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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Injured Reserve

My clumsiness is no secret, but I have outdone myself. If you’re even the least bit squeamish, LEAVE NOW JUST IN CASE!!

1. On Friday September 15th while folding clothes at work, I looked down and realized my arm was scratched and bleeding; I still have no idea when or where it happened.

2. On Saturday September 16th while carrying a heavy sign at work, I stubbed my toe. It hurt momentarily, but I didn’t think anything of it. When I put the sign down, I realized my toe was bleeding… A LOT. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it seemed; my toenail was only partially split, and the bruise caused very little discomfort.

3. Fast forward to Thursday September 21st. I was preparing my usual breakfast: coffee & a blueberry bagel with lactose free cream cheese. The cream cheese was brand new so I slid my finger around the container to loosen the lid. What you think happened did happen and required immediate medical attention. Nothing a quick patch up couldn’t fix! I went back to preparing my bagel and found myself uttering these words: “Dang it! I got cream cheese on my band-aid.”

4. I can’t remember the exact date, but I know that sometime that same week I tripped going up the stairs and scraped my leg in two places. I can’t even remember the last time this happened to me so it was bound to happen sooner or later. The bruises are still visible.

One, two, three, FOUR accidents in one week. That is quite possibly a record! The embarrassment is long gone so feel free to laugh at my expense. If you don’t want to laugh at me (I appreciate your loyalty), laugh at this girl. ⬇️

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Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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– Lauren Michele <3

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No Laughing Matter

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

Palley, Stuart. The Border Fire burns near Campo and Potrero Wednesday in San Diego County, California. Web. 31 Aug. 2016. http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos#slide-5.

I consider myself a person with a good sense of humor.  I try my best to decipher the appropriate times to let go and laugh.  This is not one of those times.  Recently, I noticed some jokes on social media centered around the California drought.  I not only find this in bad taste but extremely offensive.  I am a California girl born and raised so I am naturally protective, but I have other reasons.  The drought is much more than a shortage of water.  Thanks to the lack of rain and scorching temperatures, the Golden State is kindling ready to ignite.  Hearing about or driving by a fire is a daily occurrence.  A few weeks ago, the shopping center where I work was more crowded than usual because people were waiting for the smoke from a nearby fire to clear from the air.  Of course some fires are started by people, but the dry conditions invite the flames to spread with open arms.  Farmers are scrambling to protect their livelihood.  Families have lost their homes.  People have lost their lives.  Is that funny??  NO!!  Yes, there are selfish people who have not taken the drought seriously, but that is not an excuse.  It doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are regarding this state.  Next time you want to poke fun at the California drought, remember the people whose lives are being negatively affected.  Let this be a lesson to us all: educate yourself before opening your mouth.

If you need more proof of the devastation, here are links to eye-opening images:

• http://mashable.com/2015/09/14/valley-fire-devastation-photos/#HLDqTGuiASqh

• http://www.outsideonline.com/2109026/man-behind-summers-most-iconic-fire-photos

• http://stuartpalley.photoshelter.com/index/G0000ZMVoBzIEtqs/I0000BH7TwqpPOO0

 

 

Dance Until The Music Stops

This is a difficult subject for me to discuss, but this blog is like my diary so I need to be honest.  I recently took on the project of turning my dance recital DVDs into digital files so I could put all of my routines into one video.  Doing so brought up a lot of good memories but also an equal amount of bad memories.  I am my own worst critique.  It is a rare occasion for me to watch myself dance and think that I did a good job.  Watching old routines makes me realize how hard a time I had as a dancer.  Was I a good dancer?  Yes.  Was I a great dancer?  No.  What made the difference?  Fear.  The biggest problem I see when I dance is my tentativeness.  I was never able to to dance without flooding my mind with doubts and fears:  “Do I look fat in this costume?”  “No one will watch me if I look fat!”  “Suck in your stomach!”  “Do I remember all the steps?”  “What if I forget the routine?”  “I’m going to forget something!”  “That was a terrible performance!”  “I never want to dance again!”  That’s the basic idea of my dancer’s brain.  Never stopping, never quiet.  Unfortunately, I fall into the category of dancers who’ve fallen prey to distorted body image and eating disorders.  I went to extreme lengths to lose weight.  I thought that if I looked more like a ballerina, I would improve at dancing.  At the time I thought my body was an eyesore, but now I realize I was indeed skinny.  I looked the part, but it wasn’t by healthy measures.  I loved to dance, but I could never overcome the obstacle of fear.  When I first watched “Riverdance” on VHS and saw Michael Flatley and Jean Butler dance, I had no reservations.  I just wanted to dance!  Somewhere along the way, I allowed fear to beat me down and destroy my passion.

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”  – Merce Cunningham

• On a happier note, I will forever be grateful for my dance mates.  No one understands the bond between dancers until you have navigated the ups and downs of dance with the same group for years.

I want to encourage boys, girls, men & women dealing with these or similar struggles.  Please don’t let fear run your life!  Take one step at a time and give your all to whatever you are doing.  Failure wont harm you so don’t be afraid to try.  If it doesn’t work out, don’t blame yourself.  When dance turned out to be a stepping stone in my life, I blamed myself for being fat and lacking talent.  The truth is God had always intended for me to turn my attention to something else.  Each and every one of us is dealing with obstacles.  You are not alone!

• It is time to start dancing with abandon & have some fun! :D

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

• I leave you with wise words from a special group of vegetables. ;)

Source: https://twitter.com/veggietales/status/421387397167722496

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Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Growing Up Is Hard To Do (Source: https://nescbwi.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/childrensmuseumlogo.jpg)

Good morning Vietnam!!!  Sorry.  I saw an opportunity, and I went for it.  I know this a VERY early post, but I felt the need to write so here I am.  I recently had a sleepover with my best friend Gabby.  Words cannot even begin to describe how much fun we had being silly and reminiscing.  It felt like the good ol’ days homeschooling and playing together every day, a time when we had the freedom to dress up and imagine ourselves as anything we wanted to be.  So many lives were lived between middle school and high school; the experiences felt so real, and we learned something from each character.  I cannot speak for all children of this current generation, but I do not see as much dress-up and make-believe as I used to.  What a shame!  I’m sure Gabby would agree that letting our imaginations run wild made our childhood unforgettable in the best possible way.  The memories are countless, and we as adults are much more creative and thoughtful.  However, there is a downside to all of this.  Because my childhood was so great, growing up is proving to be a painful process.  I’m not having trouble maturing and taking on responsibility, but it is hard to move on.  College classes and jobs have taken over, and there is less time for hanging out and having fun.  I know there is no solution because adulthood cannot be stalled; it is a natural part of life.  The only thing I can do is treasure and enjoy each moment of nostalgia that comes along.  I believe there is a happy medium between carefree child and responsible adult; all it takes is wisdom, knowing the appropriate time for each role.  For instance, right now is an appropriate time for some ’90s cartoons.  “Rocket Power!!”

“Childhood lasts all through all through life.”  – Gaston Bachelard

Good night/morning readers. Stay young at heart!

– Lauren Michele :)

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