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.
  • With His NYFCC Heckling, Armond White Is No Longer a Critic, But a Bully
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 07, 2014
    D Dipasupil/Getty It throws up a red flag when you endorse Jack & Jill as a tribute to the plight of the Jewish-American family. Still, there's not necessarily anything inherently problematic about Armond White's proclivity to veer from the crowd when it comes to film criticism. Devil's advocacy can be a valuable method of finding new merit in familiar material or ideas. But White's decision to heckle, insult, and curse at 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen on Monday night at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards — behavior he might deem befitting of his infamous persona as an industry "honest voice" — represents the ugliest shade of his ostensible mission statement, and generally reprehensible behavior from any vantage point. White's illustrious track record for presenting reviews of stark contrast to those offered by the critical community has devolved into little more than a "shtick." We know so well what an Armond White review entails that we couldn't have expected him to express favor for 12 Years a Slave. Yet, eyes still rolled when White lambasted McQueen's historical picture in CityArts, finding less genuine criticism than audacious pot-stirring. Still, a particularly diplomatic force could argue for the value in this kind of review. 12 Years a Slave isn't a perfect film, and its position atop 2013's pedestal as the "sure-fire" Best Picture winner and most powerful movie about American slavery are healthy, and necessary, to question and challenge. Once you consider these facts, you might well find yourself still sitting happily in the camp of McQueen's film, but you might be glad all the more for having braved the examination rather than accepting its aplomb blindly. But heckling? Where, pray tell, is the value in that? How detrimental must White think that movies like 12 Years a Slave and How to Survive a Plague (last year's award-winning AIDS documentary, which White too heckled when it was introduced at the NYFCC by Michael Moore) are in order to justify this angry, ugly antagonism of earnest, well-meaning artists? The language that White used on Monday night was particularly offensive. Katey Rich of Vanity Fair, seated in the NYFCC audience, notes that White employed exclamations like "White liberal bulls**t" when McQueen took the stage, following what she highlights as a beautiful introductory speech by musical icon Harry Belafonte. Following this inception of the derision, White or a member of his immediate company maligned McQueen or Belafonte by shouting, "You’re a garbageman and a doorman!" — a particularly despicable epithet due to its misplaced affront to the occupations in question, as well as a formless, meaningless insult to the parties onstage. In short: not criticism. Bullying. In criticism, no matter how volatile or controversial, there is always a constructive end — that to explain why something falls short and how it might have better served its audience. In bullying, there is no constructive end. There is only the directive to hurt, shame, or dislodge from grace one's target. In other words, there is no value to it and no defense of it. And if this is the way White conducts himself, we have to imagine that his intentions fall squarely within the borders of the definition of bullying. That his reviews, no matter how eloquent they might be, are not intended as a tool in the construction of a better and more valid cinematic world, but a means to hurt and shame others, or to escalate his own grace. We're not at all sure if it's playing out the way he wants it to — we're talking about him, aren't we? — but we do feel that in his actions, Armond White absolves himself of the title of critic altogether.  Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Why Is David Lynch Directing a New 'Twin Peaks' Promo?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 06, 2014
    ABC Long before American Horror Story and Dollhouse and Lost and Carnivale and the terrible last string of Twin Peaks episodes that we don't even want to acknowledge as a part of Twin Peaks, there was Twin Peaks. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment in surrealistic television since The Twilight Zone. Maybe the finest send-up of the toxic rituals of the small screen craft since SOAP. A bounty of what might conceivably be the most imaginative field of fictional characters since The Tragedy of Hamlet. Twenty years have passed since the conclusion of our story about the sleepy lumber town with far too many skeletons stuffed in its creaky closet, and creator David Lynch is reopening the door... but we're not quite sure why, or how. Bleeding Cool has apprehended a casting call for a new Twin Peaks promo that Lynch is allegedly filming. The advertisement seeks an actress to play a diner waitress that seems to bear resemblance to the show's kind-hearted but none too infrequently underhanded character Shelly Johnson. Hot Caucasian Girl – Brunette or Redheads Only. To play waitress, 18-27. Must have an amazing body, busty, very period looking face. Regrettable connotations aside, the news is exciting, even if it precedes nothing more than a Twin Peaks Blu-ray release, as Bleeding Cool postulates. At the very least, we might see some previously unreleased footage, cast interviews, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and the like... we may even get to hear Lynch delve into an explanation (or further muddling) of what the hell is going on in the Red Room. But letting our hopes soar sky high, there is even the chance of Lynch creating something altogether new. A new season of Twin Peaks has been rumored before, albeit all for naught, though maybe this rumbling has convinced Lynch to get back in the ring with his iconic creation. Regardless of what comes, the very idea of Lynch revisiting Twin Peaks even in the most remote of ways is exciting. At this point, we're smiling as wide as a hanging body bag. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • What Do the WGA's 2014 Nominations Mean for the Oscars?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 03, 2014
    Warner Bros. Entertainment While the Writers Guild of America might not receive as much public attention as the Academy Awards do, those shaping their Oscar pools might want to pay the  organization a bit more mind. Since the year 2000, the WGA has accurately predicted the winners of the Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars 10 times each. With so much consistency living between the two circuit mainstays, it's hard not to use Friday's announcement of Writers Guild nominees to better estimate what sort of Academy results we'll see come March. Today, the WGA recognized the following 2013 screenplays for excellence in the Original and Adapted Screenplay categories: Original ScreenplayAmerican HustleBlue JasmineDallas Buyers ClubHerNebraska Adapted ScreenplayAugust: Osage CountyBefore MidnightCaptain PhillipsLone SurvivorThe Wolf of Wall Street  While we would not have bet heavily on either Dallas Buyers Club or Lone Survivor showing up on the WGA plate, the biggest surprise would have to be the absence of the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which many have qualified as a hefty candidate for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The absence of the New York-set character piece does not bode especially well for its Academy chances, but it does help to single out a frontrunner among the bunch of Original competitors: Her. Without Llewyn Davis in its company, Her does seem like the title to beat. Surely, Alexander Payne delivers some phenomenal material in his dry, sweet Nebraska, but the imagination and emotional severity pumped into Spike Jonze's first lone go at a feature screenplay is the kind of cinematic magic that the WGA is accustomed to recognizing. Paramount Pictures Of course, that's not to say that cynicism won't get its share of celebration this year. Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street has earned no dearth of controversy, but also no dearth of critical esteem since its release on Christmas Day. Award circuit precogs are calling the film too raucous and extreme to win Best Picture (which is a slot many are assuming will fall in the hands of 12 Years a Slave regardless), but an Adapted Screenplay win could be right on the mark for the biographical story of major league swindler Jordan Belfort, scripted by Terence Winter. The only Scorsese picture to date to earn a WGA win is The Departed, although several (including GoodFellas and Mean Streets) have been nominated before. Additionally, we see nominations in the Documentary Screenplay category: Documentary ScreenplayDirty WarsHerblock No Place on Earth Stories We Tell We Steal Secrets Click back to the Writers Guild of America website to check out all of the nominees in television and radio.
  • Fend Off January Depression with These Feel-Good Movies from 2013
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 02, 2014
    20th Century Fox via Everett Collection I appreciate November. I love a good July. May? I'll take 10 of 'em! But there is no synodic period that I detest more than January. Kicking off every year with a clammy reminder of our extant failures and a piercing underline of forthcoming stresses, January is one month through which many of us can use some psychological padding. As such, we usher in a new wave of movies to distract us from our living traumas and maybe inject a few instances of delight into our conscious thought. Unfortunately, January doesn't even have the common decency to release any good films. With the exception of Her, hitting national theaters on Jan. 10, this month doesn't have a particularly attractive cinematic slate. As such, we play the catch-up game — holiday films still in theaters, summer releases just hitting DVD, Netflix picks you barely heard of the first time around. But as January is such a delicate time for so many of us, we'd be wise to choose the films most conducive to our psychological state. This is a time for feel-good movies. As fabulous a piece of film as it is, you might not be able to handle 12 Years a Slave when you're struggling with our own emotional fragility and are seeking a feature with which to unwind during dinner. Inside Llewyn Davis might be a tremendous work of art, but it's not going to do you any favors in the serotonin department. Luckily, 2013 gave us plenty of flicks that were both high in quality and in their propensity to provoke smiles. Here are a few suggestions, separated by the exact sort of feel-goodery they instill... FOR LAUGHTERCarefree, comedic feel-gooderyThe most base and primal breed of feel-goodery comes in the form of comedy. Not romantic comedy or dramatic comedy or coming-of-age comedy... just plain "for the LOLz" comedy. Sometimes, the only emotional weight a movie needs to foster is its ability to incur laughs. So, if you're feeling particularly somber and need to float some extra oxygen up to the brain, here are a few movies that made us laugh the hardest in '13: The HeatHumor of the boisterous sort — slapstick, insults, outrageous situations, Albino people. Not a lot of weight, although the unlikely friendship arc grounds it in some substance. Not too much, though, don't worry. This Is the EndDescribed as "the closest thing 2013 gave us to Ghostbusters" by Da7e Gonzales on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room (worth a listen for some terrific 2013 movie suggestions), the apocalypse comedy from Seth Rogen and company does have something to say about friendships and social groups... but that won't get in the way of its employment as a distraction from your real life woes. It's a DisasterAnother apocalypse comedy, with even more (at least on the surface) to say about friends and relationships! But all of the ostensibly weighty material — divorce, breakups, infidelity, death — is handled with feather weight. Delightful from beginning to end. Computer ChessThis little-seen oddball mockumentary is the funniest movie I've seen all year. Set at the dawn of intelligent electronics age in the 1980s, we see weirdos take to an annual convention compete with one another in the design of the premier chess-playing computer device. It does not sound particularly interesting, maybe, but is insistently riotous. [*Note: The World's End, while a fun and funny movie, is excluded from this "feel good" list because it is a far more depressing story than many of us can handle in the throes of January.] Fox Searchlight via Everett Collection FOR TEARSSweet, sentimental feel-goodery Sometimes, the release of depressive chemicals via your tear ducts is exactly what you need to make for a more relaxing evening. We don't mean Act of Killing-style tears (although that movie is more likely to actually to trigger an emotional response via your digestive tract), but tears of the soft, sweet, regrettably sentimental variety. FrozenA Disney animated story about the tenable bonds of sisterly affection, being your own hero, and accepting and loving who you are regardless of what society has to say about it? The movie is more than likely to touch on something important to you. NebraskaAlexander Payne's latest film might not exactly make you bawl, but there's a good chance you'll grow misty at watching a sad sack son reluctantly bond with his increasingly senile father as they make a spontaneous trip to the former's Nebraska hometown. The Kings of SummerIn-family issues and introductions to love are approached in the coming-of-age dramedy that is as funny as it is sweet. The movie might even convince you to call the parent you've been fighting with, or reminisce over some of the dumb things you did with your best pal in middle school. FOR CAMARADERIE"You're not alone" feel-goodery Sometimes, all we really need to feel better is to know that we're not alone — that other people (fictional characters or otherwise) are going through the same perils that we are, and are coming out of their messes all right. Frances Ha2013's forerunner in the speaking-to-a-generation game. The titular Frances is every one of us aimless 20-somethings (especially those living in New York). She wants to channel her passions, maintain her cherished but one-sided best friendship with roommate Sophie, and find herself. It's an emotional ride, but one from which you'll walk away feeling a bit more validated. Enough SaidIn a new relationship? Going through a breakup? Single? Married? Enough Said seems to understand each of these unique, funny, sweet, sad experiences quite well. Always real, but never too heavy! The Spectacular NowThis is a risky one, because it packs quite an emotional punch when it cuts to the core of teenaged everyman Sutter (Miles Teller) and his festering self-hatred. But the character's experience with facing and conquering his demons might instill a new sense of self-worth in those who relate all too well to his plight. [*Note: Before Midnight is just as earnest a portrayal of romantic relationships as Enough Said, but if you're in a delicate position, that third act will tear you apart.] Magnolia Pictures via Everett Collection FOR INSPIRATION"The world is full of beauty" feel-goodery Okay. You've had your laughs. You've had your cries. You've learned that there are others out there like you. Time to get INSPIRED. Short Term 12The powerhouse of the troupe. This movie will get to you, and in a way that won't spare any pangs. But in the end, there's something really touching, beautiful, and uplifting about Short Term 12. Perseverance and partnerships are venerated in this must-see (maybe after you stockpile your mental state with a few comedies, though). 20 Feet from StardomYou, too, can achieve your dreams... or at least come relatively close, as this energetic documentary about back-up singers teaches us. The Way Way BackSmaller scale inspiration: break out of your shell. Get a summer job. Learn how to swim. Meet Sam Rockwell. AND THE RESTMiscellaneous feel-gooderyNot really laughers, tear-jerkers, calls to arms, or particularly relatable... but generally pleasant movies of remarkable quality. Prince AvalanchePaul Rudd (with a mustache) and Emile Hirsch do highway repair in the wake of a massive forest fire. Meanwhile, they talk about stuff. Sex, poetry, nonsense. Lots of fun. Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus and 2012An odd movie, and one that is contingent on your enjoyment of a douchey Michael Cera. But it's an interesting, and visually sharp, ride. Room 237Do you like movies? Wanna watch a movie about movies? Well, here you go! Hope these help! Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Ranking Every Movie I Saw in 2013
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 31, 2013
    Universal via Everett Collection Every movie I saw in 2013, ranked from worst to best: 112. IDENTITY THIEFThe first comedy movie to not make me laugh once. 111. SAVING MR. BANKSInsulting, manipulative, dishonest, and unkind, with occasional song breaks. 110. SCARY MOVIE 5These movies have gotten much worse since we were 13. 109. GETAWAYINT. RACECAR. NIGHT. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez crash into stuff. 108. GROWN UPS 2So much vomiting, so many homophobic jokes, so little plot. 107. I GIVE IT A YEARAn ugly, loveless rom-com that isn't clever enough to be satire. 106. DEAD MAN DOWNAll I remember is a whole lot of dark alleyways. 105. A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN IIIThe best part is the closing credits (I'm not being flip, they're actually kind of fun). 104. MOVIE 43Bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke... 103. WINNIE MANDELADesperately important story turned into a desperately dull movie. 102. TWICE BORNNo summary available due to lack of anything interesting happening in this movie. 101. R.I.P.D.Somebody forgot to give Ryan Reynolds any jokes. New Line Cinema via Everett Collection 100. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONEThis movie could have been funny if Wonderstone wasn't such a d**k. 99. ONLY GOD FORGIVESInteresting in the moments when it's not shoving its unpleasantness down your throat. 98. MAN OF STEELSetup: cerebral reinvention of Superman. Payoff: mass property damage. 97. CARRIEBeat-by-beat remake without any of the original's spirit. 96. THE TO DO LISTUncomfortably raunchy and mean. Thank God for Bill Hader. 95. KICK-ASS 2More Mean Girls shtick would have benefited this weak sequel. 94. PHANTOMI'm not sure this was actually a finished movie. 93. WRONGObnoxiously nonsensical, but not without its share of laughs. 92. THE SMURFS 2Mostly cloying, but Neil Patrick Harris is incurably watchable. 91. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Dumb. 90. JOBSBoring. 89. NOW YOU SEE MEPossibly the worst ending in a 2013 movie, but a few bits of fun along the way. 88. WE'RE THE MILLERS[Pop culture reference] 87. RED 2John Malkovich's facial contortions save this from total failure. 86. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS It hsa a few pros, but is mostly one giant... well, you know. 85. RIDDICKSurprisingly intriguing, when it isn't being deplorably sexist. 84. FREE BIRDSEh, turkeys are kinda funny. 83. PRISONERS Thankfully, scenes of Hugh Jackman yelling are intercut with the far superior scenes of Jake Gyllenhaal yelling. 82. WHITE REINDEER Any minute now, this movie is going to reveal its inner glory! Any minute now! 81. EVIL DEAD A better horror flick than the original! But still mostly forgettable. Vertical Entertainment 80. GBFMostly charming, undone by its "safe" and "classy" ending. 79. THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALISTIt's kind of hard to get past how boring the title is. 78. DESPICABLE ME 2 Lots of minions. People like minions, right? 77. JOHN DIES AT THE END Not nearly as weird as it thinks it is or wants to be. 76. 2 GUNSHey, wait a minute, this movie is kinda funny! ... Not that funny, but kinda. 75. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES MEI like to call this movie Click Offerman. 74. WHITE HOUSE DOWNWould be more fun if we were ready to laugh about terrorism. 73. AT ANY PRICEBoooriii— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?! 72. BAD MILONot quite up to par with your expectations for the "Ken Marino has a demon in his butt" synopsis. 71. MONSTERS UNIVERSITYLackluster prequel, nice to look at, big band music. 70. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES In its audacity, this silly amalgam of YA tropes can actually be a lot of fun. 69. THE CONJURING Fascinating subplots about the exorcism industry would be better served at the head of the film. 68. PEEPLESThere's a joke about wristwatches that I still think about. 67. SIDE EFFECTSSoderbergh's farewell caper doesn't have as much fun as its loony plot would demand. 66. ELYSIUMBroad and clumsy, but how wrong can you go with Bald Matt Damon? 65. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFULIt works with Dark Side of the Moon. 64. THE COUNSELORThe book was better. Wait, this wasn't a book? Well it should have been. 63. IN A WORLD...A fun, biting look at an unappreciated industry! ... until it dissolves into mild genericism. 62. THE LONE RANGER Oh come on, you didn't love the William Tell climax? 61. THE WOLVERINENot always engaging, but at least it's about something. Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection 60. WARM BODIESNot really about anything, but at least it's engaging. 59. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWNUndeniably powerful, but feels like it could use a few more revisions. 58. ENDER'S GAMESpace Camp: The Movie! (Slightly less expensive than actual space camp.) 57. PACIFIC RIMMonsters vs. robots aside, there's a riveting world constructed in the backdrop of this sci-fi epic. 56. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUESThe battle royale does not disappoint. 55. YOU'RE NEXTThe fun, swift hook isn't nearly as interesting as the great character work that it replaces. 54. THE WAY WAY BACKI, too, long to get life advice from a waterpark-dwelling Sam Rockwell. 53. SOME VELVET MORNINGEven if you see the twist coming, the chemistry here is impeccable. 52. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIREShut up, Peeta, I'm trying to watch all the good parts of this movie. 51. 20 FEET FROM STARDOMA story that deserves a little more spirit and energy than it is given in this documentary. 50. DON JONNo. 50 on "Best Movies" list, No. 1 on "Best Trailers." 49. THE ROCKETA feel-good kids' adventure substantiated by the gravities of war. Wins in both areas. 48. CRYSTAL FAIRY & THE MAGICAL CACTUS AND 2012Beautifully shot, interestingly written, impressively acted. 47. MUD Yes, we all loved The Goonies, and we all loved David Wooderson, so... 46. CUTIE AND THE BOXER A vivid struggle that is equal parts artistically, martially, and internally based. Engrossing all the way. 45. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Tom Hanks' best performance in ages in a dramatic thriller that feels real (for obvious reasons). 44. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG As a Legend of Zelda fan, this movie's world awakened something in me. 43. FRUITVALE STATIONThis character story is at odds with its out-universe goal, but Michael B. Jordan is unforgettable. 42. BEFORE MIDNIGHTI'm still not sure how I feel about that ending, but it was good to catch up wit Jesse and Celine. 41. DARK TOUCHEverything that Carrie could have been. A shocking fantasy about human pains. Walt Disney Co via Everett Collection 40. THOR: THE DARK WORLDMore Chris O'Dowd. 39. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLORIntellectually stimulating, but doesn't hit all its emotional marks. 38. THE WORLD'S ENDI've been saying "Gooey Wooey Egg Man" for months. 37. THE GREAT GATSBYLights! Music! Pizzazz! Moxy! The bee's knees! The cat's pajamas! 36. ENOUGH SAIDBest TV drama's male lead + best TV comedy's female lead = quite a charming romantic dramedy. 35. SIGHTSEERSWell, this is rather amusi— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?! 34. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINESNot sure if the "three stories" approach makes for the most powerful character work, but it's an enchanting ride. 33. THE WE AND THE I A bus full of inner-city high school kids turns into a magical kingdom thanks to Gondry's dreamy edge. 32. NEWLYWEEDSA love triangle with marijuana as the third party. Weighty, but never overly so, and funny throughout. 31. GRAVITY. . . 30. PRINCE AVALANCHE Heh heh, look at Paul Rudd's mustache. 29. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Yes, we all loved the 'ludes scene. Very, very much. 28. ALL IS LOSTRobert Redford, you still got that same oomph. You too, ocean. 27. SAVING LINCOLN The weirdest, goofiest, funniest biopic about Abraham Lincoln ever. 26. THE KINGS OF SUMMER Kids run away, live in the woods, grow up, make jokes. Always a charming endeavor. 25. AMERICAN HUSTLE Little more than a cartoon, but an emotionally explosive and riotous one at that. 24. THE HEAT Melissa McCarthy insisting on stepping out of a moving car earns a full five minutes of laughter alone. 23. DRINKING BUDDIESNever dips too low on the emotional spectrum, but stays real and fresh in the face of the rom-com genre. 22. UPSTREAM COLORA difficult, confusing, harrowing thinker. 21. STOKER Somehow both effectively haunting and deliciously fun. Room 237: the movie/Facebook 20. ROOM 237 Less a doting tribute to The Shining or Kubrick than it is to movie-lovers and their bottomless well of theories. 19. BLUE JASMINE Each party fires on all cylinders in Woody Allen's Streetcar gem, Sally Hawkins especially. 18. S#X ACTSThe sadness of this story of our youth's desperate obsession with and reliance on sex is its authenticity. 17. IRON MAN 3 The first true action comedy in Marvel's line of films shows how much fun superhero movies can really be. 16. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW Take notes, John Dies at the End. THIS is one weird f**king movie. 15. NEBRASKA Father vs. son, past vs. present, dreams vs. reality. Everything here is touching, funny, and inviting. 14. PAIN & GAIN Michael Bay talks a long, hard look in the mirror with this biting send-up of everything his other movies represent. 13. THIS IS THE ENDFar more interesting and insightful than it will get credit for being, This Is the End uses a literal apocalypse and no dearth of d**k jokes to deconstruct tenets of friendship and social politics. 12. THE ACT OF KILLING While this documentary would benefit from restructuring, the power of its message (especially its final few monents, not to mention the "anonymous"-heavy credits) is painfully resonant. 11. FROZENOffering the magic and whimsy you'll remember from time-honored Disney classics, but so much more in the way of its message, Frozen might very well be the most magnificent and meaningful animated feature yet to spring from Walt's legacy. 10. COMPUTER CHESSIt doesn't have much to say about the human condition (beyond maybe highlighting our propensity for arrogance and self-directed delusion). It doesn't tell a story that'll stick with you for very long. But Computer Chess reigns supreme as, far and away, the funniest movie of 2013. 9. SPRING BREAKERS A dark, wicked, wholly upsetting reflection of the toxic direction in which we might be headed. And James Franco gives a tour-de-force of a performance with his demonic scoutmaster Alien. 8. IT'S A DISASTER An intelligent, meticulously directed farce about group politics and conflicting personal philosophies, executed to near perfection thanks to the rhythmic participation of a more than capable cast.  7. 12 YEARS A SLAVEAn unprecedented masterpiece that sings the traumas not only of Solomon Northrup, a free man captured and sold into slavery, but in his fellow sufferers as well. For my money, the true anchor of the story is in Lupita Nyong'o's Patsey, whose suffering is unlike anything we've seen managed on the big screen in years. 6. HER With so much to say about such tremendous topics, Her manages to still dive so deep into the heart of its story: the pangs of love in the wake of the inevitable fallibilities of romantic relationships. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson alike give dynamic performances, and Spike Jonze mystifies us with his strange, cold, all-too-familiar world. A24 via Everett Collection 5. THE SPECTACULAR NOWThis is one of those movies you try to convince yourself to inch out of your top 10, or five, for fear of being seen as juvenile. ButThe Spectacular Now hits such genuine notes with Miles Teller's Sutter, climaxing at a moment where you'll recognize an angst so true to life and so criminally absent from most movies about the journey toward self-love. IFC Films 4. FRANCES HA Months and months after my first encounter with it, this deceptively simple film sticks in my head, reminding me that its every artful beat is riddled with emotional weight and ironic humor alike. Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach give us the a New York movie to rival Annie Hall, zooming in and out of the perspective of the young women and men who occupy, and drown within, today's version of the biggest, most stupefying city in the world.  CBS Films 3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVISSadness, coldness, loneliness, failure... such wonderful things when handled by filmmakers like the Coen Brothers. Padding this antithesis of triumph with some of the most beautiful, somber music you'll hear all year, Inside Llewyn Davis makes us fall in love all over again with the very idea of the artistic struggle. Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection 2. THE WIND RISESHayao Miyazaki's final movie doesn't pass judgment on its hero, a man so devoted to his work (building weapons) that he neglects his wife, sister, and friends. It doesn't endorse these choices either. Instead, it hones in on the passions of its hero/antihero, challenging us to sympathize with a fellow whose only desire is to do his job while we lament his sacrifices. More even than Gravity does the frequently airborne animated picture induce dizzy spells as we connect with the conglomerate of colorful, intriguing characters in this grim but dainty biography. Cinedigm via Everett Collection 1. SHORT TERM 12 There are so few flaws to highlight in The Wind Rises, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, and the other entries on this top 10 list. What separates Short Term 12 is not a complete lack of error, but in an umatched spirit for the telling of its story. The movie wants us to feel the pains of counselor Grace (Brie Larson) and the disavantaged children for whom she cares, highlighting abused Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) and orphan Marcus (Keith Stanfield). It also wants us to feel the hope that it brings to these characters in their plight to overcome the hands they have been dealt. Every emotion in this movie carries through with such force. For those of us who know any of these trials personally, they ring tremendously true. For others, they work to invite you into this sad but hopeful world. We've been gifted with a ton of exemplary cinematic works this year, but nothing sticks with me more than this tearful, heartrending masterpiece.  Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 2013 in Fantasy: Categorizing the Supernatural Films of the Year
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 27, 2013
    Warner Bros. We're done with vampires. Done! But our craving for the paranormal wages on, so Hollywood is charged with injecting a slew of other otherworldly elements into its cinematic output. Throughout 2013, we've seen a wide variety of fantasy and science-fiction creatures, worlds, and principles take form in our favorite (and… less appreciated) movies. Take a gander at what the year has brought us in the way of the supernatural: MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF MAGIC47 RoninBeautiful CreaturesEpicFrozenHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesOz the Great and PowerfulThe Smurfs 2Thor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF FICTIONAL SCIENCE OR TECHNOLOGYCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Despicable Me 2ElysiumG.I. Joe: RetaliationIron Man 3John Dies at the EndMan of SteelMovie 43Pacific RimStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES Iron Man 3Man of SteelMovie 43Thor: The Dark WorldThe Wolverine MOVIES THAT FEATURE ALIENSAfter EarthDark SkiesEnder's GameEscape from Planet EarthEuropa ReportThe HostMan of SteelOblivionPacific RimRiddickStar Trek into DarknessThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE GHOSTSAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe ConjuringA Haunted HouseThe Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of GeorgiaInsidious Chapter 2MamaSafe HavenScary Movie 5 MOVIES THAT FEATURE ZOMBIESJohn Dies at the EndWarm BodiesWorld War Z MOVIES THAT FEATURE WITCHES47 RoninBeautiful CreaturesHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersOz the Great and Powerful MOVIES THAT FEATURE WIZARDSThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE DEMONS47 RoninHell BabyThe Last Exorcism Part IIThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesThis Is the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE WEREWOLVESAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe Lone Ranger (original cut)The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE VAMPIRES (OH, I GUESS WE'RE NOT DONE WITH THEM...)ByzantiumThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE MYTHICAL OR MYTHOLOGICAL FIGURESAnchorman 2: The Legend ContinuesThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT FEATURE A RACE OF MONOCHROMATIC, LIKE-MINDED CREATURESDespicable Me 2EpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThe Smurfs 2World War Z MOVIES THAT FEATURE POSSESSION AND/OR BODY SNATCHINGThe ConjuringEvil DeadG.I. Joe: RetaliationHell BabyThe HostInsidious Chapter 2The Last Exorcism Part IIThis Is the EndThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE ARTIFICIALLY INTELLIGENT BEINGSOblivionThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE GENETIC ENGINEERINGDespicable Me 2The Hunger Games: Catching FireIron Man 3Scary Movie 5Star Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE TIME TRAVELAbout TimeFree BirdsJohn Dies at the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE TELEPORTATION, WORMHOLES, OR ANY OF THAT OTHER NONSENSEJohn Dies at the EndStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN ALTERNATE REALMSEpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugJohn Dies at the EndMonsters UniversityOz the Great and PowerfulThe Smurfs 2Thor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE ON OTHER PLANETS OR MOONSAfter EarthEuropa ReportMan of SteelRiddickStar Trek into DarknessThor: The Dark World MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN OUTER SPACEElysiumEnder’s GameEuropa ReportFree BirdsGravityMan of SteelRiddickStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT TAKE PLACE IN THE FUTUREAfter EarthElysiumThe Hunger Games: Catching FireOblivionPacific RimThe PurgeStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE APOCALYPSE OR "POST-APOCALYPSE"After EarthThe Hunger Games: Catching FireIt's a DisasterOblivionPacific RimThis Is the EndThe World's End MOVIES THAT FEATURE AN AFTERLIFEThe ConjuringInsidious Chapter 2R.I.P.D.This Is the End MOVIES THAT FEATURE WHATEVER THE F**K HAPPENS IN UPSTREAM COLORUpstream Color MOVIES BASED ON FAIRY TALESHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersJack the Giant Slayer MOVIES IN WHICH A YOUNG WOMAN WHO THINKS SHE IS MORTAL FINDS OUT THAT SHE ISN'T AND MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION TO STOP A DASTARDLY FORCE OF EVILHansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersThe Mortal Instruments: City of Bones MOVIES THAT FEATURE TALKING ANIMALSThe CroodsEpicThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugOz the Great and PowerfulScary Movie 5TurboWalking with Dinosaurs MOVIES THAT FEATURE TALKING INANIMATE OBJECTSCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2FrozenOz the Great and PowerfulPlanes MOVIES THAT FEATURE "MIND-MELDING"Pacific RimStar Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE THE USE OF TELEKINESISBeautiful CreaturesCarrieDark Touch MOVIES THAT FEATURE LARGE ORGANIZATIONS DEVOTED TO FANTASTICAL OR SCI-FI CAUSESDespicable Me 2Ender's GameEscape from Planet EarthEscape from TomorrowJack the Giant SlayerMonsters UniversityThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesR.I.P.D.Star Trek into Darkness MOVIES THAT FEATURE PROPHECIESByzantiumThe Hobbit: Desolation of SmaugThe Lone RangerThe Mortal Instruments: City of BonesThis Is the End MOVIES THAT USE THE NAME "RONIN"47 RoninEpic MOVIES THAT I DIDN'T SEE BUT THAT I'M SURE FALL INTO A FEW OF THESE CATEGORIESPercy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Follow @Michael Arbeiter | Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Christmas Movie Alternatives: What to Watch Instead of the Holiday Classics
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 23, 2013
    MGM via Everett Collection Christmas movies aren't for everybody. Yes, they might offer the odd sparkle of good will or reminder to appreciate all that you have, but the onslaught of these films might start to feel like overkill. Still, you might find it difficult to find non-holiday-themed alternatives to the Christmas staples that your friends and family members will be enjoying this week. But we've got a few suggestions... Your father is glued to his living room arm chair, drinking in the wholesome enchantments of Miracle on 34th Street. But you can watch...For that spell-binding courtroom drama: 12 Angry Men.For another movie that will teach you the value of blind faith: Soul Surfer.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Miracle. Your mother is enjoying network television's annual broadcast of the feel-good fantasy It's a Wonderful Life. But you can watch...For that "angels sent from above for the good of one man" story: The Heavenly Kid.For another movie that includes a scene about people freaking out in a bank: Dog Day Afternoon.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Life Is Beautiful. Your baby brother is beaming over the innocent glories of the Laurel and Hardy adventure Babes in Toyland. But you can watch...For that fantastical journey through a realm of imagination: Any and all of the Lord of the Rings movies.For another movie about two bumbling pals just trying to make it in this crazy world: Dumb and Dumber.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Babe. Your precocious little sister is smirking knowingly at the myriad jokes in A Christmas Story. But you can watch...For that saccharine recollection of a simpler, sweeter time: GoodFellas.For another movie that sends condemns the dangers of firearms: Pocahontas.For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Philadelphia Story. Your young cousin is reveling in the earnest ecstasies of Rankin Bass' Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. But you can watch...For that charmingly shoddy animation: ParaNorman.For another movie that showcases misfits learning to believe in themselves: Pitch Perfect.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Reindeer Games... does that still count as a Christmas movie? Fine, Funny Games. Happy now? Your aunt is reveling in childhood nostalgia with a viewing of Frosty the Snowman. But you can watch...For that spirited fairy tale magic that brings inanimate creations to life: Short Circuit.For another movie about a high-stakes countdown to early mortality: 25th Hour.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Frost/Nixon. Your uncle is getting a little too effusive about the family's well-worn VHS copy of A Christmas Carol. But you can watch...For that rhythmic and rhyming rendezvous that only T. Geisel can offer to you: Horton Hears a Who.For another movie that thaws the frozen heart of a baddie: Schindler's List (or Despicable Me, for lighter fare).For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Carol Burnett Show. Your grandpa is reliving his old World War II days with White Christmas. But you can watch...For that rally-to-save-the-small-town-fixture tale: Be Kind Rewind.For another movie about nebbishy entertainers on a rousing road trip adventure: Some Like It Hot.For just something that sounds kinda similar: White Chicks. Your spouse has had a little too much eggnog and is, for some ungodly reason, waching The Polar Express. But you can watch...For that horrifying trip down the uncanny valley: The Adventures of Tintin.For another movie that... you know what? I can't get past how freaky the people in this movie look: Mars Needs Moms.For just something that sounds kinda similar: Pineapple Express. And finally, your best friend has stopped by and commandeered the basement TV to enjoy Jingle All the Way. But you can watch...For that testament to the evils of materialism: The Bling Ring.For another movie that showcases the softer side of Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Kid & I.For just something that sounds kinda similar: The Way We Were. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'Her' Has the Special Combination of So Much Brilliance and So Much Heart
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 20, 2013
    Warner Bros. Spike Jonze doesn't waste any time introducing us to the technology at the center of Her. "An operating system that can mimic human sentience?" a dangerously lonely Joaquin Phoenix wonders after catching glimpse of an ad in a transit station. "Don't mind if I do!" (He doesn't actually say that, don't worry.) But by the time we're meant to believe that such a world can seamlessly integrate characters like Scarlett Johansson's automated voice Samantha into the lives of living, breathing men and women like Phoenix's Theodore, we're already established residents of this arresting, icy, quivering world the filmmaker has built. We meet Theodore midway through his recitation of a "handwritten letter" he penned on behalf of a woman to her husband of many years. That's his job — tapping into his own unique sensititivies to play ghostwriter for people hoping to adorn their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and children with personal notes of personal affection. Theodore is no independent contractor; he's part of a thriving company, and we almost get the feeling that the folks on the receiving end of these letters are in the know. Before we ever encounter Samantha, we're embedded in the central conceit of the movie: emotional surrogacy is an industry on the rise. What makes Jonze's world so palatable is that, beneath its marvelously eerie aesthetic, this idea is barely science-fiction. Theodore, humbled and scarred by a recent divorce from lifelong love Catherine (Rooney Mara, who contrasts Johansson by giving a performance that, for a large sum of the movie, is all body and no voice), accesses the will to go on through interractions with video game characters and phone-sex hotlines. But the ante is upped with Samantha, the self-named operating system that Theodore purchases to stave off loneliness, deeming choice a far less contorting one than spending time with old pals like Amy (Amy Adams)... at first.  Samantha evolves rather quickly from an articulate Siri into a curious companion, who is fed and engaged by Theodore just as much as she feeds and engages him. Jonze paces his construction of what, exactly, Samantha is so carefully that we won't even catch the individual steps in her change — along with Theodore, we slowly grow more and more enamored and mystified by his computer/assistant/friend/lover before we can recognize that we're dealing with a different being altogether from the one we met at that inceptive self-aware "H-hello?" But Jonze lays tremendous groundwork to let us know this story is all for something: all the while, as the attractions build and the hearts beat faster for Samantha, we foster an unmistakable sense of doom. We can't help but dread the very same perils that instituted one infamous admission: "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." Warner Bros. But Jonze's sci-fi constructs are so cohesively intertwined with his love story that our dread doesn't exactly translate to an anticipation of HAL's hostile takeover. Her wedges us so tightly between Theodore and Samantha that our fears of the inevitable clash between man and machine apprehend a smaller, more intimate ruin. As Samantha's growth become more surprising and challenging to Theodore, to herself, and to us, the omens build for each. And although all three parties know better, we cannot help but affix ourselves to the chemistry between Theodore and Samantha, and to the possibility that we're building toward something supreme. A good faction of this is due to the unbelievable performances of Phoenix — representing the cautious excitement that we all know so painfully well — and Johansson, who twists her disembodied voice so empathetically that we find ourselves, like Theodore, forgetting that we have yet to actually meet her. The one castigation that we can attach to the casting of Johansson is that such a recognizable face will, inevitably, work its way into our heads when we're listening to her performance. It almost feels like a cheat, although we can guarantee that a performance this good would render a figure just as vivid even if delivered by an unknown. The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. In this way, Her is as effective a comment on the healthiest human relationships as it is on those that rope in third parties — be they of the living, automated, or greeting card variety. In fact, the movie has so many things to say that it occasionally steps on its own feet, opening up ideas so grand (and coloring them so brightly) that it sometimes has trouble capping them coherently. Admittedly, if Spike Jonze had an answer to some of the questions he's asking here, he'd probably be suspected of himself being a super-intelligent computer. But in telling the story of a man struggling to understand what it means to be in love, to an operating system or not, Jonze invites us to dissect all of the manic and trying and wonderful and terrifying and incomprehensible elements therein. Just like Samantha, Her doesn't always know what to do with all of its brilliance. But that might be part of why we're so crazy over the both of them. 4.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Might Be a Little Too Much Fun for Its Own Good
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2013
    Paramount It's a good hour into The Wolf of Wall Street, following a deep dive into Jordan Belfort's early days in the stock market game — that being the most appropriate word for it — and festive indulgence in the most carnal manifestations of human desire, that we're hit with the title card, "18 months later..." Here, it is solidified that the years we have spent inside Martin Scorsese's world of toxic capitalism have all been, up to this point, set-up. Fuel. This brief flash of text, the longest instance of silence in the cacophonous sewer system that is Belfort's story, is the first real sign that a fire is coming. By this time, Scorsese's willful defiance of the "show, don't tell" method has introduced us to every one of the doe-eyed crook's countless vices. He has no qualms stealing from those who can't afford it, lying to those who trust him, cheating on his wife, cramming every substance known to modern science into his bloodstream, and wholeheartedly endorsing (to his adoring audience) all of the above. All the while, we bound between delight and disgust. The delight comes not so much in the material victories of Belfort and his cronies — that has the latter effect, in fact, as every antic is so vividly laced with Sodom-level depravity — but in watching them like zoo animals. In fact, The Wolf of Wall Street's principal undoing might be that it is simply too much fun. For that, we have to thank Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio had managed terrific performances all his career, but this is one of the first in years to actually surprise us. Opening his tale as an ambitious and firm-shouldered young buck, the likes of which you'd find in any Horatio Algers novel, and devolving into the Financial District's answer to Beetlejuice, the actor exhibits corners of his performing ability that we have always dreamed we'd see. In the months leading up to DiCaprio's turn as the dastardly dandy Calvin Candie in last year's Quentin Tarantino picture Django Unchained, fans anticipated an unprecedented kookiness that never seemed to show. Turns out, DiCaprio was saving that mania for Wolf of Wall Street, in which he lambasts justice and judgment in the form of an elastic child at his most tempered and a rabid kangaroo on those nights of the especially hard partying. Paramount And of course, there's that scene with the Quaaludes. Without giving too much away — although the experience is so visceral that all the contextual spoilers wouldn't rob the scene of its emphatic humor — DiCaprio manages a feat of physical comedy so extensive, demanding, and gutterally f**king hilarious that you'll wonder tearfully what might have been had the rising star shirked Titanic for a career in slapstick. But the surplus joys derived from this scene might, in fact, be Wolf's undoing. In a story that is meant to lather on the horrors inherent in the human's propensity for self-serving greed and gluttony, it can soften the blow when we're allowed to take a break from our disgust to spend a few moments in vivid, unabashed delight. Yes, the scene in question involves drug abuse, intoxicated driving, criminal activity, and a near-death experience. But it's so damn funny that we're kept from toppling down into what might have been the darkest crevasse of the film's story and enduring the pathos that might come with it. The dilution of Wolf's message comes at the hand of its comedy (with no affair a bigger culprit than the one described above) and its tendency to meander. Although Scorsese works to shove the very idea of "excess" down our throats with seemingly endless scenes of Belfort and his pals harassing flight attendants and dehumanizing little people, the ad nauseum effect doesn't always hit home as powerfully as imagined, instead allowing the viewer to fizzle out from time to time through Wolf's three-hour tour. We're drowned, slowly and steadily, in Belfort's tragic pleasures while, as the "18 months later" interstitial suggests, we keep expecting to combust with them. It's always a risky endeavor for a film or television show to indict crooked characters not through narrative penalties but through a tacit communication of their behavior or psychology as bad news. The risk comes in the form of audiences challenging artists for letting their villains get off scot-free, or even for glorifying undesirable lifestyles. Ultimately, while Belfort does get some semblance of his comeuppance, he wins in his nefarious game. The Belfort we leave at the end of our journey adheres to the tenets he spouts from the beginning, reveling in a legion of former colleagues beaming at him in collective awe and new students of his self-centric theology zealously eating up his every word in hopes of becoming the very same kind of demigod. To Scorsese, and to any an audience member willing to estrange him or herself from the bounties of wicked humor, this is just the fire we were promised. Belfort's image is ignited by the instances of theft, deceit, betrayal, substance abuse, sexual crime, and a spiralling descent into sub-human madness. But there are a few too many laughs along the way to keep the flames from reaching their full, hottest potential. But hey, when you're complaining about a movie for being too much fun, you've got a pretty good movie on your hands. 3.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • There Are 7 Possible Ways This New 'Gilligan's Island' Movie Could Go...
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 18, 2013
    CBS via Everett Collection/Getty They're making a Gilligan's Island movie. Josh Gad is in it. This is the news we find ourselves facing today. Gilligan's Island purists (there's a purist for everything) are probably hollering over the news of Gad at the center of this production. "The Book of Mormon kid as Gilligan? That's conflicts with my purism!" But as of yet, we're not entirely sure who Gad is set to play. The assumption: Gilligan. The official word: TBA. So, really, there are seven possible ways this movie can go... Josh Gad as GilliganThe most straightforward adaptation of the sitcom, with Gad playing the bumbling title character who consistently thwarts his friends' attempts at escaping the confines of their desert island prison. Sight gags, goofy repartee, wacky laughs, and a simplistic message about believing in yourself and the people you love. Maybe Gad's Gilligan has a romantic flight with hometown gal Mary Ann? That'd sell. We mean, foster artistic merit. Directed by Shawn Levy. Also starringThe Skipper... Kevin JamesThe Millionaire... Jason BatemanHis Wife... Allison JanneyThe Movie Star... Sofia VergaraThe Professor... Jon Hamm (in glasses!)Mary Ann... Ellie Kemper Josh Gad as The SkipperYou know, for kids! If Gad takes on the role of the Skipper, a maritime man who has quite a few years on the rest of the characters, we might be seeing something in the vein of a Disney Channel vacation flick. Gad and his nephew "Gil" operate an ocean excursion for privileged youths and wind up on a crazy island adventure! Gad must wrangle these preteens (and teach them a few lessons about growing up) in this family-friendly 90-minute TV movie (with commercials). Rally the the small nation of people that wrote and directed the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies. Also starringGilligan... Rico RodriguezThe Millionaire... One of the Sprouse twins (maybe not the one with the naked pictures scandal, just to be safe)His "Wife"... iCarlyThe Movie Star... Somebody named ZendayaThe Professor... The kid from Iron Man 3Mary Ann... My cousin Kylee recommended Bridget Mendler, but, admittedly, Kylee doesn't know what Gilligan's Island is Josh Gad as The Millionaire The quirky indie! We've seen a lot of stylistic liberties taken with old television programs and books, with an extra dose of contemporary eccentricity injected into properties like Dark Shadows or Fantastic Mr. Fox. Casting Gad as the (Internet) millionaire would kick off this new Gilligan with that dry, satirical flavor we find in so many offbeat indie flicks, rendering the entire island adventure a venue for deadpan non sequiturs and (quite appropriately) ukulele solos. Is Noah Baumbach available? No? Damn. Also starringGilligan... Jason SchwartzmanThe Skipper... Mark Ruffalo (is he still doing this stuff, or is he all Hulk now?)His Wife... Charlyne YiThe Professor... Mark DuplassThe Movie Star... Zoe Kazan, or a Zoe Kazan equivalentMary Ann... Greta Gerwig, obviously Josh Gad as His WifeThe broader-than-broad cross-dressing comedy! The kind of humor you find on the cutting room floor of Yogi Bear. If there's time to work in a plot between instances of human (and animal) flatulence, so be it. Overweight Gad playing the butt of every joke as Thurston Howell III's hilariously unattractive wife? That's not just comedy, it's America! Brett Ratner is already signed on for a three-picture deal. Also starringGilligan, The Skipper, The Millionaire, The Movie Star, and The Professor... Eddie MurphyMary Ann... An actual woman that they rope in for some semblance of a romantic arc Josh Gad as The Movie Star The classy Oscar candidate! Occasionally, a TV adaptation (i.e., The Fugitive) will reach far and beyond the constraints of its source material and actually churn out awards-caliber material. Casting Gad as a subversion of what we view as the epitome of traditional "celebrity" already lends itself to a more poignant and pensive Gilligan's Island than any of us might have anticipated. We're talking Sophia Coppola territory here. A drama that really says something about what it means for a septet of disparate humans to fend for themselves on a desert island. Also starringGilligan... Michael B. JordanThe Skipper... Christian Bale (he'll gain the weight)The Millionaire... Jean DujardinHis Wife... Marion CotillardThe Professor... Sean Penn — is he still allowed to make movies?Mary Ann... Rooney Mara Josh Gad as The Professor The sci-fi adventure! Gilligan's Island, less a few anthropomorphic monkeys and some liberties taken with coconut-based technology, was rooted in the laws of our universe. But you can say the same for Scooby Doo and The Brady Bunch, and they went on to face real monsters and impending asteroids in their film incarnations. Sometimes, the step toward the big screen warrants an inclusion of fantasy. Maybe the island isn't just uncharted, but cursed! Or the home of an undiscovered breed of monsters! Or a space-and-time-jumping beacon of electromagnetic energy that stands as an extended metaphor for the plight of the human soul! We can see the Bad Robot logo now... His Costars:Gilligan... Dave FrancoThe Skipper... Dwayne JohnsonThe Millionaire... Idris Elba — now you're on boardHis Wife... Gina CaranoThe Movie Star... Zoe SaldanaMary Ann... Elizabeth Olsen Josh Gad as Mary Ann Have you ever seen Head? The strange, cerebral, explosively meta deconstruction of the 1960s musical sitcom The Monkees? Well, we're thinking that the Gilligan's Island form would slink perfectly into these margins. It's surreal, it's ripe for analysis, it even has been suggested to represent the Seven Deadly Sins with each of its characters. Gad's casting as Mary Ann already raises an eyebrow, but a progressive and artful director might well give us something worthy of some deep dives. Charlie Kaufman, make Gilligan's Island about US. His Costars:Gilligan... Jared LetoThe Skipper... Meat LoafThe Millionaire... Denis LavantHis Wife... Catherine KeenerThe Movie Star... Chloe SevignyThe Professor... Joaquin Phoenix So which version are you rooting for? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //