DID YOU READ

Fix, Olivia Wilde, Tao Ruspoli

Fix, Olivia Wilde, Tao Ruspoli (photo)

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You may be aware by now of actress Olivia Wilde. I guess she’s been in every glossy guy spread from Maxim to GQ in a bathing suit. She’s also made her mark on TV in House M.D., and unfortunately the show beloved by the Bush twins, The OC. But she’s not all vapid teen drama, in fact she came to my attention with “Tron Legacy” where we she will play a “loyal confidant to Kevin Flynn.” Tron 2.0, as it was formerly called, will be first rate cinema spectacle when it’s released in 2010 and should cement Wilde as a real star. You know the kind who reads, campaigns for progressive politics and is genuinely interesting.

Her parents, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, (Olivia took the show name “Wilde” from Oscar) are hotshot investigative journalists. “‘Olivia was exposed to a lot of very clever people when she was little,” [Leslie Cockburn told GQ]. She recalls Olivia eavesdropping one night on a conversation between Richard Holbrooke and Mick Jagger–until the Rolling Stone turned around and shooed Olivia to bed. “How many girls were told to go to bed by Mick Jagger?”

Olivia added “I’d fall asleep listening long before I understood what they were talking about,” she says. “I appreciated the constant excitement, the murmur of all these engaged conversations. Christopher Hitchens used to babysit me when I was young” [GQ]

One can only imagine the myriad effects a radical contrarian like Christopher Hitchens could have upon the formative years of a young girl. I bet she likes a good argument and a great glass of wine. But enough speculation, Olivia is in a film by Tao Ruspoli called “Fix” that opens November 20th that has piqued my interest. It’s based on a true story about Ruspoli’s brother and how after a drug conviction he was given the choice of rehab or 3 years in prison. The trick was that he had to show up before a limited deadline and pay a huge deposit to the rehab clinic to be admitted.

The film (like the real event) is a race across LA by “documentary filmmakers Bella and Milo” to get Milo’s blown out brother, Leo, from jail to rehab before the deadline. They get hampered by strange characters while also trying to find the money to admit him – perhaps a lucrative but ironic drug deal will prove the only way to make it happen.

“Fix” features music by Dead Prez , Ima Robot, Simon Dawes, Beautiful Girls, and Nico Stai. The handsome director and Founder of The Los Angeles Filmmakers’ Cooperative, Tao Ruspoli, is married to Olivia Wilde in the real world, sorry you drooling dreamers.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Carrie Brownstein on the Late Late Show

Hangin' Tough

Watch Carrie Brownstein Confess Her Love for New Kids on the Block

Portlandia returns this Thursday, January 21st at 10P on IFC.

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CBS / The Late Late Show

You would think that a bonafide rock star like Sleater-Kinney member Carrie Brownstein would despise the pre-packaged, looks-over-music ensembles known as “boy bands.” But the Portlandia star admitted to having an unironic adoration of those teen-sational tunes while visiting with James Corden on the set of The Late Late Show.

When asked about her number one, go-to boy band, she didn’t hesitate with an answer: New Kids on the Block. In fact, Carrie was, in her words, “playing the long game” when it came to choosing which member she’d want to be with, opting not for the prettiest boy but the one the girls didn’t tend to go for.

Which New Kid was Carrie’s fave? You’ll have to watch below to see Carrie Brownstein’s revelatory statements about those plucky New Kids on the Block, as well as bonus clips of Carrie and fellow guests Joel Edgerton and Jane Lynch talking about celebrity guardian angels, officiating fan weddings and more.

Want more Portlandia? Watch a free episode from the new season right now on IFC.com or on the IFC app.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Freak Out

Every Tim Burton and Johnny Depp Movie Ranked

Catch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

No pair has brought more pale weirdos and loners to life on the big screen in such visually-stirring, innovative ways quite like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. They’ve made eight films (and counting) together over the last 26 years, establishing a collaborative partnership that makes the morbid and strange blithely beautiful and bleakly sad at its best — and maddeningly quirky and over-the-top at its worst. Burton and Depp’s joint filmography is certainly mixed, but it can never be said they haven’t always given us something interesting to see. With Charlie and the Chocolate Factory currently airing on IFC, we decided to rank their collaborations from worst to best. Where do your favorite Burton/Depp films fall on our list? Read on to find out.

8. Dark Shadows

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s most recent collaboration also happens to be their worst. The film, based on the melodramatic gothic soap opera of the same name, peddles in camp and quirk without much substance behind it. Its flimsiness isn’t helped by the film’s uneven tone since Burton can’t decide if he’s making a comedy or a horror. As per usual, Burton assembles a great supporting cast, but much like vampire Barnabas Collins’ (Depp) victims, the film leaves both the audience and the casting feeling lifeless.


7. Alice in Wonderland

On paper, Alice in Wonderland and Tim Burton seem like a match made in surrealist heaven, but the final product proves otherwise. Burton fills the screen to almost bloating with arresting visuals, but seems to have forgotten to also include a coherent narrative. (Case in point: a sudden appearance by Anne Hathaway as the White Queen who has no apparent purpose other than to wear Goth-inspired makeup and a wig that looks like it came from a Halloween store.) Depp’s Mad Hatter, meanwhile, is perhaps the pinnacle of the eccentric actor’s obsession with outrageous wigs, makeup, and bizarre accents. What once felt fresh in previous Depp/Burton collaborations seems tired here as Mad Hatter and Alice zip through Wonderland on the world’s dullest acid trip.


6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Burton takes the definition of “candy-colored” at its most literal in his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel, employing CGI to oversaturate each frame of Willy Wonka’s factory. Depp, meanwhile, shows up in an insane bobbed haircut, dental veneers, and with a speaking voice based, in part, on Carol Channing. His Wonka is far odder than Gene Wilder’s quirky 1970 portrayal, but no less strangely alluring; when he’s onscreen, you can’t tear your eyes away from his manic portrayal. Despite a lovely performance from Freddie Highmore as the poor but sweet Charlie Bucket, the rest of the film (which follows Dahl’s source material far more closely than the 1970 family favorite) could have used more of that same manic energy. Burton’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is a bit like Wonka’s candy: it looks great, and you’ll gobble it up, but you’ll ultimately feel a little empty when it’s over.


5. Sleepy Hollow

Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Birdman) is the real star of Tim Burton’s (loose) film adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Utilizing dense fog and dim lighting, the film has a stunning, Hammer horror film-inspired look that pairs nicely with Colleen Atwood’s Oscar-nominated costumes. In Burton’s considerably bloody version of Washington Irving’s classic tale, Ichabod Crane (Depp) is a police constable from Manhattan rather than a local teacher, which in typical Burton/Depp fashion, makes him an outsider to the tight-knit townspeople of Sleepy Hollow. For once, Depp gets to play the handsome straight-man (albeit one with some minor eccentricities), embracing Ichabod’s inquisitive, scientific nature with an aplomb usually reserved for his stranger characters. Unfortunately the script, penned by Seven screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker, starts out as a taut thriller before collapsing under the weight of its overstuffed plot. A solid outing, but nothing worth losing your head over.


4. Corpse Bride

In an animated collaboration that perfectly dovetails with their live-action work, Burton and Johnny Depp continue their exploration of misfits seeking love and acceptance. This time it’s about a shy Victorian gentleman, Victor (Depp), mistakenly marrying a literal corpse bride named Emily (an enchanting Helena Bonham Carter) while practicing his fumbled vows meant for his living bride-to-be (Emily Watson). The stop-motion animation, a notoriously time-consuming medium (and Burton’s favorite), is spectacularly gorgeous and spooky, and Depp’s subtle voice work is just right for the film’s graceful tone. Corpse Bride may be meant for children, but adults will take to its edgy bittersweet tone.


3. Sweeney Todd

Johnny Depp’s Oscar-nominated performance as murderous barber Sweeney Todd is one of his most understated; you can feel Todd’s long-simmering rage boiling just below the surface of his pained yet stoic facade as he sets about trying to take revenge on the corrupt judge (the late Alan Rickman in a delightfully slimy performance) who locked him up, stole his wife, and covets his daughter. Calculated, elegant restraint is not necessarily something for which Burton or Depp are particularly known, but both are in full control of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 Tony Award-winning source material, forgoing theatricality in favor of a bleak color palette and a chilly Victorian sensibility. Depp’s singing voice is strong where Helena Bonham Carter’s is weak, but they complement each other nicely especially when set against the lush sounds of a full orchestra. Murder has never looked (or sounded) so intoxicating.


2. Ed Wood

In choosing to do a biopic about the laughable-yet-lovable director of B-movies like Plan 9 From Outer Space, Burton and Depp reinvented themselves yet again; this time making a 1950s-set film whose tone falls somewhere between Capra and Corman. Their loving depiction of Wood presents a man whose indefatigable optimism and delusions of grandeur are both infectious and damning. Martin Landau won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as horror legend Bela Lugosi, stealing every scene in which he appears. Like many Burton/Depp projects, Ed Wood is ultimately a sweet, satisfying film about outsiders finding acceptance and blazing their own trails…sometimes while wearing fuzzy pink sweaters.


1. Edward Scissorhands

A sweetly surreal suburban fairy tale about a gentle loner with scissors for hands who is taken in by a Leave It to Beaver-esque family, Burton and Depp’s first and finest collaboration has the kind of magical alchemy that made the filmmaker’s early work so visionary: wondrous design and cinematography, fascinating characters, an ethereal score from composer Danny Elfman, and a great cast. Depp famously took the role of Edward as a means of rebelling against his 21 Jump Street heartthrob persona, transforming himself and his career in the process. Despite the crazy hair and makeup, he does some very subtle, lovely work, which is echoed by the doe-eyed Winona Ryder as Kim, the object of Edward’s affections, and the marvelous Dianne Wiest as his chipper and sympathetic mom who takes the outcast in. Suburbia proves to be less than idyllic for the lonely Edward, and Burton’s film brilliantly shows us that terms like “beautiful” and “ugly” are relative. Edward Scissorhands is the rare film that still feels fresh and magical with repeat viewings, imbuing viewers with a sense of wonder they’ve only felt upon seeing (or like Kim, dancing in) snow for the first time.

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