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.
  • Watch: The New 'Puss in Boots' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    How many Shrek-quels will the world face before we've had enough? That day may never come, but at least they've put a new spin on things with Puss in Boots. Clearly, as with its predecessors, this film will treat us to ninety visually-stimulating minutes of lowbrow humor made socially acceptable because it's being said by cats and eggs. This installment looks to have more of an action-thriller angle to it. Of course, adding Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis to the cast garners no complaints.
  • Clooney's 'Ides of March' to Debut at Venice Film Festival
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    I don’t trust you, Clooney. You’re up to something. No one can be the way you are and not be up to something. I don’t know what you’re up to. But I know your latest directorial project is opening at the Venice Film Festival. And that doesn’t sit well with me. The Ides of March. That’s quite the grand title, Clooney. You got an allegory going on here? Trying to mold some minds? Inspire a new wave of thought? So who is in this thing, anyway? Paul Giamatti, eh? And Ryan Gosling? They’re pretty good. There must be a ="">pretty big angle here. All right, I’ll bite. What’s it about? A political drama? Governor aiming for the presidency? Played by you, no doubt. And you wrote it, too! Adapted it from a Farragut North by Beau Willimon with Grant Heslov. Don’t stop there—why don’t you produce? Yeah. You’re producing all right. You think you’re so much better than the rest of us, don’t you, Clooney? Sure. Everyone loved Good Night and Good Luck. Of course they did. A film about a victory over one of the most trying eras in our national history which was produced during another of the most trying eras in our national history. But I remember when you were on The Facts of Life. Remember Roseanne? I do. And what the hell was Baby Talk? So go ahead. Make your political parable. Bring it to Venice on August 31st. Wow the world. Let me know how it goes. I’m onto you. Source: THR
  • Ian McShane to Play Dwarf in 'Snow White and the Huntsman'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    Doc. Happy. Sneezy. Grumpy. Dopey. Bashful. Sleepy. Oh, wait. I forgot Caesar. Fairy tales are becoming unnervingly prevalent. David O. Russell’s doing Sleeping Beauty. LOST’s second tier is incorporating an amalgamation of stories into a TV series. And Ian McShane—who has contributed a hell of a lot to cinema, but nothing finer than a fistfight with Andy Samberg—is joining Rupert Sanders' Snow White and the Huntsman. And he’ll be playing the head of the seven dwarves. Named Caesar. Naturally, the transcendence to an adult-directed fairy tale medium will call for some changes. And this name change may very well be rooted in the origins of the story. But come on. The whole thing is just weird. And it doesn’t stop here! McShane is tacked on for another upcoming fairy tale movie: Jack the Giant Killer. Sounds delightful. Other members of the cast include Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth as the titular pair, and Charlize Theron as the evil queen, who comes to realize that when compared to the picturesque Snow White, she is in fact for skittish eyes only—I did the best I could with that—and hires Hemsworth’s Woodsman to kill the heroine. Plan: awry. Ensuing adventures: we’ll see. Additional dwarf names: at this point, it’s anyone’s guess. I’m going with Mao. And Golda. Source: Hollywood Reporter
  • Count On These Collaborations
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    As I expect every one of you is a Pixar fan (being otherwise is a sign of sociopathy), you might have noticed a similarity in the voices of characters like Toy Story’s Hamm, WALL-E’s John and Mack from Cars and its upcoming sequel, Cars 2. That’s because they, and six other characters spanning eleven movies and counting, are all voiced by John Ratzenberger. He might be the only performer to have held such consistency with this particular company, but he is not unique in being an actor who repeatedly works with the same people. In fact, we've come up with a list of nine other proverbial Ratzenberger's and their respective Pixar's: MICHAEL CAINE & CHRISTOPHER NOLAN Michael Caine is one of those rare immortal actors who is completely untouchable. I’ve never heard even the most contrarian of my hipster friends say that Michael Caine is overrated. As such, it’s no surprise why rising powerhouse Christopher Nolan has opted to stick him in his last four (and upcoming fifth) directing pursuits. Caine’s roles do not vary much between these films—he’s always wise, good-natured and the only person the much younger hero can trust. He’s always someplace between the movie and the audience. And he’s always got at least one scene-stealing quip at the protagonist’s expense. But can you really take issue with this repetitiveness? With a resume like The Prestige, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception and the unhealthily anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, how can you blame this dynamic duo for sticking with a formula that works? STEVE BUSCEMI & THE COEN BROTHERS The Coen Brothers. They’ve made some gold. They’ve made some silver. Throughout the 1990s, the Coen Brothers made five movies, and Steve Buscemi was in each one, as well as their short film part of a collaborative anthology, Paris Je T’Aime, in 2006. Buscemi had bit parts in Miller’s Crossing and The Hudsucker Proxy, a slightly larger one in Barton Fink, and was the second male lead to William H. Macy in Fargo. But, like everyone who went to college, I favor, of course, The Big Lebowski, and cherish every second Buscemi was onscreen as Theodore Donald Kirobatsos. He really tied the movie together. J.K. SIMMONS & JASON REITMAN If I may just start out by saying something entirely uncontroversial: J.K. Simmons is awesome. He is as typecast as you can get, and it seems that neither he nor we seem to have any problem with this. Jason Reitman: also awesome. Juno was awesome. I don’t care what you say, everyone I’ve ever met. I loved that movie. Reitman is still relatively new to filmmaking. Aside from Juno, his feature resume up to this point consists only of Thank You For Smoking and Up in the Air. Coming out later this year is Young Adult: a drama about a young woman seeking romance after a divorce. This film, as well, will include Simmons among the cast (playing gruff-but-lovable, no doubt), and is written by Diablo Cody—who also wrote the screenplay for Juno. Which was awesome. JOHNNY DEPP & TIM BURTON Not all of these friendships produce good material. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, both individually and as a pair, have indeed given us some memorable pieces of cinema. Some of the better projects on which they’ve collaborated include Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow and Ed Wood. I’ll even throw Corpse Bride into the Pros list. But as time went on, they began making a career out of defaming timeless works of art with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. Also, Sweeney Todd happened. But they’re not done yet. Coming up for 2012 is Dark Shadows: a horroresque film directed by Burton, about the adventures of a vampire (played by Depp) who encounters a slew of other mythological creatures. Nice change of pace, guys. SAMUEL L. JACKSON & QUENTIN TARANTINO Samuel L. Jackson is an interesting case. He has appeared in four of six of the feature films over which Tarantino played director, but in two instances, he was never seen. Those two are Kill Bill: Volume 2, in which he played a bit part as Rufus, the pianist at the church wherein Uma Thurman’s character intended to be married, and who existed to the audience only as a silhouette with a cigarette (that’s a pretty good band name). His second faceless performance was in Inglourious Basterds, when Jackson performed a single voice-over segment to introduce Til Schweiger’s character, Hugo Stiglitz. Aside from these, Jackson has played Ordelle Robbie in Tarantino’s oft forgotten Jackie Brown, and (do I even need to mention?) the career-defining Jules Winfield in Pulp Fiction. Jackson is also set to play a major role in Tarantino’s upcoming Django Unchained. RUSSELL CROWE & RIDLEY SCOTT Crowe and Scott pair together quite naturally. Both are responsible for some fantastic pieces of cinema, and neither would you be entirely comfortable inviting into your home. Since their initial collaboration on the 2000 Best Picture Gladiator, Crowe and Scott have paired up on four additional films—earning praise for American Gangster, dissatisfaction with Robin Hood, and… Did anyone see Body of Lies? Or the other one? I think it was about a house, or a garden… OWEN WILSON (OR BILL MURRAY) & WES ANDERSON Owen Wilson is undoubtedly more famous for his roles with the proverbial Frat Pack, especially frequent collaborator Ben Stiller. But the actor with the agonizingly mellow voice has appeared in almost every feature film directed by Wes Anderson, a college friend of Wilson’s, to date. Anderson, a favorite director of all the people who think they're better than you, has created Bottle Rocket and The Royal Tenenbaums, both of which Wilson co-wrote. In addition to these, Wilson had major roles in Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, and the director’s first animated movie, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Wilson also co-wrote Anderson’s 1998 film Rushmore, which (along with each of the above movies with the exception of Bottle Rocket) included Bill Murray as a member of the cast. Both Murray and Wilson are rumored to appear in Anderson’s next film, Moonrise Kingdom, about two parents’ efforts to recover their runaway daughter. LEOBERT DeNIPRIO & MARTIN SCORSESE For the better part of his career—and I mean that in every way—De Niro was Scorsese’s key player. Starting with 1973’s Mean Streets, the duo forged a working relationship that lasted twenty-two years. Their most recent collaboration was Casino, in 1995. However, Scorsese and De Niro have been in talks to develop a new project called The Irishman and, if you can believe (or stomach the idea of) this, a sequel to Taxi Driver. For the time being, it seems as though Scorsese has replaced De Niro with a younger, sparkier, ruffled good-guy: Leonardo DiCaprio. Since 2002, DiCaprio has starred in four Scorsese films. Scorsese is even going as far as to cast his new muse, whom everyone I know seems to either love or hate, in a role sure to earn him a great sum of scrutiny: in a developing biopic called Sinatra, as the Chairman of the Board himself. EVERYONE IN THE HAPPY MADISON UNIVERSE Adam Sandler has a greater reputation of working with his friends than anyone in the business. His production company, Happy Madison, has developed fifteen films starring Sandler since its first film and half of its namesake, Happy Gilmore. Three of Sandler’s major starring roles, Billy Madison, The Waterboy, and The Wedding Singer, were produced independently from Happy Madison. Over the course of his career, Sandler has wavered from accusing his girlfriend of adultery with fictitious penguins. He has played romantic leads, PTSD-sufferers, and cancer survivors. One consistency throughout his years onscreen, however, is in his supporting casts. Sandler's confidants, rivals, and comic reliefs are often actors who have played similar roles in other Happy Madison films. Included in the recurring clan of Sandler's screen partners are Rob Schneider, Allen Covert, and--the guy you probably never noticed--Jonathan Loughran, who have each played behind the man in nine different films. Although none reach this level of dedication, other impressive numbers belong to Peter Dante with eight films, once again to Steve Buscemi, with six (this is clearly a loyal guy), to Kevin Nealon with five, and to Henry Winkler and Kevin James, with four movies each. And these are just the Sandler-starring films. There are dozens of other Happy Madison Productions that include these and other recurring actors.
  • Warren Beatty Will Write, Direct & Star in New Film
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    Here are some things I never knew about Warren Beatty: he was in the 1959 show Dobie Gillis that my dad is always talking about. He has a writing credit on Chris Rock’s Down to Earth. And he’s still doing things. After a decade of non-involvement with cinema, Beatty is taking on a new comedy as writer, director, producer and star. Paramount’s CEO Brad Grey couldn’t be more excited about the film. It’s actually a little unhealthy. Beatty has previously worn four hats in 1998’s Bulworth, 1981’s Reds and 1978’s Heaven Can Wait, and played writer, producer and star in 1990’s Dick Tracy—for which he’s kept a sequel in limbo for suspicious reasons. So, be it about rapping politicians or communism—I can’t see him springing something else on us—Beatty’s new film is sure to… happen. Source: Hollywood Reporter
  • 'Gossip Girl' Actor to Play Jeff Buckley in New Film
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 21, 2011
    I don’t know much in the way of Gossip Girl, but this guy voiced the hell out of Mario Tennis. Penn Badgley, the privileged-teen soap opera’s “Lonely Boy” with a growing-elitism arc (my sister just gave me a thirty-minute tutorial), has been cast to portray deceased singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley in the upcoming Greetings from Tim Buckley. The film chronicles a period of days preceding his debut at a tribute concert for his musician father. Daniel Algrant will direct. Those who were fans of Buckley beyond crying to a download of “Hallelujah” when your best friend left for college might find Badgley’s resume a little discouraging. He seems to have stuck pretty adherently to teen-directed comedy/dramas. But to be honest, I’m a fan of his work. I’m just about the only person who has ever seen either Do Over or The Brothers Garcia, and my fourteen year-old self though his performances immaculate in both. Producer Patrick Milling Smith of Smuggler Films had nothing but positive things to say about Badgley’s audition, stating that in the year the crew spent seeking a star, Badgley was far and beyond the best candidate. And if he’s good enough for Patrick Milling Smith… Source: Deadline
  • Pilot Review: TNT's 'Falling Skies'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    We’ve all seen what alien invasions can do. They’re often electrically volatile, frequently misunderstood, and occasionally heartwarming. No two are exactly alike: some expose the tyranny of men, and some provide a long-sought friendship for the handicapped (as well as some heavy product placement). With the recent influx of post-apocalyptic fiction, we’re seeing a lot of alien invasions in a lot of new ways. But Falling Skies is a little behind its time. There’s almost nothing I saw in last night’s two hour premiere on TNT that I haven’t seen in any sci-fi or disaster film of the 1990s. The pilot was set at a Boston military base filled with civilian soldiers (the prologue explains that the aliens wiped out the armed forces, as well as a great deal of society, forcing the remaining adults and youths to join the revolution), focusing primarily on Noah Wyle’s Professor Tom Mason: a textbook hero with a case of “I just want my kid back.” He’s a brain among deep-voiced soldiers—a former history professor attempting (or, at least the show is attempting) to use his background to defeat the aliens. He has lost his wife and his middle son has been kidnapped and roboticized by the aliens. And there seems to be something going on between Wyle and Moon Goodblood’s character, the show’s lead female, whose only discernible quality is her degree in medicine and her budding attraction to (and from) Wyle’s character. Wyle’s oldest son, Hal (Drew Roy), is the sour but good-natured teen sidekick to his father, bent just as strongly on recovering his kid brother Ben. Just in case the adults didn’t promise enough sexual tension, Hal has been thrust amidst an old fashioned Betty-and-Veronica love triangle. His sharp-tongued girlfriend has nothing but harsh things to say about a sweet and helpful devout Catholic who clearly has eyes for Hal—and spouts the good word of the Bible three times a scene (I wonder which one will stick him with?). The second half of the premiere shifted from Man vs. Aliens to Man vs. Man, when a hostage situation victimizing both Mason men and several of their allies erupted. The leader of this rebellious band was your archetypal antihero: a hardened intellectual who references literature while drinking a beer while holding a rifle to another guy's head. Naturally, he joined the “good guys” at the end of the episode—but can he be trusted? Yes. He will prove to be. Because this show runs on the fuel of age-old formula, and it clearly (and ironically) sanctifies the intelligent. Among the few things that did provoke interest: a biology professor character wonders why six-legged aliens have created two-legged robots? Wyle suggests that it would be to better intimidate Earthlings psychologically, but the show brushes this off as a throwaway piece of dialogue that will inevitably be proven wrong. The prologue suggests that humans held off on attacking the aliens in the assumption that the aliens had come in peace, followed by an immediate dismissal by a child of these intentions. Was this just to further villainize the invaders? Here’s hoping that it’s a subtle piece of foreshadowing, but all my instincts tell me otherwise. Finally, my favorite scene of the night: a group of humans gathered around a dying alien, silently watching as it passed into infinity. The scene was provocative, both with emotional substance and acknowledgement that something happening at the moment was eventually going to prove important. But this moment alone offered these sentiments in a two hour premiere. After The Walking Dead wowed me with a genuinely creative zombie series, I had high hopes for Falling Skies. But last night, I received little more than hollow characters forced into definition by run-of-the-mill scenarios and aliens that seem exclusively focused on shooting and enslaving. So, we can keep watching. We can see Tom Mason rescue his son Ben and bed the ethnically-ambiguous pediatrician. We can see Hal leave the grips of his atheistic girlfriend and fall into the loving embrace of faith. We can see the intellects out-hero the soldiers and defeat—or perhaps, come to understand—the aliens. And we can see things go back to normal. Nothing to tell the king about. ="">
  • Christina Hendricks Wanted for 'Wonder Woman' Movie
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (that’s not a typo), whose Wonder Woman project has been in the developmental stages for years now, has voiced his ideal casting for the title character: Christina Hendricks. Hendricks is most familiar as Joan Harris from Mad Men. Fans of her work on the series would be likely to agree that she would be able to exemplify the superhero capably. Like Harris’ character, Wonder Woman is an archetype of female empowerment in environments of male dominance (except for that twin girl who turned into stuff in the Super Friends). Having directed Hendricks in 2011’s Drive (which, apparently, everyone LOVED), Refn has decided that she is the definitive choice for Wonder Woman—a project to which he is boundlessly dedicated. Almost creepily dedicated. Refn has stated he was “born to make this film.” Latent childhood fantasies aside, Refn’s upcoming projects also include a remake of Logan’s Run, to reunite him with another Drive star, Ryan Gosling. Despite (or maybe in light of) Refn’s odd attachment to this project, the entire thing breeds optimism. Wonder Woman has been conspicuously untouched in the eye of the classic superhero revival storm. The exception to this is David E. Kelly (who wrote on every single lawyer comedy on television…ever), who attempted a Wonder Woman series earlier this year, which amounted to nothing. All goes according to Refn's plan... Source: Collider
  • 'The American' Director Adapting 'A Most Wanted Man'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 20, 2011
    Anton Corbijn, the director of 2010’s international assassin thriller The American, treads close to territory with the adaptation of A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carre. The bestselling novel concerns the efforts of an ex-prisoner from Chechnya to avoid apprehension by the British and German secret services while residing in Hamburg. Developing the story in screenplay form is writer Andrew Bovell, whose resume includes the Mel Gibson thriller, Edge of Darkness, and the upcoming drama A View from the Bridge. A Most Wanted Man is being produced by the growing Amusement Park Films, which will also be responsible for another novel adaptation: Stain on the Snow (written by George Simenon), a coming-of-age crime novel. David MacKenzie, whose recent credits include Perfect Sense, a science fiction epidemic story, and the comedy You Instead, will direct. Source: Variety
  • New Linkin Park 'Transformers 3' Music Video Shows Unseen Footage
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 17, 2011
    When your status quo involves falling glass buildings, you’ve really made it. Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, just released a bit of unseen footage in the form of a Linkin’ Park music video. Here's a brief summary: Electrical fires. Helicopters. Angry soldiers. Aquasnipers. Flying. Flipping. Falling. Shooting. Exploding. Transforming. Source: Slashfilm