Every fan of satire knows Wilde and Wodehouse. But don't forget Saki, who introduced talking cats and child-hungry werewolves into upper-class British drawing rooms, on the theory that nothing invigorates a tea party like a ravening hyena.
In this appealing comedy, five ex-buddies in their 40s try to rekindle their youthful friendship, only to find that even a robot/alien invasion can't heal their fundamental differences.
The audience was in stitches throughout much of Heroes. But the intellectual fireworks that accompany most Tom Stoppard scripts are largely absent here.
Even a flawed premise can be swept away by real moral quandaries, sparkling dialogue, charismatic actors and characters we actually care about. Unfortunately, Danny Boyle's alleged thriller, Trance, offers no such perks.
At the fringes, Oscar Wilde's characters in An Ideal Husband convey a spritely delight in mocking the staid practices of a moralistic society. But Wilde keeps dragging them into a ludicrous plot that he wants us to take seriously.
Unlike Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Tom Stoppard's The Real Inspector Hound is pure farce. This time it's theater critics who get caught in his existential web.
In Killing Them Softly, terrible people do terrible things to each other for relatively small amounts of money. Films like this could give movie crime a bad name.
As a novel, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is a work of sprawling, ambitious complexity linking six stories over three centuries. The film adaptation is equally sprawling and ambitious but makes little sense.
Why do we still care about James Bond? The films are mostly disappointing, and the Ian Fleming novels are downright embarrassing. No matter: We Americans are hopelessly hooked on British suavity and probably always will be.
The Old Devils is a powerful example of a good writer's ability to render sympathetic those who seem nothing like us and who, if made flesh, would quite possibly loathe us. That goes for its misogynistic author, too.