Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey
Kevin Clash grew up in a sizable family of humble means. He began watching Sesame Street as a young boy, which led to watching The Muppet Show. His ravenous interest in creating and performing his own puppet characters grew. He started performing for children at his mother’s day care center, which led him down a path that would ultimately blossom into a promising career as a puppeteer. But not just any puppeteer. He would ultimately become one of children’s most beloved icons, a little red fury monster named… Elmo! Not too shabby for a shy boy from the suburbs of Baltimore.
ELEC-TRON-IC A cheated and spurned former computer programmer, Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), of computer company ENCOM has become an arcade owner and operator. While trying to reclaim his stolen work he enlists the help of two former coworkers and current employees of ENCOM, Lora (Cindy Morgan) and Alan (Bruce Boxleitner). However they are up against Dillinger (David Warner), ENCOM’s unrightfully elected man in control, and the even more controlling super computer known as Master Control Program (MCP). Master Control has been absorbing other programs, thus becoming stronger and stronger.
Flynn, Lora, and Alan break in to ENCOM and attempt to distract Master Control while Flynn hacks into Master Control’s system long enough to find his stolen work and get back out again. However, things take a turn when Master Control uses an experimental laser to literally digitize Flynn into the cyber world of its inner workings. Welcome to the world of TRON!Continue Reading
We all get bored. Tired of the same things day in and day out. Well, apparently this also applies to Gods Of Death or more specifically Shinigami. Ryuk is a Shinigami (Death God). If you put Billy Idol, Jack Skellington, a crazy clown, and a vampire bat all together in a food processor and pressed "chop" whatever you poured out would look something like Ryuk. He has become so complacent that he has decided to drop his notebook (or Death Note) down to the earth’s surface. His purpose in doing this is because he will find it at least mildly entertaining to watch the result of his Death Note in the hands of a human being.
What does it mean to have a Death Note in the hands of a human being? Well, simply put, just as in the world of the Shinigami, if you write someone’s name in the Death Note and you know what they look like they will die. This is, of course, the simple explanation of things. There are rules which govern the use of the Death Note as well.Continue Reading
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
GILLIAM’S ISLAND From the clunky, cluttered, and effectively eclectic mind of director Terry Gilliam comes this fabulous wunderkind of a film known as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. One of my personal favorites indeed! Munchausen comes as the third installment of Gilliam’s unofficial trilogy. The previous two films include Time Bandits and Brazil.
A CITY UNDER SIEGE In the midst of a war-torn city its residents are struggling for survival. Momentarily distracting themselves from their distraught surroundings they watch a depiction of Baron Munchausen’s adventures being put on by a local theatre company, Henry Salt And Son [“It’s traditional”]. However this reenactment becomes interrupted by the authentic Baron Munchausen (John Neville) himself! He’s old and cranky and he clamors onto the stage to set the record straight about himself and his adventures. Did I mention he’s a liar? Or is he?Continue Reading
The City Of Lost Children (La Cité Des Enfants Perdus)
ONCE UPON A VERY STRANGE TIME… Dark, damp, and dreary, tucked away in a twisted dream somewhere between Oliver Twist and The Brothers Grimm is The City Of Lost Children. A ginger-headed sideshow strong man of Russian origin named "One" (Ron Perlman) has had a very bad day indeed. His sideshow barker has been knifed during their last chain busting performance and later that evening his adopted little brother, Denree, is abducted by a band of Jean-Paul Gaultier clad "Cyclopes" and taken away to an oil rig-looking platform of a mad scientist’s lair! Not only is the scientist mad, but he’s quite frail and cranky and even named Krank (Daniel Emilfork).
NOTE: Krank is something akin to Robert Helpmann’s Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but with a shaved head.Continue Reading
A Tree of Palme (Parumu no Ki)
NOT SO PINOCCHIO A puppet named Palme made from a sacred tree and fueled by a much sought-after sap that courses through his veins as life’s blood is at the center of this animated tale. Palme, originally created to care for his creator’s sickly wife, has gone lifeless since she has passed away. And now a mysterious warrioress has shown up bearing strange fruit (or rather a strange egg). Fast on her heals is a small band of purple skinned tricloptic goggle-clad subterranean mercenaries with snorkel-like breathing apparatuses driving a six-legged motorbike of sorts! Yes, I just said all that. The warrioress’ arrival brings with her Palme’s re-awakening and a mission!
PUPPET MASTER Palme was written and directed by Takashi Nakamura. Nakamura contributed as Chief Animator for one of Anime’s most amazing spectacles, Akira. Nakamura wanted to "transcend the boundaries of animation" with this film. "I wanted to delve deep into the realm of the human soul, ethically or perhaps philosophically, taking a different approach than the rest of the anime out there."Continue Reading
Clash of the Titans (1981)
CLASH DANCE The well known and much revered stop-motion special effects guru Ray Harryhausen has brought numerous beings of various shapes and sizes to life over his career (The 3 Worlds of Gulliver, Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger). In the mythological world of Clash of the Titans there are many interesting characters and creatures. Playing God behind the camera one frame at a time, Harryhausen has brought some of his most memorable offspring to life (Medusa, Pegasus, Giant Scorpions, the Kracken).
STORYLINE OF THE GODS Here’s the deal, Zeus (Laurence Olivier), in one of his many amorous exploits, has had a son named Perseus (Harry Hamlin). Due to Zeus’ favoritism of Perseus over the Goddess Thetis’ (Maggie Smith) son Calibos, a clash begins [insert opening credits and dramatic musical score here]. From that point on Perseus sets out on a quest to "fulfill his destiny" by defeating numerous obstacles, slaying fantastic beasts, and winning the hand of the doll-faced Andromeda (Judi Bowker). The script was penned by Beverly Cross who also scripted other Harryhausen films such as Argonauts and Eye of the Tiger.Continue Reading
THIS JUICE BUGZ Somewhere between Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and Batman there is Tim Burton’s feature length sophomore effort, Beetlejuice. Upon a recent rewatch, I realized I’d forgotten how truly amazing, wildly inventive and original this phantasmagoric odd-ball comedy was! It’s quite frankly the purest Burton experience for me. It’s just silly how much of JUICE’s visual language oozes with Burtonisms! Add to that the sweet (as in cool) dialogue and characters created by co-authors Michael McDowell and Larry Wilson. I’m kinda in love with it lately!
THE DIRT ON THE DEAD… Adam and Barbara Maitland just died. Played with great wholesomeness by Alec Baldwin (Adam) and Geena Davis (Barbara). So they die. But for a while they don’t know it. It becomes more apparent to them when they find a copy of the Handbook For The Recently Deceased laying around the house and the rude awakening that the Deetz’ are the new occupants and owners of their house! The Deetz family comprises of the artistically manic Delia (Catherine O’Hara), her uptight hubby Charles (Jeffrey Jones), and their ever morbidly morose daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder).Continue Reading
Star Trek (2009)
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN There are few things that get remade, revamped, remodeled or resurrected in such a way that actually makes me happy to see/visit it again. The newest take on the Star Trek franchise has made me a happy camper for sure. I blame this on several things actually...
SEVERAL THINGS Director J.J. Abrams, popular television maestro of Alias, Felicity, Lost, and Fringe uses his talents to guide us on this Trek. P.S. - Abrams has commented that he was not a Star Trek fan prior to directing the film.Continue Reading
Voltaic: Paris, France
Not being a fan of most concert films I usually watch them with a large grain of salt. I tend to find myself let down. However, in the case of Bjork’s newest release, Voltaic, I found myself pleasantly surprised.
Voltaic has been released in various packaging. You can find it solo on CD, a CD/DVD package and a Limited Edition two CD/two DVD version as well. FANCY! I would highly recommend the Limited Edition package for the most Bjork for your buck. It contains the studio recording, the Volta mixes [featuring mixes by RATATAT, MODESELEKTOR and SIMIAN MOBILE DISCO], two concert films [Paris, France and Reykjavik, Iceland], and the Volta music videos.Continue Reading