Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

🎬 Directed by Bill Condon

🎼 Music by Alan Menken

📝 Screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Stephen Chbosky

🌟 S T A R R I N G

👗 Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe

🐗 Dan Stevens as Beast/The Prince

☕ Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

👸🏻 Emma Watson as Belle

🔥 Ewan McGregor as Lumiére

💋 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette

🌹 Hattie Morahan as Agathe/Enchantress

⏰ Ian McKellen as Cogsworth

🎭 Josh Gad as LeFou

🔨 Kevin Kline as Maurice

💪🏻 Luke Evans Gaston

☕ Nathan Mack as Chip

🎶 Stanley Tucci as Cadenza

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Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The love story goes beyond girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy. Belle is the first human, not counting the enchanted objects, to look past Beast’s exterior. Her attention and kindness encourages him to become more human, making his inner transformation just as important as his outer change. They develop a friendship first and then fall in love. I am ashamed to say that despite being initially excited, I allowed myself to be swayed by critics giving their opinion based on the trailers. Once the movie was released and I heard great feedback from lifelong fans, I started to relax and get excited again. I finally saw the movie last Wednesday. When the title card filled the movie screen, I got chills and teared up. In that moment I realized how emotional the experience was going to be for my inner child.

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The sets are stunning. The village is like the picturesque interior of a snowglobe isolated from the rest of the world. There are golden, ornamental baroque details all over Beast’s castle, specifically French Rococo. Under the curse, the exterior is dark and dramatic; the word gothic comes to mind. As the centerpiece of the story, the enchanted rose is as striking as it needs to be. The theme is appropriately weaved into other parts of the film; Maurice attempts to pick a white rose from Beast’s garden, and Belle’s baby rattle is a red rose. Don’t even get me started on the final scene. The flower-draped ceiling is GORGEOUS!! The entire ballroom looks like springtime, airy & bright.

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Belle is the same beloved character but with a few modifications. Her day-to-day outfits are a quirky mix of materials and patterns, and combat boots are her footwear of choice. The wardrobe update matches her new role as an inventor just like her father Maurice. The yellow ballgown is a simpler design than it’s 1991 counterpart, but when you see how it moves onscreen, doubts will fly out of your mind. The gold touches make it shine, and the skirt floats through the air as if it were weightless. The look wouldn’t be complete without the gold ear-cuff, a subtle nod to Belle’s unconventional style. There is no need to say much about the celebration dress. The way it looks and moves in the ballroom during the final scene will take your breath away. Belle’s hairstyles are simple but very beautiful. My personal favorite is her updo in the library scene accessorized with a blue headband. Of course I have to mention Beast’s wardrobe which goes through a transformation of its own; it becomes more refined and princely as the movie goes on. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran deserves a lot of credit because she came up with outfits for a character who is animated during most of the film. A lot of work went into making sure the animated garments had the depth and detail of tangible clothing. The animators did a phenomenal job.

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Alan Menken is a musical genius so it’s a no-brainer that I like all of the new songs, especially Evermore. In terms of flow, Days in the Sun is a nice song, but it feels unnecessary. There is no nice way to say this so I’ll just rip off the band-aid. Many of the vocals are heavily edited, and I suspect it has more to do with lack of vocal ability than over-zealous audio editors. It is a fact that Dan Stevens hired a vocal coach to learn how to sing for this movie, and Emma Watson has never sung professionally. I am thrilled with their acting performances, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; they sound robotic and lack emotion. I found myself holding my breath every time they sang because I desperately wanted it to sound good but knew it probably wouldn’t. A few times I was pleasantly surprised. Emma did a good job with Belle (Reprise), and Beast sounded much better in the second verse of Evermore. I saw a comment on YouTube regarding Emma’s vocals that was well put. I can’t remember the exact words, but this is the basic idea: The original songs, written for an experienced singer, are above Emma’s capabilities. She sounded better singing the songs written for her portrayal of Belle. I had the same problem with Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson. Ewan has sung before in a film, and for the most part his vocals sound good. I know Emma can sing, and I think she was a great choice for Mrs. Potts. The issue is inconsistency. Sometimes the vocals sound good, and other times they sound heavily autotuned. Since both roles requires a certain voice, it is possible that manipulation was required to help Ewan and Emma stay in character while singing. The song Beauty and the Beast is a turning point in the story, and Mrs. Potts’ singing voice ruina a bit of the magic in what is an otherwise beautiful scene. Listening to it again, the vocals sound better than I remembered, but there are still some parts that don’t sound as nice as they should. Knowing that Emma has a great voice makes this even more of a heartbreaking disappointment. I love the cast, but this movie is a musical. Acting and vocals should be split 50/50 when considering the potential actors. Perfection was well within reach for this film, and lack of vocal ability was the one and only roadblock. Consider the rave reviews that Josh Gad and Luke Evans are receiving. Why do you think that is? Not only are their acting performances spot-on, but their vocals are spectacular. That is why they are the most successful part of this musical film. I want to end my rant by mentioning that I find the entire soundtrack to be over-edited, even the experienced voices such as Kevin Kline. I would have preferred less effects and rough edges. At least the final result would have sounded more genuine.

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Animation was the perfect medium for this story because it is a fairy tale that is not at all grounded in reality. When considering a live action version, you have to ask yourself if the story will translate. I commend the crew because I was a believer every step of the way. I like the realistic design of each enchanted object. They fit the style of the movie and still feel like the same beloved characters. I love the way the friendship develops between Beast and Belle.  There are so many amazing scenes I could mention such as the library and Belle’s childhood home in Paris, but I will stick with one. Up until the ballroom scene, I was fully invested in the budding friendship. During the waltz when Beast lifts Belle, I felt a strong wave of emotion and instantly knew the relationship had become a love story. I was worried about the transformation because I wanted to be in the moment; I didn’t want to only see Dan Stevens in a wig. I am so relieved that the scene came together because it cemented the couple’s chemistry. I know that Belle’s final quote is controversial, but I LOVED it. I found the playful moment to be cute and relatable.

Belle: How would you feel about growing a beard? 😘

Beast: GROWL! 😉

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There are details that disappoint and frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. However, I can’t change anything so there’s no use dwelling on the negative. My emotional reaction speaks volumes, and I will definitely be watching this movie again. Please go and see it before you form an opinion. You might be pleasantly surprised! :)

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Beauty and the Beast Artwork ➡️ Tale as Old as Time

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The Great Mouse Detective

Continuing to stew in nostalgia, I watched this movie Thursday night, and it did not disappoint.  The influence of Sherlock Holmes is evident in all the right ways.  The overall style and vibe is Victorian and dark, and the dialogue is witty.  There are easter eggs that are sure to put a smile on your face:

1.  Mr. Holmes resides at 221 Baker Street.  Basil resides at 221 1/2 Baker Street

2.  Basil’s small, cozy home is located under and resembles Sherlock Holmes’ residence.

3.  Basil’s name refers to an alias of Sherlock Holmes and actor Basil Rathbone known for his film role as Holmes.

4.  Basil’s wardrobe and personality are obviously inspired by the famous detective.  The cape, hat, magnifying glass, and quirks are all there.

5.  What is Holmes without Watson??  I give you Dr. David Q. Dawson, the mouse version of Dr. John H. Watson.

6.  Sherlock Holmes’ shadow and voice make an appearance.  Because Basil Rathbone had passed away before this movie was made, an audio clip from a previous film was used.

Source: http://findingmickey.squarespace.com/disney-animated-features/the-great-mouse-detective/

For more information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091149/

What are you waiting for??  Go watch the movie!!  😄

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Early Morning Pondering

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I should most definitely be in bed considering I have had intense headaches on and off for the past three days.  However, here I am at 3am wide awake; my brain is working overtime.  Many changes have taken place in my life over the past three years, and the process has been overwhelming.  There have been moments when I chose to not think, ignore the problem, and pretend like everything is A-OK.  The emotional pain has been easier to deal with in parts.  I have a breakdown, struggle through the resulting depression, feel a little better, and wait for the next breakdown.  It is incredibly hard to move away from a place you called home for thirteen years.  No words can describe the pain of letting go of a life I thought I would have forever.  I never once considered that God would uproot me and my family and take away the house, the people, and the atmosphere I was familiar with.  Routines are my comfort zone.  Anytime change comes along, I panic.  Hence my earlier statement about shutting down and becoming a zombie.  I have no regrets about the jobs I accepted, the events I volunteered for, and the people I associated myself with.  I have vivid memories, both positive and negative; at least I have something to remember.  During this time of transition, social media has been a great tool for staying in contact with friends.  However, it has also been a window for watching life go on without me.  As I said before, I never once thought my life would change so drastically.  Now that my comfort zone is gone, I realize how much the small things meant to me.  For those of you who are letting go of something or someone right now, I am right there with you.  The process sucks, plain and simple.  Cling to the happy memories and the hope that something even better is right around the corner.  Oy vey!  That was cheesy enough to stop my tears.  But seriously, give yourself time to mourn and adjust.  I stayed up late Monday night eating goldfish and watching episodes of “Make It or Break It.”  I know, I know.  I am practically the conductor of the crazy train.  My point is that taking the time to do something you know will instantly make you happy works wonders for your mood.  One step at a time.  Breathe in, breathe out…

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Image 2 Source: http://mickeyandcompany.tumblr.com/post/58935992915/the-descending-lantern-that-rapunzel-lifted-back

This quote scares me to death, but I suppose that is a good thing: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”  – Alan Watts

Think happy thoughts readers!!  :)

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Musical Tag

Musical Tag Thumbnail

This is the musical tag.  If you are not interested in musicals, I would suggest that you stop reading and stay tuned for my next blog post.  If you would like to watch the Youtube version, click the following link: https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE

If you are prepared to read, proceed.  :)

Q: What is your favorite stage musical?

A: I have never seen a musical performed by a professional group.  However, I saw a homeschool group from my childhood city perform plays and musicals, and they did an excellent job.  The productions were so well done, they might as well have been professional.  Brava!

Q: What is your favorite musical film?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNUOg2ajE

***Note: I added the following question.

Q: What is your favorite animated musical film?

A: “Prince of Egypt”

“Prince of Egypt” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmBDY-fSlIs

Q: What is your favorite musical performance?

A: I think this question refers to live productions, but that does not apply to me.  I am changing the context to my favorite singular performance within a musical film: “Singing in the Rain” performed by Gene Kelly.

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1ZYhVpdXbQ

Q: What is your favorite genre of musicals?

A: Every era has at least one good musical, but most of my favorites come from the Post-Classical Era (Post 50s).

Q: Who is your favorite composer and/or lyricist?

A: Alan Menken, Hans Zimmer, and Phil Collins.

Alan Menken Medley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-WhOZZstiU

Samples of Hans Zimmer’s Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgUhz2F0Mg

“Two Worlds” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGn4zSfw6K4

“On My Way” by Phil Collins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDtBnTMpltM

Q: What is your favorite underappreciated musical?

A: All of the musicals I like are well-known and liked therefore I do not have an answer.

Q: What musical are you dying to see?

A: “Wicked”, “Phantom of the Opera”, and “Aladdin.”  Anything else would be icing on the cake.  :)

“Wicked” 2012 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrpLayS57cY

“Phantom of the Opera” 2013 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNWUdSxxnHM

“Aladdin” 2014 Broadway Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4sl3sQPzgc&list=PL0kqHD3g0haHgDgqMW-5tX2k6U5rOiMMQ&index=14

Q: What musical did you not like?

A: I apologize to anybody who likes these two musicals.  I did not enjoy “Gigi” or “Cry-Baby.”  The character Gigi annoyed me , and I could not connect to the characters or storyline in “Cry-Baby.”

“Gigi” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH8aVaeHqq4

“Cry-Baby” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yB1bLlguZVY

Q: What is the best musical adaptation?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”

Q: What is the best original musical?

A: “Once”

“Once” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWJIylZ8VyM

Who is your favorite character from a musical?

A: Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof”

“Tradition” Performed by Tevye/Chaim Topol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRdfX7ut8gw

Q: What is your favorite song from a musical?

A: “Falling Slowly” and “I See the Light.”

“Falling Slowly” Performed Live by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koPjCqb3igw

“I See the Light” Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYbHzzWmKUs

Q: What is your favorite soundtrack?

A: “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Into the Woods ” (2014 film), “Prince of Egypt”, and “Tarzan.”

“Fiddler on the Roof” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLTxj-kXhg0&list=PL6vJR5WPUWn_-zubC0hU4BuQVqmi_tJbM

“Into the Woods” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KId_A5H-BXw&list=PLuovSEX8xEHes6AJxPnrTcxShMEc9XOBi

“Prince of Egypt” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WKN0XF8-3Q&list=PLrjhOUTfRro7ro9MjrNV_W5gwFCMbSxEu

“Tarzan” Soundtrack Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4hVVn5OlnI&list=PL7FE43190CD86C300

Q: What musical would you love to see happen?

A: A musical based on the ABC TV show “Once Upon a Time”, a story about Disney characters set in modern times.

“Once Upon a Time” Season One Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QjaxiuIa7A

Q: Why do you like musicals?

A: Musicals were a normal part of my life growing up as a dancer, and they still hold a special place in my heart.

Q: Describe yourself using one lyric from a musical?

A: Defying.  Fear is one of the biggest obstacles in my life, but I constantly find myself taking on challenges and completing what I thought was beyond my limits.

“Defying Gravity” Performed Live by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3g4ekwTd6Ig

Q: Who is your favorite actress from a musical?

A: Julie Andrews.  QUEEN!!

“The Hills Are Alive” Movie Scene, “Sound of Music”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R462Ro5fqU

“Feed The Birds” Movie Scene, “Mary Poppins”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHrRxQVUFN4

Q: Who is your favorite actor from a musical?

A: Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

“I Got Rhythm” Performed by Gene Kelly, “An American in Paris”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvglHa_P9BA

“Funny Face” Performed by Fred Astaire, “Funny Face”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xo1onGh3us

Here is a list of all my favorite musical films:

“Aladdin”

“Aladdin” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLa6y7Z2TE

“An American in Paris”

“An American in Paris ” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2WAMZRCbpU

“Chicago”

“Chicago” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EpaMmF9WVU

“Fiddler on the Roof”

“Funny Face”

“Funny Face” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6VLdVrVQGQ

“Grease”

“Grease” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzWmxjYNfz4

“Hercules”

“Hercules” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ds88gvnEVo

“Into the Woods”

“Into the Woods” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Byk9Is3TjY

“Music Man”

“Music Man” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIPL8Yb25T4

“Phantom of the Opera”

“Phantom of the Opera” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44w6elsJr_I

“Prince of Egypt”

“Singing in the Rain”

“Singing in the Rain” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36QiuRc_3I8

“Sound of Music”

“Sound of Music” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY6uw3WpPzY

“Tarzan”

“Tarzan” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfciC33t3M0

“Thoroughly Modern Millie”

“Thoroughly Modern Millie” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCug0golA6c

If you would like to know more details surrounding my answers, watch the Youtube video (https://youtu.be/jla9o38LHxE).  If you love musicals, I highly recommend you do this tag.  It is so much fun!

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Disney Challenge

Disney Challenge Thumbnail

Me and my best friend Gabby did the Disney challenge featuring songs from “Frozen”, “Jungle Book”, “Lilo & Stitch”, “Lion King”, “Little Mermaid”, “Mulan”, “Pocahontas”, “Princess and the Frog”, “Shrek 2”, “Tangled”, and “Tarzan.”  Warning!  The following video features A LOT of dramatic lip synching and laughter.

– <3 http://youtu.be/Z-4aTEJX2XU <3 –

If you would like to do this challenge, here are the rules:

1. At least two players are required plus someone to play the songs and keep score.  We did not have a third person so I used the Pandora app on my phone.  I put a towel over the top half of my phone where the songs were displayed and did the manual work myself (playing, pausing, etc).  Gabby kept score on her phone.

2. Each person has ten seconds to guess the title of a song (One Point) and what Disney movie it comes from (One Point).  After time is up, the other person can take a guess and try to steal the points.  Each round can earn a player 0, 1, or 2 points.

3.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.  Me and Gabby ended the game after ten songs.

I hope you enjoyed the video!  Film your own version.  It’s a lot of fun!!

Stay tuned for more posts coming soon.  Stay young at heart readers!  :)

– Lauren Michele <3

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Oscars 2015 Part II – Best Dressed

Here it is readers: Oscars 2015 Part II.  Tonight I will be discussing the top five dresses that caught my eye on the red carpet.  The following information and images are brought to you by the New York Times.  Let’s skip the chit-chat and get things started counting down from the #5.

Oscars 2015 Jennifer Lopez

Designer: Elie Saab.

Celebrity: Jennifer Lopez

The warm nude color is gorgeous against Miss Lopez’s skin.  Although I approve of the monochromatic details and minimal styling, this was not my #1 pick because I am not a fan of wide V necklines.  In my opinion, the neckline ruins an otherwise perfect Saab creation.

Oscars 2015 Anna Kendrick

Designer: Thakoon Panichgul

Celebrity: Anna Kendrick

This gown missed the top spot because of simplicity.  I find no fault in simplicity, but many of the red carpet looks this year were eye-catching because of the details.  However, Anna can do no wrong in my eyes.  The pink hue and jewelled collar, appropriately accentuated by soft neutral makeup, make her skin glow.  She did more than enough to make my top five.

Oscars 2015 Emma Stone

Designer: Elie Saab

Celebrity: Emma Stone

I am not a fan of the yellow-green color family therefore this dress is not my “Best Dressed” pick.  However, Miss Stone earned her #3 spot by miraculously pulling off this color and embodying the style and grace of “Old Hollywood.”  The styling– side curls, coral lips, and matching bracelets –was well done and assisted in making the color easier to accept.

Oscars 2015 Felicity Jones

Designer: Alexander McQueen

Celebrity: Felicity Jones

First of all, I am thrilled to see Felicity evolve from female lead in the British television film “Northanger Abbey” to Oscar-nominated actress in “The Theory of Everything.”  She was gorgeous then, and she is gorgeous now.  The color of the gown is surprisingly flattering.  It is light gray, and yet shine and a hint of periwinkle keep Miss Jones’ skin looking alive rather than washed out.  The detailing in the bodice is what edged out the competition for this #2 spot.  The color reminds me of space, and the bodice accents remind me of the ocean.  In a nutshell, this look is a chic ocean/outer-space hybrid.

Drum roll please!!  I am giving the “Best Dressed” title to…

Oscars 2015, Lupita Nyong'o

Designer: Francisco Costa, Calvin Klein Collection

Celebrity: Lupita Nyong’o

I stand and applaud Ms. Costa.  APPROXIMATELY SIX THOUSAND PEARLS!!!  I think we can all agree that not many people could wear this gown and pull it off effortlessly.  Mission accomplished Lupita!  The silhouette is elegant, and the pearls make Miss Nyong’o’s skin glow.

If you would like to see other red carpet looks, here is a link to the New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/red-carpet-watch/oscars-2015/felicity-jones

I hope you have enjoyed my two-part recap of the 87th Academy Awards because I had a lot of fun writing it.  Perhaps I will do this again next year and add on more information such as a movie review and/or men’s fashion.  Until then, stay classy readers!

– Lauren Michele :)

Oscars 2015 Part I: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/oscars-2015-part-i-and-the-oscar-goes-to/

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