On Twitter: @JamesEppler
Two new movies out on DVD and Blu-ray this week offer perspectives on America. One looks at where we come from, and the other where we are right now.
"Lincoln" is the movie Steven Speilberg has wanted to make for more than a decade and it deserves to stand with his best over the last 20 years or so. It centers on the last few months of President Lincoln's life as he fights to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, and end the Civil War. The political game of chess he has to play is enthralling.
Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Oscar for playing the President and it's a fully involved performance. I also like Tommy Lee Jones as a politician with a very personal stake in the battle over slavery.
The Blu-ray is pretty light on special features with less than an hour's worth.
While "Lincoln" is an uplifting and hopeful look at American values, "Killing Them Softly" is much more cynical, which is appropriate for the time, subject matter, and the world in which it's set.
Brad Pitt is a contract killer hired by the mob to take out a sloppy gangster who's let his card game get robbed too many times. He also has to find thieves responsible.
Writer/Director Andrew Dominik is trying to set up a comparison between corporate America and street crime. You can imagine some of the dialogue happening in a car between two killers could be happening just as easily in a board room.
But Dominik overplays his hand, working far too hard to make his point. Do street criminals really spend this much time watching C-SPAN and listening to NPR? I doubt it, but the performances and dialogue are compelling. It's a very chatty movie, matched by scenes of startling violence.
"Killing Them Softly" was one of the most hated movies of 2012 by moviegoers who gave it an "F" Cinemascore grade.
While it's a flawed film, I really like it, and admire how it tries to stand out from other crime dramas.
"Lincoln" * * * *
"Killing Them Softly" * * * 1/2
Out of five stars