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

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Thursday, December 25, 2008

'The Spirit' is lacking

The Spirit (2008)
Starring: Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eve Mendes, Scarlett Johannson, Louis Lombardi, Dan Lauria, Stana Katic and Paz Vega
Director: Frank Miller
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

The mysterious protector of Central City, The Spirit (Macht) squares off against the villainous Octopus (Jackson) over the secret behind The Spirit's powers and the key to world domination. But will triumph mean defeat for The Spirit? Has his long-lost childhood sweetheart, Sand Saref (Mendes), really joined forces with the Octopus?

The Spirit (Gabriel Macht, left), Officer Morgenstern (Stana Katic) and Commisioner Dolan (Dan Lauria)keep the streets of Central City safe for honest citizens. It's too bad they couldn't stop Frank Miller.

I've been a fan of Will Eisner's "The Spirit" since the very first story I read. It's a series that's unique both artistically and story-wise, and it's one that is well-deserving of the place of honor it holds in the minds of well-read comic-book fans and scholars who study the genre.

It was for this reason that I was a bit concerned when I heard that Frank Miller was going to be adapting "The Spirit" to the big screen. Miller has shown himself to be a one-trick poney when it comes to story-telling, and I was afraid that he would "Sin-Citifie" The Spirit by reshaping the property into the sort of stuff he usually does.

The fact that Miller has long been a very vocal admirer of Eisner and his work made me hold out hope, however. I hoped that Miller understood enough about "The Spirit" to recognize that he had to take a different tack than he did on "The Dark Knight Returns" or "Ronin" or any of the Sin City graphic novels (and especially the Sin City movie).

Unfortunately, I held out hope in vain.

While it's clear from the film that Miller has looked at the gorgeous art that Eisner produced--the Eisner hallmarks of falling snow/rain, the splashing water, the plunging buildings, the femme fatales dressed in clothes that will fall off if they sneeze are all present in the film's visuals--but I can't believe he actually bothered reading the stories.

Miller has imported some of Eisner's trademarks (and The Spirit's red tie) into a world that is visually Miller's, but he completely missed the... well, the spirit of Eisner's work. Either that, or Miller isn't half the admirer of Eisner that he claimed to be, and he figured that he knew how to "do it right."

Miller also seems to have misunderstood a number of Eisner's characters, or he viewed them through his "Sin City" lense. How else can one explain the merging of master criminal Sand Saref, black widow con-artist P'Gell, and international jewel thief Silk Satin into one character and failing to include the humor surrounding P'Gell, Silk Satin's honorable nature, or Sand Saref's fundemental vulnerability? How else can one explain him taking three great characters are reducing them to nothing more than a beautiful dame in a skimpy dress?

"The Spirit" movie is an empty shell of a movie that rehashes, poorly, the visual approach taken in "Sin City" and Miller's writing style on Sin City. What little that remains of Eisner's creation are echoes so distorted that they barely warrant mentioning. Even worse, the film is boring. It is, quite possibly, the most boring movie I've sat through this year. (And I did sit through the whole thing; I kept hoping it would get better.)

Take my advice: Instead of wasting money on this crappy movie, spend it on one of the collected volumes of the real "The Spirit." The series was at its best during the years featured in Vols. 12 through 19. The forthcoming Vol. 25 will feature the story that first made me fan of the strip, a near-wordless fight between The Spirit and Octopus, a fight that is far more powerful and engaging than anything that's featured in this film.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry dead at 76

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, has died. She was 76.

Roddenberry, an actress who appeared in numerous "Star Trek" TV shows and movies, died Thursday of leukemia at her home in Bel-Air, Calif., her representative said.

At Roddenberry's side were family friends and her only son, Eugene Roddenberry Jr. Gene Roddenberry died in 1991.

Her romance with Roddenberry earned her the title "The First Lady of Star Trek."

A fixture in the "Star Trek" franchise, her roles included Nurse Christine Chapel in the original "Star Trek," Lwaxana Troi in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and the voice of the USS Enterprise computer in almost every spin-off of the 1966 cult series.

She recently reprised the voice role in the upcoming "Star Trek" film directed by J.J. Abrams.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Parents of Jihad Johnny ask for his release... again

From the AP...

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The parents of American-born Taliban fighter John Walker Lindh are asking President George W. Bush to set their son free before Bush leaves office next month.
Lindh was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2002 to serving in the Taliban army, which violated U.S. economic sanctions against Afghanistan at that time.

American traitor: John Walker Lindh
At a news conference in San Francisco Wednesday, Lindh's mother, Marilyn Walker, asked the president to show mercy during the Christmas season by commuting her son's sentence.

Lindh initially asked for a commutation in 2004 and his lawyers have renewed the request each year.

The U.S. Department of Justice has never acted on the petition and a spokeswoman didn't immediately return a telephone call.

Why should anyone show mercy to an Islamic militant fanatic during the Christmas season? Because of the mercy they show Christians? This woman has only gotten stupider as the years have gone by.

It's a shame the Justice Department has never acted on the request for a sentence commutation for this piece of human waste. I think they should act by issuing a very short response: "No. Now, fuck off and die."

Taliban Johnny, a pathetic prick of a traitor, should have been put in front of a firing squad and executed. He gleefully allied himself with scumbags who delight in the murder of Americans and he should pay a price for it. Twenty years in prison is nowhere near enough for what he did.

Hell, Marilyn Walker should have been throughly investigated AND punished for any role she played in facilitating this asshole's excursions with the murderous psychos of the Taliban.

(Sadly, I predict that Obama's people WILL let Johnny 'Taliban' Walker go by the time B.O. leaves office.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Latest 'Valkyrie' non-controversy controversy

As the puff pieces promoting the Tom Cruise WW2 vehicle "Valkyrie" become more and more prevelent, we're starting to see the first reviews... and a few columns featuring quotes from negative reviews.

A couple such columns have been penned by Roger Friedman of Fox News, who, at the earliest moment possible, did a round-up of negative commentary about "Valkyrie" in this column.

That column made sure he wasn't invited to the private New York press screening of "Valkyrie." Friedman followed it up with another column that focused on negative comments about the movie and its star, which you can read here.

I went and read Friedman's columns expecting to write a post about the habit that certain critics have in regards to watching and reviewing movies they know they're going to hate. With so many films to choose from, why bother writing up a film that you know you're going to pan? If you don't like Tom Cruise, why let your editor waste your time and his precious page space on sending you to see a movie that you're not going to give a fair shake?

The same goes for critics who pan every sci-fi or horror flick they see, no matter how good a film might be; they dump on it, because they are not the intended audience and they often don't get the film. I continue to think back with a warm, fuzzy feeling about how many critics revealed their cultural and literal illiteracy when they panned "Nacho Libre" and/or "Balls of Fury" as nothing more than a sports comedies when the first gets most of its humor from the fact that it's a blow-by-blow retelling of the "Epic of Gilgamesh" (as well as slavishly following Joesph Campbell's "Hero's Journey" theory) while the second is more of a spoof of 1970s Kung Fu flicks than sports movies. So many critics revealed themselves to be fairly ignorant and fairly untrustworthy thanks to those movies.

I'd figured I'd be able to grouse about Friedman in such terms based on his "Valkyrie" coverage. After all, Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times quoted United Artists marketing chief Michael Vollman publicist as saying, "If he'd [Friedman] indicated a desire to be open-minded and not telegraphed his intentions ahead of time, we would've acted differently. But when someone says 'I'm going to hate this movie,' you get the impression they have a closed mind."

He also stated that "Screenings are a privilege, not a right."

I agree with Vollman that screenings are a privilege not a right, and I also agree that one COULD interpert Friedman's column as telegraphing his intention to pan the movie; he was choosing his subject matter for a reason after all.

However, it is somewhat cowardly to silence potential critics before they've even really spoken out. UA's publicity department has shown themselves to have little faith in their product by not inviting Friedman to their screening. My guess is they didn't do themselves any favors, because all it got them was him writing another column full of negative quotes about "Valkyrie."

And they're not very interesting quotes at that, something that may be driving home the point that is further underscoring the sorry state of entertaiment journalism. Is that really the best Friedman could come up with for his spite-filled follow-up hit-piece on the film? Nitpicky little trifles that are neither insightful nor surprising as far as the criticism of Cruise's performance goes?

Of course, the quotes also reveal (or are out of context and thus make it appear) that Todd McCarthy is either petty or dim, because he seems to be blaming Cruise for something that's a flaw of the script. Quote the quote: "Cruise makes Stauffenberg a stalwart, flawed and honorable man, but reveals little sense of his stellar intellectual, artistic and family background."

McCarthy further coes on to kvetch about Cruise's American accent in a cast of otherwise British accents. Would he really rather that they all put on German accents like the actors in "Hogan's Heroes" and "Hitler, Dead or Alive"? I'm not sure what critic reveals himself to be the pettier--McCarthy for writing the initial criticsm or Friedman for quoting it.

I'm no fan of Tom Cruise. He surprised me in "Collatoral" and "Tropic Thunder", but otherwise I've been unimpressed by him as an actor. Yet the most insightful criticism that the oh-so-intelligent film critics can come up with is that he's not much of an actor, something that I observed long, long ago? And UA's publicist felt the need to ban Friedman from the screening for quoting a true statement?

Tom Cruise was a movie star. His star is fading. Based on the comments quoted by Friedman--comments that both Friedman and UA apparently felt were negative and damning but which I feel are words that Cruise and his agents should consider and take to heart when choosing his future roles--it seems that Cruise did a decent job as part of the ensemble cast that drives "Valkyrie." Cruise is starting to settle in where he should have been all along and in roles more fitting for his level of talent.

But, I digress.

Was it unkind of Friedman to do a column featuring quotes that said bad things about Cruise and "Valkyrie"? Sure. But that's a far cry from telegraphing that he was going to write a negative review about the movie. (He probably was going to, but I'm not convinced that one can draw that conclusion from the first column... unless one is already thinking that the movie sucks.)

UA were fools to not invite him. Hell, those who might be so inclined might even say that they were behaving true to the traditions of the Nazis that Col. Stauffenberg was so disgusted by in "Valkyrie"--they are trying to silence critics before they have a chance to speak out. Or, I suppose, one could say they are behaving like a Scientology propaganda machine. If one was prone to think such things.

Me, I'll make up my mind like I do with every movie that seems interesting to me--when I've seen it. If I thought I was going to hate, I'd not waste my time on it, something the so-called real critics and reviewers should consider doing. I will be seeing "Valkyrie" around the same time that Roger Friedman does, and we'll probably be posting our stories around the same time. (Although... please cry a tear for Roger Friedman. As he states in the second column on "Valkyrie" coverage, the poor baby will have to see the movie with the grubby hoi-poloi! Oh, the shame! Oh, the horror!)

'JCVD' among most fascinating films of '08

JCVD (aka "Van Dammage") (2008)
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Francios Damiens, Karim Belkhadra, Jean-Francois Wolff, Zinedine Soualem, Anne Paulicevich and Fran�s Beukelaers
Director: Mabrouk El Mechri
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Things seemingly can't get worse for action-movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme (Van Damme). He's just lost custody of his daughter to his ex-wife, he's on the brink of financial ruin, and he keeps losing parts to Steven Seagal. But then they DO get worse... when he ends up being taken hostage during a botched robbery, and the police assume that he is part of the gang (what with him being a down-and-out movie star and all).

"JCVD" is perhaps the most unusual film that martial artist and action star Jean-Claude Van Damme has ever appeared in. It's a film that will take both fans and detractors by surprise and it should appeal to both camps... it should even appeal to movie-goers who normally wouldn't even consider seeing a movie headlined by Van Damme.

The only action scenes that we usually associate with Van Damme happen on a movie set and in a fantasy--the only real punch he throws is very realistic in the way it's portrayed and the outcome is likewise. The film is so realistic and down-to-earth that even though Van Damme is basically a hero by the end of the day, the end is far from happy for him. ("JCVD" follows through on what would happen to an action hero if he were to engage in the sort of shenanigans and mayhem that is standard in those flicks. Van Damme, even though he essentially saves the day, still has to face severe legal consequences for his actions.)

This is a quirky movie that is funny both in the "ha-ha" sense and in the "strange and a bit off-kilter" sense. It is told in a disjointed and out-of-order fashion, ala "Pulp Fiction", and the flow of the story is further broken by a touching speech that Van Damme delivers directly to the audience as it becomes increasingly apparent that someone is going to die before the day is out. It's a speech about Van Damme's hopes, dreams, career, life, and how things both have and haven't worked out. It's a speech that will move even the hardest hearts in the audience and it's based in a number of personal truths from Van Damme's own life, such as his failed marriage, his floundering carreer, and a battle with drug addiction. Like the film in general, it's a meditation on fame, the sad state of the action movie genre at this point, and how things can be going wrong for someone even when they are seeming to be going so right. It's a film that brings out the human that exists behind the fantasy movie tough guy.

(It's also a film that might inspire some sympathy in those of us who have ever railed against an actor for making "bad choices" in their careers. We see Van Damme pleading with his agent to get him a role in a decent movie, but we also ultimately see him willing to accept any role just to pay the bills, thus worsening the downward spiral of a stalling career.)

"JCVD" is a creatively filmed movie that is acted by a talented cast. Regular readers of my reviews have probably already detected my appreciation of Van Damme, so it's not surprising that I feel he gave an excellent performance in this film. In fact, he provied he can act, something many of his fellow action stars have yet to do. (I'm thinking mostly of Steven Seagal, who is the subject of a running gag in the film that's used to illustrate exactly how dead Van Damme's action film career truly is.)

"JCVD" is one of the most unusual movies of 2008. I don't know if it marks a new beginning for Van Damme or whether it's his farewell performance, but deserves to be the former. It shows that he deserves a shot at a career outside the direct-to-DVD ghetto that he has been confined to in recent years.

Check out reviews of action films featuring JCVD at Watching the Detectives by clicking here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Beverly Garland dead at 82

B-movie star Beverly Garland has died after a lengthy battle with ill health.

The actress, who starred in several Roger Corman films, including "Swamp Women". "Twice-Told Tales", and "Not Of This Earth", passed away at her Hollywood Hills home on Friday, December 5. She was 82.

Garland's acting career spanned more than 50 years and featured roles in more than 40 films. She gained popularity playing feisty females in low-budget movies before finding success as a sitcom actress.

She first played Bing Crosby's wife in "The Bing Crosby Show" during the mid-1960s and went on to land a regular role in hit series "My Three Sons", opposite Fred MacMurray.

She also made her mark in the 1980s and 1990s playing a series of moms in hit shows - she played Stephanie Zimbalist's mother in "Remington Steele", Kate Jackson's in "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and Teri Hatcher's in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman".

She was also a regular on the. soap opera "Port Charles".

Born Beverly Fessenden in Santa Cruz, California in 1926, Garland also founded and ran Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn hotel in North Hollywood.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

'Survivor' star couldn't game the IRS

I caught a little news item about one of the biggest celebretards in recent memory, Richard Hatch. You may remember this freak from an early season of "Survivor" where he was known for being a jerk and walking around with Little Dick on display for all to see. Hatch later became known for tax evasion, and, upon being caught and subsequently claiming that CBS said they'd pay his taxes for him, a complete moron.

(Virtually no prize winners or hired actors get paid on a W2 and neither did Hatch. AT BEST, CBS could have withheld a percentage of Federal taxes, but Hatch would still have had to deal with the Social Security and Medicare payments. And before CBS would withhold the taxes, Hatch would have to fill out a variety of paperwork separate from whatever NDAs and contracts relating to the "Survivor" show. He's a cheater and a bad liar.)

From a law enforcement-related mailing list I subscribe to... the last word on Richard Hatch, currently starring in "Survivor: Federal Pen".

When we last checked in on Survivor winner Richard "But the Producers Promised to Pay My Tax Bill" Hatch, he was convicted on three counts of tax fraud, sentenced to 51 months in prison, and was required to pay $474,971 plus interest and penalties for taxes owed. Earlier this year, the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld the conviction and sentencing. Not surprisingly, Mr. Hatch vowed to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court.

However, the high court has just declined to review the case, so Mr. Hatch has no further options.

The moral of this story? Perhaps it is best stated by Eileen J. O'Connor, former Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division, who at the time of the sentencing said, “Our nation's federal tax system is not a reality show to be outwitted, it is a reality, period."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The McRib is back!

For the past three years, the McRib Sandwich from McDonald's has not been available at any McDonald's in King County, Washington. Nowhere. Those television ads were just taunting me, taunting me with the promise of a McRib sandwich that never materialized.

Yesterday, I saw a billboard advertising the McRib Sandwich. Today, I went by aMcDonald's at lunch and... THEY HAD THE MCRIB on their drive-thru menu! Oh, happy day!

I wish there had been a little more BBQ sauce on it, but otherwise, it was perfect!

Every Thursday will now be McRib day until this happy period goes away again (as usual, it's "available for a limited time only"). I am, indeed, loving it!

Maybe The Obama IS the Change That We Need. He get's elected, I can buy a McRib sandwich down the street from my office. Coincidence? Probably not!

(On the other hand... if The Obama was all he's cracked up to be, the McRib sandwiches would be free!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I resemble that remark

As I'm sure you're all aware, rabbit ears and roof-top antennas will become mostly useless as of Feb 17, 2009. That's when there's going to be a switch-over to all digital broadcasts and Luddites such as myself--with my 25-year-old television set and no cable or satellite dish--will need a converter box to watch over-the-air broadcasts.

Or do I? I've been wondering about that lately. It appears I'm not the only one. This little tidbit appeared at

Suggesting that the days of over-the-air broadcasting may be numbered, a new report indicates that just 15 percent of all households still receive broadcasts via antennas, with about 10 percent of those planning to sign up for cable or satellite providers when the switch to digital transmission takes place on February 17.

The report also indicated that about 20 percent may not purchase converter boxes and instead rely more on DVD and other entertainment. "Terrestrial viewers tend to be more likely to use alternative video entertainment forms such as DVD rentals and broadband video, and the transition may push them further in that direction," the report said.

Earlier this year, the FCC chairman stupidly predicted that America's cities might burn and civilization would fall into total anarchy when the switch-over happened. Click here to read my original post on Jonathan Adelstein predicting possible "widespread panic" among idiots who will miss "Tyra" because of the change-over. (You can also see my PSA regarding the switch.)

It appears that Adelstein's hyperbole was even more hysterical and exaggerated than I had assumed. I could believe that I was in a minority as far as being completely disinterested in the change-over, but it now appears that I may not be.

I have not had cable TV for at least nine years at this point. I haven't missed it, because I have a friend who tapes key shows for me, I get my news from newspapers and websites, and I watch waaaay too many movies to see much broadcast television anyway. So, I may just not even bother with the converter... and someday, when I've got a better-paying job and I'm flush with cash, maybe I'll get cable just to say that I have it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tony Hillerman dead at 83

Tony Hillerman, author of the acclaimed Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels and creator of two of the unlikeliest of literary heroes -- Navajo police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee -- died Sunday of pulmonary failure. He was 83.

Hillerman's daughter, Anne Hillerman, said her father's health had been declining in the last couple years and that he was at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque when he died at about 3 p.m.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dolomite has pimped his last 'ho.

Rudy Ray Moore, a raunchy 1970s comedian who played the title role of a flashy pimp in the movie "Dolomite" and influenced a generation of rappers, has died. He was 81.

Moore died Sunday evening at an Akron nursing home from complications of diabetes, said his brother, Gerald Moore.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yes, the truth hurts. But it's the TRUTH.

I don't usually on celebrity relationship dramas unless one of the parties involved is being extraordinarily obnoxious, such as Madonna with her divorce against Guy Ritchie.

Among the complaints in her "case" for why she's the injured party is the following tidbit from The Daily Mirror.

Madonna is building an extraordinary divorce case against Guy Ritchie, claiming he was a cruel and verbally-abusive husband who would belittle and ridicule her in front of others.

Lawyers for the singer, who was widely believed to be the dominant partner in the marriage, are putting together a dossier of incidents.

They include allegations that he told her she 'looked like a granny' on stage compared with her younger backing dancers. He is also alleged to have declared that she could not act, and was 'past it' after she turned 50.

Telling Madonna the truth is, apparently, cruel and abusive.

It is a TRUTH that Madonna can't act and never has been able to act. She embarrassed herself (and everyone else watching her because it was so awkward) in "Desperately Seeking Susan", "Shanghai Surprise", and "Dick Tracy".

It is a TRUTH that Madonna looks like a granny up there on stage with backup dancers who are less than half her age in some cases. It is TRUTH that one should stop dressing like a fetish hooker well before the age of 50 (at least in public).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Partisan hack speaks of what he knows best

Dan Rather, an editorialist who managed to pass for a journalist for many years and whose shenananigans finally caught up with him when he eagerly based "news" on forged documents back in 2004, made some comments in advance of last night's presidential debate that were on a topic he's an expert in.

Here's what IMDB reported:

Former CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather insisted Tuesday that the "so-called" presidential debates are not controlled by the journalists presiding over them but by the two political parties.

He accused his colleagues of showing too much deference to the candidates and operating in general in a "defensive posture" and imposing self-censorship on themselves.

"These so-called debates are not for the people, by the people," Rather said Tuesday at Time Warner's Politics 2008 Summit. "They are for the parties, by the parties. That's what's wrong with them."

Dan Rather is right. The debates we've been seeing haven't been debates at all. They've just been campaign commericals. And, since Rather is an expert in being a partisan media hack, there's no question he knows what he's talking about here.

And it's a shame. If Obama wasn't such a coward and had stood by his pledge to debate McCain "any time, any where"--remember, McCain tried to take him up on that offer with a bunch of townhalll-format debates but Obama turned him down flat--we might actually have gotten some real debates with real questions asked by moderators who weren't concerned with partisan books about to be published or with making sure they look good for the RNC and DNC goons who have bribed them.

I wonder why Rather is speaking out, though. Perhaps he is upset because his colleagues didn't make a greater effort to make the Democrat ticket look better by maybe working in a few more Obama slogans in the questions, or maybe he's still on a pointless crusade to convince everyone he was actually a serious journalist for the past couple of decades?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

'Ghost Town' deserves more box office receipts!

Ghost Town (2008)
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Tea Leoni and Greg Kinnear
Director: David Koepp
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

After misanthropic dentist Bertram Pincus (Gervais) dies during an operation and is brought back to life, he gains the ability to see and speak to the spirits of the dead. One of them (Kinnear) badgers Pincus into breaking up his widow's new relationship because he fears she is marrying a gold digger. In the process, Pincus finds himself falling in love with the widow (Leoni) and finally starts living life. But can love find a way when the spirits of the dead are being pests?

"Ghost Town" is a touching film about living life when we can and recognizing love and taking advantage of it when it comes our way. It delivers its messages in quirky and very oblique ways, with the love between Pincus and the widow first starting to bloom over the mummified remains of an Egyptian prince and Greg Kinnear's character only discovering how truly to love after he's already dead.

Although it deals with weighty subjects, the film keeps a breezy pace and an upbeat atmosphere throughout, an atmosphere that's enhanced by the inherent charm possessed by and on-screen chemistry generated by the the film's three stars--Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear and Tea Leoni.

Gervais and Kinnear play characters who aren't terribly likable, yet the charm of the actors is such that the audience spends the film wanting them to reform their ways and find the happiness they both need. It is also infused with humor that ranges from subtle to borderline slapstick, with every single scene offering something that will at the very least have you smiling but more often than not have you chuckling or laughing loudly. (Even the tagline brought a grin to my face: "He sees dead people... and they annoy him." It's funny and it's also a perfect summary of the movie!)

If you're a lover of ghost movies, the film is also worth checking out due to its unusual ideas for what causes hauntings. Given the last ghost movie I saw from David Koepp--"Stir of Echoes" (click here to read my review)--was pretty traditional, it was a pleasant surprise to see something fresh and original here, a twist in keeping with the overall themes of the story but still one that comes as a surprise.

"Ghost Town" had an undeservedly weak opening weekend, debuting in 8th place in the US box office. I recommend you check it out before it's gone. (That recommendation goes twice if you've complained about the lack of good, well-crafted and intelligent movies in the the theaters recently. If you don't support the good movies with your dollars, we're just going to see more and more crap showing up on the big screen.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

More calls for savagery
from the 'Religion of Peace'

Last week, one of THE top "holy men" in Saudi Arabia put out a call for TV executives to be murdered by the faithful followers of the Religion of Peace.

This week, a member of the "Higher Council of Clerics" is saying that astrologers should be tried as sorcerers and put to death if found guilty.

I have to wonder: If the sort of idiot who believes there is ANY validity to astrology--let alone thinks it's some sort of magic--can be admitted to the "Higher Council of Clerics," I have to wonder what sort of retarded morons make up the lower council.

What's next? Fatwas declaring that Chinese restaurants should be burned to the ground as lairs of sorcery because of fortune cookies?

Arabs and Muslims may not all be backwards idiots, but what passes for intellectuals among them certainly are.

RIYADH, Sept 14 (Reuters) - A senior Saudi cleric has said purveyors of horoscopes on Arab television should face the death penalty, a paper said on Sunday, days after another cleric argued death for TV owners.

"Sorcerers who appear on satellite channels who are proven to be sorcerers have committed a great crime ... and the Muslim consensus is that the apostate's punishment is death by the sword," Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily.

"Those who call in to these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die," the prominent cleric added.

Many of the hundreds of Arab satellite channels have sprung up in recent years specialise in horoscopes and other advice to callers on solving problems that is seen as "sorcery".

In their capacity as judges, clerics of Saudi Arabia's austere form of Islam often sentence "sorcerers" to death.

Fozan, a member of the Higher Council of Clerics, was responding to a controversy ignited by a Council colleague, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, who said last week that owners of Arab TV shows should be tried and face death over some shows.

Lohaidan, who is the head of Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia courts, told Saudi radio: "I want to advise the owners of these channels that broadcast programmes with indecency and vulgarity and warn them of the consequences ... They can be put to death through the judicial process."

He was referring to comedy shows and soap operas airing in Ramadan, a month of fasting when Muslims are supposed to focus on God. Critics say Ramadan has become an orgy of food and television consumption once the fast ends at sunset.

Fozan said entertainment channel owners should be "banished" but stopped short of advocating the death penalty for them.

"The position of Muslims and their rulers about these channels is that they should be talked to and if they continue airing depravity and shamelessness they should be banished from this place and others brought in their place."

Turkish soap operas that became hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries this year provoked a storm of anger among Saudi conservatives who fear the spread of secular culture in the key U.S. ally.

The government's official advisor on religious affairs, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, said in July it was not Islamically permissible to watch the Turkish serials.

The owners of Arab entertainment channels, including MBC, ART, Orbit, Rotana and LBC, are mostly Saudi royals and businessmen closely allied to them.

Concerned about the country's international image, some key members of the Saudi royal family have promoted liberal reforms. The clerics fear plans to limit their extensive influence in what is the world's largest oil exporter.

(Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Muslim 'religious leader' calls for murder of TV execs

Ah, the Religion of Peace (of the Grave). Now, one of the leading "holy men" of Islam has said it's okay to kill television executives over what they broadcast.

From the AP....

A senior Saudi cleric has issued a religious decree saying the owners of television networks broadcasting "depravation and debauchery" may be killed, Al-Arabiya television reported on Friday.

"The owners of these channels propagate depravation and debauchery," said Saleh al-Luhaidan, chief justice of the supreme judicial council, the highest judicial authority in the ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom.

He made the remarks on radio in response to a caller who asked him to give an opinion on what he said were "immoral" programmes on Arab television during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a source at Al-Arabiya said.

"It is lawful to kill ... the apostles of depravation... if their evil cannot be easily removed through simple sanctions," Luhaidan said, according to excerpt of the remarks broadcast on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya.

The situation is "serious ... the degradation of morals is a form of perversion on earth," he added.

During Ramadan, when Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk, Arab satellite televisions broadcast lavish productions, including soap operas and mini-series, some with historical and religious themes, as well as game shows.

A popular soap that was broadcast by Al-Arabiya for several weeks preceding Ramadan already stirred passions in Saudi Arabia, where the grand mufti branded it "subversive" and "anti-Islamic."

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, head of Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, earlier this year issued a fatwa against "Noor" and decreed that any channel broadcasting the series is "an enemy of God and his Prophet."

The Turkish-made soap opera dubbed into Arabic tells the story of Mohannad and his equally stunning wife Noor as they wrestle to reconcile the conflicting pressures of traditional and modern worlds.

Al-Arabiya is a news channel based in Dubai and part of the Saudi group MBC.

Someone remind me why we're supposed to be "tolerant" and "respectful" of towards these savage assholes. Things like this need to be pointed out often and in the most obvious of places. There is NO place for Islam in a civilized culture when people like Saleh al-Luhaidan can be a "chief justice" of anything but a inmate-run kangaroo court in an insane asylum.

And if I'm painting with too broad a brush, can someone point me to the fatwa from an equally high-ranking "holy man" that condemns Saleh al-Luhaidan as the psychopath that he is and calls for his removal as chief justice for issuing blanket calls for murder over television programmes?

More idiotic savagery from
Saudi Arabian "intellectuals"

Last week, one of THE top "holy men" in Saudi Arabia put out a call for TV executives to be murdered by the faithful followers of the Religion of Peace.

This week, a member of the "Higher Council of Clerics" is saying that astrologers should be tried as sorcerers and put to death if found guilty.

I have to wonder: If the sort of idiot who believes there is ANY validity to astrology--let alone thinks it's some sort of magic--can be admitted to the "Higher Council of Clerics," I have to wonder what sort of retarded morons make up the lower council.

What's next? Fatwas declaring that Chinese restraunts should be burned to the ground as lairs of sorcery because of fortune cookies?

Arabs and Muslims may not all be backwards idiots, but what passes for scholars among certainly are.

RIYADH, Sept 14 (Reuters) - A senior Saudi cleric has said purveyors of horoscopes on Arab television should face the death penalty, a paper said on Sunday, days after another cleric argued death for TV owners.

"Sorcerers who appear on satellite channels who are proven to be sorcerers have committed a great crime ... and the Muslim consensus is that the apostate's punishment is death by the sword," Sheikh Saleh al-Fozan told al-Madina daily.

"Those who call in to these shows should not be accorded Muslim rites when they die," the prominent cleric added.

Many of the hundreds of Arab satellite channels have sprung up in recent years specialise in horoscopes and other advice to callers on solving problems that is seen as "sorcery".

In their capacity as judges, clerics of Saudi Arabia's austere form of Islam often sentence "sorcerers" to death.

Fozan, a member of the Higher Council of Clerics, was responding to a controversy ignited by a Council colleague, Sheikh Saleh al-Lohaidan, who said last week that owners of Arab TV shows should be tried and face death over some shows.

Lohaidan, who is the head of Saudi Arabia's Islamic sharia courts, told Saudi radio: "I want to advise the owners of these channels that broadcast programmes with indecency and vulgarity and warn them of the consequences ... They can be put to death through the judicial process."

He was referring to comedy shows and soap operas airing in Ramadan, a month of fasting when Muslims are supposed to focus on God. Critics say Ramadan has become an orgy of food and television consumption once the fast ends at sunset.

Fozan said entertainment channel owners should be "banished" but stopped short of advocating the death penalty for them.

"The position of Muslims and their rulers about these channels is that they should be talked to and if they continue airing depravity and shamelessness they should be banished from this place and others brought in their place."

Turkish soap operas that became hugely popular in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries this year provoked a storm of anger among Saudi conservatives who fear the spread of secular culture in the key U.S. ally.

The government's official advisor on religious affairs, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdelaziz Al al-Sheikh, said in July it was not Islamically permissible to watch the Turkish serials.

The owners of Arab entertainment channels, including MBC, ART, Orbit, Rotana and LBC, are mostly Saudi royals and businessmen closely allied to them.

Concerned about the country's international image, some key members of the Saudi royal family have promoted liberal reforms. The clerics fear plans to limit their extensive influence in what is the world's largest oil exporter.

(Reporting by Andrew Hammond; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Where are the calls for boycotts against MTV?

Very Special Protestors and their Even More Special Spokespeople were all lathered up for no reason over "Tropic Thunder". It's been three days since MTV aired Russell Brand using "retarded" (or "the R-word" as Very Special Spokespeople like to say) in a truly derogatory and insulting way, yet I;'ve not heard a peep from the Special Olympics or any other group who were driving short buses to screenings of "Tropic Thunder".

You can watch the bit by clicking on this video:

Where are the calls for boycotts against Viacom, Russell Brand, and MTV?

The top features on the Special Olympics homepage (the group that seemed to be the loudest when it came to the "Tropic Thunder" boycott) still has their distortions about the movie's content at the top of their home page and at the rediculous spin-off site

Is it too much to ask for some consistency from these "advocacy groups"? Hell, even some blogs that went on and on about how "Tropic Thunder" should be boycotted seem to be giving MTV and Brand a pass.

Perrhaps it's okay to actually use the "R-word" if it's being direected at a sitting American president while makinng at attempt to boost a candidate running for the office. The silence from the "advocacy groups" makes me think it is.

Or maybe there was another agenda involved as far as "Tropic Thunder" was concerned? Or maybe the other agenda is showing up here... the "advocates for the disabled" are okay with the "r-word" so long as it's being directed at someone they don't like?

I'm even more convinced now than ever that these "advocates" are a bunch of hypocrites looking to line their pockets and further their personal political agendas through the exploitation of the Very Special (aka the retards).

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

UFOs, mysticism clash in 'Black Harvest'

Black Harvest (2007)
Story and Art: Josh Howard
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

An investigative journalist (for a blog) comes to a small Texas town to witness an annual display of lights in the skies that have elevated the area to a Roswell-like reverence among UFO enthusiasts. When he almost runs over a young woman in the road--a young woman who vanished without a trace three years ago and now has returned under equally mysterious circumstances--he finds himself tangled in a web of treachery, deceit and unholy bargains where the payment is coming due.

"Black Harvest" is an excellent graphic novel from the pen of writer/artist Josh Howard, the creator of the zombie series "Dead@17" and "The Lost Books of Eve". Like those other works, this book incorporates touches of Christianity (although less than "Dead@17" and far less than "The Lost Books of Eve") into a creepy tale that will remind you of "The X-Files" television series at its best.

Howard continues to refine both his writing and artwork since the debut of "Dead@17" and here he delivers a perfectly paced story where he creates a dark world where aliens, supernatural horrors, secret socieites and dark secrets can and will consume entire communities. Howard's story is sharpened by skillfully written dialogue that gives each character a unique voice and personality, bringing them fully to life and making us care about their fates.

Unfortunately, while Howard does a fabulous job at building tension and juggling several mysteries, midirections and disparate elements that would clash and create a jumbled sloppy mess in the hands of a lesser creator (like what happened with "The X-Files" at its worst), he doesn't quite manage to deliver a finale that's worthy of the build-up. The end of the book is a disappointment and something of a cop-out. I was left asking myself "That's all?", but not in the way that had me wondering if there was going to be a "Black Harvest 2".

The weak ending aside, "Black Harvest" is a well-written, well-drawn book that will be an enjoyable read for anyone who likes a little dark conspiracy and strange beings from beyond with their horror fiction.

Monday, September 8, 2008

'Tropic Thunder' slips to #2 at box office

Well, now I'll stop gloating over the failed boycott of "Tropic Thunder". It was knocked from the #1 position by the pathetic display of "Bangkok Dangerous", a Nicholas Cage-starring action film.

"Tropic Thunder" took in $7.5 million (after one month in theaters) and "Bangkok Dangerous" took in $7.8 million. According to a number of sources, it was the slowest weekend at the box office in five years.

(But the movie that was subject of a retarded call for boycotts is still going strong. And if you haven't seen it, you should. The boycott was based on distortions and lies about what actually takes place in the film. You can read my review of the film here.)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

'Tropic Thunder' still stops US box office

Ben Stiller's filmmaking spoof "Tropic Thunder" was the top box office earner in the US, taking in $11.5 million during its third week of release. The film has so far made $91.3 million dollars worldwide, which means it has earned back it's shooting budget.

There's still some $60 million left that it needs to earn before it's profitable--marketing, print manufacturing and other post-production costs--but it's looking like I may have to eat my words as far as declaring the film a financial failure.

And I'm taking great delight in that fact. It shows that Americans aren't the sheeple that media hungry "advocates" for the retarded thought they were. They called for boycotts against this movie based on lies about its content, but Americans didn't listen and they gave this funny movie the support and viewership it deserves.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Someone should sue Warner Bros and JK Rowling

Warner Bros. has sued an Indian film company for releasing a movie called "Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors." They say the title is too similar to their Harry Potter movies,and they want the other movie stopped.

This is where whoever owns the rights to the Charles Band-produced "Troll" movie steps up and sues Warner, JK Rowling and Scholastic for stealing the whole concept of a boy named Harry Potter living and existing in a world where magic secretly co-exists in a modern setting.

In "Troll," Noah Hataway played a kid named Harry Potter Jr. and Michael Moriarity played his father, Harry Potter.

What is it with these assholes who get it in their heads that they own a name and a concept that appears to have been ripped off in the first place?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gary Glitter soon to receive just rewards?

London, Aug 25: Pop paedophile Gary Glitter, 64, fears that his ill health will not make him last for more than six months.

Glitter has been in hiding ever since he returned to the UK last week, after three years of imprisonment in Vietnam for molesting two girls aged just ten and 11.

The rock and pop singer is now believed to be suffering from tuberculosis and severe heart problems, which is causing him to live in the fear that he will be dead within months.

News of him not being in the best of health was revealed by a medical source, who spoke to him in Vietnam while behind bars.

“Gary Glitter is not a well man at all,” the Daily Star quoted the source as saying.

“His health has suffered during the three years he has been in prison here.

“He needs urgent medical attention otherwise he may barely last the next six months. He thinks he has a maximum of six months to live.

“From what we have heard from people in Britain they will think that is a good thing,” the source added.

Glitter arrived in Britain on August 22, and has been ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register. (ANI)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Very Special Activists having spastic fits?

For the second weekend in a row, Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder" was top at the US box office. It took in $16.5 million, for an estimated total gross of $65.7 million. (The second-place earner, "The House Bunny", took in about $15 million, and it was a brand new release.)

It goes to show that movie-goers aren't as easily manipulated as some would like to think. "Tropic Thunder" is a funny movie AND it doesn't mock the Very Special and Differently Abled (also known as Retards in some circles) despite what some media whores who like exploiting the Very Special (aka Retards) for their own personal gain tried to claim.

Here's to a third week on top for "Tropic Thunder"! Maybe certain assholes will learn not to start screaming about boycotts against undeserving targets.

Click here to read my review of "Tropic Thunder". Then go see it if you haven't already. It's worth checking out.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An example of retarded activism
reported by an idiot?

Retards are still calling for "Tropic Thunder" boycotts. And, based on this report from WENN (via IMBD), I can only assume that retards are writing about the calls for boycott.

(Okay. Maybe we're not talking about a retard. Maybe Maureen McCormick is just a run-of-the-mill Hollywood Idiot.)

From the article...

Former Brady Bunch pin-up Maureen McCormick has pledged to boycott Ben Stiller's war comedy Tropic Thunder as part of a protest about the film's use of the word retard.

The actress has joined activists who are protesting the movie's controversial scenes, which poke fun at the disabled.


Fucking retard journalist. Maybe you need to actually see the movie before writing about it?

And now, McCormick sounds off (and sounds like a moron), writing in a blog post:

"I haven't seen the movie and I won't go see the movie because of what I've heard, but I want to add my two cents to the opinions on whether it's offensive to the mentally challenged."

If YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE,then how can you comment on whether it's offensive or not?!

She continues her deep, brilliant commentary....

"I know Ben Stiller has said that he's making fun of actors, not people with disabilities. Still, the movie is geared toward a younger crowd and I fear a lot of those teenagers and college students will leave the theater thinking 'r**ard' is (an) okay word to use. It's not. It's taken years to get people to stop using that word."

I never used to use the word "retard" much. Now I use it alot. And guess what? It's not because of "Tropic Thunder".It's because of clueless idiots like Maureen McCormick who take the film to task without having seen it, or after willfully misinterpreting the scene in which the retard conversation takes place.

Of course, actors and actresses like McCormick might be quick to take offense because the scene hits too close to home. McCormick certainly is showing signs of being a retard in this article; she obviously can't think for herself but must instead rely on the opinions of others... others who in this case are exploiting retards for financial gain.

I'm sure McCormick continued flaunting her ignorance in the blog entry by elaborating upon the evils of a movie she hasn't seen, but I can't read it. You see, McCormick's "exclusive blog" is on, a website designed by retards so it only works with certain browsers. But at least I read PART of McCormick's piece before I chose to criticize her, which is more than can be said about her and "Tropic Thunder".

(By the way, I'll repeat a truth that the exploiters of retards who are calling for boycotts of this movie will attempt to claim credit for. "Tropic Thunder" will not make a profit. This will not be due to retarded boycott calls, but because it was way too expensive to make. $150 million dollars was spent to make this movie. If short buses had been bringing retards to watch the film instead of protest it, it would still have lost money. Just remember that when the retard activists start trying to claim credit for the film's financial failure.)

Click here to read my review of "Tropic Thunder". If it sounds at all interesting, then I encourage you to go check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Forcing me to make a hard choice....

There are two movies opening today that I'm interested in seeing, both of which are being panned by the critics.

The one I have the most interest in in "Get Smart." From the first teaser preview, I have wanted to see it. My fond memories of the original show also make me want to check it out, even if later previews have made me worry that it might be too mean-spirited for my tastes.

The second one is "The Love Guru." My interest really isn't all that great, and it was one I might well have waited to show up in the $2 theater or perhaps even on DVD before checking out, but publicity hound Rajan Zed and his posse of outraged Hindus are back in the news. Here are excerpts from a WENN article:

Movie executives at Paramount Pictures have honoured their promise to preview "The Love Guru" for concerned Hindus in Los Angeles before its release this Friday.
Hindus, led by Rajan Zed, campaigned to see the film before its release on Friday - in a bid to make sure their fears about the movie were overblown.

But the screening has only served to bolster the religious opposition to the film, which Zed and his followers insist is disrespectful to Hindus and their beliefs.

Zed has now urged Hindus around the world to boycott the movie, claiming the picture "lampoons Hinduism and Hindu concepts and uses Hindu terms frivolously".

After attending the screening on Thursday, Zed rages, "'The Love Guru' is even more denigrating than we earlier perceived from the information gathered from trailers, websites and other sources.

"Mike Myers' guru instigates a bar fight, repeatedly narrates penis jokes, mocks yoga - one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy, wears female jewellery, mocks the concept of third eye, makes disciples drink tea passed through his nose, orders alligator soup, induces elephant copulation in front of the crowd, introduces himself as 'His Holiness', lives in a lavish ashram staffed with scantily clad maids, and whose goal in life seems to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show."

And the Hindu leader has suggested other religious groups should give the film, in which Myers plays an oddball guru called Pitka, a miss.

He adds, "Today it is Hinduism, tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to denigrate another religions.

"Hinduism is often misunderstood and wrongly portrayed outside India. Movies like this bring more confusion and create stereotypes in the minds of audience."

I can't help but wonder if Zed is so upset because Guru Pitka hits too close to home, either because of what HE is like, or because Gury Pitka is who he wants to be. There must be some reason why Zed is confusing an obvious cartoon character with an attempt to portray Hinduism in a fashion that anyone will take seriously or mistake for the real thing.

The upshot of Zed's ranting is that I am now obligated to see "The Love Guru" this weekend. Whenever morons like this start calling for boycotts because of their over-sensitivity and/or religious idiocy, I am morally obligated to trek to the theater ASAP and put my money down. A review will follow to let you know whether I think you should do the same, but I need to make a stand against over-sensitive, headline-seeking twerps like Zed in the most effective way: By acting counter to their calls for boycotts.

I now have to choose between seeing "Get Smart" or "The Love Guru" this afternoon.

Thank you, Guru Zed, you polytheist asshole, you.

(By the way... can someone who can say the name Rajan Zed without giggling give him a call and point out to him that Hollywood has been denigrating ther religions for decades? Ask him if he's heard of tiny Christian cults like the Roman Catholics, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Babtists. Ask him if he's ever heard of the obscure Jewish faith.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hide your pre-teen daugthers!
Gary Glitter is out of jail!

Reuters wire service reports that Gary "Hey, little girl... wanna do a rock star?" Glitter is out of jail and traveling the world.

THU DUC, Vietnam (Reuters) - Fallen British rock star Gary Glitter has been freed from a Vietnamese prison after completing a three-years sentence for molesting two young girls, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Glitter, 63, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was arrested in November 2005 at Ho Chi Minh airport as he tried to leave the country and sentenced to three years in jail following a one-day trial where he pleaded not guilty.

"My client is a free man now but he will be escorted straight to the airport to go back to London, he should arrive there by tomorrow," Glitter's lawyer Le Thanh Kinh told Reuters by telephone from Ho Chi Minh City.

Kinh said Vietnamese police would only give Glitter his passport at the immigration in Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.

"He doesn't have much luggage," Kinh said.

Glitter's conviction was upheld on appeal, but the sentence was reduced by three months. Jail time served counted from the date of his arrest in November 2005.

State media reported last week Glitter had been doing chores at a prison clinic in Binh Thuan province, 190 km (118 miles) north of Ho Chi Minh City and adjacent to the coastal province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau where he molested two 11-year-old girls while living in a villa.

He rose to fame in the 1970s with a bouffant hairstyle, make-up, high heels and "glam rock" stage performances. His hits included "Rock and Roll (Parts 1 & 2)" and "I Love You Love Me Love", "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" and "I'm the Leader of Gang (I am)".

(Writing by Hanoi Newsroom)

Glitter was quoted in an AP article as saying that he doesn't want to life in Great Britain but instead plans to move to Hong Kong. He also wants to resume his singing career.

I wish him the best. But I hope he keeps his hands off little girls from here on in. (I doubt it though. There's a pattern of behavior here.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Important Political Announcement (?)

While the American news-media is sitting around hyperventilating with excitement over who Barack Obama will pick for his prom date--sorry, running mate--Mary Clare Jalonick of the AP has filed what's got to be one of the biggest non-stories of the 2008 presidential campaign:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle said Monday there is no chance Barack Obama will pick him as a running mate.

The former Senate majority leader and close adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate has turned over personal information the campaign is using to review potential vice presidential nominees. But Daschle said he is confident he is not Obama's choice.

"I did give (them) documents a long time ago, but these matters have been resolved for a long time now as far as I'm concerned," Daschle told The Associated Press in an interview.

In other important political news, there is no chance that Barack Obama will pick me as his running mate.

(The McCaine campaign has been whining about how the news media is giving Obama's campaign more coverage than they're getting. With pointless puff-pieces like the one quoted above being generated just so they can write SOMETHING about him makes me think they may have a point.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The boycott call that (deservedly) backfired

Early this week, a bunch of publicity hungry media hacks trotted out some Very Special Protesters, handed them signs, dressed them in bizarrily inappropriate shirts (like ones with a "No Retards Allowed" symbol on it) and started screeching at the cameras about how "Tropic Thunder" should be boycotted because we should all be offended that the word "retard" is used in the movie. (You can see a picture of the Very Special Protesters in their "No Retards Allowed" shirts by clicking here.)

Never mind that it is used in a conversation between two characters talking about actors who play mentally challenged characters hoping to boost their careers, and at similar moments. Never mind that the use of "retard" in the film is in a context that reflects badly on the character using it, as well as the movie industry for their approach to using Very Special People as characters in films. No, the publicity whores thought they had ahold of something here.

Thankfully, they were wrong. Thankfully, the American people are not the retards these publicity whores took them for. (Well, at least those of them who aren't in favor of government control of what can and can't be said on the radio, television, and internet.)

The Los Angeles Times reported today (Friday) that when online ticket seller Fandango asked its customers whether the boycott call made them less interested or more interested in seeing the movie, 77 percent responded "more interested."

I still think "Tropic Thunder" is going to go down in history as a bomb--it cost way too much to make--but the media whores and their Very Special Prop Protesters aren't the ones responsible.

Don't listen to the retards:
Go see 'Tropic Thunder'

Tropic Thunder (2008)
Starring: Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr, Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, Brandon T. Jackson, Danny McBride, Nick Nolte, Brandon Soo Hoo, Tom Cruise, and Matthew McConaughey
Director: Ben Stiller
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Five actors (Baruchel, Black, Downey, Jackson and Stiller) starring in a movie about an extraction mission in the Viet Nam war find themselves in a very real fight for their lives against Laotian heroin producers after the director decides to drop them in the middle of the jungle to bring more realism to the film.

"Tropic Thunder" is a satire-filled spoof on the Hollywood movie industry and the excesses and escessively large personalities involved with making movies. It's a film that leaves no pretension unpoked and no movie-industry stereotype unmolested.

The stars of 'Tropic Thunder'--Kevin Sandusky, left, Alpa Chino, Tugg Speedman, Kirk Lazarus and Jeff Portnoy--with director Damien Cockburn. (Actually, it's Jay Baruchel, left, Brandon T. Jackson, Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black, as actors playing actors, and actor Steve Coogan playing a director who are making a movie named 'Tropic Thunder' in 'Tropic Thunder'.)

Although it's as self-absorbed as the pampered movie stars it pokes fun at, this is a very enjoyable film if you have any interest in the personalities behind the characters and the business people behind the movies. It's even funnier if you've had a chance to see some of these people in action. While none are as cartoonish as what we have here in this comedy, the character types are all very recognizable, as is the pseudo-intellectual idiocy that's popular in many acting and movie circles.

The running theme in the film that no-one in Hollywood is genuine and that the biggest fakes, liars and cheats are the most successful is expressed with more accuracy and humor in this film than I've seen in a long time. Every character is part-and-parcel with this message--the smartest and most capable character in the bunch is a young actor who is obviously going to have a future never rising above the status of supporting character actor, and the most successful among them is such a mess of insecurities and self-deception that he doesn't even really know who he is anymore--and the story emphasizes it over and over in ways that are both funny and subtle enough that we never feel like it's being rammed down our throats.

There's nothing that we haven't seen done before, but it's all done exceptionally well here.

Every actor in the film is spectacular, from child actor Brandon Soo Hoo who plays an underage drug kingpin whose a crack shot with a bazooka (the kid does a great job, especially considering this is his first movie--to Tom Cruise who has a great turn under heavy make-up as a truly repulsive Hollywood studio executive. It can also truly be said that 2008 is the year of Jack Black and Robert Downey Jr., as between "Iron Man", "Kung Fu Panda", and this film, they've appeared in some high quality movies.

And just so there's no doubt, anyone who is upset about the use of the word "retard" in this film is an idiot who is just looking to be offended. If they hadn't been so busy taking offense, they would have seen that the point of the exchange was that exploiting the handicapped in movies is sleazy and cheap... and that one of the characters in the conversation was being at least partially sarcastic.

Now that I've seen "Tropic Thunder", I believe doubly what I said in this post, but I need to add that I think those assholes who are exploiting retards to grab headlines with their faux and misplaced outrage are even slimier than the fictional characters involved with the fictional "Simple Jack" movie.

Oh, and if anyone out there knows an asshole or a retard calling for a boycott of "Tropc Thunder", please tell them that I went to see it on opening day because of them, and I further supported the theater by purchasing a small popcorn and small soda. I probably would have waited until the movie was on DVD and I hardly ever buy snacks when attending a film. I also have used the word "retard" as a pejorative more in the past three days than I have in the three years previously. It's not a word I typically use, but those assholes have made it an imperative to do so with your idiocy.

I encourage everyone to go see "Tropic Thunder". Bring a friend. Let's show how retarded this call for a boycott was. And make sure you get there early, not only so you can get some popcorn, but you also don't want to miss the exclusive preview for the upcoming Kirk Lazarus/Tobey Maguire movie "Satan's Alley"!

(BTW, with a rumored $150 million dollar price-tag, I think this movie is ultimately will be declared a failure because I doubt it'll make THAT kind of money... but let's see if we can't show those publicity hungry assholes who are making up reasons to be offended that a funny, well-made film will have an audience despite their antics (and even the antics of the Very Special Differently Abled People they're using as props).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Retards protest the use of the word 'retard'
in Hollywood spoof 'Tropic Thunder'

So, a bunch of retarded morons--sorry... very special, differently-abled morons--are protesting Ben Stiller's "Tropic Thunder" because a) a very dumb actor character in the film is famous for playing a retard character, and b) the word retard is used to describe both the character played and the dumb actor in question.

Everything I've heard and seen about the film indicates to me that it throws a bad light on the dimwitted, ego-maniacal characters featured in the film, and that those who are heard using the word "retard" are, well, probably retarded.

However, "community activists" and--my personal favorite--"disability advocates"--are working themselves into a frenzie in order to get media attention and parading angry retards for the camera... including dressing one in a shirt with a "No Retards" symbol on the chest. (Did that retard really know what he was dressing in? Do these retards really know what they're protesting or are they simply simple-minded props?)

It's hard to tell, because those organizing these protests are more dimwitted and retarded than any of the fictional characters in the film. Their protest is making me give the film some advanced publicity on this blog, something I wouldn't have done otherwise. They've also made me move the film up my priority list to the very top.

When assholes call for boycotts against a movie for idiotic (or even retarded) reasons, I feel obligated to catch that film in its opening weekend. I just hope this film is a little better than "The Love Guru."

To read AP article on the retarded protests against "Tropic Thunder" (and Dream Works' appropriate response), click here.

"Tropic Thunder" opens Friday, August 15.

(By the way... does a "disability advocate" encourage people to sniff glue, cut off limbs, or smash their heads against brick walls so they can become "disabled"? Or is that just a term for someone who exploits retards for personal gain?)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NOW he's sorry...

The sorry sack of shit who was once Osama bin Laden's driver/human buttplug, Salim Hamdan, has been tried and convicted for being the al-Qaeda scum that he is.

Like all these cowardly Lions of lslam he's cries like a baby when called to account for his part in the savage butchery of innocent victims. This guy is more disgusting than most of them. Here's what he had to say, according to the AP and other wire services:

"It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed. I don't know what could be given or presented to these innocent people who were killed in the US," Salim Hamdan said at his sentencing hearing, speaking in Arabic through an interpreter. "I personally present my apologies to them if anything what I did have caused them pain."

I think the best thing to do is to let this guy present his apologies in person to all the people who were murdered while he was on his knees giving blow- and handjobs to Osama bin Laden. I think the best thing would be to take him out back and shoot him through the head.

After all, as things presently stand,many of people he has caused pain can't hear him apologize BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD!

Did this bastard try to turn Bin Laden in after 9/11? Did he do ANYTHING to stop what's been going on? Of course he didn't. He has a million excuses for why he didn't do anything, but the fact remains that he went along with the boys of al-Queerda until he was called to account.

He deserves to be executed, as do all the assholes who actively participate in or support terrorist activities.

By the way...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Rajan Zed and his desperate bid for attention

Some people just won't go away. The latest of such assholes is Rajan Zed, self-appointed defender of All Things Hindu.

In a statement released Monday, Zed demanded (on behalf of Hindi everywhere) that Mike Meyers personally apologise for his portrayal of a comical spiritual leader in movie flop "The Love Guru."

While I think Meyers and everyone involved with the making of "The Love Guru" owes apologies to everyone who was subjected tothat craptacular movie, I wish that Zed anyone associated with him are specifically excluded from that apology.

I further hope that any apology for "The Love Guru" ends with, "And Rajan Zed can go fuck himself into his next life for all we care."

Here's the latest from Zed, via WENN...

Hindu leader leader Rajan Zed is demanding that that funnyman Mike Meyers publicly apologise for "lampooning Hinduism" in "The Love Guru."

In a statement released to WENN on Monday, Zed stated that although the apology may not completely undo the damage done to the community, it might help "heal the wounds somewhat of a disturbed Hindu populace".

Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says, "Ksama, or forgiveness, is one of the main virtues of Hindu ethics. If Mike Myers offers a genuine public apology, Hindus would not only absolve him but might also pray for his success in future movies."

Zed launched a protest movement against The Love Guru in March, urging all Hindus and other religious groups to boycott the film.

He claims that the failure of the film is largely down to his protest campaign.

Zed is a self-absorbed, self-deluded moron whose ego is too big for words. "The Love Guru" flopped because it was a steaming pile of crap. In fact, if Zed wasn't such a publicity hungry asshole, it would have done far worse at the box office, because I'm certain a number of people went to see it because of him rather than staying away.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Celebrating 30 Years of Bloodshed:
The Best of the Halloween Series

In 1978, the first unstoppable mad slasher of cinema drenched the movie screens with blood. Michael Myers, the silent, white-masked killer who butchered his parents one Halloween night when he was still a small child, and then escaped from an asylum many years later to finish the job on another Halloween night--because he missed his sister the first time around--still stands tallest among his imitators, from Jason Vorhees on down the line.

The original “Halloween” not only opened the floodgates for slasher flicks in the 1980s (and a few of the genre continue to trickle out to this very day), it started the career of suspense film director/writer/musical score composer John Carpenter, the late and very-much-missed producer/writer Deborah Hill, and actress Jamie Lee Curtis.

It's now 30 years since "Halloween" was unleashed upon the public, and that film still stands as one of the best-made and smartest of all slasher flicks, and it still deserves a place on any Top 25 Horror Movies list.

This post offers reviews of the the best films that has Michael Myers slashing his way through the plot. In fact, it covers the only films with the character that are worth seeing. (And, yes, I feel comfortable making an absolute pronouncement, because I fear the god-awful Rob Zombie remake in 2007 killed the franchise once and for all... one year short of this auspicious 30th anniversary. Although, maybe not. The graphic novel "Night Dance" was a spectacular read, so maybe Michael will be back to splash the screen with blood again.)

Halloween (1978)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance
Director: John Carpenter
Rating: 8/10

Michael Myer, who has been confined to a mental institution since committing several brutal murders as a young child, escapes and returns to his hometown to kill his last remaining relative, his sister. While his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) tries to get the local sheriff to clear the streets of Halloween trick-or-treaters to protect them from a killer who the doctor believes to literally be possessed by evil spirits, Michael is cutting his way through the population of Haddonfield, getting ever closer to his actual goal, his sister, Laurie (Curtis).

"Halloween" was the first of this type of movie--an unspeakably violent, hands-on killer butchers his way through hapless victims until one girl faces him alone--and it still remains the best. The gore may be mild compared to the countless slasher flicks that follow, but the tension and terror flowing from the screen remains unmatched.

All actors featured in “Halloween” turn in great performances, with Curtis’ portrayal of the terror-stricken, yet scrappy, Laurie being particularly impressive. Horror movie veteran Pleasance also turns in a great performance as the stressed-beyond-stressed-out, gun-toting mental health professional bent on stopping a man who is “pure evil” before he murders again. Even the actor playing the masked, silent Michael Myer is wonderful—he has an animal-like way of cocking his head that is very creepy.

Other strong aspects that really make “Halloween” stand out is the camera-work, lighting, and set-dressing. All of these combine to turn typical small-town America into a creepy and threatening environment that is as much a character in the film as the principle actors. Much of the tension that is built in the early parts of the film grows from the curiously unsettling aura throughout the town of Haddonfield.

Finally, the soundtrack score of "Halloween" needs to be singled out for praise. Performed completely on synthesizers by director Carpenter, it stands as not only one of the creepiest horror movie scores but also as one of the best works of electronica ever composed. Plus, no other horror movie has a theme as memorable as "Halloween." (Only "The Exorcist" comes close, and the theme from it wasn't originally composed for the movie.)

Halloween II (1981)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance
Director: Rick Rosenthal
Rating: 7/10

'Halloween II" is a direct sequel to the original movie, picking up pretty much exactly where it left off. After narrowly escaping death at the knife-wielding hands of her insane brother, Laurie is taken to the local hospital while an apparently dead Michael Myers is taken to the morgue in its basement. It quickly becomes apparent that someone was a bit hasty in declaring Myers dead—a natural mistake since Dr. Loomis had shot him six times in the chest--and soon he is stalking through the darkened hospital and sending everyone on the graveyard shift to the graveyard. Maybe Laurie won’t live to see the sun come up on November 1st after all.

The film takes place almost entirely within the Haddonfield hospital. Director Rick Rosenthal. Rosenthal successfully uses the empty, darkened hallways to evoke suspense and horror, and to eventually emphasize the isolation of Laurie as she for the second time in one night is the object of her brother’s murderous intentions.

On the acting front, we’ve got Curtis and Pleasance reprising their roles from the original “Halloween”, and they are just as good as they were before. Curtis once again strikes a perfect balance between strength and terror, and Pleasance once again excels as a man obsessed with putting an end to what he views as evil given form on Earth.

The only weakness that prevents this film from being as good as the original “Halloween” is, curiously, the script. Although Carpenter and Hill wrote both, the story for “Halloween II” never really seems to build up quite the same momentum as the original movie. The middle is actually downright dull at times.

“Halloween II” is still worth watching, but a tighter script would have made it so much better.

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Starring: Donald Pleasance, Ellie Cornell, Danielle Harris, and Michael Pataki
Director: Dwight H. Little
Rating: 6/10

Ten years after Michael Myers brought real terror and bloodshed toa Halloween night in the small town of Haddonfield, he escapes while being transferred between two asylums. He returns to his old stalking grounds, but finds that his sister, Laurie is now out of his reach. However, his young niece Jamie (Harris) is not so lucky. Soon, the bodies start to pile up, and Jamie and her teenaged protector (Cornell) may not survive the night, even though Dr. Loomis (Pleasance) is once again stalk Michael as he stalks them.

With “Halloween 4,” Myers joins the ranks (whether he is elevated or if he falls depends on your point of view) of all the other indestructible psycho-killers, since he was burned to a crisp on camera at the end of “Halloween II.” However, Dr. Loomis, is also back (and he didn’t fare much better than Myers in that fire), so he is probably the only slasher-flick hero who is as indestructible as killer himself!

Like “Halloween II” was an inferior film when compared to the original, so is “Halloween 4” weaker than both its predecessors. The greatest flaw is the setting of Haddonfield. Where Carpenter and his crew managed to infuse the town itself with a sense of dreadful anticipation, the director of this film just conveys that it is like any other little town. Because of this, the movie doesn’t seem quite as suspenseful as those that came before. Yes, there are plenty of shocks, and Myers is now conducting himself as we have come to expect from a man in his like of work (like Jason, and Freddy, and dozens and dozens of other cinema maniacs that appeared in the decade since Myer first cocked his head at Laurie Strode), but the same level of tension is never quite reached.

Acting-wise, however, the performances are as good as they were in the first pair of movies. Curtis isn’t in the film—her character reportedly died in a car accident shortly after she gave birth to a daughter—but instead we have Danielle Harris, a very talented child actress playing Jamie, Myers new target. Cornell also puts on a good show as the stubborn teenaged girl trying to keep herself and Jamie alive as Myers is killing people all around them. At first blush, Pleasance’s performance seems to be a bit much, but if one considers that Dr. Loomis has shot Myers in the chest six times, in the face twice, and burned him alive, and still the human monster fails to die, then it would make sense that the character has gone completely nuts. In that light, his performance is perfect.

Like “Halloween II”, this installment suffers from script problems. In this case, the script isn’t ponderous, but instead is burdened with some useless and annoying subplots (such as one involving brave rednecks hopping in their truck to go kick Michael-ass). I suppose the filmmakers sensed the other problem with the film’s storyline—that Myers was starting to no longer be scary. We saw all his tricks in the first two films, and all we had now was the same as before, except he was so monstrous that he would go after a very young child.

This problem with Michael Myers is what let to some truly stupid missteps in the three movies that followed. Someone, somewhere, decided to take Dr. Loomis at his word. Soon, the series was burdened with bizarre Satanic cultists. It's almost a shame that "Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers" marks the point at which the series tips over the edge of the abyss and plummets into the Bottomless Depths of Truly Crappy, because it has what I've always thought to be the most striking poster/home-video cover image of the entire series--Michael holding his trademarked butcher knife with the blade fading into an image of a young girl in a harlequin costume. Harris and Cornell are also both back with excellent performances. It’s a shame the overall movie isn’t have been better. (That's the illo at the tip of this post, by the way.)

The final word on “Halloween 4” is that it’s worth seeing if you like your slasher-flicks with some good acting. But you should avoid everything that follows it... with the exception of "Halloween: H20"

Halloween: H20 (1998)
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, and LL Cool J
Director: Steve Miner
Rating: 7/10

Keri Tate (Curtis) has spent the past twenty years trying to put a single night horror behind her. Her successful career as an educator has helped, as has the love of her now-teenaged son (Hartnett) and the fact that she faked her death and changed her name when she became pregnant with him. But now, the past is coming back with a vengeance... Keri will no longer be able to deny that she is Laurie Strode. Michael Myers is back, and he still wants her.

"Halloween: H20" is the only entry in the series since "The Return of Michael Myers" that is worth your time. In fact, it's one of the best slasher movies to emerge from the late 1990s when the genre enjoyed a bit of a revival, because it doesn't engage in self-mockery and remains true to the tone and mood of the original "Halloween" films while presenting a slasher story with a slightly different structure than what we're used to.

Like the original "Halloween", the film is a bit slow in its wind-up, but during this first part of the movie, we get to know the characters--the still-emotionally tortured Laurie/Keri, her son, her would-be suitor (Arkin), and likable innocents who are soon to run into the human killing machine that is Michael Myers.

Also like the original "Halloween", this film does not rely on body count and gory, creative butchering of characters. Instead, it relies on the fact that teh audience actually cares about what happens to the characters in the film. With its well-written script, solid cast--Curtis in particular is fabulous as a broken Laurie Strode who suddenly finds the strength to fight not only for herself but for the life of her son--and a highly underrated director at the helm, the audience is drawn into the action and terror as it builds and unfolds.

(I feel Miner is underrated, because this and other horror films he's done shows that he understands that there needs to be a pay-off to any build-up of suspense, and that the key to making a horror movie truly scary is that the characters in the film need to be human and sympathetic. Both of these facts seem to be lost on many modern horror film directors who believe that one fake scare after another and flat characters surrounded by CGI monsters is all that's needed.)

"Halloween: H20" was a great way to celebrate twenty years of Michael Myers striking fear into the hearts of audiences around the world--it almost managed to reach the great heights acheived by Carpenter and Company in the original film. It remains the last worthwhile entry in the series.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

12,000 to lose their jobs, assholes celebrate

I've heard several people commenting on the fact that Starbucks will be closing some 600 stores with glee in their voices. Somehow, they think this is a good thing. Some believe it will result in little indie cafes opening up (which never happens in Reality... when a coffee shop closes around here, nothing seems to take its place) and others are just assholes who seem to take delight in the fact that people will be losing their livelihoods.

I tend to zip through a Starbucks drive-thru about a week. There is a little coffee shop I prefer that gives me my mochas for less than half of what Starbucks charges, so I go there more because of purely financial reasons. However, Starbucks does generally taste better, although it depends on the barista. (Although, more and more they're both losing out on my money, as I'm making huge pots at home, dumping fat-free vanilla creamer in my cups, and saving lots of cash.)

But I sure as hell am not deriving any pleasure from the news that people are losing their jobs. No one ever forced me to go Starbucks and pay $4+ for a cup of coffee or $3 for a breakfast sandwich (which was quite tasty BTW).

I truly can't relate to some of my friends, nor to the dimwits quoted in this article from Reuters. I can't derive pleasure from people losing their jobs. (Well, with some exceptions. I'd celebrate if Melinda Vigliotti of New York lost her job.)

Some coffee drinkers gleeful over Starbucks financial troubles
By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - One coffee drinker's bad news is another coffee drinker's good news, it seems.

Financial woes at Starbucks Corp., which is planning to close 600 underperforming U.S. stores and lay off 12,000 employees, is evoking glee and little sympathy from aficionados who say they resent the coffee shop giant and favor small independent cafes.

"I'm so happy. I'm so not a Starbucks person," said Melinda Vigliotti, sipping iced coffee at the Irving Farm Coffee House in New York. "I believe in supporting small businesses. Starbucks, bye-bye."

Seattle-based Starbucks burst onto the national scene in the 1990s and grew to more than 6,000 locations around the world. But with cups of coffee that can cost several dollars, it faces a slowing economy and slowed consumer spending.

"Starbucks has really created a coffee culture, raising awareness of good coffee, which is good for independents," said Carol Watson, owner of the Milk and Honey coffee shop in Chicago. "But on the other hand, they're on practically every corner, and that makes it tough on the little guy too."

In Birmingham, Alabama, retiree Peggy Bonfield, drinking coffee at the Crestwood Coffee Shop, said: "When a Starbucks closes, it makes room for a local business to start. I consider that good news."

The schadenfreude of coffee drinkers drawing satisfaction from another's misfortune is part of the popular culture that enjoys the downfall of companies or celebrities, said Jim Carroll, a Canadian-based trends and innovation expert.

"There are a lot of people out there who take delight in seeing an icon torn down by the masses," he said.

Starbucks fell victim to a rapid change in attitude, fueled by Internet bloggers complaining endlessly about everything from layoffs to its breakfast sandwiches, he said.

"Starbucks was a cool brand, and then all of a sudden it's not a cool brand," he said. "There's this new global consciousness that is out there that can suddenly shift."

New York Web designer Zachary Thacher, who favors Greenwich Village's cafes, said he avoids Starbucks. "They've commoditized cafe culture, which is why I don't go," he said.

But it's not as though Starbucks doesn't have defenders.

"It's convenient," said Anthony Castro, sitting in a Starbucks near his job at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "I know what to expect."

In Birmingham, Crestwood regular Gary Adkins said he felt Starbucks gave employees good salaries and benefits.

Not everyone felt strongly. "It's just coffee," said Marc Poulin, a systems administrator at Zibetto Espresso Bar in New York. "If I was an investor, I'd care."

(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor, Andrew Stern and Verna Gates; editing by Todd Eastham and Steve Miller)