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  • Fifty Shades of Grey

    Fifty Shades of Grey 2015

    Watched 21 Mar, 2015

    I don't think anybody will be offering me the "Feminist of the Year" trophy anytime soon, but even I have to say: If you imagine a movie helpful to the cause of emancipating us from negative stereotypes about women—this is the opposite of that. It gives such a retrograde version of femininity that it is impossible not to notice.

    The opening set-up is that Anastasia ("Ana") Steele (Dakota Johnson), an English student at Washington State University, has taken on her…

  • Divergent

    Divergent 2014

    ★½ Watched 16 Mar, 2015

    It's not that imaginative a premise. In Chicago, after a war of unspecified origin and consequence, the population is walled into the city, and the social order is constructed around five factions: Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Dauntless (the brave), and Erudite (the intelligent). Children go through a psychological test at sixteen-years-of-age to see which faction they best fit into, then they choose for themselves, and they have to pass a test to formally join. Certain…

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  • Avatar

    Avatar 2009

    ★★ Watched 16 Jun, 2013 3

    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…