JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Vice | 22 July (Directors: Adam McKay, Paul Greengrass) - January 31, 2019

Vice | 22 July

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Here are two docudramas that really hit home.

Adam McKay
132 minutes, Four stars

Who/where are the good guys?

From the opening credits through to the final church bell tolling in Mexico City’s Colonia Roma, it is clear that his portrait of an upper-middle-class family, their servants and Borras, the perpetually pooping family dog, is one of best conceived and mostly realized productions of this year’s awards season.

Watching McKay’s unflinching take on Dick Cheney—the Man Who Would Be King and did just that—is as unsettling as it is insightful (or should that be inciteful?).

Tellingly, sadly, the comparison of Cheney/Halliburton to Donald Trump/The Trump Organization raises the rhetorical question: How did the U.S. ever let this sort of history repeat itself?

Christian Bale is superb as the ambitious unconscionable manipulator of truth and people; Amy Adams is readily believable as the stand-by-her-man wife (once she saved him from becoming her boozing father); playing Donald Rumsfeld, Steve Carell hits all of the right notes while Sam Rockwell has ably mastered the tone and mannerisms of George W. Bush.

While pulling no punches in the narrative, McKay inventively pre-empts the inevitable attacks from Republican supporters by placing the spectre of bias front and centre. The inclusion of many clips from historical footage adds much to the verisimilitude of McKay’s point of view.

Viewers of all political stripes and beliefs should see this for themselves and then decide how much to take at face value and whether or not the land of the free is currently having déjà vu all over again.


22 July
Paul Greengrass
144 minutes, Four stars

“There will be others to finish what I’ve started”

Here is a truly miserable film that we could only hope was fiction. But the 77 murders on July 22, 2011 were as real and as devastating as the notion of finding a world stage through violence, is abhorrent on every plane imaginable.

The key players for Greengrass’ interpretation of the deadly events are, quite understandably, the shooter/bomber, Anders Behring Breivik (played with a quietly detached tone seething with anger by Anders Danielsen Lie) and a massively impaired survivor, Viljar Hanssen (given a magnificent realization by Jonas Strand Gravli).

Who knows what nightmares still visit all cast and crew as they faithfully recreated one of the worst examples of “I am better than you and here is how I will prove it” ever.

Sadly, frustratingly, maddeningly we all know that the next unconscionable waste of human life is being planned somewhere right now.

International sequels are inevitable so long as we don’t seem able to get along. JWR

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