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Feb 13th
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Still Wanted

film muppetsfinal‘Muppets Most Wanted’ keeps the recently rebooted franchise alive

You know you’re not in Kansas anymore when a movie features a Tony Bennett-Lady Gaga duet and a homage to Ingmar Bergman in the first 15 minutes. Welcome to the fractured fairy tale world of The Muppets, returning to the big screen in, Muppets Most Wanted, the second installment of their recently rebooted franchise.

Scriptwriter Nicholas Stoller and director James Bobin (returning from their 2011 outing, The Muppets) have put together a caper comedy in which the intrepid gang, in all their glorious innocence, are encouraged to go on a world tour of the capitals of Europe by their shifty new manager, Dominic Badguy (a perfectly cast Ricky Gervais). (He tells them the name on his business card is pronounced “Ba-gee.”)

What they don’t realize is that their, um, unique stage show (which includes such segments as the Indoor Running of the Bulls, and Miss Piggy’s dubious Celine Dion solos) is just a front for a series of museum heists perpetrated by Dominic and his boss, Constantine, “the world’s most dangerous frog,” who has just busted out of a Russian Gulag—and who happens to be a dead ringer for humble Kermit. In short order, the old switcheroo is pulled: Constantine becomes the leader of The Muppets as they tour to Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, and London, while, Kermit is thrown in the Gulag, where he catches the eye of a soon-smitten guard named Nadya (Tina Fey), who puts him to work directing the prison talent show.

On the trail of the thieves is a suave French Interpol agent (Ty Burrell), who’s reluctantly teamed up with foursquare CIA op Sam Eagle. (They keep bickering about who has the biggest badge.) Add songs, extravagant production numbers and a cavalcade of celebrity cameos and you have vintage Muppet mania, suitable for kids, but still with enough witty asides to give the grown-ups something to chuckle at. An early number in Hollywood high-kicks through several movie backlot sets with references to “Gonzo With the Wind,” and that black-and-white faux Bergman clip featuring the Swedish Chef playing chess with Death.

In a song about who’s the top crook, Constantine warbles to Dominic, “We’re criminals at large, but I’m at larger than you,” and on the verge of cracking the case, the French cop suddenly departs for “my annual eight-week paid vacation.” Look out for Ray Liotta, Danny Trejo, Tom Huddleston and Josh Brogan among the Gulag prisoners, while Miss Piggy duets with the real Celine Dion. (And whoever thought we’d ever see Miss Piggy at the altar with not one, but two frogs?) It’s all good, clean, silly fun, starting with the all-new Monsters University comedy short that precedes the main feature. (PG) 112 minutes. (★★★)

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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.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 12

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