DID YOU READ

What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen”

What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen” (photo)

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Some homegrown interloping mixes with a strong international showing this week to give an overall balance to what’s playing at your local multiplex. Comic book fans can salivate over “Watchmen,” arthouse fans can enjoy a Louis Garrel double bill, and a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-inspired serial killer movie bridges the gap.

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“12”
A best foreign language Oscar nominee from 2008, Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov’s interpretation of the Reginald Rose’s 1954 play “Twelve Angry Men” puts a contemporary political spin on this classic tale of passion and prejudice. Tasked with discerning the guilt of a young Chechen boy accused of brutally murdering his military officer father, Sergei Makovetsky plays the lone voice of dissent voting for acquittal. As the audience witnesses the boy’s unfortunate childhood in flashbacks, Makovetsky’s mysterious juror preaches rationality and reason as he attempts to convince a room full of his peers of the boy’s innocence one by one. In Russian with subtitles.
Opens in New York on Wednesday, March 4th.

“Everlasting Moments”
Swedish auteur Jan Troell returns with this studied piece of period miserablism, continuing his informal trilogy of films about turn of the century upheaval against the backdrop of the socialist revolution, beginning with 1966’s “Here’s Your Life” and 2001’s “As White as in Snow.” In a story inspired by his wife’s grandmother, Troell tells of Maria (Maria Heiskanen), who finds respite from her humdrum existence under the tutelage of the solicitous Sebastian (Jasper Christensen), a local photographer who encourages her to employ the camera she wins in a lottery as a tool of intellectual independence as she toils to raise her seven children and keep tabs on her boorish, womanizing husband (Mikael Persbrandt). In Swedish with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Explicit Ills”
Premiering at last year’s SXSW Festival where it scooped a trio of awards, actor-turned-writer/director Mark Webber’s directorial debut is a disparate ensemble ramble through an impoverished South Philadelphia neighborhood that seems to genuinely have something to say. With a cast of largely unknown actors augmented by indie starlets such as Paul Dano and Rosario Dawson, Webber delves deep into modern life on the breadlines, orchestrating a multi-stranded story of those living a hand-to-mouth existence in South Philly where kindness and compassion often take the place of actual currency.
Opens in New York; expands to Los Angeles and Philadelphia on March 20th.

“Fados”
Born out of the immigrant slums of Lisbon in the early 19th century, Fado is a vigorous yet melancholic style of music reflecting struggle and promise that’s been dubbed the “Portuguese blues.” From the classical to the contemporary, from Reggae to hip-hop, Spanish helmer Carlos Saura traces the origins of the Fado (which literally translates to “destiny” or “fate”), exploring its development and continued legacy with his trademark fusion of music, dance and cinematic verve. In Portuguese with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Frontier of Dawn”
Veteran French helmer Philippe Garrel directs his son Louis in this throwback to the heyday of the French New Wave sprinkled with elements of the supernatural that charts the fine line between blissful intoxication and insanity. Garrel Junior stars as François, a young photographer left reeling following the suicide of Carole (Laura Smet), an actress with whom he had an affair. A year later, François is looking to marry and move on, but becomes plagued by visions of the ghostly Carole, beckoning him to join her in the land of the dead. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“The Horsemen”
Although some might have considered Jonas Åkerlund’s druggie drama “Spun” a horror film, the music video vet is applying his splice-a-second technique to a real gruesome thriller this time, starring Dennis Quaid as an embittered detective investigating a series of viciously elaborate slayings whose characteristics mirror the exploits of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (Probably a compromise for a film with designs on “Se7en,” but having only the budget for two.) In what our own Matt Singer recently touted as one of the most anticipated performances of the spring, Ziyi Zhang co-stars as the mysterious woman suspected of masterminding the murders.
Opens in limited release.

“La Belle Personne”
Opening as the headliner for The Brooklyn Academy of Music Cinematik’s tribute to our sister company IFC Films, “Love Songs” director Christope Honoré helms this modern-day retelling of “La Princesse de Clèves,” the classic French novel of romance and scandal, which depicts the pain of growing up and the agony of unrequited love. Léa Seydoux stars as Junie, a troubled 16-year-old who catches the eye of all the boys at her new school and develops a friendship with Otto (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). But as Junie spurns Otto’s clumsy romantic advances, she cultivates a forbidden romance with her Italian teacher, Mr. Némours (Louis Garrel). In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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.

Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring

Ten Performances We Can’t Wait to Watch This Spring (photo)

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Ziyi Zhang in “Horsemen”
Directed by Jonas Akerlund
Opens March 6

The trailer and the premise — a detective on the trail of a killer (or killers) murdering people in homage to each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — make this look like one JASK-y movie (that’s “Just Another ‘Se7en’ Knockoff”). But then there is the against-type casting of Ziyi Zhang (or Zhang Ziyi; there’s so much continued confusion over how this poor woman prefers to be credited that even the “Horsemen” trailer and poster disagree about it) as a suspect in the case. Western audiences are mostly familiar with Zhang in martial arts epics (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, “Hero”) playing unquestionably moral characters. There’s something quite unsettling — and thus quite interesting — about seeing her cast in a darker role, acting sexily demure while gruff Dennis Quaid tries to interrogate her, or in some kind of weird snuff film, whispering in the victim’s ear, “Do you feel expendable yet?” This movie might have been without her. Thanks to Zhang, it’s one to keep on the radar.

02182009_Watchmen_billycrud.jpgBilly Crudup in “Watchmen”
Directed by Zack Snyder
Opens March 6

It may have been a struggle for Billy Crudup to create the near-omnipotent, often totally naked Dr. Manhattan — performing his scenes in a white mocap suit covered in blue lights had to be so precise that Crudup told Entertainment Weekly that if he “caught the slightest glimpse of [himself] in any reflecting surface, the illusion was crushed” — but the results look remarkable, if the trailer’s anything to go by. Not only does the finished character look exactly like the Dr. Manhattan of the “Watchmen” comic books, it still bears an eerie resemblance to Crudup himself.

(more…)

Season 6 Episode 2: Going Grey

Come On Get Appy

Stream IFC Shows and Share Portlandia Emojis With New Apps For Android and iPhone

Watch a free full episode of Portlandia right now on the IFC app before the season six premiere on January 21st at 10P.

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Good news, IFC fans! You no longer have to drag your TV along with you on long commutes, to the gym, or anywhere else you want to watch our shows and Comedy Crib clips. With the IFC app, you can now stream Portlandia, Comedy Bang! Bang!, Todd Margaret, and other IFC programming directly to your Android or iOS device. There’s free full-length episodes, original web series, movies and show clips included with the app, plus even more if you have a cable subscription. You can nab the Android version here and the iOS version here.

But if that’s not enough for the diehard Portlandia fan, there’s also the Portlandia emoji keyboard — a virtual keyboard for Android or iOS devices containing a slew of show-themed emojis of Fred and Carrie’s characters, as well as recognizable items like a cacao bar and a certain messenger’s bike. Android users can grab it here, and iOS users can go here.

Want more, you say? How about a free full episode from Portlandia season six! Check in with Fred and Carrie before the sixth season premieres on January 21st at 10/9c right here on IFC.com or on the IFC app. As the kids say these days, one taste of Portlandia season six will have you like:

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