Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Muppets Galore

Just a couple of notes about things going on around New York related to Muppets. The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria is hosting the Jim Henson's Fantastic World exhibit until next January. As explained on the museum's website, the exhibit contains Muppets and material covering everything from his earliest show Sam and Friends through all the films--Muppet movies as well as Dark Crystal--and the well-known television shows: The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and of course Sesame Street, which is filmed next door to the museum. There are evidently demonstrations and lectures on the weekends, but for the next couple weeks Friday afternoons are free, so you can pick which you'd rather have. We'll probably go this Friday.

If you like looking behind the scenes of the Muppets, you can then catch a screening of the new documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which premiered at Sundance and is currently showing as part of DocuWeeks in New York and L.A. Directed by Constance Marks, who cut her teeth with the Maysles brothers, and featuring Kevin Clash (aka Elmo), this looks like one of the best looks behind the scenes of Sesame Street we've had; for me it seems more engaging than The World According to Sesame Street from 2005. Maybe it's apples and oranges because of the different emphases of the films, but giving intelligent analysis to the character and phenomenon of Elmo, and the creative personality behind him, seems like a really excellent idea.

Here's a really short teaser:

Here's an interview with the filmmakers:

and with the subject:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Legend of Korra trailer

I neglected to share this a couple weeks ago during Comic-Con when it was released. But since Avatar is by far the most popular show in our home it's a pretty big deal around here. And this new series looks every bit as good as the old one, meaning the whole property won't suffer too much for its feature film misstep.

Doesn't that footbridge look excessively steep?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Party with the Laurie Berkner Band

Last week the Laurie Berkner Band released a brand new DVD-CD combo called Party Day!

My own kids are out of town so I can only give you my grown-up take on it, but I was not disappointed. It has 12 songs, taking viewers along for a costume party, a birthday party, and a pajama party. A group of kids (giving great performances) accompany them along the way, joining in for consistently upbeat songs like "This Hat," "Where is the Cake?," and the mischievous "The Cookie Bakers of the Night."

The DVD is essentially a visual album, a smart move in today's market of online media and decreased DVD and, particularly, CD sales; the great animations on the DVD, coupled with the accompanying five-track CD, give parents a reason to purchase the actual discs, although I don't know if there are plans for an iTunes version down the road.

Like all of Berkner's work, the program seems geared toward the 3-6 crowd, although I expect it should work very well all the way through age eight or even nine; the music certainly does, and I know my seven-year-old, having given up on many other preschool properties, still enjoys this band's segments on Jack's Big Music Show. I'll have to give it a go with her when she gets back from her summer vacation, but my expectation is a lot of dancing and jumping around...

The band consists of Laurie Berkner, Adam Bernstein, Susie Lampert, and Bobby Golden. The DVD was directed by Bil White and produced by his partner Nathalie Renard at Space Cadet Industries. You can check out the album on the band's website.

Here's a YouTube preview of the title track "Party Day":