Austenland

The elaborate courtship rituals of Jane Austen’s England bear little resemblance to the no-strings hookups and domestic partnerships of the 21st century dating scene, but that hasn’t stopped modern romantics from hoping to find a Mr. Darcy of their very own. In the Sundance romcom Austenland, one particularly hardcore fan gets an opportunity to do just that.

Keri Russell stars as Jane Hayes, who splurges on a trip to an Austen-themed resort complete with Regency costumes, era-appropriate activities, and even handsome suitors (played by paid actors). But the experience isn’t all she’d hoped, and in her disillusionment she finds herself increasingly drawn to “stableboy” Martin (Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords). Watch the first trailer after the jump.

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The European-set sequel to The Muppets has traded out Christoph Waltz for Ty Burrell, and now the film has added another TV comedy talent. Ricky Gervais is in talks for a major role in the film. He’ll be the lead, in fact — or at least the “lead human.” That’s a necessary distinction when talking about a Muppet movie.

For those who love classic Gervais work such as the office, but aren’t always wild about the tenor of his more recent stuff, this could be a pleasant bit of news. (Presumably, this won’t be a big Muppet-decorated comedy about atheism.) In fact, Gervais is noted as a fan of the characters, making him an appropriate successor to Jason Segel, the fan who last starred in a Muppet movie.

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Could Sean Connery return to the Bond franchise? Believe it or not, it almost happened a third time. Also after the jump:

  • The Muppets shoots this winter, Bret McKenzie returns to write more songs
  • Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore has ideas for a sequel
  • Robert Zemeckis isn’t planning a Roger Rabbit sequel
  • Daniel Craig says Dragon Tattoo sequel needs a script
  • Watch a montage of A Good Day to Die Hard filming
  • Star Trek Into Darkness will be released in Dolby Atmos
  • Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura talks about Red 2

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Aside from a brief appearance by Miss Piggy and Kermit and a win for composer Bret McKenzie, this weekend’s Oscar ceremony was tragically light on the Muppets. But in just a few weeks, fans will be able to get their fill of the gang when the film hits DVD and Blu-ray.

Today, we have a preview of some of the bonus features from The Muppets, including a making-of featurette, a blooper reel, and a deleted scene — plus a clip of Kermit and Glee star Darren Criss performing “Rainbow Connection” for E!’s pre-Oscars show, just because. Watch them after the jump.

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If you walked out of The Muppets feeling like you were on top of the world, Bret McKenzie was a big reason. The actor/singer/songwriter, best known for his HBO series Flight of the Conchords, was hired by director James Bobin to write many of the brand new songs for characters like Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo and others to sing in the Muppets triumphant return to the screen. And to that aim, McKenzie was a success. He was rewarded for his work with an Oscar-nomination for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet,” which features Jason Segel’s character Gary and his brother, Walter the Muppet, signing about their true identities. It’s funny, clever, catchy and has a 50/50 shot at gold since only two songs are nominated.

We sat down to talk to McKenzie about the honor, his process integrating songs in the film, the song not being performed at the Oscars, as well as his upcoming role in a tiny film called The Hobbit and more. Watch the video interview after the jump. Read More »

Ten years ago this week The Fellowship of the Ring was released. Peter Jackson‘s first Tolkien adaption silenced a great many naysayers who said J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novels could never be properly translated to film. It also fostered a mainstream interest in fantasy movies that continues a decade later.

The development of a film based on Tolkien’s original Middle-Earth novel, The Hobbit, was the subject of speculation as soon as Jackson started work on The Lord of the Rings. Actually making the movie was a terrifically complicated process that involved rights deals, the financial solvency of MGM, a long period of development under original director Guillermo del Toro, and the eventual return of Peter Jackson to the director’s chair.

Now the first teaser trailer — a long teaser, at that — has been released for the first of two films based on the novel. Get the first look at footage from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, after the break. Read More »

‘The Muppets’ – What Did You Think?

After a long promotional runup that included a never-ending string of parody trailers, photo shoots and gleeful audio experiments, The Muppets is finally in theaters. Jason Segel‘s loving ode to Jim Henson‘s puppet troupe combines some winking modern showmanship with a whole lot of love for the Muppets and what they have always represented in pop culture. Because the Muppets mean a lot to many of our readers, it is possible that the film has a difficult standard to live up to.

So the question is: did director James Bobin, co-writers Segel and Nicholas Stoller, songwriter Bret McKenzie, co-stars Amy Adams, Jack Black, Chris Cooper and all the Muppet puppeteers manage to craft a modern Muppet vision that jibes with the classic image of the characters? Tell us what you thought in the comments after the jump. As always, spoilers are fully cleared to go in this discussion. Read More »

‘The Muppets’ Review: Reunited, and It Feels So Good

For those who came of age any time between the ’50s and the ’90s, the Crayola-colored felt faces of the Muppets hold a certain unshakeable allure. Kermit’s familiar green visage is a face I grew up with, and I still have a knee-jerk tendency to break out in a smile whenever I see him or his pals. While the Muppets have never entirely left the public consciousness, they’re hardly the ubiquitous powerhouse they once were. This year’s The Muppets marks the first real introduction for a whole generation of kids who were born too late to remember 1999’s Muppets in Space, let alone 1979’s The Muppet Movie.

So if The Muppets coasts just a tiny bit on the goodwill that people like me still reserve for them, I’m pleased to say it’s still a solid enough film to appeal to the uninitiated while also pleasing old(er) fogies who recall them fondly from past decades. Which, not coincidentally, is also the characters’ goal within the storyline itself.

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Here’s a bit of sweet to savor until The Muppets comes out. A new video has dropped of Kermit singing the opening tune from the film with its composer, Bret McKenzie. We’ve already been treated to glimpse of the actual sequence as it’s seen in the movie, in a clip that was posted earlier this month; while you won’t see more sweet moves by Jason Segel, Amy Adams, or Walter in this video, you will get to hear the rest of the song. Spoiler alert: It’s adorable! Watch it after the jump.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

At this point what more is there to say about yet another dwarf reveal from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? (Other than, perhaps, “uh, where’s Thorin?”) Here is the latest image dispatch from Peter Jackson‘s version of Middle-Earth, featuring Ken Stott as Balin (on the left) and Graham McTavish as Dwalin.

These two guys are peers, more or less, for Thorin, the dwarf who assembles the company that travels from the Shire to the Misty Mountain. We’ll likely see Thorin next week, and hopefully a couple of the new human character, too. In the meantime, see the full new image below. Read More »