Author

Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • The Most Important Takeaway from Last Night's 'Girls'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 17, 2014
    HBO We don't want to be reductive here — we think the Hannah/Adam rise and fall is interesting, the Jessa relapse is emotional, and the desperation exhibited by both parties in the Marnie/Ray relationship is exemplary. But the greatest takeaway from this week's episode of Girls, and perhaps the season overall? Adam's British accent. True, this was not the first time this year that we heard Adam try his hand at a Londian affect in preparation for his role in a Broadway production of George Bernard Shaw's play Major Barbara. But it was the first time we were treated to Adam's go at an energetic h-dropping salutation: "'ello!" he exclaimed midway through the episode, upon hearing a rapping at the chamber door of his mate Ray's flat. Or something. Up until now, we thought we had Adam's vocal range pegged: vaguely Midwestern and '60s-era outer space cowboy musician. But his Shaw storyline has thrown us for a loop. Now all we want from Adam Driver (as opposed to Adam Sackler) is a series of British roles. A Shakespeare AdaptationPreferably a comedy, since Driver's knack for the accent is wholly hilarious. A Guy Ritchie Crime ThrillerBefore he was tarnishing Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie was making passable action-filled, comedic crime movies, like Snatch. Driver as a British street tough would be enchanting. A Ricky Gervais SitcomAlthough Driver's accent is a bit more heightened and hyperbolic than Gervais' naturalistic style, the earnest twentysomething could play well against the oft smarmy Gervais. A Mary Poppins RemakeSaving Mr. Banks proves that Disney is, to this day, infinitely proud of its bastardization of P.L. Travers' children's book. So why not give it another go, this time with Driver taking on Dick Van Dyke's all-smiles bastardization of the Cockney speak? A Wallace & Gromit ShortThere's the winner. But of course we shouldn't distract from Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, or Ray — each worked with particularly interesting material this week. Hannah quit her job in a, once again, Patti LuPone-inspired huff. Jessa got a job as the assistant to photography maven Mary Hartman2, one that could have been Marnie's were she not too vain and self-doubting to dare present herself in the confrontational light that the gifted artist wanted in her second-in-command. Marnie continued to exhibit her insecurities when she vied for the romantic affections of Desi, continuing to understand herself to be of value only when boys want to sleep with her. So she slept with Ray, who, like her, is just fragile and desperate enough to fall into the arms of the sort of person he considers "beneath" him. It's a wonderful relationship these two have brewing... especially now that Hannah knows about it (yes, she walked in on them, without regard, in the final moments of the episode). All that is well and good. But Adam's accent is weller and better. Pip pip. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • 'How I Met Your Mother' Might Be Suffering the 'True Detective' Problem
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 11, 2014
    CBS With the biggest mystery of How I Met Your Mother solved, we've taken the past couple of months to move onto new ones: Will Barney and Robin actually get married? Will the Mother die at the end of the series? Will Billy Zabka ever find happiness? And the somewhat overlooked question that we revisit in this week's episode — who did Lily call after that big fight with Marshall? That last one ties into the larger query of whether or not the Eriksen-Aldrins would be relocating to Italy post-series. Last we left the argument, Lily conceded that the family should stay in the U.S., but this week's turn changed gears for the couple. In a love letter of sorts to How I Met Your Mother fans, Ted dons his sleuth cap to determine who Lily called when she drove off into the night, where she went, and what she did while there. Surprisingly enough, he's pretty close. In lieu of meeting Robin's mother, Barney high tails his groomsmen (where the hell is his brother, by the way?) to the Captain's Northampton house after Marshall concludes that he must be the one who Lily phoned. That's where the hypothesizing takes place, with Ted drawing elaborate conclusions from minuscule clues to determine the true nature of Lily's secret... well, the false nature (he thought she was hiding the fact that she'd been smoking), but it did lead to the true nature (spoilers!): she's pregnant. This reveal, plus a good swift kick in the ass from his conscience, leads Marshall to decide that the family should in fact move to Italy. And, as far as we learn from a flash forward, they do. All of them — Marshall, Lily, Marvin, Marshall's mom, Lily's dad, and their new baby daughter Daisy. Beyond just being a moreover fun episode, the aptly named "Daisy" is in a way Carter Bays and Craig Thomas breathing life into the mile-a-minute voices of their longtime fans. How I Met Your Mother audiences are full of theories on every element of the show... something it provokes and abets with its hints, misdirects, call-backs (and -forwards), and various other teases. Even telling us who the Mother is (Cristin Milioti, in case you forgot) didn't appease viewers; we've come up with plenty of other things to wonder about this year alone. But as we saw with Sunday night's True Detective finale, questions aren't always answered in the way that audiences might want or anticipate. Not everything is about the mystery. So we worry that after nine years, HIMYM might come to a close that leaves viewers feeling incomplete. Right now, we're obsessing over questions like those above, perhaps at the expense of the emotional (and humorous) core of the show, as was the case with many a True Detective viewer. In the end, that show was bout Rustin Cohle and Marty Hart — two troubled men who needed one another more than they could have anticipated. This show is about plenty in that vein, but we seem to be forgetting that. We know, we're guilty of this too. But let's not make the same mistake as we might have with True Detective. Let's step away from all these harrowing questions and hold tight to the characters. We might feel duped or misled or underwhelmed by any of the How I Met Your Mother finale's "reveals," but we can bet that Bays and Thomas have something heartfelt and substantial in store for the conclusion of Ted's journey. And hopefully happy! Milioti did say that the death-of-the-Mother theory was "crazy," after all, so there's hope. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • 'Girls' Recap: Setting Hannah, Adam, and Jessa Up for the Home Stretch
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 10, 2014
    HBO We have two episodes left to go in this season of Girls, which means everyone's story is beginning to wind down to a conclusive point. This week solidifies the immediate future for Hannah and Adam (and not in a particularly promising way), and tosses Jessa a little bit closer to rock bottom. The Hannah and Adam Story Two weeks back, we compared the Hannah-Adam arc of Season 3 to the romantic story of Spike Jonze's Her. Not a particularly insightful analogy, since Her is as all-encompassing as a movie about love and relationships can get, but our predictions are validated with the ultimate conclusion of the latest episode, "Role Play." Hannah goes out drinking (excessively) with work friends, returning up the next morning to the shock that Adam was too enveloped by his play to even worry about what might have happened to her. All this plus a dismissive morning attitude and his apparent embarrassment when she showed up to watch his rehearsal equates to Hannah deciding to try and "spice things up" between them, instituting an elaborate role play scenario in which she gets back into touch with the dark patterns a Hannah and Adam of yore used to enjoy. But things run afoul when Adam is offended and put off by the attempt, perhaps using the ordeal as a vehicle to access feelings he seems to have been entertaining for a while: he wants out. At least temporarily. As such, validating not just our predictions but Hannah's worries from earlier this season, Adam says he needs time apart from her to devote himself to his art, opting to stay with Ray (Ray! That means he'll be back!) for a while. We don't expect Hannah and Adam to make it to the end of the season, partially because of this new turn and partially because every season premiere sees her waking in bed with a different partner (first Marnie, then Elijah, then Adam... who's next?). The Jessa Situation (with a bit of Shoshanna sprinkled in) Jessa has not come very far from where we found her at the beginning of this season — although she cleaned up for a while, she never fully embraced the problematic nature of her addiction and her approach to life in general. This week, the unlikely voice of reason that Shoshanna has become confronts Jessa and Jasper (Richard E. Grant) by surprising the two with a visit from the latter's daughter Dot (an allergenic Felicity Jones). Jasper all but breaks down, at first resisting his daughter's pleas for affection but gradually coming to her (and his own) defense when Jessa accosts the both of them. The conclusion of the union sees Jessa without even the man who fostered her voyage back into drugs, with her substance abuse presenting itself as less of a problem than her addiction to pushing people away. And while we leave Jessa in a dark place at the end of the episode, it is perhaps the depths to which she needed to fall in order to climb back up. She finally accepts her aloneness — she has to — now that even her cousin, who once idolized her above all else, has seen her for her ugliness. The Black Hole of Marnie I'm a member of the very sparse Marnie camp, but her turn this week seems particularly void of interest. She might become Soojin's (Greta Lee) assistant at an art gallery, despite her feelings that such work is demeaning? More importantly, Marnie is clearly harboring feelings for Adam's pal and fellow actor, the spirit walker Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), but only as such that she really wants him to be attracted to her, as Marnie has identified herself as of value only when she is attracting men. Desi obviously cares for Marnie in his encouragement of her song-writing and creativity, but he is devoted to his girlfriend. Sadly, she takes this as a rejection and spirals deeper into her pit of despair. So there we are. Everyone feeling happy? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Hand-Picked Flix: Watch 'Battle Royale' for Your Saturday Night Fever
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 08, 2014
    Anchor Bay via Everett Collection It's Saturday night. The game is on. The town is yours. You're ready to go. But you need a little cinematic pep-talk. A movie that'll get your adrenaline rushing top speed. Something with action, adventure, excitement... hell, maybe even something fantastical every so often. This week, our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Saturday Night Fever is Battle Royale. It says a lot when a movie's title becomes a permanent fixture in the international lexicon. The 2000 Japanese action movie Battle Royale is an unmistakably influential piece of cinema, predating America's fight-to-the-death franchise The Hunger Games by more than a decade. The movie, itself adapted from a 1999 novel, centers on a junior high school student who is thrust into a lethal competition with his classmates at the whim of the government. Making everything in American cinema look tame by comparison, Battle Royale is not only brutal but skillfully delivered, with dazzling aesthetics, fun characters, and the emotional throughline of the hero's journey to overcome the death of his father. There are few films as capable of kicking up your pulse, and even fewer that can do so and still maintain an artistic air. You can watch Battle Royale on Netflix, and check back tomorrow for our Lazy Sunday pick. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman' Is Somewhat Sloppy, But with Heart, a Message, and So Many Puns
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 07, 2014
    DreamWorks For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material. For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue. Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing. DreamWorks But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns. Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe. The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling. But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now. If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns. 3/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Is Flawless — Funny, Touching, Shocking, and Truly Adventurous
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 07, 2014
    Fox Searchlight You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some. While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies. Fox Searchlight Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul. The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either. 5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: I Have Nothing Good to Say About '300: Rise of an Empire,' So Turn Back Now
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 06, 2014
    Legendary Pictures Gun to my head, I might be able to say something positive about 300: Rise of an Empire. In a vacuum, I suppose I'd call its aesthetic appealing, its production value impressive, or its giant rhinos kind of cool. But these elements cannot be taken alone, embroidered on a gigantic patch of joyless pain that infests your conscious mind from its inceptive moments on. It's not so much that the 300 sequel fails at its desired conceit — it gives you exactly what it promises: gore, swordplay, angry sex, halfwit maxims about honor and manliness and the love of the fight. It's simply that its desired conceit is dehumanizing agony. Holding too hard and too long to its mission statement to top its Zack Snyder-helmed predecessor in scope, scale, and spilled pints of blood, Noam Murro's Rise of an Empire doesn't put any energy into filtering its spectacular mayhem through whatever semblance of a humanistic touch made the first one feel like a comprehensive movie. Legendary Pictures Now, it's been a good eight years since I've seen 300, and I can't say that I was particularly fond of it. But beneath its own eye-widening layer of violence, there was a tangible idea of who King Leonidas was, what this war meant, and why Sparta mattered. No matter how much clumsy exposition is hurled our way, all we really know here is that there are two sides and they hate each other. When Rise of an Empire asks us to engage on a more intimate level, which it does — the personal warfare between Sullivan Stapleton (whose name, I guess, is Themistokles) and Bad Guy Captain Eva Green (a.k.a. Artemisia) is founded on the idea that she likes him, and he kind of digs her (re: angry sex), and they want to rule together, but a rose by any other name and all that — we're effectively lost. With characters who don't matter in the slightest, material like this is just filler between the practically striking battle sequences. Legendary Pictures But when the "in-between material" is as meaningless as it is in Rise of an Empire, the battles can't function as much more than filler themselves. Filler between the opening titles and closing credits. A game of Candy Crush you play on the subway. Contemptfully insubstantial and not particularly fun, but taking place nonetheless. The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. Without even a remote layer of camp — too palpably absent as Rise of an Empire splashes its screen with so much human fluid that "The End" by The Doors will start to play in your head — there's no victory in a movie like this. No characters to latch onto, no story to follow, no joy to be derived. Yes, it might be aesthetically stunning (and really, that's where the one star comes in... well, half a star for that and half for the giant rhinos), but the marvel of its look shrinks under the shadow of the painful vacancy of anything tolerable. 1/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • All the Awkward Shots of Mark Wahlberg's Gigantic Arms in 'Transformers 4' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 05, 2014
    There is one thing that really sticks out in the new trailer for Transformers: Age of Extinction — not the robots, not the Texas, not the Tucci. It's the arms. Mark Wahlberg's hulking limbs, clumsily on display in the vast majority of the video's runtime. Unbound by fabric, Wahlberg's arms play central protagonist in Michael Bay's latest teaser, showcasing an unprecedented range of joy, frustration, and pushing as Bay's camera awkwardly slips them into every other frame. It seems we have finally met this Transformers movie's true hero. Take a look — The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. In case you missed a few, here's a quick rundown of all the awkward arm shots: We first meet our main character, Wahlberg's Arms, at about :19, thrusting himself toward a clear Texas sky as his veins course with an optimistic vigor. Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Just a few seconds later (:25), Wahlberg's Arms sets to work, employing the only element as powerful as they — fire — to uncover the mystery of something far less visually stimulating than a flexed appendage. Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube "Now wait just a minute!" cries Wahlberg's Arms at :33, fastening their face-bases at the hips of the braindead organism they use as transport, and taking issue with whatever is going on at the other side of this room. Was it something to do with that truck? Can we just take a peek? No, no, stay focused on the biceps. Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Finally, Arms sees some action! At :39, W.A.'s chief adversary — a heavy door — makes its first appearance, setting off what could be Bay's most exciting combat sequence yet! Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Hey, what's that pesky metal bar doing getting in the way of Wahlberg's Arms at :47? Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Oh, thank God. (:51) Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Bay knew that sacrificing the aesthetic of a clear background would be a risky move for Transformers 4, but it proves successful when Wahlberg's Arms takes center stage at :59, hanging low and stiff in a yet unseen dramatic turn for the actor. Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Wahlberg's Arms exhibits his most impressive feat yet at 1:48, taking on a sleeved look for a darker, more cerebral performance. You hear it here first: mark 2014 as the Armaissance. Transformers: Age of Extinction/YouTube Have a great day, everyone. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Hand-Picked Flix: Watch 'Cutie and the Boxer' for Your Docu-Wednesday
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 05, 2014
    Everett Collection It's the middle of the week, and your brain has all but lost its functional juices. You need an intellectual jump — a compelling lesson in history, science, or art, but without entailing that troublesome task of reading. What you need is a documentary. This week, our Netflix Hand-Picked Flix recommendation for Docu-Wednesdays is Cutie and the Boxer. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards, Cutie and the Boxer is a personal look at art and marriage, and how the two are often at odds with one another. We meet octogenarian experimental painter Ushio Shinohara, who has devoted his life to his work at the expense of financial stability and, more focally, his wife Noriko's passions. An artist as well, the much younger Noriko has sacrificed her own drive in an effort to play the supportive figure to Ushio, although we get a glimpse into her imagination via Cutie and the Boxer. Intercut with animated segments created by Noriko, the film is as emotional as it is cerebrally inspiring, cutting to the core of the struggles entailed by devotion to one's art and devotion to another human being. You can watch the movie on Netflix, and check back tomorrow for our Throwback Thursday recommendation. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Will Forte Tells Us His Favorite Scene in Movie History
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 04, 2014
    Paramount via Everett Collection Most folks would sooner call Will Forte "the guy from MacGruber" than they would "the guy from Nebraska." Although his comedic chops as the Saturday Night Live action hero are awe-inspiring, Forte's work in Alexander Payne's Oscar nominated father-son story shows off a special talent for the dramatic. According to Forte, there's not a great deal of difference between the two kinds of acting — in chatting about the Blu-ray release of Nebraska (which you can purchase now), Forte blurred the lines of comedic and dramatic performance and clued us into his favorite scene in movie history. I think a lot about when I first heard you were going to be in Nebraska. When a comedic actor takes a dramatic role, people always ask, "Are they moving to drama?" as if it's a diametric shift. But I was wondering, since you balance comedy and drama in this movie, if you think that the different types of acting coexist, or if you do view them as separate?Well, coming into the process, I was nervous because I looked at them as two very separate things. After going through it, I realized there are a lot more similarities than I thought. In fact, at the end I just realized, "Oh my god, it's the exact same thing!" Bruce Dern would always say during this process — he would give me this advice, because I was really intimidated and nervous in the beginning — he'd say, "Don't worry. Relax. Just listen and find the truth of the scene. Listen and be in the moment." At first, I thought it was all just drama school mumbo jumbo, but then it really, really started to make sense the further we got in. I just realized that it was exactly right. If you're really listening and trying to be real in every moment… that's all anything is. That's all you're doing in comedy, too. The situations may be a little more absurd, but you're still just trying to find whatever the truth is in that scene and then commit to it a hundred percent. And lock in. After a while, it was like I was inside the Matrix. [Laughs] I'm not fully there yet! I have a ton of work to do, by the way. I think you're known best for your deadpan style. Do you think specifically being a deadpan comedian lent to this kind of role in a movie that balances comedy and drama so adeptly?That's so funny you say that — and I'm happy to hear you say that! Because I remember when I was first starting at the Groundlings, I loved doing deadpan stuff. But then the further I went through, I would think a lot of people would think of me as this loud, obnoxious person who does crazy, crazy stuff. So I love to hear that you think of me as deadpan, because that's something I've always loved doing. And absolutely. I think the best way to answer that — and I don't know if it's an answer at all — when I was starting out in comedy at the Groundlings, everyone would write and act in their own stuff. So you would write your stuff on your own, you would be the crazy person, and you'd have your friend as the straight man for you. And then you would do them that favor in their stuff. I guess had some experience being the straight man from that. And you know, you learn little bits along the way as you're going. I've learned so much through Saturday Night Live. You're doing so many different sketches each week that you're really getting some kind of training in all this without even knowing it. It was so much fun to get a chance to do a role like this. I would always think, "God, I wonder if I could ever do something like that," when I was watching a more dramatic movie. But I never thought I'd get a chance to see if I could. So this was such a wonderful, rewarding experience for so many different reasons. But it was also fun to have this challenge to see if I could do something like this. Paramount via Everett Collection Thinking about this movie, and Bruce Dern's Oscar nomination, he’s obviously the showy role. When a lot of people think of the best roles in cinema, they think of Raging Bull and Streetcar Named Desire. I think that's the kind of role that Bruce Dern is doing here. But I think there is something so mathematical about what you're doing in this movie — takes that you do, the way you look at Bruce when he says something heartbreaking. I was wondering if you had a specific reverence for downplayed dramatic performances, and if there are any particular ones that you hold close to your heart?Oh man. That is such a tough question. One thing I will say … getting to watch Bruce deliver this performance with my own two eyes is something I will never forget. It felt so special while we were making this — his performance — and then when I got to see it on the big screen for the first time after Alexander had finished putting it all together, it was every bit as special as I remembered. What a gift to be able to able to experience that from that proximity. As for appreciating [downplayed roles]… Man, it's the old thing where you — well, record stores don't really exist anymore — but I'd go into a record store, and for months and months I'd think about all these records that I'd be wanting to get, and then you find yourself in the record store and you can't remember a single one. So you just invited me into the record store and I can't think of the records I want to get. What are your favorites and I'll tell you if I like them! I always think of Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer. He goes a little nuts, but he's a little bit more tempered than those other characters.Oh yeah! Wow. Yes. I remember seeing that movie in the theaters with my parents. My God, was that '78, '79, something like that? Yeah, '79.God, yes. Well, anything he does is amazing. I don't know if this even qualifies, but my favorite scene of any movie of all time is the scene in Dr. Strangelove when Peter Sellers is calling Dmitri — right? It's Dmitri, right? — Peter Sellers is the President of the United States calling him to apologize for having all the bombs sent over. Yes! "It's great to be fine."I know that's not the answer to your question, but that's all I could think of. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //