Vice (Adam McKay, 2018)

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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).

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Ask Me About My Bassoon
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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.

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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.

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Brian C
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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.

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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.

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