Archives for March 2017

Tale as old as time

Earlier this week, Brian and I had the privilege of attending a pre-screening of Beauty & the Beast in 3-D Imax.

As expected, the movie was utterly delightful. Following a similar path as live-action Cinderella, Beauty & the Beast offered a more detailed backstory for our heroine and also clued us in to more of Beast’s tale. Unlike Cinderella, the movie needed to take fewer liberties for dialogue and plot thanks to an already rich screenplay.

Belle and Beast dancing during the titular song

Fun fact: The costume designers created ethical and sustainable costumes made from fair-trade fabrics.

With 1991’s Best Picture nominee, they knew not to mess with the story too much, adding a few new musical numbers and smart character-building dialogue to the film.

The story of Belle and Beast is more developed, showing how she might be falling for him, despite the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. With lines like, “Can anyone ever really be happy when they’re not free?” and “we don’t like what we don’t understand,” and a slightly more diverse cast than the original animation, Disney is trying to fight some of the stigmas that have plagued earlier films.

Belle and Beast in the castle library

Let’s talk about that library, though. Seriously. Who wants one? Hand raises?

The music was…well, it was okay. Once you get past the auto tune job they did on Emma Watson and the weird filter they put on Dan Stevens’ vocals, the songs you know and love plus a few new tunes wrap the movie in a familiar melodic blanket. I enjoyed the new music, including Audra McDonald’s stellar performance as Madame Garderobe (Wardrobe) and a melancholy song, “Days in the Sun,” which replaces the Broadway and remastered animated song, “Human Again” – a song I wasn’t sad to see removed from this soundtrack as I never quite loved it.

Fandango Beauty and the Beast Ticketing Banner
The Disney CGI magic blew me away, as usual. The beast is almost real, the castle staff is incredibly detailed and ornate in a way that adds new depth to the visuals. “Be Our Guest” was everything I hoped it would be with Ewan McGregor at the helm. The scene itself was pure Disney magic at its finest.

Gaston tries to Charm Belle with flowers

Luke Evans may have been may favorite, with my opinion of Gaston waffling from moderately attractive to completely heinous and despicable. Everything I want in a fairy tale villain. His “Mob Song” was incredible, and I’m quite sure of the solo vocals, his were my favorite closely followed by Lefou’s “Gaston.”

Of course, I’m sure you’ve heard by now of Josh Gad’s Lefou coming out of the closet he’s been living in since 1991. It’s a brief scene at the end of the movie, in which he dances with another man. Blink and you might miss it. But throughout the movie, you’ll find other adorable Lefou nuggets that are sweet and funny in a very relatable way.

Gaston and Lefou riding horses

Keep an eye out for a few nods to Watson’s breakout role as Hermione Granger, including a glimpse of Hedwig and Crookshanks.

Should you see Beauty & the Beast in 3-D? I vote no, and definitely not IMAX. While the CGI work is fantastic,  you lose some of the visuals with the rapid movement in IMAX, which I also found distracting.

Overall, a fine high-budget trip down memory lane to accommodate my generation’s obsession with nostalgia. I’ll go see it again for sure. Are you planning on checking this one out? What are you most excited about?

Fandango - Beauty and the Beast Sweepstakes
Beauty & the Beast stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast” is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017.

All images used with permission from Walt Disney Studios.

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The story of train nemesis

Today is the second day without my train nemesis. She’s gone forever. I know this because I was listening to her conversation on Monday, as I tend to do in close quarters with strangers, and she told some new guy that she was donezo and then again when she told my favorite conductor. Of course, I had already noticed she was using a ten-ride instead of a monthly, so I was suspicious that she would no longer be a regular.

My relationship with Train Nemesis wasn’t long lived, but important enough that I feel the need to eulogize her existence in my life. 

Riding the metra in Chicago

The backstory: Brian and I take the train together. Since our first train line back in Downers Grove, we’ve always appreciated the double seats that face each other. We usually get a little extra space and we look at look at each other should we decide to converse.

Riding the metra

Occasionally, though, the train will become overcrowded, someone will try to sit down next to me and across from Brian, and I’ll walk away from the seat.

The first time this lady demanded to sit down, I got up and walked away, giving her my seat. Brian says I’ve done this with a smidge of an attitude,  but I am tired and grouchy in the morning. And okay fine, irritated that anyone thinks these four seaters are designed for more than two adults. Also, my mama didn’t teach me the words, “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you” for nothin’. 

Now, this has happened with a few people prior to and after my first encounter with Train Nemesis. It’s rare, and I just deal with it. Each time, I get up and walk away. Sometimes,  I set in the train vestibule, which I used to do in the mornings back on the Downers Grove line. Sometimes, I sit on the stairs. Sometimes, I’ll just go find another seat. 

It was January 2017 when I realized this lady wasn’t playing. She was miserable, and she was going to enjoy judging the fuck out of me.

She was the ringleader of the ladies who gossip about the horrible girl who gets up and switches seats so she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or, worse, hurts her back in the process.

The first time I heard her talking about me, Brian was sitting in the seat across from her. She was talking to some other women about me, but I couldn’t quite hear her. According to my intel, she was snottily talking about how I do it all the time and what in the world is wrong with me? How could I possibly expect to not share the seat?

There's no leg room on the metra

Can we talk about the leg room here? How can you possibly expect to share this with four people?

The second time it happened, I had moved two seats back on the train, and I watched her as she spoke about me with such vitriole. She laughed as she thought about me sitting on the stairs and not having a seat, because I was so stupid and didn’t like to share.

I wanted to cry, but I tweeted instead. She was so mean about it, loudly proclaiming what a horrible person I was, that I considered switching trains. But I decided that the next time it happened I would tell her how mean she was behaving. 

And instead of there being a next time, she’s gone. 

Of course, she did have the occasional redeeming qualities. Her sense of holiday style was not unlike the one I plan to exhibit in my sixties.

So here’s to you, Nemesis. You were a meanish lady, but you might sort of be missed on this train, if only for the fodder.

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