Honest, Abe, I Took My Meds, But I Swear
There Was a Tiger in That Boat
Review by Ken Burke Lincoln
History comes alive in Daniel Day-Lewis’s remarkable portrayal of our Civil War President in his final months as he maneuvers passage of the 13th Amendment.
Silver Linings Playbook
An unusual blend of mental illness and romantic comedy with some excellent performances and very unexpected situations for humor, if you’re OK with that.
Life of Pi
A high form of high-concept story: a young man is marooned on a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, sharing it with a hungry tiger. Strange but amazing.
|No blood pudding for me, kids. I prefer turkey|
... and not your kind. KB
As I begin these ruminations on Thanksgiving Day (with no hope of being done until the end of the weekend as other needs keep creeping in, including the “minor” need to see 2 of the films), I’m reminded by Jon Carroll’s annual Thanksgiving column (see http://www.sfgate.com/default/ article/A-song-of-thanks-a-grat-etude-4058113.php) of things to be grateful for. Among many others for me (especially my wife, Nina, the most wonderful woman in the world—really, the U.N. gave her a plaque a few years ago; it’s right on the living room wall next to her machete), as an after-opening-weekend film critic setting my own agenda I’m thankful that I don’t have assignments to watch and report on such holiday fare as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2 (Bill Condon), Red Dawn (Dan Bradley), and Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey), no matter how well any of them may be doing at your local box office. However, I’m also very thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to witness much more wonderful cinematic specimens presented to us by accomplished masters of the art in Lincoln (Steven Spielberg), Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell), and Life of Pi (Ang Lee)—all of which I’m going to review this time in an even more extended review than usual (so that you can read it while you’re digesting your leftover turkey; if you’d prefer something much shorter but still relevant to the topic at hand then just read the blurbs above on the 3 films and Lincoln’s most famous—but very brief—speech at http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/ gettysburg.htm) because other obligations will likely prevent me from posting anything new next week so I'm unloading it all here (it’s holiday live theatre time, but I won’t intrude on Pat’s territory [remember Pat?]—although I keep hoping that he’ll finally get a chance to intrude on mine).
But depending on what the obligations in your life might be, I’d highly recommend that you find time to see Lincoln, both because it’s an excellent way to understand the history of how this country was governed about 150 years ago (with sad reminders that little has changed regarding the posturings and crafty dealings of politicians) and because it features what simply has to be the finest performance by a film actor of this year or most others. (Except for Lewis himself in his previous Oscar-winning roles of Christy Brown [another biographical story, this one of a man refusing to be subdued by cerebral palsy, directed by Jim Sheridan in 1989] and Daniel Plainview in 2007’s There Will Be Blood, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson [who in my opinion might well be competing himself this year against Lincoln for Best Picture and Best Director for The Master, my choice so far for 2012’s best (review on this blog posted on Sept. 27, 2012)]—and which could easily win Best Actor nominations as well for its own protagonists, Joaquin Phoenix as Freddie Quell and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lancaster Dodd [although Hoffman’s likely to be promoted for Best Supporting Actor], along with a possible Best Supporting Actress nod for Amy Adams as Peggy Dodd, with likely competition from Sally Field for her role as Mary Todd Lincoln, with Phoenix, Adams, and John Hawkes [see below] as the only ones noted in this aside to not have taken home one of those golden statues yet; I know there’ll be other strong contenders—including from the other two films in this week’s review—by the time Oscar nominations are announced in January, but if your first-run viewing time is limited I couldn’t encourage you more to invest it in The Master and Lincoln, but while you’re at it I’d also heartily recommend Ben Lewin’s The Sessions with equal Oscar-nomination-quality acting by Hawkes and Helen Hunt as long as you can accept the fact-based quasi-graphic sex between a guy normally confined to an iron lung and a professional sex surrogate, which turns out to be a lot more endearing that it might sound [review on this blog posted on Nov. 9, 2012] and Ben Affleck’s Argo [review on this blog posted on Oct. 19, 2012], another compelling true story, this one of a few American hostages brazenly smuggled out of Iran in 1980 with strong probabilities for Oscar nominations in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor [for Affleck] categories; OK now back to our actual review, already in progress.)
So, what’s wrong with the film itself? Relative to most of the visual mediocrity that hits the public screens each week, not much (and, I admit, I’m quibbling over how far up on my top 5 of the year this film is likely to fall, not that it’s anything short of brilliant … even though brilliance shines in relative degrees of perfection), but given the enormous challenge this film faced in making the horse-and-buggy era, where the only forms of mass communication were the newspaper and the telegraph, relevant to our society where no one can sneeze without there being a publicized Twitter count of how many “
gesunites gesheuntites gezuntites God bless
you’s” were offered (and from which counties), Lincoln still comes across to me as a bit more of a refresher
school lesson that you’d watch as a PBS or History Channel miniseries than a
major film that successfully rivets your attention relative to constructed
conflict and outcome. Some of that lack
of achieved tension comes from the general foreknowledge that in these last
four months of Lincoln’s life in early 1865 he was successful in maneuvering
passage in the House of Representatives of the 13th Amendment abolishing
slavery (adding to its previous passage in the Senate and the solid assurance
that it would be ratified by enough of the remaining states of the Union to win
addition to the Constitution prior to the Confederate states being re-admitted
after the war), oversaw the South’s surrender on April 9, but then was brutally
murdered just 5 days later. By knowing
so much of what is to come before we even enter the theatre (if only Lincoln could
have known his future when he entered Ford’s Theatre the way we know our
past—at least those of us who managed to stay awake in grade-school history
classes—that past would have evolved so differently), we need an extraordinary
animation of these facts to keep us intrigued given that we’re aware for every
second that we’re watching what we know the results will be. Day-Lewis helps tremendously in that effort
in that he imparts such a fantastic sense of humanity, imperfection (barely but
plausibly, given that even Jesus is depicted in the Gospels as having moments of
doubt and fear hours before his execution so we can’t expect Lincoln to make
nothing but benign and honorable decisions, as with his controversial strategy
of prolonging the war despite overtures of surrender from the South in order to
gain passage of the Amendment while he still had the likely votes), and
troubled hope (with his disturbing dreams of being alone on a ship bound
through stormy seas to an unclear destination, leading him to quote Hamlet: “I could be bound in a
nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad
that we see the sadly familiar difficulties of getting progressive legislation
passed in that distant time (not only the specific abolition of slavery but future
considerations of the supposed “blasphemies” of allowing Negroes—and, even more
horrifying, women—the opportunity to vote) and how political bribes were just
as much the necessity then to overcome an entrenched opposition as was the
similar situation of passing Health Care Reform in 2010 (with similar talks of
“political capital” and oppositional condemnations of the President as a
“tyrant”) when, ironically, the more recent horse trading had to done solely
among Democrats because no Republican would even consider voting for the
legislation (at least Lincoln managed to cajole 20 Democrats to join in with
his Republican anti-slavery votes [admittedly, this took place in a lame-duck
legislative session because in those days the new Congress began on March 1
rather than in January so there were further complications on how anyone might
vote as they were leaving Washington, D.C. anyway], but only after making major
concessions just to keep all of his fragmented GOP Representatives in line).
Of the many recognizable faces in this film (and some not so much because of the heavy makeup—or is some of that heaviness just the result of too much living the good life of a previous fat TV contract, James Spader [as W. N. Bilbo, one of the aggressive vote rounder-uppers]?), probably the one who makes the most impact (and might well score a Best Supporting Actor nomination of his own) is Tommy Lee Jones as Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania, a long-time staunch abolitionist who has to be convinced to keep his rhetoric to the level of supporting just legal rather than full human rights for African-Americans, just as we have to be convinced that his weird mop of hair might actually be growing on his head until we’re finally assured it’s just a wig in one of the final scenes. Jones’ marvelous fiery tirades outside of the House chamber and his reluctant insistence on staying within his self-imposed oratorical bounds during the final debate and vote on Jan. 31, 1865 show that his consistent range of talent even within the limitations of a career-long string of gruff characters (back to the days of playing Loretta Lynn’s husband, Doolittle, in Coal Miner’s Daughter [Michael Apted, 1980], for which I got to travel to a critic’s junket in L.A. to interview him when even as a rising movie star beyond his previous TV work he was already known as someone to be feared if you asked what he’d consider to be silly or inappropriate questions, so there was a lot of tension in the room before he walked in) always adds impact and gravity to any film, especially this one where Spielberg’s obvious goal was to make a known story and one very known protagonist find resonance beyond the fundamental necessity of the rightness (and for some the righteousness) of the legislation.
Where I find he falls a bit short in his intentions—and I’ll admit that I don’t know that any other director could have done it better nor could any other screenwriter have delivered a better foundation for this narrative than did Tony Kushner (another likely Oscar contender, for Adapted Screenplay based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)—comes ironically with the power Spielberg invests in the lead with the thespian genius of Daniel Day-Lewis. Everyone else with major speaking parts in this film comes across as talented professionals making a reasonable case for themselves as mid-19th century personages, but Day-Lewis truly emerges as the full reincarnation of Lincoln if we had been able to preserve him on audio and image recording devices in 1865 (Thomas Edison, you were born too late; although, the other technological support systems you would have needed probably weren’t available at this time either). In that sense he seems to be a holographic projection from the past incorporated into a contemporary film (somewhat akin to the supposed alien presence of the lead character in Eliseo Subiela‘s marvelous Man Facing Southeast ), a more real presence than his surrounding actors working from a script under Spielberg’s direction. This Lincoln doesn’t seem to owe anything to Spielberg (although Day-Lewis, despite his own innate genius, surely must have been more of a collaborator than an independent operator), he just seems to have allowed us to experience his quiet (although, at times, agitated) power across the great temporal divide, making it hard for us to conceptually integrate him seamlessly into what feels otherwise like just an extraordinarily well-constructed cinema story (with makeup, costumes, locations, set decorations, and lighting from nothing but seeming sun and flame sources that all succeed in conjuring up an extremely viable but far-removed Washington, D.C. and surrounding environs). Day-Lewis’ Lincoln just transcends everything around him, no matter how effective the rest of the film may be.
With all of the other Oscar acting nominations noted in this review, you might think we’re about to run out of contenders even before we get to the long-awaited debut of Les Misérables (as well as Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden-trackdown story, Zero Dark Thirty, and Juan Antonio Bayona’s tsunami-disaster drama, The Impossible), but if you skip over the very clumsily-named-but-script-justified Silver Linings Playbook then you might be surprised when the final names are announced because Bradley Cooper (as Pat), Jennifer Lawrence (as Tiffany), and even Robert Di Nero (as Pat’s dad, in a very active, emotionally-felt supporting role) are generating plenty of buzz in this very offbeat romantic comedy focused on a guy with mental difficulties verging on immense problems of coping with his life beyond the psych ward, despite his insistence that he’s got it together enough to win back his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), even after having been jailed for a homicidal attack on 1 of their high-school teacher colleagues after Pat catches the 2 of them in the shower. Pat’s a neurological mess, with a clear case of (undiagnosed-before-the-attack) bipolar disorder, laced with a severe problem of delusionalism, a hefty dose of compulsiveness (easily inherited from his father, whose OCD is manifested in his catalogue of rituals intended to bring winning bookie results from his beloved Philadelphia Eagles’ football games), and a need in his therapy sessions for anger management skills (a problem also handed down from Dad, who’s been barred from attending the Eagles’ contests because of brawling at the stadium). Most of the focus of the Oscar talk regarding Cooper in this role is that he’s stretched himself in ways that belie his assumed limitations from previous work, notably wacky comedy (the Hangovers [Todd Phillips, 2009, 2011, and another on the way in 2013—I guess that first one should give me a tiger linkup with Life of Pi but I’m not going to pursue it]) and other lightweight roles (although he already transcended his far-from-demanding action notoriety from The A-Team [Joe Carnahan, 2010] with this year’s very serious celebrity-author-with-a-moral-dilemma role in The Words [Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal; see my passing comments if you like in this blog’s Sept. 22, 2012 review of Nicholas Jarecki’s Arbitrage]).
Given that Pat is still convinced that his future lies with his estranged wife, Nikki, despite his growing ease around Tiffany (the thaw in their relationship beginning with their dance rehearsals as oddly—but successfully, for me at least—accompanied by the 1969 Nashville Skyline album duet of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash singing, in a harmony-seeking-reconciliation manner quite like that of Pat and Tiffany, “Girl from the North Country” [take a listen yourself if you like at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26oBcgkkbMw while you’re reading the rest of this long review—but as Arlo Guthrie sang in “Alice’s Restaurant” (you can look that one up on your own—wait a minute, it’s the only Thanksgiving somewhat-themed song I know so when you’re done with Bob here it is too, sung live along with Arlo on the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_7C0QGkiVo, although the sound quality is a bit poor on this one so here’s one that’s a bit better but with no live video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjKF7aQthcQ) and I concur, “I’m not proud … or tired”]), the ongoing focus of Silver Linings Playbook is how any of these unstable and/or delusional characters (and their variously enabling family friends such as Ronnie [John Ortiz], who provides the connection for Pat to Tiffany, and Danny [Chris Tucker] in the most notable small role, as a former inmate friend of Pat’s who keeps showing up in Philadelphia prior to his official release date only to shipped back to the Baltimore psychiatric hospital) will ever find any sanity in their lives, or maybe the real question is whether sanity is as necessary as stability brought on by whatever strategy helps us find our footing on life’s eternal tightrope, whether it’s finally getting on his needed meds for Pat, lucking into a winning final bet for Dad with the Eagles vs. the Cowboys after all had been temporarily lost, or just accepting that the ongoing love and acceptance from Mom Delores (Jacki Weaver, herself a possible Best Supporting Actress candidate for her benign steadiness within the tropical storm of her family) despite the daily frustrations of living with her husband and son will provide an emotional anchor when mental and financial ones seem to be consistently elusive. Pat’s therapy motto from his hospital stay is “Excelsior,” a manifestation of his desire to “don’t worry, be happy” (lifted by me from Bobby McFerrin’s upbeat 1988 tune; if you want more music, relive his optimism at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU, an action that will stabilize your troubles much quicker than Pat was able to accomplish) that he’s sure will reawaken Nikki’s love for him.
As for what awaits our damaged lovebirds as they finally start flying in formation is for speculation beyond this film, with its abrupt bursts of humor and constantly meandering plot destinations that finally arrive in anticipated territory despite the misdirections and misunderstandings along the way. Pat and Tiffany are obviously made for each other (and at least they realize their own neuroses enough to verify that connection, despite Pat’s insistence for most of the film that he’s doing everything in a mature, consciousness-expanding manner that will win Nikki back, even as he begins to realize that he shares Tiffany’s push-pull reaction to him). What brings this particular version of temporarily-star-crossed lovers out of the ranks of decades of similar “When will they ever just kiss?” rom-com frustrations (even as these obstacles are acknowledged as necessary to the narrative payoff of connection) is the stark honesty cut with wit of the two protagonists (as if Michael Shannon‘s morose-but-insightful character, John Givens, from Revolutionary Road [Sam Mendes, 2008] suddenly found himself adapting to life in a Saturday Night Live skit). Lawrence is a marvelous combination of ferocity, vulnerability, and self-serving strategy (beware the seeming honesty of hand-delivered letters, just as impactful but also just as suspect in origin in this film as in Shakespeare’s plays), while Cooper can swing moods like an energized pendulum while jogging through his neighborhood nonchalantly wearing a garbage bag over his sweat clothes yet never offering the hint of an explanation. Their competitive dance routine may end up more like a scene from There’s Something about Mary (Bobby and Peter Farrelly, 1998) than Saturday Night Fever (John Badham, 1977), but you never doubt that whenever either of these two really focuses themselves on something, or especially when the focus is a mutual goal, that some sort of victory will be theirs, even if it’s judged to be a bare crossing of the finish line by higher social/competitive standards.
There are too many legs on too many animals for Pi Patel’s (Suraj Sharma for most of the film as a late teenager, Irrfan Khan as the older adult version telling his story to a curious writer, and a couple of others briefly in his younger days) comfort in Life of Pi, a film—like the other 2 in this review adapted from a previously written source (raising the possibility that all 3 of them might be competing for Best Adapted Screenplay [Russell for Silver Linings based on Matthew Quick’s 2008 book and David Magee for Pi, working from Yann Martel’s 2001 novel], along with Lincoln and Life of Pi being likely nominees for a number of technical categories)—that may not land the acting accolades of the others noted above (although certainly consideration should be given to Sharma for providing such an ongoingly convincing depiction of what it would be like to be stranded in uncharted Pacific Ocean waters for 227 days, sharing a lifeboat and a makeshift raft with a hungry tiger, especially with the tiger as a non-presence while filming to be added in later with CGI and the ocean a huge water tank that in Sharma’s eyes becomes a menacing reality from which there seems to be no escape) but will certainly be remembered for its inspirational qualities as a manual for survival against almost-impossible odds, an oblique insight into spiritual possibilities that somewhat elude the more philosophically-assertive Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy and Lana Wachowski), and a stunning quality of 3-D delivery that proves that you don’t have to travel to mythological times, distant galaxies, or deep into the center of the Earth to justify this expensive technology. Film proposals (or novels for that matter) just don’t come any more high concept than Life of Pi, as a boy named Piscine (after a swimming pool his Indian parents admired in France) manages to shorten it to Pi (after being taunted mercilessly by schoolmates who pronounced it “pissing”), then finds himself on a freighter bound from India to Canada where his father is transporting an ark-full of animals from their former floundering zoo in order to sell them and start a new life; instead, the boat capsizes and sinks in a storm, killing almost all aboard except for Pi, a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and the aforementioned tiger (just to keep things ongoingly weird, the tiger is named Richard Parker, based on a mistaken log entry from the hunter who found the cub years ago), who all manage to land in a small lifeboat. As you might imagine, soon it’s just Pi and the tiger (not to be confused with “Eye of the Tiger” from Rocky III [with triple-threat action from Sylvester Stallone who directs, writes, and stars]; if you’re interested in these musical interludes I keep offering you, here’s another one, along with scenes from Stallone’s movie, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoDKQYn-ANE) for most of the film, all told in flashback by the adult Pi to an interested listener but with a twist at the end that possibly confounds the previous narrative or enhances it as you are free to interpret (this would be a real spoiler alert, so read on with care).
Pi is a complex character, given his unique childhood circumstances (made just a bit more normal as he reaches teenager love status with a girl that he must leave behind as his family goes off in search of financial stability and social stability as the former French colonial status is removed in their section of India but that leaves their subculture as the object of rejection by their neighbors; however, Pi can certainly be forgiven for not having come back as promised given his life-changing adventures experienced on his nightmare ocean voyage), enhanced by his spiritual complexities as his Hindu upbringing is purposefully broadened by his own decision to also embrace Christianity and Islam, a metaphysical package of support that will aid him immensely in his ordeal, even though Life of Pi never veers into any sort of proselytization for any of our protagonist’s many religious beliefs. All he “preaches” to himself and to us is that his destiny is not to sink into the ocean alone and forgotten (nor to become Richard Parker’s last meal) but that he will survive (OK, I’m on a sing-along kick this week [must have been too much wine to help wash the turkey down] so I can’t resist: just to energize yourself after so much reading you should crank up Gloria Gaynor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Faf1ch7Q9XE and boogie on to the long-awaited end of the review), which he does in a fashion that comes from both Texas-level determination (hey, you try to live there day in and day out without a steely resolve that “this too shall pass” and see how long you get along) and what seems to be divine intervention from Allah, Jehovah, or some of the 33 million Hindu gods that must be aware of his long and winding road (last time, I promise, but I couldn’t resist one more musical interlude, this version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrcYPTRcSX0 in which McCartney performs and footage of the other Beatles is cut in as if they’re somehow magically together again, my third wish from the genie in the bottle I’ve yet to find, after (1) altering history to prevent the assassinations of Lincoln, JFK, Malcolm X, RFK, and Martin Luther King Jr., and (2) bringing peace to the Middle East, even if Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad have to come back and negotiate it themselves). What Pi learns from his daily ordeal is how resourceful he can become when forced to by situations beyond his control, how we all (man or beast) are interconnected and must find ways to co-exist even when we are born as mortal enemies, and how this personal tragedy beyond anyone’s wildest imagination can also provide moments of existential beauty such as what we see in the photo above and what is presented throughout this film, in which 3-D technology is essential to the widescreen eloquence that lurks behind the impending tragedy of the experience, presenting us with enthralling vistas of our encompassing planet whether it’s embracing us or preparing to swallow us up for all time.
The fully spiritual aspects of Pi’s unintended journey come in some dark scenes when he witnesses the grandeur of various illuminated ocean species, the magnificent night breaching of a mighty whale, the seeming salvation at one point when Pi and Richard Parker are suddenly inundated by a school of flying fish that literally throw themselves into the lifeboat as a needed meal, and then the sudden appearance of a floating island that provides plants for the vegetarian Pi (although he learned to eat raw fish for survival, but somehow I wonder if he ever had a taste for sushi after that [just as my father virtually echoed Scarlett O’Hara in saying after the Depression something like “As God as my witness, I’ll never eat red beans again!”]) and thousands of meerkats on holiday from The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994) for the tiger to feast on before Pi discovers that night brings on danger here as the island mysteriously comes alive and consumes anything on ground level so he and Mr. Parker hit the road—well, the water—the next day only to drift for days upon end again until stumbling onto the shore of Mexico where Pi lay exhausted until rescued and the tiger unceremoniously disappeared into the jungle, not as a departing friend but as the wild beast that he was, returning finally to an environment that felt like home to him. As older Pi later explains to his enthralled listener, the Japanese insurance company that investigated the sinking of the freighter found his story just too incredible to believe so he gave them another one in which the survivors were his mother (a parallel for the orangutan), a sailor with a broken leg (similar to the zebra), a cruel cook who kills them both (like the hyena) for fish bait, and Pi (now representing the tiger), who kills the cook in response to his inhuman actions. The company men were more accepting of the second version, but Pi asks his visitor (who stands in for us, just like the reporter seeking the meaning of “rosebud” in Citizen Kane [Orson Welles, 1941]) which story is more acceptable to him, with the reply of the former, to which Pi says to his agnostic/atheist audience of one (who came seeking not just a tall tale but also some reason for enlightenment) something like, “And thus it is with God,” implying that we crave the more fantastic, mythological rendering of something, even if we know that a more rational explanation might be closer to the literal truth. We’ll never know if Pi’s ordeal was truly based on holding a tiger at bay for much of a year while floating on an endless ocean or on killing a butcher who had defiled humanity in the name of survival. Did he find temporary peace with an actual tiger or did he become a temporary tiger himself in order to avenge an infamy, even one brought on by conditions of desperation?
|Rene Magritte The Human Condition 1935|
What you take away from that question about Pi may tell you a lot about your own connections to what you understand as the metaphysical high ground and what you would hope to gain from a life challenge beyond anything yet dreamed up on TV’s “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race.” What Pi learned can only be understood in context of the serenity he has found with his new family (wife and children) in Canada and the memories (enhancements?) of his previous life. Similarly, Pat and Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook found some strategies that helped them move on beyond their previous roadblocks, just as Lincoln found that through force of will backed up by pragmatic political manipulations he could engineer a social restructuring that would change this country forever for the better (even if we’re still struggling with the devilish details of true integration of the visions of Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, and all of the former slaves determined to be accepted as fully equal members of the human community). This Thanksgiving season is potentially a time of acceptance, family celebration, and forgiveness of the stupidly-constructed barriers that isolate us from our best destiny, but it folds right into a period of blind consumerism, relentless expressions of “peace on Earth, good will to men” even if spoken with bitter hypocrisy, and wishes for a harmonious new year underwritten with the silent desire that my good fortune will be paramount even if it must reduce yours in the process. Each of the above films strives to preserve something better about ourselves, even in our most flawed manifestations, so whether they become Oscar contenders or not they offer us a vision of better resolutions, better acceptances, better hopes to live for even when the inspiration is snuffed out too soon (as was the tragic case with Lincoln). Yes, these are only fictional cinema offerings in narrative form, but if they can also offer us a bit of hope at a time when blood is still spilled needlessly on a daily basis throughout the world and politicians still offer blame rather than compromise for the common good then I’ll take hope, no matter how rationally it may be challenged in the small flaws of these particular filmic epistles (but like Pi, I’m not advocating some religious salvation either, just a belief—as shown with Abe, Pat, and Tiffany as well—that we all can rise to the best versions of ourselves when the stakes are too high to ignore). With that, enough uplifting philosophy for now because there’s a leftover turkey sandwich calling my name (see you again in a couple of weeks).
If you’d like to know more about Lincoln here are some suggested links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BERKF9rnBcQ (43 min. interview with director Steven Spielberg and actor Daniel Day-Lewis)
If you’d like to know more about Silver Linings Playbook here are some suggested links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5_FhLaaQQ (this comes about as close as I’ve ever seen to showing everything significant about the movie in roughly 2 ½ minutes; I still think you’d enjoy seeing the whole thing in a theatre but if you can’t this compresses everything essential to being able to appreciate the film)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ2YAfM6u8k (a 44 min. press conference from the 2012 Toronto Film Festival with testimony from director David O. Russell and actors Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Tucker, Jacki Weaver, and Anupam Kher)
If you’d like to know more about Life of Pi here are some suggested links:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o5pdWwULjw (transformation of actual tiger footage into CGI tiger for the film)
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