Beth Accomando, author of the KPBS blog Cinema Junkie.
Related Story: New Fall Movie Releases
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. After the Turkey, and the football, and the holiday shopping, what's left to do over the big Thanksgiving weekend? Why, go to the movies, of course! A group of new releases is headed to San Diego theaters for the start of the holiday movie going season. KPBS arts reporter, and author of the blog cinema junky, Beth Accomando is here to talk about some of the movies getting the biggest buzz. Hi.
ACCOMANDO: Hi, great to be here.
CAVANAUGH: Celebrated director, let's get right to it, Alexander pane, movie-goers might remember his 2004 indie hit, Sideways, about all that wine. He's out with a new film called the descendants. And it's his first film in seven years. Do we know why he's been on such a very long break? Does it have to do with the wine?
ACCOMANDO: Possibly. But he's always taken long breaks between films. And I think part of it has to do with the fact that he really wants to find the right material. And because he's a writer as well, he places a lot of value on the script, which is something that a lot of films don't do. Am I think for him, he needs that time in between films to polish up that material, get that script in perfect shape, and then get ready to shoot. Because I think he's really first and foremost a screen writer and then a director. I think he directs just to get his own scripts up there.
CAVANAUGH: Now you recently watched all of his films for a retrospective. And I'm wondering how you see the descendants fitting into his maturity level as a director.
ACCOMANDO: Watching all four of his films, it was citizen Ruth, then election, then about schmit and sideways. If you -- he starts out in satire, the characters are closer to caricature. But slowly he really develops a lot more depth, and the characters become much more realistic, the themes are rooted in the real world and are much more emotional. So this is a real natural progression, I think, and his comedy goes from these satires to much more observational comedy, like these drama comedies. So I think it really follows in line. And I think he's improve with each film.
CAVANAUGH: A lot of people are going to think of the Descendants as the George Clooney movie out over the holidays.
ACCOMANDO: It's about a family dealing with grieve and Los. It's a father and two daughters, and the mother is in a coma in a hospital. And they're waiting for results to see what's going to happen with her. So they're dealing with grieve. And this is a lot more serious than his other film, and yet there is still a lot of humor and comedy that comes through in this.
CAVANAUGH: And I just wanted to say that the descendants is currently playing at landmark's Hillcrest cinemas. And for something completely different, the muppets opens tomorrow. The first makeupeps movie in 12 years. What have the muppets been up to?
ACCOMANDO: Well, they have been sticking more to television.
CAVANAUGH: Ah, ha.
ACCOMANDO: Haft time we saw them, they were out in space. They've come back down to earth. Apparently in the interim, though, Kermit and Ms. Piggy have been married and become estranged. So there's a lot on the gossip side
CAVANAUGH: Oh, my goodness!
ACCOMANDO: Forget Demi Moore and ashton Kucher every, this is far more disturbing. But they're finally back on the big screen.
CAVANAUGH: So besides giving us this little dishy bit approximate the marriage of Kermit and Ms. Piggy, what is it about?
ACCOMANDO: Well, what else do muppets tend to do when they're in these kind of films? They have to get-together and put on a show! So they need to put on a show to raise money to save the old muppets studio. So they're getting the old gauge back together, just like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland used to did in the 30s and 40s. So they're getting together and kind of reviving the muppet show.
CAVANAUGH: All the familiar muppets?
ACCOMANDO: Yes, there are. Although they don't get enough time. We don't get enough scenes with some of the characters. Some of my favorites are Swedish chef and honey due and beaker and so some of the characters I wish they just had a little longer scenes
CAVANAUGH: How about cameos?
ACCOMANDO: The odd thing about this, you have peel like Neal Patrick Harris, and Sarah silverman, but some of them have next to no lines at all, and no scenes with an actual muppet. So it's kind of an odd use of cameos. I'd love to see Neal Patrick Harris to do a song and dance with Kermit and Ms. Piggy.
CAVANAUGH: Who couldn't! Well, one of the things that you enjoyed the most about the muppets movie is the parody trailers they had leading up to the release of the movie. We have -- one of the things from the teaser campaign. This is the parody trailer with the muppets doing twilight.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: That's from a parody trailer for the muppets new movie which is called the muppets. Is this for kids or is this for their parties who remember the muppets?
ACCOMANDO: I think it's for both. It's enough fun, and it moves fast enough that kids for the most part will be entertained. And the muppets started on sesame street. So I think a lot of kids have a familiarity with these kind of muppets. And for adults, it's been a long time since the muppet show was on. And I think everybody I saw in the theatre had a favorite character they were just waiting to see come on, so --
CAVANAUGH: Speaking of the twilight saga and breaking brawn, breaking down part one opened to huge numbers. So its popularity and still strong?
ACCOMANDO: Yes, it is. I think it broke its own record. It's almost at 300 million worldwide right now. It's like the income of a small nation, I think. But it's still popular. People were camped out over night for the Thursday at mid-night opening for the film last week. And people are still gobbling it up. And they're taking a smart lesson from Harry Potter in that they're taking their last installment and breaking it into two parts to extend that franchise a little bit longer.
CAVANAUGH: In the interests of full closure, I think I recall you're not necessarily a fan of this series.
ACCOMANDO: No! It totally desecrates the vampire genre. That's the thing I have against it the most. They completely ignore all the folk lore, all the kind of information about vampires that's out there and rewrite it. And it's not that they change it, but it's that they do so in a manner that totally ignores all this. They could take care of it easily by saying oh, yeah, you think vampires can't go out in the sup, but that's just a myth we created to protect ourselves. We can go out in the sun and sparkle and look wonderful.
CAVANAUGH: Well, tell us a little bit about what this movie is about. I don't think it's going to be a spoiler for anyone to know that there's a marriage.
ACCOMANDO: No. It's basically about two things. Edward and Bella get married, and they have this huge June bride photo shoot spread. So you can see the shoes, the hair combed, and they get to have sex finally. This is really all the film is about, I think.
CAVANAUGH: And that's sort of a demon child or something that results from that.
ACCOMANDO: Yes. Of well, I don't want to give away anything, but there is a pregnancy involved. And it's not quite pleasant. But there's some very strange things that start to happen in this one.
CAVANAUGH: So it's part one. So we're waiting for the second installment to see how it ends. The twilight saga, breaking down, part one is currently playing throughout San Diego. And we get into now a much more complicated type of a you've beeny. It's Hugo, paced on a graphic novel lie Brian Selznick.
ACCOMANDO: He lives half of his time in San Diego and half his time in New York. And he's a children's or a young adult writer. And his books have gorgeous, glorious illustrations. The and the invention of Hugo cabray, which is what this film is based on, sort of captures a sense of the history of sin Marx or at least the birth of cinema through its drawings. And he has another book out now called wonder-struck, in which half the story is told in text, and another part of it is told c9ompletely through illustrations. So he's a very visual story teller. And this book was quite clever and fun in terms of its appreciation of film.
CAVANAUGH: Considering that it is sort of classified a children's book, it may come as a surprise to people to hear that Martin Scorsese is directing this 3D version of Hugo. Why thee D? Why 64 saysy?
ACCOMANDO: I think the thing that makes it make sense is that it does -- it is an homage to cinema. And Martin Scorsese is so well known for his love and passion for the movies. So I think in that, it's a perfect fit in that respect. I the 3D I think is something that, are again, because Scorsese loves cinema, it's one of these tricks and gimmicks and these things that has always attracted him, but he's been frustrated by the fact it's hard to have mobile cameras, and cameras that can do anything you want with 3D. I think the technology has finally come to a point where he felt comfortable using it, and for this story which is all about inventions and magic and cinema, he thought it was an appropriate fit.
CAVANAUGH: Let's live to a scene in which young Hugo explains his view of the world.
Audio Recording Played:
"Right after my father died, I would come up here a lot. I'd imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with an extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn't be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason too."
CAVANAUGH: That's a clip from the new film by Martin Scorsese called Hugo. It sounds like it's a visually striking movie, bet.
ACCOMANDO: Yes, it is. And it's a film that I -- it was a little frustrating for me because one of the things that's odd is that the most magical and wondrous moments in this film are clips of films that are over 100 years old. So it's --
CAVANAUGH: By George millies.
ACCOMANDO: Yes. And Scorsese himself, he never quite captures that kind of magic that you get in the clips from these older film it is. So it feels kind of sad because Scorsese is such a great director. And it feels lick he's not delivering what he's fully capable of.
CAVANAUGH: We'll have to move onto our first film. It's Gainsbourg, a heroic life. A biopic of singer song writer serge Gainsbourg. Let me start by having a clip with the actor and actress
ACCOMANDO: These is the reel.
CAVANAUGH: This is the real serge Gainsbourg, and Brigitte Bardot, singing their hit, Bonnie and collide.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: So this was serge Gainsbourg, and Brigitte bar doe singing Bonnie and Clyde. This is a biopic in French of a French singer song writer many Americans haven't heard of. And I'm wondering, therefore --
ACCOMANDO: Well, I know sometimes a biopic makes people immediately click off and go to sleep. But this was a very lively, playful biography of this singer song writer who's kind of an icon of the '60s. I don't think he's really gained that much fame recently. I don't think most Americans are probably that familiar with him. But he was very iconic in the '60s. And he captured a certain essence of French pop culture at its time. And this song, he had these wild affairs with some of the most beautiful women. So I think it's a very lively biography.
CAVANAUGH: And stylish to look at.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. So Gainsbourg, a heroic life is playing at the Cannes, and ends this Thursday. I've been speaking with Beth Accomando, author of the blob, cinema junky. Thank you.
ACCOMANDO: Thank you.