By A.D. Beal

The story of Dick Cheney and his rise through politics, leading to his run as Vice President under George W. Bush.

Writer and director Adam McKay’s anger seethes throughout this movie, and the fury affects the style, editing and tone here. It goes back and forth between comedy and horror in how they show the things that Cheney and co. were able to get away with, and it’s a rare case where conflicting tones work. It’s insane just how meta the film is, continuously breaking the fourth wall with a narrating Jesse Plemons (who has his own story in the film), several interesting editing choices, and a false ending. Christian Bale perfectly recreates Cheney in voice, actions and personality, and is joined by a fantastic cast (especially Amy Adams). The documentary style (with wonderful shots by Greig Fraser) adds to the realism and cements the uncomfortable feeling you are left with.

The Mule
A ninety-year-old man takes up a driving job after falling into financial strain, only to discover its connections to a major drug cartel.

For someone who’s been directing for nearly 50 years, there’s a very amateur feel to Clint Eastwood’s new film. Maybe it’s due to his tendency to shoot very few takes, but none of the actors ever seem really ‘into’ the film, aside from Eastwood himself (who happens to play the main character). The situation at hand never resonates because the characters don’t seem to really care, so why should we? The film also seems to have an identity crisis when it comes to tone, because sometimes it really wants you to take the story seriously while also treating many moments as a comedy. Speaking of which, the humor is filled with outdated “kids these days…” and “the internet is terrible” jokes, along with some out of nowhere racist humor. Aside from that, it’s boringly shot and edited, making for an overall bland film. It’s bizarre that a film with this much talent can turn out the way it did.

If Beale Street Could Talk
A young woman and her family must do anything possible to save her lover from prison time after being accused of a horrific crime.

Barry Jenkins’ follow up to Moonlight is the kind of film that you can tell someone put more than their all into it. The film goes deep into the lives of Tish and Fonny (played expertly by KiKi Layne and Stephan James), showing their full uncensored lives, warts and all. But the genius of Jenkins is how he presents it – simple, normal and not overly staged. A different filmmaker would try to make some scenes feel more fast-paced and hectic, but here, they are intimate and lovely. The energy from our leads also crosses over to the supporting cast, namely Regina King and Colman Domingo, and even the minor characters, including Brian Tyree Henry (who absolutely steals the show in his major scene). Combine that with James Laxton’s old photo-like cinematography and Nicholas Britell’s beautiful score, and you have a love story for the ages. One that will make you feel all sorts of emotions, while making you think by the end.