What does this title mean to you? Do you see Us or US? Well, one half of a comedy duo turned satirical director Jordan Peele has stated there is no concrete meaning behind his sophomore feature. To save the confusion or feared mispronunciation, Us has dual connotations in fitting with how one would interpret the film itself. In the wake of his multi Oscar nominated global phenomenon Get Out, Peele returns with an even darker and more thought provoking movie that reminds us that we are our own worst enemy.
A family take a trip to Santa Cruz for a relaxing summer vacation. However, their tranquility is soon disrupted when dopplegängers arrive at the end of their driveway. This mind boggling, ambiguous comedy-horror is overflowing with ambition. I think Get Out is a good film but not a great film, I respect the innovative creative choices Peele makes as well as the power social commentary that is carefully woven into the story. However I found both the horror and comedy elements lacking and the sub plot with Chris' best bud Rod jarring and fairly avoidable.
Us however is a taxing, frustrating but extraordinary work - one that I don't doubt will be studied in years to come. In the DNA of Peele's sinister satire he explores our duality. There are visual motifs peppered throughout the entire journey, repeated symbols of pairs - whether it's the newscast that reports the game score reading 11:11 or the shadows cast by the Wilson family as they stroll across the beach. Peele delicately sorts images into the film, reflecting the dopplegängers in smaller detail. Scissors are a power convention of the horror genre - they don't just impose this great sense of threat because they're a sharp object, their symmetry mirrors the genuine threat which is each side of us.
Chiefly, Peele dedicates the first half of this nightmare to the family. Like all the best horror films, Us establishes real character dynamics, admirable people who we invest in long before things literally go to hell. Discussing the lyrics to Luniz' I Got 5 On It and bickering around the kitchen table - Peele shows us their close-knit relationship. Winston Duke is terrific as Gabe - the goofy dad who dabs and attempts to win over the rest of the family with his conked out "speed" boat. Shahadi Wrigth Joseph is brilliant as the archetypal disapproving teenage girl, in addition to Jason played by Evan Alex who brings great physicality to his performance. In one of her first leading roles Lupita Nyong'o is sensational as the anxious though resourceful Adelaide, capturing a mother's instinct with refections of long hidden childhood trauma. Us is flawed but the first act is flawless.
I'm personally not a fan of comedy-horror, I find it either undercuts the tension or it can't find the right balance between scares and gags. Although it took me a while to adjust to it - Peele is trying to do A LOT here. Us is a better showcase for the visionary genre blending and tinkering with extremely dark subject matter whilst injecting zany dead-pan humour into it. In one pre-climatic scene the family argue over who has the highest kill count and should therefore drive the getaway car - this bold tone mixing and self-awareness is a key aspect of Peele's auteurism, along with his politically and socially thought provoking cinematography.
There is so much to decipher in Peele's Rorschach test. Us plays as a wicked critic on Trumps' America, pointing the blame at ourselves, suggesting we are the reason the nation is so divided. It's also a film about inequality and the marginalised groups of society, but unlike Get Out, not strictly about racism. When we reach the end you may not gain much gratification from this satirical misadventure, but more than anything Us is your own interpretation. The fact that Peele had the balls to put out something this ambitious with no clear meaning is not only commendable, it's absolutely awe-inspiring.
In Asghar Farhadi's newest drama everybody knows; the Iranian filmmaker of About Elly and The Salesman fame ventures into rural Spain along with two big A-list stars. It's such a treat to see both Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz on their own turf in a small-scale, self-contained picture. Laura returns from Argentina to her hometown outside Madrid to celebrate her sister's wedding, however things take a turn for the worst when her eldest daughter Irene is abducted.
Farhadi crafts a raw, hard-boiled family drama immersed in the tiny town and isolated countryside. With a more stripped down approach, Everybody Knows sketches the emotional torment of a family riddled with deceit and resentment, and how an event leads to a butterfly effect opening a rift that will change relationships forever. As a result of Irene's kidnapping Laura (Cruz) seeks help from old friends, specifically Bardem's avuncular figure Paco.
Sooner rather than later we discover that Paco and Laura were once lovers. Fooling around in the dusty, sun dappled bell tower Irene finds her mother's initials carved into the timeworn brick wall. The church bells are a predominant feature of the film's soundscape and it becomes clear right away how vital its importance is within the narrative - Farhadi hints a connection between Irene and Paco as the bells continue to chime in the backdrop across the movie. Expanding up the amazing sound track we also have the evocative, rustling branches of Paco's vineyard, the dirt track roads that crunch underfoot and the pouring rain that scuttles against the frayed jalouise windows.
Cruz and Bardem are captivating in two roles that are seemly, deliberately, given very little direction. Cruz presents a woman who is readjusting to her home environment years after her last visit, settling into the lifestyle fairly quickly but drawn closer to old friends once her daughter is abducted. Bardem is depleted as the weary Paco, reluctantly thrown into the mix of Laura's family tragedy and laying everything on the line for her. Haunted by past relationships, it's refreshing to see Bardem in a thoughtful and understated role, acting against his mainstream expectations and taking on a more endearing character.
Farhadi cleverly diverts away from overused genre conventions - there's no cross-cutting between the victim and her searchers. Everybody Knows is simply - and beautifully - about the instability of a family dynamic under extreme circumstances. Farhadi aims for naturalistic story telling and definitely achieves so.
Everybody Knows (Todos Lo Saben)
As social media dangerously expands there are ever increasing opportunities for trolls to spurt out genuinely nasty and unjustified hate. There have been a great deal of films in recent years that have effectively been buried by internet users - most notably 2016's all female reboot of Ghostbusters. If you were unaware, the controversy surrounding Marvel's latest feature has been not only ridiculous but quite toxic. Infamous critic website Rotten Tomatoes even had to change its entire system of ratings due to fans leaving fake negative reviews, intentionally dragging down the audience score - the studio has never before been afflicted with such strife.
The hate was primarily fuelled by Marvel's supposedly heavy handed feminist agenda, with the marketing for this film in no way subtle about the fact that Captain Marvel is their first female led picture. The girl who fell to earth - Carol Danvers - finds herself caught in the middle of a galactic war between the mighty Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls.
Sadly Captain Marvel is all white noise - Brie Larson beams and sparkles, quite literally, in a hugely underwritten role. Co-directors and writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are aided by a host of other creative forces, working behind what has got to be one of Marvel's messiest screenplays. There has been such uproar over Captain Marvel reportedly ramming its feminist ideologies down the throats of fans, yet ultimately - surprisingly - the film has very little to say. Although Carol's cosmic energy is an electrifying sight to behold, this underwhelming fantasy is all hype and no show.
That said, reminiscent of Marvel's phase one formula Captain Marvel has quite an authentic feel, similar to the likes of Iron Man and Thor. As usual there are the "end of the world" stakes, but Boden and Fleck don't particularly stress the impact this movie will have on the wider MCU - which is refreshing to see in the mist of multi character team ups like Infinity War. It's wistful in the quieter moments, as when amnesiac Carol walks into a bar and sees fragments of her past life burst across her minds' eye. With that in mind however its confused structure clutters a perfectly decent storyline - whilst admirably small-scale, we never feel the cosmic level oomph of the Kree/Skrull war against which the story is told.
Captain Marvel condenses Carol's backstory into a series of emotionally ineffective flashbacks -with Boden and Fleck lazily - almost reluctantly - sketching the hurdles she had to jump through. There is an underlying theme of women being continually knocked down and gaining the strength to dust off and stand straight back up again, however this poignant message is never brought to the forefront - key events that make Carol the woman she is are sidelined and subsequently Captain Marvel doesn't feel anywhere near as empowering or consequential as it should do.
Nonetheless, Larson's supernova performance outshines Carol's poor character development. Carol Danvers is the archetypal badass woman: she isn't feminised by any means, she has swagger and attitude to spare but most importantly she doesn't answer to men. Indubitably, her best trait is how she acts on her keen instincts - there is absolutely no time for hesitation, Carol goes with her gut and never flounders at the last second. Larson's edgy star-warrior teaches young girls the significance of confidence and sticking by decisions.
Surprisingly Captain Marvel doesn't beat you over the head with 90's nostalgia, although I think it could have afforded to. There are elements that harken back to early 90's sci-fi with Pinar Toprak's fantastic, warping electro score and the occasional moments of eye-popping production design. With exception to the few grungy tunes lined up on the MP3 player - Elastica's Connection and No Doubt's rather on-the-nose Just a Girl, there is very little indication that we are gazing back at the earlier days of the Avengers. Samuel L. Jackson is un-suprisingly fantastic as de-aged Nick Fury, in addition to Ben Mendleson as the shapeshifting Talos.
The main problem is that Captain Marvel is not the statement feminist piece the studio pushed so hard to be - the smaller ideas are never spotlighted nor is Carol given the emotional depth an origin story really should do. Larson's perky, fearless but underplayed performance as Danvers gleams through the overall mediocrity. Like many of the studio's recent endeavours, Captain Marvel is given little artistic freedom and is restrained to the conventions of the genre, falling into the lacklustre pot of routine and commonplace superhero capers.
Debussy's Clair De Lune is arguably one of the most iconic pieces of classical music. Used in a recent trailer promoting Godzilla: King of the Monsters it had a staggering impact - and likewise The Aftermath employed the same spellbinding melody. However when I think about James Kent's latest drama, only a city levelling Kaju comes to mind. Either I'm just a sucker for Debussy or that says a lot about this weak but watchable war time romance.
Rachel Morgan is sent to Hamburg to live with her husband - a British army Colonel - during the post-war reconstruction of 1946. They take ownership of a German household but tensions soon arise when Rachel is drawn to house owner Stefan Lubert. The Aftermath will keep you confined to barracks however. This sexually frustrated war drama plants Keira Knightley in the middle of Jason Clarke and Alexander Skärsgard. Churning out an excruciating performance Knightley acts like a spoilt school girl who throws a tantrum when she doesn't get her own way. Following the death of her son during the war, Rachel travels to a blitzed Hamburg to reunite with her other half Lewis Morgan - but things soon turn sour as Rachel is swept away by housekeeper Stefan's hospitable charm.
This lustful drama is absent of any romantic energy, there is almost no connection between Knightley and her two lovers. The Aftermath tries to align us with Rachel but her character is absolutely horrible and in no way personable - the film tries to excuse this though, suggesting that her personal demons drive her unfaithful actions. There's a point where Knightley weeps behind a grand piano, lamenting over the loss of her little boy - the scene itself has some sense of anguish but I'm sorry to say that her performance gives those same sensations as nails on a chalkboard. Skarsgard offers some relief as Herr Lubert, initially polite and submissive to the English command his character becomes more complex when he begins to take interest in Rachel - Skarsgard even makes the physical scenes feel a little less wooden.
There is this clever idea of violation lying beneath the surface of The Aftermath but this is cast aside for a muted romance. With British soldiers tactlessly lauding over German citizens you are naturally wound up by disrespectful manners, but it's equally intriguing to see Skarsgard's down-to-earth character boil over in rage when pushed. There is an odd sub plot involving his daughter and the remaining Nazi's, but this sort of hovers in the atmosphere with little importance and doesn't really go anywhere.
The Aftermath is engaging escapism making use of some striking landscape shots of delicate snow topped trees of post-war Germany, however, it fails completely as a romantic thriller with a really poor and embarrassing effort from Knightley.
"Beale Street is a street in New Orleans where my father, where Louis Armstrong and the Jazz were born. Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the black neighbourhood of some American city, whether in Jackson, Mississippi, or in Harlem, New York. Beale Street is our legacy". Barry Jenkins makes this eloquent opening statement as the credits roll in the beginning of his heartbreaking follow up to Moonlight.
Following his Best Picture winning coming-of-age drama, Jenkins returns with yet another overwhelmingly gorgeous work of art. Beale Street serves almost like a second chapter in his portfolio of race related stories. Lifted from the pages of James Baldwin's potent novel, If Beale Street Could Talk provides a glimpse into the life of Tish - a young woman embracing her pregnancy in Harlem during the 1970's. Meanwhile, her family do everything in their power to prove her fiancé innocent of a crime he has been wrongly accused of.
Jenkins makes falling in love feel like a brand new concept. Through his documentary style married with Nicholas Britell's overpowering score and James Laxton's beguiling cinematography, Beale Street is an intimate look at agape - and how trusting love all the way binds us together in a vicious world ruled by hatred. Specifically, Beale Street visualises a young girl's coming of age in a brutal yet beautiful Harlem setting - burning sexual passion and complex family relationships are the flames lit beneath this heart-aching romance.
Kiki Layne was sorely neglected a Best Actress nom. We are aligned with Tish from the outset. Fresh-faced, benevolent and gentle, this adolescent on the cusp of adulthood is on a crash course about the wider world during her pregnancy. Layne delicately portrays the leap from childhood, highlighting her endearing naivety and innocence. Her coy nature gradually fades away as we share her new experiences. You feel the elation and significance of her first sexual encounter, the warmth of her skin pressed against Fonny's, the rain scuttling against the windows and the crackling sound of the record player. Jenkins delivers an extremely raw and sensual narrative, so much so that it's rather astonishing that none of it is actually real.
But that's the power and art of his direction, the ability to take heavy subtext and transform it into a personal cinema experience like no other. The colour green plays an integral role in the film, Tish's blouse, Fonny's shirt, Mamma River's dress, the curtains of the family apartment, even the street they live in is cast in subtle shades of olive. Jenkins ingeniously reinforces the film's themes of life, growth and fertility - it's the colour that ties the family to one another, even when Fonny is chained behind thick sheets of glass. It also ties them to the real Beale Street. Religious connotations can also be discovered in Britell's provocative score: "Eden", "Eros" and "Keeper of the Keys and Seals" fabricate the stunning romance.
In If Beale Street Could Talk, a look really does say a thousand words. Jenkins taps into our soul with characters gazing directly into the camera: he envisions the devotion between Tish and Fonny, the enmity of Officer Bell and the motherly support of Regina King's genuinely impeccable performance as Sharon Rivers. He captures the small intricacies of human expression, utilising the camera in a profoundly personal manner. Beale Street gives love a whole new meaning.
If Beale Street Could Talk:
Years ago you'd have scoffed at the notion of a feature length film centred around LEGO people. Yet with a dollop of Lord and Miller magic, and along with help from the genius animation department, The LEGO Movie proved to be a sucker punch of creative storytelling. Warner Bros knew they'd struck gold and of course - in typical Hollywood fashion - they followed 2014's "piece of resistance" with two more off the wall, but progressively aimless outings.
Everything is mostly awesome for the brick blockbuster franchise now however. Hurling you straight back into the zany realm of LEGO, a battle-scarred Wyldstyle (Lucy) broods over the fall of Bricksberg. Five years after the catastrophic events of Taco Tuesday, citizens of the newly retitled Apocalypseburg face a new threat - LEGO DUPLO space invaders - who are tearing the city apart. The fierce General Mayhem captures Lucy and the gang, and it's up to Emmett to trek across the Sis-Star System in order to save them.
The LEGO Movie 2 welds the derelict landscape of a dystopian Mad Max future with the glittery energy of a four year old girl's bedroom. Everybody has assembled their own post-apocalyptic vehicle and everything is cast in gritty shades of brown and beige - but this doesn't dent this outing's spirit or make it too bland. Chris Pratt makes a wonderful return as the sickly sweet and naively enthusiastic Emmet, who seems un-phased by the destruction of his town. This wacky follow-up sees the gentle do-gooder quest for maturity after Lucy criticises his inability to adjust to the harsh times.
Joining Emmett on his space odyssey is Rex Dangervest - galaxy defending archeologist, cowboy and raptor trainer. Rex is also played by Pratt (funny that?) and the film is all the better for it - definitely double the Pratt, double the power. This boisterous spaceman embodies the actor's most ionic roles, there are Pratt references peppered throughout. He's a brilliantly worked character who manipulates his way into all aspects of the narrative. Looking past the dinos and sewer babies The LEGO Movie 2 is drenched in glitter. In this sparkly sequel Lord and Miller beam us through the Sis-star system - an overwhelmingly pink and purple cosmos that is as mad as a March hare.
In Mike Mitchell (Trolls, Alvin and the Chipmunks - Chip-wrecked) we have a different Director in the cockpit, and it shows. Mitchell delivers the complex metaphors that none other than creators Lord and Miller could properly conceive. Out of nowhere The LEGO movie commented on kids imagination and freedom of expression with understated genius, but The LEGO Movie 2 focuses on the conflict between girls' toys and boys' toys. The message is rather force fed and doesn't really resonate emotionally - nevertheless it's still above the average animation.
Every time Lord and Miller return they up the anti of jokes and wacky cameos - did you expect a guest appearance from Ruth Bader Ginsberg? The fact that The LEGO Movie 2 isn't as awesome as its predecessor doesn't really matter - let's face it, it was inevitable. This rainbow musical has surges of stir-crazy wonder, even though the story is unfittingly ordinary.
The LEGO Movie 2:
James Cameron is the critically acclaimed Michael Bay; he tells his stories through towering set pieces and expansive world building and in the process racks in a LOT of money. Avatar remains the top highest grossing film of all time at $2.7 billion dollars, with Titanic just behind at $2.1 so evidently the man knows what he's doing. Teaming up this time with Sin City's Robert Rodriguez, the rumour has it that Cameron waited ten years for technology to advance in order for him to adapt this manga cartoon. Although he (only) produces and writes here, Alita: Battle Angel is gaining a lot of attention for the two creative mega minds together at work.
In the year 2563, earth is left a desolate wasteland after a cataclysmic war known as "The Fall". Whilst scavenging in the junkyard metropolis of Iron City Dr. Dyson Ido discovers a deactivated cyborg. Following heavy repair and maintenance Alita is reborn, but she can't remember who she is and must learn of what immense power she possesses.
Despite a jaw dropping $200 million budget Alita: Battle Angel's wings are clipped. Cameron's sheeny and superfluous special effects can't rescue this overall cringeworthy tween sci-fi. There is a distinct lack of character, style and (surprisingly) world building - Cameron aims for B-movie, popcorn fun but he barely delivers that. Falling victim to the endless cycle of Hollywood white washing - like we saw with Scarlett Johanson in 2017's Ghost in the Shell - Alita: Battle Angel remains unfaithful to its Japanese source material.
Rosa Salazar stars as the big eyed bot, although her performance never really shines through the endless slathers of CG on her face. The entire film stresses her importance as this extraordinary warrior, but Cameron tries to humanise her with relatable teenage worries - specifically boy problems. In doing so, he undercuts her importance as a character and despite his best efforts in some agreeably bad-ass action sequences - Alita is a forgettable protagonist with extreme feminist qualities uncomfortably forced upon her. Not to forget Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali - three amazing actors all wasted in roles that are given zero development, just token star names for the billboards it seems. The film emphasises Alita's courageous step up to confront evil, and yet she faces no genuine threat.
Along with this Iron City is an insipid and unimpressive setting. From time to time Rodriguez's bitter style gleams through the otherwise clunky metal action scenes - but for the most part Alita: Battle Angel is dominated by Cameron's erratic filmmaking - regardless of the fact he isn't even directing. This should've been an astronomical merging of two creative giants, but alternatively we have a generic adventure flick that is too focused on setting up other sequels than actually creating an adequate origin story.
Alita: Battle Angel
How peculiar is it when a film's title is a question? Is it as peculiar as me opening this review with two? Quite possibly - but Can You Ever Forgive Me? reminds us is that eccentricity isn't always a bad thing, however that's heavily influenced by how you view the legality of certain actions. Author Lee Israel has slipped behind the wave of trendy literature, and as her out of fashion writing sees her career drift steadily into decline she begins forging letters by renowned authors.
Can You Ever Forgive Me? has the dark wit and idiosyncrasies of a classic Woody Allen fable. Following on from 2015's The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Director Marielle Heller envisions a terrifically downbeat tale of disenchanted outcasts and dying art. By no means does the film manipulate us into feeling compassionate towards Israel - it's in fact through her aloof nature that we somehow side with her. We see shades of Allen's filmography many in aspects of Can You Ever Forgive Me? - Heller sandwiches together establishing shots of New York, akin to Manhattan (1979) - and even though it's quainter visually, the film is accompanied by a similar swooning jazz score, just the stereotype one imagines as inspiration for writers. Chiefly, though - unlike our conniving protagonist - Heller is not a con artist and despite some reservations Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a strange beauty to behold.
Melissa McCarthy whose career, like Israel's, has been in gentle but steady decline, rises like a phoenix in a strikingly and typically obnoxious role. There is literally nothing to like about her, she's crass, hostile and extremely deceiving and yet McCarthy draws us in to empathise with her social mishaps and sheer loneliness. We've seen the actress in the odd serious role - think St. Vincent (2014) - but nothing with this emotional heft. When I mentioned the film's theme of dying art I was referring to Israel's wilting vocation. McCarthy brings her typical provocativeness but evokes the devastation felt when not being able to meet the current standard, of slipping out of touch, of resorting to falsification as a last and desperate resort. This time around she leaves a different taste in your mouth.
Furthermore Can You Ever Forgive Me? explores the unlikely bond between Israel and her footloose companion Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant). They couldn't be anymore different, but when combined their cynical nature is electric. Heller turns a potentially dry subject into a spicy and revealing biopic, focused on a couple of fairly odd but explosive individuals. Can You Ever Forgive Me? is like discovering an enthralling vintage book deep in the archives of your local library - so unexpected, but so rewarding.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?:
Our last Best Picture Academy award nomination finally cruises in. From being trapped on a roller coaster of B-movie comedies - Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary and Shallow Hal - Director Peter Farrelly finally hits a career high with Green Book. This uplifting
Oscar feature tells the real life story of Tony Lip - a working class, Italian-American bouncer hired by famed African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley to chauffeur him on his concert tour through the deep south during the 1960's.
Charming and thoroughly entertaining this road trip flick glides along effortlessly. Green Book is a whimsical step up from Farrelly - where he usually aims for the lowest common denominator gag this softer approach works like a treat. The film's accessible make up earns itself extra brownie points in yet another Oscar season full of heavy thinkers - which is largely down to the riveting chemistry between the two central characters.
A lively buddy comedy progressing into a relatively gentle racial drama, Green Book thrives in the happier moments. Tony Lip - a wise cracking, average joe is has time on his hands and applies for a job as a driver, when the nightclub he works at closes for a refurb. Fortunately for new employer Dr Shirley, when Lip claims to be "public relations" he is actually involved in professional hand throwing. Paying homage to Goodfellas, we are welcomed into his neighbourhood minus the revolvers, cocaine and gambling of course. His straight talking and uncomplicated way of thinking is soon criticised however by the far more civilised and sophisticated Dr. Don Shirley.
Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali ignite alongside each other. Behind the wheel we have a loud mouth, larger-than-life schmuck with a lot to learn - in the back seat we have an aloof and finicky artist. Their personality clash is explosive, and Green Book takes us through a journey in more ways than one. We see glimmers of their friendship from the beginning - through Tony's eyes Dr Shirley appears snooty and nagging, however his stern outer shell is covering a warm and vulnerable interior. Tony exclaims "Why you breakin' my balls?" and Shirley sincerely replies "Because you can do better".
Green Book slightly overlooks the weighty racist themes embedded into its narrative. There is a sprinkle of poignant moments, particularly when the car conks out during the trip and Dr Shirley is faced by a field full of black cotton workers, whilst his white chauffer fixes the stricken car. Even so, the film feels pretty light and superficial and at times Farrelly doesn't dive deeply enough into the outrageous discrimination Shirley is forced to overcome. Though it's sure to slap a smile on your face, this blissful biopic is slightly one note.
For better or worse - this is an easy, breezy road-cum-buddy movie, interlaced with questions about racial and class prejudice. Green Book is fuelled by further outstanding performances by Ali and Mortensen - their unlikely friendship is the film's beating heart. Farrelly has a lot to say about racial stereotypes and role reversal, even if the message isn't always treated with the depth and consequence needed.
Who is Dick Cheney? Well I don't think Vice even knows the answer to that question. When the Academy recently announced this year's nominations it was revealed that Adam McKay's wickedly comedic political biopic scored a head turning eight nominations. Whether Vice is Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Make-Up and Hairstyling or Best Director material is another matter altogether.
In the same zany formula as his last movie The Big Short McKay tells the story of Dick Cheney - a washed up hell raiser freshly booted out of Yale - who subsequently rose through the ranks to become Veep to the 43rd President of the United States, one George W. Bush. Vice spotlights Cheney's behind the scenes influence, quietly building eye popping power, his involvement with the war on terror and consequent invasion of Iraq, and how his legacy has shaped American democracy for years to come.
Vice is fragmented, provocative and worst of all underwhelming. There is a great film underneath this political mess; McKay's eccentric direction remains as niche as always but his latest Oscar orientated endeavour does a poor job of piecing itself together. The film uses freeze frames often for comedic effect but it becomes jarring for the audience when the gag is proceeded by a slice of serious information - and confusing - it's extremely difficult to know when to laugh and exhausting when the narrative spontaneously shifts tone. Frankly, the curious story of Dick Cheney is swallowed up by McKay's chaotic formula.
Christian Bale is the exemplar chameleon actor. Wasting away into the gaunt Trevor Reznik in The Machinist (2004) then beefing up into the Bat of Gotham in The Dark Knight (2008), Bale piles on the pounds as America's former vice president. However I don't think his performance genuinely lives up to the hype - this is by no means a discredit to Bale's capability as a method actor but Vice fails to develop his character beyond that of a reserved career politician. Fundamentally, McKay's batty biopic tells us no more than we already knew about Cheney, there's no deep insight into American politics and nothing proves particularly revealing.
That said All the vice president's men do a better job in the Oval Office. Amy Adams is remarkably strong willed as Lynne Cheney and Steve Carell brings his cheeky but obnoxiousness humour as Donald Rumsfeld - however counter to that, Sam Rockwell is middling in his small role as George W. Bush. Bale - the supposed centre of the story - is quite disappointing. Vice never gets down to the nitty gritty of The Big Short, feeling no more than a scattergun, politically biased story that lacks any real concentration.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.