*The mesmerizing live action “Beauty and the Beast,” directed by Bill Condon, is just what the doctor ordered, especially in these times. Not only is it visually captivating with a stellar cast putting in fine performances, but “Beauty” represents what the world looks like today.

In none of the earlier versions of “Beauty and the Beast” did you see such a diverse cast of characters. The film opens with a grand ball at the Prince’s palace and beautiful debutantes—black and white—are in his circle. Audra McDonald, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ray Fearon, Cassie Clare, Sophia Brown, Tyrone Love, Lily Frazer add a great deal to the film’s vibrant colors.

“Beauty” tells the story of Belle [ironically, Mbatha-Raw’s name is Belle in the Amma Asante movie “Belle,” based on a true story], a beautiful independent woman and lover of books, who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, Belle befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within.

Emma Watson, best known as Hermione in “Harry Potter,” is perfectly cast as Belle. Dan Stevens is the Beast and Luke Evans is Gaston. Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Emma Thompson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, and Ian McKellen also star.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette) (right) and Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe).

Also in ‘Beauty and the Beast’: Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Plumette) (l) and Audra McDonald (Madame Garderobe).

‘The Belko Experiment’

the belko experiment

“The Belko Experiment” is a bloody mess and a senseless film not even worthy of the time it takes to say so. With so many movies being made and the competition so fierce, what better way to command attention since snuff films are outlawed, than to sink to the lowest common denominator in filmmaking and come out with a project that shocks and gratifies blood thirsty viewers.

Desperate ploys and tactics to get movies made is not uncommon, but an actor of Tony Goldwyn’s (star of “Scandal” and descendant of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn) stature to star in such a cry for attention effort is incomprehensible.

In “Belko,” a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogota, Colombia and ordered by a voice over the company’s intercom to kill their fellow workers or be killed. The person that kills the most co-workers will be spared.

Directed by Greg McLean, the film also stars John Gallagher, Jr., Adria Arjona, Michael Rooker, and Sean Gunn.

Facebook.com/TheFilmStripTM       Twitter: @thefilmstrip    Instagram.com/thefilmstriptm