Ep. 97 – Beauty and the Beast, Kong: Skull Island, and our full SXSW recap

March 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review “Beauty and the Beast,” circle back to pick up “Kong: Skull Island” from last week, and give their full SXSW recap, including quick reviews of “The Disaster Artist,” “Baby Driver,” and “Mr. Roosevelt.”

[00:00-42:53] Intro/SXSW recap

[42:53-56:37] Review: “Beauty and the Beast”

[56:37-1:06:30] Review: “Kong: Skull Island”

[1:06:30-1:10:20] Wrap up/tease

Click here to download the episode!

Beauty and the Beast

March 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans
Directed by: Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”)
Written by: Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”) and Evan Spiliotopoulous (“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”)

As impressive a pair of live-action adaptations Disney was able to churn out in the last two years with 2015’s “Cinderella” and 2016’s “The Jungle Book,” it would’ve seemed like the studio figured out a surefire way to take a beloved classic film and enliven it for audiences who never owned a copy of the original on VHS. In “Beauty and the Beast,” however, director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”) doesn’t seem very interested in producing a fresh take of the 1991 animated movie. In fact, in this re-imagining starring Emma Watson (“Harry Potter” franchise), it looks as if the most important thing to do was adhere to the film’s “tale as old as time” adage and commitment to nostalgia. If anything, “Beauty and the Beast” is too faithful.

There are a few liberties screenwriters Stephen Chbosky (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”) and Evan Spiliotopoulous (“The Huntsman: Winter’s War”) take in the narrative that don’t add much to the overall emotion of the story. The backstory of the Beast (Dan Stevens) get more screen time as we learn the fate of his mother before he is turned into a hideous castle-dwelling monster. Identity politics also come into play as this version of “B&B” introduces us to Disney’s fist gay character, LeFou (Josh Gad), who in the original Disney movie was Gaston’s buffoonish punching bag. In this one, he’s a lively flirt.

Waston is serviceable as the intelligent and innocent Belle, but her interaction with the Beast in the first half of the movie leaves much to be desired. Their relationship lacks because the Beast is missing all of the charm and charisma of his animated predecessor. Becoming computer generated has done no favors for the Beast and we’re left with a hollow shell of a character that used to feel genuine, emotionally complex and enchanting.

While the art direction is nearly flawless albeit a bit overly gaudy at times, scenes like the dance in the ballroom or the “Be Our Guest” performance don’t visually pop like they once did. And when it comes to the new music, none of the songs from “How Does a Moment Last Forever” to the quite lullaby-like melody “Days in the Sun” are not memorable.

Wonderful set pieces, costumes, and childhood memories aside, “Beauty and the Beast” is fairly unexceptional. If French author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s traditional fairy tale has never crossed your radar before, it’s probably best to start with the one that came during Disney’s Renaissance period. It is, by far, the more romantic and entertaining of the two.

Jesse Corti – Beauty and the Beast (25th Anniversary)

September 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

It’s been 25 years since the classic animated film “Beauty and the Beast” made it’s theatrical debut. Not surprising, it is still easily one of the most beloved ever released by Disney studios and only one of the three animated films in cinematic history to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

In celebration of the release of the 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray on Sept. 20, I got the opportunity to interview actor Jesse Corti, the man behind the voice of LeFou in the original film. LeFou is the short, bumbling sidekick of the film’s main villain Gaston. Along with being Gaston’s punching bag, he helps him trick a village mob into infiltrating the Beast’s castle in an attempt to kill him.

During our interview, Corti, 61, who is of Venezuelan decent, talked to me about what he remembers most from his time as LeFou and whether or not he is looking forward to the live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” next year.

Why do you think a film like “Beauty and the Beast” has been able to transcend generations so well since debuting at theaters 25 years ago? I have a five-year-old daughter and I’ve seen the film countless times in the past three years or so.

I think it’s because of the theme it has about inner beauty. What I really enjoy about it is that you have Belle who is an independent person and a person that kind of goes a little bit against society. She reads books and has dreams. But there’s a difference between living a dream and dreaming a dream. She has ideas of what she wants to do with her life. That’s a great example for girls and boys as well. There’s a positive message there for your young daughter who will eventually become a young woman.

What do you remember the most about how you got the role to play LeFou 25 years ago?

I remember I was doing “Les Misérables” on Broadway. We had just opened. [Disney] was looking to audition people [for “Beauty and the Beast”] who could sing and act. What I remember most is doing the show and going to the auditions at that time. “Beauty and the Beast” was the first voice over work I did for Disney. I was also able to do the voice work for the Spanish version of the film. That was a neat thing for me to do.

These days, animated studios aren’t necessarily looking for Broadway stars to lend their voice to their animated movies. They want Hollywood celebrities. Do you wish studios weren’t so reliant on celebrity status and name recognition and would cast actors that fit the role best?

Yes, but it’s a market issue. When you have a star, people will sometimes go see a star regardless of what they’re in. Not that many people know Mel Gibson was in “Pocahontas.” It works when you have great actors and great stars who can also sing. Take “Frozen.” You have actors who are stars that can actually sing. Disney bats 1,000 when they get that. In “Beauty and the Beast” we had stars like Angela Lansbury, but we were all Broadway stars, too. That was the beauty of it. Disney started that trend of getting really great people from the stage. That’s why you have all these movies that are going to the stage. You’re getting Broadway to the movies and, now, movies to Broadway.

What did you think the first time you saw an image of what LeFou was going to look like back in the early 90s?

At the time when I was doing “Les Misérables” on Broadway my hair was very long. I did have a ponytail like LeFou has. I’m short. Well, I’m not as big as Gaston, who is like 6’5. I’m barely 5’7. Originally, the character, at least the way they drew him, was sort of a big doofus kind of guy. I kept that illustration. He was a big doofy guy. I did his voice for them and then asked if I could do something else. They were like, “Yes, whatever you wan to do!” You try to come close to a voice that matches the character they’ve illustrated.

I always lose count how many times Gaston hits LeFou in the movie. Do you know how many times he gets hit?

I’ve never kept count, but it has to be something like 30 times. He gets kicked, hit and whacked a lot when he’s in the castle. I do remember recording him scream.

We don’t see this in the movie, but how do you think LeFou would’ve reacted to the news of Gaston’s death?

Oh, boy. I think LeFou would be very sad because he loves Gaston with all his heart. Gaston gives him a reason to live. He’s with the most popular, strongest, most handsome person. Because of that, he has a little bit of power throughout the village.

Next year, we’re going to get a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” We’ve seen this before, of course, with “Cinderella” and “Maleficent.” How do you feel about these classic films getting re-imagined in this way?

I think it’s great. I love those movies you just mentioned. I have really enjoyed them. I think it’s a neat way for a younger audience to see it. I think LeFou looks the least human of all the humans in “Beauty and the Beast.” But I like that they’re going to do a live version. Why not? If they do it well, hooray! The trailer looks awesome. I think it’s going to be very, very successful. It only helps “Beauty and the Beast,” the animated film.

Josh Gad is going to be playing LeFou in the live-action version. What do you hope to see from the new LeFou?

Josh is such a wonderful performer and a funny guy. I’ve never seen him do anything bad. I remember when I first saw him on stage in [The 25th Annual Putnam County] Spelling Bee. He was wonderful. I think he’s going to be great as LeFou. I can’t wait to see it. Everyone brings their own style. I brought my own thing to LeFou and he’ll bring his own to the live-action. So, I can’t want to see it. And if he’s not good, I’m going to let him know about it!

Paige O’Hara – Beauty and the Beast (DVD)

October 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Interviews

It’s been almost 20 years since Walt Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” made cinematic history in 1991 when it became the first animated film ever to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Since then, singer/actress Paige O’Hara has helped create a timeless classic by lending her voice to Belle, a character she was happy to portray in the original as well as other video releases.

During a phone interview to promote the Oct. 5 release of the new “Beauty and the Beast” Diamond Edition DVD and Blu-ray, O’Hara talked to me about the changes she’s seen in animated films over the last two decades and how she feels about being part of the Disney princess culture.

Casting a major celebrity for an animated film seems more important today than it did in 1991. What changed?

When we went to the Oscars some people snubbed us like we shouldn’t be there. But with our success more and more actors wanted to get involved in animation. They realized they wanted to be heroes to their kids. Every parent wants to do that.

Doesn’t that hurt the industry when a studio cares more about the name than they do about which actor will be the best voice for the part?

I don’t believe so. I mean, Robin Williams was just amazing with what he did as the Genie in “Aladdin.” I don’t think you can picture anyone else doing James Earl Jones’ role in “The Lion King.” I also loved what Ellen DeGeneres did in “Finding Nemo.” I think they are all great actors. They’re hired because they are great actors.

Does watching “Beauty and the Beast” now affect you the same as it did 20 years ago?

Yes, it does and I’ve seen it a few times. (Laughs) I just saw it on Blu-ray and it’s a whole new experience. It was like watching it for the first time again. There is just so much detail that comes out of the film.

Disney princesses have become a major part of pop culture over the last decade. Do you think it’s healthy for a little girl to aspire to be a princess?

I think so. It gives little girls someone to look up to and give them hope. Belle was a different kind of princess. She was the first princess to have brown eyes. So many little girls have written me letters because they could identify with Belle just because of her eye color. She was also bookish, smart, kind of an outcast.

Do you think voice actors should get more attention for what they do? What about an Oscar for Best Voice Actor and Actress?

It would be great if they recognized voice actors like that. They wouldn’t even have to put it in the telecast, but I think definitely that should be added to the categories. They have smaller awards than that so I think voice actors should get more attention. I think if there was a category like that, last year Anika Noni Rose (“The Princess and the Frog”) would have won the Oscar. She did a fantastic job.

Whenever talk about shortening the Oscar telecast comes up the first thing you hear people say they’d like to see cut are the musical numbers. You sung during the show in 1992, what do you think about eliminating the performances to make the show shorter?

They would be eliminating my favorite part! I know a lot of people who feel the same way. Some people don’t like it, but I feel a majority of them do.