Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lincoln, Bill Clinton, and Fish 'N' Chips

I was reading an article the other day about historical films made about presidents and thinking about how you choose an actor to play a crucial real-life figure.

Do you pick someone based on their looks alone? What about their voice---sounding like the person is probably a bit more important than looking exactly like them.
And do you pick a big Hollywood star, or a no-name that can imitate the character better?

I was thinking about this in relation to Lincoln, which Eli and I saw last week.
It was incredible and so enlightening; I didn't realize how little I knew about the creation of the 13th Amendment until I saw that film...and I'm a history major!
Yes, some people might consider this movie slow, but I would like to remind them that this was a different time entirely, when you could spend an entire afternoon discussing politics off the cuff in someone's parlor, rather than today, when people are more likely to be found going to the bar for an hour and then sitting there fiddling with their phone and, if politics happens to come up, getting in a spat and making snarky one-liner jokes rather than having an intelligent discourse.

Everything today is too fast-paced.
And I read a study about how this changes our brain development, and our expectations.
We want instant entertainment and get disgruntled when we don't have it-- like when your internet doesn't load in 30 seconds and you shout "GAAAAH! Piece of CRAAAAAP!"
Remember when you had to mail letters??
And can you imagine travelling to Europe back in the day by steamer rather than plane?
I think it is unfortunate what has happened to society due to technology.
I'm not denying it's helpfulness and the miracles it can perform, but I am resentful when I see babies that know how to use a touch screen but can't turn a page in a real book, or don't want to play with wooden blocks because they don't light up and make noises.  It scares me.

Lincoln brings to life how important the mere act of talking is, and how it helped shape America's history.  And Daniel Day Lewis is simply incredible.  You forget that he is an actor, and actually feel like someone has gone back in time with a camera and the movie is a primary source on Abraham Lincoln.  He got that reedy voice and awkward sloping walk just right.  And the way he told odd stories and anecdotes is just how those who knew Lincoln described.  What a guy!

 For one brief scene, when he is spinning his pocketwatch and you can hear it ticking away, the Kentucky Historical Society actually loaned them Lincoln's own pocketwatch, and they even wound it so the ticking is the same ticking that the real Lincoln heard 150 years ago.
Now that is cool.

And Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens was also inspiring.
It was a great show.  You have to be patient and thoughtful to enjoy it, but I believe we need more movies like that.
And it has one of the best openings of a historical film I've seen in a long time. Maybe ever.  It made me tear up.

So anyway, back to my original thoughts on actors and presidents! I did not mean to go on that crazy tangent!
Remember when Anthony Hopkins played Richard Nixon?  That was weird.
He had the mannerisms, but the voice was lacking.  Hopkin's voice was a little too high and wavering, not deep and strangely clipped like Nixon's.
Surprisingly, both Jon Voight and Bill Murray made great FDRs.
And although I'm fussy, Bruce Greenwood was an impressive JFK, mainly in the voice, though he also captured his discomfort due to his back pain, which is rare in many JFK depictions (which tend to portray him as a healthy playboy).
I'm curious to see James Marsden's portrayal---he is taking on his own version of Kennedy in a movie set to come out next year called The Butler, which will also star.... (get this!)

Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan!!!!!
Considering how amazing Rickman is, this sounds promising.  And yes, that's Jane Fonda as Nancy.
This movie sounds amazing the more I read about it-- John Cusack will be Nixon (hope he's putting on some weight for that role), Lieve Schreiber (another favorite of mine) will be that pig Lyndon Johnson, and Robin Williams will take on Eisenhower.


As I trolled around reading about actors playing presidents, I stumbled across a movie from a couple of years ago called The Special Relationship.
And it was about Bill Clinton.
Of course, with those two in a sentence together, you figure it's about him getting it on with Monica Lewinsky.  Nope! It's about his interactions with Tony Blair.  Awkward.........
As I was reading about this, and saw that Dennis Quaid plays Bill, I was like "HOW DID I MISS THIS?!!!!!"
So 'I'll have to check it out, especially considering my weird political crush on Tony Blair.
When my best friend Torie and I rewrote the words to "Poker Face," we even had a line to dub over
"Russian roulette is not the same without a gun" but our version was better:

Londontown is not the same without that Tony Blair,
And now that David Cameron's in I won't be going there...

Yes, perhaps the best song ever, I know.  We are skilled lyricists.
The chorus of ours goes
"Can't eat my, can't eat my, no you can't eat my fish n' chips!!"

The world is not ready...

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