Tag Archive | movie review

Beauty and the Beast: A Movie Review

beauty and the beast“Can anyone really be happy if they’re not free?”

Yes, I did take out my phone during the movie so that I could jot down this quote from Disney’s live action “Beauty and the Beast.” My 14-year-old daughter and I finally got to see this amazing movie with some friends on Friday night. I had read the hype. I had seen the posts about the gay kissing scene. I couldn’t believe all that was being said in such scorn.

Fake news doing its best to cast dispersions wherever it can.

A father’s love for his daughter (Maurice, played very well by Kevin Kline, and Belle, portrayed beautifully by Emma Watson of “Harry Potter” fame) and a daughter’s love for her father take a very close backseat to the love story of Belle and the beast in this grand tale. What was added to the original animated movie and what was left out did not take away from the pleasure.

I went into this movie with an open mind, wanting to watch it critically, yet not wanting to jump to any early conclusions. I soon found myself caught up in the fun of the old songs brought to new life and the way computer generated imagery brought to life the household objects in the beast’s castle.

Gaston (Luke Evans) was as dastardly in this film as he was heroic in The Hobbit: “Battle beauty and the beast castof the Five Armies.” The mob mentality of the citizens on the hunt for the beast reminded me sadly of how easily people are swayed by one charismatic person’s twist of the facts. Does the beast have claws? Yes. Does he have big, sharp teeth? Yes. Use those things to scare people and a mob is born.

Though the timeline is vague, it appears to be a few days later when Belle has become friends with the beast. He takes a chance and addresses the idea of someone like her ever having affection for someone like him. When she suggests, “Why not?” he is encouraged and asks, “So you could be happy here?” That’s when Belle says what I’ve quoted above: “Can anyone really be happy if they’re not free?”

When Belle discovers that her father is in danger, the beast immediately says that she must go. He’s willing to give her up, though at this point he loves her, because he knows it’s the right thing to do. Through her act of caring for him after the wolf attack even though she was very afraid, and his letting her go, though it would condemn him to beasthood forever, sacrificial love is shown.

Love grows not from boasting and blustering about how wonderful we are and how much the other person needs us, but by the acts of kindness that help the other person see how valuable they are, despite appearances. Belle tends the beast when he’s injured, even though he had raged at her just moments before. The beast gives Belle access to the most wonderful library (definitely her love language) she has ever seen. Small acts; huge results.

Courage, hope, service to another, sacrifice, freedom. These are all themes brought out and examined all from within the package of a well-loved story and grand musical numbers that will continue to stand the test of time.

Love that is required and devotion that is paid for is not real. Only when we give those things freely can we be truly happy.

 

images from (1) movies.disney.co.uk and (2) IMDb

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Cinderella: A Movie Review

 

 My 12-year-old daughter and I went to see “Cinderella” the other day. I’m not a huge Disney princess fan, but I like the idea of the live-action movies. I must say, I loved this one. As Morgan and I ate lunch afterward and talked about it, I wondered aloud, “Is there anything about this movie that I didn’t like?”

First of all I need to admit that I’m not a really discerning movie watcher. I don’t analyze lighting, the musical score, costumes, etc. If I like the story and feel it was well acted, that’s good enough for me. Here are 4 things I really enjoyed about this new movie.

1. Good dad models. First we have Ella’s dad. He loved her and her mother beyond the moon. Yes, he was gone a lot with his job as a merchant, but when he was home, he was all there. He wasn’t afraid to tell Ella that he loved her, and he wasn’t afraid to show her he cared. 

Then there’s the king. In this movie, the prince is called “Kit,” as he says that’s what his dad calls him when he’s not peaved with him. The king is kind, thoughtful, and also isn’t afraid to tell his son that he loves him. The respect and love between them is evident and sweet.

2. The fact that you don’t have to have a dark soul to be interesting. Ella is faced with monumental grief when he mom dies (not a spoiler: everyone knows Cinderella has an evil stepmother) and yet her focus is rarely on herself. When she’s grieving her banishment from the ball and her mistreatment by her “family,” an old hag asks her for bread and milk. Without hesitation, Ella provides it. She genuinely cannot understand why her stepmother is so evil. Ella is sweet, caring and kind. Which leads to the 3rd thing I liked:

3. The running theme of having courage and being kind. Before she died, Ella’s mother said to her, “Have courage and be kind. Promise me!” And Ella never forgets those words. She lives them out her whole life. Again after being banished from the ball by her stepmother, Ella runs to the garden and cries out to her mother, apologizing because she’s tried to be courageous, but feels that she has let her mother down, because she just has no courage. But she does. To stay kind in the midst of mistreatment takes courage. Bitterness is easy.

4. Humor keeps the spirit light. I admit it, I cried at least 4 times during this movie. But I also laughed. The magic was lighthearted and the computer animation of the mice turned horses and the lizards who become footmen and the goose who becomes the coachman who doesn’t know how to drive served a humorous purpose that made this story of the poor cinder girl easier to bear.

There is no bad language; there is no sex —just 1 kiss between Kit and Ella after they marry; there is no violence (unless you count a cat chasing a mouse and crashing into a cabinet in the pursuit). 

I will be purchasing this movie when it comes out on BluRay so that we can enjoy it again and again. I recommend it for audiences of any age, even though a mother and father dying might be hard on the littlest of kids. Well done, Disney.

“Old Fashioned”: A Movie Review

old-fashionedI have read a lot of blog posts recently about the blockbuster movie “50 Shades of Grey.” I never read the books, I don’t plan on seeing the movie. I have read a lot fewer posts on the movie “Old Fashioned.” In fact, I’ve only read one, and what that one writer had to say was that most “Christian” movies are “painfully” bad.

I have to disagree.

Whereas I agree with some of points the writer was making (you can read the post here), I thought that “Old Fashioned” did more than just give us a treacly story that spouts Christian doctrine to an audience in need of salvation (my words, not the author’s). The blog post author calls it a “response” to “50 Shades,” but I disagree. I think it stands on its own without apology.

“Old Fashioned” is the story of Clay and Amber, 2 diametrically opposed 20-somethings both fighting their own demons. Clay seems to be trying to prove something by setting relational standards for himself that others find odd and restricting. He refuses to be alone with a woman who is not his wife; he doesn’t believe in dating; he won’t kiss his future wife on the lips until they’re standing before the preacher. Some might think that’s how moral, God-fearing young men should act, but for Clay, his convictions don’t seem to have their root in a relationship with God, but rather a desire to excise his personal demons.

Amber, on the other hand, is a fun-loving young woman who keeps a big jar on top of her refrigerator into which she puts all her cash. Why? Because as soon as it’s full, she knows she has enough for gas money to leave again. She’s lived in 14 states in just a few years. Some might call her a free spirit. But she’s really just someone deathly afraid of forming lasting bonds that will some day cause her great pain.

Is “Old Fashioned” a poorly made movie? Is the overtly Christian message offensive? Looking beyond the obvious to catch the underlying themes is what discerning movie goers and readers really want, and I think what’s below the surface in “Old Fashioned” would satisfy any who are willing to look. Could the movie just be written off as a sanitized version of a titillating rival? It could, but I think that does it a grave disservice. Is the acting top tier? Probably not. I didn’t recognize any of the names.  But I cried, and I laughed, and I loved the way the movie made me feel throughout. From the feisty old aunt to the misogynistic friend to the flower shop owner who just wants to find love, the characters in the movie are believable.

I’m no film critic, but I know what I like, and “Old Fashioned” fits the bill. Even my husband, who is more of the action-adventure-the-more-explosions-the-better type of guy, liked it. So that’s got to tell you something.