AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Susan Granger

Based on Percival Everett’s 2001 novel Erasures, Cord Jefferson’s cagey American Fiction has garnered five Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The story introduces Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), a serious West Coast university professor/fledgling writer who bristles at the media’s exploitation of Black stereotypes for profit.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Jennifer Merin

One of the year’s very best films, writer/director Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction is a sly, sophisticated and thoroughly engaging put down of America’s propensity for racial stereotyping — in particular in the realm of literature, publishing and academia, but crossing into other turf, as well. It is the subtly told tale of a highly esteemed and brilliant Black author and college professor. Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison, whose current manuscript isn’t selling because it isn’t deemed to be ‘Black’ enough. So, as an anger-based joke, Monk — as he’s known to family, friends and fans — composes a supposedly semi-autobiographical novel that he credits to a completely fictitious author who is reportedly hiding his real identity because he’s ostensibly a criminal on the run. The manuscript is pure in-your-face jive, but — against his will — his agent submits it to a publishing house where they applaud it’s authenticity and buy it for big bucks.

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AMERICAN FICTION – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Hearing Black artists’ work described as “raw” and “real” grates on Thelonious “Monk” Ellison. It’s not that Monk (Jeffrey Wright), a professor and author, doesn’t find some writing transportive. He just considers a lot of what catapults onto best-seller lists and movie screens featuring Black characters pandering: stories of drugs, deadbeat dads, pregnant teens, and police shootings. Those circumstances might be some people’s realities, but writer/director Cord Jefferson’s debut feature film argues there are other stories we’re not seeing. A blistering indictment of giving the public what it thinks it wants, it criticizes the publishing industry—and some films—for “elevating” Black voices yet perpetuating stereotypes.

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RUSTIN – Review by T.J. Callahan

Rustin: “Either you believe in freedom and justice for all or you do not.” Bayard Rustin believed. Rustin was the man who transformed the civil rights movement. He was the architect of the 1963 March on Washington that changed history. Yet we needed a feature film to truly find out who he was. Rustin championed civil and social rights, gay rights and nonviolence, but has been overlooked in our social studies lessons…possibly because he embodied all those things.

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THE BATMAN – Review by Susan Granger

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a brooding, noir’ish interpretation of the DC Comics superhero, focusing for almost three hours on a sorrowful, conflicted Dark Knight, haunted by serious psychological issues involving his late father. Working with cinematographer Greig Fraser and production designer James Chinlund, director/writer Matt Reeves bathes the film in a bleak, inky blackness, enhanced by Michael Giacchino’s symphonic score.

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THE BATMAN – Review by T. J. Callahan

The Batman is set 20 years after the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents. It’s Halloween and Gotham’s “on the take” political leaders are being killed by the sadistic Riddler…forcing Batman to scrutinize the city’s corruption and the Wayne family’s possible involvement. The Batman is a throwback private eye film and a psychological thriller. It’s more True Detective and less Super Hero.

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THE POST DISPATCH – Review by Susan Granger

Deftly scripted as an absurdly fanciful anthology, filled with piquant caricatures, The French Dispatch is meticulously crafted by Wes Anderson as an inventive, whimsical tribute to several generations of mannered storytellers who enriched the American literary landscape

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