on Friday I managed to get out and take in Vice, which concluded the last of the Best Picture Oscar nominees. I had Alison telling me that she didn’t like it at all, and others like my brother that thought it was decent. Given the three acting nominees for Bale, Adams and Best Supporting Acting Winner last year Sam Rockwell. In terms of structure and tone it felt a great deal like The Big Short. That’s not much of a surprise given you have the same Director (Adam McKay). Brad Pitt involved in producing this, as well as many of the same actors including Steve Carrell and Bale. While that worked more in The Bug Short, it was less effective on my viewing. I found the false credit rolling and the soliloquy scene in the bedroom false. It just seemed force. The performances are strong, and Bale embodies Dick Cheney in a way that he just disappears into the character. Lynn Cheney, played by Amy Adams is shown to be the driving force in his life, and she plays that Lady MacBeth character well. She challenges and pushes early under-achiever Dick well up to the highest levels of power in the US government. He wasn’t and isn’t a speech-maker and won’t be elected for those powerful positions, but he works hard and behind the scenes. He gets things done obviously, which put him into the position he was. And he was loyal to his family and his two daughters. I had to commend him early on his stance to protect and support his daughter. He made that clear in his negotiation with George W Bush. Now Dubya, what can you say about this characterization of him, as the Daddy-inspired empty shirt who becomes President. He was so willing to pass along most of the important areas of concern for any President (foreign relations, military etc) that you realize that Cheney saw an opportunity and took it. He was likely the most powerful Vice President in history. And after him, the role has reverted back to more or less a symbolic one. Obama certainly didn’t let Joe Biden take on anything important or crucial. Pense for Trump just as uninvolved. But it remarkable that in a system of checks and balances, that the VP role can fly between the House and the Senate. And no one was stepping up to share that this was against the principles of the underlying government. The US fought a war of independence to get away from Kings and monarchs. You also see the beginnings of the Fox Network, and politically slanted news, which is now more prevalent than ever before. It is scary to see just how influential that one more can be. From that perspective this film is a cautionary tale on the potentially challenges with a weak leader. This is even more poignant today. The Big Short told a scary story about the financial system and corrupt structure collapsed in 2008. This film tells a scary story about a man, his wife, and how they shaped a new role for the Vice Presidency. Maybe it was the lack of Margot Robbie in a hot tub that took away from the impact of Vice. Not sure.
One of the many snubs for this years Oscars was the documentary about Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers to you and me) entitled Will You Be My Neighbour? The story documents his story and becoming a children’s television icon over the course of his 33 year career on the show. What started out as a low budget local program from Pittsburgh PA, became every day watching for thousands of young children. Rogers, not surprisingly, was Presbyterian Minister who came to realize that he was more of an impact by addressing children through this new medium, and giving them a sense of importance and empowerment. It was a different kind of pulpit, but it spoke to the children. He accomplished this by mostly dealing with puppet characters who lives in his World of Make Believe. There was a King, and some various other characters who were all voiced by Rogers himself. He had guest stars, but he made a point that he was not in this world. He had dealt with weighty topics like divorce, and terrorist attacks and other important events that surrounded the world of his viewers. As someone who grew up during these days, I enjoyed watching this background scenes into the world of his show. From music, to story, to puppets and keeping a consistent message, he watched and participated directly into three generations of children. Perhaps one of his greatest feats was his appearance standing before a House Committee that was considering cutting the funding for public TV. He single-handedly spoke sense to the government decision-makers rather than numbers and business plans that they were able to concede “I can understand this”, after he talked about making children feel special. This like the documentary shows a remarkable man and his impact.
See that testimony here: