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Beauty and The Beast Review

Magical.  The live-action version of Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast is simply magical.  For those of you who thought they couldn’t do justice to the original, I would say that this one stands on its own and can be enjoyed without taking anything away from the animated version.

It stars Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Prince/Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou.  The household accessories include Emma Watson as Mrs. Potts, Ewan McGregor as Lumiere and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth.  All were wonderful.

It’s a faithful adaptation of the original animated film, with a few extra scenes thrown in.  It can’t have been easy to take on a new version of such a beloved classic, but Disney (and director Bill Condon) got it right, and by the estimated $170 million haul it has made so far (and the fact that tickets were selling like hotcakes) I’d say this will go down as a huge success.

There are the original songs as well as some new ones, including one for the Beast called Evermore.  And yes, Dan Stevens really does sing it.  All the cast members did their own singing.  Some of them, like Luke Evans, are old pros at it.  Evans told CinemaBlend they recorded the songs but also sang live on set and he doesn’t know which version they used.

Speaking of sets, if there isn’t an Oscar nomination for set design that would truly be a shame, but let’s have a word about the costumes.  The iconic yellow dress is amazing.  And yes, it is a little odd that the story is set in France, yet the actors are by and large British.  From what I can tell the timeframe is supposed to be mid-1700’s, and the French upper class wore very… umm… over the top (dare I say foppish) clothes.  I would have brought the clothes down just a tad, particularly for the Prince, and had him forego the wig with side curls for a simple ponytail with a ribbon, for instance.  That said, the original story is a French fairy tale published in 1740 (according to Wikipedia), so I suppose Disney was at least being historically accurate.  That is the tiny, and only, complaint I have.

So by all means go if this is at all your kind of thing.  I saw it in 2D, but it’s also out in 3D and IMAX.  I’d rate it well worth a full-price ticket.  Don’t forget to bring the tissues!

Image via imdb.com

#BeautyAndTheBeast

The BBC and ITV have teamed up to start a new streaming service, BritBox, according to Variety.

For us Anglophiles stuck here in the U.S. this is good news!  Many of us have been able to watch some British TV through, say, Netflix (hello, Midsomer Murders!) or if PBS decides to collaborate with or piggyback onto the BBC’s content, but have been frustrated that we’re unable to get ahold of some shows that are up online in the U.K. but are blocked for us viewers here in the States.

Enter BritBox, which brings a mixture of classic and current television.  Old favorites such as Blackadder, Fawlty Towers and The Office are available now, as are back episodes of current shows such as EastEnders and Casualty.  New episodes of those are loaded up the day after they air in the U.K.

If you like detective stories and mysteries, there’s Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes, Helen Mirren’s Prime Suspect, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple and Rosemary and Thyme, among others.

Bleak House, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Upstairs, Downstairs (both the original 1971 version and the 2010 remake) are part of the historical drama contingent.

Right now the offerings are a little thin, but I would imagine that’s due to the BBC and ITV wanting to see if this takes off before adding more.  I would love to see Coupling on here, maybe Graham Norton, and possibly some game shows.

The service starts with a 7-day free trial and is $6.99 monthly thereafter.  To sign up go to BritBox.com.

#BritBox #BritishTelevision

Marvel released the second trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

We see Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha and Kurt Russell as Ego, Star-Lord’s dad.

And of course, we get more of pint-sized scene stealer Baby Groot. One can never have enough Baby Groot!

The song is The Chain from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. If director James Gunn ever decides to quit making films I have a sneaking suspicion he could get a gig as a DJ somewhere…

Enjoy!


#GotGVol2

I confess I didn’t stay up for the Oscars, but this morning all the news was about a huge gaffe when it came time for Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway to announce the winner for Best Picture.

By this morning what happened and how it happened had come out.  Here’s how it went down: Beatty was to announce the winner, tore open the envelope, looked confused, looked over at Dunaway and handed her the envelope, and she confidently said “La La Land.”  That picture’s producers and cast got  up on stage, and were well into their thank-yous when you could see some people come up behind them and take a look at the announcement card.  The audience was then told there had been an error, and that Moonlight was the actual winner.

So now we know how all this happened.  There are two sets of envelopes with the winner’s cards, one set stage left and one set stage right.  The announcers are given the (hopefully correct) envelope from whichever side they’re coming from.  The previous category to be announced was Actress in a Leading Role, which went to La La Land’s Emma Stone.  When Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway left to go onstage to announce the Best Picture winner, they were apparently handed the second copy of Stone’s card.  This has been confirmed by a close-up photo of the envelope which had the Actress in a Leading Role category on the outside.

Hence Beatty’s confusion when he saw the card, which read “Emma Stone” and “La La Land.”  Dunaway simply read the film name from the card.

So, congratulations to Moonlight, which I have not seen but I hear was a deserving winner.  I have seen La La Land, and it was good, but I think a lot of people were dazzled by the fact that we just don’t see throwback films like this any more.

Other winners last night were Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea, Viola Davis for her supporting role in Fences, and Mahershala Ali for his role in Moonlight.  Disney’s Zootopia won the award for Animated Feature Film, and their adorable short Piper from Disney/Pixar won in the Short Film (Animated) category.  For the trifecta, The Jungle Book also won for Best Visual Effects.

You can see the remainder of the nominees and winners here on the official Oscar website.

Congratulations!

#Oscars2017 #Moonlight #LaLaLand

Bill Paxton, 1955-2017

Actor Bill Paxton passed away yesterday from complications after surgery.

He had a long list of successful films, including Titanic, Apollo 13, Twister, Aliens and The Terminator.

Paxton also did a lot of television work.  His current small-screen project was the CBS television series Training Day.  His son James was to co-star with him in an upcoming episode.  He had also appeared in several episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and Texas Rising, among many other roles.

His last film was The Circle with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks, which is in post-production.  That film will be released in the U.S. on April 28th.

Paxton leaves his wife Louise and a daughter in addition to son James.  Condolences to all.

#BillPaxton

News Roundup

Some snippets of news for your Friday…

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Fox has given Lethal Weapon a renewal for season 2.  If you haven’t been watching this show you’re missing out.  And if someone doesn’t give Clayne Crawford some kind of award then there’s something wrong somewhere.  He’s done an incredible job all year taking on a very difficult role.  Love the rest of the cast also.

To almost everyone’s surprise, NBC has given Days Of Our Lives a renewal for its 52nd season.  Low ratings, Megyn Kelly and writing team shakeups notwithstanding, there will be more sand flowing through the hourglass!  While I only check in on my old soap occasionally, I would be very sad to see it go.  It’s like that old teddy bear in the box stuffed in the back of a closet… you may not look at it often, but you know it’s there if you want to.

Benedict Cumberbatch has another new project coming up, and surprisingly, this one is for the BBC and PBS’ Masterpiece.  According to Deadline, he will star as Stephen Lewis in The Child In Time, adapting the novel by Ian McEwan.  Benedict will also executive produce under his SunnyMarch TV banner.  The plot revolves around Lewis and his wife, and the difficulties they face after their daughter goes missing.

Benedict is filming The Current War, where he plays Thomas Edison to Michael Shannon’s George Westinghouse.  He’ll also be putting on the Cloak of Levitation again in Thor: Ragnarok and the sequel to Doctor Strange.  One busy man.

If you’re a Dan Stevens fan (and you’ve forgiven him for leaving Downton Abbey) then you can catch him in FX’s Legion as David Haller.  This is one of the more obscure X-Men characters.  The role is a big departure for Stevens from Downton and his upcoming princely role in the live-action Beauty and the Beast.

#LethalWeapon #DaysOfOurLives #TheCurrentWar #BenedictCumberbatch #LegionFX #DanStevens

Disney has released the final trailer for the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast, and it’s a doozy.

The film stars Dan Stevens as the Beast, Emma Watson as Belle, and Luke Evans as Gaston.  It also stars Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts, and Ian McKellen as Cogsworth.

They have also released moving posters of the major characters.  Buzzfeed has them all here.  Be aware, though, that the final poster (NOT moving) is of Dan Stevens as the Prince, so if you don’t want to know what he’ll look like when the curse is broken, stop after the Beast one.

The film arrives on March 17th in both the U.S. and the U.K.

#BeautyAndTheBeast #DanStevens #EmmaWatson #LukeEvans

Oscar Nominations

La La Land has tied with All About Eve and Titanic for the most Oscar nominations at 14.  The musical/romance film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), and pretty much everything else it was eligible for.

The other Best Picture nominees were Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Lion and Manchester By The Sea.

Joining Stone in the Best Actress category are Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Natalie Portman (Jackie).

Best Actor nominees are Gosling, Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and Denzel Washington (Fences).

The nominees for Animated Feature Film include Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, My Life as a Zucchini, The Red Turtle and Zootopia.

Deadpool was unfortunately shut out, even in the technical categories.  Doctor Strange received a nomination for Best Visual Effects.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was also nominated in that category as well as for Sound Mixing.

You can see a list of all the nominees here on the official website.

Congratulations to all!

#Oscars #DoctorStrange #LaLaLand

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The title for Star Wars‘ Episode VIII has just been revealed to be The Last Jedi.

The ending of Episode VII, The Force Awakens, sees Rey (Daisy Ridley) finding Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) where he’s been hiding since Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), Leia and Han’s son, turned to the Dark Side as Luke was training him along with other would-be Jedi.  Does The Last Jedi refer to Luke?  The last scene of The Force Awakens obviously sets up Rey to be trained by Luke.  I’m hoping this means there would then be two, and not that Luke will somehow meet his end in this film, leaving Rey.

As Radio Times helpfully points out, Luke is referred to as “the last Jedi” in The Force Awakens.  That and the fact that Mark Hamill is (at least rumored to be) in Episode IX, I’m breathing a little easier, but we will have to wait until December 15th to find out for certain.

I’m still not over Han Solo!

#StarWars #MarkHamill #DaisyRidley #TheLastJedi

Golden Globes Winners

Last night the film La La Land and the television miniseries The Night Manager brought home some Golden Globes.

La La Land, the throwback musical film starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, won all eight Globes it was nominated for, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and best performance nods for Stone and Gosling.

In the film drama category the winner was Moonlight.  Isabelle Huppert took home the Best Actress award for Elle and actor Casey Affleck won for Manchester By The Sea.

Zootopia won the award for Best Motion Picture – Animated.

Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie won Globes for their performances in the AMC original miniseries The Night Manager.

The legendary Meryl Streep received this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award.

You can see all the winners and nominees on the official Golden Globes website here.

#Golden Globes #LaLaLand #TheNightManager #TomHiddleston

The Associates of Sherlock Holmes is an anthology of Holmes-related stories written by various authors.  There are 13 stories, and the book is edited by George Mann, who has himself written some Sherlock follow-on books, as well as scripts for the BBC.  He has also edited other Holmes anthologies and produced a number of other works.

assoc_of_sh_bookEach of the stories center around one of the supporting or minor characters from the original Conan Doyle stories, from lesser-known characters such as Inspector Stanley Hopkins and Helen Stoner from The Adventure of the Speckled Band to the more well-known Irene Adler and Sherlock’s brother Mycroft.

Because they’re from different authors the stories vary widely in whether the author attempts to write in Conan Doyle’s style or not (and whether that is achieved).  Some fell with a clunk with me and others I quite liked.

I would give this book maybe a 3.5 or 4 out of 5.  If you’re a Holmesophile this will give you some good reading, just expect that some stories will be better than others.

The Associates of Sherlock Holmes is published by Titan Books.

Image via Amazon.com

#SherlockHolmes #SirArthurConanDoyle

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Please note that this review of the first episode of Sherlock series 4, titled The Six Thatchers, contains all kinds of spoilers.  If you haven’t seen the episode don’t read any farther.  Fair warning!

I’m also not going to hold back in this review.  As much as I loved the first two series of Sherlock, it started to go off the rails in series three and it has now completed that unfortunate detour.  I wish I could say that after two years Sherlock is back and it’s great.  But unfortunately I can wipe this episode off my DVR and feel no pain.

When we last saw Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) he had killed villain Charles Augustus Magnussen and it looked as though our hero would be banished from Britain.  Just four minutes later, however, he gets a reprieve and it turns out his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss, who also wrote the episode) and three others in the British government devised a plan to doctor the security footage of the deed to make it look as though someone else did it.  The reason they do it is that it appears villain Moriarty has made some plans from beyond the grave and they need Sherlock to save the day (brother Mycroft’s spies seem to never be enough, apparently).  Despite the many mentions of Moriarty, however, he really has nothing to do with the episode and is just thrown in for… well, I’m not sure why he’s thrown in.

There is an actual case to be solved, the case of The Six Thatchers, which is a takeoff on the original Conan Doyle story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons.  In the original story six identical busts of Napoleon are shattered and Sherlock works out that a missing and valuable pearl was placed in one of them during manufacturing while they were still wet.  After the busts had been sold the thief had to hunt down and break them all to find it.  This story is speedily dispensed with in The Six Thatchers, with busts of old Maggie standing in for Napoleon.  Instead of a pearl, though, what’s found in the bust is a duplicate of the flash drive that was destroyed in the last series that has details of Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington) and her former assassin team’s info on it.

And here’s where we go off the rails.

Continue Reading »

One day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away, her mother, legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds, has also died.

debbie_reynolds_via_wikipediaDebbie Reynolds suffered a stroke while at her son Todd Fisher’s home and was rushed to the hospital where she later passed away, according to Variety.  She was 84 years old.

Reynolds was a fixture on screen in the 1950’s and 60’s, with such films as Singin’ In The Rain, Bundle of Joy and Three Little Words.  She was nominated several times for a Golden Globe as well as other awards, and in 1965 was nominated for an Oscar for The Unsinkable Molly Brown.  She was recently presented the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her career as a singer included several albums that went to the top of the charts.

Reynolds married three times, but only had children with her first husband, Eddie Fisher.

Condolences to the family and friends of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

Image via Wikipedia.org

#DebbieReynolds #CarrieFisher

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Carrie Fisher Dies at 60

Actress and writer Carrie Fisher has died at UCLA Medical Center at the age of 60.  The sad news was confirmed by her daughter, Billie Lourd, according to Rolling Stone.  Fisher suffered a massive heart attack last week while on a flight and had been in the ICU since then.

carrie_re_starwars_dot_comShe was best known as Princess Leia (later General) in the Star Wars franchise, but Fisher was also the writer of four novels, as well as the semi-autobiographical Postcards From The Edge, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA.  She had just recently published her memoir, The Princess Diarist.

She was married briefly to singer Paul Simon, but Billie was the daughter from another relationship, with Bryan Lourd.  Her parents were actress Debbie Reynolds, who survives her, and singer Eddie Fisher, who passed away in 2010.  Carrie had one brother and two half-sisters.

She will be greatly missed.

Image via StarWars.com

#CarrieFisher #StarWars

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Is everybody jolly out there?  Well, if not, I’m here to give you some ideas how to spend your time off from work.

  1. Go to a movie.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the big one out there that you may have trouble getting tickets to.  Order them online if necessary.  I haven’t had time to check this one out yet, but I probably will in the next few days.  Chris Pratt’s Passengers is also out, but with a big ol’ Rotten Tomatoes splat (31% – yikes!) I’m not sure if I’ll put out the coin for that one or just wait for it to show up for rent online.  If anybody’s seen it feel free to let me know how it is by posting a comment.
  2. Watch Sherlock series 4.  This will premiere on the BBC and PBS on January 1 with the next two episodes on subsequent Sundays.  The last episode, The Final Problem, will also be shown in certain theaters.  See my previous post for more info.
  3. Do some charitable work and/or donate to your favorite cause.
  4. Catch up on Lethal Weapon.  Episodes are available for free online.
  5. Play with the furkids.  You got the felines and canines and any other animals in your lives presents, right?  Mine are getting a some-assembly-required new cat tree.  Cross your fingers I get this one put together before I have to go back to work.  I have 10 days.
  6. Rewatch all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.  That’ll take you a while.  Be sure to get up and stretch once in a while.
  7. Write down your New Year’s Resolutions.  Then put them in an envelope, tear them in half, and throw them away.  Seriously, who needs the pressure?
  8. Watch all the old Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone.  There were 14 of them.  Personally I’d skip the ones where they’re chasing Nazis (outside of the first two they were all in what was then present day.  No, BBC’s Sherlock wasn’t the first to do that).
  9. Listen to all 26 episodes of BBC radio’s Cabin Pressure.  With Benedict Cumberbatch and a crew of very funny people (including Anthony Head in some later episodes), it’s my go-to comedy series when I need a laugh.  You can order the CD’s or an Audible version on Amazon.

Everyone have a very happy whatever-you’re-celebrating, and hug the furkids for me!

#Sherlock #CabinPressure #LethalWeapon #StarWars

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