Knee-jerk review: "Lincoln"

1. It's one of those movies that knows it's, like, really really important.  Makes it a bit stiff.
2. It's also one of those movies that literally put us to sleep.  It makes us feel like an uncultured, unwashed hooligan, but we can't lie to you.  We fought it as best we could, but there was definitely a snore or two ripping through the auditorium.  We used to get the same feeling back in the days when we had to watch foreign films at film festivals.  They may have been profound and artful, but they had no concept of pacing and urgency.  Those... things... dragged.... along.
3. The first hour here is rather tedious and sloggy, full of white men standing around in old costumes and crazy hair and pontificating.
4. The last 90 minutes... better.  We stayed awake.
5. We'd like to think it was the full meal we'd just had or the medicine we took or the horrible seats we were stuck with.  But then again, it could be that it was just dull.
6. Things perk up considerably when the movie moves away from the drawing room oratory and into something that involves, you know, conflict.  The sequences involving the boisterous, cranky House of Representatives are compelling.  You know the current members of that august body would love to have the chance to openly boo and insult one another as is depicted here.
7. We're also curious to see the movie that Spielberg only hints at in a couple of moments, the one that shows the horror of the Civil War with the same unblinking fascination with the violence men commit that gave such an undercurrent of dread to Saving Private Ryan.
8. Daniel Day Lewis.  We get it.  He's amazing.  But there's something a little mannered and forced about his performances, don't you think?  It's never as effortless and charming as, say, Meryl Streep.
9. On the bright side, the last mainstream Hollywood movie to put us to sleep in the theater was Gladiator and that won the Oscar for Best Picture.  You're welcome, Steve.
10. You can tell the script was written by a playwright.  There's a clear love of language and words.  But there's also a theatrical, stage-bound quality to the action.
11. The broad strokes of the plot are intriguing, no question.  The back-room deals and compromises and white lies and arm twisting and threats needed to end slavery.  These are the kind of machinations that make the government run.  We wish more of this sort of thing happened today.  Too much of Washington is pitched to the TV cameras and talk radio shows.  But we digress.
11. Weird how everyday citizens could have a meeting with the president back then.
12. Maybe we'll see it again some day.  But we still have yet to rewatch Gladiator.


"No, Mr. Bond, I expect a sizable return on my investment!"

Vulture.com recently explored the economic feasibility of some of the James Bond movie villain plans.  No word on the financial impact of using a nuclear weapon to hold the world hostage (Thunderball), blowing up Berlin (Octopussy), or creating super races (Moonraker).


Top ten 1980s all-slow-dance prom DJ playlist

Richard Marx, "Hold on to the Night"
The Bangles, "Eternal Flame"
Richard Marx, "Endless Summer Nights"
Phil Collins, "Groovy Kind of Love"
INXS, "Never Tear Us Apart"
Vanessa Williams, "Dreamin"
Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, "The Next Time I Fall"
Breathe, "How Can I Fall"
Bon Jovi, "Never Say Goodbye"
Deion Estes, "Heaven Help Me"

We're not proud of it, but it is what it was.

What we'll miss most about Fox's "Fringe"

* Anna Torv's ponytail.
* The gruff professionalism of Agent Broyles.
* The dirigibles of Earth-2.
* Red licorice.
* The creepy, dead-eyed soullessness of the Observers, though we did always appreciate their retro attire and the slow, careful way they put on and took off their fedoras.
* The hubris of Walter Bishop and how his decision to steal his son's double almost destroyed not one, but two, universes.  We're pretty sure that qualifies as an "unintended consequence."
* The feeling of being in an exclusive club of passionate fans.  There was simply no way for someone unfamiliar with the show to drop in and sample an episode or two once the series got rolling, not with parallel universes and time-reboots.  You'd sound like a crazy person just trying to explain all of the twists and turns.  If you watched it, you got it.  You were one of the few.
* The genius of John Noble.  It's a great role and Noble knew it.  Knocked it out of the park time and again.  But Emmy would rather consider the overrated Hugh Laurie every year and that guy who plays Dexter.
* The perky patience of Astrid Farnsworth.
* Those giant floating words.
* The fearsome bad-assery of telekinetic Olivia Dunham.
* Repeated references to the wonder drug cortexiphan.  We'll have to find ways to keep using the word in our everyday life.  Won't be easy.
* Enjoying the thoughtful, literate episode recaps by Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen.
* The whole alternate-universe season (number 3, if you're keeping track) that played so skillfully with the doubling of the series characters.  This is a show that explored every angle of its gimmick premises.
* The white tulip postcard.
* Massive Dynamic.  How scary-sounding does that company sound?  What don't we do?
* The whole concept of amber as a tool not only to stop time-space fractures, but also to facilitate suspended animation.  So clever.  And so visual.
* The villainy of actor Michael Copsa.
* The patience of a major television network that could have easily pulled the plug on this show years ago.  You can see the viewer numbers dwindle season by season, episode by episode.  We'd like to think this is a sign of things to come as audiences become more fragmented and acclaimed-but-low-rated cable shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Justified" change the business model.  But it's probably too soon to tell.
* The weird "glyphs" that closed each act and supposedly spelled a word linked to the episode plot.
* Season 5's gonzo decision to set every single episode in a distant dystopian future run by far-future-invaders.  Audacious.  But then, this was a show remaking itself every season.  Sort of the same way "Lost" did, although we refuse to compare the two because of the disappointing, time-wasting fizzle that was "Lost's" final season.
* The way the show did science fiction the way it's supposed to be done, by using outlandish situations and crazy technology to ask big, weighty questions about what makes us who we are and what it means to be human.
* All those clever variations on the opening title sequence.


Entertainment Weekly counts down the show's best 19 episodes.


Ten context-free topics from a night of four beers, two bars

1. The filmography of Lars von Trier
2. Types of beer (i.e. IPA vs IRA) and where they're brewed
3. 48 frames-per-second
4. San Francisco immigrant culture and cuisine
5. The Nike corporate campus
6. "Murder hole"
7. TNT's "Southland" and Fox's "The Good Guys"
9. Bush v. Gore
10. The hapless Mitt Romney campaign