Lincoln. The best movie about the legislative process released this year! For real, historical biography isn’t my thing (Lawrence of Arabia excepted), so I liked that the condensed timeline here moved it more into political drama with horse-trading and cajoling and backroom negotiation. I have my complaints (over-teaching; soft-focus soap opera lighting; lens flare; tokenism; etc.), but still… DDL is the man. His storytelling, along with the other individual performances, make it worthwhile.

The Last of the Mohicans

The Last of the Mohicans. I might have seen this more times than I should have, but it’s mighty fine dramatic Hollywood entertainment. Such a great pace and you really feel like you’ve been on a story, y’know? Frontier love fantasy! Majestic scenery! An outsider caught between two worlds (seems to be a recurring Mann theme)! A strong, noble woman who won’t be brought down by the savagery around her! DDL with long, flowing hair! Scalpings! Gun fu, but with muskets! As much as I bitch about the main melody’s omnipresence throughout the score, I’d totally forgotten about the vocal tune at the climax. I like that the movie bookends with those mountain running scenes. I think I have to re-sort my Michael Mann rankings:

  1. Heat
  2. Thief
  3. The Last of the Mohicans
  4. Manhunter
  5. Collateral

Chigurh vs. Plainview. I like Javier Bardem’s comments about letting go of the backstory for his role:

Maybe the character’s mother didn’t feed him when he was 5 years old, or something like that…. I started to do that [imagining a “backstory” for Chigurh], but then I realized… in this case, it would be much more helpful if I didn’t know where he was coming from. The challenge was to embrace a symbolic idea and give it human behavior. It wasn’t about how his mother didn’t feed him.

That reminds me of Rebecca Mead writing on Nico Muhly’s recent comments about new music in last week’s New Yorker:

He devises an emotional scheme for the piece‚Äîthe journey on which he intends to lead his listener. Muhly believes that some composers of new music rely too heavily on program notes to give their work a coherence that it might lack in the actual listening. “This stupid conceptual stuff where it’s like, ‘I was really inspired by like, Morse Code and the AIDS crisis.'”

You can lose a lot of creative punch when trying to over-think and over-explain the roots. Embrace an idea and give it behavior. See if it sticks. I like that a lot.