Being Dick #filmreview #vice

When it came to politics my old man and I didn’t agree on a lot: getting rid of the death penalty was a good thing; voting on party lines was morally vacuous; and beware conviction politicians because they will inevitably fail to compromise. Otherwise he was generally what might be termed right wing and me a wishy-washy liberal metropolitan fence-sitter (his term). But when it came to the War on Terror and the second invasion of Iraq we were both on the same page. It was every shade of wrong.

For Brits this means blaming St Tone Of Blair (or if you rearrange the letters in his name that B. Liar) and all the other fools, naves and quisling peacocks who voted with him.

But one cannot ignore those Thanos clones across the Pond who invoke every kind of Satan. Bush, natch and that twilight de-sanguinator Rumsfeld. But I’d have put Cheney, the Dick of the title above  a’ways down the To-Be-Bollockied list. Until I saw Vice, that is.

Most political dramas that are based on fact spend a lot of time in plush indoor settings or sweaty offices with lots of talking. You don’t need the big screen, Sensurround sound and Panavision saturated colour to make such things work so, if you’re going to justify spending money on filming you need a compelling story, well told.

Vice just about pulls that off. Now I’ll be the first to say me and the director are pretty much on the same page in many regards. Cheney, as much as Blair with their ‘end justifies the means’ post hoc apologia for Iraq et al piss me off. They were wrong; they remain wrong and a lot of what we see in Syria, in Turkey with the Kurds, in Iraq, in the continued infestation of the world with Daesh can be easily traced back to their policies. So far, so meah.

What makes these sorts of bio-esque pics worthy of spending the time is not the what or the how, but the why; why did Cheney end up where he did?

Adam McKay, the director, is an odd sort. He’s written for Saturday Night Live. His usual battleground is more satire than it is political discourse and analysis and that, in a way is what makes this film so watchable. His last big film was The Big Short which sought to explain how on earth a bunch of self aggrandizing douche-bags brought the financial system to the brink of collapse through their misuse of some clever financial instruments – securitisation and credit default swaps. It was the kind of subject that you would have thought would not lend itself to a film, yet, I think, he pulled it off with his mix of education and entertainment.

Same here. One minute your brain is leaking out of your ears as the characters grapple with Unitary Executive Theory based on Article 2 of the US Constitution – which was a new concept to this Brit and astonishing in its extreme interpretation and rather like, I suppose,  trying to explain the point of Prince Andrew to a Texan and expecting something other than bemused incredulity. The next we had an hilarious scene set in a smart restaurant attended by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and one other (forgot the name) where the menu, delivered perfectly by a supercilious Alfred Molina comprised Extraordinary Rendition, Guantanamo Bay and other dastardly dishes served up by the administration in the name of National Security.

Or we had the tense immediate aftermath to 9/11 and how Cheney reacted to the unfolding events, set against the moment when Cheney, who had always poo-poohed anyone taking on the Veep role as it was only fit for a stooge, deciding to do so but on his own terms – which scene had Cheney and Lynne his wife, in bed, acting out a scene from Macbeth. It sounds surreal; it often was but these were bark out loud laughter moments and eased the pressure on the grey matter to perform heroic feats of comprehension.

A lot of it was probably made up, pandering to my already well-formed prejudices: ‘But that would be torture,’ says one character. Cheney eyes him coldly. ‘The United States does not do torture.’ Pause. ‘So that can’t be torture, can it?’ Can’t fault the logic, just a shame about the morals.

If you saw ‘Post’ – the Hanks/Streep masterclass and liked it; if you’re old enough to remember ‘All The Presidents Men’ and enjoyed that the tour de force then I think you might enjoy this. Christian Bale is awesome in the main role; Amy Adams – goodness is she a great actress – is brilliant as Lynne, his wife and Steve Carrell stunning as Rumsfeld. Indeed the casting and acting are top notch. I very much doubt it is historically accurate. Hell, who cares. Recent history is always the most impenetrable. If you want accuracy wait until the main players are dead. If you want a smidge of history, a splattering of entertainment and you incline to the view that power does tend to corrupt, then give it a go. Just make sure you’re awake when you do.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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30 Responses to Being Dick #filmreview #vice

  1. Losing the Plot says:

    I loved this review, now I’m looking forward to seeing Vice.
    I’m old enough to remember All the Presidents Men, I loved The Post, and I thought The Big Short was excellent.

    He can start on Brexit next!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stevetanham says:

    Enjoyed that, Geoff. I suspect we share similar politics. My only issue would be that Irag allowed the political right, and their virus lifeforms in the associated press, to demonise Blair, whereas for most of what he did he was (in my opinion, of course) an outstanding Prime Minister. Do a mental substitute for Corbin and we would have had a very different month in politics…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Oh he could have been so good. But he basically fucked his legacy, sadly. Iraq and not curtailing Brown’s stupidities towards the end of his term were his biggest no-nos. Sad, because as you say, he really set such a good temperature over the first 5-8 years, absent Iraq. And with those majorities and the economy he inherited should have been a real legacy PM. If he’d admitted he was wrong, that might have helped… As for Corbyn or May or anyone near the top of the big parties… God help us. Bring back David Sutch…

      Like

  3. I guess the title should have been a clue, but given all the distractions from the Russia investigation from the squatter in the Oval Office, I was afraid this movie was leaning to that side. (Don’t be fooled — EVERYthing is a distraction, even the shutdown.) Maybe I’m burned out with politics. However, I still enjoyed your review of this, Geoff — probably enjoyed your commentary more than I would enjoy the movie, even if it does send out some zingers. Huge hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I’m sure a Brit and an insider in DC (you’re the nearest I know to that Teagan!) are going to have very different perspectives on it. I expect you’d pick holes in the movie and be frustrated either by how it pussy foots around issues or overplays them. Often these things are more entertaining for those who weren’t so close to the detail. Still, glad you enjoyed my frivolous words! Hugs to you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Super review Geoff. Chaney and Rummy were bigger than life. At least that’s what they thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JT Twissel says:

    Oh my – I’m sure it’s a good movie but I don’t think I could stomach seeing another Bush/Cheney movie. The guy really was the epitome of evil.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I do so love your curmudgeonly reviews! I’m a proponent of 9/11 being an inside job so Cheney et al could sell more weapons…. don’t tell anybody though, I pretend I’m a harmless, if opinionated, old biddy. I think he is the epitome of evil, you just have to look at his eyes to see there is something morally reprehensible in the fellow. As in so many politicians from these big super-ego countries…….. You’ve made me almost want to see the movie – almost……

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I was too sickened by the actual Cheney to see the film. A truly heartless man(literally now since he has a machine instead of a heart) who came up with the phrase “enhanced interrogation” for torture and I believe was usually the power behind the throne(to use a British analogy.)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ellenbest24 says:

    Loved your review ,if anything was going to get me to watch it would be this. Alas Brexit coverage and Trump news fake or otherwise has shied me away from obvious political diatribe from which ever angle it maybe seved. Do keep up the curmudgeonly rhetoric it is as satisfying as lemondrizzle with vanilla creme. .

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t think it’s easy to write reviews, Geoff, so bravo on an excellent job doing so. I haven’t seen the movie but your review makes me want to more than I did when I first heard of the movie. And I’ve tried to remember through the years that movies are entertainment and not meant to portray historical accuracy. I adore Amy Adams and I do remember All the Presidents Men.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A terrific review Geoff. I will get to see this when it comes out on DVD. I am still amazed at how such a small number of people can cause so much negativity in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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