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VIDEO ESSAY: Never Before, Never Again: Henson and Oz; A Muppet conversation

EDITOR'S NOTE: To mark the opening of Jim Henson's Fantastic in July 2011, Matt Zoller Seitz and Ken Cancelosi created Never Before, Never Again: Henson and Oz, a video essay which describes the nature of that long and fruitful collaboration between Jim Henson and Frank Oz. Press Play is re-posting that essay in light of the release of Jason Segel's new directorial effort, The Muppets. Given the length of their 27-year collaboration and their creative influence on the culture, it makes the argument that they should be considered a comedy team on the level of Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy. In addition, we are publishing a discussion between the essay's creators. They discuss the curious fate of the Muppets since Jim Henson's untimely death and the challenges director Jason Segel faces in resurrecting them.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz and Ken Cancelosi
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  • November 22, 2011 5:43 PM
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  • 1 Comment

VIDEO ESSAY: Searching for the Muppets

When Jim Henson died in 1990, at the age of 53, there was reason to fear that the Muppets wouldn’t live on without him. They did. Since Henson’s death, Muppets have appeared in three major movies, a short-lived TV series, a few TV specials and several direct-to-YouTube videos. They’ve inspired toys, calendars and postage stamps. And now they’re poised to hit the big screen yet again, in a movie written by and starring Jason Segel.
  • By Jason Bellamy
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  • November 21, 2011 1:35 PM
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  • 1 Comment

The Chicago Way: Crime Story back on DVD for its 25th Anniversary

On September 18, 1986, director Michael Mann (Heat) made good on his promising career in TV and film with the debut of his new period cops-and-robbers saga, Crime Story. Not only did Crime Story’s feature-quality production design live up to that of its TV antecedent, Mann’s stylish Miami Vice; Crime Story also fulfilled its aim to present a morally complex world in which it was often difficult to tell those who broke the law from those who upheld it. Set in 1963, the show explores the multiple facets of a young hood’s rise to power in the Chicago Mob through the viewpoints of its three protagonists. Ray Luca (Anthony Denison) is the pompadoured criminal quickly ascending the ranks of the “Outfit.” Lieutenant Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) is the cop in charge of Chicago’s Major Crime Unit (or MCU) who bends the law in the service of justice. And David Abrams (Stephen Lang) is the idealistic young lawyer caught between the two men and their obsessive cat-and-mouse game. Today, a little over 25 years since its premiere, Crime Story: The Complete Series (Image Entertainment) comes out on DVD. At press time, review copies were not made available, so it’s impossible to ascertain if any improvements have been made over the questionable video quality of previous iterations. But this short-lived series, an influential precursor to the well-written serials littered throughout cable this decade (i.e., The Sopranos, Mad Men, Justified, and others), is worth owning despite any potential issues with its digital transfer.
  • By Tony Dayoub
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  • November 15, 2011 7:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: PARENTS, directed by Bob Balaban

Parents - Nightmares of Childhood from John Keefer on Vimeo.
  • By John Keefer
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  • October 27, 2011 3:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: All Things Shining: The Films of Terrence Malick, Chapter 5: THE TREE OF LIFE

By Serena Bramble and Matt Zoller Seitz Press Play contributors
  • By Matthew Seitz
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  • October 24, 2011 5:56 AM
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  • 4 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: ON THE GO, PART 3: TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A.

By Aaron Aradillas, Richard Seitz and Matt Zoller Seitz
  • By Matthew Seitz
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  • October 21, 2011 9:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: ON THE GO, PART 2: 1971-1984, THE SPEED YEARS

On The Go Part 2 from Matt Zoller Seitz on Vimeo.
  • By Aaron Aradillas and Richard Seitz
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  • October 20, 2011 10:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: ON THE GO, PART 1: BULLITT, THE FRENCH CONNECTION AND THE SEVEN-UPS

The subtitle of Aaron Aradillas and Richard Seitz's series "On the Go" says it all: "The Golden Age of the Car Chase, 1968-1985." Films that played in American theaters and on TV during those years were likely to contain at least one car chase. Some pictures from this period were built around a series of car chases. A few were essentially feature-length chases in which most of the action and dialogue took place while the characters were zipping down city streets or interstate highways.
  • By Aaron Aradillas and Richard Seitz
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  • October 19, 2011 1:45 AM
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  • 4 Comments

LIFE'S WORK: THE FILMS OF ROMAN POLANSKI - Chapter 1: Polanski's God

I think people who go to see [Roman Polanski's films] for escapism are not going to be necessarily disappointed, but they're going to have to tweak their understanding of what entertainment is. When you watch a Polanski film, you're watching this sense of abundance in them. They have very cheerful settings — deceptively cheerful. You get the sense that you're watching the seasons change from this brightness to this inner gray that takes over. Violence in Polanski's film is psychological. It's largely implied and it's rarely explicit, and when it is explicit, it's for comedy's sake. When Jake gets his nostril slit in Chinatown, he looks ridiculous for the rest of the film, with the bandage on his nose.
  • By Serena Bramble & Simon Abrams
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  • September 26, 2011 4:00 AM
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  • 14 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: COWARDS BEND THE KNEE, directed by Guy Maddin

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fandor's blog site, Keyframe, begins its Director of the Month series today with a week long tribute to Canadian director Guy Maddin. In addition to specially commissioned articles and an exclusive interview with the director himself, Fandor editor-in-chief and Press Play contributor Kevin B. Lee has collaborated with Matt Zoller Seitz to produce this video essay discussing the technical and thematic achievements of Maddin's 2003 feature Cowards Bend The Knee. But the centerpiece of the weeklong tribute is Fandor's first blogathon hosted on Keyframe called The Maddin-est Blogathon in the World. From September 19-23, Keyframe invites writers, video editors and artists to discuss Maddin's body of work on their own sites. Fandor will cross-link to newly published blog posts and give a special prize to the most creative endeavor. Click here if you would like to participate.
  • September 19, 2011 10:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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