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  • Snowden

    Snowden 2016

    ★½ Watched 29 Nov, 2016

    Snowden never, ever recovers from its premise: that Edward Snowden, a super-capable, pure-hearted all-American, found terrible government crimes against the American population while working at the National Security Agency, and was moved to disclose them to the world after being stymied in official channels.

    Literally none of that is true. The Snowden revelations found mistakes that were generally cleared up by an efficient and functional bureaucratic oversight mechanism. Snowden did not try to go official channels in the way he…

  • Bethlehem

    Bethlehem 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 15 Nov, 2016

    Bethlehem is one of the most compelling films I’ve seen in a long time. There are so few good spy films available that this is a welcome surprise. Unlike Burn After Reading, a genius film, the intention here is not to show things from the agency side, to demonstrate how wildly out of control things can get when you only have half-or-less of the facts. It is also not Charlie Wilson’s War, which shows the feats that intelligence agencies can…

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  • Avatar

    Avatar 2009

    ★★ Watched 16 Jun, 2013 2

    It is simply impossible to see what the fuss was about. Was it the visuals perhaps—surely surpassed now by Life of Pi (reviewed here)? It can't be the acting—I like Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver as much as anybody, but reality is still reality. My impression is that the supposed wondrousness of the thing was political: this is a film that presents a vision of what idiots believe the Iraq War was about—and indeed what people now commonly take to…

  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2 2014

    ★★★★★ Watched 16 Apr, 2014 4

    It is quite simply brilliant. Trying to explain why without giving anything away is tricky but here goes ...

    It is perhaps to be expected in 2014 that visually a film will pass muster but the manner of the passing here is quite exceptional. Better still, there is none of the pretentiousness about it that occasioned Avatar (reviewed here) or—much worse—Life of Pi (see here).

    The acting is sensational. It is impossible to overpraise Andrew Garfield. As someone who actually…