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Arts and Entertainment Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 9 months ago

'Vice' is a polarizing, dangerously serious comedy with outstanding performances

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Christian Bale deserves an Oscar for his extraordinary portrayal of Dick Cheney in the latest cutting-edge comedy by Adam McKay.

"Vice" chronicles the rise of Dick Cheney from "ne'er-do-well dirt bag" to, arguably, the most influential vice president in U.S. history. But it's Christian Bale's performance as the vice president that raises the bar for an actor getting into character. It's spooky on all levels.

In this dangerously serious comedy, director-writer Adam McKay has created a significant biopic of a manipulative man. It is a film journalistically sourced because McKay insisted on accuracy. To do so he hired fact-checkers and journalists to intensely examine his script. This is not fake news.

Cheney began his political career (with devoted wife, Lynne, a feisty Amy Adams) as chief of staff under Donald Rumsfeld (played by Steve Carell). He later became George W. Bush's (Sam Rockwell) vice president by convincing Bush that he would basically be calling all the shots. The shots included the unprovoked invasion of Iraq on false premises, enhanced interrogation techniques (torture), giving rise to ISIS, setting up Guantanamo Bay "detention center" and  maintaining that the President's actions are always legal (Unitary Executive Theory). And keep in mind, Cheney was the former CEO of Halliburton, which profited big time from the Iraqi War at the expense of tens of thousands of innocent lives. 

 

Where's the humor? Oscar winner McKay ("The Big Short") has crafted an amazing script rife with savvy, satirical quips. He brilliantly balances cutting-edge comedy with shocking behavior. Irony also plays big (bigly, ha!) in his methodology. When Cheney undergoes heart transplant surgery, his camera lingeringly focuses on Cheney's chest cavity, waiting for the insertion of the organ. Get it? In an interview, McKay laments, "I miss the days when people would at least pretend." Don't we all?

It would be a bloody shame if Christian Bale is denied an Oscar for his extraordinary performance in "Vice." It's riveting, hilarious, slick, sly and disconcerting. The sardonic, ever-present smirk, the gangster gait and the smug attitude Cheney owns, Bale manages to nail every moment he's on screen. Politics aside, this is a performance destined to go down in film history.

"Vice" will undoubtedly be a polarizing film. Vice not only refers to a governmental title, it is the opposite of virtue. Perhaps, "Dick" would also have been an appropriate title for this unforgettable film. You be the judge.

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