Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Who will host the Academy Awards?

Billy Crystal and Chris Rock have both said they won't be hosting the Academy Awards show this time around.

Just to put everyone at ease over this matter, I have yet to decline to host the show.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Not all Bin Ladens are hairy, child-raping lunatics

Happy New Year to all Osama bin Laden fans!

Osama bin Laden's niece bares much in GQ spread for Jan. 2006 issue
'My values are like yours,’ she says, distancing herself from al-Qaida leader

NEW YORK - Osama bin Laden’s niece, in an interview with GQ magazine in which she appears scantily clad, says she has nothing in common with the al-Qaida leader and simply wants acceptance by Americans.

“Everyone relates me to that man, and I have nothing to do with him,” Wafah Dufour, the daughter of bin Laden’s half brother, Yeslam Binladin, says in the January edition of the magazine, referring to the al-Qaida leader.

“I want to be accepted here, but I feel that everybody’s judging me and rejecting me,” said the California-born Dufour, a musician and law school graduate who lives in New York. “Come on, where’s the American spirit? Accept me. I want to be embraced, because my values are like yours. And I’m here. I’m not hiding.”

Dufour, who adopted her mother’s maiden name after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that have been blamed on bin Laden, appears in several provocative photos in the magazine.

The pictures are likely to be considered obscene by conservative Muslims in and outside of Saudi Arabia where women are required to be veiled.
Asked if she would like to perform her music in the Middle East, Dufour says her mother, Carmen Dufour, would be too afraid that “someone would want to kill me.”

“Listen, I would love to raise consciousness. Maybe women could hear the songs and realize that I’m doing my dream and hopefully they can, too,” she said.

Yeslam and Osama are among 54 children of the late Saudi construction magnate Mohammed bin Laden and his 22 wives. The extended family includes several hundred people.

Binladin, who received Swiss citizenship in 2001, has condemned his half brother “for his acts and his convictions.” He intentionally spells his name differently from his half brother.

In the interview, Dufour says she would not date a fundamentalist Muslim and that she cried hysterically when she witnessed the attacks on New York while staying with her mother in Geneva.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

'Eiger Sanction' author dead at 74

Author Rodney William Whitaker died in the UK on Wednesday 14 December of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at the age of 74.

The writer is most well-known under the pseudonym Trevanian and his novels include "The Eiger Sanction" (which was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood), "The Loo Sanction," "The Summer of Katya" and "Shibumi".

According to the "Los Angeles Times", Whitaker is survived by his wife, Diane Brandon Whitaker; two sons, Lance and Christian; and two daughters, Alexandra and Tomasin.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Richard Pryor dead at 65

LOS ANGELES - Richard Pryor startled audiences with his foul-mouthed routines, but his universal and frequently personal insights propelled him into one of Hollywood's biggest stars.

The pioneering comedian, whose audacious style influenced generations of standup artists, died Saturday of a heart attack at age 65, said his business manager, Karen Finch. He had been ill for years with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative disease of the nervous system.

"By expressing his heart, anger and joy, Richard Pryor took comedy to its highest form," Steve Martin said.

A series of hit comedies and concert films in the '70s and '80s helped make Pryor one of Hollywood's highest paid stars, and he was one of the first black performers with enough leverage to cut his own deals. In 1983, he signed a $40 million, five-year contract with Columbia Pictures.

His films included "Stir Crazy," "Silver Streak," "Which Way Is Up?" and "Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip."

Monday, December 5, 2005

Jack Colvin dead at 71

LOS ANGELES - Actor Jack Colvin, best known for his role as tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the 1970s television series "The Incredible Hulk," has died. He was 71.

Colvin died Thursday in North Hollywood of complications following a stroke, said his longtime friend, actress Maaren Edvard, an instructor and administrator at Michael Chekhov Studio USA West, which was founded by Colvin.

"Jack was, in every sense of the word, a consummate artist," Edvard said. "He wrote, painted and read philosophy, but he always came back to acting."

Colvin appeared in numerous TV shows, including "The Rat Patrol," "Kojak," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "The Rockford Files," "Cagney and Lacey" and "Murder, She Wrote." He also had minor roles in several films, including "Scorpio" and "Rooster Cogburn."

He had a long history as a stage actor when he was approached about the "Hulk" role in 1977. The series, based on the Marvel Comics character, aired on CBS until 1982.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

'Aeon Flux' is better than the marketing campaign makes it seem

Aeon Flux (2005)
Starring: Charlize Theron and Marton Csokas
Director: Karyn Kusama
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

The Monican rebels start wanting freedom from Chairman Trevor Goodchild's (Csokas) rigid system of government in the utopian citystate of Bregna, but when they send their best agent Aeon Flux (Theron) on a mission to assassinate him, she learns that there is something far more sinister lurking behind the walls of Goodchild's citadel than anyone had imagined. Ignoring the orders of her superiors, she instead launches a quest to uncover the dark secrets of Goodhild and even her own existence. She soon finds herself forced to rethink everything she thought was true, and she eventually must ally with the she believed to be her greatest enemy, Goodchild, if she is to survive.

The previews and television ads for "Aeon Flux" are misleading. They make the film appear like a clone of "The Matrix" or perhaps even "Demoltion Man," with a bit of stereotypical Hollywood revenge story thrown in. I say this is a sign that the studio is mismarketing this flick, as they made me think this was yet another example of movie makers buying a property and "improving" upon it by dumping everything that made it cool, so I almost didn't go see it.

In truth, "Aeon Flux" is a faithful adaptation of the animated series it is based on, with enough back story and additional elements added to make it sensible and worthwhile viewing if you walk in cold with no knowledge of the original series. It's got the same over-the-top stunts and action of the animated series, plus an often-times surrealistic atmosphere.

The bizarre technology of the far-future Bregnan society and the rebels that battle against it is perhaps embodied even better in the live action film than the original series. While some of the costumes made me shake my head a bit (shades of bad "Star Trek: The Next Generation" copies in some cases), the look and feel of the "Aeon Flux" world from the cartoon was also brought over faithfully, with the gorgeous Relicary, the private homes of Bregnan citizens, the food and drink that is consumed, and the towering spires around Goodchild's citadel being particularly well-done.

The oddness and often dreamlike sense that runs through everything in the "Aeon Flux" world works both for and against the movie,just like it did in the animated series. I thought "Aeon Flux" was at its best when it was presented as short films; when MTV expanded the episodes into a half-hour format, most of them were more belabored than intriguing. That same sensation started to set in for me about an hour into the film... but it only lasted for a little bit, because the filmmakers then started building toward the climax and they got my attention again.

The acting is hard to comment on in the film, because the characters in it behave as they do in the original series--almost serenely calm even while trying to kill each other. No one that appeared on screen did a particularly bad job, and I thought that both Theron and Csokas were excellent at conveying emotions despite the required restraint of the characters.

All in all, I think this is a good and interesting movie. Not a great one, but I also don't think it's as bad as I am certain critics and movie-goers are going to claim it is.

The real problem with "Aeon Flux" is in the marketing, because it sets up expectations that this movie doesn't deliver. Instead, the marketeers should have played up the conspiracy, dark secrets, and "what is the meaning of life, duty, and freedom" angles that are contained in the film, instead of focusing on a hackneyed "she was the government's top assassin... until they betrayed her!" plot element that in truth isn't even really present in the film. I think this movie, sadly, is going to bomb in the theatres, but it will truly be discovered by audiences when it appears on DVD.

For a brief summary of the original Aeon Flux (and stats for the "Big Eyes, Small Mouth" RPG), "blank">visit this page at my website.