Monday Musings on Media: Beauty & the Beast

Yep, I saw Beauty and the Beast on its opening day. I had promised to take a granddaughter to see it on her birthday which just happened to be opening day, so it worked out well.

beauty-and-the-beast-2017I really enjoyed it. I think.

I want to see it again without a four-year-old and a six-year-old fidgeting on my lap and asking questions. I loved seeing it with them, but it was not the best viewing experience for being able to describe and review the story.

But I’ll give it a try.

The wolves are intense. Both of my girls were … not scared, but definitely uneasy about the stalking, slobbering creatures.

The story is familiar but there is more backstory about Belle’s parents and the enchantress and the Beast’s childhood. I really enjoyed that. Although I had to take a girl to the restroom and I missed the part about Belle’s parents. Another reason to see it a second time.

The “gay” scene that is causing boycott talks is soooo subtle and short, it’s easy to miss. In fact, I sort of did.

In the tavern scene when Gaston and his sidekick La Fou are singing about what a catch Gaston is, “No one fights like Gaston, douses lights like Gaston,” and so on, I wondered if La Fou was flirting with Gaston. He seemed to have a coquettish look on his face in a few shots, and the lyrics could have innuendo. I guess that’s the big scene people are objecting to, but as I said, I almost missed the subtext there, it was so subtle.

Later in the movie, when the villagers are storming the castle, the Wardrobe, voiced by Audra McDonald, spits out spools of ribbons, fabric, laces, scarves and arrays three lads in dresses. audraTwo of the guys dash away, humiliated, but one likes it. He winks at the camera and twirls away. When I saw that, I thought, “Oh, that’s the scene. I just imagined the flirting in the other scene.”

And in the ballroom finale, two men (La Fou and the dressed-but-not-humiliated man?) dance together, into and out of camera range in about half a second.

la fouMy young movie-goers absolutely missed all of that. They enjoyed a good story about a beautiful girl who loves books, an ugly beast with a good heart, and talking household items.

I thought Emma Watson was superb as Belle. Although one of my girls asked why Hermione was playing Belle, she soon forgot about Hermione as the story engaged her. Belle is plucky and smart and does nothing she doesn’t want to.

I had forgotten who played Beast, so was pleasantly surprised by the reveal at the end. The makeup is incredible, especially — and I don’t think this is my imagination — since the Beast got less ugly and more … maybe not attractive, but maybe cuddlier? as Belle got to know him and fell in love with him herself.

I recognized Kevin Kline as Belle’s father, but it was a Kevin Kline I had never seen before. He brought a tenderness to the role and left behind the befuddled-absent-minded inventor of the animated story.

Josh Gad as La Fou was simply amazing. Not just for the did-I-see-that-or-didn’t-I flirtiness, but his character has his eyes opened to Gaston’s true character and La Fou changes allegiances. He doesn’t consult anyone, he doesn’t agonize. He simply recognizes that what Gaston is doing is wrong and chooses the right path. I loved that!

The costumes are incredible. The songs, both the new and the familiar, are wonderful.

It seemed strangely full-circle that back in 1991, my sister-in-law and I took our four girls, all cousins, to see the animated version and in 2017, I took my granddaughter and grandniece, daughter of one of the cousins, to see the live action movie. I love both versions and I love all the girls. Like I said, strangely full circle.

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Media Monday: Magazines

I quit subscribing to magazines several years ago because:

magazines.jpgI’m too much of an A personality and

I can’t throw out something I haven’t read and

I have to read them straight through, no skimming, so

I don’t make time to read them so

I end up with a dust-covered stack that adds to my already handicapping guilt complex about not getting enough done in my days.

A few months ago I went through the stack, ripping out articles I wanted to read and throwing out the rest of the magazine.

Now I just have a stack of articles/pages to reproach me, instead of the full magazine. I’ve been whittling down the stack. Last week I read an article about Drew Barrymore and her role in the “new” HBO film Grey Gardens. She’s had 2 children since that interview, but it still did its job: it piqued my interest in the film and I added it to my Netflix queue.

And somehow, in spite of no new subscriptions, the stack is again growing. Because I belong to a professional association (Romance Writers of America®), I get a monthly magazine from them. Because I ordered something from JustFab, somehow I’m getting InStyle. I used to have a free subscription from mileage points to Entertainment Weekly. I was relieved when that lapsed, because I can barely cope with monthly guilt, never mind weekly. But guess what came in the mail Saturday? Yep, an Entertainment Weekly that says I’m subscribed for a year!

I did subscribe last December to Relevant Magazine, because I enjoy the podcast and the magazine only comes out six times a year. I figured I could handle a magazine every other month. Nope. I’m about three issues behind right now.

But I’m resolved, this week, to get back to just a stack of articles instead of magazines.

Onward.

But I’m curious. How many people still subscribe to magazines and read them? Do you? What do you subscribe to? Do you read it?

Media Monday: Games People Play

I play Words With Friends every day. Word Chums most days. Candy Crush Saga some days.

I’ve played Word Brain, Draw Something, and Angry Birds.

wwfThey’re all fun and fine. Word Brain just got too dang hard. Draw Something became tedious because I: a) can’t draw well to begin with and b) really can’t draw well with my finger on a screen. I do still play Draw Something with my granddaughter, but that’s it. When she gets bored and moves on, I’ll delete it again.

Angry Birds is still fun but it can be too addicting. It’s too easy to keep saying ‘one more try,’ and then a half hour goes by. With Candy Crush, when I run out of lives (usually in about fifteen minutes), then my play time is over.

I try to not respond to WWF and Word Chums every time I get a notification. They’re fun, but they can be a time suck. And I want to have something more to show for my day than having “fun” while glued to a phone screen.

Oh, pearlI also play Pearl’s Perils on Facebook. It’s a hidden object kind of game. I’m about to burn out on it too. It has limited lives which is good, but you have to earn “badges” and “decorate” your island to advance and I’m no longer accumulating the virtual coins to keep the next level open when I get there and I have to spend days playing levels I’ve already finished in order to accumulate coins. I know it’s on purpose by the designers to get players to pay real money for virtual money. That makes zero sense to me, so I don’t. Although they occasionally run a sale and I may pay $1.99 for a bunch of fake money and extra lives.

What’s your favorite game app? Is it a time suck? How do you avoid the whole time suck wormhole?

 

Media Monday: Gilmore Girls

I’m sure I’ve blogged about them before, Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Lane Kim. Luke. Miss Patty. Babette. Dean. Jess. Zack. Logan. Richard and Emily. Gypsy. Kirk.
ggI could keep going. Lulu. Michel. Sookie and Jackson. Taylor. Christopher. April. Paris.

Okay, I’m done.

Mrs. Kim. Andrew. Marty.

Guess I wasn’t done.

I’ve been rewatching the series from the beginning to prepare for the new Netflix mini-series in November. Every time I watch this I’m in awe of the writing, the characters, the dialogue, the stories.

I love how the characters are almost archetypes, but then … they’re not.

Mrs. Kim, stereotypical Korean Tiger mother, is a staunch Seventh-Day Adventist.

Gil, the long blond-haired rocker is a rock and roll dude who’s crazy about his wife and kids and runs a sandwich shop to pay the bills.

Logan, the trust fund kid who … well, he’s a trust fund kid but he grows up during the last three seasons and we get to watch.

No other show makes me pause it at least once per episode to google an obscure reference that either went by too fast for me to get or I just didn’t get.

Last weekend I learned about the “Mountain Girl trial,” and all about Carolyn Adams Garcia, Ken Kesey, and Jerry Garcia. Illuminating.

Stud Muffin just shakes his head as he walks through. I used to try to ignore him while I watched, but now I pause it until he’s done. He usually gets the hint and stops talking so I can return to the show. Because that witty banter requires every once of concentration I can give it.

 

 

Media Monday: Florence Foster Jenkins

Anyone who’s watched Mamma Mia! or Ricki and The Flash knows Meryl Streep can carry a tune. She has a good to great voice. So I can imagine the stretch it was to play Florence Foster Jenkins in her new movie by the same name.

Mrs. Jenkins can sing all right. She just sings … badly. Flat. Off key. And with some rhythmic pacing problems, too. But because she’s rich, she can hire the best accompanists, vocal coaches, and staff. And she does.

FFJThe movie is a dramatization of the life of the real Florence Foster Jenkins, a socialite in the 1930s and ’40s. Mrs. Jenkins loved to sing and she organized one of the New York city musicale societies that were popular then. They would present living tableaus to music.

In real life, Mrs. Jenkins was told she couldn’t sing and received lots of criticism. In the movie, her husband (played by Hugh Grant, who, may I say has been absent from movies for too long, and, while showing his age [finally!], is still looking very fine), works hard to keep all honest opinions far from her ears.

The story is about Mrs. Jenkins deciding to bless New York and returning World War II veterans with a Carnegie Hall concert. Her other concerts were invitation-only affairs, rather easy to keep kind and receptive. Carnegie Hall … not so much.

There is a lovely message about being there for one’s friends, about love persevering, and about following one’s dreams, no matter the cost.

Towards the end of the movie, we hear Florence sing as she hears herself. She acknowledges her critics with a quote, said by the real woman: “They may say I can’t sing, but no one can say I didn’t sing.”

Isn’t that the kind of people we want to be? Or is it just me?

The kind of person who wants to dance/golf/sing/cook/write/paint/play tennis/design clothing/do anything and who doesn’t let fear of what others will think or say stop them.

That’s a message I can get behind.

The movie is good, if gentle in pacing. The performances are solid, particularly Streep and Grant and a great supporting performance by Simon Helberg as Jenkins’s accompanist. Helberg is better know as Howard on The Big-Bang Theory.

Over all, I enjoyed this movie and recommend it.

 

 

Media Monday: BOSCH

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books are gritty, compelling, and darn good reads. I was unsure how the Bosch character would translate to the screen so I took my time tuning into the Amazon series.

BoschI’m pleasantly surprised. We just finished binge-watching Season 1. Titus Welliver is pretty darn good at conveying Bosch’s weary and worn take on life, while keeping him human. He’s a father, struggling to relate to his daughter. He’s a cop, focused on finding evil and putting it away. He’s a man having a really bad year.

The series captured the mood of the books. The story arc of Season 1 is dark and grisly and not for the squeamish. The mysteries are layered with complex characters playing pivotal roles in the solutions. But the solutions didn’t come out of left field. The groundwork was laid very well.

I have a busy week and weekend so it’ll be a couple of weeks before we dive into Season 2, but dive in we will.

Media Monday:Night at the Museum trilogy

We recently visited the Madera County Fossil Discovery Center. We took our grand-daughters to see the pre-historic fossils on display there. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours, giving kids the opportunity to dig up “fossils” and learn about the animals who inhabited the area in ages past.

Since we’d never visited it, Stud Muffin and I weren’t clear on what exactly was on display there and we erroneously prepared the girls to see dinosaur bones. The center has skeletons of Columbian Mammoths, Saber-toothed cats, horses, sloths, and camels, all from pre-historic times, but no dinosaurs.

NATMThe night before our visit we decided to watch Night at the Museum. Both girls both enjoyed the movie, but the five-year-old loved it. When we told her that there was another movie (and another!) she had to watch them, too.

So I was able to watch all three movies in as many nights, giving me the unusual (for me) opportunity to see an entire series close enough to judge them together as one work.

Each movie is able to stand alone. There’s not much backstory in the sequels to slow down the stories and they launch pretty quickly.

The first movie is undoubtedly the best. The second movie, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian was good, too. The weakest of the trilogy is the third, Secret of the Tomb, but arguably funnier with the addition of Rebel Wilson as a night guard at the British Museum. It felt rushed, like it was thrown together to capitalize on the popularity of the first two.

We shared the first movie with another family member a few days later and she did not enjoy it all. She found it too “slap stick.” While there is some physical humor (and the slapstick quotient goes up in the next two movies), it’s not overly distracting. Kids love it.