Richard joins CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Christian Bale as former vice president Dick Cheney in “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Angie Seth to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
Recently a clever twitteratti dubbed Adam McKay, director of “The Big Short,” the “funny Oliver Stone,“ in reference to his ability to make movies that hit hard with humour.
His new film, the double entendre-ly titled “Vice,” is the twisted tale of Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), former White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defence under George H.W. Bush and, most famously, Vice President to George W. Bush, from college drop out to Washington insider. “Big shot DC Dick,” his father-in-law calls him.
The story begins on September 11, 2001 in the White House situation room. George Bush is on Air Force One and Cheney is the man in charge. How did this happen to a man who got kicked out of Yale for drinking too much?
“The following is a true story,” the title credits read. “Well, at least as true as it can be given that Dick Cheney was one of the most secretive leaders in history. We did our ‘bleeping’ the best.”
McKay, a self-styled historian of troubled times, works backwards to unveil Cheney’s rise. Using voiceover and his unique informational interstitials the director pieces together Cheney’s career from so-so student and OK athlete to finding his calling as a “humble servant to power.” Hired by Donald Rumsfeld (Steven Carell) as a congressional intern the young Cheney quickly shows an aptitude for navigating the halls of power. “What do we believe?” he earnestly asks Rumsfeld.
Later, on the eve of Nixon’s resignation, having tasted power, he tells Rumsfeld, “the plan is to take over the place.“ Under Gerald Ford he became the youngest ever White House Chief of Staff and then a long serving congressman for the state of Wyoming.
It’s while Cheney is serving in the House of Representatives that McKay begins to shape the portrait of the man as one of the architects of the current political situation. He emerges as a fan of deregulation and an expert in finding elasticity in the rules.
With Roger Ailes he strikes down the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC policy that required news outlets to present both sides of the story. This move, as much as anything else, helped give rise to opinion based news outlets, ie: FOX News, and the spread of right wing ideology.
Cheney weathers the Clinton years as CEO of the multinational corporation Halliburton, re-entering political life at the request of George Bush Junior. “Vice President is a nothing job,” says wife Lynne (Amy Adams) scolds. “You sit around and wait for the president to die.” Nevertheless Cheney accepts the offer and works to turn the position into a power base. His systematic restructuring of the job leaves his mentor Rumsfeld amazed. “Are you even more ruthless when you used to be?”
“Vice” heats up in its retelling of the justification of the war in Iraq. Cheney recognized the need for Americans to have an easily identifiable villain. By and large, the film suggests, the public didn’t understand who or what Al Qaeda was. “Is that a country?” So Iraq, the place with the “best targets,” was chosen in what might be flippantly described as a focus group war.
At its heart “Vice” is a damning and timely portrait of the corruption of power. McKay’s talent is his ability to take complicated situations and ideas and make them eye-level without dumbing them down. “The Big Short” explained the financial crisis of 2007–2008. “Vice” uses clever editing and set pieces to contextualize the timeline of Cheney‘s time in the public eye.
To explain how Cheney and his cronies embraced policies like enhanced interrogation McKay stages a restaurant scene. Alfred Molina plays a waiter reading off a list of specials. “We have a very fresh War Act interpretation,” he says with a flourish. “That sounds delicious,” Rumsfeld purrs. It’s absurd but these are strange times. These set pieces aren’t necessarily meant to amuse but rather display the heightened nature of the situation.
Cheney bet heavily on the notion that, “the last thing people want is complicated analysis of government.” McKay does an end run around that ideology, finding ways to effectively explain how we embraced a war on a country with no WMDs or allowing the monitoring of emails and phones without consent. The genius is, it never feels like a civics class.
Bale, almost completely unrecognizable as the heavy-set Cheney, heads the sprawling cast. His uncanny take on the character is fuelled by a low key performance. He understands that Cheney knew the power of a carefully placed whisper out punches a tantrum every time. It is precise work that will undoubtedly land him an Oscar nomination.
Perhaps “Vice’s” most telling comment on Cheney comes in its final moments. (MILD SPOILER ALERT) “You want to be loved?” he says, “go be a movie star.” He feels the public’s judgement and recriminations but doesn’t care. “I will not apologize for doing what needed to be done.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” copy cat “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent,” the family drama “What They Had” and the operatic documentary “Maria by Callas.”
Richard has a look at Melissa McCarthy’s dramatic turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and Gerard Butler’s action-adventure “Hunter Killer” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the family drama “What They Had” and the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto.”
In “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Melissa McCarthy leaves behind the broad comedic portrayals that made her famous in favour of a character that puts realism ahead of the funny.
Based on a true story, McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a once successful writer with dozens of magazine profiles and even a best-selling biography on her resume. Her seventies and eighties heyday gives way to a change of fortune in the early nineties. After a book on cosmetics magnate Estée Lauder failed to grab the attention of the reading public the bottom falls out of her writing career. “No one is going to pay for Lee Israel right now,” says her agent (Jane Curtain) says. “I suggest you find another way to make a living.”
Broke and desperate, she finds an old letter from vaudeville star Fanny Brice and it changes her life for better and for worse. She sells the letter for big money and launches a second career forging and selling literary correspondence by celebrities from the likes of Noel Coward, Katherine Hepburn and Dorothy Parker. “I’m a better Dorothy Parker than Dorothy Parker,” she says. The letters serve two purposes in Lee’s life. They give her an outlet for her writing and the sales fill her bank account. “I have figured out how to pay the bills without shovelling s**t,” she says. With some help from her shady friend Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), all goes well, or at least as well as anything in the troubled woman’s life could go, until the FBI start sniffing around.
We seen McCarthy play desperate before but we’ve never seen her quite like this. There are familiar shades in the performance, the quick temper, the lashing out but the difference is that here she’s playing a character, not a caricature. As Israel she adds notes to the character. She is both vulnerable and vicious, sardonic and self-doubting. We know she can do comedy but with this nicely nuanced work we now know she can deliver the dramatic goods.
As the flamboyant Jack, Lee’s only friend and partner in crime, Grant is equal parts smarm and charm. He’s the kind of outrageous character who says things like, “Maybe she didn’t die. Maybe she moved to the suburbs—I always confused the two,” and spends on what little money he has on getting his teeth bleached. He has a faded elegance about him that is both heartbreaking and hilarious.
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” wraps up just a bit too conveniently, making it the best feel-good movie about loneliness and despondency ever made.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about Melissa McCarthy’s literary drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” the “Hunt for Red October” wannabe “Hunter Killer,” the highfalutin hostage story “Bel Canto,” the comedic cautionary tale “Room for Rent” and the Alzheimer’s dramedy “What They Had.”