Tag Archives: Daniel Day-Lewis

The Set of 400: #61 – My Favorite George Washington Anecdote

Today! Because nothing will make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington –

Lincoln (2012)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x10)

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis (x3), Sally Field (x2), Tommy Lee Jones (x5), David Strathairn (x4), James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (x2), Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Bruce McGill (x2), Tim Blake Nelson (x2), Jackie Earle Haley (x4), Jared Harris, Lee Pace (x2), Peter McRobbie (x3), Michael Stuhlbarg (x2), Gloria Reuben, Walton Goggins (x3), David Oyelowo (x2), Lukas Haas (x2), Dane DeHaan, Bill Camp, Wayne Duvall (x2), Gregory Itzin (x2), Adam Driver (x2), Christopher Evan Welch (x2), S. Epatha Merkerson (x2), Joseph Cross, Boris McGiver

My favorite movie from one of my favorite years, 2012’s Lincoln almost starred Liam Neeson. Wrap your mind around that for a second. For years there were stories about Spielberg trying to mount this epic Abe biopic, with his Schindler’s List star attached, and I always figured that could work. Neeson has that magisterial presence, and what more would you really need to play Lincoln? But now that we’ve seen the greatest living actor in the role, it’s pretty tough to imagine anyone else in the part. Never mind Neeson’s very recent (as of this writing) issues concerning some racist tendencies from his youth (Has this story blown over? Be sure to go look it up), which would’ve made him donning the big stovepipe a bit awkward.

If you know nothing else about me except my 340 favorite movies so far, it’s probably about time I share that I’ve got a thing for U.S. Commanders in Chief. I’m no presidential scholar – I’m too busy watching movies to dedicate the time required – but the wife and I are committed to visiting every president grave site in the country, along with their adjoining museums/libraries/road side monuments if they exist. Lincoln’s Springfield tomb was one of the few we visited before officially starting on this quest, his being the third president grave we saw, following JFK and Taft in Arlington, VA.

It’s pretty grand and glorious in Springfield, IL

Plus it has an equally classy gift shop – the wife seen here

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The Set of 400: #167 – My Favorite Glass Eye

Today! Because the appearance of law must be upheld, especially while it’s being broken –

Gangs of New York (2002)

Directed by Martin Scorsese (x3)

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis (x2), Leonardo DiCaprio (x3), Cameron Diaz (x3), Brendan Gleeson, John C. Reilly (x6), Jim Broadbent (x2), Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson (x2), Eddie Marsan (x3), Stephen Graham, Gary Lewis, Lawrence Gillard Jr., Cara Seymour (x2), Tim Pigott-Smith (x2)

This movie was so close to being an unmitigated masterpiece that we as a people can only lament the missteps made in dragging it to completion. You have a terrific cast, a marvelous adaptation of a book without a real narrative, and Scorsese hell bent on winning an Oscar, in a year that wasn’t super competitive. Daniel Day-Lewis, not one to slum it, gives 110% percent and dominates the film as Bill the Butcher – a film, again, loaded with talent. He’s a colossus, an unholy terror, and while the film purports to be about the Vallons – father Priest and son Amsterdam – it ends up totally the story of the vicious Five Points ganglord. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #380 – My Favorite Milkshake

Today! Because I am the third revelation! I am who the Lord has chosen!

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin J. O’Connor, Dillon Freasier, Paul F. Tompkins, Jim Downey, Jim Meskimen

There are a handful of directors that to this day I run out and see whatever they make, no questions asked, no matter the subject matter, cast, reviews, or anything. Basically since 1997, Paul Thomas Anderson has been at or near the top of that list. And There Will Be Blood, while not my favorite, might be his best film. That glorious opening half hour! Daniel Day-Lewis commanding his way to a second Oscar! Paul Dano, coming off Little Miss Sunshine, but with so much dialogue! The titanic struggle for the town’s soul! The backstabbing! The milkshake! It’s not a particularly fun movie, but goddamn is it compelling.

Anderson’s later films have gotten tougher on audiences, and it started right around here. The plots became less and less important, as the atmosphere and tone took center stage. Movies like Inherent Vice, The Master, and The Phantom Thread became harder to follow, motivations got weirder, and the level of interpretation required grew exponentially. I enjoy these movies from the perspective of cinematic study, but they don’t make for easygoing afternoons at the cineplex. That’s not their intention, and I’m not saying it should be, but I worry that Anderson’s deserved wide acclaim will elude him so long as his films continue down this path. He is easily in the discussion of being the world’s greatest living director, but would your average moviegoer be able to acknowledge this? He’s an American Jean-Luc Godard living in an age of J.J. Abrams. Continue reading

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