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

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Friday, September 28, 2007

'The Kingdom' is surprisngly good

The Kingdom (2007)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Ashraf Barhom, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, and Ali Suliman
Director: Peter Berg
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Four FBI agents (Foxx, Cooper, Bateman, and Garner) travel to Saudi Arabia where they team with two Saudi police officers (Barhom and Suliman) to stop a deadly terrorist and his followers.

I went to see "The Kingdom" fully expecting to hate it. The Hollywood establishment seems obsessed with justifying or even excusing terrorists, and I expected this film to be a reflection of that. However, I was pleasently surprised. This movie shows terrorists exactly for the evil, psychopathic cowardly scum that that they are. It has none of the "one man's terrorist is another man's hero" crap that so many American "intellectuals" are so fond peddling.

The film also shows that the 75 years of Saudi Arabian and American governments have allowed the conditions that gave rise to the likes of the movie's "Abu Hamza" and the real-world Osama bin Ladens through their inaction and unwillingness to behave in anything but fashions that are self-serving and self-aggrandizing. In fact, the film has the rather accurate message that the American and Saudi governments are their own worst enemies--the American government being fawning toadies to the Saudis, and the Saudi government behaving like barbaric bullies.

My very favorite aspect of the film was the way the FBI agents and the Saudi state poilice officers ended up working together once politics and distrust was set aside, showing that good cop are good cop, no matter where in the world they are.

Almost every aspect of the film was very enjoyable, playing like a cross between "CSI: Riyadh" and an action flick, except for the very last minute or so, where we had to have some of the standard issue Hollywood moral equivilency dished out. Fortunately, the dose was not big enough to ruin the film, and it was so ludicrous that no intelligent person could do anything but snicker at it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

German ministers overcome fear
of Scientology cooties

I thought barring the "Valkyrie" crew from filming at certain spots because Cruise is a loony cultist as silly. It's nice to see someone come to their senses for once.

From the AP...

German defense ministry reverses "Valkyrie" decision

The German government has done an apparent about-face and will allow Tom Cruise to film key scenes of his movie "Valkyrie" at a location that had previously been placed off-limits to him.

A spokesman for the German Defense Ministry said Monday that after evaluating the script, officials had decided that it shed a light on the foundations of German democracy. (The film concerns a plot by a group of high-ranking military officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler in World War II; Cruise plays Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a German officer regarded as the ringleader of the group.)

When filming began last month, German officials granted only limited cooperation due to Cruise's association with Scientology, which is officially regarded as a dangerous cult in Germany. However, on Monday officials said they were satisfied that the story of the plot and the previously barred filming site -- where von Stauffenberg was executed -- would receive respectful treatment.

Anti-Scientology groups voiced their anger over the decision. In an interview with "Time" magazine, Ursula Caberta, a government worker who monitors Scientology in Germany, said that the decision is like "handing a trophy to Scientology. [...] Tom Cruise is not just Tome Cruise, but a figurehead of an anti-constitutional organization, and he should be treated that way."

(Oh, make sure you read Ursula Caberta's quote with a thick German accent and increasing hysteria as you go. It conveys her inner nature, I think.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Godd analysis of the 2007 summer movies

It's very, very rare that I come across any entertaiment-related opinion piece that I agree with 100%, be it in print or in a blog. So, now that Nikki Finke has written one for "Hollywood Deadline Daily", I want to call attention to it!

Go read "Putting Summer 2007 on the Therapy Couch". It's a column that's spot-on, and I hope more than just a few studio execs and creative talents read it and take it all to heart.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

American Filmmakers and the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

Over a year ago (May 1, 2006), i wrote the following quickie review for "Reviews and Stuff":

United 93
Director: Paul Greengrass
Steve's Rating: Ten of Ten

"United 93" is the true story of a group of brave Americans, who were onboard one of the planes hijacked by psychotics driven by religious fanaticism on September 11, 2001. Realizing what was happening, they chose to fight back, and they gave their lives to save hundreds of others.

I wasn't sure if I was going to see this movie, because I was certain it would be a politically correct love-fest full of moral equivelance and excuse-making for the terrorists. Thankfully, there was none of that. Instead, this movie is a pretty straight-forward retelling of the true events around and caused by a group of targeted victims who faught back and won; they may have died, but they stopped the Al-Qaeda goons from acheiving their objective.

This film should be required viewing for all students in public schools. It should be required viewing for all elected officials. It should be required viewing for all government employees. Every American should go see it, especially adults who have been heard whining, "It's too soon." (It may be too intense a film for young children--as the R rating reflects--but an adult should be able to handle the truth, and I think "United 93" is about as close to the truth as we're going to get while sitting safely in cushy movie-theater chairs.)

It's been almost five years since the events retold in "United 93" took place, and it's embarrassing that a British director helmed this movie. Hollywood needs to start making more serious movies like this, movies that show the truth about the terrorists and the truth about what can be acomplished if we chose to fight back instead of just lay down.

Looking at what was at the Venice Film festival last week and what is coming up in theaters, Hollywood stars and filmmakers still seem to have little interest in exposing the true evil that terrorists like al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Mahdi Army, and the Taliban embody. They are far more concerned with spreading propaganda on their behalf.

It's sad to see freedom of speech so ill used.

On a positive note, let me take a moment to congratulate Osama bin Laden on his triumphant second video in as many weeks. He looks better in that pillbox hat than Jackie Kennedy ever did, and I don't think a man with a full beard has ever crossdressed so effortlessly and successfully in the entire recorded history the world!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Osama appears in Jackie Kennedy's hat!

Untitled Osama Project (aka "The Return of Bin Laden" and "Do You Like Gladiator Movies?")
Starring: Osama bin Laden
Director: Name Withheld Due to Extreme Cowardice
Steve's Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Osama bin Laden has graced the world with a new vanity short film.

Unfortunately, it's like most vanity project sequels... it rehashes what we've already seen and it focuses more on the star's ego than communicating any worthwhile (or even relevant) artistic or political statement.

The only significant difference between this latest direct-to-video work from bin Laden and his previous work is that he has finally come out of the closet and is publically acknowledging his homosexuality. The most effeminate of the terrorist set spends the film dressed in a hat inspired by Jackie Kennedy's famous 1960s wardrobe, and a yellow summer dress. He has also dyed his beard a dark brown in an obvious attempt to recapture all those years he spent hiding his love of tender boy-flesh behind exploding minions and big guns.

Another minor change, tied to Osama now flaunting his homosexuality is that he has set aside some of his usual Islamo-fascist rhetoric in favor of the sort of wild conspiracy theories that frequent posters to "The Daily KOS" and "Democratic Underground" like to rant about--how the eeeeeevil corporations are to blame for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not Osama and his still-in-the-closet self-destructive followers. It's too bad that Osama doesn't realize that he would find a more sympathetic audience among Republicans and tailor his message accordingly; there are far more closet cases among politically active conservative than among Democrats and other Lefties. Once again, Osama misses the mark with these videos, preferring to preach to those already converted to his point of view... although in this case, missing the mark is risky for him. He might alienate his current fanbase--the self-destructive closet-cases who'd rather blow themselves up than admit they're flaming love-muffins--but he is not likely not gain many new converts.

No more is that more evident than in this line from the film where Osama says, "I invite you to embrace Islam."

Given the film and Osama's performance, I can only respond, "I invite you to fuck off."

Most Americans (and most Westerners, except perhaps for the loonies who bought copies of "Loose Change") share that sentiment, even the closeted homosexuals who might admire Osama's bravery for coming out. Although every kind soul congratulates Osama in finally recognizing his true nature, not even those who share his sexual orientation are willing to be his bitch and "submit to Islam."

Although I recognize Osama is taking a real chance by coming out so flamboyantly--and thus is sure to alienate much of his current fanbase made up of self-hating homosxuals who can't face their sexuality--I still can't give this film a better rating than Two Stars. Despite Osama's new transsexual look, and his conspiratorial rantings, he's just playing the same old character as before and delivering the same, mostly useless message.

The Two Stars are purely for Osama's bravery in coming out, and because he looks better in that hat than Jackie Kennedy ever did.