06 Dec

Alexander Payne has faced accusations of condescension towards his characters in movies such as "Election," "Citizen Ruth," and "Nebraska." Personally, I have always found this criticism somewhat superficial but understandable, considering the eccentric personalities that dominate those films and the fine line between finding people entertaining and mocking them. I mention this because his latest work, "The Holdovers Flixtor" completely lacks this aspect of his career. On the contrary, Payne genuinely adores these individuals. You can sense it in every shot, every line delivery, and every narrative decision. In a time when cynicism is on the rise, I believe many people will also develop a fondness for these characters.

Payne rebounds from the disastrous “Downsizing” by reuniting with the star of arguably his most adored film, “Sideways.” Paul Giamatti takes on his most substantial role in years as Paul Hunham, a ruthless professor at the esteemed Barton Academy in the early ‘70s. Payne humorously mentioned in his introduction that he has essentially been creating ‘70s comedies throughout his entire career, so he thought it was about time to make a film centered around that era. Hunham is generally unpopular among students and staff, although a colleague named Lydia does show kindness by baking Christmas cookies for the grumpy old man. When Hunham isn't doling out failing grades and assignments during the Christmas break, he can be found berating students for the smallest infractions. He's one of those individuals who lacks control in his own life, so he wields what little power he has aggressively, resulting in few friendships.

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