Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty and the Beast - Movie Review

Genre: Musical, Fantasy, Fairytale

Director: Bill Condon

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans

My Rating:  ★★★★

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

My Thoughts: Growing up, Belle was always my favorite Disney princess. She was well-read, kind, and overall a more idealistic role model. As such, I think it is safe to say that I was very much looking forward to this live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast and my expectations were high. I had watched the trailers and they were not impressive. The CGI looked strange on the Beast, as well on many of the other characters, and Emma Watson's singing was subpar. 

With all this in mind, I came out of the movie very happy and thoroughly impressed. The CGI looked SO much better in the actual film. In fact, most of the movie was stunning. I loved how authentic and... French the movie looked. This movie really honed in on the time period and culture from where the story originated from, more so than the 1991 animated film. The music, including the new songs, were so much fun. I was impressed with Luke Evans... I had no idea how amazing his voice was. He was, actually, my favorite part of the film. Unfortunately, Emma Watson was just not right for this role. She may have looked that part, but her singing voice was lacking and it was very obvious how auto-tuned she was in comparison to the rest of the cast. Lastly, can we talk about the cast? The cast they got for this remake was phenomenal... every single one of them. They all looked just like the animated movie! I loved it.

Overall, this film was so good. It hit me right in the feels and I left with tears of joy in my eyes. I don't care who you are... I feel like everyone will have fun with this movie. So please, please go watch Beauty and the Beast!

NOTE: I will not have a spoilers section because most people are already aware of what happens in this story. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trial & Error Pilot Review - Pilot

Network: NBC

Genre: Sitcom, Mockumentary

Airs: Tuesdays at 9/8c

My Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: A spoof of crime documentaries about the arrest and trial of a beloved poetry professor from a small town in South Carolina, who is accused of brutally murdering his wife, and the young Northeastern lawyer hired to defend him.

My Thoughts: Well that was fun! I honestly had low expectations for this show based on the sheer fact that I had never heard about Trial & Error until a week ago. I had also seen the trailer a few times and it didn't look all that impressive. However, I did see several articles online comparing this show to Parks and Recreation and that was what ultimately sold me on giving it a try.

Trial & Error is shot in a mockumentary style, very similar to Parks and Recreation and The Office. I LOVE this style of filming for sitcoms. I think it allows for a very real type of humor. This show also has a great cast of characters. The lead character Larry Henderson, played by the always great John Lithgow, is eccentric and clueless. His wife has been killed and he is the main suspect, but he appears to be so lackadaisical. His defense attorney, Josh Segal, is a young go-getter who accepts Larry's case as his first independent legal case. Josh's team is made up of the incompetent "retired" cop, Dwayne Reed, and his secretary Anne Flatch, who has every made-up disorder known to mankind. The cast is rounded out by Larry's daughter, Summer, and the city prosecutor, Carol Anne Keane.

With true-crime stories being all the rage the last year, I wasn't sure how a sitcom about a murder would work. It did though! It turns out, a courtroom is actually a great place for lots of laughs. My only negative, as of right now, is that Summer doesn't seem to bring anything to the table yet. I am guessing that in the future she might end up being a love interest for Josh, but her character provided nothing in this pilot episode. Overall, I thought this was a fantastic start for a new NBC comedy. NBC has had some rough times with new comedies since their Thursday night comedy block ended a couple years ago, but Trial & Error feels like something that would have fit right in. 

By Your Side by Kasie West & My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella - Contemporary Book Reviews

MY NOT SO PERFECT LIFE

Genre: Contemporary, Chick-Lit

My Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed. Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers. But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they? Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business. Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems. And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway? 

My Thoughts: Let me start by saying that I love Sophie Kinsella books. They are exactly the kind of book that leaves you in a good mood. They are funny, witty, and weirdly relatable. With that said, this book did not blow me away. I think I might be a bit fatigued with Sophie Kinsella. I am starting to feel like she writes the same lead character in all of her books. My other problem is that while I love watching all of the strange character hijinks ensue, I find some of them to be SO unrealistic. So many ridiculous things happens and yet, everything always end up perfect in the end. Please don't misinterpret my feelings about these flaws as dislike. Like I said previously, these books are so fun. I find myself literally laughing out loud and this book was no different. The main character, Katie, is hilarious and flawed. I always understood how she felt and why she was doing the things that she was doing. There were also parts of this book that reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada (which if you haven't read... you definitely should). Overall, this book was enjoyable, but it wasn't my favorite Sophie Kinsella book. It was a fun, quick read and that is always a breath of fresh air every once in a while.

BY YOUR SIDE

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary

My Rating:
 ★★★★☆

Synopsis: When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her. Only he doesn’t come. No one does. Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

My Thoughts: This book had what I can only admit to being a girl's biggest fantasy... getting locked inside of a library with a cute boy. Except Autumn didn't actually read any books while in the library. With that little personal flaw aside, this book was so adorable. I loved watching Autumn and Dax form a relationship and learning to trust each other. I mean they were locked inside of a library with little food and no interaction with anybody except each other. The other thing that this book had, which I have to admit to being surprised by, was the fantastic handling of a stress disorder. I haven't read too many books that deal with stress disorders and I thought that this book dealt with that topic in a realistic and respectable way. I have read one other book by Kasie West, P.S. I Like You, and that book was total fluff. It was a very enjoyable love story in every sense of the word. After the experience of reading that book, having an extra storyline about something other than falling in love very refreshing. I would highly recommend this book. It got me out of a reading slump and was thoroughly enjoyable the whole time. I plan on reading all of Kasie's books now. I think that she is one of the great YA contemporary authors, right up there with Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han.