BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
Steven Spielberg’s film covering the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life in 1865 made its star, Daniel Day-Lewis, the first man ever to win three best actor Oscars. Hectic months they were, too. The American Civil War was still going on and Lincoln (Day-Lewis) was anxious to get the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed immediately to ensure that, whatever happened, freed slaves would not be re-enslaved. But in this he faces opposition or at least reluctance from his own Republican Party. Meanwhile, he agonises over whether or not to make a compromise peace with the Confederate enemy. This is not a film that panders to the blockbuster audience. Instead, it’s a very intelligent, highly dramatic study of politics good and bad, statesmanship and, of course, the creation of what, even allowing for Donald Trump, is still a great democracy. It’s riveting stuff, beautifully handled by Spielberg, and Day-Lewis gives the performance of his life in the title role. Showing to celebrate Independence Day with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, made the same year.
Seven Years in Tibet ★★★
Brad Pitt stars in this magnificently shot drama about adventurer Heinrich Harrer, and his time in Tibet with a young Dalai Lama.
Dwayne Johnson plays it straight as a concerned father who goes under cover to extract his son from the wrong side of the law. Proof, if any was needed, that there is an actor beneath the big guns.
Bloody Sunday ★★★★
The raw, verité style of director Paul Greengrass underlines the horrific loss of life when British forces tried to quash a protest march in Londonderry in 1972.
The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans ★★★★
Nicolas Cage is on top form as a drug-addled cop who gives the bad guys a run for their money when it comes to criminal behaviour.
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