Ooh la la mes amis! Mickey Mouse’s new short Croissant de Triomphe

Mickey Mouse en Paris (image via designtaxi.com (c) Disney)

 

Mickey Mouse is back in the house my friends and I couldn’t be happier!

After spending much of my childhood glued to the Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights way back in them thar olden days – otherwise known as the 1970s – and relishing the myriad of programs on offers which included everything from movies like The Parent Trap to Pollyanna, Herbie the Lovebug to cartoon starring Goofy, Donald Duck, Chip ‘n’ Dale and of course Mickey Mouse, I gradually grew away from Disney.

As did it seems many people with Disney falling out of favour for a while.

With a resurgence in the late 1980s under new CEO Michael Eisner, Disney was back front and centre in the fast flowing current of the zeitgeist, with movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Little Mermaid proving very popular at the box office, alongside more adult offerings courtesy of Miramax which “The Mouse House”, as it is fondly known, acquired in 1980.

 

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (image via awn.com (c) Disney)

 

But curiously absent among all this new success was Mickey Mouse, the iconic face of Disney ever since his first cartoon short Steamboat Willie in 1928, who was featured in only three films since 1980.

Relegated to appearances in preschool television on the Disney network, and largely stripped of his early mischievous persona, Mickey appeared destined to be a symbol of this now sprawling entertainment empire, and not much else.

But conscious of the fact that Mickey was no longer registering on the radar of the younger generations, Disney has embarked on a series of 19 short films (which will take place in an assortment of cities round the world such as Tokyo, Venice and New York) in partnership with Paul Ruddish (Powderpuff Girls), all of which are rendered in a gorgeous 1930s art deco style that recalls the look of the original Disney shorts.

This is what Disney had to say about the envisioned series of short, which will begin appearing on its network of television channels from 28 June this year:

“Produced in 2D animation, the design esthetic for the Mickey Mouse cartoon shorts reaches back almost 80 years and borrows reverentially from the bold style of his 1930s design, but not before adding a few contemporary touches. Designs for other characters have a similar approach, favoring a “rubber-hose” cartoon style for more exaggerated animation. Background designs closely reflect the graphic design sense of 1950s and 1960s Disney cartoons. And for those true eagle-eyed Disney fans, the production team has also included the occasional homage to other icons from the storied Disney heritage.” (source: slashfilm.com)

 

A host of Disney characters appear alongside Mickey in this delightful short including Goofy, Daisy and Minnie Mouse (image via fanpop.com (c) Disney)

 

The first film in the series, Croissant de Triomphe, has been released in preview form, and features Mickey frantically driving across Paris on his trusty Vespa overcoming a host of obstacles to restock Minnie’s cafe with much needed croissants.

It is whimsical and delightful with an inspired out-of-the-box visual look and feel, and is yet another sign that Disney, fresh from its Oscar win for Paperman, is at the top of its creative game.

I can’t wait for the rest of the shorts to be released.

*Click on the image below to watch Croissant de Triomphe. (Thanks to disney.com.au and grizzlybrice via slashfilm.com)

 

The title credits for “Croissant de Triomphe” (image via awn.com (c) Disney)

She’s back! ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog makes a welcome return to the musical spotlight

The beautiful Agnetha Fältskog (image via northsound2.com)

 

Nine years is almost an eternity in the ephemeral world of pop music, where popularity one day is often replaced by oblivion the next.

And for anyone brave enough to stage their big comeback, fickle attention spans, and the sometimes ferocious world of today’s social media landscape await, examining, assessing and judging a returning artist and their new work before even a note has been played.

So it takes a strong soul, truly committed to their art, and with an enduring history in the music industry, to step back into the fray after almost a decade.

Someone like Agnetha Fältskog, a veteran of the industry, who began her career in 1968 with her self-titled album, Agnetha Fältskog, before joining one of the most successful pop acts of all time, ABBA (with then-husband Björn Ulvaeus, and then-fellow couple Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad), whose parting of the ways in 1982 saw her re-launch her successful solo career with her last release being 2004’s My Colouring Book.

 

The cover of Agnetha’s new single “When You Really Loved Someone” (image via melodimen.blogspot.com)

 

With that much experience, and success, under her belt, Agnetha isn’t one to be afraid of a comeback, no matter how different the world may be ten years later, and to demonstrate that, she has just released the sublimely beautiful song “When You Really Loved Someone” (which she invests with the same bittersweet emotion that graced “Chiquitita” and of course “The Winner Takes It All”), the lead single for the elegantly-titled album A on the 13 May.

The release has surprised many people given Agnetha’s media-generated reputation as a Greta Garbo-esque figure, hiding in seclusion on the island of Ekero, near Stockholm.

But as Agnetha remarked in a recent interview with the BBC, which they noted was “peppered with laughter” (belying her underserved reputation as some sort of gravely serious hermit) she is not the person the media has made her out to be.

“I’m very earth-grounded and very normal. I just like to stay at home.”

 

Jorgen Eloffson hard at work in the studio (image via aftonbladet.se)

 

And she made it very clear she was thrilled to be returning to the world musical stage, something that was triggered by an approach from noted Swedish producer, Jorgen Eloffson (Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson) who presented her with three songs he has written for her and asked if she would consider a return to the recording studio.

“It was flattering. It really was. I just couldn’t say ‘no’. I really loved the songs from the beginning.”

She was reticent in some ways to go back to singing, afraid that both her voice and songwriting skills had atrophied but she found the return to both songwriting – she is listed as the co-writer on the haunting closing track “I Keep Them On The Floor Beside My Bed” – and singing came more easily than expected.

Jorgen for his part was delighted by her return to music, saying he could see how much it meant to her to be doing what she does so well again.

He was quoted on Billboard.com as saying:

“She wanted to make music again. We could feel that. She had been thinking about it. Basically, she’s a musician, a songwriter/singer who hasn’t done that for a while. We saw her open up, become much happier, with music again in her life.”

 

Agnetha Fältskog is relishing her return to music (image via clashmusic.com)

 

However, the release of A, and the attendant launch of her new website, agnetha.com, Twitter handle and Facebook page, while warmly welcomed by Agnetha, does not signal either her willingness to countenance an ABBA reunion or attendance at either this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Malmo, Sweden or the opening of the ABBA Museum, something she made clear in an interview with Swedish radio.

For now, she is content to enjoy this return to her one true love of singing, which has been rapturously embraced by fans worldwide, a sign if ever there was one that a decade away from the spotlight means nothing if you’re an artist of the calibre of Agnetha Fältskog.

* Here’s the full track listing, courtesy of ABBAomnibus.net, an amazing ABBA site with everything you could possibly want to know about the supergroup.

1. The One Who Loves You Now
2. When You Really Loved Someone
3. Perfume In The Breeze
4. I Was A Flower
5. I Should’ve Followed You Home
6. Past Forever
7. Dance Your Pain Away
8. Bubble
9. Back On Your Radio
10. I Keep Them On The Floor Beside My Bed

 

 

And Agnetha’s first interview for the album with Italian TV.

 

“The Walking Dead”: episode 13: ‘Arrow in the Doorpost’ (review)

 

You have to admire Andrea’s doggedly optimistic persistence.

No really, you do.

Even in the face of the Governor’s endlessly duplicitous behaviour, which she has witnessed firsthand but seems powerless to respond to in any meaningful ongoing way, and Rick’s unwillingness to cede an inch of ground in the face of a very real threat from across the river, she nonetheless thought it would be a good idea to bring the two adversaries together for a spot of good old-fashioned diplomacy in an old shed out in the middle of nowhere.

What she got instead of peacemaking, which surely was a far-fetched goal anyway, was Machiavellian realpolitik posturing from the Governor, who began proceedings as he meant to finish them by making a show of disarming while hiding a gun under the table they would share, and entrenched suspicion from Rick who was immediately on guard when he realised the Governor, contrary to the agreement they had reached, was inside the shed waiting for him (they were supposed to enter at the same time).

 

The Governor pretends to disarm in a performance worthy of an Oscar (image (c) AMCtv.com via ifanboy.com)

 

Her naivety was revealed for all to see when the Governor kicked her out of the room with all the subtlety of a jackhammer on asphalt so he could parlay one-on-one (read: threaten) with Rick, with Andrea not there to witness the naked power play.

(The Governor is well aware that if Andrea doesn’t see it, she usually chooses to believe it didn’t happen, despite all evidence to the contrary which means he can keep manipulating her as he needs to.)

Andrea, of course, who in her own bizarrely idealistic way actually believed something positive and worthwhile would come from the talks, and looked genuinely shocked when it all went south (at least when her involvement in it did) slinked out of the shed, her tail between her legs, and bruised and smarting, sat apart from the prison’s Hershel and Daryl on one side, and Woodbury’s Martinez and Milton on the other.

Not a good start in anyone’s books.

 

Andrea begins the talks with high hopes but soon found them deflated and crushed, much like a walker’s dead when you aggressively swing a baseball bat at it (thank you Martinez!) (image (c) AMCtv.com via blog.mysanantonio.com)

 

And frankly things didn’t improve from there.

At least not in the shed.

Outside the shed, apart from a few walkers that were quickly dispatched, one with the most creative use of a baseball bat I have seen, it was a whole other story with the interactions between the opposing camps warming up considerably once initial antagonism was dispensed with (in hindsight Milton calling Daryl and Hershel “henchmen” was not the most diplomatic of greetings).

The bonding that unexpectedly occurred between Daryl and Martinez, and Hershel and a much less bullish Milton in the aftermath of the almost inevitable walker attack, was a warm counterpoint to the deadlocked frostiness between the Governor and Rick and reminded me of the famous Christmas truce between German and Allied troops in 1914 at the height of World War 1.

Bitter enemies on the battlefield, troops from both sides mingled freely during the brief lull in hostilities on Christmas eve and Day exchanging food, souvenirs and even engaging in impromptu carol-singing sessions.

 

It takes an attack from a small herd of walkers to rouse Andrea from her sulk and begin some tentative bonding between the various parties … at least the ones outside the shed anyway (image (c) AMCtv.com via earsucker.com)

 

While it was highly unlikely we were ever going to see Daryl or Martinez break out into a jaunty version of “Deck the Halls”, these two men did admit to each other that the prospect of war was a wasteful notion that neither one had any time for (with the silent understanding of course that if war came, they would fight for their respective sides regardless of personal feelings on the matter), while Hershel and Milton bonded, rather humorously it must be said, over Hershel’s missing lower leg.

Asked by Milton if he could view his stump, Hershel feigns anger before grinning slyly and replying:

“I’m not showing you my stump. At least buy me a drink first.”

At which point, both men dissolve into laughter and a little less anger is coursing through the veins of our divided survivors.

It was this exchange that unexpectedly was the most instrumental in leavening what was for the most part a bleak and sobering episode.

 

Now this is how you a baseball bat my friends! Watch and learn as Martinez shows you how (photo by Gene Page, (c) AMCtv.com image via tvrage.com)

 

And somewhere in the midst of all this much needed bonding, which alas probably won’t have much impact on the eventual hostilities between the two camps, Hershel and a much dejected Andrea, who acknowledged through a veil of tears that she couldn’t go back to Woodbury, talk over the events that led to the would be peacemaker being kicked out of the pow-wow, with Hershel reaffirming to her that she always has a place with Rick’s group.

Of course, come the end of the proceedings, Andrea couldn’t quite make the break, and behaving just like the emotionally-abused figure she is, hopped back into the car to Woodbury with the others.

 

Meanwhile back in the shed both the Scotch, and simmering then outright hostility, is running free (photo by Gene Page, (c) AMCtv.com image via tvrage.com)

 

Back in the shed of course, things went from bad to worse.

While there were glimmers of hope among the vitriol, with the Governor seemingly letting his guard down to relate how his wife’s pre-apocalyptic death almost destroyed him, and that together they could avoid the deaths of anything else they love, he didn’t so much negotiate as deliver an incredibly unpalatable ultimatum to Rick.

In the end, it all boiled down to a simple, petty vendetta with the Governor assuring Rick that potential war could be averted if he would simply hand over Michonne.

Surprised that this was all the Governor wanted, and knowing full well it was a ploy of some kind, Rick pushed the Governor to declare his real intentions, but devious to the end, Woodbury’s supposedly reluctant dictator – I almost laughed when he said to Rick he wore the mantle of leadership heavily, a burden he never really wanted; the insincerity was so thick you could have carved and roasted it for dinner – stood firm, telling Rick that if he agreed to deliver Michonne in two days time, there would be peace.

It is of course just a gambit to get the core of Rick’s group, the ones who pose the greatest threat to the meeting place in one place at one time so they can be killed off with merciless efficiency – he admitted as much to Milton back at home base who for the first time realised what a monster he had pledged his allegiance to; the look on his face as the Governor coldly discussed his intended slaughter of Rick and his team was chilling – and not one to be taken in lightly, Rick pretty much surmised as much.

 

Merle is preaching bloody pre-emptive retribution but he is stopped, with great physical force at one point by a determined Glenn who really steps into his temporary leadership role in an impressive way (c) AMC (image via rickey.org)

 

So the episode ended with war imminent, Merle bristling with resentment that his call for a pre-emptive fight of epic proportions went unheeded – it was only through the determined opposition of Glenn (with brute force at one point) and Michonne that he didn’t launch an attack on the talks that would have resulted in the deaths of everyone there effectively – and Glenn and Maggie reconciled and getting down to business of making love mere metres from leering walkers.

While there were some light, sweet moments, it was largely an episode devoted to enmity, mistrust, and the almost certain march to a war that I suspect no one will emerge the victor from.

Well except for any opportunistic walkers in the vicinity anyway.

* Here are the trailers for the next episode, “Prey” (9/10C Sunday US/Tuesday AU) …

 

 

 

Movie review: “Barbara”

(image via thefilmexperience.net)

 

Isolation is a harrowing state of being.

It is, for most of us, an intolerable plane of existence, a denial of one of our most basic imperatives; that is, to form bonds with others.

But for Barbara (Nina Hoss, appearing in her fifth movie for the film’s much revered director Christian Herzold), a pediatrician in early 1980s East Germany, forced by a Stasi edict to leave her job as one of the premier hospitals in Berlin, and move to a provincial hospital, it is a self-imposed necessity, an act of both self-preservation but also defiance against an almost omniscient security apparatus that shadows her every move.

Regardless of whether its manifestations are blatant, such as the unannounced, and brutally invasive, searches of both her rundown apartment (overseen by the dour janitor Mrs Bungert played by Rosa Enskat) and, to her traumatic disgust, her body, all overseen by local Stasi Officer Klaus Schütz (Rainer Bock), or far more subtle such as the advances by her new boss, Dr André Reiser (Ronald Zehrfeld), who Barbara correctly surmises is on the payroll of the Stasi (albeit reluctantly), her response is the same – to cut herself herself from everyone but her patients and her wealthy West German boyfriend whose work justifies frequent trips to the East, Jörg (Mark Waschke).

 

Barbara rarely smiles or even acknowledges those around her, constrained by her fear of what others could do to her in the brutal dog-spy-and-report-on-dog world of 1980s East Germany (image via focus.de)

 

It is clear that this is not Barbara’s natural state of being – she lights up dramatically on those rare occasions when she sees Jörg, who brings with him West German cigarettes, hosiary and Deutsche Marks (for an eventual escape bid from the country) and the only one with whom she can be completely herself, albeit in carefully managed slivers of time; hence there is still an air of restraint in place – but she has no choice but to maintain it in a world where it is impossible to know who you can really trust.

Of course, with the exception of an obviously smitten Dr Reisner, her newly unwanted colleagues at the hospital interpret this as Berliner snobbery, but brutalised by a system that holds her in low regard, she no longer cares, choosing to eat separately at meal times, to ride her bike in preference to frequently proffered lifts by her boss, and to spend her nights alone playing the piano or reading.

It is lonely existence, enlivened only her work at the hospital where her true passion is allowed unqualified expression without fear of censure – the care of her patients.

 

Barbara finally relents a little and shares a meal with Dr Reisner but it clear to all that there are lines that should not be crossed (image via yourmovies.com.au)

 

In that respect she and the similarly committed Dr Reisner share a strong bond, which despite her attempts to keep him at bay (she rejects almost every overture by him, at one point angrily turning on him when he sends a piano tuner unannounced to her apartment), result in ever deepening connection between the two, although not one that Barbara can even begin to acknowledge till near the end of the film when he shares his own secret with her, the one that forces him to report to the Stasi, lest it be exposed.

In what is, for the most part, a movie of restrained emotional interactions that moves with the careful, almost stultifying, pace you would expect of a world where unbridled expressions of any emotion are fraught with risk, it is the scenes with the patients where you realise that despite the privations visited on Barbara by the suffocatingly oppressive dead hand of the East German state, she has managed to hold on to the one thing they can’t take away  – her selfless commitment to those in her care.

And it is this commitment, primarily to Stella (Jasna Fritzi Bauer), who she correctly diagnoses with meningitis when the rest of the team accuses of her of falsifying illness to avoid a return to the Torgau juvenile offenders work camp, and to whom she spends much of her time reading Huckleberry Finn, that is both her salvation and the catalyst for the eventual undoing of all her carefully laid out plans for the future.

 

Barbara is devoted to her patients to such an extent that she is willing to sacrifice almost anything to see to their care (image via thestranger.com )

 

With its muted emotional tones, and slow, drawn-out pace, Barbara is a rich film where more is implied than directly revealed, where the long wide shots of the cold, windswept tree-lined rural landscape, particularly those remote places where Barbara rides on her frequent secretive trips away from town, are beautiful to behold, despite their visual austerity, and where the satisfaction of being let little by little into her painfully isolated, but not totally vanquished, world is wholly palpable.

That Barbara manages to retain her sense of humanity in a world which has long abandoned its own, and in the process also save others around her, is nothing short of remarkable, a reassurance that even in the most cruel of circumstances, the human spirit, though beleaguered and bereft of that it most needs, can ultimately remain unbowed and quietly triumphant.

 

The quirky delights and perils of releasing your inner (video) “Goddess”

Release your inner video-blogging Goddess!

Go on, you know you want to …

Or do you?

In the new Australian movie, Goddess, directed by Mark Lamprell and based on the play Sinksongs by Joanna Weinberg, Elspeth Dickens (Laura Michelle Kelly) is fairly certain she lost her goddess a long time ago, somewhere around the time her globe-trotting workaholic whale-saving husband James (Ronan Keating in his debut acting role) began leaving her alone for great stretches of time with their badly-behaved twin boys in an isolated farmhouse out in the middle of Tasmania.

 

Ronan Keating stars as James in the new Australian movie “Goddess” alongside Laura Michelle Kelly and Magda Szubanski (image via yourmovies.com.au)

 

Beleaguered and at her wit’s end, she discovers that the webcam James left for her to communicate with him while he’s away, which he almost always forgets to activate at his end, can be used to broadcast to anyone who wants to watch …

… and without meaning to she becomes a video blogging sensation, attracting a legion of followers around the world, the attention of a corporate bigwig (played by the supremely-talented comic legend Magda Szubanski) and the chance to leave all the loneliness and lack of fulfilment far behind her.

But of course, like all good things, this chance to re-invent herself and unleash her inner goddess inevitably clashes with responsibilities as a wife and mother and she comes close to losing it all and must make a choice about what matters most to her.

It looks like an extremely funny, heartwarming romantic comedy, with just the right amount of down-to-earth Aussie charm and I can’t wait to see where it leads come March 14 when it releases in cinemas across Australia.

 

 

“Audrey”: The agony and ecstasy of waiting for love to arrive

(image via audreythemovie.com)

 

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: Audrey is a very unique and very funny female-driven comedy — like nothing movie going audiences have seen before. Taking place in real-time, the story takes us through a little over an hour and a half of a young woman’s (played by Sybil Temtchine, Ten Benny, Restaurant) day as she waits and waits and WAITS in a lovely restaurant for Gene (Jonathan Chase) to arrive for their critical third date.

As the clock ticks away and Gene is nowhere to be found, Audrey is swept up into an incredibly rich journey through her life as her insecurities and inner demons comically wreak havoc on her. Forced to face her deepest fears by circumstance — both real and hilariously unreal —Audrey finds the strength and courage she never imagined she had.

It’s always a joy when our information-age surprises you and delivers an unexpected gift in the form of an unexpected album from your favourite artist, or a book you didn’t know the author you adore had written, or in the case of Audrey, directed by Dean Pollack and written by Pollack and Temtchine, a delightfully charming movie that takes a totally out-of-the-box approach to the perils of dating and romance, enters your social media stream when you least expect it.

 

Sybil Temtchine star as Audrey in the eponymously-titled film that she also co-wrote with the director Dean Pollack (image courtesy of the Audrey team)

 

This totally unique film came to my attention thanks to a tweet from the people behind an upcoming movie Such Good People, due to begin production shortly in the USA, whose executive producer Richard Bever is one of the producers behind Audrey, which is based on a short film called Piece A’ Cake (by long standing collaborators Dean Pollack and Sybil Temtchine, who also, of course wrote, and directed, and in Temtchine’s case, star in its much longer successor).

And it has been put together in a thoroughly unique fashion too with Temtchine bypassing marquee actors and the usual convoluted funding methods in favour of starring in the film herself, and seeking funding directly from a diverse group of 200 female business leaders (all of whom had written a book that touched on female empowerment in some form), 75% of whom chose to support her financially or by introducing her to organisations like 85 Broads, headed by founder Janet Hanson, who became an enthusiastic sponsor.

 

A behind-the-scenes shot during the filming of “Audrey” (image courtesy of the Audrey team)

 

She also attracted the attention of a number of actors such as Edward Asner, who plays Walt, the owner of the newsstand frequented by both Audrey and Gene, who is the one responsible for bringing the two would-be lovebirds together in the first place.

Audrey also stars Robert Curtis Brown, Ed Quinn, Jeanette O’Connor, Ethan Phillips and Helena Mattsson all of whom have a part to play in driving our possibly abandoned young heroine to the brink of a life-changing epiphany as the worst of all possible waiting scenarios play out including spotting her unfaithful ex-boyfriend proposing to his one-time ridiculously young mistress and running into her boss.

If it can go wrong it does, and as the zaniness and unfortunate coincidences ramp up, Audrey is pushed to the point where she either caves in and admits defeat, or rallies and seizes back the power to live the life she wants from the welter of neuroses besetting her.

 

While she waits for Gene to turn up, Audrey’s mind wanders to all sorts of understandable and just plain wacky places and makes her all the more real and relatable (image from “Audrey” trailer)

 

It all adds up to a movie so real, and appealing, that it took just one viewing of the trailer and I was smitten.

Totally, utterly smitten.

How could you not be?

Who hasn’t been in Audrey’s position – sitting and waiting, wondering if this person you’re waiting for is The One, the person who will be with you for the rest of your life, and make all those nightmarish dates, and interminably dull dates, and pointless conversations with a host of no-hopers, worthwhile?

 

Sybil Temtchine being readied for another scene as Audrey in a movie that moves in real time over the agonising 1 1/2 hours that Audrey waits for her date Gene to turn up (image courtesy of the Audrey team)

 

While her imagination runs amuck and all sort of crazy and also totally reasonable possibilities are countenanced, you realise that she isn’t crazy at all – she is YOU.

You have been there, wondering and waiting, fingernails nibbled to the bone, a thousand-and-one neuroses jumping with heady abandon all over that flickering flame of romantic hope.

 

 

What excites me is how perfectly they have captured her angst and dismay while avoiding the trap of turning her into a neurotic oddball and keeping her as an immensely likeable, quirky individual that anyone can relate to.

And one who refuses to be defined by the treatment meted out to her by others and who seizes back the initiative to live the life she wants to lead on her own terms.

The movie is slated to open in September this year and you can rest assured, in a bistro if you want to, that I will be there on opening day happy to spend time with what looks like one of the most charming, and meaningful, movies of the year.

Royal musical chairs: “Games of Thrones” season 3 (trailer + posters)

 

Games of Thrones, back for a third season on 31 March (but then you’d worked that out already courtesy of the poster above right? Right), is the ultimate in epic television.

Everything about the series, drawn from George R. R. Martin’s massive fantasy series, Songs of Fire and Ice, and centred on the power struggle for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms, is gigantic, gargantuan, huge – the egos of all the players, the lust for power, the battles, the inherent themes which run the gamut from social religion to sexuality and the very nature of power, the love affairs (which often violent, brief and self-serving), the sheer breadth of the storytelling which sprawls across the two continents of Westeros and Essos …

… and the ratings, which have made Games of Thrones that rare beast – a fantasy series that has moved beyond cult status to become a certifiable water cooler hit.

Told with the sort of tight narrative structure, attention to detail and fully flesh out characters that are the hallmarks of almost all of HBO’s high quality productions, it continues to go from strength to strength and season 3 looks set to keep its tradition of epic well-told storytelling alive and kicking …

 

 

Along with the wildly impressive trailer above, which presages all manner of titanic, bloody and ruthless struggles to come, HBO has released a series of striking posters that show all 12 of the main players in the series in half shadow, brooding yet steely-eyed with purpose, and ready to leap into action.

Let the battles begin!

 

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (image via screencrush.com)

 

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark (image via screencrush.com)

 

 

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister (image via screencrush.com)

 

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (image via screencrush.com)

 

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon (image via screencrush.com)

 

* You can see the full range of the posters here.

And here’s a great article detailing how long Games of Thrones showrunners expect to take to tell the epic unfolding tale of the kingdoms of Westeros and Essos.

The art of being a Muppet: the creative re-imagining of Jim Henson’s beloved creations

The Muppets in … “Lord of the Rings” (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

It’s an exciting time to be around if you’re a Muppets fan!

They have shot back into the zeitgeist with a song and dance and a whimsical trade in knowing cuteness – adorable they may be but worldly-wise and pop culture savvy are they – thanks to the recent success of The Muppet Movie, and the resulting discovery of their treasure trove of old shows such as The Muppet Show and The Fraggles on DVD.

Of course, in a sense they never really went away since they are also the heart and soul of Sesame Street which has been going strong for over 43 years but they have certainly found a whole lot more lovin’ from a new legion of fans in recent days.

 

The Muppets in … “The Big Lebowski” (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

So it’s entirely appropriate that the immensely talented Kevin Durkin – you can also buy his prints here and really you should; and no, I am not being paid to say that … I just love his work – has created a gorgeous series of artworks showing The Muppets in all sorts of more grownup movies such as The Big Lebowski, The Lord of the Rings (my favourite) and Jaws.

With these kinds of brilliantly-clever artistic homages, it’s highly unlikely that Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang will be disappearing off the pop culture radar anytime soon.

Which makes this long time fan a very happy boy indeed.

 

The Muppets in … Ghostbusters (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

The Muppets in … “Monsters Inc. (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

The Muppets in … “Jaws” (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

The Muppets in … “The Nightmare Before Christmas (c) Kevin Durkin (image via durkinworks.deviantart.com)

 

* I first discovered these fabulous pieces of artwork via mashable.com, another awesome website more than worth your time.

 

“Community” and Puppet Therapy 101

 

They’ve been rendered as claymation models, cartoon characters and inhabited any number of pop culture parody guises and now everyone’s favourite study group will find themselves assuming puppet form!

Well using them at the Dean’s behest to work out some issues they have after a fraught weekend in the woods (courtesy of a hot air balloon ride that goes awry), where they encounter a friendly local played by Seinfeld‘s Jason Alexander, leaves them feeling a tad uncomfortable around each other.

It may not be a course at Greendale College but it looks like Puppet Therapy 101 is a class they will all be taking whether they like it or not.

And I think it’s fair to say it will be unlike any therapy session we’ve ever seen.

Jung is in the house and he’s wearing stillettos and lingerie!

Oh sorry my bad … that’s just the Dean (Jim Rash).

 

Not the Dean in lingerie alas but the next best thing – the gang from “Community” all dressed up! (image – Vivian Zink/NBC – via peepsplace.com)

 

But it’s not just puppets that will be added to the always welcome wackiness on a show that delights in taking the box, jumping right out of it and splattering it with paintball splotches.

Speaking of which, the cast and producers revealed in a fun-filled Tuesday night session at Paleyfest this week – which is on my bucket list in a big way – that among the highlights of the rest of the season are a return to the paintball madness of previous seasons (this time though it doesn’t occupy the entire episode), a Freaky Friday-esque Troy and Abed episode penned by the show’s very own Jim Rash (who’s a noted screenwriter in his own right having won a small trinket called an Oscar for The Descendants), and the introduction of Jeff’s dad (played by James Brolin) and his brother played by Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect).

Says Joel Mchale of the episode where he and his dad sort out some issues (quoted on hollywoodreporter.com):

“It is quite intense between Jeff and his dad. Thank God for Gillian [Jacobs] and Adam, who knock it out of the park. It gets pretty heavy.”

And if all that’s not enough we get to see the study group before they became the study group in an origin story that even features a cameo from Annie’s Boobs (the monkey).

I doubt that is the sum total of all the imaginative madness that Community has in store and we can only hope that the show does get renewed come May and we get to enjoy it for the much touted #sixseasonsandamovie (although comments made at the panel reveal a pragmatic acceptance of the fact that four years may be it – “”We made it four years, and that’s a great thing” said Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley, with Joel McHale adding, “If there is a season five, we end up on Serenity“)

 

 

Can’t wait to see: “I’m So Excited!” (a film by Pedro Almodovar)

(image via cultuire.com)

 

MOVIE SYNOPSIS: A technical failure has endangered the lives of the people on board Peninsula Flight 2549. The pilots are striving, along with their colleagues in the Control Center, to find a solution. The flight attendants and the chief steward are atypical, baroque characters who, in the face of danger, try to forget their own personal problems and devote themselves body and soul to the task of making the flight as enjoyable as possible for the passengers, while they wait for a solution. Life in the clouds is as complicated as it is at ground level, and for the same reasons, which could be summarized in two: sex and death.

So feeling a bit frazzled?

Has the weight of responsibility pressing down upon you til you’re an existential pancake on the road of life?

I hear ya.

And more importantly, Pedro Almodovar, the world renowned Spanish director of films such as Broken Embraces (2009), Talk To Her (2002) and All About My Mother (1999) hears you.

Loud and clear.

He know, oh he knows, you need some candy-coated, fairy-floss covered, glitter-sprinkled ermine-trimmed silliness and all with an upbeat disco soundtrack … and behold he has delivered!

 

One of the delightful Spanish language posters for “I’m So Excited!” (image via wikipedia.org)

 

His new film, Los Amantes Pasajeros or I’m So Excited, (it literally translates as “the fleeting lovers” or “the passenger lovers”) about some highly unorthodox flight attendants and their distinctly non-regulation approach to dealing with passengers in a crisis situation, and which stars Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Paz Vega, Blanca Suarez, Cecilia Roth, Javier Camara among others, is in his words “a very light, light comedy”. (cineuropa.org)

Lest you wonder what the man who brought us searingly dramatic looks at the human condition such as Matador (1986) and The Skin I Live In (2011) is up to playing in some lightweight fields, Almodovar started off his career with comedies in the 1980s and many of his films have contained melodrama, absurdity or irreverent humour to some degree.

And he is also more than happy to make use of music and pop culture references in his films.

It seems like I’m So Excited is making liberal use of all these ingredients in a gloriously silly homage of sorts to the aviation disaster movies of the 1970s.

 

They smoke weed … they do shots … and they sing and dance. Why wouldn’t you want to fly this crazy airline? (image via filmofilia.com)

 

So in preparation for the film’s landing at your local cinema in June this year, please ensure your sense of humour is not in the “locked and uptight position” and that you have your ability to laugh firmly fastened in fall-on-the-floor-clutching-your-sides-laughing mode.

And get ready to take off – or emergency land more appropriately given the film’s plot – into all manner of disco-soundtracked aerial silliness.