Yesterday evening an attractive, smart woman took me out for dinner. Then we went to see The Matrix: Reloaded. I came home and stayed up until 1:30am…
…listening to a documentary on the World Service about the current state of Afghanistan (or, as the BBC have it on their Website summary of the programme, “Afghansitan“).

The upshot of the broadcast: Kabul is a hell of a lot better than it used to be; the rest of the country is in a variety of different kinds of mess. One English aid worker, dodging bandits out in the provinces, stated without irony on air that “at least there was security under the Taliban”. (Apropos of nothing, I found out this week that, whatever the popular myth, the Nazis didn’t even run the trains on time.)

“But what about the movie, you middle-aged git?”

At The Guardian Molly Haskell laments the early arrival of the summer season at the cinema—her irony free comment:

When did summer become a dirty word to those of us who love movies? When did critical consensus become totally irrelevant or, worse, a consumer guide: bad reviews = good box office?

The answer to the hilarious middle question is: “When you supposed arbiters of taste disappeared up your own arses enthusing about sentimental nonsense like Cinema Paradiso or sub-Mills-and-Boon twaddle like The Piano, simply because it wasn’t American sentimental nonsense or Hollywood twaddle. Or perhaps it was when you misdirected superlatives at the hauntingly average American Beauty, simply because it took the cheapest, tiredest shots at (mythical) life in the American suburbs.” Yes, people watch shit at the movies, but at least it isn’t pre-approved, metropolitan in-crowd shit.

Peter Bradshaw raves about Trinity:

This movie certainly reveals who the real Matrix star is: Carrie-Anne Moss. Trinity is a magnificent creation, swooping and curling through the air in black liquefaction. She jabs and stings like a jellyfish, devastatingly sexy in a weirdly heterodox way and of course only naturally erotic in combat. Did the Wachowskis subliminally suggest, in their title, the word dominatrix? … Moss’s face is light years away from the Tara Reid babe template for Hollywood stars. The sharp nose, the pale scholar’s brow, the jet-black hair slicked away from the face by gel and martial sweat – and the overwhelming impression of intelligence – make Moss the biggest star of the screen.

. Barbara Ellen at The Times raves about Morpheus:

Fishburne is the true star of the Matrix franchise, and at least he puts a bit of effort in. Reeves, bless him, underplays to the point where you feel like holding a glass in front of his mouth to check that he’s still breathing..

Is it an accident that the author for the former review is male and the author of the latter female?

I’ve not linked to the full reviews I quoted because I’d you hate you to have any aspect of the story spoiled for you by a sneering middle-class bore who thinks that knowing the plot is important to the enjoyment of Art. Without giving anything away, all I can say is that the film is funnier, more obviously expensive, and less satisfying than the original, but you’ll go to see it anyway.

By the way, if you’re reading, Judith, you might be interested in this, also from the arts section of The Guardian.