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Archive for the ‘Tyler Perry’ Category

Vice

07 Jan

Vice—directed by Adam McKay. BioPic. 132 minutes Color 2018.
★★★
The Story: A debauched dropout’s wife badgers him to get ahold of himself, and he turns himself into the most powerful, influential, and corrupt Vice-President the United States has ever known.
~
I sat baffled for the first hour of this film in wait for it to start. What I was watching was one fleeting exposition scene upon another—as though the writer/director Just Wanted To Get It All In. He threw details of history into my eyes like confetti, and he did not stop in the second half. By the end I realized I watched a fancy, dizzy civics lesson.

This treatment of Vice derives from the quick, cross-cutting technique of Jules Dassin’s Naked City by the cinemaphotographer William Daniels who won the Oscar for shooting it, and Paul Weatherwax who won the Oscar for editing it that way. The cross-cutting served up excitement for a long police chase across Manhattan’s Williamsburg Bridge, and it had an objective: the murderer.

Vice has no objective.

Or perhaps the objective is to show Dick Cheney to be the rat and murderer we all already knew him to be.

That’s not enough for me.

It means Vice is biased against Dick Cheney from the start. In its very title, it betrays the character imbalance that generates drama. In place of that we have collage. What’s there skips by with the merry glibness of a stone across a still pond. Nothing sinks in.

For there is nothing to sink into, because Dick Cheney is an unprosperous subject for a drama to begin with. He is a closed book. He never reveals himself verbally or emotionally. That is his professed strategy. So Christian Bale who plays him, through a makeup as vast as Eddie Murphy’s in The Nutty Professor II, is reduced to small motions of Chaney’s lips, out of which what little emerges is never the truth.

What is the real story here?

The film is adept and clever. At its close, it shows Cheney speaking to the theater audience to claim that he made America safe from terrorism, because that is what he was elected to do and that is what his job was.

It is a lie. For Chaney was not elected to office, any more than the tail of a dog is elected when you adopt a dog. Chaney simply was on a ticket with George W. To get there, he strong-armed candidate Bush such that, when he was elected, Cheney would be in charge of Foreign Affairs and other branches of presidential office never before assigned to a vice-presidency.

Bush knew nothing and knew it. He knew he was massively unqualified, gauche, and immature for President Of The United States. He feared to look bad in the job. He wanted an informed buffer. He wanted a trainer, someone whose chops would protect him—someone whose leash could drag him in this direction and restrain him from galumphing off in that direction. That is, Cheney could barricade Bush from showing the world his incompetence. What Bush didn’t know was that this meant someone who could do the job for him—for, because of Cheney, Bush never learned the job. What W. also got was a hypnotist. This he didn’t know, but Cheney knew it. Cheney made him sit, roll over, and bark.

But that Cheney was Bush’s stand-in was no secret—because Cheney’s exercise of his power over Bush was obvious to the many people around them. Just as everyone in the country knew Bush was an ignoramus—whether you believed it or not, it was obvious.

When Cheney was an habitual, jail-bait, trouble-making drunkard, his wife wrung his neck. So Cheney gave up potation for Potus. To Cheney it didn’t matter that he was not president. What he was interested in was getting drunk—instead of beer—on power. Indeed, to sustain such power, you had to remain alcoholically sober, as Nixon failed to realize. Cheney’s story is the displacement of one high by another. With Dick Cheney, we had a drug-addict running this country—the drug being power—and even worse—an addict with a stone heart.

And without ethos.

Cheney mistook military might for power. He mistook influence for power. And he mistook bullying for power. He also mistook the thrill of power for power.

Those are the small potatoes of power.

Power means freedom.

The ethos of America is not based on military might, which has no ethos. It is not based on land, which has no ethos. Nor is it based on religion or money, though each do have an ethos.

America is based on democracy. The ethos of democracy is deeper than those of religion or money. Democracy has so great an ethos that as a foundation for government it makes the ethos of religion and money, unnecessary, false, and forbidden. Conscience consciousness of this is the law of the land.

When Cheney turns to the theater audience and claims he was doing the job the voters hired him for, he lies. He did jobs he was not hired for. He interloped and declared war. When he said he made America safe against terrorists, he lied. For thousands of our soldiers lay dead on the sands his lies to us lead us to. He lied when he uttered the word America for, he did not care a fig about America.

One thing that Bale is able to make clear is that Cheney was a stupid human being. For all Cheney knew was the fear inculcated in him by his wife’s threat to stop being thrown into the drunk tanks of Wyoming jails. She stupefied him with the influence of her whisper, just as he stupefied the brain of that poor sap George W. Bush.

The ethos of America is stronger than people like Dick Cheney. I’m not worried. I am not going to waste my time accusing him or asking others to.

People with good judgement of character don’t vote for tickets like that or for tickets such as the present one.

Vice is obvious and flat. Everyone in it does a fine job. Tyler Perry as General Colin Powell, Steven Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld, Sam Rockwell as W, and Amy Adams as Mrs Cheney.

In fact, Lynne Cheney’s story, it seems to me, has a lot more promise than that of her husband, locked in the penitentiary of his life. For all that’s interesting about Cheney is the jail of the lie he ended up condemned to. But far more interesting is the woman who turned the key that took him from one jail and put him in another.

 

Gone Girl

24 Oct

Gone Girl ­ – directed by David Fincher. Drama. 140 minutes Color 2014

★★★★

The Story: The wife of a man disappears unaccountably, and the community is in arms.

~

This piece has the opening beauty of a Hitchcock picture: a wrong-man-accused is his most frequent theme. But Hitchcock knew such a theme could not be dragged out at this length, for we have to wait over two hours for this shaggy dog to stop wagging its tail.

Ben Affleck is the lug whose wife has disappeared, and, as usual, he is completely credible. The wife is played by Rosamund Pike and she is equally credible because she plays a part of a woman who likes no one and therefore one is not obliged to care whether she lives or dies. Perfect casting: January Jones country. Kim Dickens is particularly effective as the policewoman striving to sort the case out as is Carrie Coon as Affleck’s twin sister and Lola Kirk as a low-life lady Pike meets on her way, and Tyler Perry as Affleck’s powerhouse lawyer.

The picture is effective in its opening two acts but falls asleep on itself as it generates nightmares to jack itself up. We are asked to enter into unnecessary, unsupportable complications, whereas all we care about, after a point, is Will the villain be trapped or not and how. Once the perfidy is arranged for us, we need no further perfidy to crown it. It is a film that does not realize that third acts always needs to get on with it.

The production is sumptuous, but the producers have made one stupid error, which is to hire the author of the novel to write the screenplay – for the reason the film exhausts itself is her jamming everything in the book into it. The interest of the neighbors and the press, for instance, would be better felt than seen. So would the episodes with Neil Patrick Harris. All we need is the scene in the hospital with her afterwards. How she did it is of no interest at this point. That she did it is everything, and all we need to know to put ourselves in the shoes of Affleck.

For film is not an imaginative medium. Which is to say, literature requires reading and reading requires one to fill in the lacunae with one’s imagination – how people look, sound, gesture, and how crowds are, one makes up for oneself as one reads.

In film the work of the imagination is done by everything being shown. Unless, even better, it is not shown. That is to say in film no imagination is required; so what is left unshown counts enormously to sustain interest, humor, and tension. Film narration, at least in suspense film, depends upon what is left out. And most films are suspense films.

Too bad here.

Vulgarity, as MGM long ago proved, consists in showing everything.

As to whether it is necessary for you to see this film I leave it out; yes, I leave it to your imagination.

~

 

 

Tyler Perry’s A Medea Christmas

09 Jan

Tyler  Perry’s A Medea Christmas – written, produced, and directed by Tyler Perry. Low Comedy. 100 minutes Color 2013. ★★★★★

The Story: Medea’s bustin’-out-all-over extended whatever gathers at a farm to open the gift nobody wants: The Truth!

I like Tyler Perry’s Medea pieces, because they are like the old Abbot and Costello movies: you know the style of the story will not tax you and will not fail you. The stories are as obvious as a limerick. And as humanly humorous. This is not Cartier’s. This is the Five and Ten Cent Store, and I respect its treats and decorums.

Medea is played by the director, of course, with an unconquerable bosom and the quack of a drake dressed up as a duck. The free-floating mouth of this matron is met fully by the wonderful playing of the domineering mother of the bride of Anna Marie Horsford and by Kathy Najimy as the mother of the groom who takes her on in a brilliant turn. Najimy is a performer not seen often enough in principal roles in principal films. So grab your chance while you can, and catch her here.

But, of course, the great treat is anticipating the mercurially volatile Media’s opening her mouth to blurt out another outrageousness. Perry has a true talent with this character, a human being who knows no bound of race or age or religion or type. She is one of the rare free sprits around.

So his films are not just for black audiences at all.

Go and check it out for yourself, and when you come back I’ll say: “See, I told you so.”

 
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Posted in ACTING STYLE: AMERICAN REALISTIC, Kathy Najimy, Low Comedy, Tyler Perry

 

Diary Of A Mad Black Woman

07 Dec

Diary Of A Mad Black Woman – directed by Darren Grant. Broad Comedy. Expelled from her home by her wealthy husband on her wedding anniversary, a beautiful young woman, with the aid of her family, wreaks revenge and reconciliation, once she finds her juju. 118 minutes Color 2005.
★★★★★
I had never heard of Tyler Perry’s works and days until recently. I had always assumed it was something not for me – low Hollywood comedy – but it isn’t. It isn’t if Jonathan Winters is low Hollywood Comedy, for this is what the range of invention and useful madness the actor Perry grants us. It is excruciatingly funny. It is low comedy all right, but not low Hollywood comedy, for Perry is the playwright as well as the actor, and his work rises from another source than Hollywood and another place within him.

He plays various roles, obviously, for he is not an actor of rich distinctions – but boy are his characters installed! They erupt from him like geysers. To prove it, two things to note. One: Just watch his playing a cut courtroom scene on the out-takes in the extras. It is a mad brilliant improvisation. Two: just watch how good other actors are with him, and watch the cut scene with Cicely Tyson, to see how responsive an actor can still be with this great big crayon character Perry is putting forth.

Yes, the exquisite Cicely Tyson is here and she plays her scenes to perfection. She is the link to spirit which brings the piece to its heartful resolution. A resolution that made me happy.

The script is very well formulated and balanced, by Perry, and cast and directed and filmed beautifully. It’s principal time is given to the getting some gumption of the mad black woman, well played by Kimberly Elise. Steve Harris is terrifying as her husband. But the find of the film is Shemar Moore.

He has the best part in the piece, really, or he makes us believe he has. He plays a man in love with the mad black woman, and he plays it completely open, which is what the character is. He’s physically a great beauty, but as a leading man he is consummate. He reminds me of that remarkable actor Guy Pearce. He has the same lower eyelids, the same upper lip, the same carriage of his head on his neck, and the same display of masculinity. He couldn’t ask for a higher credit.

His playing of every scene is sweet, lyrical, real. He is the one you care about. You don’t care about the mad black woman, because she whimpers. She has no spine. And the actress, although good in the key scenes when she is mean to her helpless husband, still remains divided, and for no good reason that we can believe in. It should go: “Charles, you ever heard of nurse Ratchett? She did her job. But she loved doing her job more than I love mine taking care of you. I’ll do it until my conscience is clear, or until I realize it will never be clear. You understand what I am saying, Charles?” Helping him should threaten to make her a worse person, were it not that ruthlessness is a higher state than whimpering or indecision.

Fortunately Moore tells her off. But it’s not quite enough to win her to us. It’s a fault in the writing, which by and large, is bold, economical and true. I recommend the picture highly. I laughed myself silly. In my books, belly laughing is a very high state of being.

 
 
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