Music Obsessions [May 2017]

Another month has passed us by! We’re almost at the halfway mark of the year! Wow!

Seeing as I’ve been busy, music has been my constant companion and surprisingly, this is when I found all kinds of really fantastic tunes that has been keeping me very upbeat and motivated and on the more tired days, given me energy. They are rather random choices so hope you enjoy!

Blind Heart – CAZZETTE ft Terri B!

By far, one of my favorite finds this past week. CAZZETTE has made some really great music and this one is definitely one I love a whole lot.

Ev’rybody Wants To Be A Cat (‘The Aristocats) – Charles Perry

The AristoCats is my favorite Disney movie. Perhaps its because I love cats a lot but then its just because I love the songs and everything. Its adorable and fun and super lighthearted. Plus, Everybody Wants To Be A Cat gets stuck in my head and makes me pretty happy most of the day afterwards. I never knew about this 2015 We Love Disney soundtrack with Disney songs sang by more popular artists. I honestly like this one a lot.

Still Feel Like A Man  – John Mayer

I’ve never heard much of John Mayer. Or I have but never quite acknowledged it but somehow I was reading something and landed on watching this one. I have to admit that other than the video being really fun to watch, the song is pretty catchy as well. John Mayer has a lot of charm but something about adding in dancing pandas and some quirky choreography works for me. At least it makes me so very happy to watch and incredibly pleasing to listen to.

Confessions nocturnes – Diam’s feat Vitaa

I may have shared this one before in some other segment over the last few years but I come back to listening to this song every once in a while. I like songs that have this conversation style to it while telling a story. I personally find this one pretty catchy but my husband disagree.

Attention – Charlie Puth

Not exactly a Charlie Puth fan. I’m really indifferent about him however, somehow I landed on this new song and its pretty good. I just know that if this reaches the radio, and after listening to it a billion times, it might get old. For not, the tune is pretty cool.

It’s Gonna Be Me – N’Sync

I do have to be honest that the radio has a way of putting on good music every once in a while when they dive into the 90’s and while it makes me happy to listen to Backstreet Boys, I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m a N’Sync girl so it always makes me happy when that pops up. This past while, It’s Gonna Be Me has been popping up quite a bit. So yeah, added that also to my playlist.

What songs/music do you listen to to keep you motivated and/or energized?

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The final part of the Toronto ComiCon weekend meet-up with Drew is our Friday’s night movie going adventure to see the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I both have Disney segments on our respective blogs and it really highlights how much we love it in general. Plus, we just finished our 90’s Blogathon so hey, it all fits perfectly together. As objective as we would like to be, it is hard to not compare it to the original animation. I am just going to be honest here before we start.

Lets check it out!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty and the beast

Director: Bill Condon

(Voice) Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson

The beauty of animation is how magical they can be because they are imaginative and creative. To bring something like that to life creates a lot of challenge. There has be matching music and atmosphere and most importantly, the magical chemistry that we can feel with these characters which is usually easier to believe when its animation than in real life. I would be lying if I didn’t go into Beauty and the Beast optimistically skeptical. Why? I haven’t watched anything from Emma Watson since Harry Potter series ended and I only know Dan Stevens as the creepy dude in The Guest and an extremely small part of Season one of Downton Abbey. Not a lot to compare to and I didn’t really look too much at the voice actors either. The question now, after a few days of the initial excitement and thinking about it: does it live up to its original? The answer is no. I have to reluctantly say that because of a few aspects. However, I also never expected it to live up to the original so I still had a lot of fun with it.

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast’s best part is creating its atmosphere and the world. It is absolutely gorgeous. The effects and CGI put us right into the setting of the town and especially the castle and forest areas. There was a darker tone however, it does manage to capture a great part of the magic that made the first one great. Of course, the original animated film offered up some of the most beautiful animation with its rich colors and catchy musical tunes. That comes to the second part that gives this movie something more. While retaining a lot of the music from the original, they manage to put a few new songs in. The nostalgia and magic of the old music still is the fun parts of the movie plus it shows a true determination of creating a animated film with this one that stays true to a musical with actually not a lot of dialogue.

Beauty and the Beast

Belle is one of my favorite heroines/Disney princesses. To be honest, Emma Watson did a decent performance. I can’t say that she was particularly memorable though. She fit in well because she had a good enough singing voice and the movie’s overall magical appeal swept me away. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like her. I just can’t really pinpoint a part of hers that stuck out to her. On that note, her chemistry with the Beast worked well enough that the story made it easy to fall in love with the story again even knowing what would happen and in that final scene where there’s that twist, I had tears in my eyes, which was definitely unexpected. Turning over to Dan Stevens as the Beast, his face was pretty much CGI and yet perhaps it is because of that, it was easier to keep it imaginative. When he was angry at the beginning, there were moments of fear and later as he softened, his features also made it so much more gentle. There was so much more to love in how Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast than Belle which seems to be the opposite of how I remembered the Disney animation.

Beauty and the Beast

The stars and the most dynamic characters of the original was almost always these supporting animated enchanted characters. Who knew that clocks and candelabras and teapots could make us fall in love with them, right? That is something that really stands out also in this live action. The voice cast is a fantastic ensemble with Cogsworth being voices Ian McKellan, Lumiere by Ewan McGregor, Mrs. Potts by Emma Thompson and of course, the man who tends to sneak into every movie in some supporting part and almost makes it shine, the grand piano (Maestro) by Stanley Tucci. I loved them the most in this live action adaptation (or is it a remake?). There are so many similarities to the original but somehow their enchantedness makes it easier to imagine them in this way.
Beauty and the Beast

Finally, we can’t not talk about the most self-absorbed villain, Gaston. I honestly like Gaston quite a bit and his sequences especially the Gaston songs and bits are quite humorous in the animation and I’m pretty happy about how they approached this character and Luke Evans take on it. There were a lot of funny moments and it helps a lot. The ending battle with the Beast was a little underwhelming but it was never meant to be overly long even in the original. Gaston isn’t really a true threat ever. I’m not sure any believes that he’ll amount to anything too much especially not when his right hand man is Lefou who is just there for comedic relief. Josh Gad didn’t quite stand out as much either.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a decent live action take of the original. In comparison, it is hard to meet the original’s masterful animation however there is still a lot to love especially because this one takes good care in creating a beautiful environment and magical atmosphere. The winter and snowy landscape with the dark but beautiful castle captures lots of mystic, especially watching the take on the castle falling apart as the magic wears away from each rose petal falling. While some characters are a little underwhelming in their portrayal, the majority did a pretty great job however the magic of the story itself did carry itself and shadowed the shortcomings in the moment.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?

Toronto Comicon Weekend Haul!

This past weekend was a fantasticLly awesome one as I headed out to Toronto for Comicon (just like last year). Its been a crazy process getting back and having everything cleaned and put away and getting back on routine so today, I am doing a simple one to talk about my haul.

I will take a few days this week (probably two) to share the Toronto experience because just like last year, as something of a reward or whatnot, I met up with Drew to hangout and visit Toronto and Comicon together. And just like true movie bloggers, we got in a movie as well amd even made it to a party (comicon related) as well as a sightseeing location. Lots of fun and a packed schedule but I think it turned out pretty great. Look for those posts while I get those new segments finalized (something I ran out of time last week for).

Lets check out what I picked up both before and at the Toronto Comicon.

Before the Comicon, I had a little bit of time before Drew arrived so I went out for a little shopping. I had a few stores on my list to hit and they were:

HMV
(because they are closing out of Canada so lots of discounts)

HMV

Disney Store
(never been to the one at Eaton Centre)

Disney Store Eaton Centre

David’s Tea
(spontaneously remembered  was running out at home)

David's Tea

Toronto Comicon was a weekend thing and we bought the weekend pass so we went on Friday to scout out the show and then did most of our shopping on Saturday after all the Q&A panels. Here’s what I picked up:

Movies & Video Games

I got a super sweet deal for Uncharted 4 at Iceman Video Games which was also there last year. I’m pretty happy about it. They had some awesome choices and selection.

However, I really want to talk about Raven Banner where we stopped by to look at horror movies. They were fantastic and we had a great talk about horror indie films in general. Not sure they’ll read this post but that chat was a highlight of the ComiCon for myself. It really defines why we do this movie blogging thing and meeting people who are equally passionate about this. It was a fun and enlightening chat.

Novel and Comics

Toronto Comicon

Let’s look at this from left to right.

  • Toronto Comics‘ Yonge at Heart is a Canadian comic author that sets in Toronto. This is a free preview to get a snippet of their comic for their Kickstarter campaign running right now till beginning of April, I believe. I saw them on Twitter before the trip and really liked the art style and the idea of using a Canadian setting. You can check out the Kickstarter here.
  • Remy’s Dilemma by Andrew Snook is a novel with this plot below from their website. A part of selling your work is being passionate about it. And Andrew does a great job at it. To be honest, his enthusiasm as he told his story and the joy he had recounting the story was so genuine that I could feel the awesomeness in the story. I haven’t started reading it yet but this looks like a fun journey with Remy especially when its set in two provinces in Canada that I’ve visited numerously  and live in.

The world is coming to an end. That’s what Remy believes, anyways. While double-checking his lifelong to-do list to ensure he has led a rich life, he realizes he hasn’t come close to completing his goals. Panicked and short on time, Remy embarks on a chaotic road trip to complete the most important item on his bucket list… – Snook Books

  • Moonshot & Titan from AH Comics: Moonshot is an Indigenous Comics Collection (Volume 1) with various stories from different artists. With the purchase of this one (inspired by my peaked curiosity after my playthrough of Never Alone a few weeks ago), they also gave the gift of their graphic novel Titan: An Alternate History, which is great because then they saved me having to decide on which one to get with my purchase.

Artwork

Foiled Art

Foiled Art makes this beautiful little pop culture pieces. They do a lot with gold or silver (or both for limited edition) but I honestly thought that this galaxy one looks superb. It really brings out the art and pops. This is going right over my work station at home because its so fantastically awesome!

Chasing Artwork

Howl’s Moving Castle by Chasing Artwork

I love love love Miyazaki art and Chasing Artwork is a great artist. There are two comics out currently which I passed up on but these pieces are so atmospheric and creative. I actually stood there pondering which to get. He also has one for Nausicaa which just took my breath away. I’m personally a huge fan of Howl’s Moving Castle so this one is great.

Archie Dan Parent

Betty and Veronica by Dan Parent (with autograph)

For those of you who don’t know (which you might not because I don’t review comics), I love Archie comics and really I haven’t looked much at the newer ones although they do look cool but these traditional ones. I know I have a few volumes sitting in a box after we moved. I just can’t remember where so I couldn’t take it with me but Dan Parent was there who does a ton of these illustrations. I particularly loved this print and look he signed it also. Consider me a little star strucked when I saw him because I wanted to say a ton and just couldn’t.

The haul could have been so much more. There was so many great writers and artists that the choice was hard to make. However, I retain the idea of picking up stuff from the ones that I skipped but has an Etsy shop or other form of online retail. I have to say this was a pretty successful weekend!

What do you think about the haul? Anything that catches your eye?

Disney: Dumbo (1941)

And we are officially back! Next Disney project movie is Dumbo! I have finally, with some help, figured out the Fantasia baking creation. It is in the preparation stage but like I had said, I am moving along to keep this Baking Through Disney alive.

My first viewing of Dumbo was when I bought the Bluray a few years ago for the vault release. Before that I only knew the story because of a children’s picture book my mom used to read me when I was young.

Lets check it out!

Dumbo

dumbo

Director: Sam Armstrong, Norman Ferguson, Wilfred Jackson, Jack Kinney, Bill Roberts

Voice cast: John McLeish, Edward Brophy Sterling Holloway, Herman Bing, Cliff Edwards

Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential. – IMDB

Dumbo is a rather calm Disney movie. That isn’t a bad thing. Where Snow White and Pinocchio had evil queens and a gigantic mean whales, Dumbo only had a cruel circus animal that breaks him away from his mom and the inner fear and confidence that stopped him from using his big elephant ears to fly and amaze. Dumbo is a lesson about being different and how it isn’t a bad thing. Being unique may be something others criticize but also something we can use for being more. You know, making lemonade out of lemons and half cup full sort of thing. For that, Dumbo is great! However, it does feel a little flat, starting with being a late delivery, losing his mom, meeting an unusual best friend then having to perform circus acts and eventually learning how to fly. There was never a big obstacle despite it being a sometimes heartwrenching and other times, fun times.

Dumbo

Dumbo isn’t a long animated film. One of the many aspects of classics that I love. This one is for the kids and it is incredibly that way with not a whole lot of dialogue and a myriad of literally colorful characters although they do have colorful personalities as well. Plus the circus is a child friendly atmosphere, most of the time. However, my favorite part of Dumbo are the characters even if the short run time really doesn’t give them a lot of space for growth. Keeping in mind that this is a children’s movie, it is fine to love the characters for being fun and/or cute such as the crows and particularly our main character Dumbo. How do you not love baby Dumbo and his big ears?  Adding onto a motor mouth mouse as Timothy Mouse, we have a fun and comedic duo.

dumbo

Overall, Dumbo delivers cute and endearing characters along with a message about being okay with being different and embracing being unique. However, the story lacks an exciting climax or inspiring villain but makes up for it with a few fun moments. Perhaps more for the younger crowd as it remains gentle and cute however the message is a valuable one. And its hard to resist how incredibly cute Dumbo is.

Have you seen Dumbo?

Freaky Friday (2003)

Well, look at this…the movies from November’s viewings are spilling into December. These family teen Disney movies had been so plentiful and I just didn’t have the energy to write so many reviews so here we are. With that said, I kind of works with the lighthearted winter holiday movies theme that is going on here. Its just that is taking me a while to put together seeing as I reviewed so many of them before. You can find all the reviews from past holiday marathon in the menu above under movies. With that said, I haven’t seen Freaky Friday so I figured it was a good time to do some catch up (just like the previous The Lizzie McGuire Movie review I did HERE). Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis: I mean, what could go wrong, right?

Freaky Friday (2003)

Freaky Friday

Director: Mark Waters

Cast: Lindsay Lohan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Rosalind Chao

An overworked mother and her daughter do not get along. When they switch bodies, each is forced to adapt to the other’s life for one freaky Friday. – IMDB

 There is a wonderful entertainment value in Freaky Friday. I can’t say that I would watch this all the time but it has this really harmless fun feeling. Exactly how Disney family features usually are. While the plot is a little funky and its weird to see Jamie Lee Curtis play a role like this one especially since in her early days she was a scream queen and then in the recent years, she’s the dean on Scream Queens TV series, its hard to imagine her in such a comedic role but playing a rather uptight character that had to do a flip to act like a teenage girl. I always like these sort of flip personalities sort of thing because most of the time (even in the most ridiculous ways), hilarity ensues.

Freaky Friday

I have to admit that I don’t quite like this one as much as The Lizzie Mcguire Movie or The Parent Trap. There are moments where it feels like I should find it funny and yet I didn’t really want to. Maybe an overuse of the same humor like the Chinese Restaurant owner who keeps insisting on having the party held at their restaurant for a discount. Although those parts with the owner and her mom felt weird but still rather fun. What does make Freaky Friday good is the message it delivers of not really understanding someone and their decisions until you step into their shoes, maybe not as literal as the movie but it makes a good point about family and communication.

Freaky Friday

While these types of movies usually go over the top a little with the acting and very guided story lines, this one does deliver emotionally at the end. As much as I was sure about how I felt about Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis’s characters respectively, it was hard to deny that I grew to like them more as we connected with them and in the end, it triggered some nice feelings as they embraced what they felt they needed to do naturally. The addition of the supporting characters actually adds a little extra although no one had quite as much as screen time as these two ladies. I did enjoy seeing Chad Michael Murray, who just seems to be hovering over a ton of stuff I’m watching of late and man, it makes me want to watch A Cinderella Story (again!).

Overall, Freaky Friday is a good enough Disney movie. Definitely not my favorite. However, it does have some nice feels and some good humor going on. It kind of hits in a plot territory that I appreciate and have a soft spot for. Still, I don’t see myself wanting to run back to rewatch this one too frequently but I’m definitely not opposed to seeing it again if it ever does occur. I guess what I’m saying is that I had fun but slightly indifferent.

Have you seen Freaky Friday? Did you like it?

The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)

If I had to choose between Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff, the latter would win every single time. In general, I find her movies more innocent and more fun. I believe Hilary Duff got popular because of Disney and her role as Lizzie McGuire. I haven’t seen it so I had to give it a go on Netflix. It looked like a rather easy going movie.

Lets check it out!

The Lizzie McGuire Movie (2003)

lizzie mcguire movie

Director: Jim Fall

Cast: Hilary Duff, Adam Lamberg, Clayton Snyder, Yani Gellman, Alex Borstein, Ashlie Brillaut

Lizzie McGuire has graduated from middle school and takes a trip to Rome, Italy with her class. And what was supposed to be only a normal trip, becomes a teenager’s dream come true. – IMDB

The Lizzie McGuire Movie is definitely a kid or teens sort of movie, much like High School Musical. It isn’t a musical and yet, there is a rather neat soundtrack and features a bit of singing. it is funny that I am spotting a partner of doubles. This is unintentional, seeing as I knew nothing about Lizzie McGuire Movie before starting it. As cliché as these types of Disney teen features are, there is always some sort of enjoyment I got out of it. Probably not enough for me to go finding Lizzie McGuire stuff but enough for me to not mind putting it on again and still having a good time with it. There are obvious silly moments and they are in Italy so some nice places to see so it isn’t hard to not laugh just a little. Plus, I love the little inner animated Lizzie inserts. They are so quirky and cute, adds a neat style to the movie.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Like many of these movies (as I also pointed out in The Parent Trap), a lot of the movie’s charm is in the characters. For The Lizzie McGuire Movie, there is also an additional hurdle of making it independent and standalone. It needs to not let the audience that doesn’t know Lizzie McGuire and her friends to get lost with the characters and still be able to like them, to a certain extent. The simplicity  of the story itself makes it easy to get to know these characters. While I didn’t grow up with Lizzie McGuire Show and the characters aren’t complex, it might be for exactly that reason that it is a relaxing movie to watch (at least for me). There isn’t a ton of overanalyzing to do and its fun to see the shenanigans go on and just see the story unfold because it is kind of obvious  how it will end. Plus the characters all work together whether it is her overprotective mom or her prankster little brother or the commanding principal Miss Ungermeyer or her best friend Gordo and even the skateboarder dude.

The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Its always hard to be too much of a critique in these movies. They are geared towards a younger audience and for the most part, it keeps that rather innocent vibe. There are some simple messages just about honesty and whatnot. I’m definitely not the age for these and yet, for a few days after, I’ve had the song that Lizzie McGuire sings at the end. It wouldn’t be fair for just myself to have it stuck in my head, right?

Overall, The Lizzie McGuire Movie is a cute little Disney movie. Hilary Duff is fantastic as always. The movie itself is cliché but simply fun. There is a charm in not only the character of Lizzie but also, from her best friend Gordo and even the supporting characters.

Have you seen The Lizzie McGuire Movie? Any fans of Hilary Duff?

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Its been a long time since I’ve caught a new release at the theatres. But I got a free early screening of Queen of Katwe on Wednesday so I freed up some time to go. Especially since I’m those people who like these inspirational Disney movies. To be honest, I’ve only heard about this movie and how it was about a child and their journey to become a chess champion. I really didn’t know much about it but taking a quick look at the cast already made me want to go check it out.

Queen of Katwe (2016)

Queen of Katwe

Director: Mira Nair

Cast: Madina Nalwanga, Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, Martin Kabanza, Taryn Kyaze

An Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.-IMDB

 Queen of Katwe is a Disney real-life based on a true story inspirational story. What makes this one better than all of the rest? It has a powerful cast which delivers outstanding performances and a setting that we haven’t quite seen before. Call my world of movie viewing small (because there are still a lot more movies to discover, I know that), I have never seen a movie that exposes the raw hard lives as such in any Disney movie before. Our main character here is a real child who lived through these events called Phiona who lived in a rural city of Katwe in Uganda. She lived in below average standards and can’t go to school in order to help her mom sell corn along with her siblings to keep up with their lives and maintain a roof over their heads. While this is about hard times as her and her family gets hit by one thing after another, its a story about her years of perseverance to achieve her dreams. It was brought by someone who saw the best in her when no one else could, her coach who took the time to introduce her to the game of chess and her mom’s views on it as well to promise her a better future.

queen of katwe

I can discuss how great Madino Nalwanga is at her role playing Phiona and capturing the changes she went through as she achieved success at a young age. She started judging where she came from and wanting more. She lost a bit of herself and eventually found it back. She felt despair when things went bad, and joy when she felt like she could do more and that there was somewhere for her. Phiona’s journey to her success was a hard one but also saw her learn a lot from it. Madino Nalwanga captures it all fantastically. The same goes to Lupita Nyong’o who plays as Phiona’s mother. You can see her pain and worries even as she stays strong for her family. Her character may not be educated in the books but she is educated by her life experiences and for that, she has self-respect and takes care of her kids primarily. Its a beautiful performance. The same also goes to David Oyelowo who plays the coach. These characters come to life because of their humanity and that they aren’t sugar-coated. These were their lives and we can believe that it was.

Queen of Katwe

However, the strength of these inspirational Disney movies lie in the fact that they carry an uplifting message. In a world where we talk about all the bad, its nice to see that despite this being still a less than fortunate situation in the beginning and we all go through hard times (some more than others), there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.  Our future is in our hands.  Maybe to some, it seems corny and silly but Queen of Katwe is heartwarming to watch even if its only small downfall is such a long run time. The best part about Queen of Katwe is seeing how Phiona grows as a person: how her successes change her and how she adapts to these changes. It is seeing her find her passions and realizing that our dreams don’t come because we are smart. Some of us need perserverance, challenges, road bumps to over and to take the time and effort to improve. Our dreams and success don’t happen in one day. It takes hard work and those who fight for it the hardest are those who never let themselves believe they are at the top (aka confident but not overconfident). I’m sure there’s a different message for everyone who watches Queen of Katwe. While it still suffers from many predictable moments, it also never quite loses its believability and authenticity.

Overall, Queen of Katwe is really good. With great performances, even the kids who I didn’t mention each and every one of, were a joy to watch. They put light into a story like this one particularly. This movie is inspirational with many great messages. It is going to be an emotional ride through the few years of Phiona’s life from her discovery of chess to learning to excel at it.