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Robert De Niro and John Travolta will star together in “Killing Season”

Robert De Niro and John Travolta will star together in “Killing Season” (photo)

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Way back in 1977, while watching John Travolta swagger and dance his way through “Saturday Night Fever” there was only one thing on Americans’ minds: How long will it take to get the Disco king to share a screen with Robert De Niro, the darkly charismatic star of the previous year’s “Taxi Driver”? The answer was about 33 years.

Slash Film
is reporting that the two veteran actors will be teaming up for the action flick “Killing Season.” The movie will be directed by Mark Steven Johnson, who previously helmed the Marvel Comics’ adaptations of “Daredevil” and the first “Ghost Rider.”

With a script by “Snow White and the Huntsman’s” Evan Daugherty, “Killing Season” will see De Niro play a veteran military man who squares off against a former Serbian soldier played by Travolta deep in the Appalachian Mountains. A press release from Millennium Films describes the film as “a tense, action packed battle across some of America’s most forbidding landscape” while referencing that old adage, “the purest form of war is one-on-one.”

Are you excited to see De Niro and Travolta face off as two killer elites? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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

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

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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

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)

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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

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

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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.

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.

Sean Penn to direct Robert De Niro and Kristin Wiig in “The Comedian”

Sean Penn to direct Robert De Niro and Kristin Wiig in “The Comedian” (photo)

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Marking his first directorial effort since 2007’s “Into the Wild,” Sean Penn has officially come on board to direct the drama “The Comedian.” He had tapped some interesting talent to play his leads: Robert De Niro and Kristin Wiig. The unlikely duo will play an aging comedian and the woman he falls in love with.

The script, written by Art Linson with comedian Jeffrey Ross assisting, has been circling around Hollywood for a while now. Originally Martin Scorsese was rumored to be helming the project with De Niro as the titular comedian, but Penn started negotiations to direct the movie earlier in the summer. Now The Hollywood Reporter confirms that he is officially directing the flick, with plans to start shooting in the spring.

“The Comedian” follows an aging insult comic who one played a beloved television character but now sees his career stalling out. During one stand-up set, he hits an audience member in the head with a microphone and gets sentenced to doing community service as punishment. It’s there that he meets a “dazzling redhead who turns his life sideways,” according to THR.

Though the movie will likely contain elements of comedy, it will be interesting to see Wiig in her first truly dramatic roles. Both “Bridesmaids” and “Whip It!” were dramatic to a certain extent, but Wiig still leaned upon her comic training for those performances. Still, I don’t doubt that she has the chops to face off against De Niro on the big screen, and it is nice to see her given a chance to show off her range.

Do you think that De Niro and Wiig make an interesting pair? Are you glad to see Penn behind the camera again? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

“Killer Elite,” reviewed

“Killer Elite,” reviewed (photo)

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You’ve heard people boast they could beat someone up with one hand tied behind their back before. In “Killer Elite,” Jason Statham beats two guys up with both of his hands tied behind his back, while the rest of him is tied to a chair. That’s a picture of the scene above. Look at that. Jason Statham, tied to a chair, beats the crap out of a guy who is not tied to a chair. That is awesome. He is awesome. And “Killer Elite” is awesome enough, in scenes like that, that it doesn’t really matter that it’s insanely, pointlessly complicated. Jason Statham beats up two dudes while he’s tied to a chair. That is satisfaction.

Actually, there’s more to like about this movie than the single coolest fight scene of the year. One of two men the chairbound Statham is tussling with is Clive Owen, who brings a lot of intensity to the role of Statham’s primary antagonist in the film. Every scene these two share together — and there aren’t many, unfortunately — crackle with antagonistic energy. They just look like they genuinely hate each other in a way that goes beyond the animosity between characters who, as we’ll get to, don’t really have a lot to fight over. It’s like these two guys were up for the same part in something, and one got it and the other didn’t, and they never let it go, and now years later they finally worked it out onscreen. Statham and Owen were born to beat the shit out of each other. They should be in ten more movies together where they fight whilst attached to various types of furniture.

The third member of this impressive cast is Robert De Niro, and it is he who sets this whole narrative contraption into motion. He plays Hunter (First name? Last name? PSN login?), former partner of Statham’s special agent Danny Bryce. After a hit gone bad, Danny officially retires. He’s pulled back into things when Hunter is kidnapped by an Omani sheik. To save his friend, Danny must kill the men of Britain’s Special Air Service who killed the sheik’s sons. But doing so brings Danny and his crew to the attention of a shadowy organization of British elites named “The Feather Men.” The Feather Men, all former SAS veterans themselves, want to protect their own, and send Owen’s Spike (First name? Last name? Cable television channel product integration?) to kill Danny.

These Feather Men are a hoot. They hold secret meetings in their clubhouse on the set of the movie “Clue” where they do absolutely nothing except explain who the Feather Men are for the benefit of the audience. “That’s why we’re called The Feather Men,” one proclaims to Spike. “Because our touch,” pause for dramatic effect, “is light!” That’s ridiculous! Not only is the line itself ridiculous, the sheer existence of any line in that situation is ridiculous. Why is he describing who the Feather Men are to a group of Feather Men? Shouldn’t they be fairly familiar with the concept of the organization since they are the only people in it? I’m still laughing at that line, and I saw this movie two weeks ago.

The oil sheik, the Feather Men, the forced allusions to the modern war on terror (the film is set about thirty years ago), they’re all needless distractions from the main event: Statham (and occasionally De Niro) kicking ass on Owen and company. You know how I know they’re needless distractions? Because none of them appear for even a frame in the trailer for “Killer Elite” and it all still makes perfect sense without them. Actually, the movie might make even more sense without them; the various factions and backstories and allegiances all become a wee big complicated for a film that’s ultimately about Jason Statham chairfighting guys.

Still, the good stuff is good enough to recommend the film. Statham delivers yet another satisfyingly ferocious performance, and his athleticism and physicality in the fight scenes remain amongt the best of his generation. Director Gary McKendry is clearly from the Paul Greengrass school of chaos cinema but he keeps things coherent enough to follow what’s going on. A lot of that has to do with Statham who, of course, can do many of the stunts himself, requiring less cutaways and editing. You should see him in that scene with the chair, man. It’s an instant classic.

“KIller Elite” opens Friday. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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