Tag Archives: Tommy Lee Jones

Lincoln

17 Nov

Synopsis: Steven Spielberg directs a story of Abraham Lincoln.  As the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

CAST

Daniel Day Lewis…………………………………………………………..Lincoln

Sally Field……………………………………………………Mary Todd Lincoln

David Strathairn…………………………………………………William Seward

Joseph Gordon-Levitt………………………………………….Robert Lincoln

James Spader……………………………………………………………W.N. Bilbo

Hal Holbrook…………………………………………………………Preston Blair

Tommy Lee Jones……………………………………………Thaddeus Stevens

John Hawkes………………………………………………………Robert Latham

Jackie Earle-Haley………………………………………..Alexander Stephens

Bruce McGill…………………………………………………………Edwin Stanton

Jared Harris……………………………………………………….Ulysses S. Grant

Review: It’s hard to imagine that an American icon like Abraham Lincoln was soft spoken and human, we all think of him as a giant among men. It took an extraordinary actor, Daniel Day Lewis under the direction of another American icon, Steven Spielberg to bring this human story to life.

There is are so many subtleties to Lewis’ performance, he nailed Lincoln’s plain folk speech, Lincoln’s war weary hunch and slow walk, and of course his resemblance to Lincoln is remarkable. The story unfolding before us, tells us of Lincoln’s final few weeks of life as he struggles to pass the 13th Amendment and abolish slavery. The civil war has been going on for four years and he has been elected to a second term in office. We see how Lincoln navigates between his duty as public servant, the leader of his country and liberal Republican party, to balancing the tensions of a war almost over, and his love for his two sons and wife.

Sally Field plays his wife Mary Todd Lincoln as both strong-willed and as someone who will defend her husband publicly. She also suffers internally and has not gotten over the death of her first born son who died serving his country in the civil war. She fights her husband and is stubborn and feisty about her political opinions.

The film is similar to the play and film 1776.  1776 tells the story of John Adams fighting for the signing of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War, Lincoln on the other hand is fighting to get the 13th Amendment passed. Through his Secretary of State, William Seward, played by David Strathairn, Lincoln arranges some backdoor politics to secure the 20 votes he needs to pass the amendment.

Tommy Lee Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens, a cantankerous congressmen and abolitionist. It is not beyond him to cut his opposing Democratic Party congressman down to size and interrupt their speech making even though they may hold the floor. He has a compassionate side and we see it as we find out his personal reason for wanting the amendment to pass.

There are many fine moments and performances in the film, Hal Holbrook plays Preston Blair, and he gives a solid performance, Jared Harris plays a convincing General Grant and David Strathairn plays William Seward with ease.

The costume and set design are accurate and enhance the story in a believable way. Like any good story you are drawn into the time and place. The movie’s running time is 149 minutes but the time goes by quickly. Spielberg is a master at historical drama, this is one of his best. Like 1776 you are sitting at the edge of your seat even though history has showed us the outcome.

Recommended:

Hope Springs

9 Aug

Synopsis:  After 30 years of marriage housewife Kay, (Meryl Streep) pays for a marriage counseling retreat  in Maine to save her mundane marriage with her emotionally detached husband Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones).

Cast

Meryl Streep………………………………………………………………………………..Kay

Tommy Lee Jones…………………………………………………………………….Arnold

Steve Carell……………………………………………………………………………Dr. Feld

Jean Smart……………………………………………………………..Eileen, Kay’s friend

Ben Rappaport……………………………………………………………….Brad, their son

Marin Ireland……………………………………………………….Molly, their daughter

Brett Rice……………………………………………………………Vince, Arnold’s friend

Becky Ann Baker……………………………………………………….Cora, the waitress

Review: Hope Springs, the name of a small town in Maine, is really a metaphor for the famous quote “Hope Springs Eternal”. In the town is a therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell) who helps married couples rekindled their marriages after the flame has long burned out in their relationships.

Kay, a housewife, and husband Arnold have been married for thirty years, for years now they have slept in separate bedrooms, have the same daily routine of Kay devotedly cooking bacon and fried eggs for Arnold’s breakfast before he commutes to work and watches Arnold fall asleep while watching golf tips on ESPN. This is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie and he gives a remarkable performance as an emotionally detached husband who is comfortable with his detachment and mundane routine in his life.  Arnold is so out of touch he really doesn’t acknowledge how hard Kay is working to make him find her attractive again. When he does acknowledge her he usually talks about himself, golf or his day at the office.  Kay, so devoted,  just listens or agrees with any decision Arnold makes.

Streep, who is a national treasure, plays Kay as a woman whose dogged devotion turns to desperation until she finally takes matters into her own hands. She finds a self help book written by Dr. Feld about how to save your marriage and decides to book a week of intensive marriage counseling with the doctor in Hope Springs, Maine. Needless to say Arnold does not want to go at all but finally gives in when he realizes Kay will go anyway with or without him.

Steve Carell plays the soft spoken doctor with patience and becomes the perfect straight-man to Tommy Lee Jones’ comical yet sometimes angry remarks and self realizations. It is here the character study of the emotionless Arnold takes off and we begin to wonder how much is he really trying to understand his wife or how much he is just placating her. Jones brilliantly navigates from being self conscious and angry to trying to resolve his true feelings for Kay. The sexual innuendo and  comic sensibilities of the story ring true as  does the depiction of long term relationships. This is truly a film aimed at the rest of us who are not in the typical teen to twenties demographic.

If you enjoy well told small stories about people, relationships and life go see this film. Like the film, Marigold Hotel, it is a story about people who seek to improve or change their current circumstances making this an interesting, fun and satisfying movie going experience. I highly recommend you and your “significant other”  take a visit to Hope Springs especially to see Tommy Lee Jones give this outstanding Oscar worthy performance.

Recommended: 

Men In Black 3

31 May

Synopsis: Agent J (Will Smith) travels in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K(Tommy Lee Jones/Josh Brolin) and changing history.

Cast:

Will Smith ….. Agent J

Tommy Lee Jones …… Agent K

Josh Brolin ……..Young Agent K

Jemaine Clement …… ‘Boris the Animal’

Michael Stuhlbarg …… ‘Griffin’

Emma Thompson …… ‘Agent O’

Mike Colter …… ‘Colonel’

Nicole Scherzinger  …… ‘Boris’ Girlfriend’

Alice Eve …… ‘Young Agent O’

David Rasche  …… ‘Agent X’

Michael Chernus  …… ‘Jeffrey Price’

Bill Hader  …… ‘Andy Warhol’

Review:  Right off the bat I will tell you MIB3 is as good if not better than MIB1. The time traveling sub-plot, Josh Brolin’s outstanding spot on version of a young Tommy Lee Jones coupled with Will Smith’s off the cuff Agent J make this an enjoyable entertainment.  Barry Sonnenfeld is also back aboard as director and he vindicated himself with this one after the disastrous MIB2. In case you forgot MIB2 the first sequel, don’t feel bad it was a forgettable film. I am also happy that Rip Torn is not involved in this project, he wore out his cantankerous one note acting in  the last one.

One of the joys of watching actors having fun was watching Emma Thompson as O the head of the super secret MIB organization. She did a wonderful job up against Will Smith’s, agent J. Notably the time traveling method used by Agent J involves jumping off the ledge of the Chrysler building, as he attempts to save the life of his partner Agent K from being assassinated by an alien in the 1960’s. Another great stunt involves the first Apollo moon attempt, a machine that will save mankind must be placed on the capsule before take-off and then escaping through an emergency exit before anyone gets caught. They also kept the memory eraser device from the previous 2 films, an arsenal of fancy laser guns and of course this time Rick Baker out did himself with the myriad of aliens he designed.

The script is polished, funny and ironic, so do you need to see the 3D version? No, the film stands up fine without it. So for a fun entertaining outing at the cinema I say go for it.

Recommended