Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Phantom Thread (2018)

Image is property of Universal Pictures and Annapurna Pictures

Phantom Thread – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicki Krieps

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Synopsis: Reynolds Woodcock is an accomplished dress designer, with a set daily routine and some extremely wealthy clientele. When he meets Alma, a strong willed woman, his daily life and routine is turned upside down.

Review: When it comes to actors and method acting, there is perhaps no one who does this better than the one and the only Daniel Day-Lewis. With every role he takes on, he goes to extraordinary lengths to get into character, and he has done so across his career. It is an approach that has served him well, becoming the only man to win three Best Actor gongs. Reuniting with his There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson, for one last hurrah after he announced he would retire from the profession, it is safe to say that one of the most legendary actors to ever grace our screens has gone out on a very high note indeed.

Telling the story of meticulous fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, living in 1950s London. He is a man who lives his life with a very strict routine and any break from that routine is most certainly not welcome. Yet whilst on a break from his daily life he meets a woman named Alma (Krieps) and falls head over heels for her. Before long the two of them are in a relationship with Alma assisting Reynolds as he makes his luxury garments. Yet while Alma’s arrival is initially a joyful one, things soon start to turn a little difficult as Alma’s presence starts to interrupt his fastidious way of life.

With this his swansong performance, he once again adopted his meticulous approach to the roles he takes on, as he learned how to create and design a dress all on his own, and it adds so much sincerity and conviction to his performance, you really get the impression that he’s a man who not only knows his craft, but is one of the best in the business. Of course by being so good at what he does, it does mean he comes into friction with people when his routine is disturbed. These people are mainly of course Alma, and his sister Cyril (Manville) who is an instrumental part of why Reynolds’s business is the success it is.

Opposite Day Lewis, who of course has landed a final nomination, both women really shine in excellent performances that earned Manville an Oscar nomination. Both have to wrestle with Reynolds’s stubborn mannerisms, but Krieps can count herself really unfortunate to not have landed one as well as it’s her relationship with Reynolds that becomes the spotlight of the picture.  To hold her own opposite Day Lewis, and perhaps maybe even outshine him is an extraordinary feat that should see more scripts get pushed in her direction.

Like the process of designing and making an extravagant gown probably is, the film is written and directed meticulously and superbly by Anderson. He takes his time with his three principal characters and gives each of them their moment to really shine. All three are extremely well fleshed out and strong-willed and so to see the sparks fly between these very fierce personalities clash is almost always utterly compelling.

Something would have gone very badly amiss if the costumes on display weren’t absolutely sumptuous, rest assured that is simply not the case. The production design likewise is immaculate, as is the beautiful cinematography and Jonny Greenwood’s score is both beautiful and haunting in equal measure. The film does maybe suffer from a few pacing issues in part, but it remains an exquisite piece of cinema and if this is to be Daniel Day Lewis’s final bow, then this truly magnificently talented man has ensured that he leaves behind a legacy to the art form of cinema that will never diminish.

Immaculate production elements combined with three remarkable performances ensure that Day-Lewis is given a send off worthy of one of the finest actors to ever grace the big screen.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Lincoln (2012)

Image is property of Walt Disney, Dreamworks, Reliance Entertainment and the Kennedy/Marshall Company

Lincoln – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Straithairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader

Director: Steven Spielberg

Synopsis: With the American Civil War raging on, President of the United States of America Abraham Lincoln attempts to bring peace to the country and also seeks to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery, despite opposition within his own party.

Review: A very real and powerful account of arguably the greatest president that the United States of America has ever had. This film brings us the final months of the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln. Within it he must fight his battle to end the Civil War and bring about the emancipation of the slavery. The war must have reached its conclusion before the amendment goes through and a failure to achieve these goals would have had dire consequences for the USA.

The collaboration of Spielberg along with Producers Kathy Kennedy and Tony Kushner gives us the battle and ultimate achievement of Abraham Lincoln, the successful passing of the emancipation of slavery. An initial plan developed by Kushner proposed the film focused on Lincoln’s political life as a whole. Yet Spielberg chose instead to focus in on the final two months of Lincoln’s presidency. The film brilliantly depicts the difficult path that lay before Lincoln in getting the amendment passed and how the brilliant Lincoln dealt with these obstacles. His great speeches and political charisma are on show in abundance, and his determination to pass through the legislation that made Lincoln one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.

In spite of the fact that the main role was initially offered to Liam Neeson while the film was in early development, Daniel Day Lewis in the role was quite simply President Lincoln personified. His accent and look was absolutely excellent. When Lincoln spoke, the whole room stopped whatever what they were doing and they listened to a great man speak.  His stories and speeches were wonderful to listen to.  Equally impressive in his supporting role was Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stephens. An argumentative Republican Congressman and strongly believes in the equality of all and vehemently backs the passage of the amendment. Sally Field is also superb in the role of the First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.  All three were fully deserving of Oscar nominations and Day Lewis scooped the award for Best Actor, becoming the first man to win this award on three occasions. The rest of the supporting cast were all excellent in their roles.

While it is in no doubt that this film is very well done, there is a tremendous amount of talking throughout. While this dialogue is very interesting and offers great insight into a fascinating piece of history, it can at times feel a little tedious. For Americans, this film would be of great importance to them as it represents one of the most important chapters in their history. For non-Americans, it may not appeal to them as much. Nevertheless Spielberg has produced another personal and wonderfully directed film that was acted perfectly. It ensured Daniel Day Lewis made Academy Award History and reminded everyone of the reason why Abraham Lincoln is revered as one of, if not the greatest president that the United States has ever had.

Day-Lewis is on incredible form as Lincoln, and Spielberg is also on superb form as he delivers a very compelling account of a very important era in the history of the United States.

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