Running Time (minutes): 123
Description: Criminal profiler and psychologist Dr Helen Hudson becomes entangled in the deadly mind game of a vicious copycat serial killer, Peter Foley. Due to the horrific attack Helen suffered in her past as an agoraphobic she is confined to her apartment. The killer uses this against her in his murderous attempts to become a famous serial killer. Detectives M. J. Monahan and Reuben Goetz they have the challenge of trying to capture the killer before he kills again and uses his chance to commit another atrocious murder.
Stars: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter and Dermot Mulroney
Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Liked the beginning, but the relationships between all the characters and the characters themselves were so shallow and superficial. I could only sympathise a tiny little bit with Sigourney Weaver, who had a bad moment, Holly Hunter was mildly annoying, I hardly cared when someone died…
The score was not my thing, but very appropriate.
Name: Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life
Running Time (minutes): 133
Description: Why are we here, what’s it all about? The Monty Python team is trying to sort out the most important question on Earth: what is the meaning of life? They do so by exploring the various stages of life, starting with birth. A doctor seems more interested in his equipment than in delivering the baby or caring for the mother, a Roman Catholic couple have quite a lot of children because ‘every sperm is sacred’. In the growing and learning part of life, catholic schoolboys attend a rather strange church service and ditto sex education lesson. Onto war, where an officer’s plan to attack is thwarted by his underlings wanting to celebrate his birthday and an officer’s leg is bitten off by presumably an African tiger. At middle age a couple orders ‘philosophy’ at a restaurant, after which the film continues with live organ transplants.
Stars: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle
Genres: Comedy, Musical
Watched this while drinking English breakfast tea, so felt very British, but also couldn’t help finding the whole package too absurd. I enjoyed some parts, but nothing more.
The dialogue was too soft and the music too loud. The songs sounded better than the conversations. The track sounded surprisingly obsolete, but was also surprisingly dynamic. The score was good.
And the narrator interfered with the lyrics at times.
Running Time (minutes): 90
Description: Bean works as a caretaker at Britain’s formidable Royal National Gallery and his bosses want to fire him because he sleeps at work all the time, but can’t because the chairman of the gallery’s board defends him. They send him to the USA, to a small Los Angeles art gallery instead, where he’ll have to officiate at the opening of the greatest US picture ever (called ‘Whistler’s Mother’).
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol and John Mills
Genres: Comedy, Family
My first Bean movie with audio description. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
The score was quite nice too: very good main themes and the music that plays when Bean is stealing the painting is absolutely FANTASTIC. I actually feel like playing the piano again now.
Name: Home Alone
Running Time (minutes): 103
Description: It is Christmas Time and the McAllister family is preparing for a vacation in Paris, France. But the youngest in the family, named Kevin, got into a scuffle with his older brother Buzz and was sent to his room, which is on the third floor of his house. Then, the next morning, while the rest of the family are in a rush to make it to the airport on time, they completely forget about Kevin who now has the house all to himself. Being home alone is fun for Kevin: having a pizza all to himself, jumping on his parents’ bed and making a mess. Then, Kevin discovers about 2 burglars, Harry and Marv, about to rob his house on Christmas eve. Kevin acts quickly by wiring his own house with makeshift booby traps to stop the burglars and to bring them to justice.
Stars: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern
Genres: Adventure, Comedy, Family
Finally managed to watch this one after five years of peer pressure and it was well worth the wait. Fun movie, if a little sentimental sometimes. But after watching it a second time, it’s now clear to me that there’s a hidden narrative in this movie. This is a story about a family who can’t cope with having a highly gifted child, so they try and kill him without anyone noticing. The mother is clearly spearheading the entire operation: making sure everyone oversleeps etc., and when she ‘accidentally’ meets up with John Candy, she happily lets him ramble about his polkas and then he even tells her he once left his own child alone in a graveyard. They’re all psychos. I loved Kevin this time, except his badly formulated firecrackers line. And why did they have to turn off the movie right after the credits started on this TV station and delete the first five seconds of the beginning just to save time? Urgh!
But what a lovely score this movie has! I must say that, after having listened to Zimmer’s Batman trilogy, this score was THE perfect ‘antidote’. Finally an orchestra that was actually DOING something! The ‘Somewhere in my Memory’ orchestral versions made me shiver all over. Absolutely stunning carols too. I’m officially in Christmas mode!
Running Time (minutes): 105
Description: A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart, living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella’s life. Ella becomes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes and a little help from her fairy godmother, of course.
Stars: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
Genres: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Everything dramatically slows down after the ball, which was rather rushed, but at least my mind is empty now and that was all I was expecting. Helena Bonham Carter exceeded my expectations as well: something in her voice doesn’t agree with me for some reason, I had preferred Julie Walters to be the fairy godmother and I just keep thinking of Bellatrix every time I hear her. Lily James is way too bland and her ‘I forgive you’ to the stepmother is laughable and unconvincing. Stellan Skarsgård was as good as always and Holliday Grainger is one nasty piece of work (that’s a compliment).
Felt like an idiot watching this film (age issues, you know) but nothing beats Patrick Doyle’s gorgeous score in glorious 5.1 surround sound: magic it was.
Name: Home Alone: The Holiday Heist
Running Time (minutes): 87
Description: Finn Baxter and his family move from California to Maine to their new house. Finn is terrified and believes the house is haunted. While he sets up traps to catch the ‘ghost’, his parents get stranded across town and Finn is home alone with his sister. Their house is targeted by 3 thieves.
Stars: Christian Martyn, Eddie Steeples, Jodelle Ferland
Genres: Comedy, Crime, Family
I only started to like this after 30 minutes, when the kids were home alone, though I loved Ellie Harvie’s character and performance, but Finn is an annoying, stupid dude and as usual, I didn’t like the ‘lessons’ and ‘messages’ of this film, especially when Ellie Harvie recited one. The lead burglar had a strange British accent, though he was entertaining enough (why do villains always speak British in American films?) The female burglar was a nice and unexpected addition as well. Oh, and the little boy next door sounded like a girl and was weird. Plus, as in the original movie, the traps are really unrealistic, but that only bothered me now. Overall, I had a good laugh. Is it normal for random movie clips to be repeated during the credits?
The kiddo who composed the score wisely didn’t use Williams’ themes. It has some good ‘magical’ Christmas music with celesta and choir, but honestly, if you really have to use bad sample libraries, don’t use strings, they reveal the fact that you’re using a computer straightaway. The burglar music did sound an awful lot like Williams’ material and playing Jingle Bels over a comical scene really works. Even sampled Christmas carols sound good, by the way.
The audio-describer had a rather cute voice and I really liked phrases like ‘scene changes to’.
Name: The Christmas Secret
Running Time (minutes): 74
Description: While her life is falling apart, single mum Christine finds a magical family heirloom that leads to love and good fortune during Christmas.
Stars: Bethany Joy Lenz, John Reardon, Susan Hogan
Genres: Drama, Family, Romance
Terribly sentimental, way too predictable. Also some awkward scene transitions.
But a nice score.
Name: Oz The Great And Powerful
Running Time (minutes): 130
Description: Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz. At first, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking. That all changes, however, when he meets three witches.
Stars: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
James Franco was good as Oscar Digs. Mila Kunis as Theodora was truly terrible. She overacted her part so much it made me cringe. Michelle Williams could have been so much more if the script had allowed her to be interesting. Funny supporting cast too.
The score was interesting and had some excellent (romantic) cues, but I felt that Elfman was focusing too much on the ‘oh my God, what a strange world!’ aspect, as he literally always does.
Name: A Beautiful Mind
Running Time (minutes): 135
Description: Biopic of the famed mathematician John Nash and his lifelong struggles with his mental health. Nash enrolled as a graduate student at Princeton in 1948 and almost immediately stood out as an odd duck. He devoted himself to finding something unique, a mathematical theorem that would be completely original. He kept to himself for the most part and while he went out for drinks with other students, he spends a lot of time with his roommate, Charles, who eventually becomes his best friend. John is soon a professor at MIT where he meets and eventually marries a graduate student, Alicia. Over time, however, John begins to lose his grip on reality, eventually being institutionalised diagnosed with schizophrenia. As the depths of his imaginary world are revealed, Nash withdraws from society and it’s not until the 1970s that he makes his first foray back into the world of academics, gradually returning to research and teaching. In 1994, John Nash is awarded the Nobel prize in Economics.
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly
Genres: Biography, Drama
Touching story, though Russell Crowe’s mumbling became rather annoying after a while.
Stunning score, but I didn’t really like how James Horner completely abandoned his wondrous and adventurous music as Nash’s illness progresses, but it’s an understandable choice. And only Horner can tell me how something is terribly wrong with just three piano notes.
Name: The Birds
Rating: Made For TV
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: Melanie Daniels is the modern rich socialite, part of the jet-set who always gets what she wants. When lawyer Mitch Brenner sees her in a pet shop, he plays something of a practical joke on her, and she decides to return the favour. She drives about an hour north of San Francisco to Bodega Bay, where Mitch spends the weekends with his mother Lydia and younger sister Cathy. Soon after her arrival, however, the birds in the area begin to act strangely. A sea gull attacks Melanie as she is crossing the bay in a small boat and then Lydia finds her neighbour dead, obviously the victim of a bird attack. Soon, birds in the hundreds and thousands are attacking anyone they find out of doors. There is no explanation as to why this might be happening and as the birds continue their vicious attacks, survival becomes the priority.
Stars: Rod Taylor, Tippi Hedren and Suzanne Pleshette
Genres: Horror, Thriller
I usually avoid old movies like this because the obsolete sound usually reduces the enjoyment for me, but I felt I had to try this one because it’s kind of iconic and, well, nothing good was on anyway.
It all lasted too long. The women, minus Cathy, sounded really weird and artificial and Tippi Hedren’s voice sounded so artificial that I had severe trouble trying to guess her age. Also don’t understand why Melanie had to come after Mitch, her character is just odd and, let’s see… oh yes, why exactly did the birds attack? Wouldn’t an explanation have been nice after two hours?
There was no score in this movie and that worked quite well. Despite everything coming from one speaker, the tension was always palpable, even though lots of birds sounded like angry cats to me.