make an argument for ranking them any way you’d like.

Spielberg was attached to direct Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, but has dropped that project and is not officially signed to anything at the moment.  His last ten shows wild swings in quality and is, arguably, the worst period of his career.  His best work is on par with any director’s in the history of the medium.  I hope he has one more great film left in him.  I’d love to see that.  I just don’t trust him anymore to deliver.