Becoming Jane

Name: Becoming Jane
Year: 2007
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 120
Description: The year is 1795 and young Jane Austen is a feisty 20-year-old and emerging writer who already sees a world beyond class and commerce, beyond pride and prejudice, and dreams of doing what was then nearly unthinkable – marrying for love. Naturally, her parents are searching for a wealthy, well-appointed husband to assure their daughter’s future social standing. They are eyeing Mr Wisley, nephew to the very formidable, not to mention very rich, local aristocrat Lady Gresham, as a prospective match. But when Jane meets the roguish and decidedly non-aristocratic Tom Lefroy, sparks soon fly along with the sharp repartee. His intellect and arrogance raise her ire – then knock her head over heels. Now, the couple, whose flirtation flies in the face of the sense and sensibility of the age, is faced with a terrible dilemma. If they attempt to marry, they will risk everything that matters – family, friends and fortune.
Stars: Anne Hathaway, James McAvoy and Julie Walters
Genres: Biography, Drama, Romance

I especially liked the first half, but then gradually became tired of the endless, pained and strained romantic conversations filled with elevated language, not to mention the endless ‘I’ll marry him, I won’t marry him’ plotline. Anne Hathaway’s British accent was nearly perfect, but for me, the absolute highlight was Julie Walters’ angry outburst, although Maggie Smith was as good as ever too. Ultimately, I would have enjoyed it more had it been a bit shorter. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom: at least the subtitles taught me how some of Austen’s annoying and repetitive vocabulary can be translated to contemporary Dutch (pleasing, agreeable, etc.) That will help me perfect my own Pride and Prejudice translation.

There was something curious going on with the score. The composer was obviously inspired by scenes that required energetic and romantic music, but at times, he seemed a bit lost. In one of the first scenes, for example, he gets the general tone and mood of the music right, but it lacks enthusiasm. That problem persists during crucial moments of the story, like Jane kissing her lover. Most of the sad parts were handled well, but even these passages occasionally didn’t work for me. What I did like, however, was how the music was used in one particular ballroom scene: as Jane aimlessly wandered through the dancing crowd, the score could only be heard on one channel, but the moment she spotted her lover, the dance music suddenly became louder and was then spread over all the channels.

The audio description had one rather big problem: characters and locations weren’t properly described. Especially with a Jane Austen story, you really need to identify characters as soon as possible. Luckily, 90% of all the information was conveyed through the story, but still, it doesn’t make sense to mess up introductions and places like that, you have to explain who is with whom and where.

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Presumed Innocent

Name: Presumed Innocent
Year: 1990
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: After his former girlfriend is killed and he becomes the prime suspect, D.A. Rusty Sabich goes on a search to find the real killer and finds out he/she may be closer to him than he thinks.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Raul Julia and Greta Scacchi
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Not sure what I could write about this film. The main characters and actors are brilliant. Harrison Ford is of course amazing. I also don’t know who I liked better, Bonnie Bedelia (wife) or Greta Scacchi (lover). In the end, both were equally charismatic. The funny thing is that, very early on, I suddenly suspected how it was going to end. But then I was also sure I had it completely wrong and yet it turned out I had been right all along.

Even though John Williams wrote the score, I initially had some misgivings. The first cue sounded so… uncomplicated: how could such a simplistic theme be appropriate for this movie? But then, the story unfolded and of course Williams had completely nailed it again. The only negative remarks I can still give is that there’s a real lack of resemblance between the extremely adequate main theme and the optimistic music towards the ending. Also, Williams handled a sex scene in a way I wasn’t expecting and it didn’t really work for me.

A Perfect Murder

Name: A Perfect Murder
Year: 1998
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 107
Description: Millionaire industrialist Steven Taylor is a man who has everything, but what he craves most: the love and fidelity of his wife. A hugely successful player in the New York financial world, he considers her to be his most treasured acquisition. But she needs more than simply the role of dazzling accessory. Brilliant in her own right, she works at the U.N. and is involved with a struggling artist who fulfills her emotional needs. When her husband discovers her indiscretion, he sets out to commit the perfect murder and inherit her considerable trust fund in the bargain.
Stars: Michael Douglas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Viggo Mortensen
Genres: Crime, Thriller

What a great film this was. Michael Douglas really sounded young in this one, or maybe I just misremembered his voice, or it might just have been the PAL speed-up. Not sure whether I’m happy with how things ended, but I’ll learn to live with that.

The score will probably not work very well on album, but boy, did it work in the movie! I literally sat on the edge of my chair during every cue (and there were a lot of them).

The audio description was good, except for one thing: because the describer was eager to stress a switch of identity, I could already predict another plot point afterwards, but in her defence, there was nothing else she could have done during the description of that plot point. (If this sounds stupid, my apologies, but I’m not giving anything away, it’s too good to be spoiled.) Just don’t overdo the explanatory stuff, I suppose.

Muriel’s Wedding

Name: Muriel’s Wedding
Year: 1994
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 106
Description: Muriel finds life in Porpoise Spit, Australia, dull and spends her days alone in her room listening to Abba music and dreaming of her wedding day. Slight problem, Muriel has never had a date. Then she steals some money to go on a tropical vacation, meets a wacky friend, changes her name to Mariel, and turns her world upside down.
Stars: Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths and Bill Hunter
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

At first, I thought I wasn’t going to like it. Then, I began to enjoy the incredibly cute and juicy Australian accents, but the stupidity of Muriel’s marriage obsession quickly started to annoy me and the fact that she even loved a fake marriage is totally absurd. The film also had some severe pacing problems and you just know that the audio description is bad when you suddenly realise that the person you thought had cancer doesn’t have cancer at all (the fact that the two protagonists’ voices were sometimes interchangeable didn’t help either). Also, what kind of a mother is totally okay with the fact that her daughter steals all the family money? The only thing I really found entertaining about the whole story was the father’s romance with Deidre and Rhonda was really cool too, about the only normal person in this entire movie. Oh look, now Muriel’s mother died. How tragic. What’s going to be next, will Rhonda give the remaining characters a smack and ask the director why this film was released to the public? Oh no, hang on, the fake lovers have to fall in love first. No, wait, they’re breaking up and Muriel who was Mariel just became Muriel again. Oh, for the love of God, this has to be the worst film I’ve ever seen. Even The Last Airbender was better!

The score mostly consisted of aimless chords, but there was one exception: an Abba song arranged for synth choir, but some chords could definitely have been better. All the songs made me feel pretty nostalgic, though.