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.
  • The 'Father of the Bride 3' Gay Marriage Plot Sounds Totally Outdated
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 16, 2014
    Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection Twenty-one years ago, we watched a homophobic Denzel Washington warm up to his fellow lawyer and client Tom Hanks, a gay man afflicted with AIDS, over the course of a criminal case that proved that America was no easy place for a homosexual gentleman to make a living or lead his life. And at the end of this story called Philadelphia, that no-longer-homophobic Denzel Washington was a hero. The sort of man who harbored "completely sympathetic" sentiments at the start, but graduated to sentiments altogether admirable. That's the sort of world we lived in back in 1993. But these 21 years later, we live in the sort of world that would take a homophobic Denzel Washington and cast him into villainy, redemptive arc or not. Which is why the plot of Disney's Father of the Bride 3, of all things, sounds about a decade or so too late. The threequel to Steve Martin's family comedies Father of the Bride (1991) and Father of the Bride Part II (1995) will have the snow-capped comedic dynamo lamenting the realization that his son Matt (played in the first two films by young Kieran Culkin, now age 29) is gay and engaged to a man. Nikki Finke's blog reports the premise, explaining that Martin's uptight-but-affable family man George Banks will this time be "thunderstruck and speechless" and none too keen on the revelation of his son's sexual orientation. Although George's wife Nina (Diane Keaton) plays the voice of reason in casting her thick-headed husband out of the house, so reports Finke, we're still looking at a severely outdated mentality in the approach of the subject. Buena Vista Pictures via Everett Collection Although homophobia is a far, far cry from absent in today's America, the media (including a few of Disney's own properties) seems to embrace the idea that anyone advertising prejudice against gay men and women is acting in the name of ignorance, idiocy, and injustice, not the "acceptable hesitations" of eras past. No longer do we live in the Philadelphia days when a character like Washington's attorney Joe Miller might be seen as sympathetic in spite (or perhaps in light) of his bigotry. Today, the homophobes of film and TV are the bad guys. Although heteronormativity remains a problem coursing through our media, abject hatred is aligned with criminal characters. How can we accept our own George Banks in his role as put-upon good guy with such a nasty proclivity for intolerance? And why is it necessary in a movie about gay marriage for any figure to express disfavor with the wedding at hand? Of course it would be ridiculous to deny extant hardships faced by the gay community, but we've also breached an era wherein the notion of a family accepting a member's profession of homosexuality without pause is hardly implausible. The Philadelphias of past helped to align the sympathies of viewing audiences with gay men and women, to point out the wickedness in the time's all-too-prevalent defamy. What we need now from our movies is to induct gay relationships into their depiction of normalcy. To show that the same love, happiness, drama, and comedy that we see in films like Father of the Bride would exist in a story about two men tying the knot. Even this notion seems too obvious to point out, but clearly Disney doesn't quite think so. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: The Simplicity of 'The Rover' Is Its Victory and Its Downfall
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 13, 2014
    A24 via Everett Collection Ten years after the civilized world bites the dust, making way instead for a criminal wasteland run on greed, violence, sex trafficking, and any number of other unthinkable vices, we meet a man who just wants to take back what was stolen from him. The terrific thing about The Rover is its simplicity. The vast contrivances of its post-apocalyptic world and the dozens of questions that arise as a result of its many mysteries aside, the film never strays from its focus on the bones of grisly Guy Pearce, a man on a mission who just happens to live on a surreal new version of the planet Earth. Pearce chauffers the audience through the nooks and cranies of a tattered Australian outback, giving us a look at the dingy yet colorful customs of the dark era while sticking with promise to his revenge-and-retrieval journey. The script doesn't give Pearce a lot of breathing room, resigning the hot-heated, closed-mouthed character to his mission without much room for exploration. While we celebrate the simplicity of his quest, the simplicity of Pearce's character — and more importantly, his performance — does keep from instilling The Rover with the nuance that would afford it true flavor. A24 via Everett Collection Beside him is Robert Pattinson, playing a young man of questionable mental capacity, roped along for the ride thanks to his tenuous knowledge of where Pearce's desired possession has been taken. Pattinson impresses as the far more vibrant of the duo, his performance abetted by the stark contrast to anything we've seen of him to date — even the stellar Cosmopolis kept the actor moreover subdued. But here, he's given free range to be vulnerable, menacing, and funny.  Ultimately, Rover delivers on everything it offers up, but nonetheless lands short of what feels like a complete and compelling feature. Though the brevity of its intent is one of its strengths, you almost wonder if the story wouldn't have been better served as a short film instead. But we aren't likely to see Robert Pattinson break free from routine in a short film, so I guess that's reason alone for the 102-minute runtime. 3/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 'Birdman' Looks Like Proof That We've Been Wasting Michael Keaton All These Years
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 12, 2014
    YouTube/Fox Searchlight No, not RoboCop — that's just a movie with Michael Keaton in it, puttering around the background with tempered menace. Not The Other Guys, which uses Keaton for nothing more than a recurring joke about TLC lyrics. It's been years. Decades, even, since we saw Keaton grab hold of a role that we could really take home and stew in. Acclaim as the man's greatest work will invariably land on Beetlejuice or Batman. But even these great, especially bizarre cinematic turns don't offer up the full scope of which Keaton is capable. But his latest venture — Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, which has released its first trailer — just might.   It's impossible to ignore the similarities between the premise of Birdman and Keaton's own career: the character began his life in show business as a big name movie star in a superhero franchise, falling toward obscurity in the years to follow. Keaton's decline was never quite as dramatic as the delightfully named Riggan Thomson's looks to be, nor has he ever (publicly) succumbed to this degree of mania. But there's one more connection: one last chance to prove himself more than anybody ever thought him to be. In Birdman, that takes form as a Broadway production that Riggan lands. In Keaton's real life, it's Birdman itself. YouTube/Fox Searchlight Forgive the meta interpretation, but Birdman does look like something we haven't seen (or let) Keaton do in quite some time, perhaps ever. Such a master at the wisecrack and so adept at playing the tertiary oddball, and ostensibly happy to stay relegated to these talents, Keaton has been robbed of his chance to shine as an offbeat dramatic star, instead sticking consistently to the background of commercial fare. In Birdman, so it seems from the trailer (and with consideration of director Iñárritu's history of helming inventive punch-to-the-gut pictures like Biutiful, Babel, 21 Grams, and Amores Perros), Keaton could tap freely into a darkness we haven't seen since his days with Tim Burton; he could use his expertise with vocal tics and manneristic schisms to evoke true psychological horror, drama, and comedy alike. Birdman could give Keaton exactly what the in-universe play gives the former Birdman. And for those of us hungry for the same brand of irreverent insanity packed into his tiny but memorable Beetlejuice performance, this time dipped in a batter of real world turmoil and emotional discord, it's quite an exciting prospect. Birdman, also starring Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis, and Naomi Watts, hits theaters on October 17. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: Hokey 'The Signal' Is a Really Fun Bad 'Twilight Zone' Episode
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 11, 2014
    Focus Features via Everett Collection If you take the unpredictability, the philosophical depth, and the groundbreaking artistry out of a Twilight Zone episode, you'll be left with something like The Signal: a "dude wakes up in a weird place and everything's different and he doesn't know why" story, lacking in most of the merit, but still packing a good sum of the entertainment factor. Although it's hardly the stimulating piece of thought provoking sci-fi that it might aim to be, The Signal is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the avenues of B-movie kitsch, kookiness, and half-baked imagination. The film does the trick in establishing palpable characters. However rote they may be, MIT student Nic (Brenton Thwaites), post-millennial geek Jonah (Beau Knapp), and Nic's girlfriend Haley (Olivia Cooke) are colored bright enough to cart us through the bizarre world soon to ensnare them with no dearth of empathy. We meet the trio at the tail end of a cross-country road trip; Haley is moving to the West Coast with plans reeking of a "fresh start" mentality, despite her affirmed devotion to the recently crippled Nic and their relationship. During their travels, Nic and Jonah are contacted by an anonymous hacker of renown, Nomad, and driven to find his secret hideout in the middle of nowhere. Naturally, exploration of a remote cabin leads our heroes to ultimate doom: they wake up the next morning steeped in a set of strange, often incomprehensible, and consistently titilating circumstances. Focus Features via Everett Collection Government facilities, men in spacesuits (Laurence Fishburne leading the bunch), dense interrogations, disturbing footage, and lanced memories... all of the Rod Serling traditions, each injected with an intimate connection gratis of our mumblecorey introduction to the early 20s trio. As we follow Nic on his endeavor to figure out what the hell is going on and get himself and his friends the hell out of dodge, we're driven both by the mystery and the personal evolution of the characters at hand.   // Granted, neither one is offering particularly stellar material: Nic's character arc is basic at best, ditto the "big questions" circling the enigmatic setting. But the saving grace of The Signal, odd as it may be, is that we're never really expecting to be impressed. From the get-go, we feel as though we're stepping into a particularly hokey second-rate feature. It's the embrace of this identity, and the appreciation for a movie of this aesthetic, that can help to carry us to the end (the big reveal!) with plenty of enjoyment. 3.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • The Fatal Difference Between the 'Dumb and Dumber 2' Trailer and 'Dumb and Dumber'
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 11, 2014
    Universal Pictures The spirit of Dumb & Dumber is summed up, appropriately, in the final lines of the film. After inadvertently shooing away a busload of beautiful women seeking their company (and then some), our witless heroes Harry and Lloyd continue on their wayward journey down the Colorado highway, sinking blissfully into the little world that only they will ever occupy. After Jim Carrey bemoans their lonesome fate, Jeff Daniels stoically assures him that the duo's time will come — "We've just got to keep our eyes open." — before the inevitable game of its, no backsies, and double stamps erupts. It's this particularly tender ending that makes us realize that the previous two hours of infantile wisecracks and slapstick of the lowest brow were actually woven together, and made far more enjoyable than they should have been, by a sweet, warm thread of love for these characters and their joint private nirvana. It's the kindness, not the crudeness, that makes Dumb & Dumber such a special success. So we're worried that Dumb and Dumber 2, from the looks of the first trailer for the film, might be approaching its mission from the wrong side.    // The trailer works blue with jokes about cat butts, bicycle dry-humping, and the vicious yanking of active catheters... nothing that would have felt too out of place in Dumb & Dumber. But the extended focus on a scene in which Lloyd attempts to swindle an ostensibly senile old women out of her hidden diamonds, amounting in the crassest gag in the preview. New Line Cinema via Everett Collection While crassness isn't a dealbreaker, it should not be the backbone of a Dumb & Dumber movie: innocence should. Harry and Lloyd were likable characters despite all the havoc and harm they caused due to their good nature and innocence. But here, that seems to be shafted in favor of an up of the ante on the crudeness that the Farrelly Brothers are so famous for. Look at lesser Farrelly films, like Shallow Hal and Hall Pass, as compared to Dumb & Dumber or There's Something About Mary — when crudeness takes a backseat to heart, we don't wind up with something memorable or particularly funny. We only hope that Dumb and Dumber To, as it is officially titled, does not make this fatal mistake. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • 'Louie' Takes on Marijuana with a New, Important Message
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 10, 2014
    FX By this time, you've probably read, tweeted about, and sorted through no shortage of confrontational reaction pieces on Maureen Dowd's essay on getting so high she thought she was dead. A collective of Internet voices pointed out why marijuana was not the culprit of Dowd's existential eruption but a mixture of inexperience and poor planning. Dozens leapt to the defense of pot in the wake of what they considered an unjust maligning of their dear friend, following the form of so many television programs and films of the past two decades that have worked to glorify recreational use of the drug after years of criminal stigma. In the sociopolitical spectrum, Dowd represented the closing of that cycle: a rebuttal to all the rebuttals. And in the aforementioned spectrum of pop culture, we have Louie doing the same. Or so it might seem. This week's episode of the often surreal comedy/drama takes the form of a 90-minute mini-movie, shafting the show's usual subversion of structure, stories, characters, and basic sentiments we're used to seeing on air in favor of a far more conventional, soft-spoken anecdote about a 13-year-old boy's first experiences with pot. The extended flashback about the dawn of Louie's marijuana use, which makes up the bulk of the episode, is inspired when Louie catches 12-year-old Lily smoking a joint with a few kids her age. His nerves explode as he wrangles her away from the pack, plops her down by a nearby tree, scolds her for this behavior, threatens to inform her mother, takes her to get a burger, and then drives her home silently... throughout the mission, Louie doesn't seem to have a clue about how to handle this sort of thing. And that's probably because, as we learn from a flashback, nobody really knew how to handle it when he did the same thing at her age. We meet Louie (Devin Druid, who we'll forgive for a deficit of freckles) in his last year of junior high school. The young man, pre-first toke, is warm and loving to his mother, attentive in school, and an all around good fella. With the knowledge of where this episode is setting to go, there's the inescapable ambiance of propaganda here — such a good kid torn asunder by the clutches of recreational drugs: Louie does lose his grip quite a bit once partaking in the bounties of weed. He becomes lazy, tired, edgy, and resorts at his lowest point to stealing a handful of scales from his school's chemistry department (and his beloved teacher, played by Skipp Sudduth and named ostensibly for Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the episode is dedicated) for trade with his shifty drug dealer (maybe my favorite Jeremy Renner performance yet). FX On paper, it does seem over the top, and the episode veers in that direction quite a few times, barely avoiding the after school special state of being. But once "In the Woods" grabs hold of the characters around Louie, like his mom, friends, friends' families, teacher, principal, guidance counselor, drug dealer, and long absent father (played by F. Murray Abraham in his third role on the show, the previous being Louie's Uncle Excelsior), it proves itself as an episode not about marijuana, but about the way people react to marijuana. Louie's friends react to the idea of starting a life with pot with hungry glee. His dorky pal thinks hedonistically, encouraging Louie to get in the drug selling game, while a "wrong side of the tracks" new friend/former bully who hitches his wagon to Louie in light of his latest score of hash, warns against the dangers of dealing, and dealing with dealers. Adults around these kids have adverse reactions: they respond with hostility (the bully's older brother, lamenting this waste of time and money as their mother succumbs to illness), legal threats (Louie's principal, suspecting him of theft of the school's property), moral condemnation (Louie's father, rearing his head for the first time in a month to express his distaste for Louie and his choices), and compassion (a guidance counselor who caps the episode with reasonable theories about Louie self-medicating to overcome his parents' divorce). But the one that really hits, the one that veers closest to Louie's own befuddled reaction: his mom, played once again by Amy Landecker (and quite astoundingly), who is simply hurt. She is hurt over the thought of losing her son: his purity and innocence. And she, with more burdens upon her than adult Louie, is torn to accusing him of abandoning her and himself. Of becoming selfish, vacant, and boring (we recall just last week, Dr. Charles Grodin said the very same thing of Louie... but it didn't sting quite as much then). Louie recoils immediately after accusing Lily of leaving behind her childhood for good, knowing that experimentation, while indicative of an ushering in of the new, does not necessitate a deletion of the old. Still, he's afraid to lose his girl to things she can't handle, and more inevitably, adulthood altogether. And rightfully so — considering the Louie we know from the show's admittedly loose modern day canon, he has never been the same since "growing up." He might miss his old self. And just like his mom missed him when he began to change, he'll miss Lily as she does. But as "In the Woods" shows us, this doesn't mean that Louie is ruined; that's where it differs from the propaganda of health class specials that we're used to, despite mimicking them in tone (probably with intention). Louie maintains integrity in the face of fear throughout his plethora of mistakes. He stands up for his bullied friend, dissuades from the use of violence, owns up to his crimes, and ultimately reconciles with his mom. Marijuana didn't make him worse, it was just a bridge to him becoming older. By the end of "In the Woods," Louie was the kind of person who'd have to fix his mistakes rather than never make them in the first place. The episode is a ways away from the glorification of pot that we've seen in most adult television shows and movies of late. After years of demonization, Judd Apatow and his ilk took the drug back to showcase how harmless and fun it can be. And it can be both of those things. But just like any other new experience at the onset of teen- and adulthood, it can also be a problem. More important than the drug itself is the way people react to it... and not just the users. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: 'Lullaby' Is a Weird Mixture of Horrible Schmaltz and Genuine Heartbreak
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 09, 2014
    ARC Entertainment Occasionally, Lullaby is the story of one particular family struggling with the imminent death of its mensch of a patriarch (Richard Jenkins) following his long battle with cancer. But for some reason, the movie can't live with being only that. Lullaby wants to reach everybody, to cover all possible constructs of the grieving process, to deliver the ultimate cinematic depiction of untimely death. In stuffing itself with so many varied elements, however, Lullaby feels no longer like the story of any cohesive family, relegating itself to an array of moments that you'll probably recognize from past films about cancer (or contemporary ones, for that matter) and recall seeing handled a lot better in those movies, to boot. When debut writer/director Andrew Levitas lets his characters run organically, he earns his best material: Jenkins plays dying dad Robert Lowenstein with terrific humanity, holding fast to his decision to emancipate himself from life support while catering to the emotional whims of his reserved wife (Anne Archer), defiant daughter (Jessica Brown Findlay), and black sheep son Jonathan (Garrett Hedlund), the focal character in the story. Jenkins is the film's power source, peppering his slow drift toward the inevitable with good natured snark and some bona fide dad jokes — there are a few dynamite puns in this picture, rest assured — and instances of authentic sentiment. Hedlund returns the favor as the prickly runaway who has never forgiven his dad for getting sick, but pales in comparison to the soft grins of his screen partner. ARC Entertainment If left alone with the simple grandeur of the above, the Lowensteins might brave a storm worth watching. But Lullaby compulsively tosses in an abundance of contrivances in a counterintuitive effort to courier the emotional reach to all audiences (or maybe it's just out of desperation for script filler). At various points in the movie, we learn about conflicts involving family inheritance, the Lowensteins' Jewish heritage, a hostile nurse (Jennifer Hudson, giving a performance that at the very least toes the line of racism) who is apparently the sole staff member in a gigantic New York City hospital, and Jonathan's relationship with ex-girlfriend Emily (Amy Adams) — a character with absolutely no place in this story — each introduced more abjectly than the last, and none commanding any presence of import. The problem with all of these elements isn't simply their existence, but the insincerity with which they are all handled. Late in the movie, a conversation about an otherwise unmentioned automobile demands the gravity of an established metaphor, just one of many scenes that doesn't earn the catharsis it seems bent on establishing. The biggest culprit here might be the material surrounding Jessica Barden's Meredith, a cancer-stricken 17-year-old who the movie utilizes as Jonathan's Jiminy Cricket figure (taking form as both sage otherworldly symbol, despite going out of her way to introduce herself as "human" when they first meet, and a victim prime for the saving). Though the most egregious example of the movie's reliance on go-to schmaltz, Meredith is hardly the lone problem.   // As a result of its proclivity to pluck away at the harp strings at every turn, when Lullaby does shoot for that real, it comes off as bizarre and misplaced. These issues notwithstanding, the rougher, more guttural moments in the film are indeed its most shining examples of humanity. If Lullaby were satisfied keeping its Lowensteins confined to the close quarters of Robert's hospital bed — fighting, crying, laughing at nurses, talking about baseball, dealing with (literal) s**t, and making dad jokes — we'd have what we likely came for: a touching, difficult story about people dealing with a true problem. But instead, the film chooses to favor of the big over the real. 2.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • The Most Nicholas Sparksy Moments in 'The Best of Me' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 05, 2014
    Relativity Media Mere seconds into the new trailer for The Best of Me, you'll know. Without any warning or background information, you'll have no doubt in your mind: this is a Nicholas Sparks movie. And what a Nicholas Sparks movie it looks to be.   Directed by the guy who made Soapdish, The Best of Me is only the latest frosting rose on the store bought ice cream cake that is Sparks' catalogue of novels-turned-films. After years of the same old love story game, you'd think a new Sparks flick might be inclined to veer from routine just a tad. Well, you'd be left ugly crying amid an Atlantic Coast downpour, because such is far from the case. The first trailer for The Best of Me looks to wrangle in just about every conceivable Nicholas Sparkism in its brief 90-second lifespan. And here they are, every single Nicholas Sparksy moment in order of Nicholas Sparksiness. 28) Gleeful outdoor wedding embrace (1:08) 27) Dude teen giving girl teen a rose (:22) 26) Comparatively [see #10] explicit illustrations of teen sexuality (1:12) 25) Secondary characters weeping openly (:40) 24) Woodland dancing (1:15) 23) A neat camera trick that indicates the True Detective lady is playing the same character as tree-reading teen girl! (:47) 22) Teen dude proposing pseudo-hypothetical about the never being able to see his teen girlfriend again, passively demanding an impromptu declaration of her love (:36) 21) Adult human beings lifting each other up in broad daylight (1:00) 20) Dramatic head turn! (:46) 19) Rural/suburban Atlantic Coast town (:07) 18) Sad driving (:39) 17) James Marsden in an undershirt (:44) 16) Teens talking about flirting... not actually flirting, talking about flirting (:15) 15) Teens sitting in a tree, legs intertwined chastely, reading (:27) 14) Lake kissing (:58) 13) Insinuation of prejudices relating to socioeconomic class differences between characters, even though everybody seems pretty much the same level of well off (:33) 12) A barn (:43) 11) Charmless interaction that establishes the thematic premise of the film outright (:50) 10) Horizontal silhouettes kissing, which means sex (1:02) 9) He says the name of the movie! (1:16) 8) Teens lying nude in the presence of an active fireplace (:35) 7) Teens exchanging silent, meaningful glances upon first sight of one another that will determine the course of their entire lives (:10) 6) "From Nicholas Sparks" title card (:13) 5) Male shirtlessness (:56) 4) A Southern fella who just wants what's best for his daughter, and he's not afraid to tell that to the impossibly non-threatening young buck who likes her (:30) 3) Headlining actors smiling vacantly at nothing (1:04) 2) Hollow proclamation that sounds romantic on paper, maybe (1:11) 1) Rain kiss (:29) This movie comes out eventually, I guess. You can see it then. Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • A Quick Look at the New TV Projects of Darren Aronofsky, Robert Downey Jr., and Bryan Cranston
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 05, 2014
    Getty Images/Neilson Barnard Long emancipated from its reputation as the place where has-beens go for one last snag at the limelight, television is attracting big screen folks at the top of their games. A new league of blockbuster movie stars, admired thespians, and Oscar-nominated filmmakers alike are flocking to the comforts of premium cable, all with intriguing projects in tow. Here are a few big name figures taking to the TV game with promising prospects. DARREN ARONOFSKY Who's that again? The guy who directed Black Swan, Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, The Fountain, and NoahWhat's he working on? MaddAddam, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's speculative sci-fi novel trilogy (Oryx and Crake, Year Of The Flood, and MaddAddam).For whom? HBO.What's the deal? The story depicts a dystopian future in which genetic engineering has swept the human race. Aronofsky might direct, and is executive producing with his fiancée Brandi-Ann Milbradt and regular collaborator Ari Handel.[Deadline] ROBERT DOWNEY JR. Who's that again? Iron Man.What's he working on? An untitled drama about a drug rehab community set in 1980s Venice Beach.For whom? Showtime.What's the deal? Downey obviously has personal ties to the project considering his history with drug abuse; he and his wife Susan are producing, and Orange Is the New Black writer Gary Lennon is handling the script (so we can expect some wit).[Deadline] WENN/Adriana M. Barraza BRYAN CRANSTON Who's that again? Walter White from Breaking Bad, Hal from Malcolm in the Middle, or Tim Whatley from Seinfeld, and President Lyndon Johnson on ol' Broadway.What's he working on? A narrative adaptation of the Conn and Hal Iggulden book Dangerous Book for Boys.For whom? No word just yet.What's the deal? Although the Igguldens' book takes form as a "how to" manual of sorts, Cranston's television series will draw a narrative out of the variety of rituals established as recommended rites of passage for American youngsters.[Variety] Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com
  • Review: 'Edge of Tomorrow' Gives Us the Most Fun (and Douchey) Tom Cruise Performance in Years
    By: Michael Arbeiter Jun 04, 2014
    Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection The reincarnative powers acquired by Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow have their limits — after death, he is always "reborn" on the same day, in the same place, surrounded by the same oblivious galoots, forced over and over to make it past the same obstacles in order to do whatever it is the movie never really gets around to explaining he's supposed to do. Save the world, yeah, but the specifics are muddled beyond that. We get the feeling, though, that if Cruise himself could choose his point of rebirth, it'd be smack dab back in the middle of the '80s. And we're right along with him. Because one of Edge of Tomorrow's great victories is its ability to remind us of the Cruise we fell in love with way back when. The Cruise that could get away with being funny, kooky, smarmy, and kind of a douchebag. In this latest outing, that's exactly what he's going for. Edge of Tomorrow is more than happy to return to the Cruise we met and loved in the era of Risky Business and Top Gun, accessing the sort of colossal camp that he, as a good-looking charmer, could sell as high grade entertainment. Well before Rain Man established him as an actor of true merit and the decade to follow slowly expelled him of this very reputation. As soldier-in-name-only William Cage, Cruise masters the art of playing too big for his britches. His swagger is unfounded, his double talk ineffective. Finally, that Tom Cruise smile (you know the one) is used for its rightful purpose: to highlight just how much of a cocky son of a bitch this guy can be. But this version of Cruise might stumble to a point of utter detestability if Edge of Tomorrow wasn't so eager to laugh at the classic Hollywood-caliber blowhard he puts on display. Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection The film's sense of humor and personability are what cart us through the science fiction premise with such grace: Cage is thrust into his first go at warfare against a race of malicious alien invaders, taunted and ostracized by his disapproving fellow grunts, killed almost instantly in the field of battle, and then reborn moments later (make that a day and a half earlier) right back at the military base where this whole mixup began. Never mind why — the movie does its share of explaining the science fiction behind Cruise's character's newfound abilities... with no dearth of logic holes, but you shouldn't get too strung up on that either — or even the specifics of the ultimate mission that he and a soldier sympathetic to his cause (Emily Blunt, who is sharp enough as an impatient war hero) adopt in order to save the human race from their extraterrestrial assailants. The only element to really strap into here is the fun: Cage struggling with the confusion, terror, monotony, psychological trauma, existential quandaries, and humors of living the same few days and scenes over and over and over, with the added bonus of an alien war comprising the backdrop to keep things quirky.   // When the novelty of both the idea and all the plausible avenues of exploring it wear away, we're left with a far less riveting third act... not one entirely devoid of life, though one notably lacking in the spark and color that ignited Cruise's initial forays into this strange set of circumstances. The movie trades its earlier brand of innovation for the tropes of your standard action/sci-fi, though never entirely devolves all the way down to standard summer fare. In the end, Edge of Tomorrow doesn't wind up proving itself to be as tremendous a leap from the norm of today, but it's at least a few big steps. And that's largely because it seems to know what we've all been forgetting since 1985: science fiction can be funny, blockbusters can be kooky, and Tom Cruise can, and should, be a jackass. 3.5/5 Follow @Michael Arbeiter| Follow @Hollywood_com