Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

If Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a tour of fantasy-land (who else thought their feelings seemed stuffed with baubles like gift-bags from a theme park?), The Chamber of Secrets is like accidentally wandering into the maintenance closet. Something is disenchanted by it, and I can think of no harsher criticism, to call something squinty that once was wide-eyed.

Mary Poppins Returns

When Mary Poppins pops out on stage in stockings and Mia Wallace hair I was reminded of some Mary Poppins-themed miniskirt ensembles I saw in a shop window in Disney Springs. From then on, I was half-afraid of the Banks home staging a rendition of the sexy maid porno situation. I’m fairly certain Andrews’ version would have scoffed the scanty jollity of this number in particular. I’m positive that author P.L. Travers would have wept.

True Grit (2010)

The Western is a myth of values. True Grit is a story that appreciates these values without necessarily approving of them. This is a film made in the spirit of a long tradition, which is surprising coming from the usually more provocative Coen Brothers. But its subtle changes should not be ignored – they contain all its secret truths, and theirs.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

A Christmas Carol is such a tired tale by now that the first task of this new film should have been to make old hat seem tailored for the first time. But as Dickens picks up well-known artifices of his story off the street, you become infected by that terribly un-jolly feeling that this is one of those movies – one in which random people will speak full Dickensian quotes for the good author to overhear and jot down, in which everyone he meets has a name that will go into one of his stories.

Fight Club

The aspect of rebellion in Fight Club makes it the anthem of a cinematic generation, who may not understand it at all. Remember, “the first rule of fight club is that you do not talk about fight club.” If you argued about its philosophy, its meaning, its impact, its significance, the movie would punch you in the nose.

The Thing (2011)

The Thing’s lack of a stable form worked for Carpenter, who was able to squeeze a pure and palpable uncertainty out of never knowing who or what the Thing exactly was. But in Heijningen’s version, it seems to be more a matter of horror tradition than the transcription of a bold idea.