Charlie Kaufman, neat and tidy and with his shirt tucked in, is talking about the Oscars, where he was nominated for his latest film, Anomalisa. "It was a thoroughly miserable occasion," he wails. "There's all the neuroses, the anxiety and competitiveness, all in one room. I hated it." You wouldn't want Charlie Kaufman any other way.
The adjective most often used to describe JG Ballard's literary genius is "dystopian". Many of his novels are frightening portraits of how a group of people attempt to create a better world and, instead, end up on a self-destructive orgiastic path to a man-made hell.
At last, the misery-fuelled rom-com we've all been waiting for. Not for Charlie Kaufman the Pixar-style life lessons smothered in upbeat bounciness. His new release is a bizarre, serious and at times engrossing study of the male mid-life crisis.
Themes of memory, truth and trauma run through the work of the Armenian-Canadian film-maker Atom Egoyan like writing through a stick of rock. His frequent producer, Robert Lantos, a Hungarian Jew, therefore didn't hesitate to offer him Benjamin August's debut script, Remember, when it landed on his desk.
In Germany this week, Udi Aloni wanted to kvell. He had just won the Panorama Audience Award for best feature film at the Berlin Film Festival. Instead, he was dealing with mail from Israeli Jews who had seen Junction 48 - about an Arab Israeli rapper - and hated it.
Late last year, Annie Hall was voted by the Writers Guild of America 1a>as the funniest screenplay ever written1b>, calling it "modern cinema's greatest semi-autobiographical relationship story". I hesitate to call it a rom-com but it is, for me, the most romantic and most comic film I've ever seen.
One of the hottest contenders for the Best Picture Oscar is Spotlight, which tells the powerful, true story of how the eponymous team of investigative reporters at the Boston Globe newspaper exposed a decades-long cover-up by the Catholic Church to protect priests guilty of sexually abusing children.
This is a film about loss - of talent, beauty, love, dignity, desire and companionship. But don't let that put you off. For Youth is also utterly riveting, a Fellini-esque homage set in an Alpine hotel-spa where a youthful spring has sprung and the hills - literally (believe me!) - come alive to the sound of music.
Probably the funniest exchange in The Big Short, a star-studded faux documentary/drama played for laughs, comes when a rabbi confronts one of Wall Street's most notorious figures - as a child. The grown-up Mark Baum, as played by Steve Carrell, is an investment cynic on an apparent mission to expose, destroy, and get rich from the system.