Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • The Many Tom Hankses Of Past And Present
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 28, 2011
    There are few things that effectively bridge the gap between generations. Baseball. S’mores. And Tom Hanks. President of the A-Listers, Tom Hanks started out on a wild ride through the Reagan era, making the speed-addicted young adults of the day laugh at things like cross-dressing roommates (Bosom Buddies) and interspecies dating (Splash). But then came a softer Hanks—a few softer Hankses, actually. The romantic. The dramatic. The wooden. No matter who you are or when you were born, there’s a Hanks that you know and love. And we’re taking a look at each of them as a tribute to the man who has brought us so many gems. And The ‘Burbs. The Dawn of Hanks Hanks’ feature film career began in 1984, with the release of Splash and Bachelor Party: both kooky comedies, albeit directed at different audiences. Little did Hanks know at the time (unless he is a clairvoyant genius) that this pair of movies would afford him two very dissimilar, but very dedicated fan-bases that would follow him beyond the next two decades. The Funny Hanks After Bachelor Party, Hanks performed in a slew of comedy films befitting of the ‘80s era, which favored sight gags over story and substance (that is, until John Hughes was elected the decade's President of Movies). Among Hanks’ films geared at '80s young adults were The Money Pit, Volunteers, Dragnet, Punchline and Turner and Hooch. Although not all of these were what you’d call critical or commercial hits, they still managed to cement Hanks as one of the nation’s increasingly beloved comedians. The Romantic Hanks Splash foreshadowed Hanks’ next image to the American public: a favorite among adults of the 1990s. In 1990, 1993 and 1998, Hanks teamed up with Meg Ryan to release a trio of bizarrely memorable romantic comedies. Together, the pair battled the threat of magmatic eruption (Joe Versus the Volcano), West Coast insomnia (Sleepless in Seattle), and dialup modems (You've Got Mail). Although in the six years between Splash and 1990’s Joe Versus the Volcano, Hanks did not make any films matching the traditional “romantic comedy” format, this interim period was peppered with several more sentimental comedies, the most notable of which was, Big, which is impossible to resist watching whenever it’s on television. (“I’ll just keep it on until after they do the piano scene. Then I’ll start my research paper.”) It was this set of films that helped to pave the way for his softer path. "Tom Hanks is stuck on an island" in Joe Versus The Volcano circa 1990 The Dramatic Hanks Early films like Nothing in Common hinted that Hanks was willing and able to take on more dramatic roles, but his transition was hardly gradual. His first major non-comedic role is pretty much the most serious, heart-twisting movie ever made: Philadelphia. Not only was the film a severe tearjerker, it was also extremely culturally-significant because of the groundbreaking stance it took on the AIDS crisis. All this came from the guy who dressed like a woman to trick his landlord into…well, that part was never especially clear. Hanks continued his dramatic career throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, pumping out another piercingly intense film, Saving Private Ryan. The Hanks familiar to audiences of the time was becoming almost unrecognizable to those of the cinematic past. "Tom Hanks is stuck on an island" in Castaway circa 2000 The Wooden Hanks Somewhere among his affable trysts with Meg Ryan and his less pleasant rescue of James Ryan, Hanks lent his voice to Sheriff Woody. If you are a kid, were a kid, have a kid, or are not legally prohibited from being in the vicinity of kids, you love Toy Story. But Toy Story is MY generation’s trilogy. Seriously. Back off, everyone else. When Andy was five, WE were five. When Andy was leaving for college, WE had just gotten back from college (close enough). But this isn’t about Andy. It’s about Woody: Tom Hanks’ most important role for everyone born in the late 1980s. March of 1988, to be specific. Seriously, I’m very territorial over this movie. Sure. It’s a little strange that I just dubbed Tom Hanks’ most important role one that doesn't even show his face. Some people say that voice actors aren’t as crucial to the expression of a character as regular actors. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had this conversation, or heard of anyone else having it—but I’m pretty sure people would say make the argument. Well, hypothetical people, you are wrong. What if Harvey Fierstein was the voice of Woody? What if Wallace Shawn was the voice of Woody? Those are the only two options I want you to consider. But seriously, Hanks has the voice of a guy who you can trust. And he made Woody trustworthy. He made Woody a walking (sometimes) epitome of friendship and loyalty. Thus, the Hanks that has effected affected so many members of my generation the most takes the form of an animated toy cowboy. "Tom Hanks is stuck on an island" in Toy Story 2 circa 2010 The Contemporary Hanks The new generation’s Hanks is somewhat of a grab bag. He took his comedic roots to a darker level with The Terminal and The Ladykillers, tried his hand at two biopics—playing second to Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can and taking the lead in Charlie Wilson’s War -- and brought Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon to the screen in the mystery-thriller films, The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons. Hanks these days is somewhat indefinable—although it seems like he’s attempting to borrow from Hanks of past years. On this token, he is reviving his romantic side from the upcoming Larry Crowne, in theaters on July 1. But of course, Hanks is not limited to his old habits. The actor proves, time and time again, that he is always willing to take on new pursuits… The Hanksiest Hanks of All Whatever your age, gender, ethnic background, social caste, dietary restrictions—I do believe that you will invariably come back to defining Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. No other actor can have a critically and commercially successful career spanning three-plus decades and still be pinpointed to one role. I guess Sean Connery can. Also, Marlon Brando. But no one else. Don’t keep thinking. The point is, Forrest Gump is one of the last modern classics. Few films made in my lifetime have earned such universal affection and memorability among American audiences. And that is owed in large part to the man who so affably portrayed the beloved character. So, whether you were a supercharged Reagan-era twenty-something hungering for cheap laughs, a sentimental young adult in the '90s, a kid born just in time to appreciate the first swing of Pixar, or that one guy who saw The Great Buck Howard, what it all comes down to is that you love, admire and cherish Tom Hanks. So on behalf of all of us, Mr. Hanks, I'd like to thank you, and to ask that you please keep doing that thing you do.
  • Jeff Bridges Attached To 'The Giver' Adaptation
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 28, 2011
    Awesome book. Amazing actor. Great screenwriter. You could add John Singleton on to direct and I’d still be super excited about this project. Lois Lowry’s The Giver (which, to those who haven’t read it, is kind of like a 1984 or a Brave New World that is more approachable for younger readers) is being adapted to film. And it’s awesome. It was one of the first books I loved, one of the first endings I tried to analyze, and one of those stories that would probably be really, really terrific as a film—if done right. And with Jeff Bridges and House of Sand and Fog writer Vadim Perelman on board, all signs point to a great adaptation. Bridges has never once been less than sensational onscreen. He does his thing—it’s usually a pretty similar thing to the last few times he did a thing, but… I don’t know, it’s just one of those things. No one seems to mind. Bridges has stated that he envisioned the titular Giver being portrayed by his father, Lloyd Bridges, before he passed. The senior Bridges was an acting phenomenon as well, but what his son has on him is a softer touch, required for playing the God-figure in consideration. Jeff Bridges has submitted that, as he ages, he begins to see himself more suited to play the role. Book adaptations often breed controversy among fans, but even as a big fan of the book, I have nothing but optimism about this project. Of course, the lead role -- twelve year-old Jonas -- will have to be expertly cast. For some reason, I feel like a Smith is going to get in on this… Source: Comingsoon
  • Giddish And Pino To Replace Meloni And Hargitay On 'Law and Order: SVU'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 28, 2011
    I pity any duo that takes the place of Stabler and Benson. Kelly Giddish and Danny Pino—the pair set to play the major roles in Law & Order: SVU after Christopher Meloni's departure and Mariska Hargitay's gradual transition offscreen—may very well be terrific actors. They could bring audiences to tears on the first night of the thirteenth season, sweep the Emmys for the next decade, and single-handedly redefine the genre. But they’d never live up to their immortal predecessors. All of the people I know who watch SVU—and it’s a large and diverse group—don’t just watch SVU like they do most other crime procedurals. SVU is less about the crime, and more about watching every episode with hope that this might one of those where Elliot and Olivia get one step closer to revealing how they feel about each other. And that’s been going on for twelve years. Imagine the sort of dedication these fans have to have to hang onto a relationship that has barely given us anything for twelve years! That sort of devotion is only allotted to certain characters. And the characters that replace those characters…let’s just say, they’ve already got spite against them. But ill-fated roles aside, Giddish and Pino are no strangers to the crime procedural. Giddish made guest appearances on SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as starring in 2010’s Chase. Pino filled roles in Law and Order’s rival franchise, CSI: New York, as well as Cold Case and The Shield. Maybe I’m being a little stubborn. I, too, went through an “Ellivia” phase. After all, the incoming players are well-experienced in procedural television, and the not-entirely-absent Hargitay will help to make the transition more gradual. All in all, I wish Giddish and Pino luck. But I’ll always be pulling for a Stabler-Benson reunion… Seriously. They belong together. Source: Huffington Post
  • 'The Big C' Recap: Losing Patients
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 28, 2011
    S2E1: It seems like The Big C is setting up for a five-season formula, with each season representing one of the five traditional stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) as Cathy and her family deal with her melanoma. Last season was a liberal interpretation of Denial. Cathy hid her cancer from her family and friends, she refused any sort of medical treatment for the bulk of the season, and she focused more on marital (and extramarital) issues, the weight of her student Andrea (Gabourey Sidibe was conspicuously absent from the Season 2 premiere; let’s hope she returns next week), and “living freely.” If my theory holds up, and this episode was any indication of a seasonal theme, then this season will represent the Anger stage. The premiere offers Cathy one conflict with each of the main characters. Dr. Todd displays an unwillingness to support Cathy’s new “hopeful side,” which really masks his romantic feelings for his patient. Cathy’s son Adam is not dealing with the trauma of her disease in a way she deems healthy, as you can see in the clip below, and she urges him to see a therapist who he adamantly resents. "We should skip the therapist and take him straight to the gastroenterologist." - Paul And, of course, there’s the simple matter that Cathy is seeing the ghost of the deceased Marlene—not to mention that she almost kills the dog Marlene asked her to look after. All these instances, as well as Cathy’s persistent attempts to get an appointment with a renowned doctor who won’t return her calls, contribute to her eventual breaking point in the waiting room, wherein she bursts out at the staff and patients, explaining that as a Stage 4, she is entitled to medical treatment. To the show’s credit, it seamlessly incorporates a large number of plotlines without feeling at all clumsy or cluttered, though some have yet to prove themselves entirely “relevant” to Cathy’s journey. One could argue that the near-death of Marlene’s dog, Thomas, could represent Cathy’s loss of control over her situation, equally represented by the presence of Marlene’s ghost—which could also just be an outlet for Cathy to speak earnestly, as Marlene was her confidante in Season 1. (Of course, it could just be a way to keep the actress around after having offed her. People talk to ghosts all the time on TV. Dexter. LOST. That one episode of Scrubs.) Anger might be this season’s thematic arc, but it might not take form in Cathy herself. In this episode, Cathy, in a fit of frustration, reveals to her brother, Sean’s, girlfriend (and the mother to his unborn child) Rebecca, that she has cancer. Rebecca, displaying a new level of the selfishness that we saw hints of in Season 1, makes the news all about her. She grieves on behalf of herself and her own journey of “having to lose a friend” and, despite Cathy’s pleas to the contrary, Rebecca breaks the news to Sean (he was the final major character to be unaware). Sean, who the writers spontaneously decided to diagnose with bipolar disorder, lashes out at Cathy, accusing her of being filled with evil, lies and poison. Sean’s was the only conflict that isn't resolved at the end of the episode. Dr. Todd gives in and pulls some strings to get Cathy and appointment with the acclaimed doctor; Cathy submits to Adam dealing with the grief in his own way; and Thomas (the dog) survives an accidental overdose. This could lead to a season arc of Cathy vs. Sean and their relationship is my favorite in the series, so any additional focus on them -- even in an antagonistic way -- would be enjoyable. The first season employed a formula that, while flawed at times (and not exactly reaching its potential) worked. Many shows will bank on a formula that works, and play it out beyond its expiration date. But Season 2 seems to be the organic next step: Cathy is trying to get better. Her family is aware of her disease. Some are helpful. Some are scornful. And there are ghosts. All in all, the Season 2 premiere lends hope for more character development, and a natural advancement of the story.
  • New 3D Monty Python Film In Development
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 27, 2011
    Despite being about the death of their close friend and frequent collaborator, Monty Python’s upcoming adaptation of the late Graham Chapman’s autobiography should prove to be incredibly silly. The project, branded with the working title Graham Chapman: Dead in 3D, will be an animated film formed around Chapman’s own voice recording of his “loose” autobiography, Liar’s Autobiography: Volume IV, and will borrow additional voices from the living members of the comedy group (with Eric Idle still on the fence). John Cleese will voice himself, Terry Jones and Michael Palin will voice Chapman’s mother and father respectively (Jones will also voice himself), and Terry Gilliam will provide the voices to many characters. It's been far too long since we've seen a true Monty Python film. The revival of Holy Grail in Spamalot form was satisfying, but nothing would top a reunion of the original minds on the big screen. The story will take an episodic format, with different production companies working on different animated chapters of the film, each to fall between the range of three and twelve minutes. The film in its entirety will be just shy of an hour and a half. Although it will only premiere in British theaters, American audiences will be able to view the film on television and -- as if it needs mentioning -- online. Although the film will be unique to the Monty Python catalog in that it might ostensibly be deemed a biopic (although I bet it sways heavily from the genre), its  form as a series of skits, the use of the group's trademark style of animation, and the staple of men portraying women keeps me optimistic that this could be another great, traditional Monty Python film. Source: Vulture
  • Wachowskis Return To Film With 'Jupiter Rising' And More
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 27, 2011
    Up until now, Andy and Lana Wachowski seemed pretty satisfied basking in the glory of having changed every stoner’s worldview in 1999. Since The Matrix trilogy, they've been involved with very few projects—they wrote V for Vendetta, which was good, and made Speed Racer, which was exactly how it looked. But it looks as if they’re back in the game. After this significant hiatus, the Wachowskis seem to be overcompensating with several new projects in the works. One of which is called Jupiter Rising; it's surrounded with an air of mystery that is stirring a considerable amount of intrigue. Warner Brothers, which is producing Jupiter Rising, expressed a great deal of optimism about the project, but they've yet to release any details. Until we find out more about this film, we can focus on the more immediate Wachowski installment: Cloud Atlas, on which the pair collaborated with the ingenious Tom Tykwer. Cloud Atlas, set to go into production this fall, will star Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Hugo Weaving (reuniting with the Wachowskis after V for Vendetta), and will cover six separate stories that inevitably interlock with one another. But, there’s more on the horizon for the duo. They’re also planning to stick Will Smith in a modern-day Robin Hood story and they're developing Cobalt Neutral 9, which is described as a “gay war movie.” So, after a long post-Matrix hibernation, the Wachowskis are coming at us from all angles—this time, we’ll be prepared…I hope. I really don’t want to start freaking out whenever I have déjà vu again. Source: Cinema Blend
  • New Trailer For 'Immortals': Could Be A Win
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 27, 2011
    Immortals could go one of two ways (as with everything else on Earth). The first: it could be a half-rate 300 that relies too heavily on its action for thrills. The second: it could embrace a creative mythology, build up a classic hero story, and really amplify the focus on that whole three-hits-on-the-shield thing. This trailer seems to lean toward option two. Good old fashioned rallying goes a long way.
  • What's the General Idea Of Chris Meloni's 'Man Of Steel' Role?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 27, 2011
    The streets of New York may be losing a dedicated detective, but apparently Metropolis is gaining a general…which is kind of a letdown. I was really hoping that Chris Meloni would be taking the more formidable role of Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman film, Man of Steel. Until now, details about his role were vague, and it's still a little vague because Meloni wouldn't reveal anything else about his character. The actor is doubtlessly known best for his twelve-year-long “Will they or won’t they?” relationship with Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order: SVU. His recent departure from the show will allow Meloni to explore more film roles. Meloni did express that despite being excited about pursuing new projects, he would miss working with Hargitay and the rest of the SVU cast and crew. Hopefully, he’ll consider revisiting his comedic side, best displayed playing against a can of mixed vegetables. Meloni will be shooting his scenes for Man of Steel from the end of August until approximately February of 2012. The movie is set to open in December of 2012. Source: Vulture
  • Universal Releases Promising Third Trailer For 'Cowboys And Aliens'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 27, 2011
    Indy, James Bond, 13, and the nihilist kid from Little Miss Sunshine... as cowboys... battling aliens. From the director of Iron Man... and Elf. No one's going into this looking for a McCarthyism allegory. Cowboys and Aliens promises to be just pure unadulterated fun. Source: Comingsoon
  • Jack White Intros Stephen Colbert's New Rock Ballad
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 24, 2011
    There’s nothing about this video that’s not unsettlingly awesome—nearly as epic and hilarious as the musical event that preceded it five years ago. Jack White introduces the Black Belles (and Stephen Colbert) with unbridled enthusiasm. The Colbert Report Tags: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive Source: Comedy Central