Name: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Running Time (minutes): 158
Description: This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch’s niece from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander. As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined.
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Christopher Plummer
Genres: Crime, Drama, Mystery
It was good, but not perfect. I found that the introduction to some characters, including Salander’s, were executed rather hastily and her brief relationship with the journalist seemed forced. Also really don’t understand why it was never explained why Martin needed all the Bible crap to kill his victims and one character in particular, Salander’s second guardian, made a rather unreal impression on me too. I’m not saying I didn’t feel for what happened to her (those scenes were terribly vivid), or that I don’t believe such people exist, but this guy just went from good to bad to good too quickly. Finally, I don’t understand why the whole money transfer thing at the end was necessary. And before I forget, the Scandinavian accents still annoy me. Speak English or Swedish, for heaven’s sake. In other better news, Robin Wright was, of course, great.
The score was mostly unobtrusive, but really out of place, especially during the romantic scenes. Oh, orchestra, where art thou?
The audio description was read by the Orange Is The New Black narrator. I don’t have anything against the woman, but I’ve just ‘encountered’ her too much over the past few weeks.
Name: A Dangerous Method
Running Time (minutes): 99
Description: Suffering from hysteria, Sabina Spielrein is hospitalised under the care of Dr Carl Jung who has begun using Dr Sigmund Freud’s talking cure with some of his patients. Spielrein’s psychological problems are deeply rooted in her childhood and violent father. She is highly intelligent, however, and hopes to be a doctor, eventually becoming a psychiatrist in her own right. The married Jung and Spielrein eventually become lovers. Jung and Freud develop an almost father-son relationship, with Freud seeing the young Jung as his likely successor as the standard-bearer of his beliefs. A deep rift develops between them when Jung diverges from Freud’s belief that while psychoanalysis can reveal the cause of psychological problems, it cannot cure the patient.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley and Viggo Mortensen
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller
Fantastic. Keira Knightley as Miss Spielrein was absolutely terrific – her insane laughter just gave me goosebumps – but one could wonder why Knightley plays her with a Russian accent. Mortensen was equally charismatic.
I originally had misgivings about the score because the only Shore material I knew apart from Lord of the Rings was Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, neither of which interested me in the slightest (and The Hobbit wasn’t stunning either), but this one was perfect, every second was effective through and through. I suppose doubting him for even a second was incredibly stupid. I especially liked the very high violin work accompanying the captions describing Spielrein’s eventual fate.
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: A biochemist and his dishy wife arrive in Berlin for a conference at which a scientist and his controversial Arab funder will announce breakthrough research. While his wife checks into the hotel, he grabs a cab to return to the airport for his briefcase, left at the curb. En route, an auto accident puts him in a coma, from which he awakes four days later without identification and with gaps in his memory. He goes to the hotel: his wife refuses to recognise him and another man has claimed his identity. With help from a nurse, the cab driver, a retired Stasi agent and an academic friend, he tries to unravel what’s going on. Is the answer in the briefcase?
Stars: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones
Genres: Action, Mystery, Thriller
Not really sure what to say about it. I liked it very much in the beginning, but then when it became clear it was gonna be the Bourne Identity all over again, I lost interest. The major difference, however, is that this film does contain a noticeable and fine score. In the end, the relationship between the taxi driver and the protagonist has no clear resolution and I find the idea of a spy suddenly saving his intended victim utterly ridiculous. The assassination was, of course, not justified to begin with, but I wonder why a man who clearly had some justice in him chose to become a spy like that in the first place, unless comas and accidents can completely reverse your personality. Oh well, I’ve watched worse.
Running Time (minutes): 101
Description: Brandon is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon’s world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale
What in the name of God was THAT? The main character should have been locked up from the start and basically spends the entire film… well, not even sure what to say, working out whether he’s straight or gay (or at times an animal…)…? As usual, Carey Mulligan’s character was intrigueing and, again as usual, she did a great job, though she did sound rather weird trying to speak American. It took 40 minutes before anything actually happened in this film. Never again.
The score serves its purpose, but that’s all. The Bach source music really worked.
Name: Larry Crowne
Running Time (minutes): 92
Description: Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to his local college to start over. There he becomes part of a colourful community of outcasts, also-rans and the overlooked all trying to find a better future for themselves… often moving around town in a herd of scooters. In his public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher, Mercedes Tainot, who has lost as much passion for teaching as she has for her husband. The simple guy who has every reason to think his life has stalled will come to learn an unexpected lesson: when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Sarah Mahoney
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Not great, but certainly not bad either. Yes, it was corny at times, but when Julia Roberts and especially Tom Hanks are the main actors, I really can’t care too much about that. Even though Hanks trying to act cool was rather irritating, he remains one of my favourite actors because he’s just so versatile. He delivers every line perfectly. George Takei made me laugh several times and Julia Roberts ‘under the influence of the demon rum’ was quite entertaining too.
I really, really liked most of the songs and the score perfectly suited them as well, though it took an awful long time before I heard any of James Newton Howard’s music.
Name: Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure
Running Time (minutes): 90
Description: A Christmas elf accidentally takes off in Santa’s sleigh, crash lands in a small town and loses the magic toy bag. Beethoven must rescue the elf, recover the bag from greedy crooks and return the sleigh to Santa in time to save Christmas.
Stars: John Cleese, Munro Chambers, Kim Rhodes
Genres: Comedy, Fantasy
Absurd, but rather amusing.
And not surprisingly, I really liked the score.
Name: Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Sherlock Holmes and his longtime trusted associate, Doctor Watson, take on their arch-nemesis, Professor Moriarty, with the help of Holmes’s older brother Mycroft Holmes and a gypsy named Sim.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Jared Harris
Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime
I still like this one better than its predecessor. The story is much better and Robert Downey Jr never disappoints. Nor do Stephen Fry and Kelly Reilly, for that matter.
As for the score, I’m currently craving everything non-D minor. The themes are great, as usual, but watching this one after The Force Awakens was a rude awakening.
I decided to watch it on my 5.1 speakers for the first time, and what a great idea that was. Why is it that everything always needs to pound and thump like crazy these days? Even if Hans Zimmer isn’t doing it, trust the special effects to take over. I had to turn down the volume of the trout scene because apparently torturing someone is now accompanied by lots of rumbling that would probably alert the whole of London. Surprised the neighbours aren’t asking me for explanations yet.
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: A mysterious man who has multiple jobs as a garage mechanic, a Hollywood stuntman and a getaway driver seems to be trying to escape his shady past as he falls for his neighbour – whose husband is in prison and who’s looking after her child alone. Meanwhile, his garage mechanic boss is trying to set up a race team using gangland money, which implicates our driver as he is to be used as the race team’s main driver. Our hero gets more than he bargained for when he meets the man who is married to the woman he loves.
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston
Genres: Crime, Drama
I was really surprised that the first half was so interesting, as these movies are usually not something I enjoy. I gave this one the benefit of the doubt because Carey Mulligan was in it, who I’ve mostly seen playing enigmatic women of few words and she didn’t disappoint. The second half did. Mafia shoot-outs are boring.
The music and score couldn’t have been less captivating either.
Name: The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn
Running Time (minutes): 107
Description: Having bought a model ship, the Unicorn, for a pound off a market stall, Tintin is initially puzzled that the sinister Mr Sakharine should be so eager to buy it from him, resorting to murder and kidnapping. Tintin – accompanied by his marvellous dog Snowy – joins him and his gang as they sail to Morocco on an old cargo ship. Sakharine has bribed the crew to revolt against the ship’s master, drunken Captain Haddock, but Tintin, Snowy and Haddock escape, arriving in Morocco at the court of a sheikh, who also has a model of the Unicorn. Haddock tells Tintin that over three hundred years earlier his ancestor Sir Francis Haddock was forced to scuttle the original Unicorn when attacked by a piratical forebear of Sakharine, but he managed to save his treasure and provide clues to its location in three separate scrolls, all of which were secreted in models of the Unicorn.
Stars: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis and Daniel Craig
Genres: Animation, Action, Adventure
I tried to watch this, hoping Tintin wouldn’t be the annoying prat he was in the TV series of yesteryear, but honestly… Wouldn’t you think that a journalist understood that:
1. Dogs cannot understand human language?
2. Dogs can therefore not participate in detective operations?
3. TALKING TO YOURSELF AND THINKING ALOUD IS UTTERLY USELESS? ‘I wonder what this means, why would he say that, I must know what’s going on.’ Well maybe if you shut the hell up for a while and just thought in silence, you might come up with a few answers!