retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Vice is, in its own way, as innovative and entertaining a look at Dick Cheney from director/writer Adam McKay as his The Big Short was as a look at the faulty underpinnings of the nation’s financial system. I think that maybe The Big Short was a little better because it was less politically charged - reactions to Vice almost certainly will be informed by how you feel about Cheney and his role in the American continuum.

I do think that, no matter how you feel about the characters, it is hard to argue with the extraordinary quality of the performances, especially Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney, and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld. Sam Rockwell is maybe just a bit too much of a caricature of George W. Bush for my taste, but that’s a small quibble.

Vice is fascinating moviemaking - provocative, strong-minded, and opinionated … if Dinesh D’Souza can make Death of a Nation, Adam McKay certainly can make Vice. We’ll see which one stands the test of time.

I must admit that from the first time I saw a trailer for Mary Poppins Returns, I was utterly charmed and couldn’t wait for the film to come out. Having seen it, however, I must confess that the movie itself suffers from a definite lack of charm.

Not completely, of course. Emily Blunt is terrific in the title role, not completely wiping out the memory of Julie Andrews’ performance, of course, but giving the part a nice little edge that works for the movie. Lin-Manuel Miranda, as the lamplighter Jack, is terrific, as are Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer … and Dick Van Dyke, cameoing as the father of one of the characters he played in the original, is, nor surprisingly, a scene stealer.

But … I couldn’t shake the feeling that the whole thing was derivative, as opposed to being a clever and innovative take on the original material … a little bit like painting by the numbers. And yet, at the same time, the film cried out for references to the original film. How, for example, could the word “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” never be uttered?

This may seem contradictory, but it is, quite simply, how I felt.

One other thing. It did not escape my notice that two of the trailers preceding the film were for remakes of Dumbo and The Lion King … which leads me to believe that Disney is falling back on the old stuff and maybe not investing enough in new and innovative projects. Sure, these things probably make a lot of money … but with all that money, not to mention all the money that comes in from the Marvel and Star Wars movies, you’d think they could spend a little money on some smaller and more challenging stuff.

It is just two weeks until “Star Trek: Discovery” returns for its second season on CBS All Access, and I can’t wait … and my compliments to the network for featuring a series of “Short Treks” that have been short films that have riffed on the franchise’s characters, themes and ethos. The latest, just out yesterday, is “The Escape Artist,” with Rainn Wilson returning (and directing) as Harry Mudd, a villain from the original series who popped up on “Discovery.” Fun stuff, and a great appetizer as we await the main course.

One of the things that Mrs. Content Guy and I did over the holiday was go to a concert featuring the vocal stylings of Katherine Hedlund, a jazz and blues performer of exceptional style. She hasn’t recorded anything yet, but if you have the opportunity to see and hear her, do so - she’s great.

A wine to recommend to you this weekend … the 2016 Siduri Pinot Noir, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which is supple and smooth and versatile.

Today is my mom’s birthday. She died in 1998 and age 67, the victim of lung cancer that metastasized pretty much everywhere, but that she fought valiantly for four years. My mom was a tough broad - barely five feet tall, but tough.

When I was a teenager and finally was able to look down on her, I commented once on how tall I was. She shot me a look and responded, “You maybe be taller, but you’ll never be bigger than I am. Don’t forget it.”

She was right. She’s been gone more than two decades, and I may miss her now more than ever.

I just wanted to mention that.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you on Monday.

KC's View: