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Entries in The Muppet Movie (6)

Friday
Jun052015

What Does 1979 Mean To You?

Our first Supporting Actress Smackdown of the year is this Sunday, looking at the nominees of 1979. If you haven't yet voted (readers, collectively, are the final panelist) you have until 9 PM EST tonight to do so. Out of curiousity I looked at the National Film Registry to see which films have previously been added from that year.

three of the year's stone cold classics

As a reminder each year 25 films join the registry at the Library of Congress and to be so honored a film must be deemed:

culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

I was SHOCKED to realize that Kramer vs. Kramer, which undeniably fits the first two criteria has not been added. Neither have these other major Oscar players from that year: Breaking Away, Being There, and The China Syndrome (the latter my guess as to which movie just missed the Best Picture list that year). The only movies from 1979 that are part of the registry are All That Jazz (recently discussed), The Black Stallion (recently discussed), Apocalypse Now, The Muppet Movie, Norma RaeManhattan and Alien. Tough to argue with those inductees. The public is free to suggest films before they choose each December and I always forget. But I won't this year! One film I'm totally voting for this year (not from 1979) is Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969) which needs some renewed attention since it's such a good companion piece to the Mad Men finale. But that's another topic... 

MEET THE PANELISTS FOR THIS SUNDAY'S SMACKDOWN!

Here's a little bit about them to prep you for our conversation this weekend...

First Time Panelists

K.M. SOEHNLEIN (Novelist)
Bio: K.M. Soehnlein's first movie memory is seeing Funny Girl at a drive-in with his parents. He spent his childhood inventing an alternate Hollywood with fictional actors, directors, movies and Oscar nominations. He went to film school at Ithaca College, wrote about film for the Village Voice, Out and Outweek, and now writes novels ("The World of Normal Boys," "Robin and Ruby," "You Can Say You Knew Me When"). He hopes at least one of them gets made into a movie. 

What does 1979 Mean to you?

In 1979 I was a 13-year-old suburban New Jersey boy, staring across the river at Manhattan and longing to live inside a Woody Allen film. Movies I saw in the theater include a wave of post-Rocky boxing stories (Rocky II, The Champ, The Main Event); two starring early SNL breakouts (The Jerk, Meatballs); and two that wound up in the Oscar race: Breaking Away (early screen crush: Dennis Quaid) and All That Jazz (mind forever blown). 

 

KRISTEN SALES (Blogger)
Bio: Kristen Sales is a Los Angeles native who’s been blogging about movies since 2010. She enjoys Buster Keaton and aggressive feminist punk rock. You can find her yelling about things on Twitter and Tumblr.

What does 1979 Mean to you?

I have absolutely no associations with the year "1979," except that Smashing Pumpkins song. But Smashing Pumpkins suck.

 

Returning Panelists

BILL CHAMBERS (Film Critic)
Bill Chambers is the founder, editor, and webmaster of FilmFreakCentral.net, which recently turned seventeen. A graduate of York University's Film program, he is a member of both the Toronto Film Critics Association and the Online Film Critics Society. He has a cat. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1979 Mean to you?

One of my earliest memories is quite apropos: Seeing a movie for the first time on the big screen. I was four years old; the film was The Muppet Movie. I couldn't have asked for a more beguiling introduction to the cinema, a gently postmodern work that simultaneously taught me what movies are and demonstrated, via its very Muppet-ness, their ability to unite generations in the dark. Though I wouldn't catch up with them until I was a little older, lots more personally formative films were released that year, like The Jerk, Alien, All That Jazz, and even Rocky II; to borrow a term from Blade Runner, I think of 1979 somewhat narcissistically as my cinephile 'incept date.'

 

BRIAN HERRERA (aka "StinkyLulu")
Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. Follow him on Twitter

What does 1979 Mean to you?

My movie-world opened wide in 1979. I was on the cusp of adolescence, about to experience the first real stirrings of my actressexual leanings, when I found myself with ready access to a betamax video player and a library of tape recordings that someone's relative had captured from HBO. 1979 was also the first Best Actress race I remember agonizing over long after the fact. I loved that Sally won, even though I believed Bette deserved it. It's a conflict I struggle with to this day...

 

And yours truly

NATHANIEL R (Host)
Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer. Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1979 mean to you?

I have slim recall of this year other than hearing the song "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod Stewart (?!?) but my strongest memory of the year is my very conservative parents complaining about President Jimmy Carter and the Iran Hostage Crisis non-stop. My movie memories are limited to three: the shock of seeing a bald woman in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (but nothing else about the movie); laughing hysterically when Cloris Leachman broke her fingernails in the Disney comedy The North Avenue Irregulars (but nothing else about the movie) and going little-kid wide-eyed seeing Kermit the frog riding a bicycle in The Muppet Movie and pretty much everything else about that movie which I loved so much I decided I was going to be a puppeteer when I grew up and my parents bought me the soundtrack. 


What does 1979 mean to you dear readers?
Even if you weren't yet alive perhaps you have an association?

 

Tuesday
May122015

You'll Believe A Frog Can Bike

Travel back in time with me to the late 70s. Superman (1978) birthed the modern superhero film with the instantly classic visual-effects spotlighting tagline "You'll believe a man can fly." If the internet had been around back then, it surely would have become a meme and been parodied ad infinitum. (Maybe it did in whatever form memes used to take?). The very next year The Muppet Movie (1979 - our year of the month!) could have used the tagline 

You'll believe a frog can bike. 

My movie memories are super spotty until the 1980s but I have a handful from the late 70s and this is one of them. My eyes going wide and little jaw dropping at the sight of Kermit the Frog on a bicycle. I must have been aware that my beloved Kermy -- stand down, Miss Piggy! --  was a puppet since being a puppeteer was the childhood career goal. So how was this possible; puppets don't have legs because people's hands go up their butts!

Happy National Bike to Work Week! 

The Muppet Wiki tells us how this was accomplished and the Muppets are on the brain since they'll be revived for primetime next season. Does this trailer sell you on a contemporary version? (On a scale of Yes No or Maybe So... I regret to inform that I'm not fully in the first column.) 

P.S. This trailer reminds us that Kermit is kind of an awful husband/boyfriend. Miss Piggy is the faithful one. He's the commitment-phobe. And yet she's always painted as the shallow one. Hmmm.

Tuesday
May052015

The Soundtrack of My Life

David Dastmalchian concludes his guest blog takeover with this playlist (which we've helpfully collated on Spotify for you) - you should follow him on Twitter & Instagram ! - Editor

Photograph by Braden Moran

Soundtrack of My Life
-by David Dastmalchian

I read once that memory is like film editing.  We cut and paste the sequences together in a way that make our past fit into the context of our present.  I have this strange kind of daydream that feels like a movie trailer and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.  I look at a time in my life – or my life as a whole – and imagine it with few words but with a great deal of music.  I change the songs often and the points of focus shift from day-to-day but I will share just a few of the predominant soundtrack jams from the life and mind of, well, you know – me. 

1.  Shine on You Crazy Diamond – Pink Floyd 
My parents used to shoot super 8 films of us as kids in Kansas and my dad had them all edited together onto a DVD a few years back.  There’s no audio so you’re just sitting there watching us all blowing out candles or learning how to swim in silence. Actually, I think there was some bad Vince Guaraldi rip-off jazz that the Costco or wherever people had dubbed in.   I just popped in my Wish You Were Here and listened and watched.  Perfect music to sum up so much.

 2.  The Rainbow Connection – Jim Henson
The Muppet Movie and its effect on my life are no small secret.  I first took to a stage when I was 6 years old in Kansas so that I could strum a ukulele in my overalls and sing this song which says EVERYTHING you need to say about love and imagination.  Beautiful, man.

3. Come Together and Let it Flow – Spiritualized
These anthems of my late teens and early twenties sum up the tracking shot of a dude with blasted pupils, sitting wayyyyy back on a couch in a poster-lined apartment in Chicago and watching the wax slowly melt off the candles.  I believe that I was really trying to find some way to link up with the people around me and only inadvertently succeeded in isolating myself from them all.

4.  Goodnight, Irene – Leadbelly
And old pal of mine used to do a bang-up version of this song when he would play around Chicago – but it really strikes up an image for me of driving across the long expanse of endless highway across my Kansas homeland.   Those early memories of sitting in the back of my parents station wagon and rolling through the wheat-lined roads of the Midwest are some of my most cinematic mental images.

5. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – The Platters
My mother had a “Golden Collection” of the Platters (one of those record sets you’d order off TV that came with special liner notes and fancy packaging) and I loved it.  We would listen to the records on the old Motorola console in our living room and I would slow dance with an imaginary woman of my dreams – I think at that time it was probably Kristy McNichol or Justine Bateman.  Or Lita Ford. 

6.  Simple Twist of Fate – Bob Dylan AND Joan Baez have versions of this classic jam that sum up the quick cuts of my early 20’s when I was hitch-hiking and riding Greyhound busses from Seattle to Asheville and trying to find my way back to Alaska while riding out the decade-long trip of simpleadventure and recklessness that was starting to ramp up in speed and severity, which leads to…. 

7.   Stuck on You (Failure)
One of those songs that plays perfectly in the long, spiraling overhead crane shot as it comes down to face a guy who thought he knew what he was getting into and didn’t realize until it was too late that he was in way, way, way too deep over his head.

8.  Some transition jams -  Drowning in the Sea of Love (Joe Simon),  Twin Cinema (New Pornographers), Wraith Pinned to the Mist (Of Montreal), Wave of Mutilation (Pixies) and the rising climax leads us to the beautiful moment of finding true love and a family and dancing in the grass to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel).

9.  Which leads to that final deathbed moment.  It’s a beautiful song but sad – but shouldn’t it be sad?  It’s okay for deathbeds to be somber.  I don’t want a marching band playing “Oh When the Saints” – I want all my loved ones crying and lamenting that we won’t be having any more adventures… for a while at least.   Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd) Yes, that IS two Pink Floyd songs on my trailer track list – so sue me.  It’s my guest blog and I can do what I want. 

And now I leave you with this – the trailer for our upcoming release, ANIMALS, which will be in theaters and on VOD on 5.15.15.  For details on where you can see the film, please visit www.animalsthefilm.com   And if you love the song as much as we do, it’s from a band called “Lavendar Diamond”.  Go find and buy all of their beautiful music here:  www.lavenderdiamond.net 

Thanks for reading and THANKS to Nathaniel for letting me sit in the driver’s seat for a day.  It was a lot of fun and I hope you didn’t get too many unsubscribes during my brief tenure.  Now… back to your regularly scheduled programming!

Previously
David What?, What I Learned From Paul Rudd, Films I Love, and Inefficient Filmmakers Guide 

Tuesday
May052015

What I Saw | Where I Saw It | Why I Loved It

One of our favorite rising actors, David Dastmalchian, is Guest Blogging! Learn his name. He's working with great people -Editor

Photo by Evelyn Leigh"What I Saw..."
-by David Dastmalchian

There are so many films that have a special place in my memory and their impact on my life was made all the more powerful by how and where I saw them.  My earliest memories of film-going are the Kansas City drive-in’s where I caught second-run screenings from the back of my folks old station wagon of Grease, James Bond flicks like View from a Kill and Moonraker, and being in my mom’s arms at the back of the theater at a matinee with my family of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I thought the tarantulas in the opening sequence were climbing the walls of the theater… Here are a few spectacular memories that I will always treasure: 

What I Saw: THE MUPPET MOVIE
Where I Saw It: The Oak Park Mall Cinemas (KS)


This will remain one of the most profound movie-going experiences of my life.  The characters, colors, sounds, music, performances all exploded in front of my little face on the big screen as I sat enraptured beside my childhood buddy, Brian Bishop and his wonderful mother, Kathy.  We went to a matinee at the local cinema and this was one of my first ventures into an actual movie theater.  At that point in my development, the whole “suspension of disbelief” in my imagination was so strong that I believed wholeheartedly that ‘Sweetums’ the monster Muppet actually crashed through the screen in our theater auditorium at the end of the film.  For years I would proudly boast that I had seen the film in a theater where a REAL Muppet made an appearance.  The “Rainbow Connection” became my first on-stage performance in a preschool talent show and my wife even chose the song for her processional at our wedding.   The effect of this film on my life continues to this day.  Several times a year (especially in moments of disillusionment with the entertainment industry), I will watch the final five minutes of the film – from the moment that Orson Welles offers Kermit “The Rich and Famous Contract” through the end.  Go do this now.  Bring the Kleenex.  You’re welcome. 

Continue for three more favorite films

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb222012

4 Days Till Oscar. Flashback to "A Dignified Superstar"

It's all right. You can get your cheap laughs. I shall remain the dignified superstar that moi am."
-Miss Piggy to "Jonathan" at the 52nd Oscars 

What was Miss Piggy so miffed about in April 1980?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov222011

The Covers The Dreamers And Me

[Editor's note: It's Muppet Week! I asked  Team Experience to share their favorite Muppet memories. Like JA, I'm 1000% in love with this 1979 Oscar Nominee for Best Song. Feel free to sing along. - Nathaniel] 

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JA from MNPP here. Let's just get this outta the way right up front - "The Rainbow Connection" is my favorite song of all time. It's also part of one of my earliest memories, and definitely my very first movie memory - I couldn't have been more than three or four and I'd been dropped off at a babysitter's house for the first time ever while my parents took off to do god knows what. I was miserable, horrified, I distinctly remember the babysitter staring at me with terror in her eyes as I bawled like a maniac (so much time has passed and the only thing that's changed is now it's my boyfriend's face giving me that look).
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But it all changed as soon as the babysitter turned on the TV and whaddya know, there was The Muppet Movie just starting. Some little green frog was warbling his little tune on his little banjo on his little log in his little swamp, and magic - Muppet and movie alike - carried me away, and I've never looked back. When my parents showed up before the movie was over I refused to leave until it ended - a cinemaniac (with a secret felt fetish, shh) was born.
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Thirty years or so have passed since that life-defining moment, and  I will still break into immediate awestruck tears when I hear it. Lines like "I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm s'posed to be..." actually honestly helped me through the coming out process in my early 20s. The debt of gratitude for forming a basic piece of who I am - and a really basic decent part, I think I can say truthfully - that I owe to Jim Henson and songwriters Paul Williams and Kennth Ascher is beyond measure.
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So with The Muppets out in theaters this week, I figured we could take a look back at that song and the thirty years that it's been a living breathing beautiful thing in our lives. There are literally dozens of these to pick from but here are my five of my favorite covers!
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