Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
Message
Author
User avatar
Murdoch
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#51 Post by Murdoch » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:55 pm

What Vice is instead, however, is a baffling tonal hodgepodge that misuses a laundry list of cutesy narrative devices McKay had previously deployed first in The Big Short, at best marginally humanizes Dick Cheney and at worst lionizes him, assaults you with a relentless retrospective of the administration’s most heinous acts but with no added insight, and seems confused about what kind of point it wants to make, in fact making none at all.
I thought the Big Short was among the worst Academy nominees in recent memory so I'm not surprised to read this regarding McKay's follow-up. He seems to be tackling topics he's woefully unprepared to take on (although I'd be hard-pressed to think of any currently working American filmmaker outside of the documentary realm who could tackle the Bush era well).

User avatar
tenia
Ask Me About My Bassoon
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#52 Post by tenia » Tue Dec 18, 2018 4:54 am

I don't really understand the flak The Big Short is sometimes taking. It's not only a quite faithful movie (one of the most faithful recent biopic) but is done with skill and style despite a rather technical subject. McKay's techniques for explaining the technicalities are also very effective there, not because they seem fun and offers pop cameos but because they make these technicalities understandable by placing them closer to our daily lives (something that most economic articles failed to do, or only in extremely long essays or books.

I watched it for the first time at 11.30pm, thinking I would just just watch whatever I could before nodding off, but got hooked and watched it all during the night. It's just vastly efficient despite being slightly overlong.

And the main performances are tremendous, especially Carrell.

User avatar
John Cope
Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2005 5:40 pm
Location: where the simulacrum is true

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#53 Post by John Cope » Tue Dec 18, 2018 6:01 am

I loved it too. Bale's perf is among his best and that's saying a lot.

User avatar
Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#54 Post by Brian C » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:29 am

That Daily Beast roundtable is really puzzling, because I cannot for the life of me understand how someone could watch Vice and think that the film is even the remotest bit sympathetic to Dick Cheney. He's basically evil incarnate in this film. Even his treatment of Mary is only held up as a redeeming facet so that the film can pull that rug out from under him at the end of the film. It's crazy to think that, as Marlow says, "he’s a fairly likable shlub-antihero here whose smirk is more endearing than menacing." Seriously, anyone who thinks that needs to be examined for latent fascism acceptance tendencies.

Otherwise, the movie really reminded me a lot of Michael Moore, as if Moore had decided to give up docs and give feature narrative filmmaking a shot. Partly that's because Jesse Plemons's narration seems uncannily similar to Moore's narration in his films in terms of inflection and content, but also because it just seems pretty Moore-like once you take away the parts of Moore's films that he's not in himself.

The biggest caveat I'd add to that, however, is that it's only occasionally played for laughs. In fact, some of the laughs feel a little forced, even if they're sorta clever (I'm thinking specifically about a fake-credits gag). Mostly it plays, again, like muckraking documentary re-enactment. The anger with which it's made is palpable, but as a piece of political argumentation, I found it to be pretty solid. Not so solid that it'll change people's minds who aren't already on board, but then again, the Iraq War remains hugely unpopular and Cheney himself doesn't seem to be getting the character-rehab treatment to near the degree W has been. So maybe there's not a ton of convincing that needs be done, although through that lens, the movie seems somewhat aimless.

And so I guess that I admire the movie to some degree but I'm not really sure what the point of it is. It's not an enjoyable film in the way that I found The Big Short to be, and really it's a little bit exhausting. One of the more off-putting things about the film is that it seems to suggest in a meta way that we need to watch it as a means of taking our medicine, but frankly that seems pretty stupid. It does not in any particular way tie into, or work as a critique of, the Trump administration. It's just there, a white elephant of a movie.

I did like Bale and Carell a great deal, though. In fact, I think the most effective sections were the Cheney/Rumsfeld days in the Nixon and Ford administrations, which actually has some satirical teeth and I think a pretty great Coen-style farce could be made about these two nitwits stumbling through Washington. But those sections don't take up much of the film, sadly.

User avatar
aox
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 12:02 pm
Location: nYc

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#55 Post by aox » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:02 am

Brian C wrote:
Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:29 am
That Daily Beast roundtable is really puzzling, because I cannot for the life of me understand how someone could watch Vice and think that the film is even the remotest bit sympathetic to Dick Cheney. He's basically evil incarnate in this film.
I watched it last night. The only example, as you note, of any humanity exhibited by Cheney is how the film handles his daughter Mary's subplot. If people are making the argument that the film is in any way sympathetic, I would imagine it starts there.

I agree with you though. Given what the US is going through now, I haven't left a movie that pissed off in a long time.

nitin
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:49 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#56 Post by nitin » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:22 am

Saw this tonight, thought it was very unfocused and, more criminally, boring. Which is quite an achievement given the material on hand. The tone is strangely ambivalent, I neither got a sense of seething rage nor anything resembling any real satire (and agree with the posters above that it makes no real attempt at sympathy either so those readings are way way off).

User avatar
Drucker
Your Future our Drucker
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#57 Post by Drucker » Tue Jan 22, 2019 9:59 am

I also saw this last night, and thought it was meh. It was fun in the sense that it reaffirmed my existing beliefs, and there were a few things I didn't know (the non-archiving of anything, for example), but for the first hour the film was pretty rough. Any time it seemed to be about to get going, it was cut off with some narration. I thought the second half of the film (mostly Bush era onwards) was strongest, since we didn't have to jump timelines.

Bale was good, but I thought the Carrell performance was best, quite frankly. I found most of his scenes hysterical and was laughing out loud. He seemed to be playing Rumsfeld a bit like Michael Scott, which given the tone of the film hit the perfect note for me. I would have actually enjoyed more of the film to be this way! Alas.

User avatar
Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#58 Post by Brian C » Tue Jan 22, 2019 10:10 am

I agree about Carell, and frankly I think the Rockwell nomination this morning is one of the more worthless Oscar nominations I can think of. It’s not that Rockwell’s terrible, exactly, but it’s a middle-of-the-road W impression that has no impact at all.

User avatar
movielocke
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#59 Post by movielocke » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:59 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 1:00 pm
movielocke wrote:
Wed Oct 03, 2018 12:26 pm
DarkImbecile wrote:First Trailer
Welp, I see nominations straightaway here for actor and supporting actor.
The scene we see with Rockwell is his only main scene, he won't be nominated
I am so rarely right in any awards prediction I cannot resist this!

User avatar
Persona
Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 1:16 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#60 Post by Persona » Tue Jan 22, 2019 5:36 pm

The Academy was really determined to nominate VICE for stuff. Reception be damned!

User avatar
DarkImbecile
LightGenius
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:24 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#61 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Jan 28, 2019 4:54 pm

I'm mostly in line with Drucker's and Brian's observations above: I'm not opposed to polemics that pander to beliefs I already hold, but McKay's attempt to fit the corset of The Big Short's style and structure of fourth-wall-breaking narration and wild tonal shifts over the girth of Dick Cheney's life and times is a predictably unappealing fit.

Vice is trying to tell a much messier, more sprawling story than Short — which had some technical subject matter but was much more chronologically and thematically focused — so some broad brush strokes and leaps in causality are to be expected, I suppose. Still, making Cheney the Zelig of modern conservatism and painting him as responsible for (or at the very least connected to) nearly every terrible development in politics and media since the Nixon era puts even deep Cheney haters like myself in the awkward position of "well, actually"-ing a good chunk of the movie's assertions. If I was structuring the film, I'd have drilled deeper into just one or two major decisions (like the invasion and torture policies) rather than attempting to give more or less equal time to more than a dozen of Cheney's administrative manipulations, policy misadventures, and outright crimes and leaving too many feeling like they were shorted on time.

The narration is largely unsuccessful, existing purely for a late-film shock revelation that isn't worth the disruptive impact the voiceover has on the flow of the film, which — even if McKay was wedded to the jokier elements like the Shakespearean interlude and the credit fake-out — definitely doesn't need the same kind of mini-lectures about government and individual backgrounds that Short used for complicated financial maneuvers. I suspect that if the film had been crafted as a more straight-forward darkly comedic character study/biopic that trusted its audience a bit more, this could have been a substantially better film with such rich subject matter and all the talent involved, but now that McKay has been rewarded twice for this kind of lecture to the cheap seats about recent history, I'm sure we'll get more in this vein — already half-dreading his adaptation of a Trump expose.

All that said, I did think Bale gave a great lead performance, and I wouldn't be at all disappointed to see him win another Oscar for it, but it's the only recognition the film really deserves; Amy Adams is solid as Lynne Cheney, but isn't given quite enough to chew on to make this role worthy of garnering her first statuette, and Rockwell gives a competent George W. Bush imitation with even less substance.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#62 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:22 pm

In his own way, maybe Adam McKay is the new Stanley Kramer, in that this movie also made me embarrassed to be a liberal? Some okay gags here and there, and a few of the editing tricks work (I liked the contrasting tapping feet of George W Bush's during the announcement of the invasion of Iraq and an Iraqi civilian hiding under the table during a bombing-- an unfair but effective comparison) but mostly this movie just talks to the audience like it's full of idiots. And even if it is, there's gotta be a better way to do that than ending your movie with a vapid teen girl talking about how the new Fast and Furious movie is "gonna be lit," as though there was any intellectual difference between that franchise and this. That said, Bale and Adams are ludicrously better than their material and Oscar wins wouldn't be as offensive for them as they would be in any other category where this is inexplicably nominated

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#63 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:24 am

I haven't seen this yet, but to whom is that comparison unfair?

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#64 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:21 am

It's an unfair comparison because it's making a cheap shot that seems like it means something until you actually think about it (which could be this film's tagline)-- wow, two people on completely opposite ends of this moment in history were exhibiting the same completely reasonable, involuntary physical reaction to their respective situations, so what? It's like gee Stalin's stomach grumbles while waiting for his breakfast but then a starving peasant also had a noisy tummy that same morning, I've really learned a lot about history now

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#65 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:01 am

Ah, that clarified what was going on in that scene for me, thanks domino. Sounds bad!


User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#67 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:24 pm

Holy fuck that is embarrassing. This is what happens when people who know nothing about how film musicals function or work think, “Oh, I could do that.”

User avatar
Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#68 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:34 pm

Oh my God, that was just awful. Why would you shoot, and more importantly, why would you edit a musical number in such a way that you can barely see the choreography? Remind me again why this movie was nominated for Editing?

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#69 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:42 pm

If they shot the whole thing with multiple Steadicams (or possibly handheld cameras) and there wasn't much storyboarding involved, I wouldn't beat up the editor over how much choreography was visible because it's very possible he didn't have much to work with.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#70 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:50 pm

Based on how much coverage there is in this one sequence alone, there’s little chance that’s the case. Obviously it looks like every angle/take the editor had to work from was compromised during filming, but that wouldn’t predicate such frenzied back and forth cutting when these shots were surely filmed all the way thru, if just to be cut up later (modern “musical” filmmaking at its most moronic and artless)

User avatar
Never Cursed
Such is life on board the Redoutable
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:22 am

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#71 Post by Never Cursed » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:56 pm

What make it worse is that they did like 15 separate cuts of the musical sequence, and this is the one that they chose to put on YouTube. Not only is what we're seeing really really terrible, it was the best version they had, which makes me shudder a little

User avatar
knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#72 Post by knives » Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:58 pm

Never Cursed wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:34 pm
Remind me again why this movie was nominated for Editing?
They cut out the sequence.

User avatar
domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#73 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:01 pm

Haha

User avatar
hearthesilence
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#74 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:14 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:50 pm
Based on how much coverage there is in this one sequence alone, there’s little chance that’s the case. Obviously it looks like every angle/take the editor had to work from was compromised during filming, but that wouldn’t predicate such frenzied back and forth cutting when these shots were surely filmed all the way thru, if just to be cut up later (modern “musical” filmmaking at its most moronic and artless)
It's a tough call to make without seeing the raw footage, but I have my doubts that letting "handheld" documentary-style footage run would've been a viable option. Even if the other camera(s) never appeared in the shot (I have no idea how they coordinated the filming), the style doesn't really lend itself to showcasing the choreography very well. But you are right, frenzied cutting isn't exactly a great aesthetic either.

User avatar
Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

#75 Post by Brian C » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:24 pm

Honestly, I didn't even really notice how the musical elements were shot and cut, because the writing is so terrible and the way that the non-musical elements are integrated with the singing and dancing is forced in a way that really highlights how unnecessary it all is.

But oh well. The filmmakers realized it didn't work so they cut it. No harm done.

Post Reply