Live by Night
The key question behind Live by Night isn’t so much “Why did they bother?” as “What went wrong?”
"Beauty and the Beast" slipped around all my roadblocks and penetrated directly into my strongest childhood memories, in which animation looked more real than live-action features. Watching the movie, I found myself caught up in a direct and joyous way. I wasn't reviewing an "animated film." I was being told a story, I was hearing terrific music, and I was having fun.
The film is as good as any Disney animated feature ever made - as magical as “Pinocchio,” “Snow White,” “The Little Mermaid.” And it's a reminder that animation is the ideal medium for fantasy, because all of its fears and dreams can be made literal. No Gothic castle in the history of horror films, for example, has ever approached the awesome, frightening towers of the castle where the Beast lives. And no real wolves could have fangs as sharp or eyes as glowing as the wolves that prowl in the castle woods.
The movie's story, somewhat altered from the original fable, involves a beauty named Belle, who lives in the worlds of her favorite library books and is repelled by the romantic advances of Gaston, the muscle-bound cretin in her little 18th century French village. Belle's father, a dotty inventor, sets off on a journey through the forest, takes a wrong turn, and is imprisoned in the castle of the Beast. And Belle bravely sets off on a mission to rescue him.
We already know, from the film's opening narration, that the Beast is actually a handsome young prince who was transformed into a hideous monster as a punishment for being cruel. And a beast he will be forever, unless he finds someone who will love him. When Belle arrives at the castle, that life-saving romance is set into motion - although not, of course, without grave adventures to be overcome.