Movies

Movie review of "Vice"

Dark comedy details the life and tumultuous times of Dick Cheney

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 2/3/19

There is a very dark “what if” at the root of writer-director Adam McKay’s comedy-drama “Vice.” What it suggests we’ll address in a moment, but it is a nagging …

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Movies

Movie review of "Vice"

Dark comedy details the life and tumultuous times of Dick Cheney

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There is a very dark “what if” at the root of writer-director Adam McKay’s comedy-drama “Vice.” What it suggests we’ll address in a moment, but it is a nagging issue that will resonate long after seeing it.

The movie is a chronicle of former Vice President Dick Cheney’s rise to power beginning in the Nixon years to its peak during the George W. Bush administration. It is not, however, a traditional biopic that mechanically ticks off the highlights of a major American political figure. As written and directed by Adam McKay (“Anchorman,” “Talledega Nights” and “Stepbrothers”), it flows in quirky fits and starts that are at turns shocking, insightful and illuminating, but should not be taken as entirely accurate.

By way of a title card at the beginning, this is fully admitted because Cheney as we have come to know is one of the most secretive individuals in politics. This aspect is also what the movie uses as its primary theme.

“Beware the quiet man. For while others speak, he watches. And while others act, he plans. And when they finally rest … he strikes.” That quote, which appears as one of many peppered throughout the film, presciently wants us to view the proceedings through an admittedly liberal point of view, much like, unfortunately, the pseudo-documentaries by Michael Moore. Aside from that, “Vice” offers a lot of food for thought.

While the movie centers on Cheney, as played with understated brilliance by Christian Bale, its major secondary persona is his wife Lynne, played with sharp intelligence by Amy Adams. They are the epitome of what people used to call a “power couple.” Despite warnings to stay away, she manages to force her way into the White House situation room to be with her husband as the events of 9/11 are unfolding. She is also there for every important career decision her husband makes as he quietly watches, and listens.

Like the same period of time etched by Oliver Stone’s “W,” Cheney’s tenure during the G.W. Bush administration is when his long simmering wait is finally over. It is the time he strikes. How he does it is clever and more than a little scary considering the precedence it creates for any future POTUS. Obviously, there is a not so subtle finger pointed squarely at the present office-holder.

Now, about that “what if.”

The film begins with a segment that depicts Cheney as a young man with a serious drinking and bad behavior problem. After two DUIs and losing his job more than once, his wife finally sits him down and gives him an ultimatum: Straighten up or that’s it, she’s gone. So, he does. He gets a job, stops drinking and fighting and before long finds himself on his way to becoming a political shark in an ocean full of chum. One can’t help but wonder what might have happened if Lynne simply wrote him off and split? Would Cheney have dived headfirst into the deep end and never come up? Would he have never become the de facto president during George W. Bush’s term? Would the world be a different place today?

Yup. We certainly do live in interesting times.

Tempo grade: A

“Vice” is rated R for language and some violent images.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

If Beale Street Could Talk

MPAA rating: R for language and some sexual content

Taos Community Auditorium

Set in early-1970s Harlem, this film written and directed by Barry Jenkins is a timeless and moving love story of both a couple's unbreakable bond and the African-American family's empowering embrace, as told through the eyes of 19-year-old Tish Rivers (screen newcomer KiKi Layne).

A daughter and wife-to-be, Tish vividly recalls the passion, respect and trust that have connected her and her artist fiancé Alonzo Hunt, who goes by the nickname Fonny (Stephan James). Friends since childhood, the devoted couple dream of a future together but their plans are derailed when Fonny is arrested for a crime he did not commit.

Through the unique intimacy and power of cinema, “If Beale Street Could Talk” honors author James Baldwin’s prescient words and imagery, charting the emotional currents navigated in an unforgiving and racially biased world as the filmmaker poetically crosses time frames to show how love and humanity endure.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 3) and at 7 p.m. Monday (Feb. 4), Wednesday (Feb. 6 ), and Feb. 8-9 (with an additional 2 p.m. screening Feb. 9) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

Miss Bala

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sequences of gun violence, sexual and drug content, thematic material, and language.

Mitchell  Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7

Gloria Meyer (Gina Rodríguez), who is a Hispanic makeup artist from Los Angeles, visits her best friend Suzu in Tijuana, Mexico. But then Suzu (Cristine Rodlo) suddenly disappears at a nightclub. In the process of searching for her, Gloria gets kidnapped and is forced to smuggle drug money for a local cartel. Gradually, she works her way into the good graces of their leader as well as the DEA enforcement, which also takes part in this case.

Gloria must then turn the tables on everyone to escape and finds a power she never knew she had as she navigates a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Survival will require all of her cunning, innovation and strength.

This is American director Catherine Hardwicke’s Hollywood remake of a critically acclaimed 2011 Mexican film directed by Gererdo Naranjo that was based on a real incident.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Theatres Storyteller Cinema 7, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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