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Lincoln’s history lesson,Twilight’s energetic exit and Chasing Ice’s climate change testimony

Two big films for two audiences: the fifth Twilight for young people; Lincoln for the adults

Two towering figures stand before us this week: Abraham Lincoln ridding the U.S. of slavery and Bella Swan in the final Twilight feeling her new powers as a vampire.  Behind them, there’s a French film that one English critic called “jaw-droppingly bonkers”, a salute to a Japanese artist who raised manga to an adult level and a passionate essay on global warming.

Here’s the list:

Lincoln:  4 stars

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part2:  2½

Chasing Ice:  3½

Holy Motors:  3½

Tatsumi:  3

LINCOLN: I loved this film, but then I’m into the subject. My degree was in history and I follow politics. Not everybody is going to be as enthralled. Over in New York, for instance, Rex Reed found it “a colossal bore. ”  It is not; it’s an intricate drama that gets into the minutiae of the political process. That means a lot of talking and debating and arm twisting, high concepts and intentions espoused and ideals twisted by the needs of practicality. This is an intellectual thriller.

 

The film focuses on just a few weeks in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and one issue. He was determined to get a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery. His emancipation proclamation was just a war measure, not a law. The Senate had voted for the amendment; the House was not looking good. Echoes of Obama’s battles with Congress are intended, although you have to flip the parties in your mind. Back then, the Republicans were for it; the Democrats were the blockers. Lincoln offered federal  jobs for votes and made personal appeals to key players and now and then slipped in “a lawyer’s dodge” to get what he was after.  He had to be seeking peace and at the same time had to prolong the civil war because once it ended there’d be no appetite to outlaw slavery.  Tony Kushner’s script, Steven Spielberg’s direction and most of all Daniel Day-Lewis’s masterful acting bring these conflicting pressures to life. It’s not just drama; it’s a lesson in democracy.  And who knew Lincoln had so much humor in him or that Spielberg could, except for two brief scenes at the beginning and the end, hold his mawkish tendencies so well in check. This is a solid historical film. (5th Avenue, International Village and some suburban theatres).  4 out of 5

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN Part 2: The series comes to a satisfying conclusion (for the fans, but not many critics). They call it a teen soap opera. Who knew? Of course it is. That’s what made it a hit. At heart it’s the story of Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), an ordinary small-town high school girl who falls for a dangerous hunk (Robert Pattinson) and is pursued by another hunk (Taylor Lautner). She loves the attention; loves to be desired and yearns to go further.  Last time she did. She chose and married hunk #1 and had a child in a difficult birth. That daughter is growing up fast.

The complicating factor, which takes it out of the realm of your regular teenager’s life, is that hunk 1 is a vampire, hunk 2 is a werewolf and their clans are age-old enemies. They co-exist here in the Pacific Northwest in an uneasy truce that could collapse at any time. Problem number two, and right at the top in this final film: humans should not mate with vampires. Their offspring are a threat to all vampires which means the governing cabal called The Volturi (Michael Sheen plays the leader, Dakota Fanning and BC’s Cameron Bright are members) will come to kill the child.

 

More in New Movies

Two comedies about women at work and a stunning documentary about an Aboriginal artist lead this week

And they’re joined by a musical look back, a fashion industry success story that didn’t last and the hipster zombie film that opened Cannes this year

Two giant sequels and several worthy smaller films reviewed

Including new appreciations of Emily Dickinson and Pavarotti, the real story of auto builder John DeLorean, a British filmmaker inspired to draw on her own life and two oddball seniors falling in love

Doing it like Elton John, looking for justice in Canada, defying convention in Bollywood

Also Denys Arcand’s rant about the evils of money, a compassionate court dealing with sex trade workers and a series coming soon to showcase a celebrated woman filmmaker from France
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