Book Review: Jim Henson, The Works

>Everyone who knows me as an adult thinks that I must have been a huge Disney fan as a child. While I’ve always enjoyed Disney films and shorts, my childhood was focused mainly on three things: Peanuts, Star Wars, and The Muppets.

JimThis week’s book spotlight is Jim Henson, The Worksstyle=border:none — yet another of my most prized books in my library. In it, we not only read biographies and histories of the characters that we’ve grown to love, but we also learn about some of the projects that he would have liked to have produced and how much of an artist and visonary Jim Henson really was.

The book contains some of the most creative and unique page layout designs that I have ever seen. I especially enjoy the small “Jim Henson: The Early Years” book which is about a quarter of the page dimensions of the rest of the book which is tipped-in to the binding. The entire volume appears to have been assembled as thoughtfully and lovingly as you can imagine Jim doing all of the projects during his life.

In a nutshell, I would highly recommend this book—not just to people who are fans of the Muppets, like myself, but to anyone who likes to have a peek into what makes creative people tick, and maybe glean some inspiration in the process.

TheWhat made me decide to comment on this book—besides seeing it on my bookshelf every day at work—is my recent purchase of The Muppet Show: First Season on DVDstyle=border:none. I was a little nervous when I first got it that I wouldn’t enjoy the humor as much as an adult as I did when I was a kid, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. It is so nice to see the sophisticated wit in the writing of this show that still makes me laugh out loud. I was also happy to see that my 5 & 7 year old daughters also laughed quite a bit at the show and often ask to watch them over again. The shows still have value today as great entertainment and I would highly recommend them.

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Movie Review: Mr. and Mrs. Smith

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Mr. and Mrs. Pitt… er, uh… Smith

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are stars. No doubt about it. If you need proof just watch Mr. and Mrs. Smith—a super secret spy/assassin/black ops (never defined) farce about two people from two competing agencies get married and then get assigned to kill each other. At least that was the impression I got from the trailers, but it turns out in the movie, the fact that they were assigned to kill each other was supposed to be a secret that was revealed two-thirds into the movie. Oh well, just another movie that had some secrets of the plot blown by the trailer.

Anyway, back to the “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are stars” conversation. Who can question it when they are put in a movie together with—aside from Vince Vaughn in his throwaway role—not one single other recognizable actor and a gigantic budget to pull off some of the most spectacular explosions and gun/fist fights you’ll ever see pulled off in a suburban neighborhood. Because it has these two stars in it, I’m sure the studio knew that they would bring in the box office numbers so they could throw the extra budget into it to make it something exciting and well executed.

And they pull it off too. It’s a fun ride. The cinematography was very well done—except for some unexplained shaky camera moves. The thing that was lacking was an emotional attachment. I think it’s interesting that their names were John and Jane Smith because these were really generic performances for these actors. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were exactly the same people I’ve seen interviewed by Barbara Walters. There were some moments that could have been touching that I thought fell flat—Possibly because it was such a Pitt-Jolie vehicle—with little or no acting going on at all.

I would recommend this movie to anyone who is up for a good roller coaster ride. There’s plenty of action and eye-candy to interest the most casual of viewers. But don’t go looking for any heart or back-story, what you see is what you get.

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