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

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Saturday, July 30, 2011

'Cowboys and Aliens' is smart and lots of fun!

Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, and Adam Beach
Director: Jon Favreau
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars

When an aliens start terrorizing an isolated area of the American Southwest in the 1870s, outlaws, cattle-ranchers, settlers, and Apache Indians join together with a mysterious woman (Wilde) and an amnesiac who has somehow gotten his hands on one of the alien devices (Craig) to defeat them before they conquer Earth.

"Cowboys & Aliens" is an action-packed genre-bending mix of Western and Sci-Fi as a landscape populated with Western archetypes becomes the setting for an epic adventure tale told through one of the smartest scripts I've witnessed in years.

Although this is a movie that's primarily about aliens blowing the hell out of cowboys and visa-versa, a lot of thought and care went into just about every character that appears on screen that's not just part of the background. Even minor supporting characters get little touches that give them more depth and life than some main characters in recent allegedly character-driven movies--including one of the alien invaders. And the actors all rise to the level of this superior material, with not a single bad performance among them.

The most remarkable character and performance in the picture is given by Harrison Ford. His Colonel Dolarhyde starts out as the stereotypical, psychotically evil ex-Army officer cattle-rancher strong man, but by the time the film is over, he is completely transformed into a sympathetic character who is the most fully developed of all of them.

Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde are basically, well, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde. Both characters that they play are of such a nature that their physical appearances are very important, and both of them are perfectly cast in their roles... Craig for his craggy, weather-worn looks and Wilde for her ability to seem mysterious by just standing around. The fact that neither one of them was the first choice to play those parts is a sign that the Movie Gods were watching out for this film. They're both so perfect I can't imagine this film being as good if they hadn't been in it.

"Cowboys & Indians" deserves to be counted among this years best movies, whether measured by quality or box office receipts. I highly recommend going to see it, even if you're a stingy bastard like me who goes to matinee screenings. This is the kind of movie that Hollywood needs to make more of..

The Adventures of Captain Jack

I am depressed at being an American today, because it seems we have retards in charge of our nation.

With our co-called leaders in Washington doing their level best to obliterate what's left of the American economy and our financial dealings with the rest of the world, I felt the need to postr some upbeat songs with equally bright and upbeat videos.

There are some of the best songs and videos from the great Captain Jack, one of the 1990s premiere Euro-pop performers. I've arranged them so the videos tell a little story (well, in my mind anyway), but if you only watch one of them, check out the "Iko-Iko" cover.

(Captain Jack could probably do a better job at leading this country than any of the chuckle-heads and empty suits currently wasting oxygen in Washington, D.C.)

Help us, Captain Jack. You're our only hope!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Linda Christian dead at 87

I just heard that actress Linda Christian, the true first Bond Girl, passed away last Friday, July 22, after a battle with cancer. (Christian appeared with Barry Nelson and Peter Lorre in the 1954 version of "Casino Royale," giving one of the best performances of her career.)

Gaza film-makers decry Hamas censorship

From Reuters....

Four years into Islamist Hamas rule, cultural censors are fraying the already threadbare local movie industry. Culture Ministry director Mustafa al-Sawaf is quick to crack down on content that does not conform to Hamas edicts."

It's hard to get outraged, because their friends and neighbors (and possibly even these filmmakers themselves) elected these Hamas freaks to be their oppressors.

And Jimmy Carter says Hamas are great guys, so that's that.

(Yes... there is much sarcasm above. Jimmy Carter remains a prick of the highest order. And my guess is that many of the poor Palestinians were motivated to cast ballots for Hamas by the same impulse that drove many Americans to vote for Obama--they wanted anyone but the people that were in charge at the time. At least we didn't end up with a pack of psychopaths holding the reins of government.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Even terrorists are suffering in
the global economic downturn

Oh, the pain of the global economic crunch. Today, Jerusalem Post Online reports that the terrorist group chosen by election to lead the Palestinians haven't been making payroll.

Hamas also faces financial crunch

In other news, the Guardian reports that al-Qaida In Iraq has dropped all pretenses of being anything but a collection of psychopathic criminal thugs as they launch a fund-raising drive to solve their need for cash and turn to their sick admirers. Gotta pay for those male prostitutes after all. (Actually, cutting back on male prostitutes might solve some of Hamas's financial woes, too.)

Al-Qaida in Iraq explores new ventures in fundraising drive

Illo by Randy Pollack

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Amy Winehouse dead at 27

I wouldn't know an Amy Winehouse song if it jumped up and bit me--I was only vaguely aware of her existence through entertainment feature headlines and Eminem mocking her in a song a year or two ago. But it's always a shame when someone young and apparently talented passes away... doubly so when it appears to be from something as avoidable as drug and alcohol abuse, something Winehouse did a lot of by all accounts.

It might also be that she was hounded to death by the cruelty of "fans"--her deterioration was chronicled on the Internet with posted videos and pictures.

A cause of death had not been announced at the time of this writing, but police stated she was pronounced dead at her home in Camden Square, having expired before the ambulance arrived on the scene.

The 27-year-old Winehouse was a five-time Grammy winner whose second album, "Back to Black", rocketed her and her mix of pop and jazz to global fame. The drugs, the drink, and a range of health and personal problems, cut that fame short.

Completed Collection: Psychotic Connections

This set features three horror movies on a single disk. The films are united by a shared theme of psycho killers and psychic phenomenon (or, at least, the appearance of psychic phenomenon). The quality varies widely with "Gothic" being the only picture here that is truly worthwhile (and even it might not be to the liking of many dedicated horror fans).

Click on the titles of the included movies to read reviews of each.

Psychotic Connections: 4/10 Overall Rating
Chiller (1985) 3/10
Gothic (1986) (7/10)
Maniac (1934) 3/10

When I got my copy of this set several years ago, I paid $3.95. That price is far closer to the right one than the present going rate. "Gothic" is the only worthwhile film here--aside from the curiosity value that "Maniac" has for those with an interest in the horror genre--and it's available in other, far more worthwhile collections.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gosh... I can't imagine who might be behind it

Oslo explosion: seven dead, dozens injured after bomb blasts blast - Telegraph

Maybe the Basques have moved northward to Norway. Or maybe some retired IRA guy decided to set off a few bombs for old times sake. Or maybe American neo-Nazis are upset because the Norwegians haven't been upholding the Viking traditions firmly enough.

I mean.... it couldn't possibly be friends of these guys, could it?

After all, Islam is a peaceful religion.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Tennessee Thursday: Rep. G.A. Hardaway

In the "great" state of Tennessee, they enacted a law on July 1 that makes it a punishable offense to publish material online that might cause "emotional distress" in those who view it. In other words, if you're in Tennessee, putting up ANY picture that could cause ANYONE any upset can land you legal trouble. I hope you folks down there share the disdain of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution that your elected representatives and governor have. Only a tiny minority of the assembly voted against it.

This series of posts is devoted to spotlighting the "lawmakers" who drafted and passed this outrageous law, as well as providing samples of things that may be illegal in the state where the leaders delude themselves into thinking they are "America At Its Best."

I'm hoping the citizens of Tennessee will live up to its slogan and that enough of them become aware of what sort of ignorant clods they have in the legislature to vote them out of office.

Postings That May Be Illegal in Tennessee #4
Jesus and Mo

If you are offended or otherwise emotionally distressed by the above cartoon and its portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad (may peas be upon him) as a videogame-playing, booze-guzzling ignoramus, please contact the subject of today's profile. I'm sure he'll be happy to offer assistance in soothing your hurt feelings. (Just don't ask him for legal advice.)

Tennessee "Lawmaker" Profile #4: Rep. G.A. Hardaway

G.A. Hardaway is a real estate investor who has turned to politics as a Decomcrat, and he was elected to his seat in the Tennessee legislature in 2008 and he was re-appointed in 2010 when he "ran" unopposed. In addition to serving on the House Consumer & Employee Affairs Committee, House Commerce Committee, and the House General Sub-committee of Consumer & Employee Affairs, Hardaway hols leadership positions and/or is active in a number of community groups and organizations, including the Africa in April Festival, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Herendon #10 Masonic Lodge, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the NAACP, the Shelby Council Juvenile Court Advisory Council, and many, many others.

It's no surprise that one so busy as Rep. Hardaway can't be bothered with actually knowing the framework within which he should be making law.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Something cute for iPods to wear

Now, I'm of course much too manly to buy and use this or any of the other iPod/iPhone cozies or cases that Lyssa offers for sale through Zonderling Designs. But darnit if they aren't cuuuuuute! (Click here to see more of them.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Completed Collection: Icons of Adventure

This four movie set presents two pirate movies and two "Yellow Peril"-type thrillers made by good old Hammer Films in the 1960s and distributed in the United States by Columbia Pictures. Each is a lot fun, with "The Stranglers of Bombay" and "The Devil-ship Pirates" being down-right excellent. Even the bonus features (previews, a funky animated short, and the first chapter of the "Adventures of Captain Kidd" matinee serial are worth checking out.)

Christopher Lee fans will be particularly interested in this set, as he stars in three out of the four movies.

Click on the titles to read full reviews at the Cinema Steve blogs, and click on the link at the bottom of this post for more information on the set in general.

Icons of Adventure: 7/10 Stars Overall Rating
The Devil-ship Pirates: 7/10
Pirates of Blood River: 7/10
The Stranglers of Bombay: 7/10
The Terror of the Tongs: 6/10

The Completed Collections

I tend to pick through the many DVD multi-packs I own the way others go through boxes of fancy chocolates: I watch a movie here, watch a movie there... but the end result is that sometimes it takes me forever to finish a given set. Sometimes I never do, because one or more discs go missing in the pit that is my office.

This new series of posts will be a catalog of the DVD multi-packs I've actually managed to watch every movie in. It may not be much of an achievement, but I take my ego-boosts where I can find them! (Plus, it may save someone from buying a dog of a collection.)

Eventually, this post will be an index the posts indexes the reviews in the completed set. Each link here will provide a rating for the set generated by averaging the films in it.

The Completed Collections Index
Drop Dead Gore-geous (Horror Films and Thrillers from the 1980s): 3/10 Stars

Icons of Adventure (Adventure Period Films from Hammer in the 1960s): 7/10 Stars

Psychotic Connections (Horror Films from the 1980s and 1930s): 4/10 Stars

Savage Sickos (Horror Films and Thrillers from the 2000s): 3/10 Stars)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Presenting: Icing Oetzi - A ROLF Historical Recreation!

Who killed Oetzi the Iceman? Was it the religious fanatic? Perhaps the angry cook? Or maybe Bigfoet, the Tyrolean Yeti?

On a Wednesday afternoon some 5,300 years ago, a shepherd headed into the Alps to tend his flock of goats. He would never see his home again. His mummified corpse and violent death have been the subject of study and speculation since a retreating glacier released him from his makeshift grave in 1991, A.D. (or C.E.... whatever.)

In observance of the 20th anniverary of the discovery of the victim now known as "Oetzi the Iceman," and in support of NUELOW Games' goal of educating while entertaining, we proudly present Icing Oetzi: A ROLF! Historical Recreation.

The result of all the research that can be expected for a $0.50 product from a company named NUELOW Games, the three combat scenarios and four pre-generated characters presented gives insight into a mystery that's more than 5,000 years old. Who killed Oetzi? The religions fanatic? The angry cook? Or the Tyrolean Yeti? Play the Recreations with friends, and decide which one rings true.

Get your copy today from RPGNow by clicking here. Proceeds from ever copy sold contributes to keeping me in house and home, as well as off the streets and out of trouble. Do your part today!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Best of Epic Rap Battles of History' Vol. 2

As we head for the weekend, here are three more of the greatest "Epic Rap Battles of History."

Abe Lincoln vs. Chuck Norris

Bieber vs. Beethoven

Benjamin Franklin vs. Billy Mays

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What they're saying about
'ROLF!: The Death of Osama bin Laden'
(And a sale celebrating the great reviews!)


"Worse than tacky."

"Steve's sense of humor is known to AD&D players as being something of an acquired taste but he's certainly a creative fellow."

"I'm kinda interested in what a beer hat and metal slave bikini have to do with Seal Team Six. Also vaguely terrified."

Those are comments made in response to a newsbrief at The Miniatures Page about "ROLF!: The Death of Osama bin Laden" from NUELOW Games.

To let you experience what they're talking about--and to celebrate such great responses!--I'm offering a limited-time special for readers of Cinema Steve. By using the links in this post, you can order your very own copies of "ROLF!: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters" and "Rolf!: The Death of Osama bin Laden" at 50% off the normal price.

BUY "ROLF!: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters" FOR ONLY $0.75 BY CLICKING HERE.

BUY "ROLF!: The Death of Osama bin Laden" FOR ONLY $0.25 BY CLICKING HERE.

To get the discounts, just click on the links. You'll have to click each one individually, and if you don't already have an account set up with RPGNow, you may have to make one. You can get one or both of the releases as you choose, but "ROLF!: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters" is required to gain full use of "The Death of Osama bin Laden.

These discounts expire on 7/21/2011, so get your copies today!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

John Nolte has another insightful commentary on the state of the film and television industries.

Sandra Bullock: Part of a dying breed?
A lot of what I see on Andrew Breitbart's websites annoys me, but I almost always find myself in agreement with John Nolte, the media critic who edits Big Hollywood for Breitbart. And he's got another good piece on what's wrong with big movies and big stars these days, partly written in refutation of a Daily Mirror piece. Click the link to read it.

Big Hollywood -- Death of the Movie Star: Yes, It’s For Real: "The talent is out there. The movie industry just refuses to put it to work."

It's a funny thing about being funny....

With the re-release of ROLF!: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters, I received a pleasant surprise.

Not only have some of you out there purchased the game, but you're playing it. Not only are you playing it, but you're making your own original characters. Some of you have even noticed a "flaw" in the character generation system and taken the time to come to the blog and find my email address and write me. I just want to say thank you playing the game... it's why we make them!

Now, the designers of ROLF! do NOT consider what you've found a flaw; we thought it was funny and knew exactly what we were doing. That said, I acknowledge that our senses of humor aren't universal. Furthermore, I also didn't think the character generation system would be put to much use and that you players out there would be using the pre-generated characters rather than making them from scratch.

At the very least, your feedback is resulting in a couple of sentences worth of "optional character generation rules" in "Icing Otzi: A ROLF! Historical Recreation" (coming later this week) and if enough of you speak up in agreement over the "flaw," then a full-fledged Second Edition will have to be made. (Even if said "Second Edition" results from the addition of maybe ten more words at most... but they're very important words).

What is this "flaw," you ask? Ah, but that would be telling. See if you can suss it out!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Best of 'Epic Rap Battles of History' Vol. 1

A friend sent me a link to "Hitler vs. Vader" and I was so amused I took at look at the rest. So you don't have to waste the amount of time I did, I hereby offer the best of the "Epic Rap Battles of History." (I can't recommend watching these anywhere someone might take offense to strong language.)

Hitler vs. Vader

Albert Einstein vs. Stephen Hawkings

Sarah Palin vs. Lady Gaga

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tennessee Thursday: Rep. Vince Dean

As of July 1, it is illegal in the "great" state of Tennessee to post things on the Internet and websites that might cause anyone who views the material "emotional distress". Apparently, several of the pinheads who pass for "lawmakers" in Tennessee don't think the United States Constitution and its amendments don't apply to the citizens of Tennessee--not only was this bill drafted, but it passed the legislature AND was signed into law by the governor.

The Tennessee Thursdays series is devoted to the "lawmakers" who drafted this awful law, as well as offering examples of postings that might be illegal in Tennessee.

Postings That May Be Illegal in Tennessee #3:

If you are offended by anything in this post, send an email about it to the subject of today's profile. I'm sure he'll be happy to help you recover from any "emotional distress" I have inflicted upon you.

Tennessee "Lawmaker" Profile #3: Rep. Vince Dean

Vince Dean is a retired police officer who began his political career as a city councilman and then mayor of East Ridge, Tennessee. He is a Republican, who entered state politics in 2005 when he was elected to the seat he currently occupies in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

When not helping to write Unconstitutional dribble, Dean serves on the House State and Local Government Committee, the House Transportation Committee, the House State Government Subcommittee, and the House Public Transportation & Highways Subcommittee.

To read more about evil clowns (and possibly experience more emotional distress, visit the Terror Titans blog.

Monday, July 4, 2011

If you can't be a good example,
then you'll just have to be a horrible warning

The famous Catherine Aird quote is very applicable to this fellow's demise. Somehow, I think he ended up making a very different point than what he was going for.

NY motorcyclist in helmet protest hits head and dies

There are many who may or may not be following in his skid marks, however. Like these braniacs:

Please. Don't be "that guy." I like my motorcycle-riding readers to stay alive. If you don't order a helmet from with the links below, please get one from somewhere.

(For what it's worth, I don't necessarily agree with helmet laws, but there's no question that there are some people so stupid they need to be protected from themselves.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Repeating My Advice to Public Figures:
NEVER Apologize! It Will Not Work.

A couple weeks ago, the not-terribly funny comedian Tracy Morgan came under fire for making some vicious jokes about murdering his son if he turned out to be a homosexual.

Tracy Morgan being unfunny (as usual).
Naturally, the "advocacy groups" and other self-righteous glory-hounds starting howling with mock outrage.

As often happens, Morgan groveled for forgiveness--which got him nothing except being held out to ridicule and abuse by those he whose forgiveness he sought.

Now, Morgan is in the exact same situation again, only this time it's not The Gays that are mad, but the advocates for the Retarded.

Entertainment Weekly: Again? Tracy Morgan Under Fire for ‘Retarded’ Jokes

If there's anything that comedians, actors, performers of every stripe--even politicians--and other people in the public eye can learn from Morgan and others who have been in his situation, it's that it NEVER does you any good to start apologizing for what you say and do when "advocacy groups" start assailing you with faux outrage and indignant histrionics. All that happens is that they and their fellow publicity-seeking parasites--sorry, concerned representatives of community groups and non-profit organizations--will sense weakness and will come after you even harder.

Your best option--ONLY option, really--is to double-down and tell them to go screw themselves. And then make a few more jokes of the stripe that supposedly offended them.

Apologize to your friends and loved ones if you hurt or anger them, but don't EVER let yourself be forced into asking forgiveness from those who are just waiting to pounce on you because the make a living taking offense and your humiliation becomes a line on their resume. Stand up for yourself. Don't let yourself be bullied. It will gain you nothing but more contempt.

Think about it. Is there a single actor or politician who as gained ANYTHING from sucking up to the professionally over-sensitive "activists" who have infested American culture over the past 25 years? I can't think of a single person.

The response any public figure should issue when
those who make a living taking offense demand apologies.

A little something to help you get through the long weekend

Earlier this week, I published my first of several eBooks featuring classic fiction re-edited to a lesser or greater degree by yours truly. I'm leading this new venture of mine with a long-time favorite--John Kendrick Bangs' "Houseboat on the River Styx".

I've performed some editing and abridgments of Bangs' original book and combined it with an edited version of the sequel, "In Pursuit of the Houseboat". I hope my efforts have breathed new life into this neat fantasy classic that has the leading Shades of Hades creating a social club. Arguments about life, the afterlife, and why it's too bad that Noah didn't put dinosaurs on his ark ensue.

For a special sales price of just $1.25, you can get a 94-page pdf-format book with chapter illustrations by famed fantasy artist Larry Elmore and others that you can enjoy on a number of platforms, the iBook in particular.

All of my earnings on the book go to feed my hungry cats, so please buy a copy today! Archie and Edith will be ever so grateful.

(Also, be sure to keep a look-out for the tie-in with my recently released game "Rolf!: The Rollplaying Game of Big Dumb Fighters". It'll present several of the characters from "Houseboat on the Styx" through the prism of "Rolf!", battle ready for your imaginary mayhem enjoyment.)