Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
Anticipation is high for “The Muppets,” Disney’s reboot of the Jim Henson crew, opening just in time for Thanksgiving. Its star and screenwriter, Jason Segel, is much too busy to talk to outlets like lil’ ol’ us, so the Mouse House sent a canned interview to me. Rather than be a corporate puppet and run it as is, I thought it’d be more fun to change the questions, but leave Segel’s answers intact, so I feel like I actually contributed.
Personally, I think it makes for a better read. The studio should be paying me. Enjoy.
R&R: Jason — if I may call you Jason — can you please discuss the inception of this film, but using a phrase that a woman might use to let others know that she’s pregnant?
Segel: The Muppets were my first comic influence and I was in love with puppetry. I just thought it was an amazing art form. We ended “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” with a lavish puppet musical, and The Jim Henson Company designed the puppets. Something started growing in my belly, and Nick (Stoller) and I came up with this idea and pitched it to Disney. Disney liked the idea, so we wrote the script.
R&R: “Belly,” good one! I also would’ve accepted “I was craving raw meat” and “Oops, I missed my period.” Now, whenever you tell anyone about taking on characters as beloved as these Muppets, what is their response? Scratch that: What are two of their responses?
Segel: Whenever I tell anyone, the response is always twofold: “Oh my God, that's awesome.” And then, “You better not mess it up.”
R&R: How about that Amy Adams? She seems super-sweet and super-innocent, and with credits like “Enchanted,” she seems just perfect for this role. You really lucked out.
Segel: Amy Adams is super-sweet and super-innocent, and with credits like “Enchanted,” she was just perfect for this role. We really lucked out.
R&R: If you could compare Kermit to ... oh, I don’t know, say an iconic Gregory Peck character, who would he be?
Segel: Kermit's the everyman. He's like Atticus Finch. He just wants to be an upright citizen and be kind. It’s all about laughter and love and doing what's right.
R&R: Let’s cut to the chase. Miss Piggy: She’s a diva, am I right?
Segel: Miss Piggy is the ultimate diva.
R&R: Do you think you could talk about Animal while making a Shakespeare reference that no one but English-lit majors will get? Bonus points for a Freud reference, too. You realize that if you pull this off, the academic world may stop thinking of you simply as the guy who wiggled his wang around in “Sarah Marshall.”
Segel: Animal is the part of all of us that is unhinged. Animal is like our Id. He's like Caliban from “The Tempest.”