Finally something else than boring, cliché , uninspired & simply awful superhero movies full of people in masks punching each other & cheesy jokes (the only exception in the genre is of course Dark Knight Trilogy, simply a masterpiece, all 3 movies).
''Vice'' is an artistic, very unconventional take on the times of Dick Cheney & Bush Junior and it will not be for everyone, but then again, whoever saw Big Short should expect unexpected. For me, this film is crossing the next boundaries in the cinema, a work that provokes deep reflection and I like it very much.
That said, ''Vice'' has it's flaws. I would like to see a more linear narrative, because Bale gives a truly masterful performance here (Adams also) and I can only imagine what a masterpiece it could have been, if it was more classic perspective.
But as for acting performances - my God, Bale is simply the most brilliant actor of his generation, period. Let me explain. Mannerism, occasional pauses when speaking, corners of his lips falling to one side, a completely different American accent than Bale usually uses and he nailed it and remember he is an Englishman! Also, Bale's natural voice is waaay deeper. Even the way he is holding his neck !! (producers talked in the interviews how they bought special machine for Bale, he used it to help him hold his neck just like Cheney). But this is not even the most important thing. The most important piece of this role, is mental structure and psychology, behind every gesture and gaze (McKay talks abt it in the interviews, go watch it) as it should be, this is not just an impersonation. Bale is powerful and terrifying figure, a man who once had rules, but starts to walk on corpses and on the other hand, he is still very human, he is a great father and an incredibly romantic husband. Bale showed it all with his acting and still watered it all with absurdity. If you still don't get it, go watch ''Actors on Actors'' series of interviews, with Tom Hanks and Viola Davis, this particular one. In this interview, Hanks and Davis - two brilliant actors with a lot of experience for sure - explain very well, that the real acting brilliance is when you could have better director or better script, yet still, by your acting alone, you make a role so good, and in this case, it's documentary-like, like you are watching real Cheney.
They claim, that the most genius actors are those, who still shine & are the best thing even in a bad/not so great movies. And as a film school graduate, who already works a little in the industry, I can confirm, this is so true! Because filmmaking, even more than other fields, is a team effort and great director&screenwriter always helps an actor to achieve greatness in a given role, it is natural that good material in the screenplay / good director strengthens the actor's good sides and helps him to hide his weaknesses. McKay is on his way to be fascinating director, but he still struggles with storytelling, he is no Spielberg or Scorsese, yet Bale, even in movies with flaws, is simply wonderful, each time (he had few cases like this in his career, for example Harsh Times - its a flawed, not the best movie, yet Bale plays a veteran, street rudeboy/gangster type character ridiculously good).
And this is exactly why, for me Bale is way above Di Caprio and always will be. Di Caprio has been hiding behind the genius of great directors, mainly Scorsese, since forever. From the beginning of his career, he took mainly projects of great directors (Cameron, Tarantino if he takes a break from Scorsese), he sits in a comfortable mainstream and doesn't challenge himself as an actor at all, doesn't go beyond a certain framework.
Meanwhile, Bale, often chooses unobvious projects, "dodgy" as he himself put it, he said : '' I always like that. Whenever there's a project where everyone's going : Oooooh, it's a bit dodgy, I always like it. If you actually look at it, there tends not to be anything risky at all. Why did I start acting in the first place? I didn't do it to be mediocre or to please everybody all the time.'' - I find it one of the greatest quotes about acting. Bale challenges himself all the time, like when he made Flowers of War, again, most big A-list actors sit in their comfort zone - mainstream, big, Oscar - productions, where everything is given to them on a silver platter. Christian did the Flowers of War movie, even if he didn't speak any Chinese and the whole crew on the set didn't speak any English, there was only 1 translator - this is real challenge for an actor. Another example is American Psycho - when Leo was afraid of public lynching if he played someone as disgusting as Bateman, and that's why, apparently, he gave up this role. Besides, the original director (Mary) and the writer of the book (Ellis) always wanted Bale not Leo, only the studio wanted Leo, because he was so popular at that time (well, the director&the writer were right). Bale turned out to be insanely good in this twisted, dark comedy, he was not only creepy, but funny as hell, I have yet to see Di Caprio playing a true dark comedy and being great at it (because Wolf is not it, not real satire/dark comedy, and anyone who knows writing/filmmaking knows comedy is the most difficult genre, especially dark comedy).
Again, I work in the movie business & I have been saying for a long time that Bale's acting is so subtle and at the same time so unusual in various films, depending on the role - sometimes very physical, sometimes more mental, but always, I would always call it ''intellectual acting'', because everything in his roles is brilliantly thought out. And that's why this is not acting for most average viewers, but for true connoisseurs of cinema art, a rare group. For example a well-known film critic Mark Harris, New York film critic, brilliantly described what Bale actually was doing in ''Vice'', he wrote : ''My VICE take for today: Christian Bale knows more than almost any actor about how to use elaborate makeup, padding, etc as a tool for acting rather than as a crutch that replaces it. IMHO it's a great performance with a deep and unusual interest in how Cheney lives in his body.''. Spot-on !! But to know that, you have to be a very good observer.
So overall, ''Vice'' is worth it just because of Bale's performance and I hope he will win an Oscar, becuase Cooper's overrated, bland and very much in the background role ain't anything special.
The second reason to see ''Vice'' is of course Amy Adams, she is also simply amazing. Lady Macbeth - like, infernal intelligence and fierceness, and at the same time a great love for a man, for whom, she sacrificed entirely her ambitions. I also hope this is not the last time we see Bale&Adams together, coz they have great chemistry and understanding on screen. It is already their thrid cooperation (after The Fighter, American Hustle) and they both simply outstanding.
In conclusion, I'm a little bit mad at Adam Mackay, because he as director and screenwriter could have done better job, but I give the movie a 9, because of a brilliance of Bale & Adams. Go watch it yourself !