Tag Archives: Emma Thompson

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review

Disney Studios continues to churn out remake after remake of their classic animated features and Beauty and the Beast is the latest of these remakes. But the live feature has a lot to live up to, especially since it is a remake of the classic Best Picture nominated film. Although the film is beautiful and well told, it doesn’t live up to the Best Picture status of the original film.

Release Date: March 17, 2017
Writer: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ewen McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Kline, Audra McDonald

Based directly on the 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast is the story of a prince (Dan Stevens), who is transformed into a beast because he was selfish and showed no mercy or love to an old beggar woman. The prince and his servants live in a forgotten castle under a curse. The prince/beast must learn love and be loved by Belle (Emma Watson). Belle lives in a nearby village as an outcast because of her beauty and intellect. She is shunned when trying to teach the local girls to read. It is her beauty, though, that has captured the attention of village hero, Gaston (Luke Evans) and his companion LaFou (Josh Gad). Gaston is looking for a bride to grow him and family of good-looking boys. If you’ve seen the original millions of times, you know the rest.

Let’s just say it. Beauty and the Beast captures the beauty and spirit of the original movie. All the songs from Howard Ashman and Alan Menken are left intact. The story is relatively the same and what makes this version better than the original is that this film hits all the emotional moments perfectly. Director Bill Condon somehow manages to make you believe a beast and a beauty can fall in love. It is this one thing, that make Beauty and the Beast worth watching over and over and over again.

In theory, the live action version of an animated feature that was nominated for Best Picture, should be better than the original. Further, this new movie should be Best Picture worthy. As wonderful as the new Beauty and the Beast is, it will likely fail In its quest for Best Picture. Any failed attempt at greatness does not necessarily mean a movie is bad, but remaking he greatness of the animated classic is almost a fool’s errand.

Elaborate set pieces, enhanced CGI effects and filling in plots holes does not mean you are making a better film. It just means your adding more details and sometimes added details means you are adding noise. Let us discuss the differences.

Elaborate Details and Noise. Gone are the clean lines of animation. Here are the intricate designs of million dollar artists and production designers. This great visual noise. Although beautiful it pulls away from the action you should be focusing on. Lumiere and Cogsworth are a real candelabra and clock standing only 10 inches tall. Objects this small blend with a detailed background. During the Be Our Guest sequence, the simple lines of dancing plates and utensils is lost with realistic plates and utensils against an artistic walled background and set pieces.

New Songs. Beauty and the Beast utilizes all of the songs from the original and none from the Broadway musical. Several new songs are added to balance the film. Most are forgettable, but the Beast’s “Evermore” is Oscar-worthy.

That’s enough complaining. Although it really should serve as warning to any studio, who thinks they need to remake classics. Did this film need to be made? Not necessarily, but it was and its fantastic.

 

Burnt – Movie Review

Burnt is one of those food movies that manages to balance the story of food and the human story of redemption into an enjoyable tale.

Release Date: October 30, 2015
Writer: Steven Knight
Director: John Wells
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Emma Thompson, Daniel Bruhl, Riccardo Scamarcio, Omar Sy

Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) is a disgraced “Two Michelin” star chef. Jones has left the world he loves, the restaurant kitchen, thanks to a self-destructive downward spiral associated with the drug, women and rock n’ roll lifestyle of the cooking world. As penance, Jones exiles himself to a small Louisiana restaurant until he has shucked one million oysters.

Burnt follows the struggle back to the top of London’s culinary ladder as Jones pursues his third Michelin Star. To make his dream a reality, Jones has to visit some old demons to finance a restaurant, build a talented cooking staff and find inspiration to “cook food so good, people forget to eat.”

The search of a restaurant comes from his former business partner, Tony (Daniel Bruhl). Reminded of Jones true talent as a chef, Tony agrees to open and finance the new restaurant under the condition that Jones submit to weekly drug tests administered by psychiatrist Dr. Rosshide (Emma Thompson).

For his staff, Jones calls on Michel (Omar Sy), whom Jones has ruined his restaurant open with several rats and a call to the health department. There is also ex-convict Max (Ricardo Scamarcio) and finally, a single mother, Helene (Sienna Miller), who is an up-and-coming chef on her way to culinary heights. Did I mention she plays a woman? Do you think this will be an important fact later in the film?

First, Burnt is not only a movie about food but about the driven nature of the best chefs in the world. These chefs cannot never afford to be complacent, but must always be creating, innovating and competing against one another. This world is exciting and engaging and captured brilliantly on film. Cooper does not fake anything in this movie and was clearly advised by the best chefs to make this movie as accurate as possible.

Second, Burnt is a story of redemption. When a person reaches the lowest point in his life, what does he or she become when you take away the drugs and alcohol. In Jones, you see this struggle of a man dealing with the pressure of attaining perfection with just his sheer will. In the end, what happens to a man when his pursuit of perfection is popped like a balloon and there’s no way to put the pieces back together.

It is the story of redemption that makes Burnt the movie to watch. It is also this story that somehow manages to make the fascinating world of food take a back seat. It is hard to a human story feel real without going into the old bag of tricks of clichés. While Burnt uses several of these tricks, like the old everyone here believes in you and your old mentor wanted to you have his knife set, these tricks are perfectly spread out through the movie. Also, characters are developed well enough, that when the cliché appear, it feels right. Such as the final battle with Jones’ nemesis and former classmate Chef Reece (Matthew Rhys).

Burnt is a good movie because it takes its audience into the driven world of the world class restaurants and the crazy people who choose to be the stars in this world.