Watched, Read, Loved: September 2017

Yay! Spring is here in South-Africa and I couldn’t be more excited. When the weather is so much better I am so much better. Getting to work while the sun is actually up makes me a much nicer colleague.

I’ve been doing a couple of Parkruns. My work gave us all the opportunity in taking part in the Discovery Pulse challenge, which made me realize (again) how little steps I take each day. I’ve been trying to average it at 5000 steps, but that is already a challenge. The challenge officially began on the 27th of September 2017, and I really am working hard to do everything healthier – eating, sleeping, more exercise, less stress (HA!). It runs for three months and I will definitely let you know how it progresses.

movies logo

Movies

The Fate of The Furious: Continuing the ridicule of series that is the Fast Franchise, Dominic Toretto this time abandons his family for some obscure reason. I really enjoy these films because they are so brain dead and is just easy entertainment, but this one was particularly ridiculous.

Hidden Figures: So.Much.Love. It is heartwarming and beautiful with excellent performances, and I am so happy the film was released in such an important time in history. Not only is it about racial prejudice, it is about female empowerment, determination, love, courage and there are also great scenes of the early days of NASA.

Walk the line

Walk The Line: I was SO proud when I finally watched this – I’ve had the DVD on my shelf for many years now, and I remember hearing people rave about it but I never really made the effort to see for myself. Well, it was great, and a great Blindspot choice for me.

the-girl-on-the-train

The Girl on the Train: It was okay. I enjoyed Blunt (I always do), and her supporting female co-stars where all very strong. I also really do like Luke Evans. The big plot twist – I caught it half right so I was marginally impressed. Definitely not as good as Gone Girl, but interesting all the same.

Easy A (Official Movie Poster)

Easy A (2010): Emma Stone is one of my favourite young Hollywood stars. She’s just so incredibly talented and really funny. Easy A is some of her earlier work and she’s hilarious as Olive Pendergast. If I ever have daughters I hope they are like Olive – not willing to take bad behaviour from friends, loyal, hilarious, inventive and wildly inappropriate.

Wild Child

Wild Child (2008): Many people wouldn’t necessarily like this film, but I really do. It is one of my favourite teen movies, and although it isn’t as sharp as Easy A, Mean Girls, Heathers or Clueless (other favourites), it still remains one of the nicest things to watch, reminiscent of a time where Emma Roberts and Alex Pettyfer were clean cut, sweet individuals (probably not that sweet).

australia

Australia (2008): One of Baz Luhrman’s work I have had the least exposure to, Australia is a tribute to the wild and terrifying glory that is the continent of Australia. Hugh Jackman is ridiculously attractive, wildly blown out of proportion delicious, and the dainty and unexpectedly hilarious Nicole Kidman impressed me with some of the humour she injected into her character. This was definitely a great watch and I will watch it more in the future

clueless

Clueless: Clueless is one of my favorite “high-school” films. It is so silly and sweet and Paul Rudd is so adorable and Alicia Silverstone is so friggin adorable. You can’t feel bad after watching something like this, you just can’t.

books

Books:

gone girl

Gone Girl: Gillian Flynn I actually started reading this after The Girl on The Train, because it made me want to explore more thrillers. I am really enjoying so far and finding the writer pretty good at telling a story.

Hot Rocks: Nora Roberts I can’t decide whether it will be worth my time actually reviewing this. I’ve now successfully proven to bestie that I can actually read and review a book and then just not remember it, and it might very well happen with this novel. It wasn’t bad and I actually had a pretty great time, but it feels superfluous reviewing every single Nora Roberts book I read

Advertisements

Series Review: Pride and Prejudice (1995)

pride-and-prejudice-1995-1

The BBC series adaption of Pride and Prejudice is nothing short of iconic. You mention Pride and Prejudice and the majority of people are as likely to think of this series as they are of the novel. While there are other adaptions (such as the 2005 adaption and the ridiculously fun 2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), the series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth will always be used as a benchmark for the book. As otherwise as I usually like to be, I sat down with the series after I watched the other two films.

 wallpaper-pride-and-prejudice-1995-32121773-1280-720

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet is my favorite version of Elizabeth. She manages to capture Elizabeth’s independence and intelligence, and she always seems to be constantly smirking at Darcy. In my opinion Ehle is much prettier than Susannah Harker’s Jane Bennet – I only mention this because in the book it is clear that Jane is supposed to be the prettier one. Harker makes a decent Jane, though she falls short of my favorite. Jane is always the sweet sister, and although there is nothing wrong with her she is definitely the more stereotypical female of so long ago.

 bingley

Crispin Bonham-Carter as Charles Bingley is my favorite Bingley. He is as charming, sweet-natured and handsome as Bingley is supposed to be. The character will always be the direct opposite to Darcy, which always makes their friendship baffling and sweet. Bingley is besotted with Jane, and only his inability to see his sister Caroline (Anna Chancellor) for the horrific person she actually is makes him do silly things such as run away from Jane.

Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet achieved what the other ladies in her role couldn’t achieve – the woman drives me crazy. If you’ve read the book you will remember that this character is supposed to drive you crazy – so this statement is an accolade rather than an insult. Mrs. Bennet is self-involved, silly, a really poor mother, a huge embarrassment to her older daughters, an enabler in her younger daughters’ poor behavior and just generally the most frustrating character to be written in a long, long time. I also enjoyed Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet – he had a lot of the sarcasm and sass Mr. Bennet is supposed to have.

As for the sisters other than Jane, Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet and Lucy Briers as Mary Bennet are favorites. Julia captures Lydia’s callous disregard for her family and Briers was a perfect Mary – long suffering, dull, and despite her attempts to appear noble and wise as shallow and embarrassing as the majority of her family. Kitty Bennet is always a bit on the background and not as focused on. Polly Maberly did good in that role as well, but as it is rarely focused on I won’t claim it is my favorite performance.

pride-and-prejudice-1995-bluray-720p-dts-x264-chd-e01-mkv_001722677

And last but not least for the character discussions, there is Mr. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. In the role that started and defined his career, Firth gives as a Darcy that we can strongly root for. Darcy is such a poop in the beginning, but as Zoë and I discussed, his atrocious snobbery and behavior makes him falling so hard for Elizabeth that much more rewarding. His character undergoes such strong changes when he ultimately falls for Elizabeth – it is rewarding and beautiful and powerful.

I really liked the costume and set design. The dresses are gorgeous and styled, something which lacks and seriously grieved me in the 2005 adaption. They also kept the house good looking, again a flaw in the 2005 version, as the Bennets’ are never poor, they just aren’t as rich as the elite. I really did like the dresses they put Elizabeth in, so white and gorgeous. The hair – those curled fringes, made me want to cry. No woman, no matter how beautiful, can make such horrid styling work. It was deplorable.

 252eb8b7-b348-4176-8f37-82cc6d8f4858

The only thing that made me enjoy the series a little less was the music score. I’ve never been a fan of classical whiney screechy music, and it is all over the series. It deducted from my experience. The flashback moments done in the series had me smirking and sighing, but they probably did the best they could with their available technology.

 P-P-1995-Screencaps-Random-pride-and-prejudice-1995-6149935-1280-720

The ultimate love declaration? This is the closest to the book. I like it for the pure Britishness of it all. It is like “I love you, but let’s not embarrass ourselves”. Something I like about the entire story is how Elizabeth’s feelings change towards Darcy – it’s not sudden, it is a gradual realization that he’s not so bad as she thought and her realization of her own mistakes. If I can say, controversially, that my favorite declaration of love still comes from Mr. Darcy in PPZ, you must please forgive me. His deliverance and his Elizabeth’s reaction are so incredible that it not only stands out in this little genre, but across a large part of movies for me.

The Pride and Prejudice Series conclude my watching of Pride and Prejudice work for the first time. I am really sad about it, so anyone who wants to do another (GOOD) adaption, please see this as a beacon call for it to happen. I enjoyed all three films, and Zoë and I plan to do a discussion post soon about it, and then you will really know which actors act where in there for us.

Have you seen this? Please let me know so we can fan-club together!

Book Review: Jewels of the Sun (Nora Roberts)

Jewels

Plot: Determining to reevaluate her life, Jude Murray flees America to take refuge in Faerie Hill Cottage, immersing herself in the study of Irish Folk and discovers hope for the future of the magical past.

Finally back home in Ireland after years of traveling, Aidan Gallagher possesses an uncommon understanding of his country’s haunting myths. Although he’s devoted to managing the family pub, a hint of wildness still glints in his stormy eyes–and in Jude, he sees a woman who can both soothe his heart and stir his blood. And he begins to share the legends of the land with her–while they create a passionate history of their own..

Rating: 6.5/10

I always think that I have read all that there is to read with Roberts. I think of her work in four categories – her JD Robb work I haven’t really touched, her thriller mysteries which I devour,  her romance trilogies such as this, which I really thought I had covered them all, and her Mills and Boon novels which I really rarely, rarely venture in to.

So when I the Gallaher family series naturally I had to investigate. There is a clear distinction between  Nora Roberts writing Irish stories and real Irish writers writing Irish stories. They can’t be grouped together and Roberts really writes perfectly nice books about them but it is clear she doesn’t have the cultural grasp of the nation as the authentic ones do. Her characters are nearly cartoonish with their cultural habits and they are all, always, the “black Irish”. But anyway, I’m not here to bash one of my favorite authors, that is just the impression I wanted to share with you.

Jude Murray – who names their child Jude? – is unsure of who she is when she lands in Ireland. Since we’ve all been there I won’t really blame her. She meets the incredibly attractive and remarkable single bar owner, Aidan Gallagher. She’s clearly immediately what he’s been waiting for his whole life, and he finds her neurosis and anal personality endearing and not irritating as shit. (Because this is a totally legitimate love story). But there is more – Jude is living with the town ghost, who has been cursed to stay as a ghost in eternity because she spurned a proud Prince Fairy’s advances when she was a married woman. Men and their fragile egos aren’t made for positions of power. So there are some conversations with ghosts and fairies and sad souls all in the midst of Jude and Aidan falling in love, and we are kept entertained and a little flabbergasted throughout the book.

Despite all my mean spirited thoughts, I actually did like this book. It is innocent, empty fun and you don’t have to think way too much about it. Despite the cartoonish cultural attachments, I enjoy Aidan. He’s obviously written to be a hero and he’s good at that. Jude is my favorite of the three female characters in the trilogy – Darcy is a gold digger and Brenna was written as this fiercely independent woman who really wasn’t a fiercely independent woman. Jude might be neurotic and insecure but she’s the most believable of the three female leads. The entire trilogy didn’t need the ghost element – it is certainly not the main focus of these romance novels, and it mostly feels pushed in to breathe some life into the often lagging plot.

Anyone looking anywhere for some real characters or even just a love story that feels legitimate will probably not like this. If you are in the midst of stressful exams like I was, this might just get you through the week and prevent you of beating your zoology professor to death.

Watched, Read, Loved: June and July 2017

*warning: gargantuan post ahead*

I want to start every post now with “yes, it’s me, and I am still alive”. What a couple of months this has been! July has hands down just been the slowest month in everything for me. It was a roller coaster – I was away in Nelspruit end of June to bid my bestie goodbye, then for two weeks in Potchefstroom for university work and then I had to rush to finalize my younger sister’s 21st birthday. And when I looked down at the date it was suddenly the 19th of July and there were no blog posts from me! SHOCK, HORROR. So I am trying to move my blog into activity again, and herewith some of my favorite posts, a Watched, Read, Loved list for both June and July. I really hope to be back to full time blogging in August, I’ve really missed everyone and the feeling of having a creative outlet.

Batman-V-Superman-Wonder-Woman-vs.-Doomsday

I started off June by watching Wonder Woman (2017). I’m not really a weeper, but let me tell you I was misty eyed reading some of the truly excellent tributes that poured in. Little girls in costumes, women everywhere just flooding cinemas to watch a superhero films and all the financial and critical acclaim that accompanied this film just filled my heart. I can’t do any more justice to this excellent work of director Patty Jenkins that has already been done, but I assure you that I will always try.

Say Anything

I also saw Say Anything (1987) for the first time. I can now put a film to the iconic John Cusack pose that is everywhere on the internet, and I’m not really surprised that I enjoyed this film because it is right up my alley. It is a short, fun and easy watch and really good in its’ genre. I must post its review soon but a severe case of apathy towards typing out reviews has taken hold of me at this stage.

 

I also saw Rules Don’t Apply (2016) which has the unfortunate distinction of being one fantastic box office fail. It’s not really bad, it is just frustratingly boring. It could have been great with its excellent set design and costumes, solid acting and notable performances. It just lacked heart and a decent turn of events.

I picked up Mother’s Day (2016) to watch with my own mother, because I can promise you Gary Marshall won’t be putting too risqué sex scenes in any of his films. I was right – there is little to no romance. If you can get past the notion that Jennifer Aniston is supposed to be the old, washed out mom in here, you will likely enjoy it. Julia Roberts is hidden under the most horrible wig I have ever seen, but the film is sparingly okay and has some legitimately funny moments in. It also casts Jason Sudeikis, and I have never seen him in anything except this and that godawful We’re the Millers – can someone tell me why he’s famous?

I also watched Bad Moms (2016) which was rather fun and hilarious. I know, I was shocked too.

Then there was Jackie (2016), a movie that got an Oscar nod for Natalie Portman. While her performance certainly deserves a nod, the movie itself is quite slow and not really worth the hype.

On the Afrikaans movie front I watched Platteland again. It is such an intense musical, and as Afrikaans as can be. I really do have a fondness of locally produced movies, and my plan to branch a part of this blog off into local films will hopefully happen sometime.

Homecoming

Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) was a first of three July cinema watches for me. I really still struggle to formulate thoughts on this film. I sincerely didn’t hate it, but I have struggled to see the reason for Spiderman for years now, and this reboot even more so. Tom Holland is okay I guess. I particularly liked Zendaya. I think it is safe to say while I still have time for amazing and new superhero films (such as Wonder Woman), the generic Marvel film has become somewhat of a repetitive bore.

v3

I still cannot believe that I refreshed my makeup, made sure my outfit was okay and went out on a damn Friday night (this is torture for me) to watch Valerian and a City of a thousand planets. You will see that review hopefully Friday, but heads-up: I hated it.

dunkirk3

I also saw Dunkirk this last weekend and that at least was worth my time. Christopher Nolan is the salve to every hurt a bombastic Bay/Snyder movie throws out, and the beautiful, heart wrenching film hit me quite in the feels.

series

Series:

Yes, I know. I need to tame this wild Pride and Prejudice obsession that has gotten over me. Not only did I see the 2005 film AGAIN – this is in addition to the watch I did in May of it, I also got my hands on the 1995 series version of it. I am a bit torn. I’ve read far and wide that it is the best adaption, and while it is certainly the most faithful adaption, I really hated the score – classical music makes me want to pull my hair out.

I finally started watching Alias season 4. It isn’t bad, still has plenty of Michael Vartan in, and I want to finish it before it somehow gets spoiled by the internet for me.

vds5

The Vampire Diaries Season 6: Season five of this vampire-tastic show took me ages to finalize. It was slow, badly planned and really unimaginative in some places. I am glad to report that season six is wonderful – it is the first season with really legitimately funny moments in, and I am having a fantastic time.

Game of Thrones Season 7: This is still ongoing and I am avoiding people or comments like the plague who have watched it – the internet is the rudest place ever.

books

On the reading front I haven’t been exactly revolutionary, but I have picked up Rage of Angels by Sidney Sheldon. I have never read anything by this author, and I am really enjoying it so far. It is fast paced plot and is well written with likeable characters. I didn’t think I would like a lawyery story, but it seems I was mistaken. I’ve hit a lag with it, and should really finish it up. I’ve slightly changed my opinion with the events that just loops all the time.

I have reread a bunch of Nora Roberts novels – Blue Smoke, The Obsession and some small ones which I really can’t recall the names of. I’ve also picked up Jewels of the Sun and Tears of the Moon, and I will review the entire trilogy once I am finished with the third book.

come sundown

I am also now reading Come Sundown – I did all the dance moves when I got a special on Loot (online shopping rocks) for this new release of Roberts. I always weep because I’m just not okay with forking out the prices retailers ask in South-Africa for new releases, so this was quite a score. I can tell you now that there is something different to Come Sundown. I will see how it ends, but it is one of the most unique books Roberts has ever done, and the tone is quite different from what she usually does.

I also should really get in to finalizing those 100 Happy Days post on here. They are just so much work and admin that I am not in the mood. I did finish the challenge, and you can few that all on my Instagram account.

As for adventures, I quickly went down to my bestie to see her one more time before she goes on her international adventure. The next time I see her will be in London, which at this stage is simply mind boggling to me.

Book Review: Come Sundown (Nora Roberts)

come sundown

Plot: The Bodine ranch and resort in western Montana is a family business, an idyllic spot for vacationers. A little over thirty thousand acres and home to four generations, it’s kept running by Bodine Longbow with the help of a large staff, including new hire Callen Skinner. There was another member of the family once: Bodine’s aunt, Alice, who ran off before Bodine was born. She never returned, and the Longbows don’t talk about her much. The younger ones, who never met her, quietly presume she’s dead. But she isn’t. She is not far away, part of a new family, one she never chose―and her mind has been shattered…

Come Sundown has a different tone than Nora Roberts book usually has. It firstly really had way less sex scenes (something that drives Zoë absolutely nuts) and the biggest pull for me was the fact that our heroine did not lose her personality the second she got some action. Bodine Longbow is pretty awesome. She runs the resort her seriously rich family owns. She’s a staple in her family, and they all rely on and trust her decisions. The “competent woman” had me cheering. Bodine is also written with a lot of warmth. She’s a generous and giving woman and her successes does not change her perception on the world or make her hard and cynical. I also liked Callen – he has heart, is not intimidated by money and is impressed rather than scared by Bodine’s straightforward and problem solving attitude. Then there is Alice, the other main character in this book. She broke my heart, and I’m sure everyone who have read this book will feel the same. What the character goes through remains a fascinating and eery topic, and it always grabs my attention. How sick can the human race be? Well, every time I think I’ve seen it all something else happens. Alice was a rebellious girl. It is clear throughout the book that she was never the perfect child but everyone agrees – she didn’t deserve the 20 years she got as punishment.

I (unfortunately) spotted one villain pretty early one – you must really just read properly to catch it. I thought Callen’s little war with the Deputy was silly and was only there to show how manly and adult-y Callen had become. I sincerely wished I got more of Jessica and Chase’s story. I’d be happy to have had them as main characters or even just more spotlight on them. In fact, if Nora wants to write a book ten years into the future where they rediscover their relationship, I’m ordering my copy now.

I think the best benchmark I can give you is to say that one night I was awake until three reading this book. If that doesn’t speak of the gripping quality it has, nothing will. It’s a big book so do gear yourself up for a massive adventure.

Have you read Come Sundown? If you have, let me know in the comments.

 Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Sweet home alabama movie poster

Plot:A young woman who’s reinvented herself as a New York socialite must return home to Alabama to obtain a divorce from her husband, after seven years of separation.

I wouldn’t want to be the woman who had to choose between Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas. It seems criminal to be faced with such a decision. This is what befalls Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon), a successful fashion designer in New York. When the lovely Andrew Hennings (Dempsey) proposes, Melanie, real-surname-Smooter, must head back to the place she’s been avoiding for the last couple of years like the plague, to get a divorce from her high school sweetheart Jake Perry (Josh Lucas), without alerting the press and Andrew’s mother, who just happens to be the mayor of NYC.

But naturally all is not as easy as it should be. Melanie is faced with the fact that she’s become an uppity Yankee snob, and an uncaring one at that. Jake has a lot of secrets, and he’s clearly not as over her as he wants her to believe. There are many people of her past that hasn’t forgotten the mayhem she caused in her life, and that they are comfortable with who they are despite not being upstate and fancy.

Sweet home alabama josh lucas

So yes, I wouldn’t want to choose between the blue eyes of Josh Lucas and the warm charm of Patrick Dempsey. It would be SAD. This film is your basic romantic dramedy. There are some attempts at deepness – talk of a miscarriage and Jake knowing he would have to make a drastic change to win back his estranged wife, and lots of subliminal messages about just being yourself and not hiding away your past. There was also so much 2002 fashion in Witherspoon’s outfits that I had a grand time laughing at it – who would have thought that a mere fifteen years later the choker-fashion would return?

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
 Reese Witherspoon and Patrick Dempsey
Credit: Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

I enjoyed Sweet Home Alabama. You need to walk in without too much expectations – this is just your basic enjoyable romance. A 7/10 for me.

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

pride and prejudice - cinema quad movie poster (2).jpg

Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

Pride and Prejudice Dance

Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

pride-and-prejudice-2005

Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: Beauty and The Beast (2017)

BEauty poster

Plot: An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love.

Of all the sentimental attachments I have to Disney classics, my attachment to Beauty and The Beast is the strongest. As a young girl Belle was like this guiding light – she liked to read, she was interested in a greater life and she was the author of her own story. She finds love because she’s brave and can see past the exterior, not because she needed rescuing. Belle rocks man. So it was with an uneasy mix of excitement and trepidation that I handled the news of a live animation adaption. Would they ruin it? Would they, GASP, try and be original? I am pretty happy with the original work and I would not have appreciated a new take where Gaston is the hero and the Beast is just a Beast – I’m looking at you, Maleficent.

BEast

However, I loved it. Emma Watson is most certainly not the world’s most accomplished actress, but she’s been unfairly criticized for her work as Belle. I was expecting much worse, both in terms of acting and of singing. People are reporting her as weak and unconvincing. She wasn’t. She is at times slightly wooden but not offensively so. Is her voice auto tuned? Maybe, but since I’m no Adele I am not going around judging people for their singing. Whether her haters like it or not, she’s a face of gender rights at the moment and that, combined with her serious personality and Harry Potter legacy made her a spot on choice for Belle. That yellow dress sure is pretty and springing and she seems to have good chemistry with Dan Stevens – who wouldn’t? – And eventually looks more comfortable with the role.

Gaston

A standout performance is that of Luke Evans as Gaston. He’s the boorish, muscled and mean spirited villain with such style that it is obvious he had the time of his life being Gaston. He also has hands down the best singing voice of the cast. My favorite musical of this film is Gaston, he was perfect in every way and the musical is brilliantly executed.

Josh Gad as Lafou provided the required quota of comic relief. He was just a bit over the top. I also didn’t really understand the issue with him being Gay. Goodness me, I guess I’m just that peculiar that I really couldn’t care about someone’s sexual orientation as long as they are decent human beings, and my experience with the gay community has me convinced they are, in actual fact, more often better people than their straighter counterparts. On further thought Lafou wasn’t particularly straight in the original work, so I just don’t get the fuss. I found the third musketeer’s reaction to his wardrobe change hilarious and spot on.

My only issue with Dan Stevens as the Beast is that I didn’t get to see more of his lovely face. It is a pity. He has a gorgeous voice. Considering most of his work was under CGI (mores the pity), I can’t truly comment on his acting in here.

Maurice (Kevin Kline) was much less of a cartoonish fool and a man dealing with grief and guilt. I quite liked this impression of him, and made the character much more lovable. Also great voice work from Emma Thompson, Ian McKellan and Ewan McGregor.

Beauty-and-the-Beast-(2017)-7-News

It is true that Bill Condon provides an extravagant affair. He clearly had Disney’s massive financial backing because his sets are elaborate and finely carved. The only one lacking was Mrs. Potts. She definitely got the bums rush from the development crew. Everything else is so ornate and rich to look at. I enjoyed the castle crumbling as physical evidence of the Beast’s chances of finding his human form beginning to wane all the more.

I know the original work well enough that I can parrot the songs, so I picked up on the changed words. I don’t get why they did it though. It wasn’t necessary for the original works are close to perfect. My only serious complaint is the rendition of Beauty and the Beast. Neither the song in the movie or its’ rendition by Ariana Grande and John Legend comes close to the original Celine Dion cover. The new songs were dangerous experimentations. I liked all of them, but someone sure had balls to create new scores for such a beloved classic.

A lot of political commentary going on and naturally I was on board – women reading, doing their own thing, and specifically Belle stating that she’s not ready to have children yet to the complete bewilderment of her community is a priceless moment. We feel you, Belle.

I actually really loved this adaption. Disney has a knack of producing great live animations. It is somewhat lazy work with about half the creativity than an original production would require – just do good casting and great graphics and depend on the fans that are hit with a wave of nostalgia. It remains quite wonderful work however and I can’t wait to buy the DVD!

Rating: 8.5/10

Watched, Read, Loved: April 2017

April is the best month for South-Africa. Seriously – we have so many public holidays people are actually nice to each other. I took off a chunk of time as well, and it did me the world of good. I actually got some sleep in, saw my bestie and watched some amazing films. Without further ado, here is my rundown of April 2017.

movies-logo

Movies:

BEauty poster

Beauty and the Beast (2017): The painful excitement that came when I heard they were doing a live animation of my favorite Disney classic was excruciating. Would it work? Would it fail? The QUESTIONS that plagued me.Additionally, B&B was released in South-Africa later than the rest of the world because of South-Africaitis, and there were conflicting reports to be read. Anyway, grabbing popcorn and sitting down to see this was really wonderful. I liked it, and will watch it again. I had Gaston stuck in my head for a week. I better not hear that tune soon.

One day

One Day (2011): HATED IT.

basic instinct

Basic Instinct(1992): This is part of my Blindspot 2017 series. This year I am doing remarkably well with it, because Zoë and I watched a bunch of them in December because #besties. Basic Instinct is next on the list and quite the shocker. OMFG my poor eyes.I might never recover.

Anywhere but home (2008): I thought this comedy was quite funny the second time around (I know I’ve seen this before but I can barely remember it). It’s also titled “Four Christmases”. I’ve never understood exactly why some movies get two titles. Anyway, if you can believe that someone like Reese Witherspoon would end up with someone like Vince Vaughn, you can get through the movie. It has some funny moments, and sure they are the typical things you’d expect, but they are funny regardless.

twilight-graphics-twilight-new-moon-840934

Twilight: New Moon (2009): I’ve been meaning to blog about Twilight as a set for ages now. I did Twilight (2008) easily, but had a couple of months delay by what succeeds it. New Moon is the most insufferable – both book and movie – but I sat through it eventually.

Eclipse

Twilight: Eclipse (2010): Eclipse is a strong successor and definitely superior to the ghastly New Moon. Edward is still an obsessive stalker, Bella is still pathetic, R. Patz and Kristen Stewart still can’t act. But decisively better than the infuriating New Moon.

Safe Haven (2013): The casting for Nicholas Sparks film is never specified for acting abilities. I guess the author/filmmaker knows his audience too well, and knows if he provides enough pretty people the film will be acceptable to his fans. He’s not wrong. I enjoyed Safe Haven and the acting is really better than the acting in The Lucky One. The kids were cute and the story was okay.

Hes-Just-Not-That-Into-You-2009

He’s just not that into you (2009): I always enjoy watching HJNTIY. My brother-in-law did not appreciate us making him watch it though, telling me that it is not also a guy-friendly film as I initially thought.

warm-bodies-10

Warm Bodies (2013): I just love this film. Nicholas Hoult is a zombie, and when he eats the brains ofTeresa Palmer’s boyfriend, he starts seeing some memories and slowly returns to human form. The cast, led by Hoult, are all quite charming and for a story that shouldn’t work it works really well.

DUFF4

The DUFF (2015):yes, I watched it again. One of my favorite films at the moment. Such hilarity.lethal weapon

Lethal Weapon 1 (1987) & Lethal Weapon 2 (1989):
It was my first time around watching this buddy-cop series, and I really enjoyed it. The 1980’s were a glorious time to be alive obviously!

Blood wars

Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

SO SLOPPY.

chef

Chef (2014): Chef is a film about good food and happy endings, and well deserved of its’ praise. I really quite liked this film!

arrival-banner

Arrival (2016): My review will be up next week. I loved this. Handsdown one of the finest films of 2016.

Drive

Drive (2011): I remember enjoying Drive the first time around, but I really couldn’t remember everything about it. I enjoyed it so much this time too, it is a phenomenal film and some of Gosling’s best work.

The guest

The Guest (2014): This film has a lot of science reasons it works well to the appreciative eye, but I can tell you that I would have loved it without the science too. Gorgeous directing, a solid plot and excellent score, this film is a great film to watch again and again.

Prisoners-E invite R2

Prisoners (2013): Prisoners currently ranks as my least favorite Villeneuve film. It is on no level a poor film, it was just not my favorite of his. And it is five hundred hours long. *Scientific fact*

PPZ

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016):

I can watch this movie indefinitely. It is the best!

CSL

Crazy Stupid Love (2011): I definitely need to review this film again – It has been ages since I’ve posted it on my blog. One of the most inoffensive romantic comedies produced in later years, this movie will make you laugh and relate with some character in here.

Nocturnal animals

Nocturnal Animals (2016): This is my new hated film. Gosh, what a spectacular waste of my life. Pretentious bullshit.

 

books

Black-Hills

Black Hills – Nora Roberts

This is a particular favorite book of mine. I enjoy Dr. Lillian Chance – she is passionate about her work in the refuge she built and is smart and cool.

born-in-shame

The Concannon Sisters trilogy – Nora Roberts

While I do enjoy this series of books – Born in Shame, Born in Ice and Born in Fire, they certainly aren’t my favorite of the author. However, her love for Ireland does show when reading this, and I particularly enjoy the description of the scenery.

series

2bg

Two Broke Girls Season 4 and 5

I’m enjoying myself way too much with this comedy. It shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but I end up really laughing at it.

What did you do in April?

Movie Review: Underworld (2003)

uw poster

Plot: Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Rating: 7.5/10

A peek at the IMDb scores for Underworld left me certain that I was in for cheese and melodrama and bad performances. Contrary to IMDb, I received intel from trusted persons that Underworld is hated unnecessarily by the “gurus” for whichever murky reason Hollywood powers decide a film should get poor ratings. Kate Beckingsale is front and foremost and brings forth a fantastic strong female character that is in no need of being saved. She does the saving. Seline is strong, powerful, really attractive, brooding and won’t shy away from confrontation. Miraculous qualities for a female protagonist!

uw4

Kate Beckingsale is incredibly beautiful. I’d love to hate her on principle, but the fact is this is a really intelligent women takes on such a fierce role with energy is to be admired. Seline is a mix of power and female, and I was cheering all the way. The relationship between Michael and Selinehas impact because it doesn’t overshadow the political or war elements of the film, yet manages to demand attention when the two get a few moments of peace together.

uw3

The lycans were terrifying. Underworld isn’t this pretty watered down Twilight-version of vampires and werewolves. The lycans live in dark shadows and haunt the decaying sewers of the city. Their leader, Lucian, has a plan and initially you are led to believe that he’s solely a villain, and as the leader of the Lycans he must be stopped at all cost. One sentence from Seline should immediately alert the watcher that things are not as they appear, because whenever a species is banned from looking into the past, there is bound to be things hidden people in power want swept under the rug.

Bring in Bill Nighy’s Viktor, whose awakening is fearful to behold. He plays the role of the Elder vampire with such pizazz it is obvious that he had the time of his life being a vampire.  Shane Brolly as Kraven is the weakest link in the story, his angle of action was really the cheesiest direction of which the other cast members steered well cleared of.

uw1

The directing by Wiseman is excellent. The film remains gritty and gory throughout, and the atmosphere is accurately depressing. Underworld is a long one, but I didn’t mind as much as I really enjoyed it. The last few scenes, which obviously serves as the conclusion of the film is gory and blood filled, but to its’ credit I didn’t need to repress the urge to skip some of it.

uw2

I had a surprisingly good time watching Underworld, and I’m definitely checking out the rest. They might not all be as good, but I will most certainly explore and provide feedback.

Have you seen Underworld? What is your impression?