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Aug 31st
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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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The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 28

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