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

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maybe I'm still feverish from the flu, but...

... I've made up my mind to take part in the "Blogging From A to Z April Challenge" for the month of April.

Although doing "31 Nights of Halloween" back in October almost broke me over at Terror Titans, I'm thinking this is one daily blogging event I can do with ease.

First of all, it's tailor-made for a blog like this, as all I have to do is post about something that starts with the appropriate letter of the alphabet. A piece of cake, so long as I remember to do it!

So, for all of April, there will be a post every day here--except Sundays. I hope you'll check in from time to time to track my progress toward victory or failure!

(BTW, my friend Jeff Grubb is also taking part in the "Blogging From A to Z April Challenge" over at Grubb Street. It was his post that reminding me of the event and made me decide to give it a shot, too.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ohio town takes 'Easter' out of annual egg hunt

There's stupid, and then there's this:

Ohio town is taking the 'Easter' out of its annual egg hunt

If it's not an Easter Egg Hunt, then who brings the eggs? The Egg-Bringing Completely Generic Spring Bunny? If these morons didn't want to sponsor an event with some dreaded Christian holiday in its name, they should have had the balls to call if off instead of wrapping themselves in reeking scraps of Political Correctness and phony "respect for the sensitivities of others."

Heather Angel as the Easter Bunny
(aka the Generic Egg-bringing Spring Bunny?)

I wonder if the high-functioning retards running Munson, OH would be so quick to strike the word "Easter" from this annual tradition if they knew the full history of where the Easter holiday?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Some days it's hard to decide who I hate most...

... the repressed Muslim homosexual "militants" who insist on projecting their self-hatred onto the world while masturbating to mental images of the Perfect Man, Mohammed (may piss be upon him), or the inbred attention whores of the Fred Phelps clan and the corrupted Christianity of their Westboro Baptist Church.

Reportedly, the Phelps clan plans to picket Liz Taylor's memorial service, presumably because of her well-known AIDS-related charity work.

I agree with the sentiment of John Nolte over at "I would sure like to be there when Jesus throws Fred Phelps and his followers out of his office and into the pit of Hell."

(Click on the quote to read John's full commentary.)

In case you're unfamiliar with Phelps and his retarded followers, here are some snapshots of them in action, up to their usual disgusting antics near military funerals. (There are a couple of bits of mockery near the bottom.)

(Isn't it strange that an anti-gay group should focus on "God's Rod"?)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Complete Dirty Harry

From 1971 to 1988, Clint Eastwood portrayed Dirty Harry, San Francisco's toughest cop. In doing so, Eastwood established a character so iconic that it rivals his famous "Man With No Name".

This post covers all five movies in the "Dirty Harry" series.

Dirty Harry (1971)
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Andy Robinson
Director: Don Seigel
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

When a madman who calls himself Scorpio (Robinson) sets about to terrorize and extort the city of San Francisco with sniper attacks and kidnappings, only the unorthodox methods of homicide inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) can stop him.

"Dirty Harry" stands as one of the greatest police dramas ever made, and the bad guy--the monstrous, utterly insane Scorpio--is so extreme that it even has elements that appeal to lovers of horror films. From the opening shots, the tension in the film keeps building and it doesn't let up until Harry and Scorpio have their final confrontation. Everything in this movie works perfectly, from the casting, to the camera and Foley work, to the great score by Lalo Shafrin (with the eerie "Scorpio Theme" adding a lot to the film).

Eastwood is also great as Harry, a cop who dislikes bureaucracy and who always puts the well-being and rights of crime victims ahead of the criminals that prey on them. And he does it within the boundaries of the law, with no consideration for politics. He's the sort of cop who can only get away with what he does in the fantasy land of movies.

Robinson also makes a fantastic bad guy. Between the actions of the character and the way the actor plays him, even the most hardcore member of the "violence in movies is bad" and "every criminal has rights" has got to be cheering for Harry to give the justice he has earned.

This film lays the foundation for the Dirty Harry sequels that followed, and I think it was just as much the fantasy of a cop who can buck the system and bag in a bad guy who knows how to play it, as it was Eastwood's portrayal of Harry that made the character so popular. (If you watch the movie carefully, you can see the depth that Eastwood brings to Harry's character.)

"Dirty Harry" is well-deserving of its reputation of being a classic. It is a great movie, and while it has been imitated over and over, it's never been matched... even by its own sequels.

Magnum Force (1974)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, and David Soul
Director: Ted Post
Rating: Six of Ten

When San Francisco's biggest crime figures fall victim to a series of execution-style hits, homicide detective Harry Callahan (Eastwood) first believes that someone must be impersonating police officers to get as close to the victims as they are, but his boss, Lt. Briggs (Holbrook) is convinced that the murders the result of a typical gangster power-struggle. As Callahan investigates, he uncovers a frightening possiblity--that maybe the "fake cop" is a real cop, and that a secret death squad exists within the SFPD.

"Magnum Force" is a somewhat dissapointing follow-up to "Dirty Harry", and it's one of the weaker entries in the series. The movie seems to drag on and on, in part due to some exceptionally dull cinematagraphy, a lack of story focus until the third act, and a near-total lack of humor throughout. (The exception being an encounter totally unrelated to the rest of the movie, except to establish Harry's renegade ways, when Harry prevents a plane from being hijacked,)

The film is still superior to most cop dramas out there--mostly thanks to its great cast--but it's a weak link in the "Dirty Harry" cycle.

The Enforcer (1976)
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Tyne Daly
Director: James Fargo
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

When a terrorist group attempts to blackmail San Francisco with bombings, murders, and ultimately by kidnapping the mayor, even the unorthodox methods of Police Inspector Harry Callahan (Eastwood) might not be enough to overcome both the bad guys and the touchy-feely approach of the "new" San-Fran city government.

In "The Enforcer", the real-world San Francisco finally seems to catch up with Dirty Harry, as he spends as much time fighting against style-over-substance politics as he does tracking down the villains. Although the bad guys here are not up to the standards set by the first two movies--they may be more violent, but they're no where near as sinister--this movie is a vast improvement over "Magnum Force", not only because it actually has a well-focused storyline, but also because the character of Harry comes off as multi-faceted... and, for that matter, a true believer in justice and equality. From his interactions with black militants to his approach to his new female partner (Daly) who has been foisted on him in the name of women's-lib, Harry shows a constant willingness to accept anyone who proves themselves worthy of his trust and respect.

Like previous "Dirty Harry" movies, this film is blessed with excellent camera work and a great cast. In addition, the script is excellent, with the rookie homicide detective who gets promoted just because she's a woman, but who shows she definitely has the chops, being a great character (as well as a source of some of the film's more humorous moments.) What's more, out of all the films in the series, this is the one where Harry Callahan comes across the strongest and most likable. This is why the film has one of the saddest endings I think I've ever seen to a cop drama.

So, despite somewhat weakly realized foes for our gun-toting, morally unbendable homicide detective, "The Enforcer" stands as the second-best film in the "Dirty Harry" series.

Sudden Impact (1983)
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Sondra Locke
Director: Clint Eastwood
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

A rape victim (Locke) is taking brutal revenge on her attackers, and SFPD's most rebellious police inspector, Harry Callahan (Eastwood) is trying to catch her.

the low point for Dirty Harry is "Sudden Impact", a film without any likable characters (with the possible exception of Meathead the Dog); flat performances from most of the actors (even Eastwood); a story that relies waaay too much on coincidence to keep moving (yes, there always needs to be some sort of coincidental convergence of events and characters, but "Sudden Impact" features so many that it's just plain bad writing); and the end is out of step with the way Callahan has been portrayed in previous films, how he is portrayed in the final film in the series... and it's just a bad ending all-around. (Without providing too many spoilers, Harry pretty much abandons any moral high-ground he once may have been able to claim, because as the end credits roll in "Sudden Impact", he's no longer a good cop by any stretch of the imagination.)

To make the experience even worse, Sandra Locke appears to have received a talent-ectomy before filming on "Sudden Impact" began.

I remember liking this movie alot when I saw it as a kid some two decades ago, but revisiting it was a great dissapointment. It's interesting how tastes change as we grow older.

The Dead Pool (1988)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Patricia Clarkson, and Liam Neeson
Director: Buddy Van Long
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

When "Dirty" Harry Callahan (Eastwood)--San Francisco's most rebellious and anti-social homicide detective--is pointman in sending a major crime boss to prison, he finds himself receiving favorable media attention for once... and he hates every minute of it. He hates even more that the police commissioner wants him to spend time doing "press availabilities"... but when he is targeted first by vengeful mobsters and then by a maniac bent on claiming victory in a sick betting game called "The Dead Pool", Harry and his famous Magnum revolver are back in familiar territory, even defending a lady reporter (Clarkson) from harm.

"The Dead Pool" has all the elements that has made the Dirty Harry character so popular, particularly the way he is a conduit for the viewers disgust with police departments that are more concerned with PR than stopping crime, out-of-control and irresponsible journalists; and the way he is the sort of cop that really can only exist in urban fairy tales like the Dirty Harry movies. (Dirty Harry NEVER harms an innocent--in fact, he goes far and above the call of duty in their defense--but if anyone who even was close to the sort of nature that Harry has would have been tossed off the force long ago.)

Although "The Dead Pool" has all the great elements of a Dirty Harry story, it is weakened by several over-the-top assassination attempts on Harry by the gangsters and a main villain that's as crazy as the Scorpio Killer but whose final encounter with Harry sort of peeters out and is weakened by a gesture that is even extreme even for Harry (and a bit out of character, it seems to me the filmmakers were interested more in a final pun than a good ending to the film).

Those bad parts, however, give rise to some of the films better moments, so they can be excused. First, the way Harry gets the mob hit men off his back is the sort of approach that is at the heart of why the character was so popular. Second, a crazy assassination scheme of the film's main bad guy gives rise to one of the funkiest car chases ever put on film.

"The Dead Pool" features a great performance by Clint Eastwood as one of his signature characters. While it's not the best of the Dirty Harry films, it's still very worthwhile viewing. (One sad little part of the movie is the commentary on the out-of-control celebrity-worshipping media culture of the U.S... it's sad over 20 years later that media culture is more out of control than ever.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Michael Gough dead at 94

Michael Gough, a British actor who appeared in more than 150 movies and television shows, died at his home in England on March 17. He was 94.

Gough is best remembered for his roles in some of Hammer Films' best gothic horror films, his appearances on the sci-fi series "Doctor Who", and for being the only constant element in the Batman films of the 1990s, where he portrayed Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred. (My personal favorite of Gough's role was that of Soviet spy-master Zorin in the 1991 mini-series "Sleepers".)

House Votes to Cut Federal Funds for NPR

And this is what happens when you accept public funds, yet fill the senior ranks of your organization with bigots and political hacks. And it's what SHOULD happen. Although it's a shame that it came to this.

House Votes to Cut off Federal Funds for NPR

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here are a few selections of traditional Irish music to get you in the mood!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

One of the receptionists at my office told me that even though it's St. Patrick's Day today, I can't come to work drunk. Posting this picture will have to make up for that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The outcome of the reactor meltdown in Japan

(Artist's Conception)

You can donate to the Red Cross' relief effort here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy birthday, Osama bin Laden!

He may be a psychopath with tendencies toward pedophelia, and he may be the object of hero worship by repressed homosexuals the world over, but Osama bin Laden still knows how to party.

Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda, turns 54 today. He celebrated by having a few honeys and homies over to the cave in Pakistan.

Go see 'Rango' to piss off anti-smoking Nazis

Animated movie "Rango" is tops at the box office, so I assume it's a fun film. But that's not why I'm going to carve out the time to see it.

Rango. With a toothpick, not a cigarette.
Because I care about the children.
It's got the anti-smoking Nazis all worked up. They are running around, shrieking, tearing their hair out, and beating their chests. Because iguanas and other animals are shown smoking cigarettes. Click here to read all about it.

This is film that needs to be #1 at the box office for a long, long time. The hysterical antics of sanctimonious assholes who want force their Puritanical values on others using the excuse that it's "for the children" will be be even more fun to watch and comment on than "Rango".

Hey, maybe some of them will have heart attacks or strokes because they're so hepped up. Or maybe get so dispondant over smoking talking cartoon animals they'll put themselves out of our misery and commit suicide. Maybe then we'll have studies that show that being an anti-Smoking Nazi is bad for your health?

Maybe I can help speed things along....

For the record, I've smoked two cigarettes and taken three puffs on cigars my entire life. I have watched who-knows-how-many movies with characters smoking like chimneys, and I thought Nick Fury was one on the coolest comic book characters when I was a kid. And I still don't smoke.

I also don't drive fast, rob banks, shoot people, or go on killing sprees wearing funny masks and coveralls.

Gosh... I wonder if encouraging PARENTING is what the anti-smoking morons should focus their efforts on, if they're going to insist on getting in other people's business.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Men Robbed After Hiring Exotic Dancers Online

What the witness saw?
So, two morons decided to hire strippers off Craigslist, and they suffered the predictable result: They were robbed at gunpoint.

Click on the statement below from Minnesota's famous Lt. Obvious to read the article... and let it be a lesson if you should ever contemplate being so stupid.

"It is a terrible idea to invite total strangers into your house, especially after you have been drinking,” said Minneapolis PD's Lt. Mike Fossum. “If you want to go and see some strippers, go to the legitimate clubs that we have all over the metro area.”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Something fun for fans of comics at Google!

So, I went to Google this morning as I do many mornings. Instead of the usual logo, I saw this:

Pretty cool, huh? It's a take-off on the neat logos that graced so many of the title pages on Will Eisner's most famous creation, "The Spirit" from the 1940s and early 1950s and Google did this in observation of what would have been Will Eisner's 94th birthday.

The company also posted an article from writer/artist and critic Scott McCloud about Eisner on their official blog.

If you click on the logo on the actual Google page, there's a pre-made search that lists several top sites devoted to Eisner and "The Spirit". If you're not familiar with Eisner's work, but love comics, you owe it to yourself to visit some of them and read up... and perhaps even think about getting one or two of the many different reprint volumes that collect some of Eisner's celebrated, groundbreaking series.

The same is true if you love old movies. Few creators nailed the femme fatale type character more effectively than Eisner did in his writing and art. If you enjoy crime dramas from the 1940s and 1950s, I suspect you will LOVE "The Spirit."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tectonic Tuesday: Natalie Portman

I'm sure the great visionary, the Imam of Imams Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, would agree that the only thing more dangerous than an immodest woman, is an immodest woman who was brought into this world through the the nefarious machinations of the Zionist Conspiracy!

Nineteenth Case Study: Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman, winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Actress, was born in Israel in 1981. Reportedly the child of an "artist" and a "fertility expert," she was mostly created by them in a top secret Zionist weapons lab and unleashed upon the world with the intention of creating havoc and destruction. It is not a coincidence that her debut film role at the age of 12 in "Leon the Professional" was described by some critics as "Lolita-esque". Nor was it surprising that an earthquake struck the Al Hoceima region in the northern Morocco, leveling towns and killing hundreds.

Portman has flaunted herself in over 30 movies since her debut, and each one has threatened lives around the world. She welcomed the new millennium with an earth-shattering role in "Home is Where the Heart Is", which caused the Baku earthquake that damaged churches and mosques, but no synagogues. More recently she pranced around in skin-tight outfits and had all kinds of sex on screen in "Black Swan". Predictable, a series of massive earthquakes have struck in New Zealand, damaging over 100,000 homes in the city of Christchurch and killing hundreds.

All because of the immodesty of Natalie Portman. And the sinister agents of the Zionist Conspiracy!