DID YOU READ

Anthony Hopkins is grumbling about mumbling.

Anthony Hopkins is grumbling about mumbling. (photo)

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In a predictably contentious interview with The Guardian, Anthony Hopkins caps off an eminently readable series of straightforward admissions about his alcoholic past, estranged daughter and disdain for the British tabloids by denouncing what’s going down in the UCLA acting classes he teaches. “There are a lot of young kids, good actors, but they are so macho they think it’s sexy to whisper. I don’t know what the hell they are talking about. They may as well put subtitles on them. I teach acting classes at UCLA, and I stand there and say: ‘I can’t understand one word you’re saying, so how d’you expect me to sit in the audience?'”

Now, I don’t know what Hopkins is talking about, if he’s teaching theatrical or film acting, nor could I find evidence of said acting classes online. And I don’t remember a swarm of recent Hollywood performances specializing in whispering. The tentative, awkward shuffle, sure — I used to want to slap some decisiveness into Tobey Maguire until he snapped out of it, Jake Gyllenhaal has run with it pretty well, and Paul Dano’s brilliant turn in “There Will Be Blood” pretty much took it into the realm of self-parody. But I don’t think that’s what Hopkins is talking about, nor, I suspect, is he being inundated with a new breed of mumblecore actors.

01212010_nixon.jpgHopkins’ complaint, nonetheless, seems curiously anachronistic. He began stage-acting in the early ’60s and was on film by 1967, making him probably the most successful British screen actor of his generation. His compatriots included the largely now-forgotten Nicol Williamson and John Hurt, both of whom he acted against, but Hopkins eclipsed them both for sheer fame. (Michael Caine’s of the same generation, but his insistence on keeping his own accent rather than the Queen’s English makes him a whole other story.) Hurt has proven himself adept at sinking into characters; Williamson, primarily a stage actor praised by the likes of Samuel Beckett, never could tone it down for film.

Hopkins gets to have it both ways, as pretty much every profile notes. He’s overwhelmingly associated with either his quiet Merchant Ivory turns (“The Remains of the Day,” “Howard’s End”) or scenery-chewing on a massive scale (Hannibal Lecter, his enjoyable hammy tête-à-tête with Ryan Gosling in “Fracture,” being Richard Nixon). But if you look at his overall body of work, it’s clear Hopkins is kind of an anomaly, splitting the difference between the old-school theatrical training he had while learning to adapt to new screen conventions. Which makes his grumbling about mumbling even more puzzling. He had to learn to take it down a notch to continue a successful screen career; surely, he doesn’t expect the new generation of kids to start from where he started 40 years ago? Besides, his turn in the underrated “The World’s Fastest Indian” is as mumbly as it gets.

[Photos: “Hannibal,” MGM/UA, 2001; “Nixon,” Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1995.]

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

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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

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

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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.

Nowhere Men

Nowhere Men (photo)

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Remember that warm and fuzzy montage at the opening of “Love Actually,” where Heathrow Airport is the scene of dozens of reunions, with lovers, parents and children, siblings and old friends running into each other’s arms and sharing their affection for each other?

Those are not the friendly skies that Ryan Bingham travels in “Up in the Air”. For Bingham, portrayed brilliantly by George Clooney, airports, hotels and rent-a-car counters are his world, and it’s a world that allows him to avoid getting too close to anyone. Bingham’s business is firing people on behalf of managers who can’t face their own soon-to-be-axed employees, and business is booming. So while Bingham technically lives in a spartan apartment in Omaha, his real home is what novelist Walter Kirn called “Airworld” in his novel of the same name, upon which the film is based.

A seasoned pro at corporate travel, Bingham is a Zen master; the way he removes his laptop and shoes for airport security before briskly putting everything back in its place feels like a combination of choreography and time-efficiency training. There’s not an Admirals Club he can’t whisk his way into with the right card, nor a line at a Hilton or a Hertz he must endure. His motto? “The slower we go, the faster we die.” He’s got few possessions, fewer emotional entanglements, and his one goal in life is to reach ten million frequent flyer miles. So, naturally, Ryan Bingham is about to discover that he’s actually got a heart, in the process of getting it broken.

(more…)

Brie Larson Golden Globes red carpet

Golden Glory

Spirit Award Nominee Brie Larson Nabs Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Actress

Will Brie Larson win big at the 2016 Spirit Awards? Find out Feb. 27th starting at 5P ET/2P PT on IFC.

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Dee Cercone/Everett Collection

Not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau’s laughably bad The Room, Lenny Abrahamson’s similarly named film, Room, has fast become the talk of this awards season. And at last night’s Golden Globes ceremony, Room star and Comedy Bang! Bang! guest Brie Larson brought home her first Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama) for her breathtaking role in the acclaimed film.

Room tells the story of a woman and her son experiencing the outside world after being held captive for years. Of course, a role of that magnitude requires the acting chops to pull off something so unbelievably heart-wrenching. And given the universal praise and accolades the film has already received, there are sure to be more in Larson’s near future.

In fact, Larson is also nominated for Best Female Lead in the 2016 Spirit Awards. The actress is now the talk of social media, with even Scott Aukerman chiming in with kudos.

Tune in to IFC on Saturday, Feb. 27th at 5P ET/2P PT to see if Brie lands another acting award. In the meantime, here’s the full list of the 2016 nominees to see who the frontrunners are in other categories.

Best Feature
Anomalisa
Beasts of No Nation
Carol
Spotlight
Tangerine

Best Director
Sean Baker, Tangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

Best Screenplay
Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
James White
Manos Sucias
Mediterranea
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best First Screenplay
Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Jonas Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend

Best Male Lead
Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male
Kevin Corrigan, Results
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female
Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Documentary
(T)error
Best of Enemies
Heart of a Dog
The Look of Silence
Meru
The Russian Woodpecker

Best International Film
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Embrace of the Serpent
Girlhood
Mustang
Son of Saul

Best Cinematography
Beasts of No Nation
Carol
It Follows
Meadlowland
Songs My Brothers Taught Me

Best Editing
Heaven Knows What
It Follows
Manos Sucias
Room
Spotlight

John Cassavetes Award (Best Feature Under $500,000)
Advantageous
Christmas, Again
Heaven Knows What
Krisha
Out of My Hand

Robert Altman Award (Best Ensemble)
Spotlight
Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
Chloe Zhao
Felix Thompson
Robert Machoian & Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck

Piaget Producers Award
Darren Dean
Mel Eslyn
Rebecca Green and Laura D. Smith

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