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.
  • Will Sundance's 'A Visit from the Goon Squad' TV Show Work?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 21, 2013
    Jennifer Egan/Anchor Many great pieces of literature have been cursed (or gifted, however you want to look at it) with the label "unfilmable." The majority believed this to be the case with Cloud Atlas (and, after seeing the 2012 movie adaptation, many still do). Orson Scott Card even said this of his own novel, Ender's Game ... though, Orson Scott Card has said a lot of idiotic things.  However, plenty of other titles have also earned this designation thanks to sprawling plot or unusual structure. A good example: A Visit from the Goon Squad, which falls somewhere between singular narrative and short story anthology in its illustration of an electic world of kooky, self-sabotaging musicians, executives, and criminals. It's difficult to imagine Jennifer Egan's book, which hops between time periods and locations, as a comprehensive movie. But an episodic television series is another story... especially one done by a company as inventive as the Sundance Channel. The Wrap reports that the cable network is picking up the Goon Squad adaptation project, endeavored and abandoned by HBO not long ago. We're intrigued. Not entirely confident in the ability of any creative force to transport Egan's 2010 book to a visual medium, but intrigued by the prospect. We loved Cloud Atlas and had fun with Ender's Game, so we're in the mindset that anything is possible. Even the translation of a jagged, hyperactive masterpiece like Egan's Goon Squad to something palatable for viewing audiences. Especially because Sundance's "palatable" isn't quite in the same ballpark as CBS'. In case you haven't been keeping up with the Sundance Channel's output, it has reigned supreme as some of the small screen's best material this past year. The mini-series Top of the Lake ranks as the greatest new television show of 2013 in our books; Rectify followed suit as a stellar piece of long-form TV. Even their unscripted progamming, for instance The Writer's Room, is above and beyond most of what we get elsewhere. HBO, though a qualitative power player in its own right, is still too ostensibly bound by public demand, ushering out shows that are moreover conformed to the established flavor of contemporary TV. Game of Thrones and its network company do push the structural and narrative envelopes quite a bit more than what we see on network television, basic cable, or even Showtime, but it still doesn't quite hold a candle to its Sundance brethren. So, cautious though we may be about approaching an Egan adaptation, we're at least pleased that the project is in the hands best suited to make it something worthy of some optimism. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Review: 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' Is Appropriate Levels of Fun, Sappy, and Exciting
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 20, 2013
    Lions Gate via Everett Collection When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields. But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend. Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy. In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel. Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt. But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.  3.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Which Is the Funniest Duo on 'New Girl'?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 20, 2013
    FOX Now that New Girl has an even number of central players, we might be seeing a greater number of episodes splitting its stars off into groups of two to carry A, B, and C stories along. This week's entry, "Longest Night Ever," kicked off what looks to be a mainstay pairing: Cece and Coach, undertaking the beginnings of what will likely manifest as a season-long romantic relationship. And since Nick is saddled with helping Winston find his lost cat, this leaves an angst-ridden Jess to handle the emotionally unbridled Schmidt, grieving violently over Cece's interest in his friend and former roommate. And since we'll likely be seeing a lot more teams of two in the upcoming New Girl slate, let's give a gander at which duo we think handles the comedy best... Jess and SchmidtWhen the show's two A-types band together, the results are usually extreme and explosive. One of Jess' early face-offs with Schmidt had her begging him to abandon his new carefree, beachside lifestyle and return to his dish-washing ways. While Schmidt almost always proves himself an opponent of whomever he is teamed with, Jess is the only character who has enough drive to keep up with him the whole way. Nick and WinstonThe beauty of Nick and Winston is that they're generally on the same page. And it's usually a pretty ill-conceived page. Lifelong friends who we can actually imagine as lifelong friends, due primarily to their mutually stunted adolescences and lapsed understanding of basic realities (when Nick and Winston have a scheme going it is often at the expense of everyone who gets in their way). They'll bicker back and forth, chastising one another's bad ideas, with neither proving himself the more capable, independent adult. Cece and CoachWe only got a taste of the Cece/Coach relationship, and it was predicated on Coach trying to play up his bravado in order to impress the attractive Cece. Hopefully, there won't be a continuation of this trend, and we'll see the two conjure up some real, kooky chemistry. Jess and NickPre-relationship, these two were golden: the show's best material came from Jess and Nick's frustrated misunderstanding of their mutual feelings for one another. Now, somehow, things have "worked out" all too well. They're together, and they're happy, and their conflicts never last more than 30 minutes. What used to be the power couple is now one of New Girl's weakest links. Jess and CeceLike Nick and Winston, Jess and Cece are believable as lifelong friends. The affection is present in all scenes they share together. Unfortunately, this is also a zone of comfort for both characters, and without the propensity for destruction that is inherent in the Nick/Winston dynamic, that just leaves Jess and Cece a bit boring. Schmidt and CeceThis is a pair that has seen a number of incarnations. Inceptive hostility, secret and shameful lust, unrequited desire, sincere romance, uncomfortable deception... They're not without their charms, but they are best left in C plots. Especially at this point (Schmidt, you've made your bed — lie in it). Nick and Schmidt Quite possibly the funniest coupling on New Girl, in large part due to each parties being totally unequipped to care as much as he does about someone so different from the way he is. Nick, although he'll never admit it (especially to himself) loves Schmidt, despite his flamboyant representation of everything Nick can't stand or comprehend. And Schmidt loves Nick, a man he'll never be able to coax into returning this open affection, so much that it hurts him. In their continued efforts to meet one another halfway, Nick and Schmidt give us some golden comedy, and some genuinely touching moments, too. Schmidt and Winston Just a few rungs below a friendship that either one of them is really content with, Schmidt and Winston always seem a little uneasy with one another. Their common ground is Nick, a fact so vividly present that his absence (even if just from the room) hinders their ability to communicate. From this jagged relationship comes the comedy. Schmidt and Winston have no idea how to deal with each other, leading them (a pair of loons) to erupt into chaos on the regular. Jess and Winston Maybe we're reading too much into this, but Winston seems to have a personal history completely lacking in healthy relationships. His father ran off, his surrogate father was a narcissistic con man, his ex-girlfriend and he had no connection, his first sexual partner was a prostitute, and his best friend is an emotionally closed off man-child. Jess might be the first person to ever lend Winston her heart, leading for him to be at once bewildered and repelled by her, as well as uniquely drawn to her. The two don't have a lot of material together, but their relative capability makes them a pair with potential. Jess and CoachThey did exhibit a lot of energy celebrating the death of bin Laden. Winston and CoachI'd like to see a little more of their rivalry. Winston and Cece Something is there. Some weird familiarity with the world of "cool" that the other geeks that they spend their time with have never traversed, and yet some understanding that they belong down in the trenches with the rest of said fools. They've spent only a bit of time together, but their interactions (co-pranking the Schmidts and Winston's unwitting crashing of Cece's pre-wedding family get-together) have resulted in good fun. Winston and His Cat It's enough with that. Schmidt and CoachWay too much machismo. Nick and CoachWe'll see. No more workout episodes, please. Nick and Cece Have these two ever spoken? So, to rank... 1. Nick and Schmidt2. Jess and Nick, before getting together3. Jess and Schmidt4. Nick and Winston5. Schmidt and Winston6. Winston and Cece7. Jess and Cece8. Jess and Winston9. Anyone and Coach, at this point10. Schmidt and Cece11. Jess and Nick, since getting together Of course, the entire list is thrown into flux if we're including the Nick/Tran pairing in the mix. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • All the 'How I Met Your Mother' Callbacks In This Week's Episode, 'Mom and Dad'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 19, 2013
    Although How I Met Your Mother does wax and wane in its quality, we can say that the show — with relative consistency — has been intent on rewarding its fans. Callbacks, running gags, and an elaborate universe serve for the same kind of fun, sportsmanlike watching that we get from Arrested Development ... though with a more prevalent "hit or miss" factor. Up in quality overall from the previous two, this final season seems to interested in giving us closure on all the running jokes we've loved over the years, and they're not exactly pumping the brakes on the distribution of this material. This week's episode, "Mom and Dad," offers a cartload of old HIMYM shtick ripe for the picking: From This Season...-Lily's Weekend of TacklesWe don't know how many people Lily will end up tackling during Barney and Robin's wedding weekend. So far, the count is two. -Billy ZabkaZabka, playing himself, as a traumatized former child star vying for the love and admiration of Barney, is an unlikely theme of Season 9. It might be put to rest with his ultimate retribution this week, though. No real complaints on that end, here, although Zabka does get a few gems in his surreal villainy in "Mom and Dad." -Ted's CalligraphyFor some reason, I love Ted's newfound obsession with calligraphy. Mostly because the format of the season doesn't make it seem like he's just now always talking about calligraphy, but that it just happens to be on his mind quite a bit this weekend (due to his Best Man duties). From Seasons Past...-"I'm Gonna Be" by The ProclaimersWe were treated to this one at the end of last week's episode, wherein a newly assertive Marshall seized control of his and Daphne's rig, insisting that the trip be scored by his old road-tripping anthem. This week, Marshall (already back in his old nice guy saddle) and Daphne are caught enjoying the late '80s pop sensation. -Billy Zabka, againZabka has been a fixture of HIMYM lore ever since the joke was established that Barney always identifies with the villains in films and television programs (The Karate Kid being among his favorites). -The PineapplePerhaps the biggest thrill of the callback lot is a flashback to Ted (in Detective Mosby form), after eight years, finally opting to give up on the pineapple mystery. That ep stands as a fan favorite to all HIMYM devotees. -John Lithgow Dressed as a HoodlumThe subtlest, and maybe funniest, callback of all: when Barney is imagining his mom and dad getting back together, he can't help but revert to his image of Lithgow as the stud he wished he was upon meeting him a few years back. I just love seeing Lithgow in a leather jacket and shades. I just love seeing Lithgow do anything. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Is 'The Walking Dead' Actually Going to Do The Governor Right This Time?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 18, 2013
    Gene Page/AMC Fans of the comic book series were excited when, back in The Walking Dead's farming days, AMC announced that a beloved character known as The Governor would be finding his way into the program's canon. But the incarnation of the man that Season 3 gave us was to no great end: the year's back half amounted to the show's most convoluted and least gripping league of episodes yet (though not all of this can be pinned on the one-eyed tyrant). We thought that the character might be gone for good at the season's close, but heard tell in the entertainment news circuit that David Morrissey would be signing back onto the show through 2014, bemoaning the extended presence of this poison on the Walking Dead narrative. Yeah, we went into this new episode — that which finally reintroduced The Governor into our routine (after a brief end-of-episode appearance last week) — with a bad attitude. But we have to say that "Live Bait" pulled off something we didn't think likely: a really great, albeit highly unusual, episode devoted entirely to Philip Blake. Maybe I'm just high off my also unexpected enjoyment of Thor: The Dark World, but The Walking Dead of late is feeling somewhat like a string of Marvel movies. The past three weeks have served as standalone stories, each dedicated to the unraveling and examination of a noteworthy character: Carol first, then Hershel, and now The Governor. And his is the most akin to your comic book origin story, what with an introductory theme song and a complete absence of all other regular characters. Hell, even Morrissey's appearance at the end of the previous episode felt kind of like one of Marvel's mid-credits Nick Fury/Thanos/The Collector scenes. And throughout "Live Bait," there is an ambiance of the cinematic. The Governor's new story finds him trekking the world, alone but for his scraggly beard, post-Woodbury and without much life force carrying him forward. The character is effectively his own kind of zombie, surviving because of his biological need to, grunting in lieu of speech, discarding any sort of humanity or zeal that once coursed through him. The Governor meets up with a family of four — aged, dying dad, his two adult daughters, and one's 7-year-old girl — holing up in their apartment building and growing begrudgingly attached to the clan... especially the youngest member. Govsy warms up to little Megan, teaching her about chess, assuaging her resistence to speech, and eventually luring her away from a gaggle of approaching zombies, promising he'll never let anything bad happen to her. Yes, this new back-from-the-dead-and-maybe-angling-to-be-a-person-with-a-soul Governor might be a pretty abrupt jump from last season's pure-evil Governor, but "Live Bait" does an effective job of delivering the man well into this interim state of being, and a young girl just adorable and vulnerable and reminiscent-of-his-own-zombie-offspring-y enough to make the reinvention believable. And although the last thing Walking Dead needs is new characters, I'm very on board with the Governor's new surrogate family: the caustic Tara and the more compassionate Lily (unless I have that backwards?) — I regret having to lose the endearingly upbeat dad, if only for his quick charm, but the narrative calls for it. Megan needs someone to adore, and the Governor needs someone to adore him. So the Governor's quest, perhaps that to overtake the prison or in any other way claim the fruits of the Rick camp's labors, are now driven in a new way: by motives that we can sympathize with. Yes, he stands to lose his new surrogate family when they realize what a monster he is, but that point is a far way down the road from here. First, they need to grow to love him. Enough to be conflicted by the idea of his past deeds of psychosis. And then, once Mr. Blake has all that he wants in this world, it's only a matter of time before Michonne (most likely) pops by to spill the beans. Or his brains. But this quiet, Ben Nichols-scored (that opening number is called "The Last Pale Light in the West") episode gives us hope for a more interesting and down to Earth, albeit still tortured and maniacal, Governor. One we can really get attached to as we watch him take the world down in flames... as scary a thought as that is. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Know What's Awesome? Stephen Hawking Is Getting a Graphic Novel Biography, That's What!
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 14, 2013
    James Shaw/WENN Somewhere along the way, science stopped being "for nerds" and started being "awesome." It might have been the sweep of technology over our culture that instituted the shift. It might have been hallinogenic drugs. But I'd like to think that we can thank Stephen Hawking for the rebranding of all things geeky. Revered as the smartest man in the world and one of the leading names in theoretical physics and cosmology, Hawking has reared his head in various facets of pop culture — voicing his likeness on Futurama, playing pranks with Jim Carrey and Conan O'Brien, and even inspiring a character on the mid-'90s children's cartoon Dexter's Laboratory. Now, Hawking will be paid due tribute in an honor truly befitting of the genius: The Hollywood Reporter reports that writer Jim Ottaviani and artist Leland Myrick are working on a biography about Hawking... in the form of a graphic novel. Ottaviani and Myrick worked together previously on a bio-graphic novel about Richard Feynman, another theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner who died in 1988 after living a particularly adventurous, colorful life. It was the summer of 2012 when Hawking, who had read and enjoyed Feynman, spoke with the creative pair about exploring his story in the same medium. Ottaviani himself has a science background, having worked as a nuclear engineer and penned Two-Fisted Science: Stories About Scientists. The new book is scheduled to bed published in 2016.  Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Andy Kaufman Is Probably Not Still Alive... But That's Okay
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 14, 2013
    Jim Britt/ABC via Getty Allow me to open this article with a candid admission: I want to believe that Andy Kaufman is still alive. I've wanted to believe that Andy Kaufman was still alive since I was first introduced to the comedic genius' story at age 11, sparked by my fandom of Taxi (thank you, Nick at Nite) to watch Man on the Moon (thank you, HBO). I had loved his work as Latka Gravas and knew his famous Mighty Mouse gag, but wasn't familiar with the man or his legacy — nor his dedication to very fabric of comedy — until Milos Forman and Jim Carrey painted such a colorful picture. Ever since then, I've read everything I could about Kaufman. I've watched all his old routines, reveling in his variety of hoaxes and schemes. I hung a decidedly creepy poster of the man in my college dorm room, alienating visitors with my 48 square inch print of the swarthy weirdo with the menacing stare. In short (although I guess it's too late for that), I love Andy Kaufman. Many do. And among those is, quite likely, a large population who were really hoping that this new revelation was not a hoax. On Monday, New York City's Gotham Comedy Club hosted the 9th Annual Andy Kaufman Award finals — a nation-wide talent competition constructed to showcase the varied creative exploits of budding performers. The most notable performance of the night came not from a contestant, though, but from a 24-year-old young woman who took the stage beside Michael Kaufman (Andy's brother and the founder of the award show), announcing herself to be the daughter of Andy Kaufman, and pronouncing her alleged father to be still alive. Watch the video for yourself, courtesy of Cinema Blend: A bit of background info. In 1984, Kaufman was believed (by some) to be killed by a longstanding struggle with lung cancer... a curiosity to those who knew Kaufman as a very healthy individual who never smoked a day in his life. Due to the number of times he pulled the wool over America's eyes — he staged so many elaborate cons, short and long, that to take anything Kaufman did at face value would be foolish — a number of people have assumed that the death was a ruse. Kaufman could have faked it for a number of reasons: Maybe to sink into a life of privacy that he might enjoy amongst his loved ones, maybe to emancipate himself from the cannibalistic vanity of the Hollywood business, or maybe, simply, because he thought it would be funny. We'd believe any and all. Kaufman hasn't been seen publicly since '84, and doesn't appear to have had any encounter with his brother Michael, with whom he shared an ostensibly good relationship. The one exception to the actor/comedian's 30-year absentia came in 1999, at a restaurant where he planned to meet his brother had he ever decided to fake his own death. Andy didn't show, but Michael is said to have come into the possession of a message from his brother, stating that Andy was alive, happy, living with a wife and children, and uncomfortable discarding his privacy just yet. With the passing of the Kaufman brothers' father this past summer, Andy is said — by his alleged daughter — to be reconsidering his privacy, opening up to the idea of reconnecting with his brother, and possibly extending his publicity beyond that. The young woman revealed that Andy is a big fan and follower of the awards circuit that Michael Kaufman has set up in his name, taking special interest in Michael's forwarding of their appreciation of comedy and performance. And so, here we are. Wondering if this new twist of fate carries with it any veritability at all. On the side of "Come on, this is ridiculous!" Cinema Blend acknowledges the uncanny resemblance that exists between the Kaufman daughter and theater actress Alexandra Tatarsky, who is reported to have met Michael Kaufman at a Manhattan art gallery and, quite possibly, planned the whole ordeal with Andy's brother from there. Incidentally, Tatarsky's father is a 58-year-old New York-based psychologist. On the side of "Well, maybe... just maybe..." we really only have faith. Faith and the proclamations of present parties who insist that the whole scene was a genuine display of shock and emotion on the parts of both Michael and the niece he would have first met on this night. And somewhere in the middle, airing cautiously on the side of the former mentality but with a smidgen of hope that maybe... just maybe... it's possible that the Elvis-impersonating Foreign Man pulled off one of the greatest gags in showbiz history, do I lie. Contemplating skeptically the rare reversal of the Internet death hoax. I'm wont to believe that the whole thing is an act. In truth, it would be amazing if Kaufman were to resurface, and not only for the reason of having my hero back among us once more, but in the showcase of a performance artist's true devotion to the art that he pioneered in his heyday. But as much as I'd bask in the glory of Kaufman's triumphant resurgence, there would be cons to this turn of events as well. With the rebirth of a legend comes the rebirth of his humanity. Just like with Elvis, Tupac, Houdini, James Dean, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, and a number of other legends, a portion of the majesty of these figures' work is owed to their untimely passing. Immortalized by the short section of time that they got the opportunity to showcase their brilliance, we remember these greats as flawless. Their images are limited to their triumphs. They are dehumanized and transformed into ideas of perfection (in their respective fields). Andy Kaufman was 35 at the time of his supposed death, having only treated us to a few years of his maniacal brain before leaving this Earth (or just leaving its eye). Back with us, Kaufman would be a man. A man, granted, who managed a 30-year prank, but a man (and a 64-year-old one, to boot) who'd have to carry forth nonstop with his genius in order to maintain "the legend." For a while, doable. For a lifetime, impossible. That's why we speak with a hymnal whisper of John Lennon, but a merry appreciation of Paul McCartney. Paul is a man. An unbelievably talented force of musical creativity and chutzpah. But John, now, is just shy of a god. Granted, John was also a dark, brooding loon and Paul is a pretty even-keeled and chipper fellow. But it's also the immortalization thing. We'd lose the Kaufman we knew if we were to unite with one that lived today. He'd arise as a man, one living in a different kind of world that might not play conduit to the tricks at which he was such a master. And we'd eventually have to ask the inevitable question: What kind of person willingly lets their brother, parents, and friends believe he is dead for 30 years, all in the service of a joke or his own desires for privacy? I say this not motived to castigate Kaufman, if he indeed is still out there, or to call attention to humanity's odd glorification of the dead. I say this as an appeasement for those, like me, who really want to believe that he did it. That he faked it all, hid away, and decided, "What the hell? Let's get the band back together!" Anything is possible. But this is probably not the case. Sadly, Andy Kaufman may very well have died back in 1984. But on that very same day, something was born: his legacy. The legendary, inimitable character that has coursed through the veins of comedians ever since, hoping to achieve this wonderful spirit's passion for laughter, performance, and emotion. In a way, no matter what, he's still at large. Because nobody, 30 years after disappearing, could inspire this much conversation about the veracity of his death. Andy might not be on this Earth any longer, but he continues to fool us all. And we're all terribly grateful for it. Thank you very much. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • First Trailer for Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah' Looks Like a Gigantic Epic for Russell Crowe
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 14, 2013
    The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. With Thor: The Dark World fresh in our minds, it's difficult to estrange from the similarities in the first trailer for Darren Aronofsky's Noah. We close in on a long-haired, finely chiseled Australian film icon, mid-scene as a mythical figure lamenting the impending global annihilation at the hands of the all-powerful being closest to him. "He's going to destroy the world," says Russell Crowemsworth. But even if the Marvel sequel hadn't just released, we might find this introductory look at the director's Black Swan follow-up to feel just a little too... grand. What the Biblical tale of Noah's Ark has, intrinsically, is an epic nature: The end of days. The wrath of God. A global flood. A literal boatload of wild animals. And more than any of this in launching Noah to grandeur is the fact that so many of us grew up reveling in its majesty. Through religious schooling or PBS specials, we learned as children that Noah's story was one of the most amazing ever told. And without much cinematic competition for the subject matter, it's not like Aronofsky is working against the tide. With proper visual effects, a Noah movie would feel just as "grand" as we might want it to. That's why we hope that this new trailer is downplaying the element most necessary to make this feature work: the intimacy. joblomovienetwork/YouTube With a story so inherently "big," it would pay for Aronofsky to hone in on the small. The personal conquests of Noah and his family, the torments that lie deeper than the crashing waves. Aronofsky is a filmmaker whose worlds feel gigantic, but whose characters are always sharp and vivid. But Crowe feels buried beneath everything else in this trailer, with his wife and children huddled beside him. Naturally, the first trailer for a movie like Noah is going to have to opt for the "big." We can't spend our inceptive minutes watching Crowe play All Is Lost (with a much bigger boat) — we need confidence in Aronofsky's ability to get what is arguably the Bible's most famous tale down pat. But we know he'll do the "big" stuff right. Hopefully the next look at this movie will show that he's handling the small stuff just as well. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • Wes Anderson's New Short Film Makes Us Want Him to Direct an Italian 'Doc Hollywood' for Jason Schwartzman
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 13, 2013
    Prada/YouTube We like spending time in the mind of Wes Anderson. Generally speaking, the more time the better, although his latest 7-minute short film is one hell of a charmer. Jason Schwartzman, a mainstay of the director's palette, appears as an American racecar driver who speeds into a tiny Italian village, crashing recklessly into a statue, and setting up shop for a long stay amongst the locals. Quickly, Schwartzman's character recognizes the community to be that from which his ancestors hail, delighting in the company of his ostensibly prescient kin, and slurping down their hooch and pastas as he sits in on what seems to be an eternal card game. And we love it. So much so that we want more. Yes, it is the brevity and simplicity of the short film that gives it such charm, but we're inclined to ask for more. A full feature about Schwartzman's high-strung but good-natured racer who gets lodged unexpectedly in the simple livin' traditions of his distant Italian relatives — a spin on the Doc Hollywood trope. Schwartzman seems to be more open to this change in routine than his similarly diminutive Michael J. Fox counterpart was, happy to appreciate the melodies and majesties of Castello Cavalcanti. So what do you think, Wes? How about making your next venture after Grand Budapest Hotel another European foray? Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //
  • First Full 'Divergent' Trailer Proves That Fitting In Is Lame
    By: Michael Arbeiter Nov 13, 2013
    SummitScreeningRoom/YouTube Back around the dawn of the millennium, we were still knee-deep in the philosophy that fitting in was pretty darn swell. High school was a time to associate yourself with the hoi polloi, to assign your mind to group-think, to be just like everybody else. Those who failed were miserable. Those who skirted the mission entirely were cast out. Those who spoke boldly of the coming of a new day, where individuality and eccentricity would be championed, were laughed out of town. But that's because back around the dawn of the millennium, we didn't have Shailene Woodley.  Well, we had her in the sense that she was alive, but just barely. Now, she's at the epicenter of the public consciousness, starring in Divergent this coming February as a young woman who embodies the idea of individuality. Her government, much like our late '90s/early 2000s high schools did, chastises that idea, condemning anyone who doesn't fit into an archaic "category" as a no good, free-thinkin', troublemakin' hippie. Those aren't the government's exact words, but the sentiment remains. The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips. So, in this first trailer from the new film, we watch Woodley embrace what makes her special, evading the wrath of the tyrannical regime as she teams up with other outcasts to wage a rebellion. Long anticipated by fans of the novel series, the film does look to carry some chutzpah in its sleek little world and its compelling action star heroine. Check out the video, and think back wistfully on your own aggressive stabs at teenage conformity. Don't worry, we all did it. We didn't have a Woodley. Follow @Michael Arbeiter // | Follow @Hollywood_com //