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

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I may ruin a festive atmosphere tonight....

I may be throwing a metaphorical "Molotov Cocktail" into a room this evening. And it will all be Madonna's fault.

Why? Well, I'm glad you asked!

It seems that Madonna is no better a director than she is an actor if the dirge-like "buzz" surrounding the 25 million dollar picture "W.E.", about a British royal scandal in the 1930s, is any indication.

The Daily Mail Online presents a round-up of gossip regarding her troubled, will-be/might-be feature film debut that was pulled at the last minute from this year's Cannes festival due to supposed soundtrack problems, and distributor Harvey Weinstein is currently overseeing the re-cutting after it reportedly bombed with a test audience at a super-secret screening last week. The film, apparently, made no sense and was a stellar example of what happens when someone who emphasizes style of substance is also a lousy storyteller.

If you are so inclined, you can read all about in Imperious, arrogant, stroppy: No, not Wallis Simpson but Madonna, but this is the following bit that really interested me:

"In an interview Madonna remarked: ‘I’ve found that if you bring up King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson at a dinner party or a social gathering, it’s like throwing a Molotov cocktail into the room. Everyone erupts into an argument about who they were. I mean, they were very controversial — and continue to be. So, of course, I’m very attracted to that.’"

Madonna, wearing her 'serious filmmaker' face
Is King Edward VIII of Great Britain and his love for an American divorcee a topic that comes up at parties you attend, dear reader? And when it does, does it lead to explosive arguments or just blank stares and polite smiles as those around think, "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"

Would anyone even know who Wallis Simpson is?

Perhaps it's a British thing?

I'm going to ask at a gathering I'll be at tonight if anyone has an opinion about King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. I'll report what happened tomorrow, in the comments section below.

If it turns out that I completely ruin the congenial atmosphere, I will be all apologies and explain that I was testing a claim by Madonna. They will understand; I am viewed as being insane anyway.

Meanwhile, if anyone reading this wants to see what happens if bring up Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson to a group of your friends, acquaintances, co-workers, or whoever you happen to be in line with at the grocery store, I'd love to hear your report. (I won't provide your bail money if a riot breaks out at the Safeway. Not that I think that's going to happen.)

(BTW, if the subject of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson pisses people off, then why is the Material Girl bringing it up at parties? Does she do it when she wants to leave, when she doesn't like the hosts, or just because she's a bitch who likes to ruin a pleasant time? Me, I think it's none of the above, but that Madonna has a rich fantasy life. But, we will soon know!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Gene Colan dead at 84

Legendary comic book artist Gene Colan has passed away from a broken hip and complication relating to liver disease. He was 84.

Colan had nearly 70 years of experience in the comic book industry and worked for nearly every noteworthy publisher. Achievements in his career include penciling every issue of "Tomb of Dracula" in the 1970s, as well as "The Curse of Dracula" and the "Tomb of Dracula" mini-series in the 1990s; multi-year, landmark stints on "Daredevil", "Iron Man", and "Doctor Strange" for Marvel Comics and "Detective Comics" and "Batman" for DC Comics. He also co-created the Falcon for Marvel, the first African-American superhero in mainstream comics, penciled most issues of the surreal humor title "Howard the Duck", and illustrated the landmark miniseries "Silver Blade".

Another giant has left us, and there is no one working today that can even come close to filling his shoes.

Colan's last published work appeared last year in "Captain America" #601. My personal favorite Colan work can be found in the first 60 or so issues of "Tomb of Dracula", his stint on the "Batman" titles and "Howard the Duck", and the obscure "Ragamuffins" series from Eclipse Comics.

For more samples of Colan's art, visit Joe Bloke's Grantbridge Street & Other Misadventures blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tennessee Thursday: Rep. Charles Curtiss

On July 1, a law takes effect in Tennessee that makes it illegal to post anything that anyone might feel "emotional distress" over. Today, I offer another profile of the Tennessee "lawmakers" who seem to think the 1st and/or 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution doesn't apply in that "great state."

But first... a little something that might soon be illegal in the state that claims to be "America at its best."

Postings That May Be Illegal in Tennessee #2

If that video upset you emotionally, morally, or constitutionally (in the stomach-turning sense), be sure to email Rep. Charles Curtiss. Curtiss is the main architect of a law so Unconstitutional one wonders if he slept through every single Civics class in grade school, or whether bricks were dropped on his head during his pre-political career.

Tennessee "Lawmaker" Profile #2: Rep. Charles Curtiss

Representative Charles Curtiss lives with his wife and daughter on land that has been in his family since the time of his great-grandfather. Don't mistake him for landed gentry, however, as he has proudly spent the early part of his working life as a brick mason. In the early 1980s, he decided to give up honest work and entered politics. He was elected to the Tennessee Legislature in 1994 and is presently in his seventh term. He is Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, Chairman of the Joint Fiscal Review Committee and Co-chair of the Select Committee on Veteran's Affairs. He also sits on the Joint Committee on Worker's Compensation and the Joint Corrections Oversight Committee.

While one hopes the Corrections Oversight Committee could do a little correcting in Tennessee state politics that is still something the citizens of that state must do at the ballot box. They must have som pretty sorry choices in elections if the quality of the ranking representatives is anything to go by.

By the way, Curtiss is a Democrat. Someone help me out here... which political party is supposedly trying to deny Americans their Constitutional rights?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

That which has been seen, cannot be unseen...

And you should keep that in mind before you watch Weird Al's latest video. It's a hilarious spoof of Lady Gaga, but I'm not sure I'll ever dare close my eyes again.... I might see. Urgh. I can't... I can't even type the words.

Watch the video for "Perform This Way", if you dare!

Best lyric: I'll be a troll, or evil queen/I'll be a human jelly bean/For everyday is Halloween (for me).

Best moment: The commentary on Lady Gaga as a rip-off of Madonna.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ryan Dunn dead at 34

"Jackass" star Ryan Dunn, who along with his cast mates made Americans cringe and snicker through vulgar stunts in their multimillion-dollar TV and movie franchise, was killed early Monday in a fiery car crash. He was 34.

Both Dunn and his passenger were severely burned. The passenger was identified late Monday as 30-year-old Zachary Hartwell. Dunn had been more easily identified based on his hair and tattoos.

Dunn's current series, "Proving Ground", had just debuted on the G4 network. The network has placed future episodes on hold while they determine the future of the series.

Dunn's final movie role saw him playing a slacker who returns from the dead as a playful and perverted ghost in "Living Will...". The film was completed in 2010, but has yet to find its way into wide distribution. Now, he might have a chance to make life (or the after-life, I suppose) imitate art.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Maybe Goebbles did the world a favor

When the defeat of Hitler's Nazi regime by the Allies was a certainty, the Mustachioed One took the coward's way out and committed suicide. The same is true of his top propaganda minister Goebbles, but Goebbles did Hitler one better when he murdered all his children as well.

I always thought that Goebbles act demonstrated as clearly as possible what kind of monster he really was, but then this article comes along to make me rethink that position.

Nazi Grandma: Himmler’s Daughter Carries Her Father’s Flame To A New Generation of Nazis

Maybe Goebbles did the world a favor when he offed the foul demon children that sprang from the union of himself and the beast he was married to. His actions made certain there were fewer bitches like Gudrun Burwitz infesting Planet Earth.

Dramatic re-inactment of a typical evening for Gudrun Burwitz in 1944

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tennessee Thursday: Senator Bill Ketron

A little something Tenn. lawmakers don't care about.

On July 1, a law takes affect in Tennessee that makes it illegal to display images on the internet that "cause emotional distress." I am instituting the Tennessee Thursday series to spotlight the idiots passing themselves off as lawmakers in the "great state" of Tennessee who were key players in creating the outrageous bill--which is summarized here--and ultimately the retard in the governor's chair who signed it into law.

Each entry will also feature an image that may or may not "cause emotional distress" in whoever sees it, and therefore I may end up facing charges in Tennessee at some point.

If you are offended by the images and/or subject matter to the point of "emotional distress," please feel free to let me know. However, it's unlikely I will give a damn. I encourage you to submit any complaints you may have to the Tennessee state authorities.

Postings that may be illegal in Tennessee #1

If that image upsets you emotionally, or if anything on this blog makes you feel intimidated, please email Senator Ketron. I'm sure he'll know how to help.

Tennessee "Lawmaker" Profile #1: Senator Bill Ketron

Bill Ketron was born and raised in Tennessee. He holds a B.S. degree in political science and history from Middle Tennessee State University, and the school honored him as a "distinguished alumnus" in 1991; neither fact speaks very highly to the level of quality at MTSU. (Ketron's hobbies include boxing, so there is a remote chance he was smarter once.)

Ketron was elected to state office in 2002, and his lawmaking-peers made him Republican Majority Caucus Chairman in December 2010. In addition, he is a member of the Finance, Ways, & Means Committee, State & Local Government Committee, Transportation Committee, and Ethics Committee. He is Chairman of the Fiscal Review Committee. Senator Ketron is also a member of the Long-Term Care Oversight.

When not drafting laws that violate the United States Constitution, Ketron runs the insurance agency he founded by his father in 1969. Ketron is up for re-election in 2011.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

For the parents with young children....

I'm sure you can all relate.

(Samuel L. Jackson reads a foul-mouthed "children's good night story": "Go the F**k to Sleep")

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Welcome to the Hotel California, Iran

There may be maniacal mullahs running the country, but this is one rockin' clip from Iranian television.

And here's a straight version of the song from Iranian-Armenian pop star Andy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mohammed has been sent to Hell!

Well, a Mohammed anyway. Every other terrorist and their mothers are named Mohammed, it seems.

Somali gov't: 1998 US Embassy blasts suspect dead

If your morally opposed to visiting, or too lazy to click on the link, here's a little background on today's dead terrorist:

The Mohammed in question--Fazul Abdullah Mohammed--was a major player in the only Muslim terrorist group to openly admit they're a bunch of self-hating homosexuals, namely Al-Shabab or "The Lads". He was also a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, quite possibly the guy who test-drove the Sharmuts (Halal, Fatwa-approved, gay male prostitutes) for Osama bin Laden himself. His membership in NAMBLA (North African Man-Boy Love Association) is rumored, but it has yet to be confirmed.

Mohammed was reported on his way to a rave party with his long-time companion Ali Mohammed (no relation, other than carnal) when they were shot by Somali security forces.

(While I'm on the topic of honest terrorists, are there any others who so open advertise their mothers as whores than Ali Saed bin Ali El-Hoorie?)

This post is presented in part to honor the Tennessee State Legislature and their valiant efforts to keep posts and images that cause "emotional distress" off the Internet. Legions of Mohammeds (both little and big ones, dead and alive) salute you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Tenn. law bans posting images that
"cause emotional distress"

Bill Haslam and the morons in the Tenn. state legislature cause me emotional distress. Who do I contact to file suit? After all, their pictures are all over this website!

Tenn. law bans posting images that "cause emotional distress"

Have these fucking idiots ever heard of a little thing called the United States Constitution? At the very least, they should read the 1st and 14th Amendments and be required to write 5,000 word papers about the history of each one before they are allowed to hold any government office ever again.

By the way, those Constitutional amendments let me post pictures like these:

The retards who supported this law shouldn't even be allowed to serve as dog catcher in a town of 22 citizens, let alone serving as legislators for an entire state. The citizens of Tenn. should be ashamed having such ignorant fucks at the head of their state.

'Almost Hollywood' is almost funny

Almost Hollywood (1994)
Starring: Don Shot, Greg Scott, Rachel Dyer, India Allen, and Scott Apel
Director: Mike Weaver
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

Tony (Shot), a sleazy producer of direct-to-video "erotic thrillers", finds himself under increasing pressure when an angry starlet (Dyer) reveals their affair to his wife, and the owners of his studio decide they want to make "classy" movies and hire a Playboy Bunny with pretensions (Allen) to be the lead in their next three pictures. Things go from bad to worse when the starlet is murdered after a wrap-party, and everyone is willing to believe Tony killed her because they all dislike him so much.

This film is a misfire from beginning to end. While it's conceptually a decent satire about low-budget exploitation film-making in 1990s L.A., with the expected assortment of stereotypes and all the usual digs and truisms about the industry you find whenever low-budget filmmakers turn the a fictitious and satirical eye on themselves, it's not funny enough during the humorous bits, its not suspenseful enough during the scary bits, and it unfolds at a pace that is for the most part far too slow. Frankly, there's nothing here that's all that good; the film is mostly a collection of jokes and characters that are used to much greater effect in other movies (like in "Hollywood Boulevard" and the more recent "Shoot or Be Shot"), and by the time the film reaches its conclusion and offers up a curious little coda, you get the feeling that the creators of the movie knew there was nothing here that's all that good.

The only thing that makes this movie interesting to watch is the character of Tony, the sleazy producer. This character is usually the villain in pictures like this, and he starts out that way here, but as the film progresses, I found myself rooting increasingly for him. He is the only character in the film who is honest with himself and others about who he is (excluding any actor he happens to be talking to--he considers lying to actors just part of the job, something he's not shy about explaining to any non-actor who will listen), and he's the only character who is happy with what he does in the movie business. "I like my movies," is a line he says several times during the film, not to convince himself that they're good, but just stating the fact that he likes them and that he enjoys his role in making them together and getting them to market. Every other character in the film is either a hypocrite or a self-deluded windbag and/or hack... Tony, in the end, emerges as perhaps the most moral character of them all. A desire to learn his ultimate fate was the only thing that kept me engaged with this movie, because, even though he was the creator of the mess he was in, I wanted to see him get out of it. (The identity of the killer became obvious early on, and it will be to all but the most dense viewer; and director Weaver must have thought he was making a movie for some REALLY dense viewers, because he telegraphs the killer's identity even before the second murder happens. And if anyone but me cares why I put reviews on the blogs I do, this approach to the film's murder mystery aspect of the film is why I'm covering it here instead of at Watching the Detectives.)

As the low rating implies, I can't give this movie a strong recommendation. It is carried almost entirely by the fact that Tony is a different sort of character for this type of movie, with even the funniest of jokes being predictable and the plodding pace at which it unfolds making it even harder to sit through. However, if you can't get enough of filmmakers and actors making fun of themselves of the public's perception of them, or if you have REALLY fond memories of the kind of fare that was typical on "USA Up All Night", it might be worth seeking out. If nothing else, you can consider it a "bonus feature" if you pick up one of the several DVD multi-movie packs in which it is present.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A reason to patronize the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Austin

These are managers of my liking. Check out this ad they made, based on a real "customer" phone call. (It contains foul language, so beware.)

Click here to see what is currently going on at the Austin Alamo Drafthouse. If you're in the area, I recommend giving them your business. Even if this is the Magninted States of America!

BTW, to you assholes who insist on using your cell phones and Blackberries, iPad Touches, and whatever the hell else it is you're dragging around with you, the light from those screens is goddamned irritating to those of us who are trying to watch the movie. So please, keep them in your pockets, turned off. There's nothing so urgent it can't wait 90 minutes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Chris Matthews: Drunk or Retarded

There are many visitors to this blog who are much smarter than me, so I wonder if some of you can explain what the hell is wrong with Chris Matthews?

You can follow the link below for details, but here is the relevant quote:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: "Yeah, but he says his wife knew. He laid it out on her."

JOHN FEEHERY, Republican strategist: "Which is a terrible, terrible mistake."

MATTHEWS: "Well, maybe she's partly responsible if she knew about it?"

RealClearPolitics - Video - Chris Matthews On Weiner's Wife: "Maybe She's Partly Responsible"

Its' one thing for Anthony 'Hey, wanna see me Twitter my crotch around the world?' Weiner to try to somehow blame his wife for his indiscretions and low character--the guy has shown himself to be a dishonest, dimwitted cretin, an empty suit of a politician worthy of the Age of Obama--but shouldn't a journalist like Matthews be just a tiny bit smarter?

Is there something I'm missing? Is Matthews retarded, does he go on the air drunk, or is there some other malfunction coming into play here?

Is that his knee, or is Anthony Weiner just happy to be here?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Presenting: What some describe as the 'best music video ever'

Here's a music video from German hardrock group Rammstein that just keeps getting weirder and weirder:

The song is titled "Keine Lust" ("No Desire" or "Don't Feel Like It"). Here are the lyrics translated into English:

I do not feel like it x4

I'm not in the mood not to hate me
I don't want to touch myself
I would like to jack off
but I don't want to try it

I would like to take my clothes off
but I don't want to see myself naked

I would like to do it with big animals
I don't want to risk it
I don't feel like going away of the snow
I don't feel like freezing

I don't feel like chewing something
cause I don't want to digest it
I don't want to weigh myself
I hate to lie in fat

I will simply lie here
and I will count once again the flies
I touch myself without any desire
and I soon notice that I have been cold since long
so cold

I am cold, so cold

The video dates from 2005, and it was released in support of the band's "Reisen, Reisen" album.

By the way, here's what Rammstein looks like without the fat suits and lesbian nurses in school uniforms:

And here they are getting ready to fake the moon landing:

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Al-Qaeda's Kashmiri Dead!

Just posting a link to the feel-good news of the day; another al-Qaeda scumbag has been sent to Hell in pieces, together with nine other of his closest psychotic friends.

Good job, American military and intelligence services!

Ilyas Kashmiri Dead: Al Qaeda Commander Killed In Pakistan In U.S. Drone Strike, Official Says

(Once again... there will be Muslims around the world tearing their hair out and threatening death and destruction to American for the dispatching of this killer. Once again, there will be Muslims around the world showing us the TRUE face of the "religion of peace," because it was the face worn openly by Kashmiri and his al-Qaeda butt-buddies. And that's too bad. It would be nice if Islam really was what its PR flacks like to portray.)

Forgotten Comics: Firehair

Firehair (Source: Showcase #85 - #87, Sept - Dec, 1969; and Son of Tomahawk #131-132, 134, 136, March - November 1971)
Writer and Illustrator: Joe Kubert (Series co-created with Carmine Infantino)

For roughly a decade--from the mid-Sixties to the mid-Seventies--one of the greatest talents to ever work in the comic book field was at the height of his creative powers. During this period, Joe Kubert illustrated "Enemy Ace" and "Sgt. Rock of Easy Company", two of the best war series every published; and he drew some of the very best "Tarzan" comics, producing adaptations of Burroughs' novels that equal and exceed the more well-known efforts by Russ Manning and Burne Hogarth. Kubert also created and illustrated some very excellent, lesser-known series, such as "Firehair", the subject of this Forgotten Comics review.

"Firehair" was a short-lived western series that appeared in three issues of "Showcase" and as a backup in a handful of issues of "Son of Tomahawk". It was set in the early 19th century, and it focused on a teenaged white boy with red hair who had been raised by Native Americans after a chieftan adopted him as an infant. It chronicles his wanderings--and details the racism he experiences from both Indians and Whites, as he is a man with truly no place to belong--and it was a surprisingly well-done and heartfelt series for when it was published.

All of the "Firehair" stories are superior examples of what may be created when someone with great talent treats comic books like an artistic story-telling medium on par with movies and novels.

Not only did Kubert produce stories of such depth that they can stand as equals in this day and age when critics and readers heap praise on even the most feeble attempts at producing comics that are "literature", but the look of the characters and the world they exist in have an authentic look that I don't think any other artist has captured, save Jean Giraud in the celebrated "Blueberry" graphic novels. Even the coloring on "Firehair" is far beyond what was typical in the 1960s--the use of shading and highlights is of a nature that didn't come fully into vogue until computer aided coloring was pioneered at Malibu Graphics in the 1990s.

If DC Comics ever decides to release a "Best of Showcase" or maybe "A Best of Joe Kubert" book in their hardcover "Archives" format--or even as part of the "DC Showcase Presents" black-and-white reprint series--"Firehair" should most definately be included. It's a shame that run-of-the-mill comics like "Uncanny X-Men" is kept before the public in a variety of book formats while true masterpieces like "Firehair" fade from public view and memory.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Remember the Time...

... when Michael Jackson was King?

This 1992 video certainly represents those days. It also reflects the glory days of the music video. The song itself isn't exactly my favorite kind of pop, but the video certainly is fantastic. And with an all-star cast, to boot.

Remember the Time (1992)
Starring: Michael Jackson, Iman, Eddie Murphy, and Magic Johnson
Director: John Singleton
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

And if you click here, you can see a bit of clever recycling by a YouTube user. He (or she) took the Bangles hit "Walk Like An Egyptian" and set parts of the "Remember the Time" video to it. The dance sequence might even work better this way. (For some reason, I can't embed the video, but the link will open a new window and the video will play.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I was just commenting that we're overdue for a Quija Board movie

About an hour ago, I remarked to a fellow aficionado of horror and trashy movies that it had been a while since I'd noticed Parker Brothers getting free advertising for their spirit-channeling Ouija Board via a horror movie.

And, in a coincidence that rivals a spirit telling me what I had to breakfast via a planchette and a strip of letters, I opened my email box to find a note from a staffer at Toronto-based Dark House Films letting me know about the premiere of their latest movie, "The Unleashed".

Check out this preview:

It looks like not only will Parker Bros. see a bump in Quija Board sales, but the movie-viewing audience will be treated to a classic creep-fest full of the ghosts and demonic possession.

"The Unleashed" is set for release in August, but there will be a special premiere on June 25 at The Queen Elizabeth Theater in Toronto. If you live in that area, go check it out and report back what what you see! (It's a little too far for me to drive....)

For more information on the movie and the premiere, click here.

A scene from "Unleashed"
(Where a pair of horror characters once again show that you should NEVER play with the Quija Board you find in the attic of an old house.
The five minutes of fun are followed by mayhem and madness!)