The Other Woman

Name: The Other Woman
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: After discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly Whitten tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realizes they have much in common and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend.
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton
Genres: Comedy, Romance

The summary seemed intrigueing, but the actual film was unbearable.

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Jimmy’s Hall

Name: Jimmy’s Hall
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 109
Description: 1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy’s friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O’Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the “intruder” reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren’t they? From that moment on they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his “dangerous” hall.
Stars: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Andrew Scott
Genres: Drama, History

It took a while before the film got underway and I only found myself becoming interested towards the end of the first half. Trust intolerant religious fanatics to make things more exciting. I didn’t know all that much about (Northern) Ireland in the 1930s, so from a historic point of view, this movie was very instructive too. In the end, all I can say is that the consequences catholic and protestant bigotry have had in the past still leave me gobsmacked.

The score was sparse and I must admit I didn’t like it at all in the beginning. It didn’t take long before I started comparing this one to Williams’ totally unrelated Far and Away. But as the story unfolded, this shallow underscore started to grow on me and it worked brilliantly during a very intimate moment between two protagonists. During the final moments of the story, I had to acknowledge that the score couldn’t have been more appropriate. And need I say that Irish folk music is just great?

On a side note, it was impressive to hear an English audio-describer pronounce French names flawlessly during the opening credits.

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?

Calvary

Name: Calvary
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: After he is threatened during a confession, a good-natured priest must battle the dark forces closing in around him.
Stars: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O’Dowd, Kelly Reilly
Genres: Drama

Only one question keeps going through my mind: What was the point of this film? First of all, the premise is just stupid: a man wants to kill a good priest to upset people because he’s been traumatised by bad priests. Other than that, we get lots and lots of meetings between the good priest and random people who mostly have one thing in common: they hate the Church and bother him with that whenever they can. I did feel concerned for the good priest (Brendan Gleeson is terrific), but then he claims he didn’t cry for all the people abused by priests in the past. Doesn’t make any sense to me. The subplot with the daughter was more interesting, though, but nothing beat Orla O’Rourke’s juicy Irish accent and Aidan Gillen was a pleasant surprise.

I’ve always had a bit of a weak spot for Irish folk music. If only the score had been as good as all the background tunes. Not a trace of any Irish instruments, no themes… nothing.

The Maze Runner

Name: The Maze Runner
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 113
Description: Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in “The Glade” for three years, trying to find a way to escape through the Maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys.
Stars: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter
Genres: Action, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Not bad at all, though I don’t understand how people can be stuck in a maze for three years and then hate someone who’s finally willing to do something about it. Also don’t understand how the doctor committed suicide and then survived, but I’ll be interested in the sequel. The score’s dramatic parts are way better than its brainless action cues. Also, why in the world does everything need to thump, bang and clang these days? Even when you configure your speakers in such a way that all the low frequencies should be filtered out, half of it still sounds like an earthquake.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Name: The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 142
Description: We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important conflict has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that his greatest battle is about to begin. It’s great to be Spider-Man. For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen. But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro, Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn, returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

 

I don’t know… Was it bad or passable?

 

First of all, everyone really has dumb lines in this movie. Villains would be so much more convincing if they didn’t feel the need to say things like ‘It’s time to meet your destiny!’ all the time. A romance would be much more believable if the girlfriend didn’t state matter-of-factly: ‘I am breaking up with you, now.’, or if Spider-Man didn’t “write” ‘I love you’ and then added: ‘It says I love you because I love you.’ for good measure. Oh, and why exactly does Electro hate Spider-Man? I still didn’t figure that out. When Spider-Man tries to say cool stuff, it’s weird. When he starts crying into Gwen’s shoulder one moment after that, it’s weird too. Especially in the final scene, Spider-Man really comes across as an emotionally imbalanced person. At one point, he asks his aunt to tell him everything about his dad and that it’s okay that it’ll hurt him. The poor woman then utters three sentences and it already proves to be too much for our superhero. The actor who plays Harry sucks as well and the number of villains is just over the top. Where do they keep coming from?

 

Hans Zimmer’s score was better than I thought it would be. I’ve been going through an anti-Zimmer phase over the past few months, so was already happy to discover that the score wasn’t written in D minor. The main theme is good, but I don’t see the point of composers re-inventing musical identities that have already been established. James Horner’s theme was brilliant, why not use it? Also, the entire score sounded as if it was being played by a computer. What’s wrong with a traditional orchestra?

The Imitation Game

Name: The Imitation Game
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 114
Description: Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode
Genres: Biography, Drama, Thriller

Oh, my goodness. I don’t even know where to start.

Okay, I’ll start where one should start. The music. After the obligatory logos had passed, the score immediately started out with glorious piano notes. Alexandre Desplat clearly wanted only one thing: to tell us a story. And oh, did he succeed. This was one of those rare films that I would have loved even if it had been horrible because of the excellent music. But at that time, the truly spectacular main theme hadn’t even announced itself yet. The rest of the score was slightly more subtle, but I’ll probably remember this one forever. I always thought Desplat overuses the piano, but from now on I’ll shelve that objection.

The film itself is also fantastic. It was nice to finally hear what Cumberbatch really sounds like as I’m only familiar with him impersonating Smaug in The Hobbit. And saying that Keira Knightley was brilliant would be stating the obvious.

Great film. Not long, but it doesn’t have to be to tell its moving story.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Name: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Year: 2014
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 100
Description: The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric
Genres: Comedy

Pretty good! Ralph Fiennes is amazing and the dry humour throughout the film really worked thanks to him. The score had some very nice, contemporary cues.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Name: Jakc Ryan – Shadow Recruit
Year: 2014
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 105
Description: A new version of the saga of CIA analyst, Jack Ryan. It begins when Ryan was attending the London School of Economics; and 9/11 happened. He would then enlist in the Marines and would go to Afghanistan. Which is the start of a series of extraordinary events.
Stars: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
Genres: Action, Mystery, Thriller

Once again, I disagree with Rotten Tomatoes. It wasn’t bad at all. Not great, but certainly good. Except for the fact that all Russians love women and vodka. And the ending is really, REALLY rushed and handled EXTREMELY badly (horrible music editing!). Kevin Costner was good, but I’m not really sure if Keira Knightley with an American accent is a good thing or not. Oh well, she’s an excellent actress anyway.

As for Patrick Doyle’s score, this project was a waste of his time. The two great pieces he wrote for this film were cut short to such an extent that it’s laughable. Scratch that, it’s tragic. At times you still hear Doyle’s mannerisms during emotional moments, but… it’s just not him at all most of the time. Very unfortunate.

Also, a few technical points on the audio description: the dialogue was softer than the AD and music, which didn’t always make for nice listening. Also, the narrator kept announcing things before they happened, don’t really like that either.