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Swamp Fever

film-screkHero channels inner ogre in fun, fizzy 'Shrek Forever After'
It's a wonderful life for everybody's favorite green ogre in Shrek Forever After. Until he screws things up and gets a taste of what life would have been like for his loved ones if he'd never been born in this fourth installment of the fractured fairy tale franchise. Directed by Mike Mitchell, this entertaining chapter in the series is also the first one to be shot and processed in 3-D (although you might wonder if effects like projectile baby drool are worth all the bother).

In the new story, Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) worries that domestic bliss in Far Far AwayLand with his loving ogre bride, Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their three adorable babies, is cramping his style. He longs to be "a real ogre" again, scaring the bejeebees out of the villagers; now that they all treat him like a pet and ask him to autograph their pitchforks, he feels like a “jolly green joke." But in his Faustian bargain with demonic little Rumplestiltskin (a bravura comic vocal performance from Walt Dohrn) for one blissful day of irresponsible ogre-ing, he also inadvertently signs away a day out of his own past. The catch is, it turns out to be the day he was born.

Now Shrek is trapped in an altered universe where "Stiltskin" runs the kingdom with his tribe of witch henchwomen (guest voices include Jane Lynch, Kathi Griffin, and Mary Kay Place), oppress the villagers, and round up ogres for slaves. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is a beast of burden, and Puss (Antonio Banderas) is a pampered house pet too fat for his boots. With no Shrek to rescue her (back in the first movie), Fiona has busted herself out of her tower prison and become the leader of an ogre underground movement to resist Stiltskin's tyranny.

The flip side to this girl-power subplot is that Fiona no longer believes in True Love's Kiss—the only thing that will put their world back right. Shrek has only until the end of the day to win the heart of this independent warrior-ogress and maker her fall in love with him all over again. Otherwise, he'll evaporate into thin air at dawn and Far Far Away will be under Stiltskin's thumb forever after.

This movie doesn't have much to add to the Shrek canon; it's mostly a "what if…?" tale where the characters get to play different versions of themselves. The fizziest fun, as usual, is in the silly little throwaway visual details and the acute pop song cues (perhaps a tad overused here) that keep the viewer chuckling throughout. (Shrek saunters happily through the streets, terrifying villagers, to the strains of Karen Carpenter's "Top of the World," then flops down in a handy pig sty to make a mud angel.) Rumplestiltskin's wigs are a subplot unto themselves, from a white powdered Amadeus look for formal occasions, to a film_shrek_forever_afterflame-red Don King-style "angry wig," to a topiary number clipped and shaped to resemble his pet golden goose. Clever writing, in-jokes, and camaraderie keep the entire soufflé puffing merrily along.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER ★★★

With the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas. Written by Josh Klauser and Darren Lemke. Directed by Mike Mitchell. A DreamWorks release. Rated PG. 93 minutes. Watch film trailer >>>

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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