Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Today I saw Vice, starring Christian Bale and Amy Adams.

If you're a staunch republican, you may not like this film, but if you're a liberal (or even perhaps an independent) you may chuckle along with the rest of the audience at this exaggerated—but undoubtedly entertaining—look at the life of Dick Cheney (Bale).

Christian Bale transforms physically and verbally into the former vice president so convincingly, you'd probably forget it was a fictional take were it not for the breaking of the fourth wall, the snappy cutaways and wink-y storytelling approach.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy every minute of it.

Then again, I'm the Pacific Northwestern liberal target audience they were probably banking on selling tickets to, so I didn't have a hard time buying what they were selling. What they were selling was of course how miserable of a human being Dick Cheney truly is, save for his one redeeming quality. He really seems to love and advocate for his lesbian daughter (although his other daughter does not). Other than that, it appears that his wife Lynne (Adams) calls the shots, and they aren't always in the best interest of the country.

If you're not of the belief that the story is true, at least see the film for the performances. If you do believe, well, be prepared to laugh (and possibly cry) at what a mess this man made of the world.


Monday, December 24, 2018

The Favourite

Today I saw The Favourite, starring Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz.

Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) is a mess—physically, mentally, politically. She has a close confidante/lover/advisor in Lady Sarah (Weisz) and utilizes her to truly run the country.

Along comes Sarah's cousin Abigail (Stone) to throw everything off course.

She enters the castle as one of the "help," but soon has her eyes set on a better title, knowing she'll need to get close to the Queen to do so. Lady Sarah is very threatened by Abigail and in turn lets her know it. Sarah underestimates Abigail's capacity for self-preservation and Sarah soon finds herself ill from a poisoned cup of tea.

Abigail gets closer and closer to the Queen and soon marries, rapidly regaining her "Lady" status. However, she maintains a sexual relationship with the Queen and remains by her side at all times. This infuriates Sarah, who does everything in her power to put things back the way they were.

This film can easily be described as a "romp" and that's not a bad thing. It's fun to watch these women get caught up in each other's drama and compete for the attention of a crazy, aging royal. All three leads are perfectly cast and leave you believing the nonsense. Funny thing? Much of the story is actually true, which only makes it more fun.

If you want a good, racy laugh delivered by fine actors in amazing costumes, this is the film for you.


Sunday, December 23, 2018

Mary Poppins Returns

Today I saw Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Banks children need some assistance. Michael (Ben Wishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer) are going to lose the family house to the bank if they don't come up with its full value because Michael repeatedly forgot to pay the mortgage.

The mean banker (Colin Firth, playing against type) doesn't want them to find the missing share certificates that will save them because he's hungry for more property. Out of the sky, Mary Poppins (Blunt) arrives to save the day.

Blunt is fantastic, as is lamplighter Jack (Miranda) and if only there were more of those two in the film, perhaps it could've met my expectations, but alas it did not.

The positives? The film is visually stunning. The sequences that include animation (the bath, my favorite) are nothing short of brilliant, with bright colors popping like a Target commercial and crisp, beautiful illustrations to match. This is the only place where, due to technology, the present-day film surpasses the classic.

Also great are the cameos by Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and Meryl Streep. Each gets an ample amount of time to do their thing and they all, of course, do it well.

The issues? The "magic" is few and far between. We feel it in the opening sequence with Jack singing about London; when Mary emerges from the clouds; when the kids dive into their first psychedelic-ish experience (in the bathtub); when the lamplighters do their dance near the end. But that's about it. The songs aren't really that memorable (through no fault of the singers) and way too much time is spent dwelling on the looming bank deadline.

While I'm on the topic of time: This film did not need to be as long as it was. It could have easily been a 90-minute delight. But no ... sequences drag on (I'm looking at you broken bowl) and character development somersaults until we're sick of hearing Michael yell and of watching the kids lose track of Georgie (Joel Dawson).

Also frustrating is the romance that is teased between Jack and Jane for the duration of the film, but never truly realized. They make a cute couple—why not give us that one?

All in all, the message is lovely and if it sparks a new generation of kids to go back and see what the original was all about, then it was worth it.

If you're hungry for a happy ending, then go forth and enjoy. But if you're looking for something transcendent, you may come away wishing for more.