Saturday, March 25, 2017

100 days of health and fitness

Ready... SET...
Okay, so it's probably not a secret, but in case you didn't know, I have not been making health and fitness a priority in my life lately. Either I haven't been feeling well, or I've been overwhelmed, or I just can't overcome my inertia - no matter the reason, my body (and as a result, my mind as well) has been feeling pretty lousy. I mean, to be honest, winter has always ended up being my "off-season" anyway, due to weather and illness, and ever since I moved up north, I've been in the doldrums even more.

BUT... it's now officially spring, and the sky is a little bit brighter, and I'm ready to pull myself together and get myself back on track. And what better way to do that than to do a fitness challenge?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Some thoughts on the new live-action Beauty and the Beast


It's been a while since I've done a movie review on this blog! Usually, the only movies I bother to see and blog about are book-to-movie adaptations, and those usually go on my book blog. (I mean, technically, yeah, BatB could be considered a book-to-movie adaptation, but... meh.)

Okay, so fair warning: Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, and Belle is absolutely my favorite Disney princess. (See?) As a kid, I of course identified with her as a book-loving outcast. Also, I love the, uh, Frenchness (?), and I'm sure it had something to do with my decision to take French in high school.

Therefore, I was rather intrigued when I found out there would be a live-action remake, and I was SUPER excited to find out that my favorite princess would be played by another favorite bookworm of mine, Hermione Granger Emma Watson. (PS - Before I ever found out that she was cast, I had made a list/photo collage of Disney princesses as my favorite YA characters, and I totally had Belle as Hermione. JUST SAYIN'.)

So, this movie had a lot to live up to. In some ways, it hit, and in other ways, it missed, but overall, I enjoyed it. I still prefer the animated movie from my childhood, but there are definitely some things I really liked about this one.

Some scattered thoughts (and I guess I should give a spoiler warning, not for the stuff everyone already knows from the animated movie, but for the changes that were made):
  • I LOVED the introductory scene, about how the Beast became the Beast. That ballroom scene was fantastic visually, and OMG Audra McDonald!!!! Can we just have her sing EVERYTHING EVER?
  • Stanley Tucci, your Caesar Flickerman is showing. Just a lil bit. :)
  • The whole movie was extremely beautiful, like, visually. I loved the color palette, and even the wintry scenes were gorgeous. There were quite a few shots and sets that looked like throwbacks to the animated one.
  • That said, the CGI... made me scrunch my nose a little. The songs where we were basically just watching a bunch of CGI instead of real people (like "Be Our Guest" or that song that the Beast sings after Belle leaves) just felt off and less interesting to me.
  • Speaking of the CGI, I kinda laughed when I realized at the end that Bill Condon had directed this, because I was thinking to myself earlier in the movie that the CGI wolves looked like the wolves from the Twilight movies. (He directed the two Breaking Dawn movies.) I was like, "... Jacob? Stop trying to eat the Beast!"
  • I loved most of the songs that were new for this movie. I did not LOVE the ones that were used from the animated movie, because they had made some changes lyrically and musically. I didn't mind the musical changes, but like, I couldn't suss out why they changed the words, and I just wasn't having it. 
  • I'm also quite familiar with the dialogue from the animated version, and I didn't like how they kept some lines, but changed others for seemingly no reason. Was it to shorten the movie? But it's not like the animated one is particularly long to begin with. And really, I kinda felt like I was just watching a Cliffs Notes version of the animated one at certain points. (Do kids still use Cliffs Notes?)
  • But again, the things that they added for this movie were awesome. I loved the backstory about Belle's mother and about the Beast's upbringing (like, why WAS he such a spoiled douche?) and all that stuff. The Paris part made me tear up. 
  • Dude, Kevin Kline, I KNOW you can do a French accent. What gives??? 
  • Speaking of French accents, it was fun listening to Ewan MacGregor as Lumiere. I mean, he's no Jerry Orbach, of course, but he pulled it off.
  • I did think "Belle" was quite spectacularly choreographed/blocked/performed/everything.
  • Emma Watson's singing... :/ I'm not making that face because she's a bad singer. Rather, I think they must have run her voice through autotune or some sort of vocal processor, because it didn't sound like a real voice/purely her voice? I don't know, it just didn't feel like it was purely her, if that makes sense.
  • Again, CAN WE JUST HAVE AUDRA MCDONALD SING EVERYTHING EVER, in EVERY scene she's in????????? 
  • Not gonna lie... there were a couple moments when I was half-expecting to hear something Harry Potter-related. I do truly think Emma Watson was channeling some Hermione there when Belle sees the library for the first time. 
  • I definitely noticed and loved how this movie was not alllllll white actors. It's the sort of movie where it would've been very easy (and expected, not gonna lie) to have a purely white cast, but there was a great range of skin tones among the crowd, and many of the POC characters even had speaking parts. =')
  • Speaking of diversity and representation... I know it was a huge deal that they decided to make LeFou gay. When I first heard this, I was like :/ because, yes, representation is awesome, but LeFou is technically a bad guy, and yo, Disney, y'all been queer-coding your villains forEVER. (Feel free to google that.) However, they took this LeFou in a totally different direction and I ended up loving it. And I cheered after the garderobe scene during the battle. (You'll know when you see it.)
  • Also... and correct me if I'm wrong... I felt like they did NOT have Gaston react to LeFou in a gay-panicky sort of way? It would've been easy to have him be freaked out and weirded out every time LeFou came on too strong, but it seemed like he just kind of took it in stride. Which I appreciated, even though I'm not sure it was entirely in character. But thank you for not making people react to LeFou like he's gross or weird or anything like that. 
  • And speaking of that whole "controversy," I laughed a ton when I saw all the comments about Belle marrying a water buffalo, BUT... don't laugh... that scene where Belle is tending to the Beast's wounds, he's technically shirtless (though covered in fur) in his bed, and holy pecs and delts, Batman! I mean, I know he's some sort of buffalo bear creature and therefore it's kinda weird to be into him, but HE LOOKS LIKE HE BENCH PRESSES. Just sayin'. 
  • Fun fact: Hattie Morahan (Agathe) and Dan Stevens (the Beast) were both in a remake of Sense & Sensibility as Elinor Dashwood and Edward Ferrars. You know who also played Elinor Dashwood once? Emma Thompson! Who was Mrs. Potts in this movie. 
  • And speaking of Austen-ish things, I don't know why, but the dancing caught me off guard. You would think that I'd be used to seeing those types of dances, since I watch so many Austen movies (and I'm not saying they're all the same dances historically, either), but I guess I was expecting the same ballroom dancing that was in the animated one. 
  • Not related to anything, but I really want one of those ear cuff things that Belle is wearing with the gold dress. 
  • Thankyouthankyouthankyou for not including "Human Again." I hate how they added that song to the animated version decades later, and I just really don't care for it very much. However, it's curious that they did reference Romeo and Juliet in this version, just like that particular added scene did. (Also, why is Belle so into R&J anyway? It's nothing like the favorite story she sings about, and it's like, depressing as all hell. Come on, gurl.)
  • The Celine Dion (?) song at the end was a nice touch. 
Okay, that's all I've got for now. I am still very firmly attached to the animated one, but I liked this one too - it didn't ruin the old one for me, and it even added some new elements that I really enjoyed. :) Yep, still my favorite Princess.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I want to be where your heart is home

Spring is just around the corner, but as far as I know, it will stay rainy and gray around here for quite a bit longer. We've had a few nice days here and there, but overall it's been the darkest, coldest winter I've ever had.

I find myself missing the California sunshine. I had an errant thought the other day that I really want to go to Disneyland. I mean, that's not unique or special - a lot of people love Disneyland and it's fun to escape into a fantasy away from your real life. But this time I actually was thinking about the getting-to-Disneyland part of going to Disneyland too.

I'm not really into long drives, and the drive to Disneyland is largely unexciting - just lots of brown hills and farmland, for the most part. But there's something in my heart right now longing for that vast stretch of sun-drenched freeway.

Of course, it's not just the sunshine that I miss. I'm pretty isolated up here - I have Portland-area friends and coworkers and gym buddies, but I'm quite a ways out from all of them and haven't really been up to socializing, to be honest. So I'm often just holed up in my cold house, knitting and looking through my social media feeds in between running errands and work.

And it's hard not to feel sad. I'm watching the people that I love living their lives without me, and it was my decision that made this happen. I don't know if it's the sky making me sadder than I normally would be, or if it's also because I'm feeling adrift and purposeless right now because I'm not currently teaching, or if social media generally makes me sad because of the FOMO it engenders, or... I don't know. Maybe some combination of all those things. I'm at a point where it hurts profoundly and I have to just close my window and distract myself with fictional worlds and people, instead of the real thing.

I'm not sorry I decided to move, because I do think this is where I am meant to be. I just didn't realize how lonely it would feel. I'm already not good at reaching out to people when I have friends around to reach out to; it's even harder now, when I barely know anyone. So I just hide myself away instead.