Happy holidays, all! I hope you’re having a great holiday. There’s a lovely new movie playing in theaters right now, one I mentioned earlier, which many are maligning. Not to worry, I set everything straight—read on!
Yes… I remember what I told you. I still stand by it. Vice—the review of (our 46th vice president) Dick Cheney’s wonderful and varied career—is good.
Some may say director Adam McKay screwed up. And on the surface it may seem so. In his past great success, The Big Short, McKay used celebs, actors and regular people for exposition–he had them explain to the audience crucially important concepts (‘breaking the fourth wall’)—and it worked well. It does seem he went overboard on that mechanism in this movie. We see these lovely visual metaphors—an angler reeling in a large catch, a big cat killing deer, and so on—used to convey the gist of the scene: Cheney going after his ambitious goals, the great timing of his actions, and so on. As these metaphors pile up, they have the tendency to reduce important events to mere punctuation marks, and reduces their emotional impact. By the time you get to Cheney’s installation in the White House, the impact is long since gone, and you feel too jaded to even care about this invisible monster masterfully stringing the President and the rest of the staff along as if they were puppets. Torture, Gitmo, waterboarding—all are reduced in the film to mere cue cards. To be fair, we are talking about the guy who ended up being the decision-maker after 911; the person who picked Bush’s cabinet, and even the one instrumental in creating ISIS.
And it’s true that we never get to find out who Cheney really is. There’s no character arc. Vital appointments in his career such as his time in Congress and as Halliburton CEO are simply glossed over.
But I don’t think McKay’s trying to show how Cheney became who he is, as much as how the guy pulled off what he did. After all, controlling the President and administration of the most powerful country in the world is not an easy thing to do. But Cheney did it—by vanishing. He had a unique talent for making insane ideas look perfectly legal and professional. He housed horrible things (example: kidnapping people off the street and transporting them to black sites around the world for interrogation) in boring, normal actions. He had a talent for making insanity look perfectly legal and professional. You remember the famous Keyser Soze quote: “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” Well, Cheney is certainly a fine iteration of the devil. Agreed?
So I still think the movie’s totally worth watching. Besides, look at that cast! Just the cumulative acting talent there is worth the money: Amy Adams (Lynne Cheney), Steve Carell (Donald Rumsfeld), Sam Rockwell (Bush), Alison Pill (Mary Cheney), Justin Kirk (Scooter Libby), Lisa Gay Hamilton (Condoleeza Rice), Bill Camp (Gerald Ford), Tyler Perry (Colin Powell), and others.
Here’s the trailer:
HOLMES AND WATSON
Pass! Seriously. This comedic take on the pair would have worked well if the film makers had decided at the beginning if they wanted to show Holmes (Will Ferrell) as a genius, or an a** who took the credit for Watson’s (John C. Reilly) work. Nope! Apparently they could not decide which would be better and so you’ll find yourself see-sawing between both concepts until you just give up and try to enjoy the jokes… which works – if you like potty humor. The ridiculous and/ non-existent plot is also a problem. Sadly, talented actors such as Ralph Fiennes, Kelly McDonald, Rebecca Hall and Hugh Laurie are in the cast, probably because agents for the director have a lot of clout. See this one at your own risk. Here’s the trailer:
And those are all the wide releases for this weekend. If you don’t like what I like, there are some choices from last week: Into The Spiderverse, Aquaman, and The Mule. Tweet me! Let me know what you saw and what you thought. Here’s hoping I’ll see you all at the theater!