Savoring the Tastiest Morsels From the Year in Movies, in Haiku

The 2018 Movie Club: Entry 15.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' Wingless Thrush (Harry Melling)
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Netflix.

In Slate’s annual Movie Club, film critic Dana Stevens emails with fellow critics—this year, K. Austin CollinsAmy Nicholson, and Bilge Ebiri—about the year in cinema. Read the first entry here.

I’ve been dying for someone to bring up airplane movies because I can confirm Kam’s observation that Ocean’s 8 zoomed past the competition. Some flights, it was on every other seatback, which is significant as planes are the place where we let our id choose the film. Once we reach an altitude of 35,000 feet, we untether from any guilt that we are wasting our time and money. We have time to waste, and the movie is free. And siloed by headphones, there’s no need to negotiate, explain, or apologize for what we earnestly want to see. (On a 12-hour Aeroflot leg, I picked a Bollywood film called Toilet: Ek Prem Ketha (A Love Story), which turned out to be rousingly feminist—it’s on Netflix right now.)


So, yes, I loved spying on all the people—male and female—who chose to watch eight amazingly costumed actresses saunter around in search of a plot. They never found one. Ocean’s 8 is basically dashed-off fan fiction about characters who never even existed, a promotional yogurt passed off as a meal. But Anne Hathaway’s twit was a true gift.

She got me thinking of all those small moments in 2018—nothing even so big as a plot point—that, in many cases, will stick with me longer than the actual films. Forgive me for breaking format, but I’d like to celebrate nine of those tiny filmmaking choices in a manner that befits their bite-size joys: haiku.

To Pippin, the Teensy Swimming Dog Who Faces Down The Meg

Pink-bow–choked topknot
The crown on your coddled life
Yet, pup one: shark nil

On 6’3” Elizabeth Debicki Wearing Stilettos in Widows

Dearest daffy stork
Teetering into our hearts
She stoops to conquer

A Ballad to the Blushed Cheeks of Buster Scruggs’ Wingless Thrush

Behold, twin red moons
Aglow in the frontier night
Scrubbed clean by cold dawn

Apologia to the Actresses Hired to Flatter Clint Eastwood’s Virility in The Mule’s Not One But Two Threesomes 

Seriously, what?!
$10 bucks if you dared question
Your motivation

A Simple Favor’s Farewell to the Dickey Worn by Blake Lively

Violent fashion
Brutally shucked from the chest
To please the goddess

Elegy for Christian and Anastasia Grey in Fifty Shades’ Final Montage

Flashback pommel horse
Two words never meant to mix
But so glad they did

In Awe of John Cena’s Overburdened Blockers Belt Buckle

My god! The pressure!
Volcano in cargo pants
About to explode

Epigram for a Stop-Motion Octopus Sliced Into Isle of Dogs’ Assassination Sushi 

Wriggling on a block
The silicone tentacle
Dances with the knife

In Shivering, Quaking Awe of A Wrinkle In Time’s Giant Oprah 

Bedazzled titan
Have you reached your final form?
A vision from Bosch

Bilge, we’re nearing Slate Movie Club’s final round. Your next mission, should you choose to accept it (and Tom Cruise always does), is to pen a naughty limerick about a film you feel we haven’t discussed enough. Bonus points if you concoct a good rhyme for mise en scène.


Read the previous entry. Read the next entry.