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Nerdy Special List April 2017

April 10, 2017 – 6:34 pm | 4 Comments

I’ll be having a birthday soon, which means I’ll have to confront something on my list of fears. This year’s challenge: spring cleaning. [Insert horror scream here.] I think I’ll read a book instead and hope the …

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March 15, 2017 – 11:08 pm | One Comment

Does anyone need a refresher on the plot of this “tale as old as time”? The one about a girl whose kindness saves a selfish prince and his household from a curse? No? OK, great. I can jump straight into details you may not already know about this latest version.

Yes, Emma Watson can sing. She doesn’t have the widest emotional range as an actress, but her natural intelligence, pluck, and sense of decency make her perfect as Belle, the bookworm who wants more than a provincial life.

Dan Stevens, playing Beast, can sing, too, but his performance isn’t especially memorable. Out of hairy makeup, he’s Generic Pretty Prince. Robby Benson left a stronger impression with only his voice in the 1991 animated classic.

This live-action retelling is faithful to that previous version and has moments of splendor, but it doesn’t improve on the ’91 film so I’m not convinced its existence is justified.

The ballroom scene with Belle in her golden gown? Lovely, but no better than the iconic iteration. The “Be Our Guest” number? Looks more like a typical, splashy musical number here than an enchanting moment with a singing, dancing candelabra and his dinnerware friends. (Ewan McGregor does a fine job voicing Lumiere but I really missed the late Jerry Orbach in this scene.)

One thing that is different is the “gay moment,” as it’s been dubbed in the media. I was pleasantly surprised by it (saw the movie before director Bill Condon’s comments were made public). It’s funny and sweet and just a quick bit, neither in your face nor so ambiguous it leaves you wondering. It’s not a big deal. At all. The hullaballoo and boycotts are much ado about nothing, people judging the movie before they see it.

Oh, and also? Luke Evans, who perfectly embodies Gaston, is openly gay in real life but that didn’t stop the studio from casting him as the alpha male and Belle’s most ardent suitor. Disney is gettin’ with the times, yo.

Another difference is the running time. The animated movie is less than 90 minutes, but this one is about 2 hours 10, which might be too long for little kids to sit through. And this Gaston is more violent toward Beast than I remember the previous Gaston being. Yet this movie is rated PG. Who is its intended audience?

This inconsistency between themes and running time and rating perhaps means the new Beauty and the Beast is trying to be all things to everyone, but as the prince eventually realizes, bigger spectacles don’t equal more substance.

Nerd verdict: Competent if not quite magical Beauty 

Book Review: DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard

March 9, 2017 – 1:55 am | One Comment
distress signals

Catherine Ryan Howard’s Distress Signals—shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards’ Crime Novel of the Year after its UK release—opens with a man plunging off a cruise ship into dark waters, but readers will have to …

Nerdy Special List March 2017

March 7, 2017 – 1:18 am | 2 Comments
follow me down

March brings spring, and whoo boy, I could use some spring right now. Heavy rains (causing a tree to fall on a friend’s car—while she was in it) were rough, turning me into more of …

Oscars 2017: And the Winner for Biggest Flub Is…

February 27, 2017 – 2:49 am | 4 Comments
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Wow. I tuned into the Oscars hoping for at least one surprise and I got it, all right.
In case you’d bailed on the very long show and haven’t heard: the wrong best picture winner was announced (La …

Nerdy Special List January 2017

January 11, 2017 – 6:48 pm | 6 Comments
blood and bone

Since almost half the month has passed, I figured I should get this list up. I’ve been moving slowly due to January rains, days that get dark at 1:00 p.m., and my general tendency to …

Golden Globes 2017: Predictable *and* Surprising

January 9, 2017 – 12:27 am | 5 Comments

Here we go, the first of one million award shows this season. I always look forward to the Globes because it’s usually the loosest, wackiest award show, with drunk celebs and the Hollywood Foreign Press often choosing …


December 19, 2016 – 1:18 am | One Comment

The holidays are upon us and the movies are coming out fast and furious, competing for your dollars. Since you’re probably doing last-minute shopping and have no time for full reviews, I’ll keep my comments …

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Spoiler-Free Movie Review

December 13, 2016 – 9:10 pm | 6 Comments


Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. I might be even more spoiler-averse than you are. In fact, that made me miss the first 5 minutes of the movie.
I went to a screening without …

Nerdy Special List December 2016

December 8, 2016 – 11:29 pm | One Comment

This month, I asked our illustrious contributors for a December favorite or one from any month this year, as long as it hasn’t appeared on the NSL.
Since you might be looking for gift ideas, how about considering some of these …

Movie Review: JACKIE

December 1, 2016 – 9:58 pm | One Comment


Jackie Kennedy is such an iconic figure, what hasn’t already been said about her? Well, Pablo Larraín’s Jackie tries to give us a different portrait of her by imagining how she was in the private moments …


November 22, 2016 – 11:17 pm | 2 Comments

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, then I imagine your weekend will include not only turkey and stuffing but also football and movie viewing. I can’t help you with the first three items, seeing as how I can …


November 16, 2016 – 9:55 pm | One Comment

If you’ve been mourning the fact there are no more Harry Potter movies (for now), the J.K. Rowling-penned Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them should soothe that ache a bit.
It’s about the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander …

Knife-Sharpening Nasty Women

November 9, 2016 – 11:56 pm | 8 Comments

As with millions of people, I have been struggling to process the results of the US election. I wanted to write something about how I was feeling because writing can be healing for me. But my words kept …

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