Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We Hold These Wigs To Be Self-Evident

In the opening scene of Lincoln, Abe tells a joke about his hair. Something about his barbers hanging themselves because it's so unruly, so impossible to tame. Thereafter, I don't think there was a single scene I wasn't staring at hair. This is a million dollar wig movie. Whether its Sally Field's wild vacillation from matronly drag to show-pony curls and back (erratic salon treatments indicate woeful instability!), Lee Pace's independently-minded caterpillar eyebrows, or the sturdy black behemoth plopped down on Tommy Lee Jones' head like somebody surprised him from above while he walked under a bridge (indeed the removal of Tommy's wig is the film's critical mass - when, like The Real World taught us, people stop getting polite and shit starts getting real), this is the hairiest movie ever marketed to anyone outside of the bear community.

And what of Lincoln's luscious yet unruly mane? If his barbers were killing themselves over it then they were all resurrected as hipster hairdressers, because that mop of silver-laced star-shine is the most coveted 'do in all of Williamsburg by way of Silver Lake. It's all sexy yet conservative bed-head - it means business, but it will not be kept down! It takes a ten-gallon top hat to hide its twinkle, and the putting on and taking off of said hat involves much fanfare. I think Spielberg used wind machines every time it swooped up or down through the frame. Entire battlements were tossed aside in its wake. The South never stood a chance, not with their half-hearted Confederate chignon. Twas Lincoln's locks won the war!

Underneath the cacophony of coiffure, I suppose there's a movie to review, but I can only do so half-heartedly, as if I myself have become possessed by the ghost of an antebellum blow-out. I do not care! I waft across the sad war-torn cotton fields, amber waves of mange. Oh Daniel Day-Lewis is fine, very good even. He's Daniel Day-Lewis and that's about as close to a given as we've got these days. (Nobody say Nine.) I like the voice, the body language, the way his Lincoln resembles one of those snap-on bracelets that were all the rage in Junior High School, or a giant made out of delicious yet slightly stale taffy. The film is very pretty - very pretty courtrooms and backrooms and bedrooms all lit with light seemingly bounced off of burned up candle's wax pooled on the wooden planks. (It's so dazzingly brown and blue your eyes should be forgiven a wink or two hours and forty-five minutes worth.)

But when the inevitable train of Tommy Lee Jones' praise comes parading forth, when the Oscar plaudits begin to pile, I must abstain. Yes he's perfectly Tommy-Lee-Jonesian, it is true, and I am a fan of the Tommy-Lee-Jonesian approach to acting, it did The Eyes of Laura Mars very well after all. But his Thaddeus Stevens is just Tommy Lee Jones in a big black wig shouting off Tommy Lee Jones one-liners from all I can gather. Thad ain't got jack on Ed Tom Bell's dream speech, that's for certain.

And how surreal is it watching Daniel Day Lewis trying to act off of Sally Field? I actually had to step outside of myself and look back in, gathering my obfuscating wits back about me; I'd begun to think that Dolly Parton might pop up at any moment and start sewing the American Flag out of her brassiere. Yes yes Sally has her shelf of Oscars directly corresponding size-wise to Daniel's, I hear the steam inside your eardrums gathering. Well Sally's been a little bit busy drawing stick figures in the dust that's gathered on her pair of golden boys while glaring at the latest Brothers and Sisters script over late-morning croissant crumbs, if you ask me. Perhaps her wig was just too tight. Or too loose. If the hair-do fits you must acquit, the saying goes.


mangrove said...

When Interview with the vampire (the Neil Jordan campfest) came out here, there was exactly the same type of review putting forth that the actors let their wigs do the acting for them in that movie.

So is a "Spielberg campfest" actually a thing now, yeah or no? (if it's just overdesigned like War Horse or Empire of the Sun, count me out)

Cinemateo said...

THANK YOU. I was worried I was the only one not on the Tommy Lee Jones FTW bandwagon.

Jason Adams said...

mangrove - Unfortunately I wouldn't go so far as to call it a campfest. I'd put it much closer to your second thought, it being over-designed a la War Horse, where it's just weighed down. It does have more humor though, and on purpose even, so it sparks to life every so often. (I barely made it thru WH sane, with all the pablum.)

Cinemateo - I'm already primed to be annoyed all Oscar season long about this one.

Jee Jay said...

No love for Sally Field in 'Sybil'? It's its own kind of horror movie. (If nothing else, it has a generous portion of Brad Davis)

I never get annoyed about the Oscars. I stopped paying attention to them years ago. They only have the power we give them!!

Anonymous said...

58 Speaking of campfests, sorry, but I stopped taking Daniel Day-Lewis seriously after Gangs of New York. I'm sure he and Sally will stuff themselves full of scenery and fight over the last scraps. said...

I like Sally, I really like Sally!
But at 66, she's a quarter of a century too old to play Crazy Mary!