The Magician (Ansiktet) (1958) ****

3 reasons to see this film:

Maniac Cop 2 (1990) **1/2

The Muppets (2011) ***1/2


This isn't quite the home run that some are making it out to be, but it's very enjoyable and clearly made with love. The great moments were really great and the rest were serviceable. Unfortunately, there were a lot of "meh" moments and plot points as well.

1. The mansion
A lot of people are mentioning this - Kermit wouldn't live in a mansion. Just doesn't feel right.

2. Walter
He's fine. I don't hate him (like Kermit's nephew Robin, whom we were blissfully spared from in this film), and the film actually didn't focus on him too much, which is good. But he doesn't have a lot of personality.

3. References
While I love Gary Numan, WTF does "Cars" have to do with anything? Because Kermit says, "We drive"...? Kind of a stretch. I don't think Jim Henson would have used the Cee-Lo song. It's clever to a certain degree, but it's unnecessary. The barbershop singing Nirvana was used to better effect, IMO.

4. PG Rating
As far as I know, this is the first Muppet movie to ever feature anything but a "G" rating (I've seen the first 3). I didn't even realize that The Muppets was rated "PG" until after I had watched the film and looked at my ticket. Why would a Muppet movie be rated anything but "G"...? The Muppets have always been "family" entertainment, or more appropriately - made for all ages. That's one of the things that I love about The Muppets - there's no "dark edge" or raunchiness to them. They always been about delivering "pure" entertainment, without pandering. The ability to grab your heart and make you feel eternally young is what The Muppets do best.


I have never seen anything else that Jason Segel has been involved in. Frankly, none of it interests me.
James Bobin (Da Ali G Show, Flight Of The Conchords) does a fine job of directing, though I'm not sure that I recognize a particular "style" to his work, despite being a huge fan of FOTC. Speaking of The Conchords, Bret McKenzie was the "musical supervisor" for The Muppets, and his stamp is all over it. The ballads are very reminiscent of FOTC songs.

Chris Cooper is a good villain ("Maniacal laugh. Maniacal laugh."), and I liked the cameos by Alan Arkin, Mickey Rooney, Kristen Schaal, Dave Grohl and Neil Patrick Harris. Jack Black contributes zero value to this film for me and I'm surprised that he is "uncredited". Whoopi Goldberg also contributes zilch and she should have gone uncredited.

Despite all these concerns/critiques, I had a big smile on my face for most of the film and legitimately teared up during "Rainbow Connection". There were moments that I actually forgot that I was watching a Muppet movie not made by or with the involvement of Jim Henson and Frank Oz. But The Muppets never becomes a truly excellent film, like The Muppet Movie or The Great Muppet Caper. Truth be told, I'm more of a fan of The Muppet Show than anything else, so I enjoyed the references to the Show.

Also of note: there is a Toy Story short (Small Fry) attached to the beginning of the film and despite not being a fan of CG animated feature films, Pixar and having never seen any of the Toy Story films, I enjoyed it.

Before the film there is a trailer for the second newest Ghibli film (arriving in the States 02/17/12) - The Secret World Of Arriety and it looks fun.


Phantom Of The Paradise (1974) ****1/2

This film blew my mind.
Rocky Horror can suck it.

 Winslow Leach: "But I'm innocent! Swan stole my music and FRAMED ME!"


Phoenix: "I'll give them whatever they want."

The Phantom: "My music is for Phoenix. Only she can sing it. Anyone else who tries, dies."

Beef: "Can't you feel the vibes in your own house, man? Bad, sport, real bad. The karma in here is so thick, you need an aqualung to breathe."



Movie Matters Podcast: Movie Matters #12 - Brian De Palma Special

I had the great pleasure of being a guest on the Movie Matters podcast!

In this episode of the Movie Matters podcast, regular co-hosts Lee Howard and Michael Mackenzie are joined by special guest Daniel Sardella to discuss the films of Brian De Palma. The three hosts cast an eye over three of the equally celebrated and derided filmmaker's most infamous thrillers - SISTERS, BLOW OUT and BODY DOUBLE - and induct another Blu-ray transfer into the Movie Matters Hall of Fame.


The music sampled in this episode is all from THE UNTOUCHABLES by Ennio Morricone, FEMME FATALE by Ryuichi Sakamoto, SISTERS and OBSESSION by Bernard Herrmann, and RAISING CAIN, BLOW OUT and BODY DOUBLE by Pino Donaggio.