American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I was musing the other day that there aren't enough fat men in movies, and especially not enough mean fat men filled with malice and avarice. Too many movie fat men are jolly these days, and we don't have the Sidney Greenstreets with ice in their eyes.
Which set me to thinking that, fat men aside, we don't have enough malice and avarice in the movies these days, either. Movies are getting to be too damn nice. Especially comedies. If there's anything I can't stand, it's a heart-warming comedy, filled with warmth and sunshine and happy endings, in which the essential goodness of human nature, etc., is demonstrated in the end.
No. What we need are mean comedies, filled with mean and petty people who hate and envy each other, and exhibit the basest of human motives. Comedies like that canonized W. C. Fields, and it was Groucho Marx's fundamental hatefulness that made his stuff so much more than slapstick. Lately, though, the movie comedy has fallen on hard times in America. Until the last couple of weeks.
Now there are two new comedies that I can recommend to cynics and malcontents with little fear they'll be disappointed: "A New Leaf," reviewed last week, and Norman Lear's "Cold Turkey." Both of them assume as a matter of course that the human being is powered with unworthy motives, especially greed. "A New Leaf" gets a little sentimental at the end, but not too much, and "Cold Turkey" ends with the scoundrels being shot by their own cigarette lighter.