Beauty and the Beast (2017, Film Review)

It was that good, to the point where I felt overwhelmed with deep emotions long forgotten.

I saw the live-action rendition of Beauty and the Beast this last Wednesday 22, 2017. I went in with little knowledge on the production for this film, so to say that I went in undermining the whole experience, would be an incredibly vast understatement. The whole film was nostalgic from the moment it began to the very ending act. Of course, with the added scenes from both the source material (and from new concepts incorporated into the film), this also added a more wholesome and completed version of the rendition.

It was so simply done, yet the magic of the film felt incredibly real. The musical numbers were astounding in there effect and it often times left the viewer completely in awe with all of the spectacularly dazzling scenes and eye-catching moments. In particular, my favorite numbers were “Be Our Guest” and “Gaston”. It was such a wind-swept journey, that I can’t imagine anyone not seeing this film.

Now, to weigh-in both the amazing pros, and the still evident cons, I will give a fair and balanced review since it’s been a couple of days since the high of this film has worn off and allowed me to see it for the entirety of its production.

To begin, Beauty and the Beast did a fantastic job of being a contemporary piece, in terms of how life was like in 18th century France. Parts of Beauty and the Beast felt almost reminiscent to the 2012 rendition of Les Misérable. Not to mention both stories take place in different parts of France. Another aspect of the film they did wonderfully was the fact that most of the actors and actresses (minus Belle) were theatrically inclined. It felt like a true harkening back of the play version of Beauty and the Beast on Broadway (starting in 1993). Possibly one of the best qualities to the movie was its astoundingly clear soundtrack over the voice-overs of the actor’s singing. At times, I truly fell into the movie realm of Beauty and the Beast, forgetting momentarily that I was even watching a motion picture. Overall, the casting (for the most part) felt incredibly perfect (even if perfect doesn’t exist).

Now to address the cons of this movie. The cons are actually few and far in-between, but they are there nevertheless. Like everything else in life, no work of art is ever without imperfections. The reason why this is – is because every single person in the world interprets the same thing completely differently, even on a small scale.

The first con is that Emma Watson was cast for the main role. Now I know what some of you are thinking as you read this: But it’s for marketing purposes, Emma Watson has an image that can appeal to the mainstream public. My gripe with this line of thinking is two-fold. The first layer, is that you are saying that the source material itself, Beauty and the Beast, and all of the history that goes along with it, wouldn’t be enough for people to go see it. Don’t forget, in this day-in-age where social media exists and the spread of news by word-of-mouth moves quickly through social spheres; this movie would have been a massive success from the start.

Not to mention the fact that this film was produced by Disney, it should be a no-brainer that this movie would have been a hit. The only purpose Disney had for adding Emma Watson in the lead role, was because they wanted to break whatever record needed breaking for the box office. So in a sense, like everything else it seems in life, this was solely for money purposes. It’s a shame because creativity almost every single time, takes a back seat in our modern culture.

The second problem is that they incorporated a “gay” theme in this movie, where it really didn’t need to be added. I have a gay older brother, and he was slightly confused by that one particular part in the movie. I’m a supporter of LGBTQ people, but that’s why we create new stories, so that that new and original material can be honored. We should not change Gabrielle Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve’s work just for the sake of mainstream society in modern times.

My brother actually made me realize (after the movie was over) the slight issue of this scene. In a way, I would have overlooked this otherwise “Hollywood-esque” move made by mainstream Hollywood. But he said in a way, it felt like Disney altered the source material just to bow-down to mainstream society. Being that Disney is one of the 5 major economic giants who run our economy, you would think they would have realized they have the power to honor such work.

It was as if Disney merely added-in new material for the sake of saving facing, not for honoring the original work created by Gabrielle Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve.

A woman who had written this successful story (Beauty and the Beast) in her time period in 18th century France, Villeneuve did the utterly and nearly impossible. Her story was quickly shared throughout the world and was critically acclaimed and adapted into theatrical plays as well. In a time when women were truly oppressed in a society that had seen it better for woman to just remain silent and be good housewives and mothers.

In all though, the live-action movie adaptation of Beauty and the Beast was spectacular and breathtaking in its execution. There were raw emotions stirred from within, moments of laughter, moments of happiness, of sorrow, and of tears. Through all of the good (and there was a lot of good) and of the bad, this movie earns a 10 out of 10 stars from me.

It was that good, to the point where I felt overwhelmed with deep emotions long forgotten.

Such magic is rare to find in movies, and especially where money is concerned. I’m shocked this movie came out to be as good as it did in the end. The only other thing I can say to end this review off on a good note is this: don’t allow anyone to tell you anything is impossible, for you can create stories, inventions, and history by speaking up and standing firmly for what you believe it.

Forever in Your Debt,

R.S. Noel

Where You Can Find Inspiration

Make it happen, and the world will open up to you…

Inspiration comes in many forms. Ultimately, when you really think about it, there are many different kinds of inspiration. There are the sad kinds of inspirations, there are the happy kinds that make you smile to yourself, and then there are the kinds that really just make you ponder about life in general. It’s almost contagious, infections to the very soul.

In a way, if you permit yourself to open up to the world, even if it’s dangerous and risky to do such a thing, you end up learning more not only about yourself but also more about the environment of different places around the world. Traveling helps, and unfortunately, traveling cost a lot of money. Not everyone, myself included, can afford to travel to “exotic” locations (I put “exotic” in quotations because such places are not exotic to the humans and inhabitants living there). Yet even still, there are numerous ways for you to find inspiration.

Take for example, a silent moment to yourself. Such moments like these can help you further expand on imagination, to seize moments of otherwise escapable memories. These are the times when you can use your mind as an advantage over anyone who gets the luxury of traveling and garnering inspiration from their travels. Undoubtedly, some of the best places are not even found here on this world, but in other worlds; other places.

But if you don’t write fiction (or if you do and it takes place here on Earth), you can still use this method of gaining inspiration. Our minds are amazing structures, undoubtedly remembering even the smallest of details or creating new information altogether. The brain is the single most amazing source of understanding and comprehending life and the many different complexities to our existence.

In essence, there are a variety of countless new ideas that come to us, even when we’re not consciously thinking about writing. Inspiration is not only found around us, but more so, within us. We must not underestimate our capabilities to find inspiration of hope, of sorrow, and of miracles within our minds. As we observe the world, and thus, observe our place within it, we begin to better understand the very concepts which may have once eluded us once before when we thought we were “naïve” or “unaware” of the world around us.

For the truth of the matter is much more different. If you allow yourself to have an open mind, anything’s possible. The only thing required on your part, is to be determined and persistent enough to pursue that which you desire.

Make it happen, and the world will open up to you…

Forever in Your Debt,

R.S. Noel

5 Helpful “I’m Out of It” Writing Tips!

The last bit of advice comes from a personal spot in my heart. It’s something that I’ve lived by since I was a child. Ready for it? Because I’m sure you’re not!

At times, we may not feel like writing. At other times, we feel unnecessarily bogged down by life’s everyday grind. But even then, that’s still not a good excuse to let yourself cast aside writing altogether; even when you swear you’ll finish that great writing idea or finally complete that novel you’ve been working on for ages. Life’s not easy, and that includes the writing process. But what can be made easier is our attitude towards the process. We can either trudge on along to the sound of our own drum, or, we can mope around and get absolutely nothing done. It’s really a personal choice we consciously make, even if we hate to admit it.

To begin, the first helpful writing tip is likely the most obvious. Ready for it? Good.

Stay productive.

I understand taking a break here and there is necessary. But when you know your time is limited (no matter your age), you just know that you must get the job done. Our personal work is our greatest creations (which also includes children, if you are blessed to be a mother!). So we should take great pride in everything we do towards making our work the best it can be. No matter how grouchy you feel, or how tired you may be: make at least 20 minutes of time for your work. Even the littlest progress is still progress made, especially if in those 20 minutes, you create an inquisitively great idea. That’s what makes writing so amazing, you will undoubtedly have those moments where the words and sentences you construct just flow. It just works in ways you didn’t think were possible!

The second helpful writing tip I can offer you? Be honest with yourself.

Do you feel like sometimes you can go days, weeks, months, or even years without writing? Well, the truth of the matter is this: only you are responsible for the gap in your writing time. There’s nobody else to blame but yourself, and that can be a really hard pill to swallow, especially if you’re going through a rough (and I mean rough) patch in your life. You know what I’m talking about, those moments in your life you’d rather forget entirely. Yeah, those moments.

Third helpful writing tip to get your motivated: keep a calendar of all your meetings, work hours, childcare time, cooking, cleaning; errands (the list goes on, and on, and on…it never gets easier as you get older either, I’m speaking from experience). You see, when you make a list of your “must do” chores, you get a chance to visually see where you’re free time is at. This is the best way to organize in your day (god-willing nothing comes up out-of-the-blue), some time for your personal works of art. Don’t compromise when it comes to your work, and don’t be sorry either. It’s your creation, and you only get to make it once, so make it right the first time.

Fourth helpful writing tip is a bit of a doozy. Ready for it? Well if you aren’t, roll with the punches!

Be 110 percent dedicated to your craft.

When I say this, I mean, don’t make any excuses to avoid creating beautiful works-of-art. You are the only person who truly has your own back, so make sure you’re looking out for yourself! Don’t fall in the all-too-common pitfalls of despair, demotivation, distress, boredom, or even security. Because at the end of the day, you could lose it all – and that would be a shame if you just started building your career up.

The last bit of advice comes from a personal spot in my heart. It’s something that I’ve lived by since I was a child. Ready for it? Because I’m sure you’re not!

Imagine all of the unfortunate souls out there who have to suffer in silence.

Let this thought sink in your brain a little more. Just imagine, adults who slave away their lives working in sweatshops across the globe. Adults who once had dreams and aspirations, but must support their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and other family members through working excruciatingly long hours just to make ends meet. These people in the world will never get the same chances as you or I. They will never truly know what it might one day feel like to successfully create something out of nothing; and to be recognized by it (not matter how small or large the scale is). Just remember these types of people whenever you’re feeling down. This should help you readjust your outlook on life.

After all, we only have a limited amount of time in life, so let’s make the best of it.

Forever in Your Debt,

R.S. Noel

Video Games Have Epic Plotlines Too

In a real sense, you actually get the freedom to imagine what could be, and what is in fact true.

It may not seem like it, but the stories told through video games are actually quite astounding.

Video games take you on quite the adventure. There could be a variety of different perspectives shared in a storyline, development of characters is subtler yet vastly more detail-oriented when dissected, and there is quite an amazing variety in the different plights and issues each storyline presents.

Probably my favorite genre, or type, of video game I enjoy the most is that of Japanese Role Playing Games (or JRPG’s for short). I also enjoy regular-old RPG’s, (Role Playing Games), but it certainly has its differences when compared to JRPG’s. In Japanese Role Playing Games, there’s more of an emphasis on the dramatic effects of story-telling devices. A death of a character in a JRPG has a more in-depth moment of clarity then that of RPG’s, but with that said; RPG’s also have unique ways of killing off characters (sometimes, it can be a bit sadistic). JRPG’s, with a few exceptions, are more concerned with each character and their developments throughout the story arc, and showcase a very deep sorrow/meaning on a character’s death when it happens.

A great example of this can be seen in Final Fantasy VII. In this game, there is a character named Aeris/Aerith (depending on translation of the game in your region). SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t played this game (even though it’s been out well over 2 decades) please don’t read on.

Anyways, in the game, it builds her up as one of the core main characters involved in the story of the game. You get to know her thoroughly enough to understand that she’s quite a unique individual with an important past lineage. But due to unfortunate events, the game’s main villain, named Sephiroth, kills her about midway in the game’s entire story. She dies in a very dramatic manner. While she is praying to the “Life Stream”, Sephiroth kills her as he jumps down from the sky and slides the katana he wields, painfully into her back. The player, who is left speechless and wondering, what has just happened, mourns the passing of her untimely death throughout the reminder of the entire game. In fact, she is still mentioned a few times throughout the remaining story by the other main characters, as they ponder and reflect on Aeris/Aerith’s life. (She even makes a small reappearance in the game towards the end).

Of course, there is more to the story as well of Final Fantasy VII, but the point I’m trying to make, is that the storyline is not only visually effective, but it also is physically-affecting to the player. After all, any little thing that happens to the main cast of characters affects each player controlling the characters throughout the many battles and encounters in ways indescribable. You would have to play a JRPG (or RPG) to fully understand. Unlike a movie, where you are just a viewer of the film; video games actually make you feel like the death happened due to the fact that you’re controlling the characters throughout the storyline. Your actions, sometimes, can affect the outcome of certain character’s fates.

Video games are interactive, creating a deeper bond with you and the storyline being told. A great example of this can be found in the Turn-Based/Tactics JRPG game series entitled Fire Emblem. If you happen to find yourself playing a Fire Emblem game, you will find that your decisions on where to move characters during battle sequences, could very well get them killed. But unlike in some video games, where a character can come back after they faint in battle, in Fire Emblem, once a character dies they die for good. (Of course, in modern renditions of the series, there’s an option in the beginning to play on Casual mode, which is more forgiving. But nonetheless, avid fans of Fire Emblem usually play on Classic mode).

The death of a character in Fire Emblem effects how the story of the overall game is told to you. So each player can have their own unique experience playing it, since there are dozens of characters playable within any Fire Emblem game.

In a real sense, you actually get the freedom to imagine what could be, and what is in fact true.

Conclusively, as a writer, such storylines like the ones aforementioned certainly have helped my writing throughout the years. I’ve come to truly understand the importance of character development and also the important effect I should leave a reader with when a character dies. After all, getting to the end of a book is only half the journey; for the journey itself is what really matters…

Forever in Your Debt,

R.S. Noel

Fantastic World of Writing and Imagination

Oral storytelling is interesting as well. But there’s a place and time for everything, and a written-down story provokes emotions and thoughts that no other medium of entertainment can ever truly provide.

At the most inconspicuous times, I’ll discover a piece of a story that makes for a strange and exciting idea. In times of uncertainty, or just whenever I find myself daydreaming with a couple of minutes of free time to myself, I begin to drift. I don’t just drift into a daydream though, I’ll honor such an experience and jot down whatever imaginative thought comes to mind.

Later in the day, week, month, or even year, I’ll come back to it in my trusted notebook (just a useful scrapbook full of off-the-wall ideas). If I can create even two chapters from the idea, it becomes a Work in Progress for me (or as it’s called on Twitter: WIP). I’ve come to relish in the joy that comes with writing, whereas before when I was young, I used to feel like writing was a burden. I used to dream of getting right to the end of the whole process; to have a complete story without having to input all of the time, energy, and self-motivation needed to complete a story.

Oral storytelling is interesting as well. But there’s a place and time for everything, and a written-down story provokes emotions and thoughts that no other medium of entertainment can ever truly provide.

I can’t imagine what creating a story without writing would be like; for me at least. The journey of creating a story would be without lasting effect throughout the ages. I’ve come to realize that a book is the only medium of entertainment that can truly teach readers the many secrets and exciting emotions of life in a way where you have to use your own imagination to morph the story into your own mind’s eye.

Creating a story requires a vast sense of otherness. Sometimes, it requires that you take yourself, your own being, out of the equation. It calls for your cooperation and willingness to learn new perspectives on life, to understand what a complete stranger might be going through in their own existence. You must become completely selfless, giving yourself wholly to your work and not thinking twice about it. It should come natural; your fingers should feel the words you are writing, while your mind gets lost in the world of imagination that comes with the beauty of writing.

I’m 23 years old now, and I started writing random short stories when I was 10. There was something enticing about imagining other worlds, other realities; other dimensions even. Different tales of different people, untold secrets of vastly unknown experiences, heroism confronted with the complications of life’s blunt reality – there are so many wonderful concepts that come to mind even when just daydreaming. Of course, as an adult, we don’t always have the luxury of time on our hands.

But as adults, we have the sole power to choose what we make time for. If I wanted to, I could forget all about writing. But at the end of the day, even if I’m just starting out in the professional world of authorship, I fully understand that writing will always be my true passion in life. Whether I pick up any other hobbies in the future, nothing will ever compare to the joy I find in creating untold stories of vastly unknown experiences… 

Forever in Your Debt,

R.S. Noel

Distancing Yourself from the Outside World

This is the issue we’re all dealing with right now in today’s world. No one cares. I mean, absolutely no one.

Distancing Yourself from the Outside World

As intense (or lack of intensity) as our emotions can get on this particular topic, I realized I wanted to address this heavy issue today. Every single day, there are a variety of issues we deal with in the world. But one issue that we continue to push to the side, for obvious reasons, is that of how far removed we all our from the world. I mean the real world.

A lot of the times, people want to just ignore the millions of issues that exist, and I agree to some extent. Some issues really can’t be fixed in the world, no matter how hard you try. There are some unfortunate evils in this world that cannot simply disappear, because ruthless, uncaring, and cold individuals run the natural world. That’s the nature of business after all. It’s unfortunate that business is what runs this world. A lot of people even see the world without business as one that’s even nastier than the reality we face today.

Without business, we “likely” revert back to our natural human base of existence.

Many people who are adults and who have grown up realize how fruitless it can all seem in the grand scheme of life. But the truth is, we need to start caring more, and we need to start getting more involved and invested in trying our best to make even the smallest change in the world. Even if it’s just changing one person’s life in a monumental way, that would be good enough.

This is the issue we’re all dealing with right now in today’s world. No one cares. I mean, absolutely no one.

The only people we can turn to are our family, and our closest (and I mean closest) friends who have our backs. Otherwise, if you really think about it, we can’t trust anyone. Is this just another sad reality of life…? Perhaps it is.

But if we don’t at least try and strive to be the better man or the better woman, we begin to fall into a routine in life. Get up, go to work; ignore the vast majority of the people we see out in the world, get our work done, and mind our own business for the sake of hopefully keeping our work-lives intact. I get it though, I really do. I used to work two jobs, but now I go to school full-time. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten how the working world operates. It’s a cold and calculating world, with the mantra of: “If you don’t want to work for 10 bucks an hour, someone else will.”

I know that there is no arguing or no asking questions in the workplace unless you absolutely need to. I understand that a lot of people suffer silently at their jobs in order to just get by. After all, nobody will look after you besides your parents, and even then, that could very well not be the case.

I suppose what I’m getting at is, even though this is a heavy topic, and even though I understand how useless it can all seem, I just want you to know that I’m here to talk with.

As small or insignificant as my offer may sound, I’ll always be here to talk with. If you need a person just to listen to you share your day, or even about something that happened to you today (or any day), then I’ll be here to listen to you. I enjoy just letting people speak their mind and receive at least some relief from letting it all out. You can go under “Contact” on my website and send me a message. I’ve already made some good friends on here, hopefully I can get to know some more people who have interesting pasts. After all, we all have a story to share, and we all have a past to admit to…

Forever in Your Debt,

         R.S. Noel

What is an Artist?

Artist are both Ying and Yang, right and wrong, good and evil.

Being the second installment of my new series “What is a/an _____?”, I thought I’d choose something quite similar to being a writer. Or at least similar to writers of fiction. I also chose this topic, because I once knew a woman named Emily (I won’t give out her real name, out of common courtesy for her privacy). At any rate, Emily was an amazing artist. She was inspirational in every sense of the word. There was always a vast depth to her creativity, and she was never afraid to test out her abilities in different mediums (such as water color, or acrylic). Her passion for art knew no boundaries.

Unfortunately, I broke up with her after 3 years, due to personal issues. I won’t delve too deeply into it, but I will say this. I had to refocus on getting my act together. There was no use in pretending I was letting the other aspects of my life, such as college and other personal endeavors, go to the wayside. If I were older and already some-what established in life, I would have surely stayed with her. But my priorities right now are different from what I want my priorities to be in a couple of years down the road from today.

At any rate, let me get into the nitty-gritty of this article. So what is an Artist?

An Artist is someone unrestrained by societies standards and expectations. They are unafraid to try new styles, and they are bold in their desire to add new perspectives to their creations. Unwavering in their convictions, yet fluid like water, Artists are the rare exception to the equilibrium of life. They are both steadfast in their viewpoints and still manage to be creative and open to new concepts without truly changing their own character or personality. Artist sometimes have the misconceived image of a person who is “wishy-washy” or “flaky” in their ideology.

But the truth, like I have stated, is far from the reality of what makes an Artist, an Artist.

Artist are both Ying and Yang, right and wrong, good and evil. If you really think deeply about it, an Artist, at the heart of their being and purpose, are the very essence of life itself. They embody all of the interesting and intricate realities of our existence. Steadfast in making sure that other fellow human beings see the many important messages that we, as the general public, might oversee or overlook due to our hectic schedules. Artists remind us not only who we are, but what we should be striving for in terms of real substantial worth in life.

Likely one of the saddest realities for Artists, are that they are mocked for their profession. They are seen as “leeches” on society, not really “contributing” to the overall arch of society’s daily demands. But, like everything in life and in existence, diversity of a people are what make us realize all of the aspects of life we would otherwise be naive or ignorant to. This is where the importance of Artists come in. They can draw, paint, and create wondrous and awe-inspiring pieces that get the general public talking, discussing, and acknowledging all sorts of different topics of interest. Whether it be about the natural beauty of the world, the lack of natural beauty of the world, or any other topic you can think of imaginable, you now have a semi-clear understanding of what Artists are truly all about.

There are many facets to an Artist, and admittedly, some (if not most) Artists can never be defined perfectly into any given category easily. I’ve only covered the very tip of the metaphorical iceberg. But if there is anything I want you to remember from this, it’s that, whenever you see an Artist – just know that their world and view on our home or just life in general could very well be something worth knowing…

Forever in Your Debt,

         R.S. Noel