BlackBook Giveaway: Enjoy Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ‘Don Jon’ With a Special Prize Pack

After spending most of his young life in front of the camera, working with acclaimed directors— from his pal Rian Johnson to Gregg Araki, Christopher Nolan, and Steven Spielberg—Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proved himself a man of many talents. Swiftly moving from actor on the rise to one of the most sought after men in Hollywood, only naturally, he’s now progressed on into a directorial career of his own. And this weekend, his feature directorial debut Don Jon will roll into theaters, juicing up audiences, and showing the world his take on sexual comedy and self-discovery. 

Tackling one man’s struggle between the allure of easy satisfaction of fantasy and the the vulnerability and intimacy of reality, Levitt plays a young bachelor bartender focused on the simple things: his car, his pad, his girls, and his family. But when he meets the girl of his dreams (played by Scarlett Johansson)—or so he thinks—his world suddenly gets thrown off-kilter. Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, and Brie Larson round out of the cast of Levitt’s feature, and now,you too can get in on the action.
 
Tying in with the film’s release, we’ll be giving away a special prize pack Don Jon-centric items, sure to satisfy your body, your pad, and your girls.
 
The lucky winner will receive:
  • 30 Fandango giftcard 
  • Don Jon mints
  • Don Jon air freshener
  • Don Jon branded tank top
  • Don Jon branded tissues
  • Don Jon branded gym bag
 
TO ENTER:  Follow us on Twitter, RT one of our stories, or tweet at us and say why you want to win this #DonJon package. You can also email us (editorial@bbook.com) your name, address, and Twitter handle and tell us why you’re interested.
 
Check out the prizes below.
 
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Steven Spielberg to Revive Stanley Kubrick’s Lost ‘Napoleon’

Just as Oscar season comes to a close and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln starts to fade out of the cultural collective unconscious for three seconds, over the weekend we’ve come to learn about his latest historical undertaking. Yes, it seems that the director has opted to ressurect Stanley Kubrick’s unmade dream film Napoleon—as a miniseries.

Spielberg tells French Canal+, "I’ve been developing Stanley Kubrick’s screenplay—for a miniseries not for a motion picture—about the life of Napoleon. Kubrick wrote the script in 1961, a long time ago.” Cool, cool.

Well no offense, Spielberg, but you’re not Kubrick. Not to discredit anything, but you’re simply a totally and completely different filmmaker, in just about every way from tone and texture to aesthetics and pulse. The A.I. you made is not the A.I. Kubrick would have made, and although I didn’t particularly hate it, and I know you were Kubrick’s first choice on the job, I wonder what he would have had to say. And frankly, whatever Napoleon television show you make is in no way going to be what Kubrick, this painstaking perfectionist genius, spent years amassing boxes of research for.

This was his dream project, his passion. He read just about every word written about the emperor, had "about 15,000 location scouting photos, a database of 17,000 Napoleonic images," and was planning to make a film on a massive scale that only someone with his epic sense of scope could have promised. So reviving his work like this just seems wrong—pawing through all of his research and chopping his dream into television segments? Oy. How about we just watch an hour of Barry Lyndon every Sunday for a couple months? That would make more sense to me.

Or maybe I just don’t feel like seeing another Spielberg historical drama. I mean, if someone had to take this on I would love nothing more than to see it be P.T. Anderson. But hey, we can all fantasize. 

Cinematic Panic: Looking Back on the Tortured Minds Behind ‘Taxi Driver’

“This movie is as good as Citizen Kane…no, it’s better than Citizen Kane, it’s got more heart,” said John Cassavetes to Martin Scorsese after watching Who’s That Knocking at My Door for the first time. Scorsese nearly passed out. He worshipped Cassavetes, and from then on Cassavetes looked at him like son. And although both Cassavetes and Scorsese both put out some of the best films of the 1970s, they were from two entirely different schools of filmmaking. The Scorseses of the world inherited what the Cassavetes generation had paved the way for. But Cassavetes was just insular in his world, extremely consumed by his own concerns. It was moreso the Hopper-Beatty-Nicholson generation that filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, stumbled down from. These young filmmakers were now able to operate on the notion that there could be a conversation between them and the audience. “They were the benefactors, the prodigy of New Hollywood battles fought and won for artistic integrity and youth recognition by everyone from Arthur Penn to Stanley Kubrick and Peter Fonda,” said Peter Biskind in his book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls that provides perhaps the best written account of this era in Hollywood.

And although he’s one of Hollywood greatest living legends and cinematic minds today, about 40 years ago Scorsese was just a chubby young filmmaker, fresh out of school and clawing at the bit to get his voice heard and his work seen. Sandy Weintraub, who Scorsese collaborated with artistically as well as romantically, said, “Marty was tempestuous, volatile, and passionate about his life…he breathed, ate, and shat movies. I would tell him about my dreams and he would tell me about the movie he had seen on TV the day before.” Coming from a strictly Catholic Italian-American family in New York, Scorsese had grown up a child plagued with physical ailments. His asthma forced him to stay inside while other young kids played outside, thus helping him develop his lifelong obsession with cinema and the escape into other worlds through the screen.

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“The period from ’71 to ’76 was the best period because we were just starting out,” Scorcese said. “We couldn’t wait for our friends’ next pictures, Brian [De Palma]’s next picture, Francis [Ford Coppola]’s next picture, to see what they were doing. Dinners in Chinese restaurants midday in L.A. with Spielberg and Lucas.” And Nicholas Beach was where he and Sandy would make the trip up the Pacific Coast Highway each weekend: a secluded spot filled with their group of filmmaking pals “where the only rules were the ones we made.” As is told in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, one day Peter Boyle came to stay at the beach and brought a vile of coke—suddenly, “Eve bit into the apple.” It was new to most everyone, not knowing exactly how to do it. But it stuck. Actress Margot Kidder recalled, “Out of the drugs came a lot of swampy ideas but also a lot of creative thinking and most important, breaking down of personal barriers and that ridiculousness of pride of holding oneself and having a phony social persona. If that hadn’t been the case, none of us would have developed our talents. But Spielberg didn’t take drugs, Brian didn’t, Marty didn’t until later when he got into trouble with coke. The directors who ended up successful were very protective of their own brains.”

Scorsese had enough problems. He was filled with a mix of Catholic guilt and anxieties created by his own strenuous mind. Flying was a disaster—he had to grip a crucifix until his knuckles turned white during take off, he was afraid the number eleven (he wouldn’t go anywhere near it or anything that added up to it), and he was also absolutely convinced that he was going to die by age 40. It wasn’t a self-destructive notion, rather just an innate knowledge that he was going to live hard and die young whether it be from his always-uneasy health or a plane crash. So it seems for someone so burdened by neurosis, he would find a companion in a like-minded individual who was also “culturally and emotionally sandbagged by the ’50s”—that person being Paul Schrader, just one of the boys at the beach. But it wasn’t so easy.

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Schrader was a very messed up human—”deranged” many would say. He was extremely intelligent but cynical and depressive. He was raised in a strict Dutch Calvinist household with parents that would whip him with electrical chords and poke him in the hand with needles, telling him, This is what hell will feel like.” Martin Scorsese once said that his entire life was “religion and film, nothing else,” and it seems as though Schrader too shared that sentiment. He did not see a movie until he was seventeen, and when he did he began to hallucinate, believing he had committed some great sin and was going to burn in Hell forever. His strict Calvinist upbringing left a paralyzing imprint on his work; film for him will always be dirt—cinema, sex, and sin forever linked in Schrader’s eyes. But he did not shy away from these subjects; he embraced them manically, using them as a way to expose his darkest desires that had always been forbidden. He put his sins on paper as a way to relieve himself of them, as if he will be freed once they are out of his head and onto the page. He exploits the dark side of sex and its industry in his films (his male characters frequently visit pornographic theaters and brothels), but he does so in a way that’s stripped of any ounce of sensuality or desire. The Calvinists believe that if you do these things right in your life, death will be your salvation and you’ll go to Heaven. Schrader, however, had committed enough sin to burn in Hell. These feelings of guilt and fear left him socially and psychologically disturbed, feeling removed from the world around him, like a lonely figure traveling through life.

One day, over a game of chess, Schrader told Brian De Palma that he had written a script called Taxi Driver. De Palma sent it to producer Michael Phillips who loved it but knew finding a director to take on something so bizarre would be a challenge. Scorsese wanted it—bad. But when Schrader saw a cut of Scorcese’s Boxcar Bertha, he just rolled his eyes. He discussed the script with Pauline Kael who “didn’t know if De Niro could carry a film.” At that time, Robert De Niro was a fairly unknown actor who came from a middle-class bohemian upbringing—a stark contrast to that of Schrader and Scorsese, the latter fascinated by the idea of this “paradise” to be raised in a creative environment. De Niro’s rebellion came from “getting into the heavy street thing.” But he was a serious actor and rarely ever spoke, which seems like a far cry to the De Niro we know today. Casting director Nessa Hyams once said, “You couldn’t get De Niro arrested.” He rarely attended parties or hung out; when he did go to a party, he would often be found falling asleep on the couch.

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After the release of Mean Streets, Scorsese and De Niro both got the green light, and Taxi Driver came into action. The film is a hard-edged look at the New York City streets told through the lens of an art film. The neon-lit buildings sparkle and melt onto the screen in contrast to the filth and scum that penetrate the sidewalks and, thusly, the collective psyche of the film. Biskind describes the film best as:

following the nocturnal wanderings of a cabbie, Travis Bickle—a violent, Vietnam vet—through Times Square as he encounters a variety of human offal and rountinely cleans the blood and come off his backseat. He gets a crush on a blonde campaign worker, and his attention wanders between her and Iris, a twelve-year-old hooker. The story climaxes in a bloodbath, as he blows away Iris’s pimp and johns in an attempt to redeem her.

Taxi Driver begins with the menacing and anxiety-invoking Bernard Herrmann score that encompasses the rest of the film. Scorceses doesn’t hide anything. The close up of Travis’s eyes blend with the scenery as we realize the city around him is just as much of a character as he is. Biskind goes on to say, “To paraphrase Schrader, if you put Penn and Antonioni in bed together, put a gun to their heads and told them to fuck while Bresson watched through the keyhole, you got Taxi Driver.” Fair enough.

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Travis must transform himself from the inside out in order to accomplish what he’s set out to do. He must go down into the underworld where he’s seeking vengeance on and become the scum he sees on the streets. In order to save Iris and help rid the world of the filth polluting the streets, he tries to make himself a machine. He goes from eating terribly to working out everyday and trying to make himself as hard as possible—mentally and physically. He changes his lax attitude and becomes strict with himself as if he is completely possessed by his mission. His life needed a purpose and this was it. When special forces were going into battle, they would shave their hair into a Mohawk; as a veteran, it would make sense that Travis would do the same. This was his battle. Paul Schrader dressed De Niro in his own clothes for the film as Travis. He could have played the role himself.

With Michael Chapman as the DP and Raoul Coutard as cinematographer, the film takes the sort of European aesthetic and sense of isolation with an hint of an Americana façade. Everyone involved in the film was influenced heavily by the work of the French new wave. Chapman said, “Godard was the great freeing influence for all of us. He said, ‘Look, you don’t have to worry about this or that’”—a notion that made its way into Taxi Driver from the Alka Seltzer shot reference to 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her to the moment Travis drives into the car garage and the camera goes elsewhere, saying, ‘Don’t look at this guy, look at the word he lives in.’ When Scorsese was forced to desaturate the colors in the denouement of the film so that it could slide from an X-rating to an R, he thought the joke was on everyone else—the washed-out grit of it all only made it that much more brutal.

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In the beginning of the film, Travis speaks of rain washing the scum off the streets; in the end he takes on the role of that rain. The final moments leave us questioning whether or not he kills himself as a means of salvation, or if it is in fact a reality that he is a hero and Iris is returned home safely to her parents. But whatever audiences believed, they loved it, and the film was a surprising commercial success. Bickle look-alikes lined up around the block to see the film the day it opened, feeling a connection to this new and bizarre piece of cinema that reflected not only where things were at but the frightening reality of what we are all capable of. When we watch the film now and look back on these young people involved, those men thriving with talent and exploding with an aggressive passion, one cannot help but wonder what will speak to our generation the way this film did to those of the time. I suppose only time will tell.

You can see Taxi Driver tonight and tomorrow at midnight at IFC Center.

Follow Hillary Weston on Twitter.

Check Out Eight New Sundance Short Films Online

Today marks the kick off for the annual hearding of cinema’s elite—the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. This coming week will usher in an incredible amount of new and inspiring work from across the globe, hopefully, to be picked up by distributors and infultrated into theaters around the country and abroad. This week, we expressed which upcoming Sundance films we’re most excited for—from Richard Linklater’s third installement in his decade-spanning separated love series with Before Midnight to Shane Carruth’s long-awaited bewildering sophomore feature, Upstream Color. But it’s not only the feature length debuts that will be receiving praise and recognition—the short films this year are certainly not to be missed.

Earlier in the month, we shared six of the short films that will be premiering at Sundance, now made available to watch online. But as of today, you can view a selection of eight more shorts, a treat for those of us not attening the festival. Ranging from 9-minute films by acclaimed writers like Guillermo Arriaga (featuring cinematography from frequent Steven Spielberg collaborator Janusz Kaminski) to unconventional and noteworthy debuts, check out what’s on this year’s lineup and try not to feel too depressed that you’re not packing your bags and heading out west.

The Apocalypse (Andrew Zuchero)
Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon.

Black Metal (Kat Candler)
After a career spent mining his music from the shadows, one fan creates a chain reaction for the lead singer of a black metal band.

Broken Night (Guillermo Arriaga)
A young woman and her four-year-old daughter drive across desolated hills. Everything looks fine and they seem to enjoy the ride, until an accident sends them into the nightmare of darkness.

Marcel, King of Tervuren (Tom Schroeder)
Greek tragedy enacted by Belgian roosters.

Movies Made From Home #6 (Robert Machoian)
Debbie is good at playing hide and seek—so good she is often hard to find.

What Do We Have In Our Pockets? (Goran Dukic)
A most unusual love story unravels when the objects in a young man’s pockets come to life.

When the Zombies Come (Jon Hurst)
At a hardware store in the middle of no where fans of the walking dead have turned their love of zombies into an obsession which has warped the way they see the store and costumers.

Follow Hillary Weston on Twitter

Director’s Guild Award Nominations Fall Short

Well, the Director’s Guild nominations have come in, and they’ve proved to be entirely predictable. Not a surprise in the house. And that isn’t to say the directors nominated aren’t deserving and that their films don’t merit acclaim but come on, there are so many brilliant films being made and so many talented people at work, that although awards don’t mean everything, it’s just slightly disheartening to see the scope of praise be so narrow.

The nominees are:
Ben Affleck, Argo
Ang Lee, Life of Pi
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty

But aren’t we missing something? Sure, Django Unchained could have been about 40 minutes shorter, but Quentin Tarantino most definitely deserves accolades for his cinematic achievements. He knows how to craft something that’s universally entertaining while always staying true to his heavily-rooted obsessions and idiosyncrasies as a filmmaker, while coining his own take on an old genre. And what about David O. Russell? Silver Linings Playbook was a heartfelt and challenging film, and if we’re talking purely of directorial skill, he managed to get incredibly nuanced, passionate, and sincere performances out of his actors while crafting something wonderfully enjoyable. Um, not to mention P.T. Anderson for The Master, which was basically a master class on how to direct your actors and build a mise en scène.

I’m hoping the Academy Award nominations will provide a bit more excitement in terms of choices, but that’s always a toss up. The Director’s Guild Award winners will be announcement on Saturday, February 2nd at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

Stage and Screen Actor Lee Pace Talks Shop

Lee Pace had me at “Hello.” Or, rather, the film equivalent, which was 2006’s The Fall. Spectacularly strange and visually arresting, that movie made an instant devotee out of me. Though the tall, dark, and handsome actor had been in the biz for a few years prior to this weird and wonderful discovery, I’ve followed the 33-year-old’s trajectory ever since—and re-watched The Fall more than a few times.

Fast forward to 2012, which has been especially packed for Pace, featuring roles in Lincoln, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Indeed, it’s safe to say that he’s had a good year, especially considering all three titles hit theaters (for all intents and purposes) simultaneously. This triple whammy of sorts simply must bode well on the success scale. 

From indie flicks like A Single Man and Ceremony, to blockbuster franchises, this guy’s got that special something that attracts casting directors and keeps crowds captivated. Beyond the big screen, New Yorkers can currently catch Pace as Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini in Terrence McNally’s Golden Age, a play directed by Walter Bobbie with performances through January 13 at Manhattan Theatre Club. Age audiences are granted a backstage pass to listen in and look on, taking in behind-the-scenes goings-on during opening night of Bellini’s last opera, I Puritani, at the ThéâtreItalien in Paris. Part comedy, part drama, the two-and-a-half-hour-long performance paints a living picture of what it might have been like to be there. 

The charming and approachable Pace was sweet enough to take time before taking the stage recently to talk about a few things. From his privileged yet hectic career to memorable moments, from his stance on New York to his “heartthrob” status, Pace provides a refreshingly sincere look at his life. 

So, you’ve had a super busy year…
It has been a busy year. I’m really feeling it now that the year’s coming to an end. These movies came out this past month and now we[’re] doing eight shows a week [for Golden Age]. It’s been a lot of work, so I’ll to be looking forward to a quiet new year. But, it’s been great. It’s good to be busy. There’s nothing I like more than being busy. Good characters to play and good people to work with. There’s been a lot of that this year, so I couldn’t be more grateful.

Is there any reprieve during the holiday?
Theater schedules through the holidays are relentless. I guess I figured we’d still be doing eight shows a week, but it’s tough. There’s so many shows. But, it’s good. It’s a privilege to be able to do the show for people. That people want to come is awesome.  

Given your recent roster, are there any standout moments of 2012?
Shooting scenes with Steven Spielberg in the Congress (sic) [for Lincoln], that was pretty incredible. Big scenes, lots of extras, a couple cameras moving. You really feel like, Wow, I’ll remember this. It kinda doesn’t get better than this. Then, I went to New Zealand to work on The Hobbit for a couple months. To be on those sets, which [were] equally incredible, and to collaborate on and play a character that is the product of so many people’s imaginations—Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens, Fran Walsh and the costume designers—[was] very, very special. 

Any funny stories that you recall?
Funny things happened, but I always forget them. I am such an idiot. 

[Laughs] Okay, any instances on stage where you feel compelled to burst out laughing?
We really like each other a lot. All of the guys [in Golden Age] shar[e] a dressing room. We have so much fun during the half hour, talking. Ethan Phillips is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met and he keeps us going all through the half hour, so there are times I’ll look at him on stage and remember a joke he told and I have a hard time not laughing. 

I can imagine. What’s it like portraying a real life character versus a fictional one?
Both Fernando Wood [of Lincoln] and [Bellini of] Golden Age are based on real men. You want to have a certain respect for who they were. You want to find a connection to the real person. Understand them from an actor’s point of view, which is different from a historian’s point of view and different from a writer’s point of view. 

For sure.
In Golden Age, it’s a character. It isn’t a biopic of Bellini. This is a work of art. Terrence McNally is using the character to tell a story. I see it as my job to connect the dots between Terrence and me and Bellini, who wrote this beautiful music. I tried to figure out what it was about him, who he was, the details. There’s so many things that go into making a character.

I bet. Your Bellini also displays distinct mannerisms, tending to twitch and putter a bunch…
[Laughs] Twitch and putter. I’ll remember that tonight when I’m twitching and puttering. [Laughs]

It’s not intended as an insult!
No, he is very twitchy and putter-y. Where I started with my research was listening to the music and really trying to understand that music and believe that that music was coming out of me, that I’d written it. Before I started, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to create something like that, to write music as complicated as this music. Just trying to get myself into that headspace, being backstage listening to it, that’s where I really started working out the physicality and how I moved. It kind of grew from that, so that the nervous energy finds its way into keeping the beat with the opera. He’s not a neurotic man. He’s concerned about how this artistic effort is going to be received by a discerning audience of people that he respects. He wants to do something that will be meaningful to them. It’s all about the music. He takes this opera that he has created extremely seriously. 

As you do your own work…
On the good days! No, I do. When you work with people like Daniel Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg, and Peter Jackson, you see how they take it seriously. It’s meaningful. They’re so talented. On set with Steven Spielberg, everyone felt how much that story meant to him, the story of the 16th president. Everyone on that set felt it and [was] inspired by it. And that’s how we all found ourselves on his page, because he’s inspiring. 

Wish I could have been there! So, theater versus film? Is there one you prefer?
They’re very, very different. I can’t say I prefer either one because I love both for different reasons. In film, you have very little time to get it right. And it’s not even about getting it right, because it’s important to let go of that way of thinking about it. You get what you get and move onto the next setup, onto the next scene. On stage, George C. Wolfe, who directed me in [the play] The Normal Heart, called it the actors’ revenge, because you have to step onstage every night and tell the story yourself. You just have to do it yourself. 

In a movie, you turn over your performance to the director and the editors to edit and to layer in sound and everything else that makes the performance emotional or funny or whatever. In theater, you have to land the jokes yourself. You have to understand what’s funny about it. You have to kind of feel the audience. What they’re about on any given night. With a movie, you don’t have that. You can’t do that. In The Hobbit, we can’t feel what the house is going to be like before we do it. 

Of course not. So, onto something still loftier, what’s been the greatest challenge of your career?
If I could name a challenge, it would be laughable compared to the challenges so many other people face. It’s the “funnest” job in the world. I guess the biggest challenge I could say these days is just taking it seriously. When you’re in your thirties, the parts get good for men. You get really interesting characters. That’s what I’ve noticed. Complicated men dealing with complicated things. Seeing that there’s so [much] more to investigate about the way people are, and communicat[ing] those things to an audience, that’s the challenge. You want [the] stories to be good and you want them to be truthful and that’s a challenge. 

Seeing as this is an NYC-centric outlet, where exactly are you based?
I’ve been living here while I do the play. But, I live outside the city now. I live up in the country. It was a new move. I’d lived [in New York City] for a long time, since I was 17. 

How do you like living off-island?
I like it a lot. I love New York City. I’ve spent my adult life in New York City. I have a really complicated relationship with New York City, as every New Yorker does. You can’t go through almost 15 years [here] and not have a complicated relationship with it. Part of that relationship is, I’m going to take a little break and live in the country. [Laughs]

I hear that. Lastly, any thoughts on being considered by some to be heartthrob, a sex symbol?
Oh god no. What does that mean? I have no comment about that. I don’t know what to say about that. It’s news to me. 

Not Even The New York Critics Circle Can Convince Me To See ‘Lincoln’

Dear America, stop trying to get me to watch this movie. Do not want. DO NOT WANT. (We’re still talking like anthropomorphized cats on the internet, right?) I can’t imagine any other movie I’d rather see less than a long one about Our Greatest President starring The Greatest Living Actor Who Is Better At Playing Americans Than Most Living American Actors. Not even you, you group of New York film critics, are going to do this to me.

Sure, they didn’t give Lincoln top honors this year (they go, of course, to Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, the trailer for which I have seen a few times, and a film about which I know nothing except that it’s about Osama bin Laden and has Chris Pratt’s attempting to be serious-goofy rather than goofy-goofy and Jessica Chastain looks grumpy), but the Steven Spielberg Joint got two major awards for its leading actors: Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. And look, I love Sally Field as much as the next gay, but I’d much rather see her revving up some union workers or dealing her flippant diabetic daughter than being sad and crazy and wearing too many ruffles.

Oh, and Tony Kushner, you say? Yeah, yeah, yeah. But unless Lincoln is about Roy Cohn dying of AIDS or singing African-American maids, I’m not interested. Because, honestly, the best part about Lincoln is all the stuff that happened after he died, and not even Robert Redford could make that story appealing. Plus, I’ve saved room in my brain for only one costume drama this season, and that will be Les Misérables. Obviously. So stop telling me to see Lincoln, you guys. It’s not gonna happen.

Follow Tyler Coates on Twitter.

What To Expect From ‘Lincoln’

The Oscarbait floodgates open tomorrow with the release of blockbuster biopic Lincoln, a tale of our sixteenth and tallest—well, tied with Lyndon Johnson—U.S. president. And while Lincoln’s story seems a familiar one to anyone who passed a sixth-grade history class, there’s every indication that this film will work to reinvent our tired notions of history.

For example, they got the director of Jaws, this Steven Spielberg, to direct it. Now, maybe this kid does have a great and illustrious career before him, but from my perspective it seems a bit odd to hand the reins of a big picture like this to some guy who’s mainly interested in fake gore and animatronic sharks. But maybe his involvement explains the bold choice to cast the animatronic Lincoln from Disney World’s “Hall of Presidents” as Lincoln. I might have gone with a human actor; still, I’m curious about the result!

Then there’s all the action in these Civil War scenes. Word leaked in post-production that the aesthetic for these moments was to be “very steampunk, with possible magic,” so keep an eye peeled for clues that this movie is taking place in an alternate universe. Early reviews have hinted that Lincoln is a “mind-bending puzzler” not unlike the popular TV show Lost.

Finally, an NC-35 rating will keep out any moviegoers under the age of 35, not coincidentally the age requirement to be a candidate for president in the United States. Minors MAY NOT gain admittance with an over-35 chaperone. And one last heads up: theaters screening the film plan to replace their plush reclinable audience seats with 1860s-accurate straight-backed wooden chairs. Once your spine goes numb, relax and enjoy the show!

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Get Your First Glimpse of Spielberg’s Lincoln Biopic

Just in time to break through the exhausting muck of this upcoming election like a grease-fighting dish detergent made of lemony freshness and freedom, we get our first moving picture-type glimpse of Steven Spielberg’s epic biopic of our sixteenth president, Lincoln, in a teaser promoting… a promotional Google Hangout. Remember? Because this is 2012, and we have trailers for trailers for things now and Google+ is still something someone is trying to make happen.

From what brief moments we do get of the film itself, there’s some rainy, bloody period-epic-drama battle sequences, a shot of Daniel Day-Lewis looking shadowy and distinguished and a brief but promising excerpt of the Gettysburg Address. And then, after all that breathtaking eloquence and period-drama mise-en-scene, the screen goes to white to remind you about the Google Hangout happening this Thursday, featuring Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays Lincoln’s son Robert Todd. This could actually be a very interesting Google Hangout, but it needs more Lane Pryce as Ulysses S. Grant.

Lincoln begins its wide release on November 16. Watch the teaser below, you can Google Hangout with Steven Spielberg and JGL on Thursday and don’t forget to register to vote, kids. It’s what Honest Abe would have wanted.