It’s amazing some researchers haven’t figured out a way of determining personalities based on what aspect of Frank Oz’s career one is impressed with. Of course there’s Yoda — Frank voiced the beloved, and powerful, Jedi master, operated the puppet for most of the STAR WARS films, and for many helped form the heart and soul of the franchise. For me, it’s both the time he spent with Jim Henson — developing characters such as Miss Piggy and Grover and innovating puppetry in that surprisingly visionary company — and his work in the director’s chair for LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, taking the musical stage adaptation of the Roger Corman’s dark comedy and creating a rich and wondrous, albeit murderous, film world. I was able to talk with Oz on the occasion of the Blu-ray release of the film, which restores the original, apocalyptic Don’t Feed the Plants finale that was cut from the theatrical release. We also got to talk Muppets, STAR WARS, and the mysterious allure of sequel rumors. Click on the player to hear the show.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there’d be much intersect between HUGO — the fanciful film based on Brian Selznick’s vividly illustrated novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret — and director Martin Scorsese. It’s set in a Parisian railway station circa the 1930’s, so there’s little opportunity for Brooklyn accents; it’s about an orphan boy (Asa Butterfield) who tends to the clocks in that station while hiding out in its secret passages, so there’s little chance we’ll be seeing Joe Pesci kick someone’s ribs in; and it’s driving force is an automaton that contains within its works a secret about the station’s not-so-kindly toy vender, Papa Georges (Ben Kingsley), so forget about hearing any of the traditional, four-letter-word-laced dialogue this time around. It’s only when you find out what that secret is that you realize not only why Scorsese is the perfect choice for this film, but why this may be the film he’s been waiting his entire career to make. beabetterbooktalker.com‘s Andrea Lipinski joins Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons to explore how a tale about the founding father of fantastic film has stirred a legendary director to create his sweetest and most enchanting work, and how it in turn pays tribute to those who seek to instill the sense of wonder in audiences around the world.
Also: Andrea gives her take on THE MUPPETS. Plus: What’s coming in theaters.
Lest we forget that Jim Henson was about more than Kermit and Big Bird (ahem, DARK CRYSTAL, THE STORYTELLER, and on, and on…), this year’s New York Comic Con staged a panel in which Henson archivist Karen Falk and Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy exhibited footage from the Muppet-master’s experimental short films, commercials, and TV plays, and discussed the imminent publication of Tale of Sand, a wry, surreal, Kafkaesque graphic novel based on an unfilmed script co-written by Henson and frequent writing partner Jerry Juhl.
After the presentation, Falk and Christy granted us a few minutes to discuss Henson’s eclectic soul, how that translated into the furiously antic/ominous vision that became TALE OF SAND, and how Henson’s history is tied inextricably to that of CFQ. Click on the player to hear the interview.