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The top 10 coolest supercomputers in movies (with video)

The architect from "The Matrix"

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Computers are smarter than us, so don’t go messing around with them or telling them to open the pod bay doors. Here are some mighty machines from sci-fi movies that have forced us to examine our own humanity — and whether it’s such a good idea to be advancing technology so damn quickly.


Alpha 60 in “Alphaville” (1965)

Jean-Luc Godard’s hipper-than-thou New Wave sci-fi film has been nothing if not influential to other cool auteurs over the years with its tale of a faraway planet whose central city (that looks exactly like 1965 Paris) is ruled by the evil Professor von Braun (Howard Vernon), whose creation, Alpha 60, is a sentient computer (with a really creepy voice) that outlaws free thought and emotion, replacing them with dehumanizing and often contradictory concepts that keep everyone confused. . . and obedient. The interrogation scene between secret agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) and Alpha 60 features the super-computer at its most sinister — even though, like every other scene in “Alphaville,” you get the vague impression that we’re not supposed to be taking any of this seriously.


Hal-9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Never send a super-computer to do a man’s job, as “protocol” always gets in the way of improvising when the initial plan suddenly needs reevaluation. As much as HAL fills the “villain” role of this sci-fi masterpiece as the champion of the mission over the welfare of the crew, director Stanley Kubrick gives this smart machine a heavy dose of humanity when he dies a painfully slow death (as astronaut Dave Bowman shuts him down through a series of agonizingly long processes); indeed, HAL, like any self-aware being, is ultimately afraid to die — he even tries to comfort himself as he sings himself the lullaby of “Daisy Bell.” HAL was reactivated for the sequel, “2010: The Year We Make Contact” — and, for the most part, behaved himself.


Bomb 20 in “Dark Star” (1974)

Take “2001: A Space Odyssey” mixed with Ray Bradbury’s short story, “Kaleidoscope,” throw in what was probably a hell of a lot of hashish and filter it through the minds of two film students named Dan O’Bannon and John Carpenter and you’ve got “Dark Star,” the “spaced-out odyssey for the Strangelove Generation.” The crew of the Dark Star is on a mission to destroy “unstable planets” that might threaten the colonization of the entire universe, an endeavor for which they’re armed with artificially intelligent “Thermostellar Triggering Devices” — or, simply, “Bombs.” Unfortunately, with artificial intelligence also comes the capacity for Cartesian doubt (the process of doubting the truth of one’s beliefs), which leads to. . . well, watch the clip and see. We think we’ll miss the beachball alien the most.


Master Control Program in “TRON” (1982)

Disney’s other gonzo sci-fi film from the late ’70s and early ’80s isn’t as bizarrely misguided as its truly insane predecessor, The Black Hole, but that doesn’t mean it actually makes much sense itself. It doesn’t really matter, though — “TRON” is nothing if not pretty with its glowing lights and neon haze, and the special effects somehow look almost (almost) as impressive today as they did back in 1982. Well, maybe the villainous Master Control Program could use an upgrade (its lips — so mesmerizing!), but the commanding and intimidating voice of David Warner keeps any and all potential snickering in check. Good ol’ MCP was sorely missed in “TRON: Legacy,” though a new rather disconcerting sight was provided by Jeff Bridges as he was put through the CGI fountain of youth to portray both a young Kevin Flynn and his evil Grid alter ego, CLU (Codified Likeness Utility). Ugh.


Joshua in “WarGames” (1983)

That’s right, Joshua, nobody wins in nuclear war, so the only option is to not play the game at all! One of the better ’80s films to cash in on the video game/home computer craze (and definitely one of the darkest), “WarGames” follows young David Lightman (Matthew Broderick, three years before becoming Ferris Bueller), a teenage hacker who unwittingly accesses a military supercomputer programmed to predict possible outcomes of nuclear war. . . and nearly starts World War III as he innocently starts playing what he thinks is a cooler version of Pong. This clip features the third act climax, where Joshua talks itself out of blowing up the planet — you have to admit, that’s a sound and light show worthy of a Pink Floyd concert.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

The best hockey fights in movie history

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“Goon” skates its way into theaters this weekend, featuring Sean William Scott as a former bouncer who punches his way to glory on a minor league hockey team.

From bloody brawls to surreal skirmishes played for laughs, hockey fights have a habit of breaking out in every film with a stick and a puck. Over the years, there’s been quite a few movies to feature memorable feats of hockey-related pugilism — both on and off the ice.

So with that in mind, here are some of the best hockey fights in movie history.


“Canadian Bacon” (1995)

In this 1995 film written and directed by Michael Moore, John Candy plays a hockey-loving sheriff who kicks off a war between the U.S. and Canada when he insults Canadian beer. The massive brawl that results from his comment features American and Canadian hockey players — and fans — trading punches on the ice and in the stands.


“Clerks” (1994)

Sure, the hockey fight from Kevin Smith’s debut film didn’t happen on the ice, but there’s something to be said for a brawl that erupts in a rooftop game of hockey. Let’s face it: if Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) knew what awaited him when he agreed to come into work on that particular morning, he never would’ve left his bed.


“D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994)

While the family-friendly Disney film “The Mighty Ducks” introduced the world to Gordon Bombay’s hard-luck team of hockey kids, it was the 1994 sequel that gave the world the “Bash Brothers,” Fulton Reed (Elden Henson) and Dean Portman (Aaron Lohr). The two-man team provided the muscle for teenage Team USA, and offered a toned-down take on hockey goons that had the competition shaking in their skates.


“Happy Gilmore” (1996)

We all know that Adam Sandler’s title character in this 1996 film was an aspiring hockey player who found success on the professional golf circuit, but it was a brawl on the ice that ended his puck-handling dreams. In the beginning of the movie, we see Happy lay the smack down on both the coach who denied him a spot on the team, and quite a few of the players who jump in, too.


“The Rocket” (2005)

This 2005 film tells the story of Canadian hockey legend Maurice “The Rocket” Richard (played by Roy Dupuis) and his rise to fame in the National Hockey League. Along with showing his struggles off the ice in adapting to the league, the film also features more than a few memorable fights on the ice — including a climactic confrontation with New York Rangers enforcer Bob Dill, who’s played by real-life hockey bruiser Sean Avery.

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The 10 best “Snobs vs Slobs” comedies

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By Andy Hunsaker

It’s the great comedy dynamic – groups of uptight, hoity-toity, nose-in-the-air snobs against groups of down-to-earth, slovenly fun-seeking slobs. The haughty vs. the naughty is a genre unto itself. It had its heyday in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, but it’s hardly a dead notion, since all the kids who grew up on those movies are out there making movies today. We’re not quite talking about “The Odd Couple”, with one neat guy living with one messy guy, but rather marauding hordes, or at least trios and quartets of rabble-rousing malcontents making life difficult for prim and proper types and good-looking bullies – although we’ll leave “Major League” and “The Bad News Bears” to sports movie lists. So let’s take a look at 10 of them, in chronological order, so you can then start angrily commenting about which ones I should’ve included instead.


“A Night at the Opera” (1935)

The Marx Brothers made a career out of being crazy weirdos who spent their time infiltrating high society in order to make a mockery of it, and that’s well on display in this 1935 film as they finagle their way into the opera world. Their contemporaries The Three Stooges also made a lot of hay out of this dynamic (see their short Hoi Polloi) and, if you want to get completely meta about it, The Marx Brothers vs. The Three Stooges will get you a lot of snobs vs. slobs arguments – at least among the film critic set.


“M*A*S*H*” (1970)

Robert Altman’s 1970 film about a group of pathologically insubordinate army surgeons – Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland), Trapper John (Elliot Gould) and Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt) – constantly aggravating the proper sensibilities of Majors Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and Major “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) during the Korean (read: Vietnam) War is a quintessential piece of work which spawned 11 years of television hijinks of the same nature from Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers and Mike Farrell.


3. “Animal House”

Let’s be honest: John Landis’ 1978 college comedy is the first thing that pops to everyone’s mind when the idea of snobs vs. slobs comes up, since it had hordes of copycats. Dean Wormer (John Vernon) and his “double secret probation” against the men of Delta Tau Chi house and his recruitment of the nefarious Omegas to help his crusade to expel them all prompts a battle of wills between the academic establishment of “College” and Bluto (John Belushi), Otter (Tim Matheson), Flounder (Stephen Furst), Pinto (Tom Hulce) and the rest of the gang. Food fights, vomit and parade vandalism ensue and legends are born.


“Meatballs” (1979)

If you’ve got snobs giving you trouble, you want Bill Murray on your side, and that’s the fact, jack. In this 1979 Ivan Reitman flick, he’s Tripper Harrison, head counselor at slapdash Camp North Star, and their rivalry with the rich folk over at Camp Mohawk – who constantly beat them in every athletic competition – leads to one of the most inspiring comedy speeches of all time and a nutty amount of cheating to get one over on them.


“Caddyshack” (1980)

There’s no better target for snob-mockery than the world of country club golf, and there’s no better slob for taking the piss out of uptight upper-crusters like Judge Smails (Ted Knight) than Rodney Dangerfield. Bill Murray gets a lot of attention for what he’s got goin’ for him in this 1980 Harold Ramis comedy, but when Dangerfield’s Al Czervik comes to the Bushwood Club as nouveau riche without a care or a manner in the world and planning to buy the whole place, the resulting showdown on the links eventually degenerates to glorious Kenny Loggins madness.

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