Dr. Dolittle

Name: Dr. Dolittle
Year: 1998
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 85
Description: Dr John Dolittle has the world in his hands: A beautiful wife at his side, two adorable daughters and a career that could not go better. One night, he nearly runs over a dog with his car. The dog yells “bonehead” and disappears. From then on, his childhood ability is back: To communicate with animals. Unfortunately, the word of Dolittle’s ability is spreading quickly. Soon, many animals from rat to horse flock to his place to get medical advice. But his colleagues suspect he’s going mad and as the clinic Dolittle used to work for is about to be taken over for a huge amount of money, many decisions have to be made. Believe him? Put him into a mental institution? Sell the clinic? But his family is close to breaking apart too. Until a circus tiger falls seriously ill.
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Peter Boyle and Ossie Davis
Genres: Comedy, Family

I really liked the voice of Jenna Elfman and the pet dog prologue was moving, but Kristen Wilson was rather bland and the whole story was told in such a way that I didn’t feel invested in most of it.

The score was uninteresting.

The audio description was done by the same woman who did E.T. She’s still enjoying her job, but is also still not doing it properly: hardly said anything, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy it that much.

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Stepmom

Name: Stepmom
Year: 1998
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 124
Description: Anna and Ben, the two children of Jackie and Luke, have to cope with the fact that their parents divorced and that there is a new woman in their father’s life: Isabel, a successful photographer. She does her best to treat the kids in a way that makes them still feel at home when being with their dad, but also loves her work and does not plan to give it up. But Jackie, a full-time mother, regards Isabel’s efforts as offensively insufficient. She can’t understand that work can be important to her as well as the kids. The conflict between them is deepened by the sudden diagnose of cancer, which might may be deadly for Jackie. They all have to learn a little in order to grow together.
Stars: Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon and Ed Harris
Genres: Comedy, Drama

Not bad, although the relationship between Jackie and Isabel really wasn’t executed that well. First she hates her, then she dislikes her, then she likes her, then she suddenly doesn’t like her anymore and then she does like her… Oh well. Touching story and Julia Roberts was great, but the kids are a little too okay with their mum dying.

The score was all right, although the main theme on oboe gets lots of bad and weird variations. One thing I don’t like about John Williams is that he’s always trying to accompany his themes with the strangest chords. The oboe theme could have been harmonious and emotional, yet he only gives it ‘natural’ harmony once.

The Truman Show

Name: The Truman Show
Year: 1998
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 103
Description: In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one… The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day… he finds out everything. Will he react?
Stars: Jim Carrey, Ed Harris and Laura Linney

I was afraid I wouldn’t like this one, because, yet again, the plot summary revealed way too much. The first half wasn’t really exciting, but then it became much better. My only remark now is that I simply don’t buy the fact that Truman never ever realised the whole thing was a set-up before. Very original concept that raises a lot of interesting questions.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard such a bad score. Granted, there were a few moving dramatic cues, but the bulk of the work sounded like it was composed by an eight-year-old trying to become a composer. The action material is just stupid and the final cues are sheer disaster, not to mention the music when his dad ‘dies’. All the source music heard in the film, however, was nice enough.

You’ve Got Mail

Name: You’ve Got Mail
Year: 1998
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: This sweet romantic comedy reunites ‘Sleepless In Seattle’ stars Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. He’s the owner of a bookstore chain; she’s the woman he falls for online. Both are unaware that she runs the little shop his company is trying to shut down.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan and Greg Kinnear
Genres: Comedy, Romance

It took me 20 minutes before I started liking it, but once that had happened, it all went really fast. So many things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. I particularly liked the scene in which Meg Ryan pretends to have a cold and Tom Hanks was just great.

My only negative remark is this: the movie needs more (and a better) score and less songs.

Shakespeare In Love

Name: Shakespeare In Love
Year: 1998
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 123
Description: Will Shakespeare is a known but struggling poet, playwright and actor who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslow and Richard Burbidge, but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him, but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola de Lesseps. She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage, but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare’s works. Dressing as a man and going by the name of Thomas Kent, she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon see through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex.
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Shall I compare it to a summer’s day? A summer’s day would have been better.

My biggest problem with this film is the endless reciting of Shakespeare lines. I can certainly appreciate a Bard play, but only when I read it or listen to it. I need time to take in the words, time to appreciate the sentences and understand the metaphors. I don’t want to hear actors speeding through them so fast that I barely have time to work out what they’re actually saying to each other and it was also blatantly obvious that all these extracts only had one purpose: they were there to make the main characters love each other more and more and more. I also quickly became tired of the star-crossed lovers, who seemed to think that reading plays was as satisfying as making love (not my words). Not that the finale of Romeo and Juliet didn’t move me, but it would have been far more effective had they not wasted half of the running time spouting romantic nonsense. So now that I’ve got all that out of the way, Paltrow was a really nice surprise. The same can be said about Judi Dench: I really, really liked her in this film, but my goodness, she must have had the most historically inaccurate part in the entire movie.

Even though I’ve reached a point where I only want film music to be surprising and where am tired of hearing the same old things over and over, the limitless sadness and romance in this score really touched me. Especially the dance music was very effective. The final cue could have been better, though.

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.