Tag Archives: alice lowe

Lowe On Henson

Lowe On Henson

We know we gush about every guest, and of course that’s by design – why would we invite someone on who wasn’t gush-worthy? – but come on: Alice Lowe. The brilliant comic actress who has featured in everything from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace to Tom Hardy drama Locke, on our little show talking about Jim freakin’ Henson? What’s not to love?

Some almost-fatal Skype issues made this an ordeal to record on the technical side, but a delight on every other side. With Alice in London, Sophie in Manchester, and Lee in Canberra, we once again called upon modern technology to connect us so we could yammer about some film.

And what yammering it was.

Beginning with the new releases, Lee finally heals from his Batman v Superman experience thanks to Captain America: Civil War, Alice delights in the refreshing depiction of sororal sibling rivalry in Mustang, and Sophie takes issue with the politics of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

They then tackle the issue of the growing sexism within film fandom. Why are so many men upset about the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot, or the spinoff Star Wars: Rogue One?

Finally, Alice takes us through the filmography of one of the true geniuses of our time. Jim Henson is lauded for his work on The Muppets and Sesame Street, but what of his directorial career? We look beyond Muppets, and even beyond Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.

Further reading and listening:

  • Take a listen to On the Media’s interview with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’s Kim Barker, which almost supports Lee’s claim about the veracity of a key moment in the film: http://www.wnyc.org/story/war-reporter-tina-fey
  • In the middle segment, there’s mention of how frustrated many are at how long it’s taking Marvel Studios to get to the female superheroes, not to mention the lack of merchandising of the ones they do have. Further reading on Marvel, Ike Permlutter, and why much of this may just come down to the opinions of one or two at the very top, read this piece from Vanity Fair and this piece from Birth. Movies. Death.
  • For those wanting more context to the Ghostbusters furore, The AV Club has an excellent piece Ghostbusters, Frozen and the strange entitlement of fan culture.

And if you want to check out some early Jim Henson shorts, the Jim Henson Company had made a number available on YouTube:

Outro music: “Magic Dance” written and performed by David Bowie, from Labyrinth (1986)

All this and more in this month’s Hell Is For Hyphenates! Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Stitcher Smart Radio, or download or stream directly from this site. And then spread the word!

Hell Is For Hyphenates – May 2016

Actor, screenwriter and comedy icon Alice Lowe joins the Hyphenates as they look back at some of the key films of this month, including Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang, and comedy biopic Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. They then examine the current vitriolic backlash at upcoming female-led blockbusters, from Ghostbusters to Star Wars: Rogue One. Then Alice takes us through the groundbreaking filmography of the legendary Jim Henson.

The Jim Henson Cheat Sheet

JH Directs

Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…

JH Films

THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982) and LABYRINTH (1986)

You’ve seen them – everyone’s seen them. But have you seen them with adult eyes, no longer hiding behind the sofa (in the case of The Dark Crystal and, erm, me)? They’ll remind you of the babe you were, and of how they’ve indelibly shaped the imaginative, slightly weird adult you’ve become under the influence of vulnerable, brave, clever lead characters Jen and Sarah. You’ll also see anew Henson’s masterful blend of live action, puppetry and SFX, working closely with Brian Froud’s creaturely art. Given that he produced the 96 episodes each of the Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock, making and voicing puppets for them as well, it’s amazing that he found time to co-direct features (with Frank Oz, aka the voice of Miss Piggy). And both of them are top-notch: The Dark Crystal is probably the only children’s film to feature Beckett expert Billie Whitelaw in its voice cast – that’s how dark it is. And Labyrinth is of course the perfect way to introduce the next generation to the (dance) magic (dance) that is David Bowie.

Substitutions: If you can’t get or have already seen The Dark Crystal or Labyrinth, you must watch 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, Henson’s first feature as director and the second movie outing for Henson’s beloved puppets. Deeply silly skewer of the international crime thriller genre, with Diana Rigg as the imperious Lady Holiday and cameos from John Cleese, Peter Falk and Peter Ustinov: it’s what the Muppets do best, under Henson’s big-screen control for the first and only time. If you’ve seen that too, go for the Henson-directed episodes of The Storyteller, his most magical television outings.

The Hidden Gem: The Cube, Henson’s pre-Muppets film for NBC Experiments in Television. It’s a way ahead of its 1969 production date, somewhere between The Truman Show, Vincenzo Natali’s Cube and Kate McKinnon & Kumail Nanjiani’s parody of Room for the Independent Spirit Awards. It’s on YouTube. What are you waiting for?

The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Alice Lowe talking Jim Henson, will be released on May 31.

Our Next Hyphenate Alice Lowe

Alice Lowe
Actor, filmmaker and May 2016 Hyphenate Alice Lowe

If enjoy great comedy, then you’ll be as excited by our next guest as we are. Except we’re the ones who get to talk film with her for an hour, so we’re probably slightly more excited. But look, it’s not a competition. There’s definitely enough excitement to go around.

Maybe you know Alice Lowe from her roles in Hot Fuzz, The World’s End or Paddington. Or from her incredible performance as Madeleine Wool/Dr Liz Asher in the perfect Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. Or for co-writing and co-starring in the instant cult classic Sightseers. Or any number of guest roles in The IT Crowd, Black Books or Snuffbox. Either way, if you’ve been keeping up with quality UK film and television, you’ve definitely seen her in a number of things.

Alice, who is in post-production on her feature directorial debut Prevenge, is taking time out to join us on Hyphenates this month. But which filmmaker has she chosen to discuss?

None other than the great Jim Henson!

Directed by Jim HensonWe all know Jim Henson as the genius behind The Muppets and Sesame Street, and of course film fans don’t need to be reminded that he also directed Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. But there is a huge part of Henson’s career as director that is largely unknown, and we’re looking forward to digging into that amidst all the Jareth quoting.

But what is it about Henson that Alice so adores? Join us on May 31 when the new episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates is released!

Jim Henson
Our next filmmaker of the month, Jim Henson