The Big Short

Name: The Big Short
Year: 2015
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 130
Description: Three separate but parallel stories of the U.S mortgage housing crisis of 2005 are told. Michael Burry, an eccentric ex-physician turned one-eyed Scion Capital hedge fund manager, has traded traditional office attire for shorts, bare feet and a Supercuts haircut. He believes that the US housing market is built on a bubble that will burst within the next few years. Autonomy within the company allows Burry to do largely as he pleases, so Burry proceeds to bet against the housing market with the banks, who are more than happy to accept his proposal for something that has never happened in American history. The banks believe that Burry is a crackpot and therefore are confident in that they will win the deal. Jared Vennett with Deutschebank gets wind of what Burry is doing and, as an investor believes he too can cash in on Burry’s beliefs.
Stars: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Genres: Biography, Comedy, Drama

Pretty good, although they overdid the financial terminology bit. If they had focused on the human side a little more, the film would have been much more relaxing and enjoyable.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Name: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Year: 1982
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: Admiral James T. Kirk is still in charge of a space fleet, but from behind a desk. Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock convince him to take on a mission which sounds simple, but with the appearance of the mysterious Khan, things get a little tricky.
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Hmm… I don’t really understand why the first film got such negative reviews and found it much better than this one. I’m still feeling uncomfortable in this futuristic world, for want of a better word. Why is it so difficult to explain basic things such as: does everyone travel constantly in the future, why does Kirk explore space, what is warp speed, Starfleet, Klingon etc.? Why do I have to glue all the puzzle pieces together myself? Not that I didn’t understand the story, that was simple enough (and for a super-intelligent being, Khan is pretty uncomplicated if you ask me, and his backstory is superficial at best). I still find Spock the best character because he’s the only one who seems to have any emotional depth, ironically.

And why is everyone always praising James Horner’s score? Just like the original Star Wars trilogy, this music doesn’t affect me in the slightest. Yes, there are some nice moments here and there, but honestly, Spock’s death scene couldn’t have been scored in a more counter-intuitive way.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

Name: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2
Year: 2015
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 137
Description: After young Katniss Everdeen agrees to be the symbol of rebellion, the Mockingjay, she tries to return Peeta to his normal state, tries to get to the Capitol, and tries to deal with the battles coming her way… but all for her main goal; assassinating President Snow and returning peace to the Districts of Panem. As her squad starts to get smaller and smaller, will she make it to the Capitol? Will she get revenge on Snow? Or will her target change? Will she be with her “Star-Crossed Lover”, Peeta? Or her long time friend, Gale? Deaths, bombs, bows and arrows, a love triangle, hope. What will happen?
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi

The first film in this saga made a huge impression on me because it was so raw, brutal and moving. The second film was nearly as good as the first one. But then, they had to make the third film for no other reason than financial greed. And finally, there’s this one. I don’t really know how to feel about it. I only really started to enjoy this one at the 40-minute mark. It’s not a bad film, but it’s certainly not good either. It’s all doom and gloom. I realise this is not a fairy-tale, but there’s just something about these first two films that’s absent in the last two, even though I can’t say exactly what that is. It’s just more of the same. And then, the finale started to unfold and I just found it absurd. But now that it’s all over and now that the whole conclusion is slowly sinking in, I must admit the ending probably isn’t that bad. It’s just not the grand finale I was hoping for. There’s no real closure, no relief after this harrowing story, though, and that bothers me.

Like in the previous film, James Newton Howard’s score contained lots of nice bits, but overall it’s not really a score I like. Obviously, Howard needed to do what he did for the story’s purposes, but I know he can write much more interesting, dark music than what he did for this franchise. But as the film drew to a close, the score really started to become noticeable and whatever problems this score has, I’m 100% sure Howard is not to blame for them.

United 93

Name: United 93
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 111
Description: On September, 11th 2001, two American Airlines and two United Airlines domestic U.S. flights are hijacked by terrorists. After the collision of two planes against the World Trade Center and one against the Pentagon, the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 decide to struggle against the four terrorist to take back the control of the airplane.
Stars: David Alan Basche, Olivia Thirlby and Liza Colón-Zayas
Genres: Crime, Drama, History

Films like this just make me nervous, so I turned it off after 30 minutes. And those 30 minutes were rather long-winded. Also, a relative is about to take a plane tomorrow, so it might not have been perfect timing. Why do stories like this need to be filmed, anyway? Was the event itself not tragic enough?

I have no idea why John Powell got attached to this project either. The score I heard was extremely sparse and ambient. He can do better.

Far And Away

Name: Far And Away
Year: 1992
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 140
Description: A young man (Cruise) leaves Ireland with his landlord’s daughter (Kidman) after some trouble with her father, and they dream of owning land at the big giveaway in Oklahoma ca. 1893.
Stars: Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Thomas Gibson
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance

When I first watched this film, I loved it. When I watched it again last year, I really liked it. Now I like it. I’m not sure whether that’s because it’s an okayish film or because I’m just a person who either loves or hates something. But anyway… The story is certainly not bad and I especially liked Mr Christie this time. Nicole Kidman delivers a few lines in a really heartbreaking way, especially at the end, but she does tend to overact during her angry passages and her ‘modern’ behaviour rather annoyed me now. Also, it’s really weird that at one point she has a cold, but when they then enter a house and have a romantic private moment a few seconds later, she suddenly doesn’t sound ill anymore. And I’m not really a Tom Cruise fan either (and Joseph urgently needs to listen to more music because the only song he seems to know is ‘her beautiful eyes’… Oh well. The Irish accents were still chocolate to the ears.

John Williams’ score is obviously top-notch. It’s probably one of the reasons I liked this movie so much in the first place. The main themes are as memorable as any JW material and the orchestra accompanies the action/events brilliantly. At one point, for instance, Williams brings the ensemble to a halt at the very moment Shannon finally sort of confesses she’d like to live with Joseph and the effect is breathtaking. And then there’s that moment Joseph walks away increasingly quickly and Williams literally begins to chase him off with music that plays ever faster. And then I’m not even talking about how he distorts themes to depit both joy and disaster. I’m still not really sure what all the themes stand for, but I’ve been way too busy worshipping this composer like a God to care and might soon have to start buying his vinyls to decorate the walls… And before I forget, the end credits need mentioning: instead of Williams’ wonderful suite, we first get an Enya song that is totally unrelated to all the music that came before it and contains a really awkward transition too. Why? Why truncate Williams’ wonderful musical summary to make room for such trash? Finally, Williams unwittingly made a pretty grave scene really funny: when Mr Christie’s house is being destroyed, he inserts a few French horn notes that are exactly the same as Howard Shore’s Gondor theme for Lord of the Rings. Once you realise that, the scene becomes hilarious.

This was the first time I watched the film in surround sound. I’d bought the DVD because the audio-described version interfered too much with the wonderful score… and wasted two euros in the process, but at least I won’t have to work in a chicken factory to earn them back. The track is extremely undynamic. You NEVER hear the rear channels at all throughout the entire movie and the sound mix is rather off at times too: beautiful music is drowned out by unnecessary loud cheering, but at least the front speakers are used to their full extent.

This Is Where I Leave You

Name: This Is Where I Leave You
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 103
Description: When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide — driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
Stars: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda
Genres: Comedy, Drama

So this is the second film I’ve watched in two days, right, and I kinda thought, you know, it’d be sort of okay, ’cause, well, I like watching movies during the evenings and all that, but, get this, it’s really not good at all! Oh my God, the stupid small talk just didn’t end and I totally turned it off after, like, 30 minutes and even Michael Giacchino’s nice score couldn’t even make this thing any better! Can you believe it? Like, what the hell?