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

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Tom Cruise vs. Germany comes full circle

When I commented on the first wire story about the German military supposedly banning "Valkyrie" from being filmed at real military site (here), I observed that UA and the production team hadn't even submitted a request to do so.

The reading public is now being reminded of that fact, but it's also reassuring to see that the Germans still have some sort of short-term memory problem going on... along the lines of the problems that have persisted since around World War 2. (We're even hearing now that the German military isn't even the entity that approves use of the site that's the main point of contension... the Finance Ministry are the ones who handle that.)

Still... when I compare some of the quotes and claims in this article to the ones made earlier, I still have to wonder if the claim that "Cruise is a cooties-infested Scientologist" aren't just a smoke-screen for some other reason why the Germans are carrying on about him. (I'll show what I mean after the article.

German military not categorical opposed to Cruise-starring movie filming on their bases
By Scott Roxborough

COLOGNE, Germany (Hollywood Reporter) - The German Defense Ministry is scrambling to qualify its stance on the Tom Cruise World War Two thriller "Valkyrie," saying Thursday that, despite reports to the contrary, it has no opposition to the film shooting in Germany.

News reports earlier this week had started officials would ban "Valkyrie" from shooting at German military sites because of star Cruise's belief in Scientology.

The ministry now says that, while it hasn't received an official request from "Valkyrie" producers United Artists to shoot in the country, it would "look agreeably" upon any such application.

The film, slated for a 2008 release, tells the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise), the leader of a failed German military plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. The film's title comes from Operation Valkyrie, the plot's code name.

The producers have expressed interest in shooting at the Bendlerblock memorial in Berlin. It is the actual location where Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators hatched the plot to assassinate Hitler with a bomb hidden in a briefcase. It also is where Stauffenberg and the other plotters were executed after the attempt failed.

Now a memorial site, the Bendlerblock also houses part of the Defense Ministry.

The Defense Ministry said Thursday that it wasn't even responsible for approving film shoots at Bendlerblock because they are only tenants on the land. The location is under the authority of Germany's Finance Ministry, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The source of the "Valkyrie" controversy seems to have stemmed from a posting on the Web site of conservative German member of parliament Antje Blumenthal. Blumenthal posted a statement Friday claiming that Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung had pledged to her that Cruise would not get permission to shoot because of the purported danger posed by his Scientology.

Blumenthal is a cult expert for the conservative CDU/CSU party and a longtime opponent of Scientology.

The German government does not recognize Scientology as a religion and sees it instead as a dangerous cult, which brainwashes and exploits its members. Scientology is under official observation by Germany authorities as a potentially threat to German democracy, putting the organization on par with neo-Nazi groups.

Germany's film industry, however, has embraced the "Valkyrie" project.

The heads of Studio Babelsberg, Christoph Fisser and Carl Woebcken, on Thursday praised "Valkyrie" as one of the "too few examples of military opposition to Hitler's regime."

Fisser and Woebcken are in negotiations with United Artists to join the project as co-producers. If UA executives reach a deal, "Valkyrie" could begin shooting at Babelsberg next month.

"The assassination attempt against Hitler is hardly known outside Germany," Fisser said. "We should therefore be delighted and welcome this wonderful opportunity to improve the image of our country."

So... the claim is now that some random politician is the one who opposed the filming. Does this mean that the Reuters news service made the following up?

Defence Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the film makers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult".

Or is it more likely that the Germans thinking that the world has a short-term memory problem similar to theirs? (As in the way it's impossible to find anyone with grandparents who supported Hitler, or how no one remembered they had Jewish or Communist neighbors whose stuff they stole after the Nazis carted them off).

Of course, either the AP is lying about this next bit, or the German government needs to get their stories straight:

Following a decision by the German military to bar the producers of the film, titled Valkyrie, after the code name used by the plotters, from using military bases as locales, a number of German lawmakers have gone on record to denounce the entire project.

Social Democratic lawmaker Klaus Uwe Benneter said that having a Scientologist play Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg, who is now regarded as a national hero, represents "a slap in the face to all upstanding democrats, all resistance fighters during the Third Reich, and all victims of the Scientology sect."

What does Tom Cruise's religious beliefs have to do with the character he plays? Are Scientologists approaching Jew-status in the eyes of the modern Germans? Are they somehow unclean and naturally evil? Or are German leaders just naturally stupid?

Of course, the pro-Cruise side isn't much better....

In an interview with the AP, Carl Woebcken, head of Babelsberg studio, which is hoping to co-produce the movie with United Artists, commented, "This is not a Scientology film, it is a Bryan Singer film, and Bryan Singer is Jewish ... and they want to make this film to show that during the Nazi regime there was heroic resistance. [Tom Cruise] is one of the best, if not the best, actors in the world for heroic roles and that is why Bryan Singer approached him."

Mr. Woebecken either lying or being willfully ignorant. Or maybe I am. Cruise OWNS the current incarnation of United Artists, the company behind "Valkyrie". Singer was HIRED by Cruise, not the other way around.

I think it's safe to say at least some of the casting of "Valkyrie" took place before the director was found. It's not an uncomming thing... stars are often attached to a film before a director is found.

(And Cruise is one of the best best actors in the world for heroic roles? Please. That sort of hyperbole should be left to nobody commentators like me, or maybe marketing flaks. Studioheads hoping to appear like they're worth paying attention to try to sound a bit smarter.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

If there was any doubt...

.. that Palestinian "culture" is deeply twisted and evil, this bit of news should dispel that.

(Remember: Hamas was the group of madmen the majority of Palestinian voters wanted in charge.)

One has to wonder why the usually aggressive Disney Corp. lawyers never laid the smack-down on these psychopaths. If anything damages their brand, it's crap like this.

Cute, propaganda-spewing kids character beaten to death on final episode of series

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - A Mickey Mouse lookalike who preached Islamic domination and violence on a Hamas-created children's television program was beaten to death in the show's final episode Friday.

In the final skit, "Farfour" was killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfour's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."

"Farfour was martyred while defending his land," said Sara, the teen presenter. He was killed "by the killers of children," she added.

The weekly show, featuring a giant black-and-white rodent with a high- pitched voice, had attracted worldwide attention because the character urged Palestinian children to fight Israel. It was broadcast on Hamas- affiliated Al Aqsa TV.

Station officials said Friday that Farfour was taken off the air to make room for new programs. Station manager Mohammed Bilal said he did not know what would be shown instead.

Israeli officials have denounced the program, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," as incendiary and outrageous. The program was also opposed by the state-run Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., which is controlled by Fatah, Hamas' rival.

Take look at Farfour's final adventure and judge for yourself. Personally, I can't understand why any sane person could ever consider themselves "pro-Palestinian".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Heirs of the Master Race vs
Acolytes of L Ron Hubbard

Man... this is worse than when I found myself agreeing with Al Sharpton over Paris Hilton getting home arrest for violating probation!

I find myself shaking my head at the German military behaving like idiots because a wack-job cultist is going to be starring as a retro-active German warhero in "Valkyrie."

Tom Cruise has vowed Scientology will have no impact on his portrayal of a legendary German assassin, after being banned from filming at the country's military bases because of his controversial beliefs.

The actor is set to begin shooting Valkyrie in Germany this summer. In the film he plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of an unsuccessful plot to kill Adolf Hitler during World War II. However, permission to film scenes on genuine army sites has been denied by the country's Defense Ministry because Scientology is viewed as a "money-making cult" instead of legitimate church by the German government.

However, Cruise is adamant his beliefs have nothing to do with characterization, and is desperate to shoot the movie on location in von Stauffenberg's homeland.

His producing partner and United Artists CEO Paula Wagner says, "Aside from his obvious admiration of the man he is portraying, Mr. Cruise's personal beliefs have absolutely no bearing on the movie's plot, themes, or content. And even though we could shoot the movie anywhere in the world, we believe Germany is the only place we can truly do the story justice."

Von Stauffenberg's briefcase bomb in 1944 only succeeded in wounding Hitler. He was executed by firing squad for the plot the next morning.

REALITY TO THE GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTRY: The curse of Xenu (Xemu? Emu? Whatever the name of that extra-dimension comic book villian that doubles for Satan in the Scientology "religion" is called) won't be upon your army sites, nor will it or the vengeful spirit of Claus von Stauffenberg be infested with Scientology cooties if Tom Cruise films there.

If you don't want to cheapen your war memorials by letting a bunch of dirty Americans film there, just say so. But this "Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, so he can't set foot here!"-excuse makes you look like bigger fools than Cruise and others who let themselves get bilked by the "money-making cult."

And Cruise & Wagner... come on, guys. Alfred Hitchcock made all of "Torn Curtain" on a sound stage. Huge chunks of "Where Eagles Dare" was filmed on MGM sound stages in Great Britain. Maybe you should try going Old School and spend your money in and around Los Angeles. After all, the tax loophole that let you make movies in Germany for cheap has been closed. So, stay at home, and let the Germans carry on.

(By the way, what possible impact could Scientology have on the portrayal of Von Staufenberg? How do you tell a Scientologist from a sane person anyway, particularly when they're PLAYING A CHARACTER IN A MOVIE THAT'S SET A DECADE BEFORE L. RON HUBBARD THOUGHT UP SCIENTOLOGY?!)

This whole thing stupid! (But I still feel strange thinking Cruise is the sane one here.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Germans hate Tom Cruise!

This smacks of a convenient excuse to me. If it hadn't be this, it would have been "you can't cast a person of non-German descent in the role."

The fact that Tom Cruise is a crazy cultist and gullible in the exteme has nothing to do with the parts he plays. Unless this film is being produced by the Church of Scienttology, the Germans are behaving like... well, Nazis. (Plus, it seems the Germans are jumping the gun here. The fimmakers haven't even requested to walk where their precious Nazis and rebellious Nazis once walked.)

Germans bar film company from shooting in German historical sites if Tom Cruise takes part

By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany has barred the makers of a movie about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler from filming at German military sites because its star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Defence Ministry said on Monday.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology which the German government does not recognize as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

The U.S. actor has been cast as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, leader of the unsuccessful attempt to assassinate the Nazi dictator in July 1944 with a bomb hidden in a briefcase.

Defence Ministry spokesman Harald Kammerbauer said the film makers "will not be allowed to film at German military sites if Count Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, who has publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult".

"In general, the Bundeswehr (German military) has a special interest in the serious and authentic portrayal of the events of July 20, 1944 and Stauffenberg's person," Kammerbauer said.

Cruise's publicists could not be reached for comment.

Stauffenberg had been deeply opposed to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews and planted a briefcase bomb under a table near Hitler in his "Wolf's Lair" headquarters on July 20, 1944. The bomb went off but only wounded the Fuehrer.

The film, slated for a 2008 release and to be directed by Bryan Singer and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, is called "Valkyrie" after Operation Valkyrie, the plot's codename.

The main site of interest would be the "Bendlerblock" memorial inside the Defence Ministry complex in Berlin. This is where Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators hatched the plot and where he and his closest comrades were executed when it failed.

Kammerbauer said the ministry had not yet received official filming requests from the producers of "Valkyrie".

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Salman receives knighthood

Salman Rushdie has amassed for himself a fair number of distinctions over the years, among them the Booker of Bookers prize, the Whitbread novel award (twice), the James Tait Black memorial prize, and a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini calling for his immediate assassination.

Yesterday, however, came the big one: a knighthood recognising the services to literature of one of the world's most lauded - and most divisive - literary grandees. "I am thrilled and humbled to receive this great honour, and am very grateful that my work has been recognised in this way," the newly-minted Sir Salman said in a statement.

The announcement signals a belated endorsement by the British establishment, 18 years after the author was forced to go on the run after The Satanic Verses was condemned as blasphemy by Iran's late spiritual leader. Britain broke off diplomatic relations over the incident; Rushdie himself had to live in hiding for a decade.

"I am delighted for him," said fellow novelist Ian McEwan said last night. "He's a wonderful writer, and this sends a firm message to the book-burners and their appeasers."

John Sutherland, academic and former Booker prize judge, suggested the award might represent a tacit olive branch from those who perhaps had failed to support Sir Salman as he might have hoped.

"It's astonishing that Tony Blair, among others, has been so reluctant to be seen shaking Rushdie's hand, and here he is getting a knighthood from the Queen," said the emeritus professor of literature.

"Public figures have been very, very reluctant to support Rushdie, particularly when he was under direct threat of assassination. It's a brave and entirely commendable decision by the people who advise the Queen - I would be curious to know if the recommendation came directly from Downing Street, though."

Fatwa aside, Sir Salman has long divided critical opinion. Midnight's Children, only his second novel, was named Booker of Bookers, best novel of the previous 25 years, in 1993. His recent work has failed to win similar acclaim, however, and the author has abandoned the London literary scene for New York.

"It does set the mind speculating what went through his mind when he accepted [the knighthood]," said Prof Sutherland. "He is a nomad. He has a supra-national, post-colonial style, so that it is very hard to say who owns him. And now he has pledged himself in the personal service of the monarch! For the writer of The Satanic Verses, which was extremely rude about England, it's certainly unusual."

(Personal Note: I am wondering how many of the rampaging dimwits in the "Muslim world" have even SEEN a copy of "The Satanic Verses," let alone read a page of the novel.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Iranian lawmakers want more blood!

The latest crap from the Muslim world sees Iran's governent putting forth a law that calls for the execution of those who appear in or produce porno flicks, because they are "corruptors of the world."

I guess in the holy minds of Islamic leaders, snuff-films (such as the ones their Jihadding heroes are so fond of making) don't qualify as corrupting the world.

I also assume that, given the recent Fatwas that have been issued by Islamic leaders in Egypt that Golden Showers and men sucking the breasts of women don't qualify as "porn" or "corrupting", and that child pornography--given the Father of Iran's Islamic Revoluiton's well-documented advocacy of child porn and infant rape--will be exempt from the draconic pornography law... or, at least, viewed as getting a thumb up the anus from Allah.

I imagine "Kill the Scream Queen" (review here) would be a big hit among the Iranian leadership--and probably among Muslim "thinkers" in general. All someone will have to do is do an additional little voice-over or text crawl in the beginning that praises the desire of the devout Muslim filmmaker to stop the spread of corruption in the world by raping and killing decadant Christian and Jewish women who take their tops off (without offering to breast-feed the men in the room).

From the AP...

Iran Moves to Execute Porn Stars

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- Iran's parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that could lead to death penalty for persons convicted of working in the production of pornographic movies.

With a 148-5 vote in favor and four abstentions, lawmakers present at the Wednesday session of the 290-seat parliament approved that "producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corruptors of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corruptors of the world."

The term, "corruptor of the world" is taken from the Koran, the Muslims' holy book, and ranks among the highest on the scale of an individual's criminal offenses. Under Iran's Islamic Penal Code, it carries a death penalty.

The "main elements" refered to in the draft include producers, directors, cameramen and actors involved in making a pornographic video.

The bill also envisages convictions ranging from one year imprisonment to a death sentence for the main distributors of the movies and also producers of Web sites in which the pornographic works would appear.

Besides videos, the bill covers all electronic visual material, such as DVD and CDs. Other material, such as porn magazines and books are already banned under Iranian law.

To become law, the bill requires an approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog in Iran.

It is widely believed that the drafting of the bill came about as a reaction to a scandal last year, when a private videotape, apparently belonging to Iranian actress Zahra Amir Ebrahimi and allegedly showing her having intercourse with a man, became available across Iran.

The videotape was leaked to the Internet and released on a black market DVD, becoming a full-blown Iranian sex tape scandal. Ebrahimi later came under an official investigation, which is still ongoing. She faces fines, whip lashing or worse for her violation of Iran's morality laws.

The unnamed man on the tape, who is suspected of releasing it, reportedly fled to Armenia but was subsequently returned to Iran and charged with breach of public morality laws. He remains in jail.

In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper "The Guardian" early this year, Ebrahimi denied she was the woman in the film and dismissed it as a fake, made by a vengeful former fiance bent on destroying her career.

In recent years, private videotapes have increasingly been leaked to the public in Iran, riling the government and many in this conservative Islamic country, where open talk of sex is banned and considered taboo.

However, porn material is easily accessible through foreign satellite television channels in Iran. Bootleg video tapes and CDs are also available on the black market on many street corners.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.

BTW... way to elevate the stature of the porn industry, Iran! Salman Rushdie, you're in great company!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Free Advice for the Famous:
NEVER Apologize for 'Offending'

Between Isaiah Washington being hounded and fired for saying something stupid (and going FAR beyond what should be expected to make amends) and Don Imus also being hounded and fired for saying something stupid (and apologizing and kissing Al Sharpton's big, hairy ass to make amends), I think there is a lesson here a person in the public eye should take to heart. If you "offend" anyone and they raise a stink in the media, DON'T apologize.

In fact, the only response you should give is "Yeah, I said it. I'll say it again. Oh, and by the way, fuck you."

There's nothing you can say or do that will matter to these assholes walking around with chips on their shoulders. They will have your job, because they spend their days looking for reasons to be offended, and anything you say to molify them (even if you're being sincere, or subjecting yourself to public humliaiton by going to rehab and making TV spots) will only make them want to destroy you more. They're not going to accept apologies. You might as well go out with a bang and the satisfaction of giving them the finger.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Isaiah Washington has lost his job on the hit ABC medical drama "Grey's Anatomy," five months after creating a furore with his use of an anti-gay slur.
Washington's contract option was not renewed for next season, series producer ABC Television Studios said Thursday.

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," Washington said in a statement released through his publicist, Howard Bragman, without elaboration.

He drew fire after using the anti-gay epithet backstage at the Golden Globe Awards in January, while denying he'd used it previously on the set against cast mate T.R. Knight.

Gay rights groups and cast member Katherine Heigl, who publicly denounced Washington, were among his most vocal critics.

"This is something that will have changed the scope of his life," Heigl told Entertainment Weekly last month.

Washington was "sorry and embarrassed" for the mistake, she said.

Washington tried to make amends and said he was seeking therapy.

He also met with officials from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and filmed a public service announcement in which he said "words have power" to hurt or heal.

The May finale of "Grey's Anatomy" opened the door for the departure of his character. Burke was on the verge of marrying Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), but her doubts at first delayed and then derailed their splashy wedding.

Later, Yang found Burke cleared out his favourite possessions from their apartment.

In May, Bragman said the actor intended to spend the summer working and not worrying about the show. Washington intended to continue his charity work in Sierra Leone, which a DNA test showed to be his ancestral home and work on an independent movie.

(By the way, I've never watched "Grey's Anatomy" and I've never understood why anyone would listen to Don Imus, but their treatment at the hands of "minorities" pisses me off, and it shows that we are entirely too quick to let ourselves to tyranized by hate-mongers. (And the hate-mongers here are not Washington and Imus.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

'The Villain' is live-action to Looney Toons

The Villain (aka "Cactus Jack") (1979)
Starring: Kirk Douglas, Ann-Margaret, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
Director: Hal Needham
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

The Handsome Stranger (Schwarzenegger) volunteers to escort the lovely Miss Charming safely to her father... but the villainous Cactus Jack (Douglas) has dark intentions for both!

"The Villain" is a hilarious physical comedy that plays like a live-action version of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd or the Road Runner vs. Wiley E. Coyote. It even borrows several jokes from those cartoons... and they're even funnier when live people are put through their paces by them.

I'm sure some hysterical parent will be up-in-arms over the violence in this film, and I suspect there's some retarded kid who will watch it, draw a tunnel on the wall, and run headlong into it and crack his head when it doesn't become real. The rest of us, however, be we normal adults or kids who are congenital idiots, will certainly laugh ourselves silly while watching this highly underrated, very unusual comedy.