Name: The Heartbreak Kid
Running Time (minutes): 116
Description: A newlywed man who believes he’s just gotten hitched to the perfect woman encounters another lady on his honeymoon.
Stars: Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman
Genre: Comedy, Romance
It was pleasant enough in the beginning, if a little fast-paced, but then it became shallow and extremely unrealistic: you don’t marry a girl you’ve been seeing for eight weeks only to discover right after the ceremony that she is not the one, irritating, unemployed, too stupid to understand that jobs pay, that inhabitate and fishes are not words, that she never mentioned the fact her previous boyfriend mugged her during their first meeting, that she used to be on drugs, that she snores like hell, always sings when the radio is on, is allergic to everything, wants to have sex around the clock, is bipolar, a know-it-all… (Yes, I made this list while watching the film and that was the most enjoyable part of the whole movie experience.) The subsequent banter with the second wife-to-be was cringe-worthy as well and if your wife was the biggest mistake of your life, lying to your second one about the fact that you’re still stuck with the first one isn’t really the best plan either. Some nice jokes were scattered throughout all this rubbish, though, mainly courtesy of… the Mexicans. Overall, it was all so bad that it really became insufferable, so I turned it off.
The music was better, but the score was as shallow as the story.
The audio description wasn’t that good either. British Sky Broadcasting didn’t really make too much of an effort for this one: very concise descriptions, some important things like a mugging were not described at all and, worst of all, the descriptions themselves tended to be rather repetitive. ‘Eddie and Lila kiss on a beach. Eddie and Lila kiss on the Golden Gate Bridge.’ The narrator also sounded quite bored, but who could blame her when she’s only got boring material to work with?
Name: Beauty And The Beast
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Genres: Family, Fantasy, Musical
I really liked this one. The only slightly confusing plot point for me was the fact that the castle’s objects still had living relatives at the end. The prologue made it sound as if the entire prince/enchantress thing had happened two centuries ago. Loved Emma Thompson wiv ‘er beau’iful Cockney accent. McKellen was great too, though I don’t really find the Gaston character arc very convincing. He turns from a lovable idiot to a villain in, like, two seconds. Lumière queeckly becèm boring az well, but I was really surprised that the ending was so tense. I’ve never seen the original version, but it can’t be better than this one.
On to more important things. THE MUSIC. No words. I just love Alan Menken’s limitlessly romantic scores. The songs were mostly a joy to discover, too, but my absolute favourite remains the one sang by the Beast as Belle leaves the castle. Absolutely terrific. I’ve read a lot of complaints from people who apparently thought Emma Watson was the only actress that was auto-tuned. She definitely isn’t. I’m not a fan of auto-tuning as every song written these days sounds like computerised crying to me, but here, it worked 90% of the time (some horrible edits, though).
And the audio-describer had a hidden agenda. I’ve been told at least five times that Belle was manly, brave and fearless. What is it with political correctness these days? Are they trying to tell youngsters that women are no longer the angels in the home holding it all together to prevent them getting dangerous ideas that no one has anymore? I hope Disney’s next film will show a woman casting a vote during an election, you know, just to make sure we all know women can vote. But at least the narrator didn’t interfere with the end credits (though, come to think of it, these end credits songs are no match for any song or music from the movie, so listening to a list of unimportant names might have been a better alternative).
Running Time (minutes): 86
Description: At New York’s Central Park Zoo, a lion, a zebra, a giraffe, and a hippo are best friends and stars of the show. But when one of the animals goes missing from their cage, the other three break free to look for him, only to find themselves reunited on a ship en route to Africa. When their vessel is hijacked, however, the friends, who have all been raised in captivity, learn first-hand what life can be like in the wild.
Stars: Chris Rock, Ben Stiller and David Schwimmer
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to watch this one as my speakers are giving up the ghost, but earphones came to the rescue. Obviously, this is a simple film, but I enjoyed it nevertheless except for the stupid Alex ‘subplot’ at the end.
Hans Zimmer’s cheerful score was a really pleasant surprise after all his superhero trash.
The narrator was clearly having a great time recording all the descriptions, but it would have been nice had he said a little more from time to time.
Name: While You Were Sleeping
Running Time (minutes): 88
Description: Lucy’s life consists of constant loneliness, that is until she saves Peter’s life. Now she is a part of his family, and with a strong heart and fate on her side, others begin to realise what a terrific person she is, especially Jack, Peter’s brother. An extraordinarily true-to-life sequence of events begins to take place as Lucy and Jack become closer and learn more about each other and themselves than one would ever expect from such coincidental, yet believable, events.
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
I rather liked it, though I usually don’t really care for films based on (romantic) misunderstandings. That was why, by the second half, I was doing other things while watching this. The whole plot just took a little too long to unfold. But I do have to remember Celeste. A really nice name for a woman.
This was my first Randy Edelman score and I really liked it. Good theme and very good underscore. Actually, underscore isn’t really applicable here because Edelman was doing interesting things all the time. And very nice music too.
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly
Only one question keeps going through my mind: What was the point of this film? First of all, the premise is just stupid: a man wants to kill a good priest to upset people because he’s been traumatised by bad priests. Other than that, we get lots and lots of meetings between the good priest and random people who mostly have one thing in common: they hate the Church and bother him with that whenever they can. I did feel concerned for the good priest (Brendan Gleeson is terrific), but then he claims he didn’t cry for all the people abused by priests in the past. Doesn’t make any sense to me. Also – spoiler alert! – we’re meant to believe Gleeson did indeed abuse the guy who threatened him. The problem is that just doesn’t work because Gleeson is a way too good-natured priest who can’t possibly have sexually assaulted anyone unless he’s suffering from a mental illness that is never revealed here. The subplot with the daughter was more interesting, though, but nothing beat Orla O’Rourke’s juicy Irish accent and Aidan Gillen was a pleasant surprise.
I’ve always had a bit of a weak spot for Irish folk music. If only the score had been as good as all the background tunes. Not a trace of any Irish instruments, no themes… nothing.
Name: Ballet Shoes
Running Time (minutes): 90
Description: Set in Thirties London, Ballet Shoes tells a tale of orphans Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil, who are adopted by an eccentric explorer, Gum, and raised as sisters by his selfless niece. The story revolves around each girl’s struggle to fulfil her dreams: Pauline longs to be an actress, Petrova yearns to be an aviator and Posy seems born to be a ballerina. But when Gum disappears, the money runs out – and the girls have a fight on their hands. They struggle to balance personal ambition with the need to survive physically, emotionally and financially.
Stars: Emma Watson, Yasmin Paige and Lucy Boynton
Genres: Drama, Family
Not bad, I suppose, though there’s definitely a feel-good element in it that I don’t really like. This was also the first time that I watched Emma Watson in something unrelated to Harry Potter and she was by far the best main actress and the most interesting character. I find Watson especially powerful whenever she needs to deliver emotional lines and it’s quite clear to me that Harry Potter didn’t let her blossom sufficiently.
I really didn’t like all the music and the score was utterly unmemorable and extremely short.
Running Time (minutes): 143
Description: 4 interlocking stories all connected by a single gun all converge at the end and reveal a complex and tragic story of the lives of humanity around the world and how we truly aren’t all that different. In Morocco, a troubled married couple are on vacation trying to work out their differences. Meanwhile, a Moroccan herder buys a rifle for his sons so they can keep the jackals away from his herd. A girl in Japan dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, the emotional distance of her father, her own self-consciousness and a disability among many other issues, deals with modern life in the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Then, on the opposite side of the world, the married couple’s Mexican nanny takes the couple’s 2 children with her to her son’s wedding in Mexico, only to come into trouble on the return trip.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael García Bernal
Very, very moving indeed.
The score only became interesting after two hours, other than that, loads of missed opportunities.
The people involved in the audio description must have been shattered too. I think it would be hard to find a film that needed/contained more explanations than this one.
Name: Stuart Little
Running Time (minutes): 84
Description: The adventures of a heroic and debonair stalwart mouse named Stuart Little with human qualities, who faces some comic misadventures while searching for his lost bird friend and living with a human family as their child.
Stars: Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis and Hugh Laurie
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy
Yeah, okay, so… I just wanted to watch this one because I’d read so many positive things about Alan Silvestri’s music for this movie, but more about that later.
The voice acting is TERRIBLE. Geena Davis is a total disaster, Hugh Laurie is passable and Michael J Fox isn’t really having too much fun either. He was definitely more inspired when he got to drive the DeLorean. The story is also, like, ten times too absurd for me to accept and now I kind of ‘feel an empty space’. Oh, God, I really need to learn to listen to film scores without seeing the film first urgently.
But the music is definitely the best aspect of this film. Pity such orchestral, fun scores usually come with children’s films and that I had to listen to this film in mono.
Note regarding the audio description: It was quite endearing to hear an American narrator getting so wrapped up in her story.
Name: The Family Stone
Running Time (minutes): 103
Description: The Stone family unites in common cause when their favourite son brings his uptight girlfriend home for the Christmas holiday, with plans of proposing. Overwhelmed by the hostile reception, she begs her sister to join her for emotional support, triggering further complications.
Stars: Dermot Mulroney, Sarah Jessica Parker and Claire Danes
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
I think there’s something wrong with the title of this film. It’s about the Stone family, not about a secret heirloom. Also don’t really understand why they broadcast a Christmas film in July.
I really liked Diane Keaton and Craig T Nelson, who said very little, but when he did speak, the emotion was always palpable. The ending was rather good (except for the fact that Meredith wasn’t stabbed to death). I only wish the rest had been just as good.
Giacchino’s score was surprisingly pleasant, but someone needs to tell the guy about reverb, fast.
The audio description was ineffective at times. I had to consult Wikipedia twice before I understood who was who.
Name: Independence Day
Running Time (minutes): 145
Description: On July 2nd, communications systems worldwide are sent into chaos by a strange atmospheric interference. It is soon learned by the military that a number of enormous objects are on a collision course with Earth. At first thought to be meteors, they are later revealed to be gigantic spacecraft, piloted by a mysterious alien species. After attempts to communicate with the aliens go nowhere, David Levinson, an ex-scientist turned cable technician, discovers that the aliens are going to attack major points around the globe in less than a day. On July 3rd, the aliens all but obliterate New York, Los Angeles, and Washington. The survivors set out in convoys towards Area 51, a strange government testing ground where it is rumoured the military has a captured alien spacecraft of their own. The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom. July 4th is their Independence Day…
Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
I didn’t want to watch this film at first because of its simplistic plot and all, but my brother kept telling me I should give it a try and today seemed the perfect opportunity.
It’s actually not bad at all given the uncomplicated story. I liked how they managed to make me care about nearly all the characters. At the beginning, it was rather difficult to keep track of who was who and I definitely missed the fact that the First Lady was not on the airplane with the President, but other than that, I rather enjoyed it.
The music was even better. It’s so refreshing to hear a purely orchestral score that will remind me of this film forever, that will probably work perfectly well as a stand-alone listening experience and that does more than aimlessly accompanying the film. Very interesting underscore and main themes, and I especially liked the music during the President’s speech. Very nice sound mix too.
This was also the first time the American audio-describer was so enthusiastic.
Happy independence day, everyone!