Moulin Rouge

Name: Moulin Rouge
Year: 2001
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: The year is 1899, and Christian, a young English writer, has come to Paris to follow the Bohemian revolution taking hold of the city’s drug and prostitute infested underworld. And nowhere is the thrill of the underworld more alive than at the Moulin Rouge, a night club where the rich and poor men alike come to be entertained by the dancers, but things take a wicked turn for Christian as he starts a deadly love affair with the star courtesan of the club, Satine. But her affections are also coveted by the club’s patron: the Duke. A dangerous love triangle ensues as Satine and Christian attempt to fight all odds to stay together but a force that not even love can conquer is taking its toll on Satine…
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor and John Leguizamo
Genres: Drama, Musical, Romance

Where to start? Oh, maybe by saying I started to write this 17 minutes before this thing was over?

After the first five minutes, I already knew the ‘heroine’ would die and the ‘hero’ wouldn’t. How exciting. By that time, I also had a pretty strong idea about who the director of this film was. Why can’t that guy just use period music? Does he realise the music of 19th-century Paris isn’t… well… the loud and thumping mess on display here? That wall of sound, that impenetrable chaos, just makes me so annoyed.

And then the orchestral music started. That was the only good aspect of this entire crapfest. I didn’t know Craig Armstrong could write such romantic and captivating melodies. I always thought he starts out well but then just leeves it at that. Some of the songs really moved me. Nicole Kidman has a good voice and McGregor is certainly not a bad singer either. Come What May and One Day I’ll Fly Away were definitely highlights.

And then, the acting. Oh, my, God. This was just embarassing from beginning to end. They didn’t even try to take themselves seriously for five bloody seconds! The romantic relationship between the two lovers was forced as well and, quite frankly, didn’t convince me in the slightest. You need more than songs to be persuasive, how about, I dunno, some character/story development, to name just a few things? Oh, and did I already mention that it’s totally ridiculous to include lyrics from our time in songs that people were supposed to sing in the late 1800s?

Aww, look, Kidman is gasping for air now, drying, but still manages to blurt out a few poetic farewell lines. How very touching indeed. Okay, she’s dead now.

But anyway… It’s all about love, love is everything, love is the only thing that matters. So now, I’d LOVE to know how this load of bullshit got any awards and why this accident of a movie got good reviews while it only seems to want to mock itself. And I’d also LOVE to know if if it’s just my fault and if I totally misunderstood this genre. Help me, LOVEly people…

LOVE, Vincent

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Name: The Lord Of The Rings 1: The Fellowship Of The Ring
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 178
Description: An ancient Ring thought lost for centuries has been found, and through a strange twist in fate has been given to a small Hobbit named Frodo. When Gandalf discovers the Ring is in fact the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, Frodo must make an epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it! However he does not go alone. He is joined by Gandalf, Legolas the elf, Gimli the Dwarf, Aragorn, Boromir and his three Hobbit friends Merry, Pippin and Samwise. Through mountains, snow, darkness, forests, rivers and plains, facing evil and danger at every corner the Fellowship of the Ring must go. Their quest to destroy the One Ring is the only hope for the end of the Dark Lord’s reign!
Stars: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama

Every time I watch these films, Frodo gets more annoying. “I wish this, I wish that…” And why is he allowed to take vital decisions regarding the paths they take? I also wish the filmmakers had relinquished one or two of Tolkien’s archaic phrases for they sound stilted and shall always make me cringe, whether the birds of yore return or to Erebor not. Oh wait, that’s something else. Also, why is Frodo the only person who can destroy this ring? I understand why men can’t do it, but what’s so incredibly unique about this whining, pathetic little Hobbit? Part of me also wishes that they had let Sean Bean play Aragorn, but then again, he’s such a brilliant Boromir (Vigo’s voice really doesn’t work). Apart from Frodo, everything is mostly great, though, except for the fact that the film doesn’t explain a number of things, such as why the Evenstar is such a big deal, why there is an Elvish password on a Dwarf door etc.

The score is of course top-notch, but the mixing of the choir is a big problem, especially in the first half of the film. The choir in the symphony recording (and Belgium’s very own Fine Fleur’s spectacular performance, for that matter) sounded so much closer, so much clearer and so much more vibrant. You barely hear them in this film at times and at one point it’s blatantly obvious that they were recorded separately. Nevertheless, the Nazg├╗l music kicks ass and tthere’s hardly a minute of uninspiring music in the whole film, except perhaps for the end credits: if you write a work of such magnitude, is it really necessary to revert to a cut-and-paste approach?

The audio described versions of these films are no less masterful either: the narrator (James O’Hara, if my memory is not deceiving me), really loses himself in the story and you can clearly hear he was having the time of his life.

Long have I desired to watch this motion picture in surround sound and this afternoon, the opportunity arose as my companions have temporarily left the residence in which we usually dwell. Surprisingly, it took the film nearly an entire hour before the rear channels were used to their full extent. Also, why on earth did they have to remove that PAL speed-up? For one thing, I like the semi-tone difference, and for another, the soundtrack is now full of ‘hiccups’. One does not simply defile Howard Shore’s score like that. ‘Tis a foul and evil thing to do.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Name: Harry Potter 1-Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone
Year: 2001
Rating: G
Running Time (minutes): 152
Description: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first film in the Harry Potter series based on the novels by J.K. Rowling. It is the tale of Harry Potter, an ordinary 11-year-old boy serving as a sort of slave for his aunt and uncle who learns that he is actually a wizard and has been invited to attend the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is snatched away from his mundane existence by Hagrid, the groundskeeper for Hogwarts, and quickly thrown into a world completely foreign to both him and the viewer. Famous for an incident that happened at his birth, Harry makes friends easily at his new school. He soon finds, however, that the wizarding world is far more dangerous for him than he would have imagined, and he quickly learns that not all wizards are ones to be trusted.
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Richard Harris
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

It’s been a year since I watched this one and re-discovering it was great.

I’ve heard a lot about how it’s a kid’s movie etc., but what surprised me most about it is the sheer magic and enthusiasm it contains. You genuinely feel excited about this new world, it really is an enchanting place.

I knew the score nearly by heart, but my opinion still changed a little. What bothers me most is that the orchestra always seems to be doing way too much during quiet moments. At times, it’s as though Williams seems to forget he’s supposed to be accompanying the action rather than providing it. For instance, when Snape is having his ‘up to something’ moment, there’s so much going on in the brass region that it’s just over the top. As one film reviewer famously said, ‘a banging, clanging piece of music that won’t shut up’. Also, I think Williams is focusing too much on the strangeness of the world: Arrival at Hogwarts contains too much dissonance. Other than that, great score and film.

Gosford Park

Name: Gosford Park
Year: 2001
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 137
Description: Multiple storylined drama set in 1932, showing the lives of upstairs guest and downstairs servants at a party in a country house in England.
Stars: Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillppe, Micahel Gambon
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Mystery

Not sure what to say. Emily Watson’s juicy Loddon accent was nice to listen to. The story itself… Well, nothing really happened in the first hour, but you can’t possibly get tired of Michael Gambon playing a callous bastard. I liked the social tension between staff and snobbs. The score was lovely too, but not the usual sappy romance I’m accustomed to when listening to Patrick Too many characters, though. Oh, and Stephen Fry was hilarious! Doyle’s music.

A Beautiful Mind

Name: A Beautiful Mind
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
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 married a graduate student, Alicia. Over time however John begins to lose his grip on reality, eventually being institutionalized 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 was awarded the Nobel prize in Economics.
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris and Jennifer Connelly
Genres: Biography, Drama
2001 Oscar Best Picture Winner!
2001 Oscar Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Connelly

Stunning score, touching story, though Russell Crowe’s mumbling became rather annoying after a while. I also didn’t really like how James Horner completely abandons 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.