DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: March 30th, 2007

Posted by on

By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Paul Schneider and Aaron Stanford in “Live Free or Die,” THINKFilm, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“After the Wedding”

A Best Foreign Language Film nominee at this year’s Academy Awards, “After the Wedding” is the latest from “Brothers” director Susanne Bier. The film tracks what happens when the headmaster of an orphanage in India (“Casino Royale” baddie Mads Mikkelsen) is sent to his native land of Denmark and discovers a devastating life-altering family secret.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“Blades of Glory”

Will Ferrell stars in yet another sports-related comedy — this time, the SNL vet pairs with “Napoleon Dynamite” himself, Jon Heder, to poke fun at the world of competitive figure skating. Ferrell had a strong 2006, receiving both commercial (“Talladega Nights”) and critical success (“Stranger Than Fiction”) after a subpar 2005, while Heder looks like he’ll get his first hit since 2004. The film promises to feature the most ridiculous wigs since “Alexander.”

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hawk is Dying”

We’d love to see Paul Giamatti expand from his recent string of down-on-his-luck loser characters, but we’ll take loser Giamatti over no Giamati any day of the week. The beloved actor stars as an auto repairman in Gainesville, FL, who begins taming a wild red-tailed hawk to escape from his mundane life. The film comes courtesy of “Trans” director Julian Goldberger and originally premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Live Free or Die”

“Seinfeld” writers Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin showcased their first feature film at last year’s SXSW, netting a jury prize and industry attention. The film tells the story of two dimwitted small town criminals (Aaron Stanford and Paul Schneider) on the run from a murder they didn’t commit. And of course, in true indie fashion, Zooey Deschanel offers a supporting hand.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Lookout”

Indie darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in this heist thriller directed and penned by “Out of Sight” screenwriter Scott Frank. Gordon-Levitt plays a former high school sports phenom turned mentally damaged janitor who becomes part of a heist at the bank at which he works. We’re pretty much excited for anything Gordon-Levitt does these days, whether it’s getting his “Veronica Mars” on in the high school-set film noir “Brick” or playing a gay prostitute and sexual abuse victim in Gregg Araki’s “Mysterious Skin.” Also, look forward to Jeff Daniels in a supporting role with full “The Squid and the Whale” beard in tow.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Meet the Robinsons”

Though Disney found commercial success with its first post-Pixar computer animated feature “Chicken Little,” critics complained that its fantastic visuals could not make up for an uninspired storyline and lame pop culture clichés. Things are looking better for “Meet the Robinsons,” as Disney’s second foray into CGI sans Pixar is rich in source material (the film is based on author William Joyce’s bestseller) and spectacular graphics. But doesn’t the main character look a lot like the kid from “Jerry Maguire”? What’s the deal with that?

Opens wide (official site).

“Race You to the Bottom”

Two best friends run off together on a sexually liberating (and metaphorical!) road trip to Northern California, leaving their respective boyfriends at home while shacking up on their way to the Golden State in Russell Brown’s feature directorial debut. “Buffy”‘s Amber Benson and “Harry + Max”‘s Cole Williams star as the sexually nebulous couple.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Ten ’til Noon”

Repetition is the name of the game in this Scott Storm-directed indie in which the same ten minute period is shown through the eyes of ten people all connected to the same crime. While the film’s premise clearly shifts the formula of mainstream crime thrillers, we’re betting that you’ll be exhausted by the film’s midpoint. Just imagine watching each season of “24” within a 90 minute framework.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

Posted by on
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

maryhartman

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

ikea heights

IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

fresno

When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

soap

Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

cooks2

Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

darkplace

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

attitudes

Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

peaks

Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

invitation

Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

stomach

The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

joey

Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

acorn

First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

pointplace

In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

spoils

Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

spoilsdying


15. All My Children Finale, SNL

allmychildren

SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Opening This Week: March 23rd, 2007

Posted by on

By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Guy Pearce in “First Snow,” Yari Film Group Releasing, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Air Guitar Nation”

From spelling bees to crossword puzzles to mad hot ballrooms, filmmakers have found an interest in documenting something we can only describe as “competitive hobbies.” First time director Alexandria Lipsitz focuses on a group of selected individuals who dare to dream of air guitar greatness, as competitors from all across the globe meet in a small city in Finland to take part in the annual World Air Guitar Championships. Though we here at IFC News remain steadfast Guitar Hero II rockers, we’re hard-pressed to turn down anything guitar-related, real guitar or imaginary.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Color Me Kubrick”

After premiering nearly two years ago at the Dinard Festival of British Cinema, Brian W. Cook’s wildly eccentric film about a wildly eccentric poseur pretending to be a wildly eccentric director reaches US theaters. How can you not love John Malkovich as a fake Stanley Kubrick? Expect him to steal every scene in the film.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“First Snow”

First-time director Mark Fergus, who recently picked up his first Oscar nomination for the “Children of Men” adapted screenplay, co-wrote his debut feature about a hotshot salesman whose life goes into a tailspin after receiving an ominous fortune from a psychic. Guy Pearce stars as the man whose fate is left up to supernatural mysteries.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“The Hills Have Eyes 2″

“Rohtenburg” director Martin Weisz tackles the Wes Craven-penned sequel to that cannibal horror film from last year. Now, let’s take note, this is not the sequel to the European backpacking horror film or the one with the flesh-eating zombie/monkey virus or even another “Saw” film. Cannibals, people. Cannibals.

Opens wide (official site).

“Journey from the Fall”

This Vietnamese import from “The Anniversary” director Ham Tran follows what happens when a father is left behind in his native country as his family is forced to emigrate to the United States. Somewhere, we’re sure, Angelina Jolie is watching.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Last Mimzy”

You know, being the cinephiles that we are here at IFC News, we still have no idea what the hell a “mimzy” is. New Line Cinema founder and CEO Robert Shaye directs this kids’ film, his first since the 1990 crapfest “Book of Love,” about two siblings who begin to develop special powers after finding a mysterious box of toys. We’d guess that “The Office”‘s Rainn Wilson will be the best part of this one, but considering the film’s lack of positive buzz, theatrical release on a packed weekend, and Shaye’s directorial track record, we’re tempted to suggest that studio execs shouldn’t be headlining their own films anymore…

Opens wide (official site).

“Memory”

This Canadian suspense thriller from first-time feature director Bennett Davlin examines what happens when a medical researcher teams up with a doctor to root through the genetically stored memories of a serial killer. “Memory” stars Billy Zane and the hottest Cylon in “Battlestar Galactica,” Tricia Helfer.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Offside”

It might be a little early to proclaim “The Circle” director Jafar Panahi Iran’s answer to Almodóvar, as the Iranian director fills his films with women fighting against oppressive societies. But still — “Offside” tells the story of a group of young girls who dress as boys in order to sneak in to a World Cup soccer game, as women are not allowed in the stadium. Word of mouth for this one is mostly positive.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“The Page Turner”

A former gifted piano player returns to the musical conservatory that turned her away, inveigling herself in as the page turner for the chairwoman who caused her to fail her entrance to the school. Catherine Frot and Déborah François (of “L’Enfant”) star.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“Pride”

Based on a true story. Troubled teens growing up in rough urban neighborhoods. Inspirational teachers. You get the drill. We wouldn’t expect anything new in the underdog sports film “Pride,” from first-time director Sunu Gonera, but at least we get to see Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac act up a storm.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair”

“Gunner Palace” directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker present another documentary on the effects of war in a bombed-out Iraq as a freedom-loving Iraqi journalist is mistaken for Tony Blair’s possible assassin and sentenced to prison in Abu Ghraib. The film continues Epperlein and Tucker’s darkly comic take on the American occupation through the use of original comic book art and a Kafka-esque portrayal of the journalist’s imprisonment.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Reign Over Me”

Adam Sandler gets depressed (drama!) and Don Cheadle gets all Good Samaritan in “The Upside of Anger” director Mike Binder’s latest, about two college roommates who rekindle a friendship several years after the September 11th attacks. We liked Sandler a bunch in “Punch-Drunk Love” (we keep trying to convince ourselves “Spanglish” never happened…) and love Cheadle in everything, but we’ve yet to find a non-documentary film concerned with 9/11 that we actually liked. We’re hoping Binder’s film uses 9/11 as little more than a dramatic plot device, but we’re not holding our breaths.

Opens wide (official site).

“Shooter”

Though this film may sound more like something Harrison Ford would’ve done fifteen years ago, we’re hoping director Antoine Fuqua can regain the form he displayed in 2001’s tense “Training Day.” Though we certainly love us some Mark Wahlberg ever since he dropped the Funky Bunch, sniper movies have a tendency to just not do it for us (“Enemy at the Gates,” anyone?).

Opens wide (official site).

“TMNT”

Hollywood continues to destroy our collective childhoods with this update of the 90s film/cartoon/comic book series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though director Kevin Monroe opted to film completely in computer graphics for this franchise reboot, we’ll take the live-action films any day of the week. In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “Go ninja go ninja go! Go ninja go ninja go!”
Opens wide (official site).

Opening This Week

Posted by on

By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Nomad (The Warrior),” Weinstein Co, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Adam’s Apples”

This feature from Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen (who won an Oscar in 1998 for his short film “Election Night”) has been lingering around film festivals since August of 2005, and finally finds its stateside release this week. What happens when a neo-Nazi is forced to serve a community sentence at a church? Hijinks ensure. This black comedy was Denmark’s submission for the 2006 Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“American Cannibal: The Road to Reality”

Filmmakers Perry Grebin and Michael Nigro follow up their 2002 short “Creative Process 473″ with this not-so-subtle indictment of the reality television industry in which a film crew documents the train-wreckish production of a controversial reality show. The filmmakers advertise the film as a “true” documentary, though we were left rather unimpressed at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon”

First-time director Scott Glosserman presents the week’s other faux documentary, an interesting twist on the horror genre. The film follows a psychopathic killer who grants a documentary film crew exclusive access to his reign of terror over a fictional small American town. Popular character actor and horror icon Robert Englund reprises his role as Freddy Krueger.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Caffeine”

Hormones are set ablaze in this indie comedy about the sex lives of the clients and employees of a small coffee shop in London. The feature directorial debut of television producer John Cosgrove features a winning cast that includes Mena Suvari, Katharine Heigl, Marsha Thomason and… Breckin Meyer (why?).

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Dead Silence”

Those spunky young Aussies who created the “Saw” trilogy try their hand at…more horror. James Wan directs this flick about a young widower who returns to his hometown to investigate his wife’s murder and stumbles across a Dreadful Secret that’s haunted Raven’s Fair for years.

Opens wide (official site).

“I Think I Love My Wife”

Chris Rock’s directorial debut film, 2003’s “Head of State,” had an interesting premise and a strong cast, but underperformed both at the box office and with critics. We’re hoping Rock bring his A game for this one, as his writing efforts tend to be a mix of hits (TV’s “Everybody Hates Chris”) and misses (2001 clunker “Down to Earth”). Rock plays a married man drawn to a younger woman as his wife, preoccupied by her own career and raising their two children, has little time for him.

Opens wide (official site).

“Nomad (The Warrior)”

The nation of Kazakhstan regains some of its dignity following the political debacle of Borat with this historical epic set during the 18th century. “Nomad: The Warrior” tells the story of a young boy who is destined to unite the three warring tribes of Kazakhstan against invaders and national enemies. It’s the most expensive film ever to be shot in Kazakhstan at $40 million and was the nation’s official entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Premonition”

Former rom-com queen Sandra Bullock has of late been choosing a series of gutsier roles, from her critically-praised supporting turn as Harper Lee in the Truman Capote biopic “Infamous,” her role in Oscar-winner “Crash,” and that convoluted time-traveling house movie. In “Premonition,” Bullock stars as a married woman whose life is thrown into chaos when she learns of her husband’s death in a car accident, but wakes up the next day with him alive and well next to her.

Opens wide (official site).

“Tortilla Heaven”

First-time director Judy Hecht Dumontet presents this indie about a restaurant owner in small town New Mexico who discovers one of his famous hand-made tortillas bears the face of a certain Messiah. Jose Zuniga stars as the restaurant owner and television veterans George Lopez and Lupe Ontiveros deliver supporting roles.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”

Ken Loach finally struck gold at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, winning the Palme d’Or and besting eventual Oscar pictures “Babel” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” Loach’s story about Republicans in early 20th century Ireland recently came under fire for being “anti-British,” though both Loach and star Cillian Murphy deny any ill sentiments towards England.

Opens in limited release (official site).

Powered by ZergNet