Yeah, you think some bitch-ass college boy could come up with that shit?

American Fiction (2023)   While it’s being touted as an awards-contender – including a Best Picture Oscar nomination – for its satirical take on media appetites for “blackness”, or rather, a certain stereotype of blackness, American Fiction is really a relationship drama masquerading – or selling itself – as a satire. It pretty much announces as much from the first scene, so the degree to which it’s merely an occasionally smile-raising accomplishment in the latter department is less of an issue than the degree to which it’s adequate at best in the former. As I see it, the only way

The more germs I take, the better I feel!

The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936)   To hear The Story of Louis Pasteur tell it, the “father” of the vaccine was tantamount to Lily the Pink, the Pink, the Pink, the saviour of the human race. But rather than medicinal compound, Pasteur invented viruses – the external, invasive kind – from whence we would never again be safe. Not from those darn microscopic viruses themselves, of course, but the measures designed to “immunise” us from the same (far from efficacious in every case). This Best Picture Oscar-nominated biopic even has Wiki admitting to its “highly fictionalised” pedigree, so it

Yes, my little fuzzy-wuzzy muzzy-wuzzy.

Libeled Lady (1936)   Or rather, Libelled Lady. The fifth screen pairing of William Powell and Mryna Loy – the sixth, After the Thin Man, opened just a couple of months after this – was greeted sufficiently warmly that it earned a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The Great Ziegfeld, also starring Powell and Loy, won. If you liked the pair, you were quids in that year! Libeled Lady is frequently effective in its screwball antics, but perhaps not quite as proficient as their very best collaborations. There’s a sense of strain in the plotting, of marrying/ juggling too many elements

Would you pay a penny to save the fish who thinks?

Heaven Can Wait (1978)   Warren Beatty’s (and Buck Henry’s, kind of) remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan is very clear about the limitations of its walk-in conceit. This is not a common practice. Rather, it’s one called upon on those rare occasions when heaven makes a mistake, snatching someone away from the earthly sojourn too soon. Thus, Heaven Can Wait’s mechanics revolve entirely around death – of Joe, and of whomever he is to inhabit next – which means even its cachet as a spin on reincarnation can only be taken as an analogous; much like its dry-ice-infused waystation,

Just when did he tell you this? Before or after he was drowned?

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941)   Heavenly affirmations made for something of a subgenre, if a slim one, during the 1940s. One might put later cases of upbeat continuance during the decade at the door of a post-WWII desire to comfort those who had lost loved ones, although the plots only rarely invoked the same (A Guy Named Joe, eventually remade by the Berg as the stagnant Always). And since the first, Here Comes Mr. Jordan, arrived before America’s entrance into the war, it might simply be that execs saw its success and wanted more of a good thing. Obviously,

If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook.

The Social Network (2010)   What do you do when you want to sell a real-world narrative, lest anyone seek to undermine or cast aspersions on it? Make a Hollywood movie from it. That’ll clear things up, particularly when the “correct” version can be referred to, as a contrast to how Tinseltown diverged from “the facts”. For examples of this in more recent years (this millennium), look no further than the likes of United 93/ World Trade Centre and Zero Dark Thirty. The Social Network is perhaps less egregious in that regard, since all it omits is the CIA subbing

Some days, I feel different than before.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)   A return visit to a movie can sometimes be a sobering reminder that one initially respected a picture rather than really rated it.  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is one such, where I expressed admiration for David Fincher’s achievement – of course, it was Fincher, wasn’t it? – but have struggled since to locate what exactly it was about it I held in high regard. Now, it’s quite obvious. If I held it in high regard, even nominally, it was because it was made to be held in high regard. It

Mother, you’re not dying. Your glasses need cleaning.

Women Talking (2022)   An endless – or seems like it – dirge on, I mean passionate contemplation of, the boundless and unfettered evils of men, Sarah Polley’s film plays like an overly earnest student theatre project, one acutely afflicted by Philosophy 101 parsing of every comment, statement or conjecture as a means to fill its running time. It is, of course, very worthy and – because it sets its sights on entrenching division and discord, in this case in the gender arena – consummately Hegelian in motive. It’s thus, it goes without saying, Exhibit A in wokeness unbound, engineered

Well, I always gagged on that silver spoon.

Citizen Kane (1941)   No, I don’t think Citizen Kane’s the greatest film ever made, any more than I do The Godfather. I can entirely appreciate why it has been regarded as a peak achievement in cinema for more than eighty years, though. In numerous ways, it remains a quite extraordinary work, an almost wholly successful dive into experimentation with the artform by a young debutant, with results he’d never be able to equal. Which was, alas for him, most likely the hubristic consequence of believing he could get away with the subject matter. The real stunner with Citizen Kane

You can call me the King of Shit!

Triangle of Sadness (2022)   I think I preferred this when it was The Admirable Crichton. Less vomiting, prostitution and generally crude commentary on human nature passing itself off as satire. Obviously, I knew what I was letting myself in for, as I’d previously subjected myself to Ruben Östlund’s similarly misanthropic (and similarly overrated) Force Majeure. And dim views of human nature being what they are – celebrated by critics – Triangle of Sadness won the Palme d’Or and now finds itself a – relatively surprising, as most weren’t anticipating it in the final ten – a contender for Best