I’m not sure that movies watched on an airplane should actually ever count as movies watched but having had the opportunity to watch both “Lincoln” and “Hitchcock” on a recent flight, I did want to take the opportunity to express opinions about both of them.
I actually don’t have that much to say about “Lincoln” that hasn’t already been said. The movie deals only with the period of time where Lincoln is trying to pass the Thirteenth Amendment and the resulting political shenanigans. (It actually gives me some comfort to watch those shenanigans as it makes our own dysfunctional political gridlock look tranquil in comparison.) The acting is first-rate, both by Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and by all the supporting actors. (Although I wonder at the casting of Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln—isn’t she much older than Daniel Day-Lewis? It’s an interesting casting decision, to say the least.) Tommy Lee Jones and David Strathairn are both excellent in their roles as Thaddeus Stevens and William Steward, respectively. Our fourteen year old thought the movie was too “educational,” but I thought it was well-done, with a tone of respect but not worship.
The other interesting note about “Lincoln” is that it is very dialogue-intensive. There aren’t many action scenes, and yet the movie rarely drags and is compelling in virtually every scene.
“Hitchcock” is a movie about Alfred Hitchcock (obviously), but it really is more about the making of the movie “Psycho” and the instrumental role Hitchcock’s wife, Alma Reville, plays in both the making of the movie and in his life. Anthony Hopkins plays Alfred Hitchcock and does a lovely job making you believe he’s Hitchcock without ever descending into self-parody. (Given Hitchcock’s well-known mannerisms, this is no mean acting feat.) Helen Mirren is equally excellent as Alma, a woman who gave up her career for her husband but manages to tolerate Hitchcock’s high-maintenance personality while keeping him grounded. The movie depicts a marriage of equals between two strong and idiosyncratic personalities, who have learned to live and thrive with the constant balancing act their marriage requires. The movie also reveals that “Psycho” would not be the movie that it is without Alma’s assistance and input. The scenes revolving around Hitchcock and Alma’s marriage were the scenes that resonated most with me, but the obstacles they surmounted in getting “Psycho” made also makes for compelling drama. It’s an excellent movie, and I highly recommend it.
It would very much help to have seen “Psycho” before seeing this movie, or many of the references in the movie won’t make much sense. Everyone should see “Psycho” anyway, even if you don’t like horror movies. It is a classic that rises above the genre. Just make sure you’ve showered beforehand. 🙂