Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

The Heart of Cheney

As a film about contemporary essay film and its artistry, Vice tells the story of Adam McKay, the director, who aims to understand Dick Cheney’s heart, one of the most ruthless Vice Presidents in history. The film presents Cheney as a politically astute yet enigmatic figure, and the character’s assassination takes on a comedic tone. Through McKay’s unique blend of humor and information, he delves into Cheney’s motivations and political maneuvers.

Despite limited character development, the film explores personal aspects of Cheney’s life, including his relationships with his wife and daughter. However, McKay primarily uses these elements as a means to reveal what he perceives about Cheney’s true nature, metaphorically examining Cheney’s heart, both literally and figuratively. A scene where a doctor places a patient’s occluded organ on the table becomes a powerful visual metaphor, hinting at Cheney’s own obscured heart and questioning his humanism as a man who wields significant influence over his president. The subtlety of Vice lies in its commentary on Cheney’s actions and their implications on a broader human level.

The Trademark of McKay

Adam McKay is powerfully and quietly revolutionizing storytelling in mainstream media. Through his award-winning Academy film, The Big Short, he has proven to be a master at turning complex topics into engaging entertainment. He fearlessly tackles subjects that Hollywood would typically avoid due to their intricate and less accessible nature. McKay’s directorial prowess allows him to transform concepts like executive unity, journalism, catering, and the subprime mortgage crisis into captivating mainstream content for a wide audience.

In Vice, he continues his mission of presenting thought-provoking ideas to viewers. By assembling a talented cast, McKay delves into the investigation of the 9/11 tragedy and skillfully traces Cheney’s rise from a modest boy in Wyoming to the influential power behind a mysterious throne. Christian Bale’s remarkable performance, with 40 pounds of extra weight and convincing makeup, adds depth to the enigmatic character of Cheney.

The film portrays pivotal moments in Cheney’s life, from his wife Lynne urging him to clean up his act after a drunk-driving incident in 1963, to his time as a White House intern for Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfeld during the Nixon Administration. Through these events, the transformation from a simple hick to a cunning political strategist is vividly portrayed. McKay’s storytelling approach breathes life into historical events, making them engaging and relevant to modern audiences.

The Definition of Essay Film

McKay enjoys challenging his audience by intelligently involving them in the events portrayed in his films. For many, he has become a cultural pioneer in reshaping conventional storytelling through the visualization of essay films. He has turned the essay film into something that captivates the audience from start to finish, combining historical elements with biographical insights that make the subject fascinating to watch.

In essence, McKay’s work stands out as one of the most exciting and innovative in the modern era. When it comes to essay films, there exists a distinction between the audience and the medium, and YouTube serves as a prime example of the interdisciplinary nature of a film essay. However, defining what constitutes a film essay remains fluid. Generally, the author assumes the role of narrator or voice-over through the editing process, and their voice is evident, not only in production or script but also in the final product.

While most film essays adopt a personal approach, they also blur the line between fiction and documentary. Essay film writers often embody a distinct persona, creating a direct relationship between the viewer and the writer. Unlike standard fictional narratives, where the audience might forget the presence of the author behind the scenes, the film essay intentionally reminds the audience of this fact from the beginning.

The Entertainment of Dry Subject

In addition to being a blockbuster film, the essay film aims to avoid giving the impression that someone is manipulating or crafting the story. Instead, it emerges as a mirror reflection that prompts the audience to pay attention to the construction and editing with a broader perspective. The essence of film essays lies in inspiring the audience to engage in thought-provoking contemplation. Many students may write papers for college classes without adequately citing evidence to support their points. In this regard, Hans Richert suggests that essay films have access to a richer expressive resource compared to documentaries, allowing them to imbue even dry topics with entertaining and imaginative elements.

In McKay’s case, he skillfully brings to light the driest subjects, making them engaging and visible. Determining the precise nature of the film essay can be challenging, as its definition remains fluid. Michel de Montaigne, a philosopher from the French Renaissance, gave rise to the term “essay,” derived from the French word for “try.” Montaigne’s concept revolved around trying out and exploring ideas. French New Wave filmmakers and essayists, inspired by Montaigne’s experimental approach, often embrace this spirit in their film essays.

In Vice, McKay cleverly integrates the character’s subtext within the essay film framework, driven by contemporary ambition and presented with artistry, even featuring a faux Shakespearean scene. The film showcases how essay films can be a powerful vehicle for thought-provoking storytelling.

The Narrative of Vice

The contemporary essay film, Vice, showcases artistry from the perspective of a former soldier who met his demise on the battlefield. Until the end, the soldier’s identity remains mysterious, one of the intriguing tricks employed by McKay. Cheney’s agreement to become George W. Bush’s running mate adds to the film’s angsty and tense atmosphere. Initially, Cheney rejects the offer to fuel Bush’s interest in him further. Throughout the film, Cheney refrains from getting directly involved in politics, opting instead to live a peaceful life with Lynne, collecting accolades. However, he eventually accepts to head a committee, find the perfect vice president for Bush, and reluctantly steps into the political arena.

The essence of Vice lies in exploring various versions of plausible and even bizarre occurrences, seeking to uncover the underlying truth. Its enigmatic nature delves deep into uncharted territory, testing the film’s artistry and contemporary elements as an essay film. McKay skillfully connects with the audience, urging them not to overlook the complexities of the character in Vice. The film serves as a cinematic venture, encouraging viewers to form their own opinions and interpretations.

Beyond filmmaking, video essayists on the internet exemplify the versatility and scope of the film essay. Covering a wide array of topics ranging from politics and books to painting and society, they present compelling cases of the film essay’s impact and influence in contemporary discourse.

The Subjectivity of Vice

At first glance, Vice may seem like a film attempting to recapture the trademark style of many of Oliver Stone’s movies. However, the film delves into Cheney’s rise to power after 9/11. As Cheney enters the White House, McKay adopts a straightforward approach to explain how the subject effectively controlled events. On the other hand, McKay avoids creating any emotional investment, demonstrating his shameless animosity towards the subject. His editing techniques serve as a potent tool to achieve this effect.

As a result, the audience becomes engrossed in the story, forgetting about the actors Christian Bale or Jesse Plemons, as Vice takes on the feel of a subjective political documentary presented in the form of a film essay. Consequently, the audience begins to believe that Cheney is a dangerous, cold-blooded, and unsavory man. It is unclear whom McKay intends to convince with Vice, as the target appears to be the subject itself.

The Influence of Essay Film

The purpose of Vice is not to merely remind the audience of the tragedy in the early 2000s. Irrespective of where the audience stands on the political spectrum, McKay approaches the topic in a broader sense, opening up new creative avenues, and probing the very form itself. Vice successfully raises numerous questions about the subject at hand. Does the film aim to jog the audience’s memory about the power dynamics in Washington? Did Cheney wield undue influence in orchestrating an illegal war as the Vice President? Through visual allusions to current events, McKay presents his arguments about Cheney’s underlying motivations.

Certainly, the audience aligns with McKay and Vice‘s perspective, but it also delves into the true complexity of the matter. The film transcends historical events to become a thought-provoking exploration, finding its place as a rapidly growing field not only on the internet but also in academia.

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