The two Daniels.

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa Rosenberg & Asawin Suebsaeng, we discuss (scroll down for audio):

  • Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, directed by Sam Mendes, with Daniel Craig reprising the lead role.
  • Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President of the United States.


DreamWorks Studios
150 minutes

Spoiler alert: He dies at the end.

You can thank me later for spoiling the ending and therefore hopefully zapping your desire to see the movie. If that is the case, I've prevented you from blowing 10 dollars on this listless, heaving waste of cinema space.

For a figure so towering, so revered and reviled as Abraham Lincoln, the bar for a great biopic is almost unreachably high. But this particular Lincoln had Pulitzer Prize-winning Tony Kushner signed on as screenwriter. It's based on (also Pulitzer Prize-winning) historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 book Team of Rivals. Instead of documenting Lincoln's entire life, the movie zeroes in on a handful of months leading up to the hard-won passage of the 13th Amendment, the Civil War's end, and the president's assassination. The large cast includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Sally Fields, Jackie Earle Haley, James Spader, and pretty much every other estimable actor working in Hollywood today and their mothers. Also, Steven Spielberg is directing. (Say what you want about his recent, franchise-ruining output; he's still the man who helmed this, this, and this.)

The sheer amount of talent invested in Lincoln only serves to underscore and exacerbate the film's epic fail.

What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art

By Will Gompertz


If you've ever wandered into a contemporary art gallery with hope and left with a headache, BBC arts editor Will Gompertz may be your savior. His funny, straight-talking guide to the past 150 years of modernism contextualizes lofty art-speak—neo-plasticism?—using colorful anecdotes, Monty Python and Spice Girls references, and a master's grasp of history. He's not afraid to call bollocks on the art world, either. From Marcel Duchamp's famed urinal to Damien Hirst's dead shark, this book is an engaging tour of art's most radical innovations.

This review originally appeared in our November/December issue of Mother Jones.

If you spent much time on over the last few days you probably noticed our homepage looked a little different than usual. Election Day was a culminating event for the reporters and editors here, who've been busting their humps to cover the long-running campaign, from the GOP primary circus to the conventions to the voter suppression tactics and problems at polling places on Tuesday. So we went big and splashed the homepage with a touch of tabloid—including a moment of particular pride around here, after Obama officially clinched 47 percent of the vote and then some. You can see all our headlines from Election Day, starting with "Endless Lines" and proceeding in chronological order, in the GIF below. Thanks for spending this election cycle with us. You guys are the best.

mother jones home page election day

Like a boss!

Happy Election Eve! NOW EVERYBODY CALM DOWN. New polling data shows at least half of us will be bitterly disappointed with the outcome. Meanwhile, a full 100 percent are grappling with fear of the unknown. So to pass these nailbiting hours, we've compiled a playlist of original songs inspired by our presidential candidates. This year, however, they're all about Mitt—for or against—and by and large, "invariably fucking awful" in the words of my editor.  (An aside: In '07-'08, Obama had lyrical endorsements from Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige, Common and Young Jeezy. Today, Romney has this guy. A sign of the times?)

It's Election Day's eve, and even as voters are raring up to perform their patriotic duty, polls taken as recently as last week show a small percentage of registered voters who are still undecided about who they will choose for president.

To which any reasonable person might ask, REALLY!? Do these people not have access to a TV or computer? Do they lack a radio? Or a phone? Or a freaking mailbox!? Is it that they are uninformed about the issues? We're baffled, honestly.

On this week's episode of A Movie & An Argument, With Alyssa Rosenberg & Asawin Suebsaeng, we discuss (scroll down for the audio):

  • Flight, a bruisingly beautiful character study, in which Denzel Washington plays a self-destructive "hero" pilot. (Read my review here.)
  • The recently announced post-Lucas Star Wars movies from Disney, and what they (could) mean for the franchise. (Alyssa has some great insight on the big news here, here, here, here, and here.)


Paramount Pictures
138 minutes

Going off of the trailer (embedded below)—and Denzel Washington's recent output—you can't be blamed for expecting Flight to be decidedly low-brow.

Given the available evidence, I was looking forward to a film in which an elegantly cocaine-impaired Denzel Washington flies a burning plane upside down while telling panicking passengers to "BE COOL!" for a solid two hours. (Maybe there'd be East German terrorists thrown into the mix in some way.) After all, American audiences have in recent years been fed a steady diet of Denzel Washington movies in which he efficiently dispatches one-dimensional henchmen and/or deals with imperiled trains barreling down the corridors of Tony Scott's imagination.