Open movie thread

There are a lot of good movies out right now, and even more on the way! With this week's debut of "The Hobbit," and the Christmas day opening of "Les Misérables," the second half of December should prove to be an exceedingly busy time in movie theaters. But in the meantime, I've had the opportunity to see two excellent films (and I'm still hoping to make it to "Flight" and "Hitchcock" before they're out of theaters!).

I saw "Lincoln" with my family on Thanksgiving Day, and it was indeed an experience to make one feel thankful. I know this is a pretty big statement, but it may even be Steven Spielberg's best work to date. Concentrating on the passage of the 13th Amendment, and aided by Daniel Day-Lewis's stunning characterization, the film manages to show us a flawed and yet truly heroic president, whose soaring vision of liberty for all sometimes contrasted with the, shall we say, pragmatic tactics that he and others had to use to make that vision a reality. For all its stark honesty about the nitty-gritty of politics, "Lincoln" is a warm, inspiring, brilliant film and one I strongly recommend. (It's rated PG-13 for language and violence.)

(Also, we have here a lineup of some of Hollywood's biggest talents coming together to make the Republican party look good. Let's face it, we're probably not going to see that again in our lifetimes.)

I also saw the new adaptation of "Anna Karenina," and found myself captivated by it. As far as the story goes, it's a largely faithful retelling that does full justice to Tolstoy's theme of genuine love versus destructive lust. (For more on the story, see Ashley Chandler's recent BreakPoint feature article "Such Desperate Passions.") And as for the technical aspects, in a nutshell, the film is so beautiful that I could just look at it all day long, like a great painting.

I wanted to say all kinds of profound things about director Joe Wright's unique staging of the story -- and by staging I literally mean "staging," as much of the story is set inside a theater, with the film's actors showing up before the footlights, in the wings, up in the flies, and out in the audience. The truth is, while I liked the technique, I didn't know quite why or how I liked it, or what the reasoning was behind it. However, two of my friends, Ruth Anderson and Rachel McMillan, thought through this aspect of it much more fully than I was able to, and I recommend both of their reviews (here and here). And the film as well. Keep in mind, however, that it's rated R. The sexuality in the film is, I think, not gratuitous or overdone (one extreme closeup of a kiss between Anna and Vronsky, in fact, is more repulsive than beautiful, reminding us of the true sordidness of their affair).  But it's there, and should be taken into consideration.

Because this is an open movie thread, it's now your turn! Are there any good movies that you've recently seen, or that you hope to see?


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