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.
  • Review: 'Noah' Is Bonkers and Bizarre in All the Right Ways
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 28, 2014
    Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Here's a feat: taking what is likely the oldest, most well-known story in the world, and making a retelling feel inventive. Over the course of its two-and-a-half-hour runtime, Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes many forms — Tolkien-esque fantasy, trippy psychological thriller, merciless dissection of the dark points of abject faith — never feeling too rigidly confined to the parameters of the familiar tale that we've all experienced in the form of bedtime stories, religious education lessons, and vegetable-laden cartoons. As many forms as the parable has taken over the past few thousand years, Aronofsky manages to find a few new takes. The director's thumbprint is branded boldly on Russell Crowe's Noah, a man who begins his journey as a simple pawn of God and evolves into a dimensional human as tortured as Natalie Portman's ballerina or Jared Leto's smack head. Noah's obsession and crisis: his faith. The peak of the righteous descendant of Seth (that's Adam and Eve's third son — the one who didn't die or bash his brother's head in with a rock), Noah is determined to carry out the heavenly mission imparted upon him via ambiguous, psychedelic visions. God wants him to do something — spoilers: build an ark — and he will do it. No matter what. No matter what it means to his family, to his lineage, to his fellow man, to the world. He's going to do it. No matter what. The depths to which Aronofsky explores this simple concept — the nature of unmitigated devotion — makes what we all knew as a simplistic A-to-B children's story so gripping. While the throughline is not a far cry from the themes explored in his previous works, the application of his Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan ideas in this movie does not feel like a rehashing. Experiencing such modern, humane ideas in biblical epic is, in fact, a thrill-ride. Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection Although Aronofsky accesses some highly guttural stuff inside of his title character, he lets whimsy and imagination take hold of the world outside of him. Jumping headfirst into the fantastical, the director lines his magical realm with rock monsters — "Watcher" angels encased in Earth-anchored prisons as punishment for their betrayal of God — and a variety of fauna that range in innovation from your traditional white dove to some kind of horned, scaled dog bastardization. But the most winning elements of Noah, and easily the most surprising, come when Aronofsky goes cosmic. He jumps beyond the literal to send us coursing through eons to watch the creation of God's universe, matter exploding from oblivion, a line of creatures evolving (in earnest) into one another as the planet progresses to the point at which we meet our tortured seafarer. Aronofsky's imagination, his aptitude as a cinematic magician, peak (not just in terms of the film, but in terms of his career) in these scenes. With all this propped against the stark humanity of his story — not just in terms of Crowe's existential spiral, but in character beats like grandfather Methuselah's relationship with the youngsters, in little Ham's playful teasing of his new rock monster pet — Aronofsky manages something we never could have anticipated from Noah. It's scientific, cathartic, humane. Impressively, this age-old tale, here, is new. And beyond that feat, it's a pretty winning spin. 4/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 'How I Met Your Mother' Recap: Robin and Barney Get Married
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 25, 2014
    CBS On this week's episode of How I Met Your Mother, the second-to-last episode in the entire series, Robin Scherbatsky — Canadian-born newsanchor and former teen pop sensation, advocate of firearms, hockey, and dogs, and lifelong sufferer of chronic daddy issues — and Barney Stinson — Staten Island-raised corporate stooge (and secret government mole), lover of Scotch, magic, and laser tag, plausible sex addict and compulsive liar... and lifelong sufferer of chronic daddy issues — got married. Some of us thought it wouldn't happen (guilty). Some of us thought Robin might be better off on her own, pursuing a slew of career-oriented adventures like the lone wolf she is, perhaps finding love someplace else down the line... but with her parents (Ray Wise and Tracy Ullman) present, Patrice inscrutably by her side at the altar, and her sister presumably hidden among the crowd (I guess they couldn't get Lucy Hale away from the Pretty Little Liars set for two episodes this season), Robin tied the knot to the seedy, cartoonishly evil, secretly big hearted (at least that's what we're supposed to believe now) Barney. To say that we have mixed feelings would be an understatement. It's tough to "accept" the flaws we see in Barney as his screwed up presentation of affection when some of his vile behaviors do in fact seem incredibly deep seated. It seems like HIMYM boasts the relationship as a more colorful alternative to the Marshall/Lily perfection, but only one of the budding marriage's parties is wholly on board with its prickly, occasionally criminal nature. As much earnestness as we might see in Barney's devotion to his friends, we do think there's something missing in his devotion to his marriage. And we do, honestly, think Robin deserves better. But, hey, here's what we're getting. Robin and Barney got married, and likely will be forever. Ted said his final goodbye to his love for Robin this week, rejecting her  revelation that maybe the two of them should be together, affirming (in a fashion apparently charged more by guilt and fraternal responsibility than candid belief) that she and Barney love each other and belong together. But it wasn't Ted who set her on course, it was the still peskily unnamed Mother, who recommended that a panicked Robin take three deep breaths to calm herself and hear out Barney's refreshed set of vows — that he would always be honest with her. Not too shabby for a guy who just episodes ago proclaimed that he would never give up his passion for deceit. So now that their love story is wrapped, Marshall and Lily are back on track, we only have one thing left to see... and one week left until we see it. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • A Look Back at 'Girls' Season 3
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 24, 2014
    HBO Girls' third season has had many detractors, a few supporters, a moreover healthy slew of watchers, a large percentage therein of HBO Go password stealers, a ton of recappers, at least one psychoanalyzer, and some ambiguous number of folks interracting with the show in a wide variety of creative, progressive, and destructive ways. Personally, I loved it throughout — the light, the dark, the cynical, the humanistic, the sad, and the funny all worked for me, though not without some qualitative hiccups. Here's a quick look back at Lena Dunham's third year on HBO, and a quick assessment of where we've seen her take her characters over the past 12 weeks. WHEN THE SEASON STARTED OUT... We saw Hannah in an ostensibly happy, loving, and emotionally balanced relationship with Adam, who had moved in with her to resume their romance following last season's downward spiral for the pair (each had endured an explosive relapse — Hannah with OCD, Adam with alcoholism). Creatively, Hannah's eBook deal was coming together gratis of editor David Pressler-Goings, while Adam was struggling with rediscovering his own passions. Marnie was shattered over her recent breakup with Charlie, which was somehow sparked by the decision to collaborate on a homemade pizza. We found Jessa stuck in a drug rehab center upstate, making enemies galore as she accosted her fellow addicts for their "pedestrian" turmoils. Neither Shoshanna nor Ray were dealing with their breakup too well, the former burning the candle at both ends with a compulsive "life to the fullest" marathon and a drive to ace all her classes, and the latter sulking acerbically. AS THE SEASON PROGRESSED... After Pressler-Goings died suddenly, Hannah lost her book deal and was forced to take a day job writing advertorial at GQ (a place she immediately considers herself "too good for," but sticks with anyhow). Meanwhile, Adam opted to pursue his latent love for acting in a more serious way, throwing his old reservations out the window and actually going on auditions. We also got to meet Adam's sister Caroline, a flighty and manipulative lunatic who moved in with Hannah and Adam briefly (much to Adam's chagrin), aiming to drive them apart before Hannah kicked her out (also to Adam's chagrin). Marnie got a cat. She was still sad. Back in town, Jessa kicked drugs and got a painfully dull job at a baby clothing store. After running into Ray at Hannah's birthday, Shoshanna began to entertain renewed feelings for him. Her sexual and academic drives progressed. HBO AND THEN... Adam landed a role in a Broadway production of Major Barbara. As a result, Hannah began to worry (thanks to the cynical wisdom of Patti LuPone) that he would soon "outgrow" her. Marnie began a sexual relationship with Ray. She was still sad. Somehow, Jessa's sole rehab buddy Jasper tracked her down in New York City, courting her through a drug relapse and drumming up a ton of destructive patterns in the young woman. All of this added to Shoshanna's love- and school-related stress. Also, Elijah returned, in traditional form, and Adam made a theater pal named Desi who caught Marnie's eye. AND FINALLY... In this week's season finale, Hannah got accepted into a prestigious creative writing grad school program in Iowa, reigniting her own sense of self-worth after a multi-episode bout of diminished confidence. We saw Adam's Broadway debut! Although the audience seemed impressed by his performance, Adam considered the night a failure after he lost focus following Hannah's revelation that she might be moving to Iowa (which she told him just before showtime). The two had a tremendous fight, leaving their relationship in flux, but not robbing Hannah of her glee over being accepted into the aforesaid MFA program. Also, Caroline is back, and pregnant with Laird's (Hannah's oddball junkie neighbor) baby. Marnie fessed up to Shoshanna about her relationship with Ray, and finally kissed Desi... even after admitting that she has only been validating herself as a sexual object. Old habits die hard. Desi's girlfriend didn't have a ton of kind words for Marnie. Pretty much out of nowhere, Jessa helped her new employer, an elderly photographer, attempt suicide, only to call 911 at the last minute when the woman changed her mind. Not a good week for Shosh. In addition to the above news, she found out that she would not be graduating on time due to having failed one of her classes (thanks in large part to her adventurous escapades). She also hit Ray with the information that she wants him back, only to be calmly rejected. SO WHAT NOW? We predict we'll see Hannah relocate to Iowa and Adam sink into the world of theater (a for-the-cameras kiss from one of his castmates seemed like it could be hinting at the show's interest in pairing him with a new ladyfriend next season). We're not so sure about Marnie, though we'd like to see her access some new insight and focus herself on her own passions instead of her goal to satisfy and entrance men. Jessa? We have no idea, but that gal deserves a win. Thrown into a handful of whirlwinds this week alone, the graduation-obsessed Shosh might showcase her most explosive arc yet, having lost everything she wanted and believed in (at least that's how she'll have seen it). What are your predictions and hopes for next season? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'Muppets Most Wanted' Is Confused About What Makes a Good Muppet Movie
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 21, 2014
    Disney I know, that headline is trouble. You're always treading dangerous ground when you insist on defining what makes a good this or the right kind of that, as if there is no room for change or improvement when it comes to classic properties. Of course there is — Jason Segel's 2011 Muppet film approached the concept from an entirely different direction. It didn't hit all of its marks, but it prevailed overall in its conceit: make a movie not about Muppets, but about Muppet fandom. But Muppets Most Wanted, in absence of a clear mission statement and fueled largely by the monetary glimmers of the sequel game (the film's opening number admits this outright), has fewer marks readily available to hit. Landing in the ambiguity between the classic Muppet adventure formula and Segel's post-modern Henson appreciation party, Most Wanted feels like a failure on both counts. It doesn't know which kind of movie it wants to, or should, be. So it doesn't really be anything. On the one hand, there's the half-cocked "get-the-band-back-together" through line, mimicking but not quite accomplishing the spirit of the 2011 picture. None of the Muppets are particularly likable or charming in this turn, and even fewer of them actually given anything to do. Kermit loses his s**t in the first act after a spat with Piggy and a barrage of insubordination from his troupe (provoked by the nefarious Dominic Badguy, Ricky Gervais), storms off in a huff, and gets swept up in a case of mistaken identity when his criminal doppelganger Constantine pulls the old switcheroo, landing Kermit in a Russian gulag. You'd think this would be a good opportunity for the second tier of Muppet favorites — Piggy, Fozzy, Gonzo, Scooter, Rowlf, et al — to go on a search and rescue... but save for a very brief sequence at the tail end of this achingly long film, none of the other Muppets are giving anything to do. They just hem and haw and perform the occasional "Indoor Running of the Bulls" while Dominic and Constantine scheme, rob banks, and bicker. Disney Meanwhile, Kermit has some fun in prison — a far more endearing plot that sees him befriending the merry convicts, organizing a penitentiary revue, and even winning the heart of the vicious warden Nadia (Tina Fey). If only we could spend more time with real Kermit and less time with fake Kermit and his second banana Gervais, an effectively boring pair. On the other hand, though, there's the Muppet shtick that fans of The Great Muppet Caper and Muppet Treasure Island — and yes, The Muppet Show itself — will deem the movie's best material: CIA Agent Sam Eagle and Interpol Agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) hot on the trail of Constantine and Dominic. Here, we get a different type of Muppet movie entirely from what Segel and the A-plot in Most Wanted are opting: the old fashioned vaudeville act, with Sam standing as an independent entity from his googly-eyed brethren, on a goofy, musical prowl with Burrell that fuels the film with its best and most consistent chuckles. Their "Interrogation Song" number is outstanding, exemplifying the many talents of Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie, who wrote all the music for this and the previous film. Unfortunately, Muppets Most Wanted isn't sure that it wants to be The Great Muppet Caper, beheld so stubbornly to its Segelian roots. There's a palpable compulsion to stick with this agonizingly self-aware, nostalgia-crazy, brimming-beacons-of-the-past-in-a-callous-today theme that doesn't work a fraction as well as it did in the 2011 film. Without a legitimate celebration of any of our favorite characters, how could it? With so much going on in this movie, and such a lengthy runtime at just under two hours, it's a sure sign of failure that we walk away feeling like we spent barely any time with the Muppets. 2.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: Chicago's 'Divergent' Is a Lot Like Its Pizza: Overstuffed, Flavorless, and Bad for You
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 19, 2014
    Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection Beneath the many tiers of convoluted sci-fi world building that make up the skin of Divergent, there is what might pass for a simple and humane heart: the message that a person should be more than "just one thing." That the truly worthwhile among us won't fit so snugly into the rigid compartments instituted by society — both ours and that of Future Chicago — because "not fitting in," as it turns out, is actually a better gig. That in Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), we — the silent majority of outcasts — have a new idol to vocalize the values in being different. But it's really difficult to attach yourself to a character like Tris with writing this terrible. Although the parameters of her role would logically allow for enough personality, imagination, and good old fashioned chutzpah to make Tris a relatable human being, there is almost no personality to be found in the script's version of the hero. The entire Divergent world is lacking in this area, in fact. From the onset of her introductory voice-over (almost forgivable, because there might actually be no other way to introduce a society so cluelessly complicated), we can feel something lacking in the construction of the film's hero. Tris explains the nature of the five societal factions that exist in Future Chicago — Dauntless (the brave), Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), and two others that don't really come into play, mentioning with a foreboding tone that those who don't belong to any faction are shunned by the world and cast to desolation (that's her, if you don't already know). But in these crucial opening minutes, Tris' exposition is as lifeless as it is brainless. Starting with Erudite, Tris fawns like an empty-headed child, "They know everything." A regrettably imbecilic line, but probably the peak of the character's nuance. From there, we get very little out of Tris, or any other of Divergent's citizens, that isn't cold, bloodless exposition and the action necessary to courier it to a sating box office end game. Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection No one in this story about "being yourself" feels at all like he or she has a self to be. Run through the gears of a world too insistently mechanical to evoke anything real (despite the generosity of its central "fitting in" conceit), the people end up flat, thin, and dry, never once uttering a line of dialogue that is in any way personal... or in any small way not tailored to the larger game of misguided set-up at play. Against this backdrop, a pronounced Tris Prior might have been doubly effective. But it's not some grand schematic on the part of director Neil Burger and screenwriters Evan Daugherty and Vanessa Taylor to paint a gray world behind a glimmering hero. It's just an ostensible inability to draw anything human. There are a couple of reasons why we hesitate to call Tris a truly terrible character. The first is Woodley. With so little to work with, she is, admittedly, good. Her action carries weight, her tears beget ours, and we do actually root for her to come out okay. All of the charm we're accrediting to Tris is Woodley's doing, and we know from past turns that with a better script in her hands this rising star could do wonders. The second is that, in outline form, Tris might be the best YA heroine we've gotten lately. Her decisions stem from a drive for independence and personal fulfillment. True, her primarily relationship is with a brooding jock, the unfortunately named Four (Theo James), to whom she plays the eager therapist more than anything else. But she also has a somewhat empowering bond with her mother (Ashley Judd) and an admittedly under cooked but at the very least occasionally present rapport with faction-mate Christina (Zoe Kravitz). So... something. Without a real character in which to root these small victories, though, they amount to very little. Just additional slices of the soulless, joyless, mindless deep dish pie that is this movies. But Chicago's dystopian fiction fails the same way that its pizza does: over stuffed with empty calories and lacking any recognizable flavor. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 10 Things That Are Horrible About the New Trailer for 'The Giver'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 19, 2014
    What GIVES? However long ago, you were in seventh grade, you were assigned, begrudgingly began to read, and then almost instantly fell in love with the great Lois Lowry tome The Giver. A work of allegorical fiction that built a dystopian future around humankind's desire to preserve "sameness." Identical individuals in identical family units leading identical lifestyles... until one kid who was just special enough (the Katniss, the Harry, the Tris, the Ender, the Mortal Instrumentalist) learned the truth and lay waste to the customs of his corrosive society. It was a great book. One we all knew, eventually, would be granted cinematic form. And one we all knew wouldn't get the justice it deserves. The Weinstein Company/YouTube Silver lining: at least we can probably say we were right. The new trailer for Jeff Bridges' Giver adaptation doesn't look too promising. We're inclined to hold out judgment until the film actually hits theaters, but we can't help but foster pessimism considering the abundance of issues we've taken with the first promo: 1. It's in color. A major conceit of The Giver was that nobody, except Jonas (eventually) could see color. It was part of the government's suppression of creativity and imagination and hope and the free-wheelin' crayon industry. This would have been a super easy thing to convey onscreen — easier than in the book, even.2. Jonas' age. Lowry's main character was 12. In this thing, he's played by a genteel looking fellow named Brenton Thwaites, who is pushing 25.3. Jonas' eyes. All Receivers (Jonas is a Receiver — that's like being a Divergent, or a Girl on Fire, or a Boy Who Lived, or a Mortal Instrumentalist) are supposed to have uniquely light eyes. I'm not quite sure how this compromised with the general lack of color, but I don't remember having too much of a problem with it.4. The Giver. What's he doing out of his secluded mountain house? Why does he appear to be interacting with Meryl Streep? Go back inside, Giver. You only talk to Jonas.5. The injections - "morning injections." This one's a two-parter. Voice-over here suggests the existence of "morning injections," suggesting them to be a regular part of the routine for all living citizens. But injections in the book were lethal, and as such not regularly scheduled.6. The injections - the "release." What is that young lady doing getting a release injection? Those are for babies and old people only! Only the Giver's daughter (Taylor Swift) got a mid-life release. Oh, and that brings us to the next issue...7. Taylor Swift. Hm.8. So much action! Please don't let this turn into an action movie, Phillip Noyce. It's a cerebral, temperate, emotional drama. A C.T.E.D! Relevant...9. The post-escape chase. In the book, one Jonas gets out of his society and into the territory of "Elsewhere" with baby Gabriel in tow, he's all set. Smooth sailing until the ambiguous ending signifying plausible death. But here, he's hotly pursued!10. The spaceship. There's a spaceship in this trailer. I don't feel good. Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 'How I Met Your Mother' Wraps Up Stories for Ranjit, Blitz, Sandy Rivers, Scooter, and More
    By: Michael Arbeiter Mar 18, 2014
    CBS Broadcasting We've been looking forward to the wrap-up to How I Met Your Mother's story for quite some time. But a late sequence in this week's episode, "Gary Blauman," gave us some narrative conclusions that we hadn't been anticipating. After Marshall makes a somber remark about losing touch with old friends, Future Ted enlightens the audience unto the fates down the line for some of the pals he hadn't kept in his life: -Carl, the MacLaren's bartender, had a son and turned the pub into a family business-Jeanette was arrested for stalking some fellow named Val Kilmer, and got married to Robin's old boyfriend Kevin-Ranjit made some wise investments and ended up buying his limo company-Patrice started her own drive-time radio show-Billy Zabka won the American Humanities Medal for Literature-Zoe continued her life of activism-Scooter married Lily's stripper doppelganger-Blitz suffered from a gambling addiction, but kicked it-Blah Blah got a name (Carol)-Sandy Rivers moved to Russia, continuing his news career overseas-James got back together with his husband Tom All this, combined with the fates we've come to learn about a handful of other characters — Victoria moved back to Germany and continued her career as a baker, Stella lives in California with Tony (presumably riding comfortably on The Wedding Bride money), the Captain began a relationship with Boats Boats Boats — actually leaves us a bit wistful. If there is one thing How I Met Your Mother can be credited with, it is building what feels like a vivid, full, far-reaching universe. A reality populated with living characters — some everpresent and some who only occasionally show their faces, but all feeling like active features of this spinning world. As such, we look forward with even more vigor now to the ultimate conclusion of the stories at the center of the show: Marshall and Lily (it seems like they spend the next year of their lives in Italy, although there are still a few questions left unanswered), Barney and Robin (the entirety of Season 9 has hinted at "second thoughts" from both parties, but flash forwards do indicate that they stay together... at least in some capacity), and Ted. Three days after the wedding, he has his first date with The Mother. A date during which she insists that she's not ready for a relationship. A date during which Ted resists his old ways to make some gallant gesture and thrust himself upon her as an act of true devotion. A date during which she proves herself too a kinetic force of romance and insists that the two stay in one another's lives, despite her apprehensions. We still don't know how they meet, or what eventually happens to her down the line (there are some depressing theories...). But we're quite excited to find out. After a few lackluster years with the MacLaren's gang, this show has certainly reclaimed its old magic. And we're really going to miss it. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • 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 //