For Your Eyes Only

Name: For Your Eyes Only
Year: 1981
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: After disposing of a familiar-looking face, Bond is sent to recover a communication device, known as an ATAC, which went down with a British Spy ship as it sunk. Bond must hurry, though, as the Russians are also out for this device. On his travels, he also meets Melina Havelock, whose parents were brutally murdered. Bond encounters both Aristotle Kristatos and Milos Colombo as well. Each of them is accusing the other of having links with the Russians. Bond must team up with Melina, find out who the true ally is and find the ATAC before it’s too late.
Stars: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet and Topol
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Certainly not bad at all! Especially the first half was good. I did lose some interest during the second part, but the final scene was totally worth it. Didn’t like Melina and don’t understand why the general didn’t try to kill Bond at the end, did like the plot twists.

The score was really interesting. It was overflowing with energy, joy and emotion all the time. Possibly my favourite Bond score so far, though that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service theme was equally good, but here, the underscore was definitely superior to anything I’ve heard in the series so far. During one chase sequence, I did fear the worst after a two-note theme clearly suggested Jaws would make another appearance, but luckily that didn’t happen. And the song is most definitely my favourite so far as well: its mood was oddly fitting given Moore’s passing. Also, someone clearly had great fun spreading all the sound effects over different channels. One sound, a bird flying by, did sound pathetically artificial.


Mary Poppins

Name: Mary Poppins
Year: 1964
Rating: NR – Not Rated
Running Time (minutes): 139
Description: The movie combines a diverting story, songs, colour and sequences of live action blended with the movements of animated figures. Mary Poppins is a kind of Super-nanny who flies in with her umbrella in response to the request of the Banks children and proceeds to put things right with the aid of her rather extraordinary magical powers before flying off again.
Stars: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
Genres: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Musical

I didn’t expect it, but I’m not feeling supercalifragilisticexpialidocious at all. Just decided to watch this one because I was enchanted by the music of the Hunchback of Notre Dame and because it’s an important slice of culture, but this one was quite disappointing.

First, the children. Why do they need a nanny? They don’t misbehave! They only get annoying after Mary Poppins arrives. Their dad could raise them after work and their mother’s a suffragette. If she can throw eggs at the Prime Minister, surely she can manage two children who only occasionally act up? Also, has there ever been a more absurd portrayal of any suffragette in any film? Mr Banks only has to say her name and she becomes the most docile wife he could ever dream of. That’s not a woman who’s going to smash windows, let alone fight for political equality. Later, it is explained that the nanny is supposed to be more like a governess and teach them things, but at 1:52:00 into the story, Mary still doesn’t quite seem to have understood that and she’s possibly the most disruptive and useless nanny to have walked the streets of London because the children didn’t learn anything. At least Nanny McPhee gives them lessons. And Uncle Albert might love to laugh, but at that point I dearly would have liked to turn it off. Speaking of Albert, there’s something terribly wrong with that scene too: Mary is called in to sort him out, but all she does is pout and reproach, while any sensible, clear-headed woman would have gagged him, or at the very least, investigated the nursing home/asylum possibilities. The ‘It’s a Jolly ‘Oliday’ sequence is way too long, just like the chimney sequence. The ending is quite stupid too. In short, everything gets boring the moment Poppins arrives.

Now, the music and sound. The score is nice, but badly needs more violins and harp and less brass. Why did they think that trumpets and trombones could do everything in the 60s? Also, why does everyone sound like they’ve got a bad cold? Julie Andrews, on the other hand, was a joy to listen to: how I love her prrroper English. Mr Banks’ songs are consistently bad and Mrs Banks has a truly horrible voice. In the Simpsons parody episode, Bart and Lisa sing way better than these children. There are far too many songs in this movie as well. They totally worked in Hunchback, but this amount was just over the top.

It seems as though my Disney adventure isn’t going well at all, spoonsful of sugar or not. Spit-spot.

To Walk Invisible

Name: To Walk Invisible
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 120
Description: In 1845 at Haworth on the Yorkshire moors, sisters Anne, Charlotte and Emily Bronye and their father, a retired parson with failing eyesight, are continually troubled by their drunken, irresponsible brother Branwell, who wastes every opportunity given him to become an artist. Charlotte fears for her own sight whilst Emily seeks refuge in writing about the imaginary land of Gondor, but all three are fearful for their future should their menfolk die. Charlotte is impressed by Emily’s work and encourages her to write a novel, inspired by a story told her by a former employer, which will become “Wuthering Heights”. All three sisters write novels, loosely based on their own experiences using androgynous masculine pen-names, which are ultimately accepted for publication. Their success allows them to identify their true gender and to save the roof over their heads, but Branwell’s self-indulgence leads to his early death and both Emily and Anne succumb to sickness, dying young.
Stars: James Norton, Charlie Murphy, Jonathan Pryce
Genres: Drama

Not bad. It was nice to watch this after just having started reading Wuthering Heights. I liked the Northern accents of the three sisters too.

The score is functional, but nothing more. It was clearly written aimlessly and it’s utterly unmemorable, but it works.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Name: Star Trek 01: The Motion Picture
Year: 1979
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 132
Description: An alien phenomenon of unprecedented size and power is approaching Earth, destroying everything in its path. The only starship in range is the U.S.S. Enterprise – still in drydock after a major overhaul. As Captain Decker readies his ship and his crew to face this menace, the legendary Admiral James T. Kirk arrives with orders to take command of the Enterprise and intercept the intruder. But it has been three years since Kirk last commanded the Enterprise on its historic five year mission… is he up to the task of saving the Earth?
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley
Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

I don’t know why I feel the urge to compare this one to Star Wars: A New Hope, but I’m going to do it anyway because resistance seems to be futile.

I didn’t know anything about Star Trek except Big Bang Theory references. I couldn’t start with the Original Series because only some episodes were available with audio description. The summary of this first film made me think it was going to be just like Star Wars: unprofound, superficial storylines full of unexplained references to events in the past we knew nothing about (or in this case, events that had happened in the series). What I did not expect was that this would be way better than A New Hope. Both are simple stories, but here everything makes perfect sense to someone who’s utterly unfamiliar with the universe. I would have liked to learn more about Spock’s background, but other than that, we had no pathetic ‘You fought in the Clone Wars?! / Learn about the Force!’ moments. I didn’t find it fantastic, but I’m sufficiently intrigued to want to watch more Star Trek films in the future. I especially loved the final twists regarding the alien ship. Way better than good guys fighting bad guys and then ending with a rushed celebration.

But Star Wars did have better music. I knew the Star Trek theme already, but was rather surprised that it was performed in such a fast-paced way. It was clearly inspired on the Star Wars fanfare, but it worked all the same. The rest was uneventful underscore.


Name: Moonraker
Year: 1979
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 126
Description: James Bond is back for another mission and this time, he is blasting off into space. A spaceship travelling through space is mysteriously hi-jacked and Bond must work quickly to find out who was behind it all. He starts with the rocket’s creators, Drax Industries and the man behind the organisation, Hugo Drax. On his journey he ends up meeting Dr. Holly Goodhead and encounters the metal-toothed Jaws once again.
Stars: Roger Moore, Lois Chiles and Michael Lonsdale
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Having James Bond films as a back-up plan when all the other films on TV are rubbish works every time. This one is derivative, yes, but I didn’t mind that at all. The villain, ending and bevvy of beauties (dixit audio-describer) were predictable, but still enjoyable. Really loved the Jaws subplot, he even spoke (three words)! Good humour throughout the film and really liked Chang’s primal cries as he’s fighting Bond.

And the score was not derivative. Very glad John Barry swapped the blaring trombones for more thoughtful and effective music.

Vertical Limit

Name: Vertical Limit
Year: 2000
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: A climber must rescue his sister on top of K2, one of the world’s biggest mountains.
Stars: Scott Glenn, Chris O’Donnell, Bill Paxton, Robin Tunney
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller

Turned it off after 20 minutes. Boring, just not my thing, I dunno. The only good thing about it was that Lonny Evans was the audio describer.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Name: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Year: 1996
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 91
Description: In 15th century Paris, Clopin the puppeteer tells the story of Quasimodo, the misshapen gentle-souled bell ringer of Notre Dame, who was nearly killed as a baby by Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice. But Frollo was forced by the Archdeacon of Notre Dame to raise Quasimodo as his own. Now a young man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by Frollo in the belltower of the cathedral. But during the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo, cheered on by his gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, decides to take part in the festivities, where he meets the lively gypsy girl Esmeralda and the handsome soldier Phoebus. The three of them find themselves ranged against Frollo’s cruelty and his attempts to destroy the home of the gypsies, the Court of Miracles. And Quasimodo must desperately defend both Esmeralda and the very cathedral of Notre Dame.
Stars: Demi Moore, Jason Alexander and Mary Kay Bergman
Genres: Animation, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance

I decided to watch this one because the TV guide only offered mindless, shallow action movies other than this one, which aren’t my cup of tea. In the beginning I had some misgivings about it being too childish for me, but then the music started. WHAT, A, SCORE! I just LOVED the chords that accompanied the words ‘Notre Dame’ in the first cue. Then the bells came, then the organ, then the choir… The captain’s theme is perfect as well, I can’t stop chanting ‘with fire, with fire…’ They really have to do this one live in concert and there’d better be a good commercial release! As it happens, I had already heard a suite in concert a week ago, but that was played by a youth orchestra that didn’t have a string section. Never thought the real thing would sound so enchanting.

The story was not bad either. Thanks to the aforementioned concert, I already knew how it was gonna end, but never mind. Esmeralda did sound artificial at times, but, again, never mind. Can’t get over that score!

The audio description was good, but they didn’t emphasise Quasimodo’s deformed face sufficiently. Or maybe they did and I just didn’t really hear it because the sound mix in general wasn’t ideal.

Jane Eyre

Name: Jane Eyre
Year: 1970
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 110
Description: Jane Eyre is an orphan, sent to Lowood school, and eventually becomes a governess at Thornfield hall to a girl named Adele. While she is there, many strange things happen and eventually she and Edward Rochester, owner of Thornfield and Adele’s guardian, fall in love. Suddenly, when Jane is about to win the happiness she deserves, a dark secret comes to light and it will take all of her courage, love and understanding to triumph.
Stars: George C. Scott, Susannah York and Ian Bannen
Genres: Drama

Confound it! Why did the Lord not tell me this would be a waste of my valuable time? Jane! Jane!!! JANE!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so I watched this one only because I wanted to hear John Williams’ score in context, but more about that later. The film sounded absolutely terrible. Really terrible. Maybe it was my copy, but the first James Bond film sounded ten times better. The movie was apparently so succesful too that I didn’t manage to find Dutch or English subtitles on any website, but luckily the dialogue was understandable. However, there was, something strange, going on, during Jane’s, childhood. Everyone, spoke, in a really, weird, way. And the girl, who played, Helen, was a terrible, actress. Then, Thornfield. The guy who played Rochester had a really weird accent, but did sing very well. Susannah York had an unattractive voice. Talking about accents, this story is supposed to take place in the north of England, so why exactly does only one child at the end of the film have a Northern accent? As the story progressed, the acting deteriorated. Dramatically. The absolute highlight was: ‘You are rejecting God! – No, I am FINDING him!’ near the end. York sounded as if she was mocking the entire thing at that point.

Now, the score. I had only heard the Jane Eyre suite in the past and was really awestruck by it. Williams has this special ability to impress me with his majesty, but he used a few chord progressions I didn’t really agree with. And why was that amazing ‘To Thornfield’ movement not used in the film? I was expecting it to play over a sequence where JANE!!! was thundering forth on her way to, or from, Thornfield. Loved the main theme, though. The music that plays when she arrives at the house of that mad priest is absolutely stunning. I also liked how Jane played her own love theme on the piano and was looking forward to buying the soundtrack from La-La Land Records, but that one, too, appears to be unavailable. Why is everything I want from them out of print or out of stock? Oh, right, I rejected God. Could I still make amends by travelling to India and working in hospitals, or would a simple prayer suffice?

This was also my first Canadian audio description track. Cute accent.

Fatal Attraction

Name: Fatal Attraction
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: Happily married New York lawyer Dan Callagher has an affair with his colleague Alex and the two enjoy a love weekend while Dan’s wife and kid are away. But Alex will not let go of him and she will stop at nothing to have him for herself. Just how far will she go to get what she wants?
Stars: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer
Genres: Drama, Thriller

Great film. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat on the edge of my chair for such a long time. The only scene I didn’t like was the one where Alex is calling Michael Douglas names on that tape, it sort of deflated her character.

The score was very effective too.

And the audio description needs a special mention as well. WGBH produced it, so naturally, it was full of descriptions of camera angles, points of view etc. I just love that approach. Especially in this film, the ‘we see Alex staring at us from behind tactic’ worked so well, even though I have no idea what it all looked like. Britain should do this too.

The Sessions

Name: The Sessions
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 95
Description: At the age of 38, Mark O’Brien, a man who uses an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and his priest, he contacts Cheryl Cohen-Greene, a professional sex surrogate and a typical soccer mum with a house, a mortgage and a husband. Inspired by a true story, The Sessions follows the fascinating relationship which evolves between Cheryl and Mark as she takes him on his journey to manhood.
Stars: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
Genres: Biography, Comedy, Drama

I dunno… My first thought was: God, John Hawkes has a stupid voice, but in the end, I managed to appreciate it. When Cheryl and Mark started to love each other, I feared it would turn into a dramatic finale in which Cheryl tragically ditches her husband and chooses to live with Mark, but that didn’t happen. Didn’t like how Helen Hunt kept mechanically dictating stuff into her recorded, did like Rhea Perlman’s thirty seconds of screen time. The ending was all right, I suppose, but I wasn’t really moved by the whole thing, not least because of Marco Beltrami’s unbelievably dull score.