Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Muppets

Family Fare:  The Muppets  (2011)  In this new Muppets film, Gary (played by Jason Segel), has a brother named Walter (voiced by Peter Linz).  Walter is a little different because he looks like a Muppet; but that is good because his favorite TV show is, The Muppets.   Segel, his girlfriend (played by the cute Amy Adams) and Walter go to California to visit the Muppet studio, a lifelong dream of Walters. They find out that not only is the studio abandoned, the Muppets have disbanded and that an evil oil baron (played by Chris Cooper) wants the land where the studio is and will do almost anything to get it.  Walter finds Kermit and persuades him to get the old Muppet gang back together to save the studio.  This is an absolute joy of a film to watch, and I was smiling throughout.  Unlike Happy Feet Two, this film has several memorable song and dance numbers, and Segel (who also co-wrote the script) has a ball performing with Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and the rest of the gang.  This is by far the best of the Muppet films and is one not to be missed.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Muppets Website
My View:  Hugo  (2011)  Martin Scorsese directs this 3-D film about a young orphan (Asa Butterfield) who lives in a train station in Paris in the 1930s. His father left him a mysterious, metal man, an  automaton, a prop used by magicians at the turn of the century.   The boy is convinced that if he can get the automaton working, it will give him a message from his late father, so he sets out to repair it.  A girl (played by Chole Moretz), whose godfather (played by Ben Kingsley) owns a small toy shop in the train station, decides to help him.  The godfather, though, is hiding secrets - secrets that might help the boy solve the riddle of the automaton, and there is an evil Station Inspector (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) who is dead-set on catching the boy and sending him off to an orphanage.  This is a beautiful film and the best use of 3-D since Avatar, but the film is way too long (127 minutes), takes forever to set up any of the story-lines and is just not very interesting.  This is one  of those films that you want to love but just don't really even like.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   Hugo Website
Indyfest (A Look at a Small, Indie or Foreign Film):  The Descendants  (2011)  George Clooney stars in this film about a father whose life is shattering around him.  His oldest daughter  (played by Shailene Woodley) is in a boarding school and is flunking out.  His youngest daughter is not getting along with fellow students and says things without thinking.  His wife has had a boating accident and is in a coma.  And, to add to the pressure, he is the main trustee of a large parcel of pristine real estate on one of the Islands of Hawaii, and he has to decide who to sell the land to, land that has been in his family for 150 years.  Clooney is amazing in this role, low key and restrained, and this role is sure to get him an Oscar nomination.  But it's Shailene Woodley (Secret Life of the American Teenager) who really shines in this film.  She does an incredible job as a teenager dealing with her mother's coma while trying to re-forge a relationship with her father.  This film is warm and rich and is surprisingly funny, as director Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) gets multi-layered performances out of the whole cast.  My Rating:  I Would Pay to See it Again   The Descendants Website
The 50 (A Movie From My Best/Worst Films of All Time):
#30 Best Film  
The Deer Hunter  (1978)  This five time Academy Award winning film (including Best Picture and Best Director) is a film about how the Vietnam War affected the lives of a small, factory town in Pennsylvania.  Three men, Michael (played by Robert De Niro), Steven (played by John Savage) and Nick (played by Christopher Walken) have enlisted in the Army to fight in Vietnam.  Before they depart, Steve marries his childhood sweetheart (played by Rutanya Alda) and Michael, Nick and their friend, Stan (played by John Cazale), go on one last hunting trip.   Little do the three men know that the next time they will meet will be in a Vietcong prison.  This is a complex film that tracks the three men through their tour in Vietnam and the after-effects of war when the three men return to civilian life.  Director Michael Cimino boldly directs this film, using great sweeping shots, and gets every ounce out of an incredible cast that also includes a very young Meryl Streep.  This is a marvelous film and one that shows how a war can affect not only the men/women who fight, but their loved ones, as well.   The Deer Hunter Info
Forgotten Film Marty  (1955)  Ernest Borgnine, in an Academy Award winning role, plays Marty, a 34 year old butcher, who has just about given up finding someone to love.  He still lives with his mother, hangs out with his buddies at the local bar and has to be dragged by his friends to a dance.  At that dance, he meets a plain-looking woman (Betsy Blair) and discovers that maybe, just maybe, he can find love.   Borgnine is absolutely perfect in the role, and Paddy Chayefsky (Network) wrote a script that gives him the part of a lifetime.  My Rating:  Full Price   Marty Info
In Case You Missed It (A Film Just Released on DVD):  Super 8 (2011)   I liked this film from producer Steven Spielberg and director J.J.  Abrams as I felt it was part E.T., part Close Encounters and part Alien with a whole lot of The Goonies thrown in.  It has an impressive young cast that does a terrific job of taking you on a thrilling adventure.  My Rating:  Full Price   Super 8 Website
In Memory of Ed Wood (A Movie I've Seen Only in Trailers but Just  Looks Like a Bad Idea): Mirror Mirror   Fairy tales have been all the  rage in Hollywood these days, and this one is the story of Snow White (played by Lily Collins - the daughter of musician, Phil Collins) and the evil queen (played by...wait for it...Julia Roberts) who sets out to destroy the sweet and innocent Snow White.  It's really hard to tell if this film is a comedy (Nathan Lane is the evil queen's servant) or a drama.  I have a feeling I won't really care.   Mirror Mirror Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of Hugo:  Personal designer for Sir Ben Kingsley

Flictionary (A Definition of a Film Term):  Tracking Shot  This a shot where the camera follows a parallel path of the object on the screen.  Normally done with a camera mounted on a dolly, it can also be done with a crane or a hand held camera.

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You:  The Iron Lady   A film about the life of British Prime Minster, Margaret Thatcher. I only need to say three words: "Starring Meryl Streep."   The Iron Lady Website
Until Next Time!

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