Tale as Old as Time: Beauty and the Beast (2017) Review

Growing up, Belle was always my favorite princess (now that spot belongs to Rapunzel or Anna of course). A bookworm who feels out of place in her village and longs for something more...how could little Nicole not relate? I first saw a bit of the Beauty and the Beast film last January when I got a tour of Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California and they gave us a sneak peek. I've been waiting impatiently ever since! But since Belle has always had a place in my heart and the live action Cinderella is one of my favorite movies ever, I was very nervous that the movie wouldn't live up to my standards...

I am pleased to report that this film is in every way truly stunning and magical. It's a lovely adaption of the original, just changed enough to address all the plot holes that annoyed me as a child and make the Beast infinitely more charming. The CGI is absolutely incredible and the sets and scenery are breathtaking. I'll be surprised if it doesn't at least get Oscar nominations for costuming and sound mixing. I now want every single outfit Emma Watson wears in the film except maybe the yellow dress, which I've never liked.

Of course, one of my favorite parts of the film is the music...I'm so glad Disney decided to keep this one a movie musical! (And I'm sure they are too thanks to how well it's doing at the box office.) You can read my review of the soundtrack here, so I'll keep this short. I adore the new songs and have been listening to and singing "Evermore" almost constantly since I got the album. Emma Watson is no singer, but she does a passable job and I'm admittedly a bit obsessed with how wonderful Dan Stevens's and Luke Evans's voices are. I also love the handful of lyric changes, especially those in "Gaston" and "The Mob Song."

If you had allowed me to cast this movie, I certainly would have picked Emma Watson for Belle (since Laura Michelle Kelly is arguably too old for the part). She didn't disappoint in the least as her Belle was intelligent and spirited, yet still kind and compassionate. I thought that her acting shined most in the Paris scene, which had me crying!

I loved Dan Stevens in Downton Abbey and Summer in February, but I wasn't ready for how much I loved him as the Beast. He managed to act the part superbly despite the amount of CGI and his amazing voice absolutely floored me. I loved the changes to the Beast's character. By making him an intellectual with a great sense of humor, it made it much more believable that Belle would fall in love with him.

No one smirks like Gaston?
Luke Evans as Gaston was the star of the film for me, but the again I have a weakness for a well-trained voice. His Gaston was strangely charming at the beginning of the film, but was disturbingly sinister in a very real way by the end. One of my favorite changes from the original is that Gaston is a Captain and war hero, whose high rank in the town is well secured.

Josh Gad as LeFou was the perfect complement to Evans's Gaston. He was hilarious without being ridiculous and brought a moral complexity to the character that I didn't expect. This LeFou is definitely not the one-dimensional character of the animated film. I personally thought that his sexuality was subtle, but well done. I had initially been afraid it might be an offensively flamboyant portrayal, but it was actually so subtle that I'm wondering why people bothered boycotting it...

A Few of My Favorite Things:

  • Anything and everything to do with Belle's father, Maurice.
  • Audra McDonald as the Wardrobe/Mme Garderobe was hilarious, beautiful, and God that voice!!
  • How well this film grounded the story in location and time period.
  • The Prologue was visually beautiful and set up the story quite well.
  • Not any different from the original, but I'll never be over the cleverness of the last line of the Prologue ("For who could ever learn to love a Beast?") being answered by the song that immediately follows ("Belle")
  • The few bars of "Home" (from the Broadway production) being played when Belle arrived at her room in the castle 

A Few Complaints

  • I wanted to spend more time in Belle's village because it was so picturesque and intriguing.
  • I wanted to see a few more reunions at the end between the townsfolk and former enchanted objects.
  • It made me so sad that we didn't get to hear Luke Evans sing Gaston's solo from the Broadway production, "Me." 
  • I needed a featurette following the film immediately about how they filmed everything with the Beast because I'm so intrigued by the CGI that went into it.
For anyone who made it through this long review, if it's not clear by now, I highly recommend the film. In fact, I can't wait to go back and see it a second time! It's the kind of intricate and enjoyable film that will only get better with every subsequent viewing. While it hasn't surpassed Cinderella as my favorite Disney live action remake, Beauty and the Beast is easily a close second. 

Hollister Wish List

It's no surprise that I am obsessed with Hollister, which has certainly changed since my middle school days when it was all low-rise denim and brand name t-shirts. I'm absolutely in love with their new collection for spring and summer and wanted to share some of my faves pieces with you all!

I love this black "Icon Popover" shirt, which would look great tucked into jean shorts or a colorful skirt.

Florals for spring? Groundbreaking, I know, but this romper is absolutely lovely and comes in three different floral prints.

Lately, I have been loving long skirts and the button front is so popular.

This smocked off the shoulder romper is so unique; I actually haven't seen anything like it!

I love this peplum cami, which would pair nicely with jeans now and shorts later in the hot weather.

Are you loving Hollister's latest collection? Let me know in the comments down below and tell me what stores are your favorites! x

Review: Beauty and the Beast Soundtrack

Ever since it was released, I've been listening to nothing but the Beauty and the Beast live action soundtrack (okay, well that and Ed Sheeran's latest album). After being quite disappointed by the music of La La Land, I was pleasantly surprised by how lovely everyone sounds on this album. I'm so looking forward to seeing how the new songs from Alan Menken are integrated into the storyline!

Emma Watson has a sweet pleasing voice as Belle. Obviously, she's not a trained singer, but she pulls off the songs well and I love her spunky attitude, especially in "Belle (Reprise)." Dan Stevens sounds remarkably like the original voice of the Beast in "Something There" and sounds wonderful in "Evermore." Both of them carry a lot of emotion within their voices and I think that acting through singing is one of the most important things an actor can do in a movie-musical.

I was also especially pleased with Ewan McGregor as Lumière. Of course, I adore Ewan as Christian in Moulin Rouge so he's one of the people I'm most looking forward to seeing in the film. His "Be Our Guest" is hilarious, as is his French accent. Luke Evans sounds wonderful as Gaston, which isn't surprising considering he started out his career in the West End in shows like Miss Saigon and Avenue Q. Naturally, I'm most excited about Audra McDonald as the Wardrobe and she sounds stunning (like always) on the "Aria."

I was skeptical at first about the new songs being added to the film, particularly as I love the songs that they added to the Broadway musical so much, I didn't think I could like others. I was definitely proven wrong! While I love the Enchanted Objects singing "Days in the Sun," "Evermore" is by far my favorite of the new ones. Both Dan Stevens and Josh Groban (on the special track) sound beautiful singing it and I think the story could use a song at that point of the plot. Anyone else a bit confused about how "How Does a Moment Last Forever (Montmartre)" fits into the film though?

Overall, I highly recommend checking out this cast album either before or after the film releases this Friday, March 17. It has made me even more excited to see the movie (I already have my tickets to see it Sunday!), which I wasn't sure was possible. The album is available on iTunes and Spotify. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go back to listening to "Evermore" on repeat.

My Ten Favorite Lines from Ed Sheeran's Latest Album

Like everyone else, I've been listening to Ed Sheeran's new album, Divide, almost exclusively since it was released. I was going to write a review of the album, but then realized that a full post of me ranting about how much I love it wouldn't be that interesting to read!

Instead, I decided to share my ten favorite lyrics from the album with you all. Some of these lines are just too relatable and other ones are so absolutely beautiful, they feel more like poetry than song lyrics.What are some of your fave lines? Let me know in the comments!

I'm just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I'll be creeping a little/I'll be trying not to double tap, from way back, 'cause I know that's where the trouble's at | "New Man"

Show me the locked doors, I'll find another use for the key | "Eraser"

So I'll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum | "Supermarket Flowers"

She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I'll share her home | "Perfect"

I gave all my oxygen to people that could breathe | "Save Myself"

Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don't reckon that I did it right | "Castle on a Hill"

You know, she beat me at darts and then she beat me at pool/And then she kissed me like there was nobody else in the room | "Galway Girl"

I'm well aware of certain things that can destroy a man like me | "Eraser"

You know we are made up of love and hate/But both of them are balanced on a razor blade | "What Do I Know"

I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn't Superman, just a young boy trying to be loved | "New Man"

I think that Divide's aesthetic has even been creeping into my outfits this week. See?

My New Favorite Foundation

I recently picked up the Rimmel Match Perfection foundation because I had seen Zoe Sugg, Hannah Michelak, and Josie of Fashion Mumblr mention it in their YouTube videos and I wanted to give it a try. I struggle with foundation as I have very pale oily skin so both color matching and the wear of a foundation can be issues.

This Rimmel foundation, however, has both a wide array of shades (particularly for a drug store foundation) and incredible long-lasting power. I use the shade Ivory (110) and it works perfectly. While my nose will get a bit streaky over the course of the da y, I find that this foundation lasts better than my high-street ones.

I also love that this foundation has SPF 20 in it and has a surprisingly lovely smell. It's also an incredibly good bargain as I bought it for under $5 at Walmart. My only complaint about it would be that it comes without a pump which can be annoying especially as you get towards the end of the bottle.

I highly recommend this foundation if you're looking for something new, inexpensive, and with good coverage.

I didn't filter this at all! It's how smoothly
the foundation actually goes onto my face.

*I'm in no way sponsored by Rimmel and I was not gifted this product in any way.

Gagged Chokers Introduces a Princess Collection!

Chokers are incredibly on trend right now and my favorite place to buy them is Gagged Chokers. This small business was started by Courtney Reed, who plays Jasmine in Disney's Aladdin on Broadway, and sells beautiful handmade chokers.

Not only are their chokers incredibly well crafted, but they also have some of the best customer service I've ever experienced. Their collections are unique and exclusive: most of the time, once something is sold out, it's gone for good. I filmed a video with my friend Lexi all about them, which I will put at the end of this post.

Last week, they released their Princess Collection of chokers, each inspired by a different Disney princess. They've been so popular, they're already having to restock them. One of my favorite things about them is that they're modeled by different Broadway actresses! I personally have ordered Blondie (as Rapunzel is my favorite princess), but my other favorites include Muse and Wayfinder. Which ones are your faves?

Check out these images of the Princess Collection from the Gagged Chokers website:

Blondie (Tangled)

Jas (Aladdin)

Muse (Hercules)

Snow (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)

Wayfinder (Moana)

My Five Fave TV Shows

Are listicles all I know how to write now? Apparently. I've never been a TV person, but lately there are so many shows on that I'm absolutely in love with. I wanted to share them with you and get all of your suggestions for TV shows that you love!

I started watching Supergirl because my favorite Broadway actor, Jeremy Jordan, is one of the leads on it, but then I fell in love with the show itself. Kara Danvers (alternatively, Kara Zor-El) is very relatable as she tries to deal with friend-, family-, and love life-drama in addition to saving the world as Supergirl. Plus, Supergirl has a knack for casting incredibly attractive men...

Once Upon a Time
If you love Disney, chances are you'll love Once Upon a Time. It tells the story of classic storybook characters put in the real world and left to try to break a curse set by the evil queen. To be fair, I only started watching because I love Colin O'Donoghue who plays Captain Hook and his relationship with the main character, Emma Swan, is my favorite TV ship of all time.

Z: The Beginning of Everything
Z: The Beginning of Everything was released earlier this year on Amazon and it's absolutely beautiful. It tells the story of Zelda Sayre and F. Scott Fitzgerald's relationship with incredible acting and beautiful period costumes. Plus, Corey Cott (of Broadway's Newsies, Gigi, and Bandstand) plays one of Fitzgerald's friends (yes, I fell off the couch the first time he came onscreen).

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been obsessed with Queen Victoria. So when I saw that ITV and Masterpiece were doing a TV series starring the wonderful Jenna Louise Coleman, I was ecstatic. The show is incredibly well-produced with a talented cast, sumptuous costumes, and beautiful script.

The Crown 
If you haven't watched The Crown yet and you have any interest in the British royal family, you are missing out! The series is stunningly beautiful and gives a perspective into the lives of Queen Elizabeth II and her family that's rarely glimpsed. Claire Foy and Matt Smith are particularly impressive as Elizabeth and her husband, Phillip.

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