Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

I have waited all year for this movie! Part of my birthday celebration was seeing the first showing at my local theater. As a passionate Agatha Christie fan, I have thoughts both good and bad so settle in for a semi-bumpy Orient Express ride.

Many people had doubts about Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of beloved detective Hercule Poirot. If you’re a doubter, I want to put your mind at ease. Mr. Branagh is hands down the best part of the movie. He kept the spirit of the Poirot we all know and love while adding humor and his own unique touch to the character. He is a constant source of smiles and laughs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Overall the ensemble cast did not disappoint. Johnny Depp is fantastic as always (SPOILER) even though his part is short-lived. Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz have some shining moments, and Dame Judi Dench’s monologue about little Daisy Armstrong made me tear up. Lucy Boynton and Sergei Polunin’s respective portrayals of Count & Countess Andrenyi are dark, a hidden gem that is impressive considering their inexperience. Josh Gad was good for the most part, but the chase scene involving Poirot felt awkward. The conflict between Hercule and Dr. Arbuthnot also felt clumsy. Daisy Ridley acted well, but I did not like Mary Debenham’s demeanor. In the book, she is polite and reserved which leads Poirot to suspect she might be the mastermind behind the murder; his suspicion makes little sense in the movie because Mary is much too bright and happy.

The book’s methodical layout is not perfectly suited for a movie. Some may find the added action irritating, but I understand the necessity to shake up the format onscreen. That being said, some of the clues got lost in the shuffle due to a speedier pace. As far as I remember, all the clues from the book were included, but they weren’t given the time they needed to simmer and encourage the audience to consider possible outcomes. Perhaps the extra, non-book stuff could’ve been trimmed to accommodate character interviews and clue discoveries, making the final reveal much more grand than it actually was. I also want to mention that I don’t remember Biniamino Marquez being named at the end. (SPOILER) The twist relies on the shock of twelve people being involved, each with a specific connection to the Armstrong family. The cast may seem large, but those who know the story well won’t miss anything, even if only one name is passed over. This goes back to details being muddled at the end. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the greatest stories ever written in the mystery genre. If you don’t lay it out correctly, you spoil the thrill and fun of the twists and turns.

I love two-thirds of the movie, but the ending is a disappointment. Things can surely get better from here so I hope Kenneth Branagh is giving the chance to continue the series, perhaps with a book that has less adaptations. I truly believe he can do great things with Poirot. The final scene hints at a sequel based on Death on the Nile. How great would that be?! 😄

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boSSSZpAkyw&t=25s

🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂 🔪 👨🏻 🔍 🚂

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– Lauren Michele ❤︎

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Night of the Living Moths

Be honest. You love my bug stories. Need I remind you of the june bug saga?! You can’t make this stuff up!!

• Big Bad June Bug Attack of 2015

• Those Summer Nights

This story begins at midnight on August 28th. I was the last person awake in my household and decided that reading a crime novel would be a great stimulant for sweet dreams. I happened to glance up and see something on the wall. I immediately knew it was a bug and what looked like a moth. Even though I know that they’re harmless, they still make me anxious. While deciding how the heck I was going to dispose of him without disturbing my sleeping family, I didn’t dare move or breathe. In a heart-stopping moment, the moth flew to a new spot on the same wall. Simultaneously I dove off the couch and ran down the stairs, making a beeline (get it?!) for the bug spray & fly swatter. Armed with weaponry, I slowly made my way upstairs. The moth had now moved even lower down the wall, low enough for me to see him up close. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I inched closer until I was halfway behind a wall but still about a foot away from my foe. I thought my fear couldn’t possibly get worse, but then I saw it. This was no ordinary moth. It was the Moth From Hell a.k.a. Mothra. I had never seen a moth with a head like this, if it was actually a moth. It had wings like a moth but a big head that appeared to be red, although I cannot defend the accuracy of what I saw since I had been reading a crime novel. The only thing I can compare it to is the round, red nose of a fighter plane; I’m not even joking.  I couldn’t swat him because my brother was sleeping right behind the wall and had to be up early for work. I knew I had to risk it and use the spray even though Mothra could potentially fly into my face. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to believe that it took me several moments to summon up the courage. Thank God he didn’t move!! I finally pulled up my big girl pants and inwardly commanded myself to JUST DO IT. I assumed the proper stance for quick reaction, said a quick but heartfelt prayer, and sprayed Mothra with the vengeance of Godzilla. Of course he moved so I naturally ran and hid. Big mistake!! When I inched back around the wall, he was G-O-N-E. I thought his movement had been downward due to the lethal spray, but I wasn’t quite ready to search just in case he still had enough life left to fly at me. It was now 1am, and I was panicking. Unfortunately my mom saw the lamplight and decided to see who was still up. She was now part of my late night soap opera episode. We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes searching the entire house for Mothra. We never found his body. Also, my fear became too much for me, and I cried. I don’t mean pitiful tears; I mean my body was shaking and water was leaking out of my eyes like the California drought was at stake. I calmed down a little bit, but nerves still ruined my night. I shut my bedroom door, which I never do, and after a few more hours of reading because I didn’t want to shut my eyes, I tentatively turned off my light. I had a difficult time falling asleep and woke up several times but did eventually get some rest. It still upsets me that Mothra disappeared. I know what I saw was real, but that’s hard to explain when you’re the only one awake and you’ve been reading a crime novel which amps up imagination. If Mothra reveals himself again, dead or alive, I will add an update. Hopefully tonight is uneventful because I am exhausted. 😭

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– Lauren Michele <3

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2016 Wrap-Up | 2017 Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I did it!  With 45 minutes to spare on New Year’s Eve, I completed both of my reading challenges for 2016.  Here is what I read for the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge:

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 Published This Year •

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco 

📚 Finish in a Day •

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 

📚 Meaning to Read •

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 

📚 Recommended by Bookseller or Librarian •

The Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket 

📚 Should Have Read in School •

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace 

📚 Chosen by Spouse, Partner, Sibling, Child, or BFF •

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar 

📚 Published Before You Were Born •

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

 

📚 Banned at Some Point •

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

📚 Previously Abandoned •

Elixir trilogy by Hilary Duff 

📚 Own But Never Read •

An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson 

📚 Intimidates You •

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 

📚 Already Read at Least Once •

Sisters of the Quilt trilogy by Cindy Woodsmall 

• Total: 12 categories & 31 books

• Here are links to my blog updates & my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge:

2016 Reading Challenge

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #1

– 2016 Reading Challenge Update #2

Life Update | November 2016

– My 2016 GoodReads Reading Challenge

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but here I am.  I’ve decided to once again do the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge.  Keep reading to find out my tentative list for the twelve categories.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

📚 A Book You Chose For the Cover – The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

I found this gem in my local library’s teeny tiny used bookstore.  The bright yellow bird against a blue background hooked me, and the murder mystery synopsis reeled me in.  I’m trying my best not to build expectations, but I really hope this book is as good as I want it to be.

📚 A Book With a Reputation for Being Un-Put-Down-AbleSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about this book.  Some people have said it’s one of their favorite books/duologies ever written.  Of course I’m going to start with the first book, but I am optimistic that I will be purchasing book two very soon.

📚 A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit – The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

Fun fact: I am dying to visit Egypt!!  Egyptology is one of my favorite subjects to learn about.

📚 A Book You’ve Already ReadThe Rook by Steven James

The Patrick Bowers Files series is AMAZING.  To be fair, I’ve only read the first two books, but how could it possibly go downhill from there??  I would actually like to read a few of the books in this series in 2017, but I’m setting the bar low so I don’t get too stressed.  I want these reading challenges to remain fun!

📚 A Juicy Memoir –  In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox by Carol Burnett

DUH!  Who wouldn’t want to read behind-the-scenes stories about The Carol Burnett Show?!

📚 A Book About Books or Reading – Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

This book is part of one of my favorite cozy mystery series.  It has been on my shelf for a few years, and it’s about time I got around to reading it.  Fun Fact: The main character’s cat is named Miss Marple.  How cute is that?!

📚 A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid – The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

I rarely read and enjoy contemporary books outside of the mystery genre, but I’m willing to give this book a chance since it revolves around books.

📚 A Book You Don’t Want to Admit You’re Dying to ReadHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’m not embarrassed about this book.  It’s just weird to admit that I’ve never read such a beloved series.  My aunt was kind enough to give me the first book for my birthday so I will definitely be reading it this year.

📚 A Book in the Backlist of a New Favorite Author – Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar

I received all of the books Tessa Afshar has published thus far as Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.  I don’t want to set myself up for failure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish all of them before January 1, 2018.

📚 A Book Recommended by Someone With Great TasteAs Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers

My friend Gabby recommended the Mark of the Lion series years ago, and I finally got around to reading books one and two in 2015.  The experience was so unbelievably mind blowing that I had to take a break.  There is no longer a good excuse so I need to pick up book three NOW.

📚 A Book You Were Excited to Borrow or Buy But Haven’t Read YetThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I am on pins and needles waiting to read this book.  I’m going to watch the movie with my brother first since that’s what I did with Gone Girl.  I realize that sounds like reader sacrilege, but I’m not your average bibliophile.  Watching the movie first or liking it better doesn’t bother me. ;)

📚 A Book About a Subject or Topic You Already LoveWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I haven’t actually seen the musical yet, but I am obsessed with the story and soundtrack.  I liked The Wizard of Oz growing up but fell out of love with it for a period of time.  Listening to the Wicked soundtrack every day has made me fall back in love with Oz, and I am ready to read the story that started it all.  I am on page 32 and loving it so far. 💚

• Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Goodreads Website 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge 

• Modern Mrs. Darcy Blog

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– Lauren Michele <3

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College Graduation – One Year Later

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One year ago today, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  I have struggled with doubt post-graduation.  My memories are vivid, but emotionally and physically I feel as though those three years never happened.  Sometimes a moment will suddenly come to mind and shock me; my response is “Oh my gosh!  That really happened!”  Feeling like the early mornings and sleepless nights never happened makes me doubt how hard I worked and if my achievement is really an impressive accomplishment.  I look at the people in my life continuing their education, and, in my brain, I look lazy in comparison.  Of course that is ridiculous, but I still struggle nonetheless.

On my first day of college,I spent my one hour break crying in a bathroom stall and telling my parents over the phone that I couldn’t finish.  They encouraged me to at least finish my first day and go from there.  I was focused on holding back tears the entire time, but I did make it through my second class.  The rest of the week was horrible, an experience I will never forget.  I slept on the couch and barely ate anything.  My fear was so intense, it made me physically ill.  It was a “Slower Than Molasses” process, but, week by week, I felt better.  I did not like my major.  There were photographers more experienced than me.  I had formal critiques every week.  Every step of the way, I felt like I was fighting against a wall.  I wanted to be anyplace but there, and yet I refused to let myself fail.  I survived!  I made it all the way through and walked a stage in front of a few hundred people to receive my degree.  It all happened so fast, but it did happen; I have the piece of paper to prove that.

Enough of the self-doubt and self-pity!!  I did not get myself through college.  God and the unwavering support of my family pushed and pulled me all the way to the finish line.

(Image Source: https://goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com/2011/12/28/i-can-do/)

(Image Source: http://quotesgram.com/ohana-means-family-lilo-and-stitch-quotes/)

Words will never be enough to express my gratitude. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

(Image Source: http://wherebrownmeetsblue.com/2014/11/11/november-11th/)

*** To those of you currently attending college, you are doing great.  Don’t give up!  You can make it through! ***

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(Image Source: http://daily-blubb.blogspot.com/2015/06/shia-labeouf-do-it-motivational-speech.html)

*** To those of you who have graduated college, congratulations!  Please do not doubt yourself.  What you have accomplished took a lot of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication. ***

(Image Source: http://media.photobucket.com/user/Orvana/media/gifs/cheeringstarterfor10.gif.html?filters%5Bterm%5D=cheering%20gifs&filters%5Bprimary%5D=images&filters%5Bsecondary%5D=videos&sort=1&o=0)

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Shout out to my fellow “Class of 2014” graduates!!  :D :D :D :D :D

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Dresses and Llamas

February 26th, 2015(Source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/danmeth/a-tribute-to-the-memes-of-february-26-2015)

February 26th, 2015, a day made famous by llamas on the loose and a dress of many colors.  Congratulations America!  You have finally cracked.  In all seriousness though, the social media frenzy was amusing.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, allow me to explain starting with the llamas.  Three llamas were scheduled to make a therapy visit to an assisted living facility in Sun City, Florida.  They did indeed arrive and provided company for over an hour.  The handlers took the trio outside for a bathroom break, and that is when the hijinks commenced.  One llama got spooked and successfully attempted to break loose, followed by a partner in crime.  The pair ran around the city for an hour before being corralled.

All of my information came from this article by Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/02/27/llama-drama-2-loose-llamas-lassoed-after-running-amok-in-phoenix-area/

For more amusement, here is Fox 10 Phoenix video footage of the last 34 minutes of the llama chase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIFZQlhg-SQ

Time for The Dress!!!  The following story originated in Scotland and resulted in a social media frenzy and worldwide debate.  A bride-to-be’s mother sent her a picture of the dress she intended to wear to the wedding.  The bride and fiance found themselves arguing over what color the dress was.  The bride posted the picture on Facebook to get outside opinions.  No one could agree on what color it was.  A friend of the bride saw the online debate and decided to take it one step further by posting the image on Tumblr.  The debate took over the internet!  Here is the dress:

The Dress(Source: http://cdn.abclocal.go.com/content/ktrk/images/cms/536706_1280x720.jpg)

What color duo did you immediately see??  If you saw white and gold, you are part of the majority.  If you saw blue and black, you are part of the minority.  Sorry majority!  It has been confirmed that the dress is blue and black.  I saw blue and black the first time I saw the dress, and I still see blue and black.  The only time I saw white and gold is when I looked at a white and gold dress first.

There is a scientific theory that explains why different people see different colors.  I honestly do not care because I see blue and black, and those are the actual colors.  However, if you want to know, here is a New York Times article on the science: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/28/science/white-or-blue-dress.html?_r=0

The Original Story: http://www.businessinsider.com/origin-of-white-gold-or-black-blue-dress-2015-2

As if the color debate was not amusing enough, the dress was found on amazon.co.uk, and gag reviews were posted.  This sounds ridiculous, but some of the reviews are actually hilarious.  Here are some of my favorites:

“As an eye doctor, I placed this dress on display outside my office, and business went through the roof!”  (Anonymous)

“The good: Works equally well as formal or business casual attire.  The bad: Carves a crooked path through perceptual reality and leaves behind it a wake of confusion and existential crises. Also unforgiving on the hips. ”  (Credit to Daniel Wallace)

“I was going to a fancy white and gold party. (It’s a thing) so I bought this dress because clearly, despite the item description, it was the perfect color combination of white and gold. How disappointed I was when half the people attending told me I looked crazy in what they said was a “black and blue” dress. To make a long story short, I am now scared, depressed, friendless, back on my psych meds, questioning my entire existence and filing for divorce tomorrow. I gave it 3 stars Bc the fit is fantastic!”  (Credit to Joli Fine)

 

If you would like to read more gag reviews, here is the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roman-Womens-Detail-Bodycon-Dress/dp/B00SJEUIME/ref=sr_1_1?s=clothing&ie=UTF8&qid=1425096246&sr=1-1&keywords=Roman+Women%27s+Lace+Detail+Bodycon+Dress+Royal+Blue

I hope that rather than boring you this post gave you a good laugh.  Have a great day/afternoon/evening readers!

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”  – Charlie Chaplin

– Lauren Michele :)

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