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.
  • 'New Girl' Throws Winston into the Sitcom Cop Problem
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 15, 2014
    Greg Gayne/FOX Forgive me, but I'm about to make reference to Zach Braff's movie Garden State. There is a scene early on in the movie that shows Braff, having recently returned home to New Jersey for the first time in 10 years, bumping into an old friend of his who has, ostensibly, become a police officer. The following exchange takes place: ZACH BRAFF: "You're a cop, Kenny? ... Why?"KENNY, THE COP: "I don't know, man. Had nothing better to do." And that, in a nutshell, is how mainstream comedy views law enforcement. Nothing better to do with a character? Make him a cop. That's what they did with Andy Dwyer on Parks & Recreation, sparking the new calling in the Season 4 finale after realizing that they had nothing else to do with the character in the year to come... before they got tired of that storyline, failed him out of the police academy, and whisked him off to Europe. It appears to be what they're doing with Annie Edison on Community, having her shirk her sensible and fitting career in hospital administration for an out-of-the-blue passion for forensic analysis. And it's what New Girl is doing with Winston now. While Jess and Nick and Coach are off doing something regarding basketball or sex in this week's episode of New Girl, Winston decides to shadow Schmidt at his marketing firm in order to figure out if it might be a field conducive to his unusual skill set. In the process, Winston inadvertently (and with help from Cece) identifies a far more preferable course of action: becoming a police officer. Why? Because he enjoyed cracking the puzzling veneer of Schmidt's elderly work rival Ed (Bob Gunton, slingin' some terrific comedy, that ol' so-and-so) and likes "roaming around" ... or something. If we're desperate to successfully adhere this to any established functions of Winston's character, I guess we can allocate his love for puzzles and his Season 2 Halloween costume. But all in all, this is New Girl shoe-horning its least figured out character into what television comedy seems to think is an all-purpose career. One that anybody can pursue at any time, without it being too severe a narrative transgression. But would Winston really work as a cop? Would Andy Dwyer have? Will Annie Edison? What about Ashton Kutcher on That '70s Show, or Roseanne's sister? Why do so many shows think they can slap aimless do-nothings (and Annie) with a badge and watch them thrive? Shouldn't being a cop get the same kind of character-based weight as being a teacher, a marketing agent, a lawyer, a bartender, a model, or a coach? Maybe New Girl will prove that Winston is, in fact, perfectly constructed for a life on the force, but we're not going to hold our breath for any revelations of inspiration with this character. Hey, at least we have Brooklyn Nine-Nine ... or should we say, Golden Globe-winner Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Darren Aronofsky Is Adding Nick Nolte to the 'Noah' Cast Now? That's a Bad Sign
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 14, 2014
    Paramount Usually, in the home stretch before a movie's release, the team is concerned with churning out trailers and subway posters and scheduling Conan appearances. But with only two months to go before Darren Aronofsky's Noah hits theaters, the director has opted to do something rather... unsettling: add a major character in the form of Nick Nolte. The mastermind behind Black Swan tweeted the news on Tuesday, instilling in fans the same emotional discord embodied in the rattled photograph of the 72-year-old acting legend. We've seen the first trailers for Noah, and were none too enthused by what Paramount was setting up for us then. Does Aronofsky's last minute casting shakeup indicate a lack of confidence in his established project? Does he think that bringing on the 48 Hrs. star as Samyaza, a "watcher," will finally make this a Biblical epic worth seeing? Right now, we don't know what to think about Noah. While the name Aronofsky screams imagination and reinvention, what we've seen thus far is just big, loud, clunky, ugly, and dull. Everything we would expect from a Renny Harlin Noah. Not what any of us had in mind for Aronofsky's vision, and probably not what he had in mind either. From the looks of it all, the terrifically ambitious project has gotten away from him, and he's just now scrapping together to turn it into something that works. Sony Pictures via Everett Collection But just how much good can casting Nick Nolte do? At what point in the process did Aronofsky identify his character Samyaza, an angel consumed by lust, as a vital part of the story? And more importantly, will this mean that Noah's release will be pushed past March 28? We've seen a lot of distribution date juggling in the past year: The Great Gatsby was booted from winter 2012 to summer 2013, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation from summer 2012 to spring 2013, earning mixed and negative reviews, respectively. The Monuments Men, which was supposed to release at the end of last year, will be hitting theaters in February to yet unseen results. In short, we're worried. Since Aronofsky announced Noah, we've held out for the next breathtaking, psychologically dense epic. But all signs point to disaster. Could Nolte's inclusion actually save this picture? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • 'How I Met Your Mother' Recap... Or Should We Say Re-Slap
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 14, 2014
    Ron P. Jaffe/Fox I've heard complaints since September — from Internet commenters and the rare human being I brave contact with — about the wedding weekend parameters of the final season of How I Met Your Mother. Personally, it works for me. I've grown weary of the lazy stories tied to the apartment, MacLaren's, and the external shot of the staircase leading up from MacLaren's to the apartment. There's a new life force in this final season, and it is thanks in part to the urgency inherent in the matrimonial setting. Of course, that isn't to say that an occasional break from that routine can't be fun: "Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra" proves just how much fun it can be. Throwing all guise of realism out the window, "Slapsgiving 3" might well be the most absurd episode of How I Met Your Mother in years, possibly ever. Admist a MacLaren's flashback, Marshall institutes a second flashback (Inception!) to his tutelige in Shanghai under the three greatest slappers in the history of mankind. A triad of warriors who have trained him in the mastery of the perfect slap so that he might bequeath the skeptic Barney with more pain than he might imagine. An episode devoted to Community levels of trope parody, How I Met Your Mother banks more on the viewers' familiarity with Kill Bill: Volume 1 than with the movies to which Kill Bill: Volume 1 owes its own identity. But the 30 minutes of nonsense — a completely fabricated account of Marshall's year-long stay in Shanghai, training under these three mystical sages, and love affair with the 106-year-old White Flower — is quite a funny, extremely silly good time. That doesn't mean the episode won't be exempt to criticism. The complete abandonment of the narrative might ruffle a few feathers. More so, questions are raised upon catching glimpse of Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor dressed up in mythical Chinese garb and affecting accents to an eyebrow-raising degree. But it's less a racial joke than it is a cinematic one.  We're not quite sure if this closes the door on the slapping game for How I Met Your Mother. Yes, there is one more slap to go, but only a few weeks left in the series... two independent slaps so close together? That's unprecedented! We're more inclined to believe that we might leave the gang with the one slap hanging over Barney's head forever. Or maybe we'll catch up with the gang in an epilogue scene that shows a 50-year-old Marshall breaking Barney's jaw with his monstrous palm. Next week, we'll return to form (or this show's equivalent to form). But for a brief break in the monotony, "Slapmarra" was the sort of silly bit of fun to cap How I Met Your Mother's favorite running gag. How I Met Your Mother airs Monday nights at 8 PM on CBS. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Are Comic Book Fans Losing Their Grip in the Marvel Universe?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 13, 2014
    WENN / Marvel There are three ways to sell a movie: sex, violence, and Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie Golden Globe Award winners. Super producer Kevin Feige knows this, and he has roped Sunday night's victor Michael Douglas into the Ant-Man cast. Not a match you would have made, but this is the direction that superhero movies are heading in. No longer is Marvel stardom limited to refurbished comic actors, abdominably-gifted newcomers, or future self-obsessed outsider art renegades. This latest wave of comic book movies has seen the inclusion of performers of the highest esteem. Douglas joins Paul Rudd, the media-literate public's equivalent of the freakin' pope, in action comedy master Edgar Wright's Ant-Man feature, an announcement that comes a few months after Guardians of the Galaxy tacked on the likes of legends Glenn Close and Benicio del Toro, Academy pet Bradley Cooper, and mainstream comedy mainstay John C. Reilly. Actors with varied, successful careers are flocking to the superhero circuit — good news for the masses, who are taking new interest in this line of releases (which, in turn, is great news for the studios), but is it good news for the existing fans? While we've seen broad audiences take to superhero flicks since Spider-Man and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man represent a league of superhero series that have, up until now, thrived on small but devoted communities of comic book fandom. The announcement of their film adaptations sparked tiny bursts of glee, but also questions: how are they going to do this right? Guardians and Ant-Man are especially weird properties that A) wouldn't appeal to Avengers-sized audiences as is, but B) would outrage the established fans were it to reform toward general palatability. We can't assume just by the casting of Rudd and Douglas that Ant-Man is going the Hollywood angle, but we can wonder exactly what it has up its sleeve. Iron Man 3 presents a good example of the concerns of die hard fans (not Die Hard fans though — they probably loved Iron Man 3, which is exactly what we're talking about). The third chapter for Tony Stark, handled by action-comedy kingpin Shane Black, transformed the genre of the Robert Downey Jr. trilogy into something like that which you'd see in his Lethal Weapon scripts, or Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. And to those not stringently adhered to the Iron Man mythology, the movie was fantastic. Fun, goofy, malleable, creative, and hilarious. To those who wanted the Mandarin and Extremis they knew from the comics, it was... enraging. But more even than the issue of contextual changes is that of the sense of the aforementioned communities of comic book fandom. There is something special about being part of a small union of like-minded, unappreciated folk — e.g., being one of the few who hopped on the Arrested Development bandwagon before the series got its post cancelation hop-ons (but to be fair, you're gonna get some hop-ons). This adherence to exclusivity, this "I was into it before everyone else" mentality, they're not entirely healthy or condusive to authentic appreciation of a piece of art. But the phenomenon was born from necessity: way back when geekiness of all sorts was brandished and those belonging to said genus were ostracized (you know, in that long dead era known as high school), it was the very idea of finding others like you and reveling in your elite appreciation for some piece of underdog genius. It helped many of us get through tough times. Love for comic books, specifically — and what's more, the idea that you were one of a small, special, unique force of "superhuman" devotees — charged some much-needed positive vibes. And although we all should be more than willing to open up our beloved titles and characters to the world, there is always that hesitation. Does Marvel expanding its reach to everyone, does everyone's appreciation of what you once held dear and sacred make it less so? Do these stories about "different" people need to be read and loved only by people who identify as different in order to have their desired impact? Maybe. But figure this: maybe, this way, they're reaching a young watcher or reader who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to benefit from their glory. Maybe this is the only way that these tales of justice, strength, humanity, integrity, and imagination can get through to everyone who needs them. Don't feel as if you're being forced to sacrifice your place in an "elite" supergroup. Think of it as the characters that saved you moving on to do the same for the rest of the world. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Was the 2014 Golden Globes the Weirdest Award Ceremony Ever?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 13, 2014
    NBC After seven decades, the Golden Globes can still surprise us. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association offered a particularly entertaining show this year — thanks not only to winning hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler or a wealth of surprising awards victors — but to the array of unplanned weird s**t that happened during the ceremony's three-hour run-time. The kind of madness you cannot plan, and certainly cannot contain. Practical goofs, drunken faux pas, and the odd reference to genitalia. This is the stuff that made the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards one to remember. WE SEEM TO BE EXPERIENCING SOME TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES Jonah Hill in The Teleprompter Tango — introducing Margot RobbieWhat happens when a transformative funnyman and a showbiz newcomer are given the wrong cues at an awards show? Chaos ensues! The Longest Bleep I and II, starring Jacqueline Bisset and Diane KeatonWe saw it first in Jacqueline Bisset's acceptance speech — a long, awkward, misplaced bleeping that returns to audio on the word "s**t." And we see it again with Diane Keaton's drunken praise of Woody Allen! Where will the bleeper strike next? I DON'T THINK THAT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS... HERPES! An Alfonso Cuaron filmFrom the director of Gravity, Y Tu Mama Tambien, and Great Expectations, comes an unexpected herpes joke. Leonardo DiCaprio presents PhilomaniaA pandemic of mispronunciation hits the awards circuit in this outbreak thriller! OKAY, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Cheer Up, Rob Lowe: A Documentary About the First Golden Globe Win of Amy Meredith Poehler What is the real reason behind Parks and Recreation star Rob Lowe's frowny face during the announcement of costar Amy Poehler's Globe win? Reese Witherspoon presents What Am I Doing Here? The Story Behind the Introduction of '12 Years a Slave' It's a case of mistaken identity in this experimental feature that assumes someone who "grew up in New Orleans" is the perfect person to deliver a slavery drama. And finally... Diddy and Ebert: Beyond the Boat — a musical buddy comedyOne's a madcap hip hop legend prone to wild outbursts. The other's an oddball composer with hair like Radagast the Brown. Together, they bring the love, the laughs, and some groovy tunes. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • What Does the 'Girls' Season Premiere Set Up for Hannah, Marnie, Adam, and the Rest?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 12, 2014
    HBO Let's start with HannahWe open this season of Girls in the traditional way: on Hannah lying in bed, nestled in the comforting arms of her most cherished loved one and principle source of security — this time, that's Adam. The grid-evading oddball has moved back into Hannah's life, taking the wheel on her road toward self-betterment (as Hannah tells her therapist, a fumbling Bob Balaban, Adam is "making sure" she is eating healthy and taking her medication) and watching her embrace new productivity in the face of her editor's optimism. Hannah's Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as it none too shockingly turns out, is predicted to be a big sell by the maniacally pragmatic David (John Cameron Mitchell, who, far more shockingly, is 50 years old), who delights in the revelation of her ailment over a pair of edible chocolate cups. Romantically, professionally, and creatively, things are looking up for Hannah. The one speedbump that Hannah does hit on this road trip to personal improvement comes when Adam's recent ex Natalia (Shiri Appleby), who you'll remember from perhaps the darkest and most disturbing cene on the series yet to date, confronts the pair in Ray's coffee shop with accusations of Adam being a selfish, heartless, and overall unreliable human being. Hannah manages to shake off the residual jolts from this particularly jarring conversation, but the viewer keeps them in mind. While Adam might have played the villain in his relationship with Natalia, we can see him enduring her fate — being left to grieve alone — as Hannah eventually ascends to whatever venture comes along with a more attractive path. Which brings us to AdamAt this point, Adam seems to be the dominant voice of wisdom for each of our main characters this year — in the first two episodes alone, he chauffeurs Marnie through her breakup with Charlie, establishes the image of romantic ideality for the impressionable Shoshanna, and offers Jessa a helping hand in the kicking of her addiction. But the permanence that his arguably questionable bits of advice (we've got to remember that the source has exhibited his own tremendous character flaws, despite his broad-shouldered air of nobility) is yet to be witnessed. Adam probably isn't going to turn Jessa off drugs entirely, instill in Marnie a refurbished self-esteem, or drill into Shoshanna's head what it means to be in a healthy, adult relationship. And worst of all for Adam, he's probably not going to keep Hannah from succumbing to her own demons... and unleashing them upon him and everybody else. Onto MarnieMarnie, a victim of actor Christopher Abbott's suspended interest in his Girls character Charlie, is dealing with a sudden breakup, bled of her lasting self-efficacy by her venomous mother (Rita Wilson). Peaking visibly in the embodiment of defeat, Marnie breaks down at Hannah's dinner party over the very idea of Charlie, reciting the story of their split (they were planning to make frozen pizzas, and then… it was over) and wallowing in her ever loosening grasp on her sense of self. It's not a particularly optimistic set-up for Marnie, both in-universe and out. We've seen her struggle with issues of loss and loneliness before, and things don't look to be "picking up" in any drastically different way. Yes, she's got a new apartment in Manhattan, but a pretty significant change is in order to keep our interest in the character's journey, however humane and relatable (albeit regularly contemptible) it may be. The first two episodes do very little to set her on any narrative path, so we're hoping that next week switches up the game in some fashion (be it a "happy" one or otherwise). And now, JessaStuck up in rehab in the boonies, Jessa is succeeding in alienating everyone around her. Playing the "bad guy" in her regular group therapy meetings, Jessa uses her wicked clever streak to diagnose and castigate her fellow patients, earning their scorn and her counselors' disapproval. While there is no doubt in any fan's mind that Jessa would behave as such in this kind of setting — nor that this behavior would result in a wealth of ill repute among the rehab inmates — what stands out as a bit too "stylized" is just how unique the rehabilitation establishment is making her out to be. Jessa' counselor condemns her as a rare case: someone who makes less and less sense the more you get to know her. But if the character is supposed to represent a sub-community of free spirit addicts who thrive on their own narcissism and obsessive detachment, then why is she being treated like such a one-of-a-kind figure? Surely, this is exactly what the Jessas of the world want to hear. To have a psychiatric professional utter these words seems damningly toxic for Girls' intention of breaking down its characters as products of an ill-fitting regime. In the second episode of the season, Jessa — having been booted from rehab for inappropriate sexual advances on another patient, played by Orange Is the New Black's Taystee (Danielle Brooks) — awaits the arrival of Hannah, Shoshanna, and Adam (the only one of the lot old enough to rent a car). The road trip faces Adam's concerted belief system against Hannah's lack thereof, culminating in the reveal that Jessa is (despite Hannah's insistence) in lasting dire need of help. While she maintains her psychotic stoicism, Jessa does appear to have taken some pain away from her rehab experience. In some form, she believes she was helping Laura/Taystee, a closeted lesbian, achieve a new sense of honesty. Furthermore, the one friend she feels she had made at the establishment, a middle aged British addict, was only consumed by his sexual cravings for her. Although Jessa does not seem at all willing to accept Adam's (a fellow addict) offers for help, she is newly marred. And maybe that will institute some kind of new exploration for her. Finally, ShoshannaHer own experimental phase in high gear, Shoshanna is pretty much where we left her post-breakup with Ray. She's attending to her desires for adventure, primarily of a sexual nature, but is convincing herself that her studies will not go neglected... that proclamation coming shortly after we see her falling asleep at the library. But these hints, as well as Shoshanna's determination to graduate and escape the shackles of school life, suggest that Girls is setting up her professional future to be particularly nightmarish. The anxiety-ridden character is likely to achieve a new understanding of the cold hand of reality once her tenure at NYU comes to a rest, which means a new plateau of confusion and terror for the girl we once saw accidentally smoke crack and run around Bushwick without pants. Ray was barely in these episodesHe called some girl a "feisty shiksa," and told Hannah that she was pathetic, but that's about it. What did you think about the episodes? Sound off in the comments section! Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Following Macaulay Culkin's Pizza Underground Cross-Country Tour — A Complete Itinerary
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 10, 2014
    The Pizza Underground/Facebook This must have been what people felt like when they first heard the toe-tappin' sounds of those long-haired beatniks from Liverpool. The musical movement that will, indubitably, define our generation has taken form. Round, hot, cheesy form: Macaulay Culkin's Velvet Underground tribute band The Pizza Underground — the monument of musical creativity that recalibrates the lyrics of classic numbers by Lou Reed and company to focus on the theme of pizza — has released its first video and announced a cross-country tour: January 24 - Brooklyn @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar w/ French Horn Rebellion, Rush Midnight, Heavenly Beat & Seasick MamaJanuary 25 - Philadelphia @ PhilaMOCA January 26 - New Brunswick @ OutworldJanuary 31 - Austin @ Breakpoint on The BoardwalkMarch 5 - San Francisco @ Neck of The WoodsMarch 6 - West Hollywood @ Whisky A Go GoMarch 7 - San Diego @ Ux31March 8 - Tijuana @ MoustacheMarch 10 - Tucson @ 191 WarehouseMarch 11 - El Paso @ The Lowbrow PalaceMarch 12 - Dallas @ Club DadaMarch 13, 14, 15 - Austin @ SXSWMarch 17 - New Orleans @ Hi-Ho LoungeMarch 18 - Mobile @ Alabama Music BoxMarch 19 - Atlanta @ Mammal GalleryMarch 20 - Raleigh @ KingsMarch 21 - Washington, DC @ Black CatMarch 22 - Brooklyn @ Baby's All Right w/ Total Slacker Culkin and his bandmates will kick off their two month- and 18 concert-long tour on Jan. 24 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, gracing states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas, California, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina — not to mention stops in Washington D.C. and Mexico — along the while. Surely it is the dream of any kazoothiast to embark on a Kerouacian journey following these polyunsaturated troubadours from start to finish... but that takes a good deal of planning and budgeting. Endeavors that a small percentage of the Pizza Underground's target demographic is willing to brave. Luckily, we have your backs. We here at Hollywood.com are lovers of Culkin, of Lou Reed, of pizza, and of the lost art of itinerary creation. We've come up with a complete fiscal guidebook for the greatest journey ever to befall humankind: following Pizza Underground across the country. How to Follow The Pizza Underground Across the Country We'll begin with universal costs: the tickets. Here are the prices for each of the shows on the Pizza Underground tour (those unlisted have not yet been announced to the public): Brooklyn @ Brooklyn Night Bazaar - FreePhiladelphia @ PhilaMOCA - $15Austin @ Breakpoint on The Boardwalk - Free, but sold outSan Francisco @ Neck of The Woods - $10 - $12West Hollywood @ Whisky A Go Go - $20San Diego @ U-31 - Not yet revealedTijuana @ Moustache - Not yet revealedTucson @ 191 Warehouse - Not yet revealedEl Paso @ The Lowbrow Palace - Not yet revealedDallas @ Club Dada - $13 - $15Austin @ SXSW - Not yet revealedNew Orleans @ Hi-Ho Lounge - $15Mobile @ Alabama Music Box - $10Atlanta @ Mammal Gallery - $10Raleigh @ Kings - $13 adv, $15 doorWashington, DC @ Black Cat - $15Brooklyn @ Baby's All Right w/ Total Slacker - Not yet revealed You'll notice we left out the New Brunswick @ Outworld venue. That is because there is no evidence that this establishment actually exists. We've tried Google. We've tried asking Jersey residents. We don't know what else to try. Still, we've included New Brunswick in our itinerary, just in case any of you have better luck in unlocking this mystery. At this point, the ticket price amounts to $121 - $127. Calculating the average price per ticket ($11 - $11.50), we can estimate a total range of $187 - $196. Let's go with $196, to be safe. So now it's time to discuss transportation. The first basic question mark concerns the long stretch between the first Austin show and the San Francisco show, otherwise known as February. Will you return home (to wherever that may be — we're going to assume Brooklyn) for the month of February, or keep course on the open road, living rogue as pizza surges through your blood? In order to fund this trip, you might want to have a steady paying job, which will entail (most likely) you to actually do it. This means February should probably be set aside for actual life routines. As such, you'll probably want to stick to your personal automobile or public transport for the Northeast shows, isolate the Breakpoint on the Boardwalk concert with a roundtrip flight to and fro' Austin, and then hit the road (or fly out to Cali) for your trip. If you're going to isolate Austin... You'll probably want to fly out from JFK, leaving on Jan 30, staying in a local hotel (for which you'll find pricing below) and flying back home on Feb 1. Right now, this will run you approximately $238. You can check a list of flight options here. Once March hits, you can proceed with your plan by either-Flying to San Francisco and traveling on land from there. Presently, a flight to San Francisco will run you about $139 ($124, if you're willing to fly into San Jose). Peruse at your leisure.-Driving to San Francisco via RV or car, and continuing on your journey in said vehicle. (The respective sections below will clue you into the fiscal plans for either method.) But you might want to skip Austin altogether.We hate to say it, but it could be worth it. First off, the show is presently sold out (although there are always ways...). But its isolated location and date could pose more of an inconvenience than anything else. Plus, you will indubitably return to the Austin area later on in your trip for the SXSW shows. Bear that in mind! Or... you can do the whole thing in one fell swoop, month-long wait-around period included.And here's how that would go down: -Rent an RVAgain, let's assume you live in Brooklyn. Odds are, if you're a fan of the Pizza Underground, you do. As such, getting to this Williamsburg venue won't be a hastle. But you will have to rent some transport for the following shows. You can go the old fashioned way, but considering the six full days of driving that you're about to embark upon, you might want to kick up the luxury just a bit: rent an RV. View Larger Map The closest Cruise America to Brooklyn would be in Roslyn, on Long Island, running you $89 a night for standard-sized RV, in addition to mileage costs of $0.34 a mile. For a 56-day trip that takes you a total of 7,606 miles, that will amount to $7,570. Then, of course, there's gas. Your RV is estimated to burn a gallon of fuel every eight miles. Gas prices vary substantially throughout our great nation, but we've factored the average per gallon cost for each of the locations you'll be visiting to be $3.22. Some quick math will lead you to a grand gas total of $3,061. Combine this with your $7,570 and you've got a grand transportation total of $10,631. That's a pretty penny, but luckily you're not alone: the RV, complete with bedroom and kitchen, comfortably sleeps five. If you can rally a full team for this trip, it'll leave everyone only spending $2,126 on this leg of the journey. Of course, this is on top of tickets (which would bring it to $2,322) and food. If you're going to isolate or eradicate Austin...If you are planning to eradicate the first Austin show from your itinerary, this changes things... for the better! First off, your stay in the residential vehicle will be substantially shorter, since you're cutting out an entire month in the process. (If we're being logical, you won't need the RV for the first three shows if you're not going to continue on straight from Jersey. Just take a car to Philly and New Brunswick.) A 20-day stay in the RV will run you $1,780, plus a mileage bill of $2,344 for the 6,897 miles you'll be driving. Tack on gas expenses of $2,776 and you've got $5,120. View Larger Map FoodNaturally, you're going to want to keep in step with the theme of your trip and only eat pizza. Since you're starting your trip in Brooklyn, we assume you'll want to stock up on your entire pizza banquet there, seeing as how the locations to which you plan on traveling will supply you with far inferior examples of what you know to be a delicacy. There are some problems with the plan:-One pizza pie, in Brooklyn, will run you an average of $15. Estimate that each person will consume one pie of pizza per day. That's 56 pies of pizza per person (realistically, you won't be able to fit all your pizza in the RV fridge, but we'll get back to that), amounting to $840 for your entire diet budget. But...-You'll need a second, third, and maybe fourth fridge. You can recycle the pizza boxes and wrap each pie in tin foil to make more space in the RV fridge, which should be stocked to the brim, but you still won't have nearly enough room for 56+ pizza pies. We know, the thought of succumbing to non-New York pizza is nightmarish, but we have a mission here.Still, you will want to limit your intake of pizza from the otherlands. We figure that, if you're ambitious, you can stuff 20 pizza pies into one of these RV fridges. That'll keep...i) one of you fed for 20 daysii) two of you fed for 10 daysiii) three of you fed for six days and the next morning's breakfastiv) four of you fed for five daysv) all five of you fed for four days Which means, of course, that you'll eventually have to stop and get more pizza. But where will you be?i) By the 20th day, you'll be... Non-Austin: Back home. Perfect plan... for you. Your friends are starving, though.Austin: In limbo, killing time between Austin and San Francisco. Restock anywhere but New Mexico (their pizza is so bad, the locals are known to throw it on roofs!), and then again in 20 days, when you'll be somewhere in Southern California (where the price is also about $15 a pie). ii) By the 10th day, you'll be...Non-Austin: Dallas. Average price = $9. That'll last you 'til home.Austin: Limbo. Restock a few times before hitting California, then again in San Francisco ($15), Austin ($12), then you're home.iii) By the sixth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: Tijuana (your guess is as good as mine). After that, Austin ($12), then Raleigh ($10), then home.Austin: Limbo, limbo, limbo, limbo, limbo... San Fran ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Washington D.C. ($15), home.iv) By the fifth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: San Diego ($15), Dallas ($12), Atlanta ($12), home.Austin: Limbo x 7. Then San Fran ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Raleigh ($10), home.v) By the fourth day, you'll be...Non-Austin: West Hollywood ($15), Tucson ($10), Austin ($12), Mobile ($10), Brooklyn for one last show (just grab a buffalo chicken slices at Anna Maria's on Bedford), home. -Drive your own car and stay in cheap hotelsOne last time, let's assume you live in Brooklyn. If you don't, you can come stay with me the first night. (Just don't be loud, Matt has to get up early.) After that, however, you'll need to find a place to stay in each of the cities you visit. But let's back up just a second. Considering the fact that the hotel plan would be highly unfeasible in the Austin-included route, we'll just assume that you're starting with San Fransisco for this foray. Right off the bat, you've got that pesky RV rental fee taken off your lap. There's a good chance, too, that you've got better gas mileage in your standard sedan than you would in those fuel guzzlers — let's estimate 30 miles to the gallon. That's $740 so far, which you can split with whatever passengers you're able to accumulate. And here's where the hotel prices come in: San Francisco: Redwood Inn - $89/nightWest Hollywood: Comfort Inn - $89/nightSan Diego: Best Western Plus Hacienda Hotel - $64/nightTijuana: Motel 6 San Ysidro - $42/nightTucson: University Inn - $53/nightEl Paso: Ibis Juarez Consulado - $35/nightDallas: Days Inn - $33/nightAustin: Rodeway Inn - $59/night x 3 (three night event)New Orleans: Sun Suites - $39/nightMobile: Family Inns of America - $30/nightAtlanta: Masters Inn - $29/nightRaleigh: Econo Lodge Inn & Suites - $40/nightWashington D.C.: Knights Inn - $42 All together, that's $729. Add that to $740 (split between however many people with which you're traveling) and you've got your transporation total. But now we're back on food. FoodWithout a fridge, you'll be needing to make daily pizza stops: San Francisco: $15 a pieWest Hollywood: $15 a pieSan Diego: $15 a pieTijuana: ?Tucson: $10 a pieEl Paso: $12 a pieDallas: $12 a pieAustin: $12 a pieNew Orleans: $13 a pieMobile: $10 a pieAtlanta: $12 a pieRaleigh: $10 a pieWashington D.C.: $15 a pie So we've covered almost all bases. The only option unaccounted for is the fly-to-San-Francisco-and-travel-on-land-from-there option. Since you're ending up in Brooklyn, you'll probably need to finagle one of those deals where you drive somebody's car across country for them. There are people who pay you to do that. Check Craigslist. Be careful, though. SO THAT'S IT! Now you have all the information necessary to follow Macaulay Culkin's pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band across the continental United States. The dream. Bon voyage! Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'The Legend of Hercules' Has No Brains Whatsoever (But Man, Those Shoulders!)
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 10, 2014
    Summit via Everett Collection You can imagine that Renny Harlin, director and one quadrant of the writing team for The Legend of Hercules, began his pitch as such: We'll start with a war, because lots of these things start with wars. It feels like this was the principal maxim behind a good deal of the creative choices in this latest update of the Ancient Greek myth. There are always horse riding scenes. There are generally arena battles. There are CGI lions, when you can afford 'em. Oh, and you've got to have a romantic couple canoodling at the base of a waterfall. Weaving them all together cohesively would be a waste of time — just let the common threads take form in a remarkably shouldered Kellan Lutz and action sequences that transubstantiate abjectly to and fro slow-motion. But pervading through Lutz's shirtless smirks and accent continuity that calls envy from Johnny Depp's Alice in Wonderland performance is the obtrusive lack of thought that went into this picture. A proverbial grab bag of "the basics" of the classic epic genre, The Legend of Hercules boasts familiarity over originality. So much so that the filmmakers didn't stop at Hercules mythology... they barely started with it, in fact. There's more Jesus Christ in the character than there is the Ancient Greek demigod, with no lack of Gladiator to keep things moreover relevant. But even more outrageous than the void of imagination in the construct of Hercules' world is its script — a piece so comically dim, thin, and idiotic that you will laugh. So we can't exactly say this is a totally joyless time at the movies. Summit via Everett Collection Surrounding Hercules, a character whose arc takes him from being a nice enough strong dude to a nice enough strong dude who kills people and finally owns up to his fate — "Okay, fine, yes, I guess I'm a god" — are a legion of characters whose makeup and motivations are instituted in their opening scenes and never change thereafter. His de facto stepdad, the teeth-baring King Amphitryon (Scott Adkins), despises the boy for being a living tribute to his supernatural cuckolding; his half-brother Iphicles (Liam Garrigan) is the archetypical scheming, neutered, jealous brother figure right down to the facial scar. The dialogue this family of mongoloids tosses around is stunningly brainless, ditto their character beats. Hercules can't understand how a mystical stranger knows his identity, even though he just moments ago exited a packed coliseum chanting his name. Iphicles defies villainy and menace when he threatens his betrothed Hebe (Gaia Weiss), long in love with Hercules, with the terrible fate of "accepting [him] and loving [their] children equally!" And the dad... jeez, that guy must really be proud of his teeth. With no artistic feat successfully accomplished (or even braved, really) by this movie, we can at the very least call it inoffensive. There is nothing in The Legend of Hercules with which to take issue beyond its dismal intellect, and in a genre especially prone to regressive activity, this is a noteworthy triumph. But you might not have enough energy by the end to award The Legend of Hercules with this superlative. Either because you'll have laughed yourself into a coma at the film's idiocy, or because you'll have lost all strength trying to fend it off. 1/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • The BAFTA Nominations' 'The Wolf of Wall Street' Snub Is Problematic
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jan 08, 2014
    Paramount via Everett Collection With so many different awards organizations announcing their nominations one after the other, it's difficult to remember how heavily to weigh each one's picks when filling out your Oscar pool sheet. Generally speaking, the BAFTAs are a fairly safe guide when it comes to the Best Picture category. Since 2008, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has accurately predicted the Academy's top winners, with (even more impressively) only two discrepancies in Best Picture nominations throughout those five years (both in 2012, interestingly enough). Looking at this latest batch of BAFTA's chief nominees — which includes... American Hustle,Captain Phillips,Gravity,Philomena,and 12 Years a Slave — we're not especially surprised by any of the films included in as much as we are a bit displaced over the absence of one of this past year's biggest titles: The Wolf of Wall Street. By now, everyone with his ear close to the conversation is predicting that Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave is a lock for the Best Picture Oscar, but the consideration rarely comes without honorable mention of Martin Scorsese's Wolf. Still, the satirical picture is far from awards fodder. Called far too "extreme" for the Academy's liking, the 3-hour tour de force of mortifying hedonism would be a far cry from an Oscar even without the competition of 12 Years. Instead, as suggested by BAFTA's list of Best Picture nods, organizations are leaning towards the safer, sweeter, more palatable, less controversial, and effectively less good spiritual counterpart to Wolf of Wall Street: American Hustle. Hustle is a fine movie all its own — it's fun, dynamic, well-acted, and does indeed feel "lived in." But it falls shy of the artistic reach represented by fellow con man epic Wolf, to which comparisons are inevitable (you can hear a terrific discussion on the matter on the latest episode of Fighting in the War Room). While we'd be hard pressed to deny David O. Russell's funny, campy, emotionally charged picture its due recognition of quality, the choice to nominate it for Best Picture over Wolf of Wall Street seems like a statement of fear: "We don't want to nominate that large, messy, outrageous picture that's got everybody all in a huff," mutters a nervous BAFTA. "But what about the one with the hair? That's sorta like Wolf of Wall Street, but cleaner. Jolly good!" The choice is a scary one, if only that it suggests the possibility that BAFTA has veered away from Wolf of Wall Street due to the volatility associated with the movie rather than due to the quality therein. By this token, would a few more Armond Whites have robbed 12 Years a Slave of its nomination? How about a few more Neil deGrasse Tysons stealing the nod from Gravity? Hopefully, the Academy will not emulate this aversion to Scorsese's movie — one that more than deserves mention, and would even take home a few trophies in a just system. Peruse the rest of BAFTA's nominations below (which also, obscenely, omit Her in the Original Screenplay category) and share your thoughts on the matter. BEST FILM12 YEARS A SLAVE Anthony Katagas, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, Jonathan GordonCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De LucaGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David HeymanPHILOMENA Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward DIRECTOR12 YEARS A SLAVE Steve McQueenAMERICAN HUSTLE David O. RussellCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Paul GreengrassGRAVITY Alfonso CuarónTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Martin Scorsese ORIGINAL SCREENPLAYAMERICAN HUSTLE Eric Warren Singer, David O. RussellBLUE JASMINE Woody AllenGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás CuarónINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Joel Coen, Ethan CoenNEBRASKA Bob Nelson ADAPTED SCREENPLAY12 YEARS A SLAVE John RidleyBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Richard LaGraveneseCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Billy RayPHILOMENA Steve Coogan, Jeff PopeTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Terence Winter LEADING ACTORBRUCE DERN NebraskaCHIWETEL EJIOFOR 12 Years a SlaveCHRISTIAN BALE American HustleLEONARDO DICAPRIO The Wolf of Wall StreetTOM HANKS Captain Phillips LEADING ACTRESSAMY ADAMS American HustleCATE BLANCHETT Blue JasmineEMMA THOMPSON Saving Mr. BanksJUDI DENCH PhilomenaSANDRA BULLOCK Gravity SUPPORTING ACTORBARKHAD ABDI Captain PhillipsBRADLEY COOPER American HustleDANIEL BRÜHL RushMATT DAMON Behind the CandelabraMICHAEL FASSBENDER 12 Years a Slave SUPPORTING ACTRESSJENNIFER LAWRENCE American HustleJULIA ROBERTS August: Osage CountyLUPITA NYONG’O 12 Years a SlaveOPRAH WINFREY The ButlerSALLY HAWKINS Blue Jasmine OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILMGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, David Heyman, Jonás CuarónMANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM Justin Chadwick, Anant Singh, David M. Thompson, William NicholsonPHILOMENA Stephen Frears, Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan, Tracey Seaward, Jeff PopeRUSH Ron Howard, Andrew Eaton, Peter MorganSAVING MR. BANKS John Lee Hancock, Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Kelly Marcel, Sue SmithTHE SELFISH GIANT: Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCERCOLIN CARBERRY (Writer), GLENN PATTERSON (Writer) Good VibrationsKELLY MARCEL (Writer) Saving Mr. BanksKIERAN EVANS (Director/Writer) Kelly + VictorPAUL WRIGHT (Director/Writer), POLLY STOKES (Producer) For Those in PerilSCOTT GRAHAM (Director/Writer) Shell FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGETHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua Oppenheimer, Signe Byrge SørensenBLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR Abdellatif Kechiche, Brahim Chioua, Vincent MaravalTHE GREAT BEAUTY Paolo Sorrentino, Nicola Giuliano, Francesca CimaMETRO MANILA Sean Ellis, Mathilde CharpentierWADJDA Haifaa Al-Mansour, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul DOCUMENTARYTHE ACT OF KILLING Joshua OppenheimerTHE ARMSTRONG LIE Alex GibneyBLACKFISH Gabriela CowperthwaiteTIM’S VERMEER Teller, Penn Jillette, Farley ZieglerWE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS Alex GibneyANIMATED FILMDESPICABLE ME 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre CoffinFROZEN Chris Buck, Jennifer LeeMONSTERS UNIVERSITY Dan Scanlon ORIGINAL MUSIC12 YEARS A SLAVE Hans ZimmerTHE BOOK THIEF John WilliamsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Henry JackmanGRAVITY Steven PriceSAVING MR. BANKS Thomas Newman CINEMATOGRAPHY12 YEARS A SLAVE Sean BobbittCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Barry AckroydGRAVITY Emmanuel LubezkiINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Bruno DelbonnelNEBRASKA Phedon Papamichael EDITING12 YEARS A SLAVE Joe WalkerCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Christopher RouseGRAVITY Alfonso Cuarón, Mark SangerRUSH Dan Hanley, Mike HillTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET Thelma Schoonmaker PRODUCTION DESIGN12 YEARS A SLAVE Adam Stockhausen, Alice BakerAMERICAN HUSTLE Judy Becker, Heather LoefflerBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Howard CummingsGRAVITY Andy Nicholson, Rosie Goodwin, Joanne WoodlardTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn COSTUME DESIGNAMERICAN HUSTLE Michael WilkinsonBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Ellen MirojnickTHE GREAT GATSBY Catherine MartinTHE INVISIBLE WOMAN Michael O’ConnorSAVING MR. BANKS Daniel Orlandi MAKE UP & HAIRAMERICAN HUSTLE Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-BellBEHIND THE CANDELABRA Kate Biscoe, Marie LarkinTHE BUTLER Debra Denson, Beverly Jo Pryor, Candace NealTHE GREAT GATSBY Maurizio Silvi, Kerry WarnTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater SOUNDALL IS LOST Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor, Micah Bloomberg, Gillian ArthurCAPTAIN PHILLIPS Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro, Oliver TarneyGRAVITY Glenn Freemantle, Skip Lievsay, Christopher Benstead, Niv Adiri, Chris MunroINSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS Peter F. Kurland, Skip Lievsay, Greg OrloffRUSH Danny Hambrook, Martin Steyer, Stefan Korte, Markus Stemler, Frank Kruse SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTSGRAVITY Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, Neil Corbould, Nikki PennyTHE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric ReynoldsIRON MAN 3 Bryan Grill, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Dan SudickPACIFIC RIM Hal Hickel, John Knoll, Lindy De Quattro, Nigel SumnerSTAR TREK INTO DARKNESS Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton, Patrick Tubach, Roger Guyett BRITISH SHORT ANIMATIONEVERYTHING I CAN SEE FROM HERE Bjorn-Erik Aschim, Friederike Nicolaus, Sam TaylorI AM TOM MOODY Ainslie HendersonSLEEPING WITH THE FISHES James Walker, Sarah Woolner, Yousif Al-Khalifa BRITISH SHORT FILMISLAND QUEEN Ben Mallaby, Nat LuurtsemaKEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES Megan Rubens, Michael Pearce, Selina LimORBIT EVER AFTER Chee-Lan Chan, Jamie Stone, Len RowlesROOM 8 James W. Griffiths, Sophie VennerSEA VIEW Anna Duffield, Jane Linfoot
  • 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 //