Tuesday, January 1, 2019


Adam McKay’s Vice argues that Dick Cheney’s repeal of the "fairness doctrine" was responsible for the inception of Fox News. It demonstrates how his trumpeting of "unitary executive theory" (an intreptation of the law he receives from a youthful Antonin Scalia) inadvertently allowed the spurious intelligence about WMD’s and a second Iraq war leading in turn to the rise of Zarqawi and ISIS. Under Cheney "global warming" was reduced to "climate change." Calling the "estate tax" a "death tax" was another bit of verbal legerdemain that allowed Cheney and his pals to shift public opinion. Vice is an unusual biopic and reverse hagiography. However it’s power comes less from its indictment of the same arrogance that led to the Watergate and now the Trumpocracy, but in its utter eccentricity of its style. The movie is loaded with clever tidbits. For instance the end credits roll mid movie to demonstrate a parallel universe where history never occurred. The fishhook is one of many graphic devices that add a visual commentary and then there are the time shifts, in which the action is constantly turning back on itself as if the psychohistory the movie endeavors to explore were itself being psychoanalyzed. One of the most curious things about Vice is the portrait of Dick (Christian Bale) and Lynn Cheney (Amy Adams)  and their protective attitude towards their daughter, Mary (Alison Pill), who's gay. Eventually even this issue becomes tarnished when her sister Liz (Lily Rabe), in the course of running for the senate, challenges same sex marriage. Yet the marriage exists in a world of its own, with the Cheneys in bed imtoning faux Shakespeare in kind of literate love duet. The Cheney marriage is one of those love work/affairs in which a woman channels her ambition through her husband and it’s depiction lies in stark contrast to the uncompromising brutality of the main character’s tactics in and out of government. Vice is a political satire and it's got a perfect dead horse to beat. At the same time, it’s curiously multivalent, precisely in the schizophrenic way it shows how tender a monster can be. 

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