Slightly less simplistic and ridiculous than this past summer’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Steven Spielberg’s snooze-inducing Lincoln – which, for the purposes of this review, shall go by the more appropriate and poetic title Stinkoln – is a study in arrogant Hollywood leftism thinly disguised as a prestigious period piece and civics lesson.  The essence of bare-assed propaganda, Stinkoln has multiple ulterior motives, which, however, are unified by the idea that the United States are a cess pit of ethical retardation and gross injustice, a situation that can be remedied only by a dictatorial executive beloved of “the people” and “clothed in immense power”.

Stinkoln fires its first shot with inspiring footage of black soldiers shooting, stabbing, and strangling white soldiers in open race warfare, after which two of the heroic Negroes pester the president himself for a raise and complain about their second-class citizen status.  Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis, doing his best Walter Brennan impression) gives evidence in this, his first scene, of what a shrewd politician he is by listening sympathetically, but then pretending to be half-senile and abruptly changing the subject, telling unfunny jokes instead of answering the Negroes’ concerns.  Lame comedy, unfortunately for the viewer, is a tactic that will be shamelessly employed by the commander-in-chief throughout the film, which focuses specifically on Lincoln’s crafty intention to stall peace negotiations with the Confederacy in order to force the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, finally abolishing slavery.  Opposition is strong in that “rat’s nest” of “hicks and hacks” the House of Representatives, however, and securing the necessary votes is no easy task for the Anointed.

David Strathairn, veteran of another self-congratulatory and horribly overrated liberal propaganda film, 2005’s Good Night, and Good Luck, appears as Lincoln’s David Axelrod, William Seward, the unscrupulous muscle whose duties as Secretary of State also include overseeing a posse of political operatives engaged in bribing and browbeating representatives into enacting the people’s will.  Alternately aiding and irritating the president is First Lady Mary (Sally Field), an erratic, self-important ditz who characterizes her headaches as “another casualty of the war”.  Tommy Lee Jones steals the show, however, as Lincoln’s cantankerous, insult-spouting Marxist id, the abolition-uber-alles Radical Republican Representative Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt also figures in the cast of hundreds, wasting a few minutes of his promising career as Lincoln’s idealistic first son Robert.

As a costume drama Stinkoln succeeds in recreating the look and feel of a place and time.  It sacrifices most of the entertainment value it might have had, however, in functioning as a political passion play.  Sanctimonious, rigid, hateful, and partisan, Stinkoln has nothing but smiling contempt for its audience, the American people.  Presenting a righteously reconfigured genocidal Ozymandias archetype for popular adoration and executive imitation, this freak-bearded Kool-Aid pitcher of a film is not only irresponsibly subversive but – arguably more unforgivable – actually boring. Lincoln’s dialogue consists almost entirely of purple prose that constantly chafes the viewer’s patience and makes this two-and-a-half-hour lecture on freedom feel more like four hours of chain-dragging bondage.  One of the kookiest, most cocksure, cruddy, overstuffed, oversimplified, overwrought, overbearing, and overlong offerings of Steven Spielberg’s overly hyped career, Stinkoln earns 2.5 of 5 stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Stinkoln is:

7. Anti-tobacco.  Second-hand smoke agitates emphysema.  An evilly racist representative rudely spits tobacco juice after voting against the Thirteenth Amendment.

6. Pro-miscegenation.  Thaddeus Stevens, Stinkoln reveals, has secretly been balling his black housekeeper, and therefore has more than a humanitarian motivation to pass the Thirteenth Amendment if he wants to keep the taste of that sweet brown sugar on his crusty, lusty old white lips.

5. Militarist/pro-NWO.  Government-directed bloodshed is the Philosopher’s Stone of social justice.  Brainwashed Robert, after seeing a patriotic heap of severed body parts, decides he is “nothing” if he fails to enlist to assist in the extermination of the enemies of the state.  Featured prominently in one scene is a George Washington statue by Frenchman Jean-Antoine Houdon (who also sculpted Rousseau and Napoleon), depicting America’s first president resting his left hand significantly on a fasces.

4. Anti-South.  Southern diplomats are pale, vampiric creatures who wince at the sunlight on emerging from the coffin-like darkness of their carriage (cf. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).  Robert E. Lee is, however, granted at least a measure of dignity of bearing in his brief appearance to throw in the towel.

3. Egalitarian, and specifically espousing a form of liberation theology.  Lincoln derives his power to redistribute property from “the people”, who, however, have defective moral compasses and require a man of superior fiber and spirituality to lead them to glory.  Equality = Fairness = Justice in Lincoln’s sophistic recipe for a moral economy.  Before his assassination, the president tells his wife he would like to travel in the Holy Land and visit Jerusalem, thus setting up the tacky Jesus comparison that finds its explicit expression in the beatific deathbed tableau, with Daniel Day-Lewis aglow in demise and looking like the figure in Bernardo Strozzi’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ.

2. Anti-slavery (i.e., pro-yawn).  Tad Lincoln (Gulliver McGrath) appears as a whiny, neurotic mess wracked by acute white guilt.  He divides his time between playing with toy soldiers and staring with naked self-loathing at photographic plates of miserable slaves.  One of the White House domestics recalls being beaten with a shovel as a child.  The horror!

1. Obamist/Machiavellian.  Political oppostion and pesky legal restraints are to be overcome by any necessary means.  What this country needs, Stinkoln dares to suggest, is an enlightened despot “clothed in immense power”.  It helps the masses to swallow the bitter pill of tyranny, however, if their dictator presents himself as Main Street incarnate, a folksy figure of Andy Griffith wholesomeness (think A Face in the Crowd) who tells jokes and anecdotes and whittles during strategy meetings.

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