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Apparently, OPPENHEIMER and BARBIE are the two highest grossing films over their first weekend of release sine the pandemic. They couldn’t be farther apart on the spectrum of film: one an escapist fantasy, the other a grim depiction of reality.

As a student of US history – I’ve even written a book on the subject (‘LIBERTY’ – see ’Projects’), I am naturally suspicious of dramatizations of real-life events. So, sitting in the front row (the only ones left of the few available seats), I was a bit disoriented at first at being so close to the action and startled when the sound effects boomed out of the speakers – a proper custom-made soundtrack by the way!

Christopher Nolan both wrote and produced, although I was at first discouraged by the three hours length of the film; my qualms were quickly allayed. I was rivetted by the sharp scripting and wonderful acting, and the vivid sets did the storyline proud at a pivotal moment in world history.

The implications of the ‘successful’ atomic bomb test in the El Alamo desert as part of the Manhattan Project, as the world’s leading scientists collaborated; moral considerations temporarily put aside. But the genie had been let out of the bottle and it soon became terrifyingly apparent that the whole world had changed - was it is a safer or more dangerous place? - as the non-interventionist Monroe Doctrine was subverted by the Truman Doctrine presaging an escalated level of interference in world affairs as the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war stood in the shadows just around the corner.

The level of detail and angle of approach the film takes are commendable and the all-important message made graphically (and also subtly) clear.

I think that OPPENHEIMER will become a classic of modern cinema if it hasn’t already established itself as such.

And what of BARBIE? If I could only find the time, I might be tempted to see it if only to see what mansplaining means. Apparently, the various ‘Kens’(?) speak of the importance of STEPHEN MALKMUS who was not only a member of PAVEMENT but has also released some rather splendid albums in his own name, and the influence that the VELVET UNDERGROUND had on his music. I presume the film is a satire so I might quite enjoy- can anyone advise?

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