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Posts Tagged ‘Emma Watson’

 

Dan Stevens (beneath the CGI) and Emma Watson

“BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” My rating: B (Opens wide on Nov. 17)

129 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

Is Disney’s live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” as good as the old-style, hand-drawn 1991 original?

Nope. But it’ll do.

After a slow middle section, the film delivers the emotional goods. And along the way, it establishes Emma Watson, late of the Harry Potter franchise, as a name-above-the-title star.

This remake is the latest in Disney’s recycling of its classic animation library — see last year’s “The Jungle Book” and “Cinderella” the year before. The film, from director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Chicago”), hits favorite familiar notes while introducing some new (and mildly controversial) elements.

Its strongest component remains Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman’s score from the first film, a collection of hummers that immediately please the ear and quickly take up residence in the head. Small wonder a stage version became a Broadway smash. (I found the the three new tunes written for the film by Menken and the late Tim Rice to be forgettable.)

The story is by now familiar to all. Belle (Watson) is too smart to fit into traditional girly categories, setting off suspicions among her provincial fellow villagers in 18th-century France.

When her father (Kevin Kline) is imprisoned in the enchanted castle of the Beast (Dan Stevens) — a vain and cruel prince working off a curse — Belle trades places with the old man. Over time she wins over the Beast’s staff, domestics who have taken the form of household objects and eventually gains the love of her grumpy host.

Meanwhile the villagers are being stirred up by Gaston (Luke Evans), the preening he-man who wants Belle for himself.

Following the nifty production number “Belle,” which introduces us to our heroine and her circumstances, “Beauty and the Beast” slows to a crawl, only to pick up an hour later when the Belle/Beast relationship starts to assert its romantic pull.

The problem is one of size. The cartoon “Beauty,” nominated for a best picture Oscar, ran for 84 minutes. It was taut and wasted nothing. (more…)

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Emma Watson On The Set Of 'The Bling Ring'“THE BLING RING” My rating: B (Opens June 21 at the Alamo Drafthouse)

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The juvenile delinquents depicted in Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” are neither impoverished nor uneducated. They are the beautiful children of Southern California, privileged numbskulls who wear classy clothes, drive expensive cars and party hearty.

In 2008-09 a half dozen of these handsome young people went on a burgling spree, entering the homes of the famous people—Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton — whose lives they experienced vicariously through the Internet and  TV’s ”TMZ” celebrity gossip show. On their nocturnal prowls they made off with more than $3 million in clothing and cash.

In Coppola’s hands their fictionalized story has become a deadpan comedy about really stupid kids (who consider themselves smart) whose sense of entitlement is so complete and moral compass so nonexistent that they assume the rules just don’t apply to them. 

It’d make a hell of a double feature with “Spring Breakers,” though I doubt audiences are prepared for quite that much adolescent idiocy and arrogance.

We’re introduced to the Bling Ring through Marc (Israel Broussard), a baby-faced teen and a new student at Indian Hills High School (a sort of high-class dumping ground for rich kids who been booted from other schools). Marc is sweet and unassertive and totally bowled over when he’s befriended by the beautiful, catty Rebecca (Katie Chang).

It’s not about sex. Marc is pretty obviously gay. He thinks of Rebecca as his sister.

(more…)

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Seth Rogen (center) and friends...avoiding the Apocalypse

Seth Rogen (center) and friends…avoiding the Apocalypse

“THIS IS THE END” My rating: C (Opens wide on June 14)

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“This Is the End” had so much positive web buzz that I opted to see Seth Rogen’s end-times comedy instead of the new Superman movie.

Note to self: Time to get skeptical about what you read online.

This writing/directing collaboration between Rogen and longtime film partner Evan Goldberg certainly sounded encouraging.  Rogen and other raunch-comedy stars (James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel) play themselves as spoiled, clueless actors trapped in a house when the Rapture sucks all the good people up to Heaven.

Left to their own devices in a city ravaged by flames, earthquakes and rampaging demons, how will these Hollywood horndogs spend what little is left of their lives on Earth?

Not in prayer, certainly.

The film’s first 20 minutes are actually pretty clever. Rogen greets newly-arrived boyhood friend Baruchal at LAX.  The idea is for the two old buds – Rogen is now a fully-vested Angelino, while Baruchal remains at heart a Canadian – to rekindle a friendship that has started to go stale.

Prominent on Rogen’s itinerary is a big blowout at the new home of James Franco. Baruchal is less than enthusiastic because he thinks most of Rogen’s show-biz friends are dicks.

And in fact “This is the End” is at its most amusing and outrageous in the party scenes where dozens of recognizable actors (Paul Rudd, David Krumholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Aziz Ansari, Jason Segal) portray themselves as shallow, vacant creatures of fame and priviledge.

Particularly hysterical is wimpy Michael Cera, who presents himself as a totally coked-up, sexually omnivorous whack job.

(more…)

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“HARRY POTTER AND THE  DEADLY HALLOWS: PART 2” My rating: B (Opening wide at 11:55 p.m. July 14)

130 minutes | PG-13

Imagine that you’ve been in a coma for the last 15 years and missed the whole Harry Potter thing.

You’ve no knowledge of the real-life rags-to-riches story of creator J.K. Rowling. Of the long lines of readers awaiting midnight sales of the latest installment. Of the worldwide mania. Of the rise in childhood literacy. The theme park.

Imagine that the slate has been wiped clean. You’re a total Harry virgin.

Under those circumstances, if you were taken to a theater and shown one of the “Harry Potter” movies, what would you make of it?

Be honest, now. (more…)

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