love “becomes all about choice — choosing to love someone, choosing not to cheat on them. It becomes this long series of choices, and that’s actually where your mettle as a person is tested.”
Our capacity for fantasy — for indulging that nagging sense that as good as we’ve got it, there could be something better, some person or place that could transform us — might be humankind’s greatest burden.
Then again, if one was only to say airily that Lynch’s films are exquisite meditations on the nature of the medium itself, or some such plausible boilerplate, then this still leaves unaccounted for the very real grip he has on our imaginations.
I sympathise with the effort to get a film made at all. I approach a movie with hope, not suspicion. I have an open mind about films that provide their audiences with what they’re looking for and try not to be a snob about that.
Jess is a two-dimensional caricature of the sort of girl-woman who, in real life, really does wear Hello Kitty thongs and kiddie clips in her hair and bakes endless cupcakes that don’t even have any drugs in them.
The affinities of “Marilyn and Maggie”, it turns out, are as profound as their differences. They were both defined by emerging neo-Victorian ideas about women; and they both tactically deployed traditional ideas of femininity, so often used against them, to reach the pinnacle of male-dominated professions.
Not that Sparks has any reason to be worried. His films aren’t meant to be reviewed (which would explain the 16% that Rottentomatoes handed The Last Song) or even seen at a cinema. No, Nicholas Sparks films traditionally fare best on DVD where, without wanting to stereotype anyone too harshly, they can be watched by all sorts of just-dumped women in pyjamas, on their sofa, surrounded by empty ice cream tubs and hundreds of soggy tissues, without fear of blowing snot across whoever’s sitting in the row immediately in front of them.
As is the case with Rowling, the quality of her prose has also been attacked. Certainly no one would describe her as a stylist. Her novels are melting marshmallows; to say they are poorly written is to miss the addictively febrile sweetness on which they run.

Viruses are invisible, pitiless, ferocious, proven mass killers. The 1918 flu epidemic dispatched over 20 million people. Another such epidemic is expected before too long, and because communications have improved so much, it could be much more devastating. Yet Contagion is far less likely to be eliciting shrieks at your local multiplex than Paranormal Activity 3.

On the face of it, this constitutes a malfunction of humanity’s self-defence mechanism. Of course, when our instincts were taking shape we weren’t to know we should be worrying about pathogens rather than sabre-toothed tigers. Yet we’ve learned to frighten ourselves with plenty of new bugaboos, from terrorists to paedophiles, which don’t begin to match the threat we face from flu.

Contagion may be the most soundly based apocalypse movie that the big screen’s ever hosted. If anything, it underplays its situation’s possibilities.
It is a tatty, nasty, shabby and stiflingly male world of beige and grey, seen through a dreary particulate haze – fag-ash and dandruff. The interiors and government offices are lit with a pallid, headachey glow. Every room looks like a morgue, and the corpses are walking around, filling out chits, wearing ill-fitting suits, having whispered conversations, giving and receiving bollockings and worrying about loyalty.
Horcruxes, Muggles and Gringotts are a foreign language and only the young own dictionaries.
That’s the thing about Groupons: It’s rare that they are truly geographically convenient—one reason why so many go unused. (The company is slowly rolling out Groupon Now, which lets customers search for and instantly purchase nearby deals.) More often than not, you get a discount from an establishment you’ve never heard about. Either that, or your options are severely limited.
Final track Someone Like You, just voice and piano, is an actual thing of beauty, placing the listener in one of those moments where you feel you’re in the presence of a future standard. You can imagine it being both honked through by talent show contestants and transcended by veterans alike.