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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Farewell Rio

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

With sadness, I bid farewell to the 2016 Olympics.  I have been filled with pride and joy watching my teams compete these past two weeks.  Yes, I said teams.  Of course USA is my number one, but I also support the countries that make up my heritage.  After all, they are underdogs compared to team USA.  No harm done!  Let’s take a look at the medal count:

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

• Team USA 🇺🇸 | 121 Medals | 46 G – 37 S – 38 B

• Team Great Britain 🇬🇧 | 67 Medals | 27 G – 23 S – 17 B

• Team Spain 🇪🇸 | 17 Medals | 7 G – 4 S – 6 B

• Team Israel 🇮🇱 | 2 Medals | 2 B

• Team Ireland 🇮🇪 | 2 Medals | 2 S

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

What were your favorite moments in Rio?? I have so many I could mention, but I will try to narrow it down.  I felt like a proud mother watching Michael Phelps have one last successful Olympic games after the rough few years he’s had (maybe he’ll be back!).  The USA women’s gymnastics team kicked butt and made me feel more patriotic than I have ever felt in my entire life.  Shout-out to Michael Phelps (5G, 1S), Katie Ledecky (4G, 1S), and Simone Biles (4G, 1B)!!  According to Google, they are the top medalists for 2016.  Team USA made me proud all around, but it felt good to dominate artistic gymnastics and swimming.  After a rough start, I am so proud of Spain for getting the bronze in men’s basketball.  Also, a silver in women’s basketball.  Top 3 in the world.  Not too shabby!!  I watched Marc Lopez & Rafael Nadal win gold in men’s doubles.  I’m pretty sure I grew gray hair during that match.  The stress was real, but Lopez earned his first medal, and Rafa now has a gold medal in singles and doubles.  I watched Team GB get the gold in women’s field hockey.  It was a stressful but thrilling game.  Well done ladies!  I did not have the pleasure of watching Ireland at all, but I am nonetheless proud.  Last but certainly not least, I want to express my admiration for Team Israel.  My heart breaks knowing that the Israeli athletes continue to be treated like trash.  However, they held their heads high, maintained composure, and walked away with two medals.

Farewell Olympics!  See you in Tokyo!! 🇯🇵

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Once Upon a Disney

I promised you more Disney so prepare yourself for an avalanche of nothing but DISNEY.  These decisions were very, VERY difficult so please understand if I give more than one answer.

* * * NOTE: Press Command + to make the blog bigger, and click on each image to make it bigger. * * *

• Favorite Disney Park – Disneyland

I’m a loyal California girl. 🌞

• Favorite Disney Park Attraction – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

This ride has just enough twists and turns to excite me but not scare me.  I am not ashamed to admit I am a wimp when it comes to roller coasters.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVP82m5KdDY

• Favorite Moment/Experience at a Disney Park

I have numerous memories from visiting Disney parks over the past 10+ years, but there is no time like the first time.  I was eight years old, disney-obsessed, and way too excited to notice crowds and hurting feet.  No negatives, only positives.  I still have my autograph book and pictures from that trip.  Good times!

• Favorite Disney Channel Show – Lizzie McGuire

I am the brunette version of Lizzie.  One disaster after another. 😑

Do You Actually Remember Lizzie McGuire? – http://www.playbuzz.com/emilyg11/do-you-actually-remember-lizzie-mcguire

I answered 12/15 questions correctly.  Not bad!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0TYjqBqgBo

Lizzie McGuire Episodes on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/search?q=Lizzie+McGuire&type=episodes

• Favorite Animated Disney Channel Show – Kim Possible

Do you remember the Kim Possible clothing line??  I do!!  I went through a looong Kim Possible/spy phase.  It was fantastic. 😄

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I43SMbqOMmY

Kim Possible Episodes on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/search?q=Kim+Possible&type=episodes

• Favorite Disney Channel Original Movie(s) – Stuck in the Suburbs, Cheetah Girls 12, and the High School Musical trilogy

Baby Taran Killam??  Yes please!!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCbIf8RvtIo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFANFWpIB8

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-Zwp_CQpp8

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZpSOSfymV4

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7SPi5fkT5Q

Me and my friends used to pretend we were the Cheetah Girls; my identities were Chanel and Dorinda.  I still know most of the lyrics to their songs.  Cheetahlicious!!

I had a sleepover when HSM 2 premiered, and, when I hosted a sleepover for my dance school friends, we watched the trilogy.  We’re all in this together!

*Note: I know #3 isn’t a Disney Channel original movie, but I couldn’t mention one without the other two.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6EOUaWscrE

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3G1BogR-68

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x42aPmtnVDg

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UiHFHF-Nqk

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HcCNMbrpUY

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEQXcbqvbT0

• Favorite Disney Princess Movie – Mulan & Aladdin

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bpM0UNsy5s

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00BZSEWFhTo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJJog4BJrUw

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWLa6y7Z2TE

• Favorite Disney Princess(es) – Mulan & Jasmine

Mulan’s courage is something I admire and strive for.  Imagine that!  A cartoon character as a role model.  Jasmine is exotic and beautiful (yes, a cartoon character can be beautiful).  She longs to be independent, free from strict rules; I can relate to that as an artist.  Mulan is my favorite, but Jasmine is a close second because she was my favorite growing up.

• Favorite Disney Prince – Flynn Rider & Aladdin

Hypothetically, if I had to pick a Disney prince to marry, it would probably  be Flynn.  Why?  I am a serious person so I need someone to balance out my drama with humor.  Flynn is a funny guy, but he also has a good heart underneath all the capers and hijinks.

No matter what Aladdin wants, he always follows his heart and does the right thing.  For example, he steals bread to feed his empty stomach, but, after outrunning a group of soldiers, he decides to give the bread to two children digging in the trash for food.  He has three wishes, and he chooses to give Genie his freedom with the 3rd.

• Favorite Royal Disney Couple/Love Story – Beast/Prince Adam & Belle

Belle looks past Beast’s scary appearance and makes an effort to be his friend when no other human will.  Beautiful!

• Favorite Animated Disney Movie – Tarzan

The environment, story, and music blend together in sweet harmony.  There is never a moment when watching the movie is a bad idea.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc3MnoSS5Hw

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfciC33t3M0

Fun Fact: There was a TV show on Disney Channel called Legend of Tarzan.  Look it up on Youtube and enjoy!

*Note: My current top seven animated Disney movies are Tarzan, Hercules, Aladdin, Brother Bear, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan, and Lilo & Stitch.  This list is subject to change.  Yes, Mulan was ahead of Aladdin in the “Disney Princess Movie” category, but from a broader point of view Aladdin is in the lead.  I’m just now noticing six of my top seven movies have a male protagonist.  Interesting!

• Favorite Non-Royal Disney Couple/Love Story – Tarzan & Jane

They are basically the non-royal equivalent of Beast and Belle except Tarzan isn’t arrogant, and he remains a jungle man.  Adorable!

• Favorite Non-Princess Disney Character(s) – Megara & Esmeralda

Both are beautiful and sassy.  Need I say more?!  When I was little, I went through a gypsy phase.  I wore my Esmeralda skirt ALL the time, and, to top it off, I wore my Pocahontas shirt.  Disney fashion at its finest!

Favorite Non-Prince Disney Character – Stitch, Phil, & Phoebus

Stitch is quirky and adorable, and he feels like he doesn’t belong anywhere, which is something I feel on a daily basis.  Basically we’re long lost twins.  Phoebus is hysterical; he is Flynn Rider #2.  What can I say?  I like to laugh. 😂

• Favorite Talking Disney Sidekick(s) – Genie & Mushu

This category is hard to narrow down because some of the best Disney characters are sidekicks.  Genie is Robin Williams in cartoon form.  We’re not worthy of his genius!!  Mushu’s personality never ceases to make me cry from laughter, and I most definitely need Pegasus in my life.  I wouldn’t have to drive! 👍

• Favorite Non-Talking Disney Sidekick(s): Meeko, & Pegasus

I split the sidekick category because this decision felt like I was choosing my favorite child, and I had to make room for indecision.  ;)  I have ALWAYS loved Meeko & Pegasus.  Both of them are adorable, and they have some attitude.  Meeko is mischievous, and Pegasus is sassy.

• Favorite Disney Villain – Hades

Hades is a villain, but he’s also funny.  I’m not comparing the two, but he brings to mind a villainous version of Genie.  Maybe, maybe not.

• Animated Disney Character(s) I Am Most Like – Belle & Megara

I have fair skin, brown hair, and green eyes like Belle (green and hazel eyes are similar).  Also, I love reading.  I am quite sassy and stubborn; that’s where Megara fits into the puzzle.  It is 50/50.  Sugar & spice.  Call me Bellegara!!

• Least Favorite Character(s) From a Disney Movie – Francis from Swiss Family Robinson and Snow White from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I mean no offense, but I am personally annoyed by these two characters, especially their voices.

 

• Favorite Soundtrack From An Animated Disney Movie – Tarzan & Brother Bear

Phil Collins is a musical genius!!  <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

• Favorite Song From An Animated Disney Movie – I See the Light

This song is lyrically touching and vocally stunning.  It also translates seamlessly into other languages.  To me, that is what makes it not just a good song but a great song.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mayDR-PlXo

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEdfsxz274I

*Note: Some of my other favorite songs (in no particular order) include A Whole New World, God Bless the OutcastsGo the DistanceHawaiian Roller Coaster Ride, I’ll Make a Man Out of You, I Wont Say I’m in LoveLook Through My Eyes, and Two Worlds.  I’m not sure I could ever pick a definite top 3 or 5 or 10.  Way too hard a decision!

• Favorite Cover of a Song From an Animated Disney Movie – Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride by Jump  5

I blasted Jump 5 back in the day.  This song always puts a smile on my face and makes me want to dance.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7wS3Pt7E68

• Favorite Pixar Movie(s) –  Monsters, Inc. series

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tCxnHCqqxg

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBzPioph8CI

I can’t explain exactly why these are my favorite Pixar movies.  All I can say is I love the concept and the heart of this series.  Fun Fact: I have stuffed animal versions of Mike and Sully from Monsters University on my bed.  That’s right!  Making my twenties awesome. 😉

• Favorite Pixar Character(s) – Mike Wasowski & Woody.

I love Woody’s loyalty and desire to preserve tradition.  I love that no matter how many times Mike gets criticized and knocked down, he gets back up and finds a way to succeed.  A friend and a fighter, two things I strive to be.

• Favorite Song From a Pixar Movie: Life is a Highway, Rascal Flatts

Every time I watch the movie, I can’t help singing out loud when this song plays.

🎶 Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind  🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UdZIh8_xGc

• What Disney/Pixar Movie(s) Makes Me Cry Without Fail – Lilo & Stitch & Toy Story 3

Stitch feels like he does not belong anywhere.  Who hasn’t felt that way at some point in their life??

Throughout the entire movie, Andy is dealing with saying goodbye to childhood.  The story never ceases to make me cry because I am currently struggling with that very issue.

Honestly, I think every Disney movie has at least one part that makes me tear up.  When Bambi’s mother dies in Bambi.  When Sulley says goodbye to Boo in Monsters, Inc.  When Aladdin sets Genie free in Aladdin.  The ENTIRE The Fox and the Hound movie.  The ENTIRE Dumbo movie.  When Ariel says goodbye to her dad at the end of The Little Mermaid.  There are numerous other scenes that make me cry, too many to count.  Disney certainly knows how to tug at one’s heartstrings! 😭

• Favorite Live-Action Disney Movie(s) – Into the Woods, Pirates of the Caribbean Series, & The Moon-Spinners

The acting, music, and visuals in this film are a delight to experience from start to finish.  Absolute magic!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Byk9Is3TjY

Dark, thrilling, and full of pirates.  What’s not to love?!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DXNYUTmGxA

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elqO-GNfStM

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBTL8A1F4j4

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8wi_1H0N8g

This film is a hidden gem I discovered at my childhood library.  It has been one of my favorite movies ever since.

A Scene From The Moon-Spinners:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83RB454iwpY

• Favorite Live-Action Disney Character – Jack Sparrow

He’s a handsome, funny, passionate pirate.  Saavy?!

• Favorite Soundtrack From a Live-Action Disney Movie – Into the Woods

Into the Woods Youtube Playlist:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEkKIlGDjm8&list=PLeVu9A85gHUCpYls-Z01rAdnSFT1mnC8M

• Favorite Song From a Live-Action Disney Movie – Agony

AHEM……….

Please don’t judge me because I am totally judging myself right now.  It’s a good song!!  If you love showtunes and over-the-top drama, trust me and listen to the song.

Agony Movie Scene:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmixlJ79ZF0

• Favorite Disney Quote

If you are new to my blog, I recently returned from my first trip to Orlando, Florida.  In the spirit of all things Disney, I made an “All Things Disney” playlist on my Youtube Channel.  Here are all the necessary links:

“All Things Disney” Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUvowXnQBLryo5tiEsNMI2Rc8x6jHuSjH

Disney Challenge:

Follow Me Around Epcot & Hollywood Studios:

Follow Me Around Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom:

If you watch the videos and enjoy them, please don’t forget to give each video a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel.  That helps me out a lot as a Youtuber and encourages me to keep doing what I am doing.  Please & thank you.  :)

BREAKING NEWS!!!

EEK!!!  My “Aladdin” Diamond Edition arrived.  I see a movie night in my near future.  Thank you madre!  <3

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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Moving On

Moving On

On Monday I left Texas, my home of 13 years. My family’s 6-bedroom house provided shelter to 26 people, not including me, my parents, and my brother; I always had extended family around me. On Tuesday I arrived in California, my new home; my family currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment above a garage. Quite the adventure we are on!! The picture you see above is my room, an empty room bursting at the seams full of memories. It is amazing to recall all the things that took place in that space: Babysitting, beauty transformations, concerts, counseling, dance practice, dreams, doll shenanigans, dramatic dress up, DVD viewings, emotional breakdowns, exercise sessions, fashion shows, fights, hide-and-seek, 2+ hour phone calls, illness rehabilitation, internet browsing, late night reading, outfit planning, schoolwork, and sleepovers. One last thing: Me and my best friend Gabby officially became friends in that room thanks to “Lord of the Beans.” I moved to Texas when I was 8, and I am now 21. My middle school, junior high, high school, and college years took place in that state. Many different struggles and transitions took place in that house; perhaps now you have a better idea of why it is so special to me. It is bittersweet to move on, but I will always carry the memories with me in my heart.

Treasure each moment readers! You never know when you will be uprooted and replanted.

– Lauren Michele :)

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