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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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Home Run

Hank Azaria Gets Thrown A Curve Ball

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Unless you’ve somehow missed every episode of the Simpsons since 1989, then surely you know that Hank Azaria is one of the most important character actors of our time. He’s so prolific and his voice is so dynamic that he’s responsible for more iconic personalities than most folks realize. Basically, he’s the great and powerful Oz — except that when you pull back the curtain the truth is actually more impressive. And now Hank is coming to IFC to bring yet another character to the TV pop culture hive mind in the new series Brockmire. Check out the trailer below.

Based on the following Funny or Die short and co-starring Amanda Peet, Brockmire follows the story of imploded major league sportscaster Jim Brockmire as he tries to resurrect his career by calling plays for a floundering minor league team in a podunk town.

The series is written by Joel Church-Cooper (Undateable) and produced by Funny or Die’s Mike Farah and Joe Farrell, meaning that there’s funny in front of the camera, funny behind the camera–funny all around. Sounds like a ball to us.

Brockmire premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia On People Who Can’t Park

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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If flagrant bad parking takes nerve, then retaliatory note writing takes neuroses. Watch Fred and Carrie take passive aggression to next level in Car Notes, the new Portlandia web series presented by Subaru. The first episode is yours right here and now, and you can see every installment of Car Notes anytime online, on the IFC app and on demand.

Portlandia returns tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Nick Kroll and John Mulaney To Host Spirit Awards

The Spirit Awards Air February 25 LIVE on IFC.

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The 2017 Spirit Awards have finally found their frontmen: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. And it’s no wonder. Just marvel in their splendid chemistry back when they appeared on Comedy Bang! Bang!:

The pair are prolific within the performing arts community: television (Kroll in The League and The Kroll Show, Mulaney as a writer of IFC’s own Documentary Now!), theater (including Broadway’s current Oh Hello Show), and stand-up comedy. In fact, it’s entirely possible that emceeing an awards show is one of the few remaining line items on their professional bucket lists.

It’s important to caveat this announcement, however. Unlike the bigger and more ubiquitously known awards shows, the Spirit Awards are not, well…boring. (We’re talking to you, Oscar.)

They’re funny. They’re honest. They have quality to match the red-carpet fanfare. And that’s alarmingly special. Last year’s show included some legitimately historic moments, like when transgender actress Mya Taylor won best supporting female, or Kate McKinnon’s hilarious and timely parody of Carol. See more highlights here to get the flavor of the Spirit Awards and read all about Film Independent to dig deeper.

The 2017 Spirit Awards air live February 25 at 5P ET exclusively on IFC.

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