Tag Archives: Lincoln

The Better Angels

21 Nov
Braydon Denney plays a young Abraham Lincoln, although he could be confused for a young Calvin Klein model

Braydon Denney plays a young Abraham Lincoln, although he could be confused for a young Calvin Klein model

There’s little debate as to which U.S. president is the defacto favorite of Hollywood. Abraham Lincoln wins, whether it’s John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, starring a fresh-faced Henry Fonda, or Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which earned Oscar gold for Daniel Day Lewis. Then, there’s also the silly, senseless Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. For the life of me, I can’t think of one resonating picture about George Washington and that famous cherry tree. When it comes to presidential hagiography, it’s Honest Abe who gets the lion’s share of celluloid exposure.

Considering all the previous Lincoln biopics, A.J. Edwards’s The Better Angels is another creature entirely. As certain as there’s black and white — and we should mention that the film is shot entirely in black-and-white — it’s about a 13-year-old Abe without ever really mentioning the lad’s name. It would be unfair to callBetter Angels plotless, though it unfurls in arcane wisps and etherial shards that you really can’t call linear. But through Edwards’ careful guidance, the flick still manages to paint a visceral and comprehensive collage. One might label it a historical record in dreams, something that the trippy visualist Terrence Malick (Days of Heaven, The Tree of Life) made an art form, and, interestingly enough, he’s one of the film’s producers and worked with Edwards on To the Wonder.   Continue reading