Tag Archives: Steven Spielberg

Lincoln: Has Oscar written all over it

Daniel Day-Lewis stars in Steven Spielberg’s latest film, Lincoln. Courtesy of Disney Pictures

With the USA battling through election pangs this year, it’s fitting that we take a look back to what a great president like “Honest” Abraham Lincoln can do for their country. In Steven Spielberg’s latest historical epic, we follow Abe as he fiercely battles the confederates and most of the nation to rid the United States of Slavery.

Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely brilliant as the 16th president. His performance is packed with a special blend of both subtlety and power – The kind of which only great actors can deliver. The supporting cast keeps close to Lewis’ charisma, with Sally Field leading the charge.

Spielberg has nothing left to prove in his career, yet shows no complacency in his direction of Tony Kushner’s excellent adapted screenplay. There is a constant tension throughout the film that is perfectly broken with rich comedic relief from the statuesque president himself.

As far as cinematography is concerned, this is some of the best the Hollywood has offered this year.

My only minute criticism is toward the sheer quantity of names being thrown at you. It can lead to confusion when you’re trying to decipher whom the characters are referring to scene after scene.

Again, that is just a tiny blemish in this phenomenal film that will light up the Academy ballots come 2014.

Bottom Line: Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis are a winning combination in this must see taste of American history.

Grade A

Runtime: 149 minutes
3D: No

Jaws: Restoration adds beauty to the terror

Catch the fully restored Jaws at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting June 29th. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

It is said that a fear of sharks is primal in most human beings. With masterful direction and one of the greatest musical scores, Steven Spielberg’s original run of Jaws terrified audiences and induced unprecedented phobias among moviegoers. Thirty-seven years later, this classic horror has been given a much needed restoration from the original beaten up stock and the results are impeccable. Rather than explain it all to you, I’ll let the professionals give you the scoop in the video below.

Simply put, the restoration makes the movie look like a period film shot today. They’ve also avoided any George Lucas style digital “upgrades” to replace any of the practical effects. While present day audiences have been desensitized to brutal violence, Jaws still manages to wrap you in a blanket of fear. Not something many horrors of today will be able to claim 30 years in the future.

The only problem with this movie is the lack of knowledge about the behavior of sharks during its production. Peter Benchley, author of the novel the movie is based on, has mentioned he would have never written the book had he known about the real behavior of sharks. This is important for all those who treat the fictional film as a source of facts.

With that in mind, you’ll want to treat yourself to a magnificent example of filmmaking. The Hitchcockian influenced direction from Steven Spielberg is brilliant, as is the editing by Verna Fields and the performances from Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss.

Bottom Line: Jaws’ flawless face lift deserves to be revisited by every fan of great cinema.

You can find the restored re-release at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto or in select local theatres on June 29th.

War Horse: A brilliant film wrapped in poor packaging

Steven Spielberg's latest epic, War Horse. Courtesy of Disney Pictures

There are few directors in the history of cinema who have crafted such a vast array of classic films as the legendary Steven Spielberg. His latest Oscar nominated epic War Horse proves the magic of movie making still flows powerfully in Spielberg’s veins.

War Horse, based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel, takes us on a journey with Joey, the stallion who touches the lives of everyone he meets and his harrowing journey through World War I.

This is far more than a war film depicting good versus evil. Both sides are examined, which gives this movie depth. Every aspect of this film is of the highest caliber. The acting is superb from every member of the vast cast, including Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, and new comer Celine Buckens.

While none of the animals were harmed in the filming process, the movie does depict animal cruelty and there are scenes of horses suffering. A word of warning: if you are an animal lover (as I am), these scenes can be very difficult to watch.

Unfortunately, this combo pack comes in a large DVD style case, instead of the compact Blu Ray case. Since most people will be purchasing the movie for their Blu Ray collection, it makes absolutely no sense to package and promote an inferior product.

The feature set is on the light side for this DVD/Blu Ray combo release, with only two featurettes to enjoy. War Horse: The Journey Home sits you down in a roundtable discussion with the cast, writer, cinematographer, set designer, costume designer, editor and the one and only Spielberg himself. The second is An Extra’s Point Of View – a brief look into the hundreds of extras and what they endured to bring this story to the big screen.

Bottom Line: While the hardware is lacking, the powerful film within is worth every penny.

Release Date: April 3, 2012

Movie Grade: A
Blu Ray/DVD Grade: C

Runtime: 146 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1