by     Posted 273 days ago


Now available on VOD and in select theaters is Drafthouse Films’ dark thriller/comedy Cheap Thrills starring Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, David Koechner, and Sara Paxton. I watched the film last night and, while not for the faint of heart or stomach, I can’t recommend it enough. At its core, Thrills works from a single question: how far would you go to be able to provide for yourself and/or your family? It uses precision pacing, confident direction from E.L. Katz, and solid performances across the board to explore this question, all while gradually rising to a crescendo that feels both inevitable and wildly inventive. Offhand I can’t think of a film that blends the thrilling and the disgusting, excitement and repulsion, in a more entertaining way than Cheap Thrills. Regardless of whether you want to or not (and I don’t think you will), this is a movie you won’t soon forget.

In addition to talking a bit more about Cheap Thrills with Matt’s review and a couple of interviews, this week’s Top 5 also highlights our set visit coverage for Godzilla, Matt’s review of Divergent plus interviews with Shailene Woodley and more, the final trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Muppets Most Wanted interviews with Tina Fey among others. Read on for a brief recap and link to everything I mention above.

Director James Bobin & Songwriter Bret McKenzie Talk MUPPETS MOST WANTED, the Hensons’ Reaction to the Film, the Pressure of Following an Oscar Win, and More

by     Posted 274 days ago


Muppets Most Wanted takes the entire Muppets gang on a tour of Europe’s most exciting destinations, but once they’re overseas, they find themselves caught up in a crime caper at the hands of Kermit’s evil doppleganger Constantine.  Featuring numerous Muppets, great musical numbers and surprising cameos, this action-comedy-musical will most certainly make you laugh, and might even bring a tear to your eye.

During a conference at the film’s press day, director/writer James Bobin and songwriter/music supervisor Bret McKenzie talked about connecting with the original vibe of The Muppets, what the Hensons think of the film, how it was to work with The Muppets again, the logistics of shooting a Muppet movie, the inspirations for this story, finding the right tone for the songs, lining up the cameos, paying tribute to classic old Hollywood films, and telling a story that’s funny for both kids and adults.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.

Bret McKenzie Talks MUPPETS MOST WANTED, Writing New Songs, Making the Humor More Self-Aware, Cameos, His Animated Fairy Tale, and More

by     Posted 279 days ago


With Muppets Most Wanted opening next weekend, I recently landed an exclusive video interview with Bret McKenzie here in Los Angeles.  If you enjoyed the music McKenzie wrote for The Muppets two years ago, you’ll be happy to know that he’s crafted some great songs for the sequel.  During the interview he talked about the scripting process, Tina Fey’s original character, which songs were easy to figure out and the ones that gave him trouble, making the humor more self-aware, what it was like touring with Dave Chappelle last year, the status of his animated fairy tale project he’s developing, and a lot more.  You’ll even get to see him sing a little bit!

In the sequel, the gang is on a successful tour in Europe but gets into trouble when Kermit gets confused with his jewel-heisting doppelganger, Constantine.  The film stars Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell, and features a ton of celebrity cameos.  For more on the film, watch 20 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, or check out all our previous coverage which features TV spots, clips, interviews, and more.  Muppets Most Wanted opens March 21.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED Soundtrack Features Vocals from Kermit the Frog, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Miss Piggy, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, and More

by     Posted 294 days ago


James Bobin’s Muppets Most Wanted hits screens in just three weeks, but you’ll be able to enjoy the soundtrack of the crime caper comedy a few days earlier.  Featuring songs by the Oscar-winning Bret McKenzie and scored by the award-winning Christophe Beck, the sequel’s soundtrack will be available starting March 18th.  You can get a taste of the music in this trailer that includes the “Sequel Song”.  Much like the film itself, the soundtrack features vocals from Kermit the Frog, Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Miss Piggy, Josh Groban, Constantine, Celine Dion, and More.

Hit the jump for the track listing and press release.  Click here to pre-order a copyMuppets Most Wanted opens March 21st. 

Bret McKenzie Talks AUSTENLAND, THE HOBBIT, THE MUPPETS Sequel, the Flight of the Conchords Tour with Dave Chappelle, What He Collects, and Much More

by     Posted 1 year, 126 days ago

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Opening this weekend in limited release is director Jerusha Hess’ comedy AustenlandThe film stars Keri Russell as a woman in her 30s who is so obsessed with the Pride and Prejudice character Mr. Darcy that no real-life man can compare, and her love life pays the toll. She decides to spend her life savings on a trip to a Jane Austen-themed resort in England.  Once there, she quickly realizes that finding the perfect Regency-era gentleman may be much more of a challenge than she ever could have imagined.  The film also stars Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, Rupert Vansittart, James Callis, and Bret McKenzie as the male love interest.

At the recent Los Angeles press day, I landed an extended video interview with McKenzie.  During our wide-ranging conversation he talked about making Austenland, his Sundance experience, how it feels to be an Oscar winner (he won for writing a song for The Muppets movie), the upcoming Flight of the Conchords tour with Dave Chappelle, The Hobbit movies, what he collects, and more.  In addition, McKenzie talked about Muppets Most Wanted, the songs, if he has seen a rough cut, his relationship with Disney, and future projects – revealing he’s writing a fairy tale comedy musical similar to Labyrinth.   Hit the jump to watch.

JJ Feild, Bret McKenzie, James Callis and Ricky Whittle Talk AUSTENLAND, Regency-Era Appeal, Wearing the Period Costumes, and Memorable Filming Moments

by     Posted 1 year, 128 days ago


Based on the novel by Shannon Hale (who also co-wrote the script with director Jerusha Hess), Austenland is a quirky romantic comedy about the 30-something and single Jane Hayes (Keri Russell), whose obsession with all things Jane Austen takes her on a trip to an English resort that caters to just that very thing.  But once there, Jane quickly realizes that finding the perfect Regency-era gentleman may be much more of a challenge than she ever could have imagined.

During a conference at the film’s press day, co-stars JJ Feild (“Mr. Henry Nobley”), Bret McKenzie (“Martin”), James Callis (“Colonel Andrews”) and Ricky Whittle (“Captain George East”) talked about the appeal of the Regency era for American audiences, their most memorable moments making the film, what it was like to wear this wardrobe, being a part of a female-dominated movie, their favorite Jane Austen novel, and what their version of Austenland would be.  Check out what they had to say after the jump.  

Bret McKenzie Talks MUPPETS MOST WANTED; Says There Are Six or Seven Songs and Reveals That Ricky Gervais Sings with Kermit

by     Posted 1 year, 133 days ago


While The Muppets was a hit with audiences when it was released in 2011 for a number of reasons, one of the highlights of the film was the collection of original songs that were showcased—particularly those penned by Flight of the Conchords‘ Bret McKenzie.  The multi-talented writer, actor, and composer went on to win an Oscar for “Man or Muppet,” and he’s back penning even more songs for the James Bobin-directed follow-up Muppets Most Wanted.

Steve recently sat down with McKenzie in anticipation of the upcoming comedy Austenland, and during the course of their conversation McKenzie talked quite a bit about the Muppets sequel.  He revealed that there will probably be six or seven songs in the finished film, Miss Piggy will sing a ballad, Ricky Gervais sings a song with Kermit, and he talked about how the film differs from its predecessor.  Hit the jump to read on.

Bret McKenzie Says He’s Writing a Fairy Tale Comedy Musical Akin to LABYRINTH That Involves “Singing Dragons and Monsters”

by     Posted 1 year, 134 days ago

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As one half of the very popular Flight of the Conchords duo, Bret McKenzie has certainly made a name for himself in the comedy world.  While he has recently started to branch out acting-wise with more prominent roles in the upcoming Austenland and The Hobbit trilogy, McKenzie also drew notice for penning some excellent original songs in 2011’s The Muppets.  The multi-talented New Zealand native ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Man or Muppet,” and he’s returning to pen even more songs for the sequel Muppets Most Wanted.

Steve recently sat down with McKenzie to discuss his work in Austenland, but during the course of the interview McKenzie revealed that he’s currently writing a film of his own that he describes as “a fairy tale comedy musical.”  The Muppets co-writer and director James Bobin is helping McKenzie develop the property, which will involve singing dragons and monsters and draws on elements from both The Muppets and The Princess Bride.  Hit the jump for more on this rather promising project.

First Trailer for AUSTENLAND Starring Keri Russell, Bret McKenzie, and Jane Seymour

by     Posted 1 year, 165 days ago


The first trailer for director Jerusha Hess’ upcoming comedy Austenland has made its way online.  The film stars Keri Russell as a woman in her 30s who is so obsessed with the Pride and Prejudice character Mr. Darcy that no real-life man can compare, and her love life pays the toll. She decides to spend her life savings on a trip to a Jane Austen-themed resort in England.  The pic premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to mixed reviews (watch Steve’s video blog reaction here), but this trailer promises an interesting take on the romantic comedy genre with Flight of the ConchordsBret McKenzie as the male love interest.  Jennifer Coolidge looks to be bringing her comedy A-game as always, and I’m interested to see if the film has anything interesting to say about the world of intense fandom or if it just uses the premise as a set up for a love story.

Hit the jump to watch the trailer.  The film also stars Jane Seymour, Rupert Vansittart and James CallisAustenland opens in limited release on August 16th.

THE MUPPETS Sequel Update: Filming Begins in Late January at Pinewood Studios in London; Bret McKenzie Writing New Songs

by     Posted 2 years, 45 days ago


One of my favorite films of last year was director James Bobin‘s The Muppets.  Not only was the film a huge commercial hit grossing almost $160 million worldwide, The Muppets averaged an amazing 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and also won the Academy Award for Best Original Song (Bret McKenzie‘s “Man or Muppet”).  While it might have been a while before Disney decided to release a further Muppets movie, the new film’s success led the studio to greenlight the sequel quickly and it currently has a December 20, 2013 release date (via IMDb).  As we’ve previously reported:

With the release date almost a year away, I figured filming must be starting soon.  I was right.  The other night I attended a Lionsgate/Summit holiday party where I ran into Muppet producer Todd Lieberman (he produced The Muppets with David Hoberman) and he gave me an update on the sequel.  Hit the jump for more.

THE HOBBIT Trilogy to Feature…Stephen Colbert? [Update: Confirmed]

by     Posted 2 years, 62 days ago


It seems as if pseudo-Conservative talk show pundit and comedian Stephen Colbert may be joining the cast of J.R.R.Tolkien’s beloved characters in Peter Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit trilogy.  This is completely unconfirmed and more for fun speculation at this point, but Colbert talked about his visit to The Hobbit set in a recent interview and neither confirmed nor denied a possible cameo.  He did confess to being a Tolkien fan, however, and if that enthusiasm proved enough to sway Jackson, there’s already a precedent set for a Colbert cameo. Hit the jump to see what Colbert had to say.

[Update: THR confirms that Colbert will indeed be making a cameo in The Hobbit, but he won't appear in this fall's An Unexpected Journey so keep an eye out for Colbert in The Desolation of Smaug and/or There and Back Again.]

2012 Oscar Nominations Announced; HUGO and THE ARTIST Lead the Pack

by     Posted 2 years, 330 days ago


The nominations for the 84th Annual Academy Awards have finally been unveiled. Many of the categories have fallen in line just as most have predicted (I fared alright with my predictions, but not great), with Hugo scoring 11 nods, followed closely by The Artist with 10. The biggest surprises are War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close getting in for Best Picture, the exclusion of The Adventures of Tintin from Best Animated Feature, and The Tree of Life nabbing Best Picture and Best Director nods (hooray!). On the snub side of things, despite landing the most precursor critics awards of any other actor in the race thus far, Albert Brooks was denied a Best Supporting Actor nod for his stellar work in Drive (boo). Additionally, Tilda Swinton was overlooked for giving the best performance of the year in We Need to Talk About Kevin, and AMPAS has no love for Michael Fassbender‘s haunting work in Shame.

There’s still plenty to be happy about, as Gary Oldman has his first ever Oscar Nomination (yes, that’s right) and Melissa McCarthy is a Best Supporting Actress nominee. Hit the jump to check out the full list of nominees. The 84th Academy Awards will be presented by Billy Crystal on February 26th.


by     Posted 2 years, 348 days ago

I was excited when I heard a new Muppets movie was in the works.  I became more excited when I heard it would be a musical.  And then I became ecstatic when I learned that Bret McKenzie would be the film’s music supervisor.  My elation came from being a huge Flight of the Conchords fan.  McKenzie is one-half of the folk-music-comedy duo (the other half being Jemaine Clement), and through their albums and HBO series, they’ve shown they can easily play with any music genre.

Earlier this week, I got to speak with McKenzie over the phone and we discussed his process on creating the songs for The Muppets, his musical and comic inspirations the possibility of a song from the movie being nominated for an Oscar, his work on The Hobbit, his future musical endeavors, a ukulele orchestra, and more.  Hit the jump to check out the interview.

What Awards Can THE MUPPETS Actually Win?

by     Posted 3 years, 17 days ago


The Muppets returned to theaters this year in a big way with director James Bobin’s aptly named The Muppets. While the film could have easily become a heavy-handed and groan-worthy kids movie, Bobin and Co. delivered a sweet, funny, and ultimately touching flick that is just as effective for 7-year-olds as it is for cold, cynical cinephiles. When the Oscar hosting gig was once again up for grabs earlier this year, a campaign to have our lovely Muppets take up the duties gained some significant traction. While producers ultimately went with Billy Crystal, the whole idea got us thinking: what awards could the film actually win?  Hit the jump for our take on The Muppets’ chances in this coming awards season.

Bret McKenzie Hints at a FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS Movie; Also Talks THE HOBBIT

by     Posted 3 years, 27 days ago


Among the many highlights in The Muppets, the songs are amazing.  We can thank Bret McKenzie, one of the premier comedic songwriters working today as one half of Flight of the Conchords, for much of that: he contributed several songs to the soundtrack, including certain Oscar nominee “Life’s a Happy Song.”  McKenzie is on the promotional circuit to discuss his excellent work on the movie, where he talked about two other projects of interest.  McKenzie has a small role as an elf in The Hobbit, and we’ll get to that.  First, though, a Flight of the Conchords movie?  Said McKenzie:

“We’re gonna try and do a movie.  We just need a story.”

Yes, please.  More after the jump.

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