Weekend Movie Guide 11/23: The Muppets' Dangerous Artistic Method

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THE MUPPETS courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

It's time to play the music! It's time to light the lights! The Muppets are back on the big screen after 12 years in spaaaace! It may be tough for the gang to find a rainbow connection today. They're opening against fellow family favorite Aardman Studios' (the folks behind Wallace & Gromit) Arthur Christmas, Puss 'n Boots has nine lives at the box office and Happy Feet Two's still kicking as well. Luckily, the felt fighters have an ace up their sleeve - writer/producer/star Jason Segel. The guy has a passion for puppets (witness Forgetting Sarah Marshall's "Dracula's Lament", which he wrote & performed), and Disney let him have at it without pulling any strings. Months of Muppet marketing show the production's understanding & respect for the original's pop-culture-infused, fourth-wall-exploding wit. Let's just hope Fozzie didn't write his own material.

Martin Scorsese's work is known for many things: New York, crime, violence & effing vulgarity. His latest, Hugo, introduces two new f-words to his ouevre: family friendly (what was that about a crowded family market?). Based on the acclaimed children's book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the film follows a boy's adventures in a picturesque Parisian train station as he unlocks the secret of a robotic inheritance. Scorsese stalwarts Robert DeNiro & Leonardo DiCaprio are nowhere in sight, but Hugo hosts an impressive cast: Asa Butterfield (The Boy In The Striped Pajamas), Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass), Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone & even Johnny Depp in a small role. It's also Scorsese's first foray into 3D, and James Cameron himself boasted to the Hollywood Reporter that it's "absolutely the best 3D photography that [he'd] seen".

On the opposite end of the spectrum comes The Artist. The French film isn't just set in the days of silent cinema - it's a full silent production, with black & white photography, title-cards & period orchestration. Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius displayed an adept attention to period detail in his previous films, the OSS 117 spy satire series. Beyond aesthetics, the silent film requires an entirely different performance focused in the body & not the voice. Jean Dujardin (OSS 117 himself)'s physical presence netted him the Best Actor award at Cannes, where The Artist was also nominated for the Palmes d'Or. More recognizable names include John Goodman, Malcolm McDowell & James Cromwell.

In David Cronenberg's world, a cigar is never a cigar. The Canadian cult director is famous for gory, genital "body horrors" (Videodrome's VCR/vaginal cavity, Naked Lunch's talking anal typewriter, The Fly's larval birth nightmare), but in recent years has shifted towards plumbing the depths of fractured identity (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises & even the impenetrable Spider). Both qualities make him the perfect person to helm Freudian biopic A Dangerous Method. Playing Freud is Cronenberg leading man Viggo Mortensen, flanked by Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley & Vincent Cassel. In case you missed it, our sister site Gothamist recently published an in-depth interview with Cronenberg on the production of A Dangerous Method.

What will you be watching this weekend?

Wide Release
Arthur Christmas (Reviews) (Showtimes) (3D Showtimes)
Hugo (Reviews) (Showtimes) (3D Showtimes)
The Muppets (Reviews) (Showtimes)

Limited Release
The Artist (Reviews) (Showtimes)
A Dangerous Method (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Desi Boyz (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Garbo: The Spy (Reviews) (Showtimes)
My Week With Marilyn (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Rampart (Reviews) (Showtimes)
Tomboy (Reviews) (Showtimes)

That's all for this week. See you at the movies!