Beauty and the Beast

Name: Beauty And The Beast
Year: 2017
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 129
Description: Disney’s animated classic takes on a new form, with a widened mythology and an all-star cast. A young prince, imprisoned in the form of a beast, can be freed only by true love. What may be his only opportunity arrives when he meets Belle, the only human girl to ever visit the castle since it was enchanted.
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Genres: Family, Fantasy, Musical

I really liked this one. The only slightly confusing plot point for me was the fact that the castle’s objects still had living relatives at the end. The prologue made it sound as if the entire prince/enchantress thing had happened two centuries ago. Loved Emma Thompson wiv ‘er beau’iful Cockney accent. McKellen was great too, though I don’t really find the Gaston character arc very convincing. He turns from a lovable idiot to a villain in, like, two seconds. Lumière queeckly becèm boring az well, but I was really surprised that the ending was so tense. I’ve never seen the original version, but it can’t be better than this one.

On to more important things. THE MUSIC. No words. I just love Alan Menken’s limitlessly romantic scores. The songs were mostly a joy to discover, too, but my absolute favourite remains the one sang by the Beast as Belle leaves the castle. Absolutely terrific. I’ve read a lot of complaints from people who apparently thought Emma Watson was the only actress that was auto-tuned. She definitely isn’t. I’m not a fan of auto-tuning as every song written these days sounds like computerised crying to me, but here, it worked 90% of the time (some horrible edits, though).

And the audio-describer had a hidden agenda. I’ve been told at least five times that Belle was manly, brave and fearless. What is it with political correctness these days? Are they trying to tell youngsters that women are no longer the angels in the home holding it all together to prevent them getting dangerous ideas that no one has anymore? I hope Disney’s next film will show a woman casting a vote during an election, you know, just to make sure we all know women can vote. But at least the narrator didn’t interfere with the end credits (though, come to think of it, these end credits songs are no match for any song or music from the movie, so listening to a list of unimportant names might have been a better alternative).

Babel

Name: Babel
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 143
Description: 4 interlocking stories all connected by a single gun all converge at the end and reveal a complex and tragic story of the lives of humanity around the world and how we truly aren’t all that different. In Morocco, a troubled married couple are on vacation trying to work out their differences. Meanwhile, a Moroccan herder buys a rifle for his sons so they can keep the jackals away from his herd. A girl in Japan dealing with rejection, the death of her mother, the emotional distance of her father, her own self-consciousness, and a disability among many other issues, deals with modern life in the enormous metropolis of Tokyo, Japan. Then, on the opposite side of the world the married couple’s Mexican nanny takes the couple’s 2 children with her to her son’s wedding in Mexico, only to come into trouble on the return trip.
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and Gael García Bernal
Genres: Drama

Very, very moving indeed. The score only became interesting after two hours, other than that loads of missed opportunities. The people involved in the audio description must have been shattered too. I think it would be hard to find a film that needed/contained more explanations than this one.

How To Train Your Dragon

Name: How To Train Your Dragon
Year: 2010
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 98
Description: Long ago up North on the Island of Berk, the young Viking, Hiccup, wants to join his town’s fight against the dragons that continually raid their town. However, his macho father and village leader, Stoik the Vast, will not allow his small, clumsy, but inventive son to do so. Regardless, Hiccup ventures out into battle and downs a mysterious Night Fury dragon with his invention, but can’t bring himself to kill it. Instead, Hiccup and the dragon, whom he dubs Toothless, begin a friendship that would open up both their worlds as the observant boy learns that his people have misjudged the species. But even as the two each take flight in their own way, they find that they must fight the destructive ignorance plaguing their world.
Stars: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Genres: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy

The story is not bad at all, but why am I even talking about the plot when the score was so incredibly amazing? John Powell has surprised me lots of times, but this was just incredible. Fantastic main theme, terrific action music, stunningly beautiful and dazzling orchestration. Even if the movie had been the most terrible thing ever made, I’d still have kept watching. Let’s get that soundtrack.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Name: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
Year: 2016
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 123
Description: Holding a mysterious leather suitcase in his hand, Newt Scamander, a young activist wizard from England visits New York while he is on his way to Arizona. Inside his expanding suitcase hides a wide array of diverse, magical creatures that exist among us, ranging from tiny, twig-like ones, to majestic and humongous ones. It is the middle of the 20s and times are troubled since the already fragile equilibrium of secrecy between the unseen world of wizards and the ordinary or “No-Maj” people that the MACUSA Congress struggles to maintain is at risk of being unsettled. In the meantime, the voices against wizardry keep growing with daily protests led by Mary Lou Barebone and fuelled by the increasing disasters ascribed to a dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald. At the same time, by a twist of fate, Newt’s precious suitcase will be switched with the identical one of an aspiring No-Maj baker, Jacob Kowalski, while demoted Auror Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard.
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol
Genres: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

I finally got around to watching this with audio description. When I watched it in the cinema with my family and without AD in November, I liked it. Now I love it. The story is excellent. My only tiny remark would be that I have some questions about the whole Obliviation plot at the ending, but I won’t say more, only that this film is so good that I’m almost prepared to forgive David Yates’s less enchanting entries in the Harry Potter series.

James Newton Howard’s music is absolutely brilliant. If you want a fantastic film score and are wondering where to find it, seek no further. What I truly liked about this one is that, for the first time since Goblet of Fire, we’re finally getting some magical music again. The MACUSA theme is glorious, the creatures receive stunning musical identities and then I haven’t even mentioned Newt’s heroic theme. I only don’t understand why Hedwig’s Theme randomly appears when they enter a zoo.

One final note about the audio description: Although it was very nice to finally listen to it, it affects the volume of the music too much. Example: Tina and Newt arrive at the American Ministry for Magic while the enchanting music builds and builds, but the dazzling orchestral spectacle that follows gets completely lost in the mix. Oh well, I’ll just have to watch it without AD one day.

Catch Me If You Can

Name: Catch Me If You Can
Year: 2002
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 141
Description: An FBI agent tracks down and catches a young con artist who successfully impersonated an airline pilot, doctor, assistant attorney general and history professor, cashing more than $2.5 million in fraudulent checks in 26 countries.
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken

I had already watched this one years ago, but hardly remembered any of it. Nice film, but at times a little disjointed and too fast-paced. The only really problematic aspect was the parents: I just don’t really understand the character of his dad and particularly his mum, and I certainly don’t get why Brenda’s father apparently thinks it’s totally cool that his girl marries a shady character when that girl was banished from the house for years. Then Tom Hanks briefly mentions Frank’s dad is dead, his mum just has another child without telling him anything about it… That’s just strange. The score is great. I just love that ‘Joy Ride’ theme so much.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Name: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Year: 1996
Rating: PG
Running Time (minutes): 91
Description: In 15th century Paris, Clopin the puppeteer tells the story of Quasimodo, the misshapen gentle-souled bell ringer of Notre Dame, who was nearly killed as a baby by Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice. But Frollo was forced by the Archdeacon of Notre Dame to raise Quasimodo as his own. Now a young man, Quasimodo is hidden from the world by Frollo in the belltower of the cathedral. But during the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo, cheered on by his gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, decides to take part in the festivities, where he meets the lively gypsy girl Esmeralda and the handsome soldier Phoebus. The three of them find themselves ranged against Frollo’s cruelty and his attempts to destroy the home of the gypsies, the Court of Miracles. And Quasimodo must desperately defend both Esmeralda and the very cathedral of Notre Dame.
Stars: Demi Moore, Jason Alexander and Mary Kay Bergman
Genres: Animation, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance

I decided to watch this one because the TV guide only offered mindless, shallow action movies other than this one, which aren’t my cup of tea. In the beginning I had some misgivings about it being too childish for me, but then the music started. WHAT, A, SCORE! I just LOVED the chords that accompanied the words ‘Notre Dame’ in the first cue. Then the bells came, then the organ, then the choir… The captain’s theme is perfect as well, I can’t stop chanting ‘with fire, with fire…’ They really have to do this one live in concert and there’d better be a good commercial release! As it happens, I had already heard a suite in concert a week ago, but that was played by a youth orchestra that didn’t have a string section. Never thought the real thing would sound so enchanting.

The story was not bad either. Thanks to the aforementioned concert, I already knew how it was gonna end, but never mind. Esmeralda did sound artificial at times, but, again, never mind. Can’t get over that score!

The audio description was good, but they didn’t emphasise Quasimodo’s deformed face sufficiently. Or maybe they did and I just didn’t really hear it because the sound mix in general wasn’t ideal.

Fatal Attraction

Name: Fatal Attraction
Year: 1987
Rating: R
Running Time (minutes): 119
Description: Happily married New York lawyer Dan Callagher has an affair with his colleague Alex, and the two enjoy a love weekend while Dan’s wife and kid are away. But Alex will not let go of him, and she will stop at nothing to have him for herself. Just how far will she go to get what she wants?
Stars: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer
Genres: Drama, Thriller

Great film. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat on the edge of my chair for such a long time. The only scene I didn’t like was the one where Alex is calling Michael Douglas naes on that tape, it sort of deflated her character. Score was very effective too.

And the audio description needs a special mention as well. WGBH produced it, so naturally it was full of descriptions of camera angles, points of view etc. I just love that approach. Especially in this film, the ‘we see Alex staring at us from behind’ worked so well, even though I have no idea what it all looked like. Britain should do this as well.

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.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Name: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Year: 1989
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 127
Description: Three years after he recovered The Ark of the Covenant, Jones recovered an artifact that he found as a kid, the Cross of Francisco De Coronado from treasure hunters. Now, Jones discovers the history of another biblical artifact called “The Holy Grail”. He was also informed that his father, Henry Jones, is missing. Jones has to find his father who is looking for the Grail. However, Jones will become involved in the search of the Holy Grail along with his father, as well as fighting the Nazis to reach it.
Stars: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery and Alison Doody
Genres: Action, Adventure

Wow, I never expected it to be THAT good! Where to start? The whole thing sounded so much better overall, you’d think they made the other two films thirty years ago. Though the story is at times absurd for non-religious people, it was much more compelling and interesting than the first two. Actually, I’d rather just pretend Temple of Doom never existed. What a drag that was compared to this one. This entry was also much more light-hearted and even funny at times. Sean Connery really hash an enormoush speech defect, good gracioush.

But the best aspect was undoubtedly Williams’ fantastic score. The holy grail theme is just magnificent. This was the first time that JW moved me so deeply, I just couldn’t get enough of those solemn brass chords. Then the theme heard in ‘Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra’… I love it when Williams uses trumpets and oboes to play triplets at the same time. Then the Nazi theme… I’ve been watching a lot of Williams films this month: three Indy movies and Born on the Fourth of July, and then I also listened to a bunch of Boston Pops albums of his music. I’m officially hooked on his scores and this one had better have a good album representation.

Oh, and I also liked the London accent of the audio-describer.

Titanic

Name: Titanic
Year: 1997
Rating: PG-13
Running Time (minutes): 194
Description: 84 years later, a 100-year-old woman named Rose DeWitt Bukater tells the story to her granddaughter, Lizzy Calvert, Brock Lovett, Lewis Bodine, Bobby Buell, and Anatoly Mikailavich on the Keldysh about her life set in April 10th 1912, on a ship called Titanic when young Rose boards the departing ship with the upper-class passengers and her mother, Ruth DeWitt Bukater, and her fiancé, Caledon ‘Cal’ Hockley. Meanwhile, a drifter and artist named Jack Dawson and his best friend Fabrizio De Rossi win third-class tickets to the ship in a game. Rose explains the whole story from departure until the death of Titanic on its first and last voyage on April 15th, 1912 at 2:2 in the morning.
1997 Oscar Best Picture Winner!
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Billy Zane
Genres: Adventure, Drama, History, Romance

I’m glad I finally watched it so that I can join the club bashing the original soundtrack releases. Very nice story, although I had some difficulties liking Rose and Jack in the beginning, but that changed a bit later. Also couldn’t help wondering why he was able to push her on that piece of wood three times, but then failed to climb on himself. Oh well. Kate Winslet’s American accent sounds fake, too, but I loved the class clashes in the story.

The score was exquisite. Horner had this gift of telling me everything with only a few notes. In The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, one piano chord sufficed, and when A Building Panic started here, the approaching disaster needed no further illustration whatsoever.