Vice 2018 drama biography
Available on Prime Video
Full disclaimer – Being a hard-core Independent, I was quick to detect a left-wing bias in the storytelling, but it was not offensive. I recommend this film regardless of your politics because the war drums beat constantly, and it is important to know how and why the War Propaganda machine works in America. The movie skewers the Republican War Party wing, of which Dick Cheney was one of the kingpins. I don't need to remind you about the unjustified, wasteful, and disastrous war in Iraq, for which Cheney strongly advocated using a fake casus belli (WMD). But, to be fair, don’t forget the many Democrats who voted for the Iraq war (Clinton, Biden, et al). Now back to the movie…
The ensemble cast and the acting in this film is world class. Amy Adams can do no wrong, and she is terrific playing Lynne Cheney. Sam Rockwell nails the role of dufuss Bush Jr, and Steve Carell has a commanding turn as “Rummy” Rumsfeld. As much as this movie paints Cheney (Christian Bale) as a villain, the writer/director still gave him depth by showing compassionate family moments, and struggles with his cardio health problems. You really get to see how this man ticks. Some wonks have claimed that Cheney became the most powerful VP in U.S. history. I am not at all sure about the accuracy of that claim, but the story is all the more interesting having lived it.
Unfortunately this week's movie is not streamable, but is available at your local theater.
Once Upon A Time... In Hollywood 2019 drama, comedy
I’m not a big fan of Tarantino and have skipped most of his recent flicks. But I really enjoyed this new QT film. Set in Hollywood in 1969, there’s a lot going on in this film: it is by turns a buddy film; a fun look behind the Hollywood curtains to see movie-makers in action; a love letter to the 1960’s especially the cars and music; a man struggling with his mid-life crisis, a culture clash with the very dark side of the rebellious youth (hippies), the perfect amount of comic relief; and overall there is intense attention to detail and historical accuracy (except the ending. No. Spoilers). The lead characters Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a B-movie actor while Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is a stuntman. Rick and Cliff have the best screen chemistry I have seen in many years. The two characters are interesting, honest and likable. I will not rehash the storytelling – go see it for yourself on the big screen. But I will mention a few of my favorite scenes: Rick (badly hungover) in wardrobe being told about his outlandish cowboy costume (1869 meets 1969!); Rick being schooled about acting by an 8 year old girl; Cliff’s sparring match with Bruce Lee; all the TV show clips; Sharon Tate dancing the night away at the Playboy Mansion, Cliff’s visit to the creepy, sinister Spahn Ranch (hangout for the Manson gang); the flame thrower; and finally Cliff’s dog (a big pit bull) attacking drug-crazed hippies.
I highly recommend this film, simply as well-crafted grown-up entertainment that does not go out of its way to insult the intelligence, race, or moral sensibilities of its overwhelmingly white audience.