Tom Finneran: The Oscars
Friday, March 01, 2013
Who knew there was such drama and tension to be had? I guess great directors can stage things that take your breath away. Sally Field as the troubled but very empathetic Mrs. Lincoln was superb, as was Tommy Lee Jones playing the part of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Daniel Day Lewis plays the role of Lincoln to the hilt, with the excruciating weight of the office showing in his every step. It is rollicking entertainment, quite moving on an emotional level, and even more impressive in its presentation of the awesome history of the Civil War. Go see it.
“Lincoln” reminds me of another impressive historical movie: ”The King’s Speech.” That’s a movie for your home collection for sure. And it’s a particularly good movie for the presentation of important history at a time when many young folks are completely clueless. I’d charge those young people with historical amnesia, but amnesia actually implies that they once knew the matter at hand and have simply lost it in the mists of fading memory. Sadly, survey after survey shows a growing historic illiteracy in America’s students, with many of them unable to identify the most basic facts of our nation’s past.
Back to “Lincoln” for a moment. The presentation of the politics around the debate and passage of the 13th Amendment was riveting. Here we see the sublime nature of public service as well as its basest elements, some of which were gleefully practiced by Lincoln and his allies. Both the noble and the tawdry are displayed as we watch a President fighting to collect votes from a timid, even frightened House of Representatives.
One aspect of this movie that I cannot comprehend is the poetic license that the director (Steven Spielberg) takes with basic facts. Here I speak of the scene that presents two Connecticut Congressmen as having voted against the amendment, that is, siding with the pro-slavery forces. That simply did not happen. In fact, the exact opposite happened. And while few folks would ever expect Hollywood to hew precisely to historic facts, our neighbors in Connecticut are, quite rightly in my mind, disturbed by this slur upon their history and their name. Not only is the presentation false to the facts, but the assumption that the momentous nature of the debate needed some type of artificial enhancement is absurd. We are talking about the most significant event in our nation’s history—a civil war—fought over the wretched and barbaric treatment of fellow human beings. The story line, history’s story line, does not need steroids.
Other Oscar tidbits: Several friends have reported favorably about “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” which means that I’ll go see them while they are still in the theaters. There’s something about watching a good movie in a good theater that you just don’t get at home. Perhaps it’s those nice seats, or that huge screen, or maybe it’s just the giant buttered popcorn. Whatever it is, it feels special to see it up on the silver screen.
“Argo” of course won some awards (Best Picture, announced by Michelle Obama from the White House!—among others). “Zero Dark Thirty” had a handful of impressive nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress, best writing, and best editing(sound), for which it won the Oscar. All in all, it was an entertaining and predictably overdone night (it is Hollywood after all). Two questions remain—why does there seem to be such venomous resentment of Anne Hathaway, who played the role of Fantine in Les Miserables and who sang magnificently? She is very pretty and very talented. Why all the hatred? And why oh why would anyone with a functioning brain cell ever pay heed to political advice and endorsements from Hollywood? Clueless pampered artificial peacocks, living in a world of make-believe offer political views and we, the peasants and the peons, are supposed to pay attention to those views? I haven’t had a lobotomy and even if I did, I’d pay no attention to their political drivel. As the title goes, can’t they just ”shut up and sing”?
Hope to see you at the concession stand.
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