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I saw the other half of the "Barbenheimer" craze last weekend, and was blown away - while that may be a politically incorrect way to describe my reaction, it seems the most accurate.

Oppenheimer, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking.  It is old-fashioned in the sense that it does not rely on computer generated graphics and does rely on what used to be called movie stars, even in small and supporting roles, for its storytelling.  Oppenheimer does, however, feel very much like a modern work of art, as Nolan tells his story in non-linear fashion, assembling a narrative puzzle the shape of which we begin to sense fairly early on, but that only is fully formed in the final minutes.

The story is at least vaguely familiar to most of us - J. Robert Oppenheimer was the man who oversaw the building of the first atomic bomb.  Vague, rather than minute, knowledge of the story probably is for the best, if only because there are times when Nolan opts for drama over documentary (which is okay, because this isn't a documentary).  And some of the dramatic tension is expected, as in probing the moral qualms of building a bomb that is dropped not on one, but two cities.

But I found Oppenheimer's personal story, as portrayed compellingly by Cillian Murphy, to be fascinating.   There were all sorts of things I did not know about him or his life after World War II, and the movie made me want to read more about it.  The supporting cast - including Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Kenneth Branagh and Gary Oldman - is wonderful, indelibly etching out their characters, sometimes in just a few minutes.  Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as Lewis Strauss, a former chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission with whom Oppenheimer had a complicated relationship -  he reminds us of how, when stripped of Iron-Man's armor, he is one of his generation's best actors.

Oppenheimer, in its own way, reminds us of what I always think of as the Jurassic Park dilemma:  Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something.  The films deftly plays out a debate that takes place in ethics seminars and classrooms all the time, asking whether it was worth it - not just short-term, but long-term, to have unleashed technology that has in its own way opened the door to so many other nightmarish innovations.  It is the same debate that we're having now about AI, and we should take some of the lessons of Oppenheimer to that conversation.

I have a wine to recommend to you this week - the 2021 Domaine De L'Olivette Bandol Rosé, a lovely little wine from Provence that is light and refreshing - it has a little citrus and a little crispness, and is eminently enjoyable.