July 17, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Long, Boring "Harry Potter"; Cool "Merry Gentleman" Thriller Flubs the Yarmulke

By Debbie Schlussel

My weekend movie reviews: the strange but interesting arthouse thriller beats the much-hyped big box office release for kids, this time.

* "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince": Just one word for this--boooooooooring. A giant two-and-a-half-hour YAAAWN. This movie went on and on and on and on and on.

It was beautifully shot, had cool sets and special effects, but the story was lackluster and not even resolved. In fact, if you want to see the conclusion to the story, you have to wait until next year for the sequel.

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I struggled to stay awake during this far too long flick that had everything in it but the kitchen sink. And actually, I think the sink was thrown in, too. I know the movie is aimed at kids and other Harry Potter fans, but did I really need to see endless scenes of kids with crushes making out or talking about making out or immaturely fighting about who is "snogging" who? Juvenile even for kids. And dumb. The much-maligned 1950s called and they want Harry Potter to stop making them look bad.

Not sure I can really describe the "plot" since there really isn't one and what there is is kind of confusing and not exciting. Harry Potter is summoned back to the academy by Dumbledore, who asks him to befriend a certain professor to find out info on the evil Valdemort, who was once his student there. Harry and his friends fight over each other in the romance department. Meanwhile an evil student and professor (played by the anti-Israel Alan Rickman) are secretly plotting. Who cares? I sure didn't. Yes, it was about good versus evil, but never have I seen that portrayed in such a dull way.

Nothing offensive or objectionable in this movie. It was just a bore and a waste of time. It completely lacked the charm, excitement, wonder, and suspense of the last Potter film, "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix," which I liked (read my review).

Fine for your kids, but bring a book or something to do while you wait for credits to finally roll on this endless cinema.

ONE REAGAN
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* "The Merry Gentleman": This offbeat, arthouse thriller was directed by Michael Keaton, who also stars as a hitman. One winter night a Chicago secretary with a Scottish accent sees a man on the edge of a building. She thinks he's about to commit suicide. But, in reality, he's a hitman who has just assassinated someone in her building from the building across the way. Two cops are on the case, and while one is trying to date the woman, she's already started dating the man she doesn't know is the hitman and the one she saw atop the building.

This movie was interesting and different and, while it was slow at times, it was entertaining and suspenseful. I enjoyed it.

But there was a mistake in the movie that distracted me. It was a tiny, little, trifling detail that most wouldn't notice and which had nothing to do with the plot. But it was glaring to me. Several scenes into the movie, we start seeing one of the cops wearing a yarmulke, a thick yarmulke made of velvet or leather, the kind you generally see on Orthodox Jews. Later, we see the two cops--the one is still wearing his yarmulke--at a burger joint. The restaurant sign says it also serves milkshakes, a sign the place isn't kosher because Orthodox Jews keep kosher and don't consume dairy and meat/poultry together. The guy with the yarmulke is just drinking a milkshake. But then, he orders a hot dog and cheese fries. It just didn't jibe and distracted me during the movie. A guy wearing a yarmulke on the job isn't going to be eating this stuff. Someone writing a script didn't do their homework.

Another thing I found weird is how all the guys in the movie are trying to pick up the woman (Kelly McDaniel) who saw the man on the rooftop. They all keep commenting on how cute she is and how sexy her accent is. But she isn't cute, and her accent becomes extremely annoying. Maybe that's part of the kitsch of the movie. I suspect it is.

Still, I liked the movie anyway. And it's enjoyable and worth seeing.

THREE REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:53 PM

July 10, 2009

"Bruno": Extremely Depraved, Vile Flick Has Some Extremely Funny Moments; Plus Hate "Beth Cooper"

By Debbie Schlussel

These are my two favorite scenes in the movie, "Bruno," in theaters today:

* Harrison Ford saying "F-ck Off!" and rushing away in response to Sacha Baron Cohen's ambush attempt to try to interview him outside a restaurant; and

* Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem chasing Cohen away (and, believe me, he runs in fear in this scene).

Yes, my fellow co-religionists have it right, and the draft-dodger alter ego of Han Solo and Indiana Jones earns new-found respect from me.

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These are the only people who had the guts to just say no to Cohen, this time dressed up as "Bruno," a gay Austrian who was fired from his fashion TV show and is seeking to become a famous celebrity in America. It's basically a re-run of "Borat" (read my review), with an overtly gay Austrian stereotype with zero editing button or shame substituted for the anti-Semitic, racist, bigoted Kazakh stereotype with zero editing button or shame.

In fact, the problem with this extremely vile, disgusting movie, which has some very humorous parts to it, is that no-one in America has the guts to say no to this vulgar pig, Sacha Baron Cohen. Even a supposedly "brave" terrorist, the head of the Palestinian terrorist group and homicide bombing cretins, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, doesn't have the guts to tell Cohen to "F- Off!" This true coward sits and takes it from a comedian dressed as an over the top flamboyantly gay man.

This movie is more of the same shock, only upped several notches. We see prolongued close-up shots of a talking penis and a penis swinging around. Is that funny to you? 'Cuz it wasn't funny to me. I also cringed at shots of Cohen's penis in a dustbuster vacuum cylinder . . . while the vacuum is on. Why isn't this NC-17, at the very least? Did I need to see his stereotypical gay Filipino boyfriend with a champagne bottle up his naked rear end and pouring champagne into glasses from it? If you need to do that to be funny, you just aren't funny.

The same goes for multiple shots of some Southern hicks in live sex orgies at a swingers party in Mississipi or Alabama (I forget which). Is this typical of Americans? Hell no, but it is typical of the way Cohen portrays us as he lives in our midst and makes gazillions off of hating on us.

If I were Bin Laden I'd say, "Na'am [yes]! Now, we can stop producing those cumbersone recruitment videos and just show 'Bruno.'" It shows a tiny fringe of America and presents our country at its worst. And it's just sickening.

And there's more of the same mocking of Middle America and conservative politicians, as Cohen entraps Ron Paul and pulls his (Cohen's) pants down, goes camping with some Alabamans and tries to invade their tents in the middle of night, stark naked. And then there are the many Southerners at a "Straight Dave" rally with t-shirt slogans I won't repeat here. He then shocks them by making out with his male Austrian assistant. Haha, funny. More like cringe-worthy.

And then there were the very funny scenes that were hilarious, but not enough to make up for the rampant vile shocks throughout the rest of the movie.

Cohen's "Bruno" rents out a swanky home in Hollywood, in which he plans to interview celebrities for a TV show. But there is no furniture. Cohen enlists the house's illegal alien gardeners and pool boys to be the furniture. Soon Paula Abdul arrives and is droning on and on about her charity work . . . while she and Cohen are sitting on Mexicans. The irony and comedy of all of this simply doesn't occur to Abdul until the sushi hors d'oeuvres come out . . . on a table consisting of a fat, naked Mexican. Did we really need to see this guy's penis sticking out from the food?

At this point Abdul finally acquires a brain cell and realizes that she should walk out. Word has spread through her publicist and the other celebs Cohen planned to interview won't be coming through. That includes "Brad-olph Pitt-ler" and "Der Fuhrer" (a photo of America's most famous Nazi, Mel Gibson, is shown). Yes, Bruno has been "schwarz-listed." (In case you don't know, schwarz or schwartz are German for black.)

Cohen's "Bruno," desperately seeking to become famous decides to get his own charity. The absolute cluelessness of the celebrity charity consultants (who are identical twins and dress alike even in "adulthood") is typical. They stress that "global warming" is really in right now (shocker!) and that maybe he might be interested in this place in Africa--"duhfuh . . . daafaa . . . dafaar . . . what is it called? . . . you know that place?")

Bruno adopts a Black baby, a la Madonna and Angelina Jolie and brings it to America. The scenes involving the baby are hilarious and a great social commentary on the celebs who use Black infants as accessories. "Bruno" carries this joke all the way.

Bruno's audition interviews with starstruck Hollywood stage parents (seeking to have their babies get jobs posing in photos with his baby) comprise more great material for the Bin Ladens, Ahmadinejads, and Nasrallahs of the world.

There are echoes of Lynn Spears (mom of Britney) and Kathy Hilton (parental pimp of Paris) as there is nothing these desperate and valueless parents won't allow their kids to do. One woman tells Cohen that her baby weighs thirty pounds, but agrees to force the baby to lose 10 pounds in a week or two or get liposuction if that doesn't work. Parents agree to have their babies pose nailed from crosses and in Nazi SS uniforms shown putting a Jewish baby into an oven. Yes, some people--far too many parents--in America will do anything in their quest for fame and fortune for their kids and themselves. On Eight Mile in Detroit there's a name for that: pimp.

And those are the highlights--and very many lowlights!--of "Bruno." Like I said, it's extremely vile, vulgar, and full of gay sex contraptions and sex toys . . . many of which are demonstrated on-screen. If you've ever thought of the initials TMI, this is the onscreen version.

While there were some very funny scenes, the movie is just so disgusting and filthy, you don't need to be a prude to recognize that this foreign comedian's exercise in self-flagellation is utter trash.

Gays are worried about how this movie mocks them. Trust me, it mocks straight, Red-State Americans far more. Not to mention, it's depraved. To say this movie is in bad taste is the understatement of the year.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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***

I also had the displeasure of seeing possibly the worst movie of the year right before I saw "Bruno." "I Love You, Beth Cooper" gets zero love from me. More like HATE, as in "I HATED This Movie." An utter and complete waste of time, this stupid, schlocky, low-class movie is about two sex-starved dorky high school graduates (one of them gay) and their quest for sex. The main character is a geeky, hideous high school valedictorian, who declares his love for fellow grad Beth Cooper (the very average Hayden Panettiere) in his high school graduation valedictory speech. It's downhill--or, in this case, down sand-grain--from there. The movie is not only low-class with horrid actors, but it's just slow, stupid, and a complete rip-off of ten dollars. Just dumb.

Ironically, the father figure in this silver screen stupidity is Alan Ruck, who was a co-star in a great teen movie, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Now, that was how a classic teen buddy flick was made. I guess times are tough for him since then, and he'll do anything for a paycheck. This was absolutely awful.

SKIP. AT. ALL. COST.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 10:47 AM

July 09, 2009

"Respected Journalist & Interviewer" Assumes Major Tool Position for "Bruno"

By Debbie Schlussel

As readers know, I'm no fan of Sacha Baron Cohen (except I do like "Da Ali G Show"). I didn't like "Borat" (read my review), and I'll be posting my review of "Bruno" tonight, just after Midnight (per studio request). But I have to say that this interview with Matt Lauer pandering to a fake persona is quite entertaining, because it shows what a tool this normally indignant and self-righteous lefty Lauer is.

Ann Coulter and no-one else on the right--including comedians--would ever get such disgusting ass-kissing from a dude who is supposed to be a "respected journalist and interviewer." They always tells us that Ann is a "performer" and a "circus ring act." Well, if they really believe that, then Matt Lauer should be kissing hers, thusly, too. "Ich Bin Lauer."

If only the coward Cohen had the cojones to do to Lauer what he did to Ron Paul, Allan Keyes, Bob Barr, and Middle Americans from Mississippi and Alabama. But, predictably, he doesn't.

Fantastische, Matt-olph Lau-itl-er. Aschen-holen.

The pandering NBC apologies to the Hilton family start in . . . 4-3-2-1.

Posted by Debbie at 12:43 PM

July 07, 2009

Screening These Today

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm scheduled to see both of these today and will be posting my reviews, early Friday Morning, just after Midnight (or hear them at about 11:10 a.m. ET, Friday Morning, on the Sirius Patriot Channel's "Mike Church Show"). I don't expect to like either, but I have an open mind. And sometimes the movies surprise me. Doubt these will. We'll see. Stay tuned.

BTW, check out the anti-military tack the second movie--which looks to be a real piece of trash--takes from the beginning of the trailer. And don't forget that the female star, Hayden Pannetiere appeared as a speaker with Bristol Palin on the Candie's Foundation Abstinence Tour. Think this movie (which reportedly includes Pannetiere nudity) is promoting abstinence? The chick has a 30-something boyfriend. Think they're abstinent? Yes, she's as phony as the Palin girl in this respect. But, hey, cha-ching.

"Bruno":

"I Love You, Beth Cooper":

Posted by Debbie at 01:16 PM

July 03, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Excellent "Moon," Horrid "Whatever Works" Mocks Conservatives, Southerners

By Debbie Schlussel

You've already read my review of "Public Enemies," which arrived in theaters, Wednesday. Here are the other new offerings I screened.

* "Moon": This movie was meant to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1969 landing on the moon. But the storyline has little to do with that, though it does take place on the moon.

This futuristic thriller is sort of like an extended episode of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits." While it's a little slow, I enjoyed it very much. The modern sets and cinematography of the moon are cool. I also liked its campy use of the 1991 Chesney Hawkes hit song, "(I Am) The One And Only," as the repeated alarm clock tune in this flick. And the plot is engaging.

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Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut working on the moon in the future. We've learned how to harvest the moon for energy back on earth. Rockwell is just two weeks shy of his three year contract to serve on the moon. He's about to return to Earth to be reunited with his wife and young daughter. But he feels like he's starting to see things, beginning to crack up. It's tough to spend three years in solitary existence on another planet, with a clever robot who makes smiley (and other) faces as your only friend and talking partner. Will he make it back or are things not exactly as they seem?

If you like sci-fi and modern, futuristic movies, this is for you. An interesting aside: Trudie Styler, Sting's wife, is one of the producers of this. It's good and the ending keeps you wondering. Not all the questions are answered. I like movies like that because they make you think.

Fun, enjoyable, entertaining, escapist--the way movies are meant to be.

THREE REAGANS
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* "Whatever Works": This is typical Woody Allen stuff, though it's among his worst. The title of this awful cinematic tripe refers to the ending sexual choices of the characters--a religious Christian southerner becomes half of a gay couple, after his wife becomes an artist living with two men in a menage a trois. Yup, Southern, middle-American Christian conservative red-staters becoming gays and sexually experimental in Manhattan, and they all live happily ever after--isn't that great!

That's not to mention the extremely snooty, one-dimensional, snobbish way this movie presents and looks down upon Southerners. From beginning to end, the message is that Southerners--actually, all middle Americans--are stupid and backward, that their values are inferior to Manhattan intellectuals.

Larry David plays a much older snobby, genius scientist who falls for a young Southern girl runaway (Evan Rachel Wood) in Manhattan. The girl's mother soon follows, after her husband leaves her for another woman. The mother becomes an artist (whose work consists of naked photos) and is living and sleeping with two men. Soon, her father (Ed Begley, Jr.) comes to Manhattan and comes out as gay. And, hey, "Whatever Works," right?

That's the sad message of this highly unentertaining movie. "Whatever Works"? Isn't that the philosophy South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford practiced? And, um, it's not working for him. Ditto for former New Jersey Governor, James McGreevey. A lot of sad victims are left in their wake.

So, to sum up this movie: New York intellectuals--good, very good; Southern middle American conservatives--bad, very bad (and stupid hicks) . . . until they become gays and "artists" in menages-a-trois.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 11:33 AM

July 01, 2009

Small Favors: Unlike Star Depp, Slow, Boring "Public Enemies" Doesn't Glorify Dillinger

By Debbie Schlussel

If you're planning on seeing "Public Enemies," in theaters today, make sure you ingest a lot of caffeine. It's slow and boring and seemed like it went on forever.

Last week, I told you about how "Public Enemies" star Johnny Depp said, "I'm a big fan" of John Dillinger, the cop-killing bank-robber he plays in the movie's lead role. He also said, "I actually hope people root for him, too."

Although I originally looked forward to the movie, I was worried that "Public Enemies" would glorify Dillinger, the way Depp did in press interviews. Fortunately, that did not come to pass. It shows Johnny Depp as violent and the crowd with which he ran as equally violent and murderous.

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It does, however, show FBI agents as women-beaters and far less humane toward women than law enforcement. FBI agents are shown beating Dillinger's girlfriend and denying bathroom privileges to her, causing her to urinate in the chair to which she's chained. (The girlfriend, played by 9/11 Truther Marion Cotillard with a horrible attempt at an American accent--her real French accent rears its head at every turn. Cotillard took lessons to drop her French accent. She needs to sue the teacher for malpractice.) Dillinger, on the other hand, is shown as loyal to a fault when it comes to women, even the hookers.

Could have done without the indignant scene of Agent Purvis' secretary lecturing him, "Mr. Purvis, they cannot treat a woman this way." I thought I was hearing the ACLU lecture us on how to treat Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the rest of his Islamic terrorist buds.

Moreover, the movie shouldn't have been called, "Public Enemies," which fools you into thinking that the movie provides equal time to both Dillinger and FBI Agent Melvin Purvis (played by Christian Bale), the lead agent on his case. It doesn't. Clearly, this movie is about Dillinger, with Depp as the star and Bale as a co-star, much like the Heath Ledger's Joker was the real star of "The Dark Knight," and Bale's Batman was the co-star of that one. Insofar as that goes, the villain is elevated, the hero diminished.

The movie is very slow-moving and boring. There's no excitement, little suspense. It's rare that you see such an action-packed film--complete with lots of bank robbery and shoot 'em up scenes--that is so unexciting and slow. But this movie was exactly that. A silly love story, with cheesy lines and dialogue doesn't help, but it's quite obvious that was thrown in to give something to women who go to see it. I wasn't buying, including when Dillinger cries over his girl, although I can't say I didn't smile seeing America-hating Depp shed tears.

The love story gives rise to one of the most gratuitous lines in the flick, in which Depp suggests he join his girlfriend in a tub:

Me and my friend, Prince Albert, will join you.

Um, is this a major motion picture or a bad Ron Jeremy porno?

My favorite scene in the movie is when a young J. Edgar Hoover testifies before a Congressional committee, seeking more money for his interstate manhunt of Dillinger and other criminals. He's repeatedly asked by a Congressman to reveal the number of times he has personally ever made an actual arrest. He finally answers, "None," and repeatedly decleared, "But I am an administrator." The Congressman tells him that makes him completely unqualified to head the FBI or any law enforcement agency.

I wanted to shout out to the theater, "Where is this Congressman when we need him?" None of the people heading our law enforcement agencies have this qualification, and they're all completely unqualified. Janet Napolitano, Robert Mueller, etc. None of 'em have ever made a single arrest in their lives. The same went for former Immigration and Customs Enforcement chieftess Julie L. Myers a/k/a "The ICE Princess," and her Obama replacement John Morton.

The male stars in this movie are nice to look at, as are their suave clothes--sharp, dapper suits from the days when men's sartorial splendor was all that. And the sets and cars from the 1930's are also beautiful. If only the script and the storyline had such exquisite attention paid to them.

But they did not.

In fact, we barely see much of some of the other crooks with whom Dillinger hung. Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) is killed off in the first five minutes, and we don't know why. The movie is basically this: Dillinger in prison, Dillinger broken out of prison, Dillinger lives openly among the public who support and protect him, Dillinger falls in love, Dillinger robs banks, Dillinger in with the mob, Dillinger out with the mob, Dillinger tracked down, set up, and shot, the end.

I like a good gangster movie or crime thriller. But "Public Enemies" is only mildly entertaining, and not entertaining enough to make it worthy of your $10 bucks. I'm glad it's not the pan-criminal revisionist propaganda I feared.

But it's just not a great movie. Not even good. It's just eh.

HALF A REAGAN
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Posted by Debbie at 09:39 AM

June 26, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Powerful "Stoning of Soraya M.", Annoying Cougar Flick "Cheri"

By Debbie Schlussel

You've already read my review of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" a/k/a "Transformers 2" (in which Israel is erased off the map). I did not see "My Sister's Keeper," though if I do, I'll post the review later over the weekend. Here's what I did see:

* "The Stoning of Soraya M.": This movie is not only powerful, it's important. It is extremely moving, too.

Cyrus Nowrasteh, the secular Muslim behind "The Path to 9/11" ABC miniseries, made this film of the true story of an Iranian woman who is stoned to death, after her rich husband and the town's Islamic cleric trump up fake adultery charges against her. All of this is done because Soraya's husband wants to divorce her (without paying her any support money or alimony), so he can marry a young girl with whom he's been apparently having an affair.

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This movie is just the way I like it. It pulls no punches. It's very clear about the role Islam plays in brutality and fabricated "justice." And it spares us none of the up-close graphic violence and blood of an Islamic stoning, which goes on in countries all over the world today . . . Islamic countries. (It's violence and blood that is necessary to see, but not for the faint of heart and definitely NOT for kids.)

Shohreh Agdashloo--best known for playing the wife in a Turkish Muslim terrorist couple on the show "24"--is the star of this vehicle. She plays Soraya's courageous aunt, who talks to a reporter (Jim Caviezel) and gets the story out. Caviezel's reporter is a French Iranian whose car breaks down, and he is stranded in the small town until it is fixed. He tape records Agdashloo's retelling of what happened just the day before.

The stoning incident also shows how wantonly life is taken away under sharia (Islamic law) and how cavalierly the killing--the murder--is treated. After Soraya has her show trial (which she wasn't allowed nor was she allowed to testify), Soraya's stoning happens with a fervor. The townfolk celebrate it and laugh before, during, and after. During the stoning, a clown troop--complete with Iranian clown midget--come to entertain the town kids. When they learn there's a stoning going on, they eagerly entertain. That night, the whole town engages in feast and drink in celebration.

Very sickening, and, sadly, extremely true. If you love freedom as I do and despise jihad, this movie is a must see. I absolutely loved it. And it has no qualms about exposing Islam for what it is--a violent cult.

One other thing: Some western greeniac idiots who support the faux-democratic uprising in Iran are trying to use this movie as a vehicle for their unworthy cause. They are fools if they think that the Muslim green activists on the streets of Iran are any less for these Islamic stonings of women than Ahmadinejad and his supporters are. Mousavi supported there-establishment of Islamic rule and, thus, the stonings in 1979, and he supports it now. Wake the heck up.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Cheri": This is the "cougar" vehicle that's been much discussed in showbiz media outlets. It features Michelle Pfeiffer as a wealthy, aging prostitute in 1920s France, who falls in love with a much younger boy, "Cheri" (British actor, Rupert Friend), and lives with him from his late teens through his mid-20s.

I don't much care for movies in which women try to act like men (in pining for younger lovers), and the "men" are so gay-looking and effeminate that it simply isn't believable. Rupert Friend looks so much like a girl it's off-putting. A scene in which he dons a pearl necklace made me wanna hurl.

But this movie isn't for me or most of this site's audience. It's for middle-aged and post-middle-aged women who like to look at nice clothes (the costumes were incredible), nice scenery, and beautiful flowers.

For the rest of us, it's an annoying chick flick. As chick flicks go, it could have been far worse. But it's mostly skipworthy. I mean, after all, it's about the lives of prostitutes and one who becomes heartbroken. So what? Who cares? Not me.

The one good thing about the movie: it shows that a life of prostitution may bring a ton of easy money, but it also brings a more heavy truckload of tragedy and heartbreak.

HALF A MARX
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Posted by Debbie at 12:01 PM

June 25, 2009

Johnny Depp: "I'm a Big Fan" and "Hope People Root For" Bank-Robbing, Cop-Killing Murderer

By Debbie Schlussel

When I was a kid, one of the best syndicated re-runs of "The Brady Bunch" was an episode entitled "Bobby's Hero," in which Bobby Brady idolizes Jesse James. Mr. Brady, disturbed that one of his sons would idolize a criminal and murderer, forces Bobby to learn about the real evil embodied by his romanticized hero from the old West. It finally hits home when Mike Brady introduces son Bobby to a man whose father was murdered in cold blood by his "idol." (The full episode can be viewed in three parts here, here, and here--thanks to reader Yitzchak.)

If only we could go back 36 years and force actor Johnny Depp to have the fictional Mike Brady as his father. This is what I mean when I talk about the importance of good fathers in kids' lives in America. Say what you want about "The Brady Bunch." That was a TV father who did what many Americans don't do for their kids today . . . including, apparently, Johnny Depp's father.

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Depp plays John Dillinger, the 1930s serial bank robber in "Public Enemies," the movie which debuts in theaters, next Wednesday. It's one of the big 4th of July holiday releases.

Sadly, Depp--who has a history of making anti-American statements--is just as clueless on the cold-blooded creep he plays. He's now idolizing Dillinger in the same way little Bobby Brady idolized Jesse James. And, with it, he and his castmates play the same old left-wing class warfare politics, which somehow makes bank robbery "cool."

Johnny Depp chuckles when he hears that his cast mates say he has a swagger similar to 1930s bank robber John Dillinger.

He thinks so, too.

"Oddly," said the star of the legendary criminal, "I'm a big fan."

Depp chatted about the folklore-like merits of Dillinger at the Los Angeles premiere of Public Enemies. . . .

"Especially in that era . . . everything was going against the common man. People like John Dillinger came back and were anti the establishment in their own special way," Depp said. "I actually hope people root for him, too."

Sadly, co-star Christian Bale, who plays FBI Agent Melvin Purvis who went after Dillinger, drinks the pan-criminal Kool-Aid, too.

Bale said . . . moviegoers will naturally fall for the criminal's charm.

"Especially because this is a gangster who really has the heart of the common man, too," Bale said. "It's like today, there's a recession and like now, people back then felt there was this great sense of injustice and that these fat cats were just screwing them over. And Dillinger was somebody taking it back. It's like Dillinger was the right man at the right time and he seemed almost to have a cause. It's a question whether that was really the case, but you can see how easily the people felt about that and gravitated toward that."

9/11 Truther idiotette and co-star Marion Cotillard spouts the BS, too.

The cast also chatted about the Robin Hood-like quality that Depp brings to Dillinger.

"He wasn't really that bad," cooed Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, who portrays Depp's love interest in the film. "People will love this guy.

Disgusting.

Here's a reality check: John Dillinger was not a nice guy. He was a murderer. He killed a police officer, Patrick O'Malley. And he was a cop killer in more ways than one. When fellow degenerate friends of his sprung him from jail, a sheriff, Jess Sarber, was killed. And death and maiming, including of female bystanders, followed him everywhere he went.

This is America's new folk hero? It reminds me of the sickening worship of Charles Manson that continues to simmer within America's younger demographic.

When I first wrote about how I was looking forward to this movie, readers contacted me, hoping it wasn't going to romanticize Dillinger, and it looks like their fears have been realized, based on what we've seen so far.

Reader Mark, who wrote:

Did you see the 1973 movie, "Dillinger"? I watched it on TV recently, twice. The first time, I was thinking that you don't see movies like that too much any more, as it did not, over all, glorify the robbers and demonize the federal agents. Did you ever happen to hear Woodie Guthrie's "Pretty Boy Floyd"? I guess that presaged the coming of romanticizing evil. Nowadays, everybody wants to be an outlaw.

Sadly, they do. Gangsta is in. Good is out.

Reader OldSchoolW warned:

Michael Mann's films have never been known for their accuracy.

And if Dillinger is the hero these guys make him out to be, looks like this movie will be equally as inaccurate.

I'll be seeing the movie, Monday, and posting my review at just after Midnight on Wednesday Morning. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I repost the trailer here:

Posted by Debbie at 04:10 PM

June 24, 2009

Transformers 2: Very Dumb, 'Nother Opportunity 2 Transform Your Kids Into Foul-Mouthed Morons (Plus Israel Off the Map)

By Debbie Schlussel

As longtime readers know, my biggest problem with the movies that Hollywood puts out is not that they're mostly utter garbage (which they are). It's that studios pour gazillions into marketing crass, crude, sex-laden, F- and S-bomb encrusted movies to young kids.

That's yet again the case with "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" a/k/a Transformers 2--a long, boring, stupid movie marketed heavily to children. I mean, after all, it's Transformers--a set of mechanical toys from the '80s--upon which the movie is based. And M&M/Mars and Target are doing joint promotions to kids with gross-tasting peanut-butter and strawberry M&Ms (I tried 'em--yuck!) and chances to obtain cute M&M gumball machines.

But Hollywood execs don't care that too many Americans let them raise their kids. They don't take the responsibility seriously. They only take their bank accounts seriously. And that's why we have crap like "Transformers 2."

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Yes, the movie is filled with cars/transformers and cool special effects . . . so many effects that my mind was numbed beyond the numbing of almost two-and-a-half hours of stupid on the big screen. And that's why, even though it stinks, this movie will make tons of money and top the box office.

And yes, it's filled with hot women, like Megan Fox, and an ivy league seductress who is actually a decepticon. But is that really for seven year olds? Want your kid staring at butt shots of a 20-something vixen leaning over a motorcycle in barely there jean shorts? Fine for older teens and 20-somethings, but your young kid? Do you want your eight year old son oogling at a sexy, scantilly clad decepticon trying to have sex with the movie's dull hero (Shia Lebeouf) and then having dangerous metal tentacles coming out of her rear end and sex organs? How 'bout the various scenes of dogs having sex or rubbing up against Megan Fox's leg?

Want your kids repeating crude jokes about "sucking sacs" and other references to oral sex? Repeating f-, s-, and a-hole words, which make up a good deal of the movie dialogue? How 'bout the p-word? That's in there, too. Thanks, M&M/Mars, you really know how to market to kids by promoting "Transformers 2" to them.

Then, there's the "story"/plot. It's hard to tell that there's actually one in this movie. And that's fine. We know people don't go to "Transformer" movies for the storyline. But, remember, I liked the first "Transformers" movie (read my review), though that also had a lot of four-letter words and crude references to masturbation, etc.--not suitable for kids. The first movie did have a story--a cute one and a great good-triumphs-over-evil message. In this one, well, not so much. It's more like: awkward teen goes to Ivy League School, while Decepticons fight good transformers, two hot chicks fight over teen, he has dopey Hispanic roommate/internet guru, and they all end up in Egypt and Jordan (which strangely are right next to each other--yup, even Hollywood has wiped Israel off the map). Ruins of the ancient city of Petra (now in Jordan) are shown to be just yards from the Egyptian Pyramids. Yup, this movie won't teach your kid geography either . . . but it'll teach 'em most of George Carlin's seven words. Terrific.

The movie is so stupid, it's like a three-year-old wrote it. I know I've said the same about "Land of the Lost" (read my review) and "Year One" (read my review). And this movie is in tight contention with those two to be the summer's dumbest, worst flick.

I know I've lectured you before about the morons who call themselves "parents" who take their kids to movies like "Friday the 13th" and "The Watchmen" (read my review). But this movie isn't much of an improvement. Yes, it doesn't have the "R" rating and isn't graphically violent and full of blood and wanton killing like those. But that doesn't mean it's good for your kids' minds.

Or your own.

Simply a waste of time, ten bucks, and 2.5 hours of life you can't reclaim after the fact.

Skip it.

ONE MARX
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Posted by Debbie at 09:50 AM

June 19, 2009

Weekend Box Office: ICE Snubbed in Silly Marriage Fraud "Proposal"; Creepy But Sweet "Management"; UPDATED: Skip "Year One"

By Debbie Schlussel

**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE-- "Year One" Review Added ****

* "The Proposal": While tiny bits of the storyline of this schlocky romantic comedy (that's a nice euphemism for "dopey chick flick") resemble the far more charming "Green Card," this movie is mostly groan fodder. And it's entirely predictable and formulaic. Plus, I don't go for the "cougar" dynamic here (45-year-old Sandra Bullock in great shape through a cheesecloth lense with much younger Ryan Reynolds). If we wanted women to act like men, they'd be men.

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The story: An older complete bitch of a boss at a publishing company (Sandra Bullock) learns will be deported to Canada and lose her job as a top editor/executive. So, she demands that her assistant, Ryan Reynolds, to marry her and commit marriage fraud. He agrees after exacting a promotion from her. To make it look real, he takes her to Alaska for his grandmother's (Betty White--the Jump the Shark Ted McGinley of movies, meaning if she's in it, it's a sign: it sucks) 90th birthday.

While I laughed more than a few times, most of the jokes in this were stupid . . . unless you consider scenes of an out-of-shape Hispanic guy stripper in a thong funny (and I don't). Still, this is more trumped up melodrama than comedy. There are lots of--way too much--faux-tears and silly, unctious fights between family members.

And, as you'd predict, they fall in love. Shocker.

When this film was shot, there were lots of scenes filmed with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uniformed police and agents, but all of that has ended up on the cutting room floor. ICE was snubbed in this film, and the agents should be happy.

BTW, if only real life U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicators were as determined to weed out marriage fraud as the one in this movie. Sadly, it's not even close in the real world. And ICE rarely investigates or prosecutes the ones who are determined to be marriage fraud perpetrators.

Wanna see a film about real-life marriage fraud? Start filming in Dearbornistan.

As chick flicks go, this could have been far worse. But it also could have been far better. Great for the Oprah crowd, but for the rest of us . . .

HALF A REAGAN
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* "Management": At first, I found this movie extremely weird and very creepy. But it grew better as it progressed.

A de-glammed Jennifer Aniston plays a traveling saleswoman, whose company sells mass-produced art to motels and offices. While staying at a motel out West, the son of the motel owners (Steven Zahn) develops a crush on her. But she sleeps with him, and then he starts stalking her . . . all over the country. Like I said, it's creepy.

Eventually, though, Aniston--tied up with her ex-punk rocker, organic yogurt mogul boyfriend--falls in love with Zahn, an aimless motel employee with no future.

But life is complicated and circumstances--economic circumstances and plans for the future--get in the way. Or do they?

The most annoying part of this movie is the lefty crap that's thrown in. Aniston's character is "one of those," making a fuss with the small-town motel owners that they don't have a recycling center, etc.

Still, I found this comedy funny, entertaining, and, eventually, charming, if waaaaaay creepy.

Steve Zahn is the star of this vehicle, not Aniston. And it's a chick flick you guys will enjoy. It's well done, if a little long and drawn out (even at only just over 1.5 hours).

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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*** UPDATE: "Year One": Absolutely awful. This movie was so bad, I walked out after a half-hour. I simply couldn't take the stupidity and inanity anymore. It just wasn't funny. And it was like a three year old made it. Extremely stupid.

Jack Black and Michael Cera play cave men at the beginning of man. They are kicked out of their village because Jack Black accidentally sets their village on fire.

Sound exciting to you? Me neither. I should have walked out well before Black eats dung and tells us it tastes like the producer of it ate apples. This is funny?

Skip at all cost. I lost $10 on this. Save yours and two valuable hours of life not worth wasting on this exercise in moronism.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 04:12 PM

June 15, 2009

More Obnoxious Than Ever: Flabulous Filmmaker Releases "Trailer"

By Debbie Schlussel

As I've recounted on this site previously, I once sat next to Michael Moore at a showing of one of his movies, "The Big One," which rails against America's corporations and their CEOS (kinda like his next movie will do).

When the movie was over, he asked me what I thought, and I asked him why he'd rail against CEOs, and yet he was wearing a Detroit Tigers hat and a Chicago Bulls shirt. I reminded him that sports teams are the corporations who most soak taxpayers for their stadiums, etc., and yet they provide mostly seasonal jobs which pay well below market value. Plus, their clothes, which he was wearing, are not made in America, but overseas by the people he complained are paid less than a dollar a day. Moore's response was that he's a hypocrite and not consistent, and he seemed proud of that. So, it's no surprise that it's more of the same, since he has hundreds of thousands of dollars in corporate stock holdings and he's at it again, with yet another flick--this time, attacking Wall Street. Over the weekend, he unveiled this extremely obnoxious "trailer" for his next movie to movie audiences in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Yuck.

The untitled movie comes out in October. Gee, I wonder how Michael Moore bought and sold stocks without Wall Street. Oh, yeah, he didn't avoid Wall Street. But, yet, they're baaad, very bad.

The "Team America: World Police" guys had exactly the right idea with this self-righteous hypocrite.

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Posted by Debbie at 12:58 PM

June 12, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Fun "Pelham" Remake, Charming "Imagine That" for Kids, New Age Crap "Away We Go"

By Debbie Schlussel

A couple of new movie releases that aren't bad, at this week's box office, and one awful New Age dud.

* "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3": This is a remake of a 1974 movie, starring Walter Matthau, Martin Balsam, Robert Shaw, and Hector Elizondo. This incarnation stars Denzel Washington and John Travolta.

I watched the original, last night, and while I liked that, I liked this one much better. It's fun, fast-paced, exciting, and heart-pounding. John Travolta is good as a villain, and he plays the bad guy in this story about several crooks who hijack a New York subway train, demanding a ransom of $10 million to release the hostages.

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Washington plays the schlubby subway traffic controller who negotiates with him. Travolta gives New York City officials an hour to get him the money before he starts killing one hostage a minute.

Travolta claims he's not a terrorist, but in fact he is. And the Mayor insists on negotiating with him against his advisors' unanimous advice. It gets from bad to worse, and reminded me of Barack Obama's desire to negotiate to the Ahmadinejads and HAMASniks. When his "negotiations" with a madman clearly don't work, his advisors tell him, "you entered his world, now exit it."

Yes, much of the movie is predictable, but it's still entertaining and fun to watch. If I had any reservations with it, it's the obvious things. Primary among them are the many scenes we're shown of NYPD officers' motorcade rushing to get the money across Midtown New York in the middle of the afternoon, with the motorcade hitting cars and ** Spoiler Alert ** cops getting severely injured or killed. In the meantime, hostages are killed because of the delay.** End of Spoiler ** Anyone who's ever been to New York knows that New York traffic at that time of day (and most of the day) is heavy and slow. Why didn't they just take a helicopter and land on top of a nearby skyscraper? Plus the villain is from Wall Street (more politics of envy class warfare brought to you by the fabulously wealthy in Hollywood).

I could have also done without the digs at Rudy Giuliani (though the original version of this movie was far harsher on then-New York Mayor Abe Beame). The New York Mayor is played by James Gandolfini, who is styled as a fat version of Giuliani (with the bankroll of current Mayor Michael Bloomberg), cheats on his wife, and is a jerk. And he says he doesn't want to be like Rudy Giuliani in making a speech to calm New York.

But, overall, I liked it.

One other thing: as an attorney, I don't think a man's admission, under duress, that he committed a felony--a statement made under the threat of killing people--would necessarily be admissible in court, and if it was, that it would be considered any sort of valid admission.

Note that this movie is not for young kids. It's bloody and violent and full of f- and s-bombs.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Imagine That": Eddie Murphy is back in his latest comeback attempt vehicle. And it's not bad. Like most kids' movies, this is predictable and slightly corny. But, unlike most kids' movies, it has a storyline that adults can enjoy, and I did. It's also mildly funny (though some of Murphy's standard humor from the '80s seems kind of dated and stale now). I laughed quite a few times. And it's very cute.

Murphy plays a investment advisor in a brokerage firm, who is in the process of divorcing his wife. His cute (actually, a little too cute) seven-year-old daughter has a security blanket of which she refuses to let go. She talks to three imaginary princesses and a queen via the blanket.

Murphy is competing with a sleazy, oily colleague--who says he's an American Indian--for advancement at the firm. Soon, Murphy learns that his daughters' imaginary friends give him brilliant investment advice and predict which companies and stocks will succeed and which will fail.

Even though the man is only 1/32nd American Indian (something we find out at the end), the movie is very offensive and negatively stereotypical in the way it portrays American Indians, and the Native American organizations would be rightfully upset with this movie. You can bet Hollywood would NEVER make fun of Muslims or Arabs this way . . . at least not now in our new post-9/11 uber-tolerance of all things Islamic.

The thing I really liked about this movie is that, unlike many Hollywood offerings, it ultimately shows a competent, loving father spending time with his daughter. Because of that, he finally gets his priorities in line, if at first, he didn't appreciate his father role.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Away We Go": This is one of the absolutely most awful movies of all time. You know a movie is going to be bad when it starts out with two people in bed during oral sex discussing how one of them "tastes." Had I walked out them, I'd have been smart, but I was required to watch the whole thing to review it.

This long, boring exercise in New Age BS to the nth degree features an interracial boyfriend and girlfriend (Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski). Rudolph is pregnant and, since they have no friends and not much family, they go on a road trip to choose a place to live and raise their kid. Most of this involves people even more New Age and bizarre than they are and other crazy people in midlife crises.

The only mildly amusing part of this movie was a scene mocking another New Age couple (including homely America-hater Maggie Gyllenhaal), who were so outrageously off the deep end, even pretentious lefties in Hollywood could make fun of them.

Sitting through this was extremely painful. I imagine they force you to watch this over and over in hell. And I think it's great, um, "programming" for the detainees at Gitmo before the camp gets closed. Watching this truly is torture.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 01:26 PM

June 05, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Garbage, Garbage & More Garbage, Esp. in "The Hangover"

By Debbie Schlussel

There's not much good at the box office, this weekend. In fact, I recommend you stay home and rent something.

* "The Hangover": This movie is as dreck-ish as they come. Absolute complete garbage. What was supposed to be a funny guy bachelor party movie, got about three laughs from me. And that's being generous.

You don't have to be a prude to know that this movie is trash. Perhaps the multiple shots--in the closing credits--of one of the characters getting oral sex (you can see the guy's penis and the woman mouth on it--why didn't this get an X or NC-17 rating?), along with other stuff usually reserved for the Playboy and SPICE Channels, should be a hint that it's trash.

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The "plot": A guy is getting married, and he, his weird future brother-in-law, and two friends take a road trip to Vegas. They start out the night drinking shots on the roof of Caesar's Palace, where they've rented a gaudy villa, and wake up the next morning with the place a complete mess. They can't remember what happened, and the groom is missing. The rest of this waste-of-time flick shows them trying to piece it all together and find the groom. So what? Who cares?

I like a good, funny guys road trip or bachelor party movie. "Animal House," "Class," and others like it set the pace, and I liked those. This is just pointless.

A weird guys' butt in a jock strap in close-up. Haha funny. And old man's droopy butt in a hospital scene. Frickin' hilarious. Mike Tyson singing a Genesis song out of tune and then punching someone out. Oh, gosh, I'm in stitches. A stripper (Heather Graham) pulling out a breast to nurse a baby, complete with nipple shot. Laugh attack. Sorry, not funny. The movie isn't funny at all. And the F-words and other obscenities in every other line don't make it any more so.

Just stupid.

But, hey, the audience filled with teens and twenty-somethings I saw this with thought it was completely hilarious. They laughed at one stupid line after another and gave applause at the end of the movie. Given that, I'm convinced the vast majority of America's generation Y and younger are mostly morons and simpletons with zero idea of humor, not to mention class or intelligence. But what can you expect with a generation raised on Paris Hilton, the spoiled morons of "The Hills," and "Keeping up with the Kardashians." It's no longer C-students who run the world. Porn and idiocy rule. As do the vile and vulgar.

As bad as a hangover feels, you'd be better off getting one than wasting your time and ten bucks on this total time-bandit flick, which steals almost two hours of your life you'll never get back.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Land of the Lost": I normally like Will Ferrell and find him somewhat funny. But this movie was just stupid. And mostly not funny. Moreover, while the sets and special effects are cool, the movie sounded like a three-year-old wrote it. (With all due apologies to three-year-olds.)

Though the movie is based on the '70s kids TV series of the same name, the f-bombs, s-bombs, and multiple sexual references make it unsuitable for kids. Not to mention the brain-addled story. The movie also trys way too hard to be artsy and cool. It doesn't work, but it's interesting and colorful to look it.

Ferrell plays a marginal scientist who is the laughing stock of the world because of his theories of parallel and alternative universes in time and space . . . and a bad interview he did with Matt Lauer on "The Today Show."

But Ferrell proves them all wrong when he, his attractive British student assistant, and a hickish tour guide find themselves in a parallel universe, where dinosaurs and enemy lizard men,
"sleestaks," rule. They meet and take on as a companion a sex-obsessed pre-human being who is like half-man, half monkey, named Chaka.

I laughed a few times, but not much and certainly not as much as I do in a typical Will Ferrell offering. It was mildly entertaining due to the eye-candy of the colorful sets, effects, and sci-fi nature of it all.

Don't waste your time or your money on this.

HALF-MARX
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* "My Life in Ruins": I don't think I've seen a more corny, cheesy, stupid love story movie ever. And why is it that Greek people--like star and producer Nia Vardalos--get away with making awful anti-Greek minstrel shows like this painful-to-watch utter waste?

Vardalos plays an American with a Ph.D. who is working as a tour guide for a shlocky company in Greece, while she waits to get a professorship at an American university. A cast of annoying tourists--some of them "ugly Americans," others are stupid stereotypes of other Western locales (but don't worry no Muslim stereotypes, couldn't do that)--join a hairy Greek bus driver by the name of Poopy Kakas, with a nephew named Doody Kakas (either of which should have been the name of this movie). 'Nuff said.

Soon, Vardalos finds herself falling for the bus driver. Who cares? I didn't. I just couldn't wait for the credits to roll. Among the credits is Richard Dreyfus. Annoying leftist America-hating actor apparently needed a paycheck . . . badly.

Skip this no matter what. Gives even chick flicks a bad name.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "The Summer Hours": Ironically, this slow-moving, non-action art house flick is the best of the bunch at the theaters, this weekend. But that's all relative.

It's a French movie with English subtitles, which moves very slowly and is mildly entertaining, though enjoyable. But it's not for everyone. There's no suspense or much of a plot.

An aging French woman knows that eventually, like all of us, she will die. She has a very valuable art collection, much of which is the work of her famous artist uncle. The work is contained in her charming, valuable French country house.

The woman dies and her three kids need to figure out how to dispose of her estate. A son wants to keep the artwork and the house in the family. Meanwhile, the other son and the daughter want to sell it all, as they both live and have their lives abroad and no longer have much of a connection to France.

ONE REAGAN
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Posted by Debbie at 03:39 PM

June 04, 2009

Just Got Back From Screening . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

. . . "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3," starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta. This is a remake of a 1974 flick, starring Walter Matthau and Martin Balsam. Doubt the original has digs at Rudy Giuliani (or Wall Street--if you've seen it, does it?). Will try to see it to compare, before my review is posted a week from tomorrow, when the movie debuts. Stay tuned. In the meantime, here's the trailer:

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Posted by Debbie at 01:23 PM

May 29, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Fun "Drag Me to Hell" Destined to be Horror Classic; "Brothers Bloom" Too Quirky

By Debbie Schlussel

I've already posted my review of "Up," which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here are the other two movies opening this weekend.

* "Drag Me to Hell": This fun, campy, self-deprecating movie is destined to be a horror movie cult classic. It's everything a horror movie thriller should be, but, these days, usually isn't. If you don't like horror movies, this isn't for you. But if you do--and you don't like the blood and gore--this is your flick. I loved it. And it was funny. It's a creation of director Sam Raimi of the "Evil Dead" and "Spiderman" movies (and one of my favorites, "Darkman").

Alison Lohman plays a young woman working as an enterprising loan officer a bank. She came from a farm and is trying to advance in life on her own, seeking to become assistant bank manager. But she's competing against the new guy, Stu Rubin (who is noticeably Korean--funny, he doesn't look Rubin-ish).

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An old, ill gypsy woman--who is blind in one eye and has decrepit teeth--comes to the bank because she's being kicked out of her home, which was foreclosed upon. The bank already gave her two extensions, and Lohman wants to give her one more. But her boss reminds her that she is in contention for the assistant bank manager position, and that it's up to her. She turns the woman down. When the woman lunges at her, she calls security, and the woman screams, "You shamed me!" Later, after a scuffle in the parking lot, the Gypsy woman puts a curse on Lohman.

Soon, the curse comes to life and Lohman is terrorized by intangible spirits and shadows. And strange things happen to her that jeopardize her chances of getting the promotion at work. Add to that her boyfriend (Justin Long) from a snobbish, wealthy family who look down on this commoner girl from the farm without social connections. We watch as Lohman tries to deal with these and attempts to rid herself of the curse, which may soon take her life. We watch as she consults an Indian psychic and tries to follow his advice.

Best line in the movie: When Lohman is told she must kill an animal as a sacrifice to the evil spirit. "But I'm a vegetarian."

While there was a violent fight scenes and a very tiny bit of blood, this was not your typical contemporary horror flick, in that most of the bad stuff, most of the thrill and horror are in your mind and not on the screen. There are a few scenes set in scary places like a grave in a cemetery, and there are a few quick shots of various human mucus, but most of the scare is psychological and left to your imagination. And that's what director Raimi said he aimed for. A great horror movie relies on imagination instead of the wanton, graphic and gratuitous violence, blood, and torture porn we see in much of today's very weak horror flick offerings. In this one, for instance, while we know that a cat was killed, we aren't shown that. It's all in your mind. There are even no sex scenes. That's in your mind too, though you see Lohman and her boyfriend waking up in bed together, after a really bad dream.

Still, this movie is not for kids. Don't take them.

I loved everything about the movie, the casting, the sets, the tone and tempo, the camp (or is that, "campiness"?), and the fact that it made fun of itself. There was a lot of laughter, and deliberately so. It was almost as much a comedy as it is a horror movie. It had suspense, action, and excitement. And it was well done, including its classic horror flick ending.

If I had any qualms about the movie, it was that I was surprised at the usual negative stereotypes about Gypsies put forth in a major way in this film. You wouldn't dare see Hollywood do this with a Muslim. No, not ever. But, see, there's not Council on American-Gypsy Relations or Gypsy-American Anti-Defamation League.
Instead of lots of violence and gore, it leaves that to your imagination.

But, despite that minor flaw, I liked this movie a lot and felt it went by so fast, I wanted more. That's the hallmark of a great movie.

THREE REAGANS
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* "The Brothers Bloom": Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play two brothers who are con men. Brody is fed up and wants out, but Ruffalo convinces him to do one last con. The target: a young, eccentric multi-millionairess (Rachel Weisz), whom Brody romances to get her to fall for the con.

While parts of this were entertaining, this movie tried too hard to be artsy and cute. Ruffalo has an Asian girlfriend who never speaks and uses hand gestures, and the two brothers dress like they're on a 1930's set, even though the flick takes place today. It tried too much to be quirky, and in my view that took away from the movie. It annoyed me.

Plus it was very predictable, though the end gets very confusing. Mildly entertaining, but not my cup of tea. Plus I can't stand Ruffalo, not because he's a far left tool, but because the guy just can't act. He's not convincing. And Rachel Weisz, with her fake, forced American accent, caused me cognitive dissonance.

HALF REAGAN
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Posted by Debbie at 12:42 PM

May 28, 2009

"Up": Charming, Must See Movie is Best Animation Since "Wall-E"

By Debbie Schlussel

Even if you don't have kids or a family, "Up" is a movie you must see. If you do have kids, this Disney/Pixar flick is a great family viewing experience.

The movie is the best animated picture I've seen since "WALL-E" (read my review), with "Coraline" a close third (though that one is too creepy for young kids--read my review).

It's not just the animation in this, which is so real that the fifties-style movie news clips at the beginning look like the real thing. It's the charming story, which has everything--action, adventure, a young kid, an old man, talking dogs, a flying house kept in the air by balloons, a Charles Hughes-esque adventurer, and a peacock/ostrich combo bird. I just can't say enough good things about this fun, enjoyable, escapist experience. It's relaxing, entertaining, and full of imagination, the way movies--animated or not--are supposed to be. The story is timeless, but it sort of reminds you of the great movies they used to make.

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The movie begins with a young kid, Carl, who marvels at the movies, seeing clips of his hero, Charles Muntz, an explorer/adventurer. Soon he meets a tomboy girl, Ellie, who shares his interest in adventure. They meet in a ramshackle abandoned house down his street. They grow up, fall in love, and get married, always saving for Ellie's dream of moving to a South American paradise. They've renovated the ramshackle home where they met as their home.

But time goes by, they grow old, and Ellie dies before they realize their dream--her dream. (I thought that part was a little sad for kids, but it's a very minor, brief part of the movie.) Soon, Carl finds himself a grumpy old man in his home, which is now surrounded by construction of a condo development. Rather than get hauled off to a nursing home, he attaches helium balloons to his home, in the hope of traveling to his and Ellie's paradise. But he discovers that a boy scout seeking a "help the elderly" badge is stuck in his floating house.

Eventually, Carl and the boy scout find themselves in South America, right near the paradise Carl was seeking. And that's where the real adventure begins. I don't want to say more, lest I give away the story. But I guarantee you'll be captured by its charm and cuteness. It's also very funny.

If I had any reservation with "Up," it's that Carl is voiced by far-left activist Ed Asner. (In the '80s, my father and Asner had a public fight in the press over Asner's fundraising letters for a far-left Western Michigan Congressman, citing his Jewishness. My dear father, a recipient of the letter, responded with a letter of his own to Asner supporting the Congressman's conservative Republican opponent, and it became a national news story. My dad told Ed Asner where to go, and Asner was too cowardly to respond.)

But there are other greats who voice the characters in the movie. The great Christopher Plummer plays explorer Charles Muntz. And John Ratzenberger of "Cheers" fame is the instantly recognizable voice of a construction foreman.

As I noted, the animation in this is phenomenal (and I didn't even see it in 3D, though there are some theaters showing it that way). It's lifelike. And the characters are very realistic (well, maybe not the talking dogs, who are also master chefs, etc.) and cute.

And at just over an hour and a half (it's 96 minutes including credits), it's the perfect length. Plus, as a bonus, there are cute, entertaining cartoon shorts preceding the movie. Also enjoyable and funny.

Don't miss this. And don't wait for it on DVD. This is a movie you should see on the big screen.

FOUR REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 12:25 PM

May 27, 2009

Movies I Screened Today, Reviews to Follow

By Debbie Schlussel

Stuck in a theater again today, but one of these was well worth it. My review for "Up" will be posted later tonight or early in the morning. My review for "The Brothers Bloom," pre-written before the Jewish Shavuot holiday goes up on Friday.

In the meantime, here are the trailers. See if you can guess which one I loved.

Posted by Debbie at 09:18 PM

May 26, 2009

Movies I Saw Tonight, Reviews Later in Week

By Debbie Schlussel

Had to go screen these two movies, this evening. Watch the trailers. Can you guess which one I liked? Find out at just after Midnight, early Friday Morning, this week and next, when my reviews post. (Reviews this Friday will be posted in my absence in observance of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot ["Pentecost"].)

"Drag Me to Hell," out this Friday, May 29th:

"My Life in Ruins," out the following Friday, June 5th:

Posted by Debbie at 09:41 PM

May 22, 2009

Weekend Box Office: "Night @ Museum" Sequel Fun Family Entertainment, But Long, Repetitive

By Debbie Schlussel

I've already posted my review of "Terminator Salvation." I can't post a review of "Dance Flick," because I did not see the whole movie. I walked out. Read between the lines.

And then, there's "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," the sequel to the first "Night at the Museum." Although the movie is a little long, repetitive, and rambunctious, I liked it, if not quite as much as the far superior original. Only the special effects are better than the original. But that doesn't mean it isn't good or worthwhile.

On the contrary, the movie is charming and great for families with kids. It was cute and will give parents an opportunity to teach them about some of the characters that come to life in the movie, including Abraham Lincoln, General George Custer, and Einstein. Anything that can get your kids interested in historical figures is something I applaud. Didn't have any use, though, for "The Thinker" coming to life as a complete idiot who sounded like a "valley dude" surfer type. But other parts of it were very funny.

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Ben Stiller is back as the man who was the night guard at the museum, the exhibits of which came to life at night. But now he's a successful TV gadget infomercial entrepreneur a la Ron Popeil. He returns to his old haunt, New York's Museum of Natural History, and learns that the exhibits are being packed up and shipped off to storage in the federal archive at the Smithsonian. That means the end of coming to life at night. That's sad enough.

And then, Stiller learns of an even more wicked plot. An effeminate, evil Egyptian Pharaoh, Kahmunrah--the older brother of Ahkmenrah--plots to take the golden tablet and bring all of the evil forces in history to life and take over the world, along with Napoleon, Ivan the Terrible, and some others.

So Stiller travels to Washington and finds himself in the basement of the Smithsonian museums in a giant archive. He teams up with General Custer, Einstein, and Amelia Earhart to battle the evil prince and his forces and save the world . . . or at least the world of historical exhibits. Many of the characters from the first installment are back for the sequel, including Robin Williams' Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson's cowboy Jedediah Smith.

Some of the sequences are repetitive and silly, and that gets tiresome. But others are very cool, such as when Stiller and some of the other characters walk into the famous picture of the soldier kissing a woman on the street at the end of World War II. Ditto for the black and white mobsters--including Al Capone--who come to life in black and white and team up with the evil forces. Also cool: seeing Honest Abe come to life and leave his perch at the Lincoln Memorial to give Stiller some battle advice.

Overall, this is an ideal family and kids' movie. Fun, great effects, lots of cool characters, and many historical figures about whom your kids can learn something after the movie is over.

TWO REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 01:00 PM

May 21, 2009

Not Bad "Terminator Salvation" Better Sequel Than Expected

By Debbie Schlussel

Unlike most other critics, I actually like "Terminator Salvation." As sequels go, it wasn't bad. If there was one objectionable thing it was that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger apparently has so few problems to deal with in California, he apparently had time to work with filmmakers for his computer-generated, much younger-looking naked cameo in the film.

But aside from that, I found it entertaining. It wasn't a great movie. But it was engrossing, if often a little slow, despite the action. It's dark, gritty, and definitely a guy's movie.

I liked it not just for its unwavering portrayal of good versus evil and man versus machine. I liked that the movie was full of heroism and respect for human life. And no-one wanted to go "negotiate" or "reason" with the terminator machines, like they do with Ahmadinejad or the rest of our enemies. They realized they were their enemies and they wanted to just flat-out destroy them.

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The plot: It's the year 2018, and an entity known as "Skynet"--run by computers--has taken over the world. It and its terminator robots and machines have destroyed most humans and most cities (and the desolate sets reflect that). But pockets of human resistance in Los Angeles and other parts of California are fighting back, so that the human race will survive.

John Connor (Christian Bale) is the grown man who was once the baby of the Linda Hamilton character in the original "Terminator" movie. He is leading the human resistance or sort of leading it and contending with higher ranking human commanders. Connor knows that he must find and save a kid named Kyle Rees, who is his real-life father. If he doesn't, he will cease to exist and the human race will be defeated by Skynet and its terminator machines.

Meanwhile, Marcus Wright, a man who thought he was executed in 2003 awakens and finds himself helping the resistance. But is he really human or a machine?

Full of action and special effects, the real star of the movie was not Christian Bale, but actor Sam Worthington, who plays the heroic Wright--poignantly playing a wholly moral being torn between man and machine.

Yes, the movie is a doomsday flick. And, even though I like that genre, I'm getting tired of those. Aren't we all?

Still, as a sequel and sci-fi movie complete with light escapist entertainment and a ton of action and great FX, this one isn't bad. And it's actually pretty good. Plus, you needn't have seen any previous "Terminator" movies to see and know what's going on in this one.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:48 PM

May 20, 2009

Which White Actor Should Play Martin Luther King, Jr?: Announcing The Draft Owen Wilson Committee

By Debbie Schlussel

The other day we all heard news that pitch Black actor Jamie Foxx (slave name: Eric Bishop) is being seriously considered to play Frank Sinatra in a bio-flick about "Old Blue Eyes."

And so, in this vein, when I read that, yesterday, DreamWorks Studios announced plans for the "first big-screen portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.," I was thinking of who should have a serious shot of playing him.

And I was thinking--of course!--it should be . . . OWEN WILSON. After all, we've moved beyond the race thing. And who better to play Dr. King than the very blond, very pale White Owen Wilson.

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I Have a Dream

I mean, after all, Wilson looks as much like King as Foxx looks like Sinatra.

And, as we all know, the great Dr. King would have preferred that people be judged by the content of their acting chops and not by the color of their skin.

What's good for the Foxx is good for the Wilson. So, I am starting a committee, "DRAFT Owen Wilson to Play MLK."

Oh, and by the way, Jamie Foxx is slated to host the 2009 BET Awards show. And I think that he should quit defining himself in such a small category.

After all, as we all know, in the spirit of Sinatra, FOXX should be hosting the Italian American Foundation banquet. And play Rocky in Rocky VII. I'm sure it's no coincidence that his first name ends in a vowel. So, it's all kosher. Capisce?

Maybe you can come up with a paler, Whiter actor for the King role. Suggestions in the comments section.

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Posted by Debbie at 01:47 PM

Movie I'm Really Looking Forward To: "Public Enemies"

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm really looking forward to "Public Enemies," which comes out July 1st. It's the onscreen telling of how the feds went up against John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson in the '30s. I'm not a fan of Johnny Depp, who plays Dillinger. Not a fan of 9/11 truther nut Marion Cotillard, either. But I do like Christian Bale (regardless of the tape of him screaming at the guy on set of the new Terminator flick), who portrays Melvin Purvis, a member of law enforcement who went after these guys. And I like Channing Tatum, who portrays Floyd. Looks to be good. I love these kinds of movies. "The Untouchables" is still classic in my mind.

Posted by Debbie at 12:37 PM

May 18, 2009

Night @ the Smithsonian, Afternoon in a Screening Room

By Debbie Schlussel

Just got back from a critics' screening of "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian." They didn't have the print of the movie on time and so we began viewing it almost an hour late. It happens (and it worked out great for people who are perpetually late and always rushing, like me). But that's why I've been away.

The movie--the second installment of "Night at the Museum"--is in theaters on Friday. I really liked the original, which is great for kids. I'll be posting my review for the sequel early Friday Morning. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, watch the trailer:

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Posted by Debbie at 02:30 PM

May 15, 2009

More Weekend Box Office: "Tyson"--Glorifying a Thuggish Idiot Who Became a Muslim

By Debbie Schlussel

I've already reviewed "Angels & Demons." The other new movie out, this weekend, is the documentary "Tyson."

I think it's hard to actually call this a "documentary," because it doesn't document anything. It's Mike Tyson going on and on about his life, and there's simply nothing new in it. There are no interviews with anyone else. It's just a video ode to a guy that doesn't deserve one. Mike Tyson is a thug, and an uncivilized monster who messed up every single thing in his life. And he converted to Islam. But, then, I repeat myself.

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Tyson talks about how he enjoyed robbing White people and sleeping around. And he tries in vain to use big words that sound important, but yet he doesn't know what they mean and uses them improperly. My favorite part is when he tells us how he met everyone important, including the "President of Istanbul." There is no President of Istanbul (but there is a President and a Prime Minister of Turkey). He can't travel to South Africa to meet his idol and friend, Nelson Mandela, "because of probation problems." No kidding.

My other favorite part is when Tyson tells us of his conversion to the "Religion of Peace," as Mike Tyson really is emblematic of most of the soulless, thuggish, empty Americans who try to find who they don't have in Islam, and don't get anything new from it, but for extremism:

When I was in jail, I lost faith in G-d. I became a Muslim in prison, but I really lost faith in myself. When I first took my shehadah [DS: Islamic oath of martyrdom, the uttering of which makes one a Muslim], I became extreme. I used Islam because I was bitter at the world. I was full of hate.

Yup, that sounds like your typical Muslim convert. Or just typical Muslim, period. Sadly, Tyson goes on to try to rehabilitate Islam and tell us of the "true Islam," bragging of his Islamic, Che Guevara, and Mao tattoos and how ahead of his time he was to admire these scumbags. You trendsetter, you. But we can't forget his famous statement to Lennox Lewis, which strangely now includes what our media left out at the end--the part about Allah.

I want your heart. I want to eat his children, praise be to Allah.

The most disgusting part of the movie are scenes of mobs of fans (most of them White) greeting this thug, Tyson, when he gets released from prison on rape charges, and watching this brainless mob follow him to the mosque, the first place he goes (to pray).

Tyson's statements about how his character in relation to Islam is one of the few insights in this entire movie. The rest of just crap, unless you consider Tyson's disgusting, vulgar renditions of some of his sexual escapades and how he "grew up in a promiscuous neighborhood, a promiscuous family, my mom was promiscuous, everyone was promiscuous, everyone was like suck my d---, lick my p----," an "insight." (And as if that somehow excuses his animal-like behavior.) Anyone who reads a paper or watched a news report knows that sex is rampant in the ghetto. It's no revelation when Tyson tells us how he got gonorrhea "from a prostitute or a filthy woman or something." That he can't remember is a pretty good indication that someone needs to look in the mirror when he tells us about "filth."

We also know that racism is, too. Tyson tells us that a fighter who is White was a "punk-assed White boy," and that when the late trainer Cus D'Amato took him into his home in the suburbs, "I wanted to rob those White people." Tyson does admit that while he hated White people, he chose as his handler, the man who stole a lot of his money--the

wretched, slimy reptilian motherf--ker Don King. This is supposed to be my Black brother. I attacked him in front of these old, decrepit White women. They probably thought I was some Black heathen or something. But I stomped him and I stomped him and I stomped him.

And after that beating and some legal battles, King only gave him back "a small amount" of his money.

He finally gave me a small amount of money. It waas like 20 or 30 million or something. I don't know how much, but it was really small.

Ah, Tyson--always the guy to have everything in perspective. And not violent either, like in the case of dining on Ear of Evander (Holyfield) or Leg of Lennox (Lewis).

I wasn't upset with myself that I bit his ear, but that I lost my composure. At that point, I didn't care about the fight. He hurt me, and I wanted to inflict the most pain possible against him.

Let's hear it for Tyson perspective and maturity.

Way to go, Mike. Whatta guy. On the other hand, it is Don King, so I think we can give him a pass.

On the other hand, the perpetually sick-in-the-head Tyson tells us he liked people who were leeches. "I wanted them to suck my blood." And how could you find a bigger leech than King, whom some stupid Republicans glommed onto in 2004 when he said he was voting for Bush?

It's much of the obvious: Tyson telling us how he became a big boxer, how he made and spent most of his money, how he had so many women, how his obtrusively ugly face tattoo represents a Maori warrior (funny, he doesn't look Maorish), how he didn't really beat Robin Givens, and how the rape charges against him were made up (I do believe this claim, but not because he said so). Probably the funniest line is when Tyson speaks of getting sent to a juvenile detention center at age 12, where he runs into many of his equally youthful criminal consorts.

All of my friends that I hadn't seen in a while, and I wondered where they went--they were there. Going to juvenile detention, it was like a class reunion.

One interview clip the movie shows is that of Tyson telling a TV interviewer:

I want to put the bourgeoisie and the erudites in their place--you know, all the people who think I'm trash and I'm scum. I'll be trash and scum, but I'll be angelic trash and scum.

Huh? You keep telling yourself that, Rusted Iron Mike. Leave bad attempts at working class bonhomie to the professionals. This is definitely a case where bourgeoiesie and erudites are underrated.

Finally, Tyson tells us some truth:

I never left the street corner . . . . I'm an insane individual.

No kidding. But did I need to sit through more than an hour of Mike Tyson yapping, as if he's giving me some holy insight, to hear him utter the obvious?

I had to laugh, this morning, when I heard director James Toback say his movie explores the "depths," "inner poignancy," and "existential abyss" that he claims is Mike Tyson.

Sorry, but after watching this movie, I didn't see any of that. Not even close. But maybe with enough such fertilizer from the director, something will grow.

On second thought . . . nah.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:25 PM

May 14, 2009

My "Angels & Demons" Review . . . Or "101 Ways to Torture and Slay a Priest" *** SPOILER Alert ***

By Debbie Schlussel

**** WARNING: There are a number of spoilers in this review of the movie, "Angels & Demons." If you don't want to know these spoilers and the ending of the movie, don't read any further than the first three paragraphs of this review. ****

As readers know (and as I've noted on this site), my biggest objection to the movie, "Angels & Demons"--which opens tonight in theaters at Midnight--is that director Ron Howard changed the identity of the assassin in the movie from Muslim to "Danish."

After seeing the movie, full of scenes in which "the preferiti"--high ranking Vatican priests with the best shot of becoming Pope--are tortured and slaughtered to death in various explicitly gruesome ways, I can see why it was so important for this character to remain a Muslim in the movie, as he was in the book. And why Ron Howard, a PC liberal, was so eager for a Muslim not to be portrayed doing such horrid things that are carried out by the minute throughout the "Danish" Middle-East.

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After all the most nearly successful modern attempt on a Pope's life was committed by Mehmet Ali Agca . . . clearly, a Danish name. And we don't want Catholics seeing a Muslim carrying out such hideous tortures and murders of priests because, after all, the "Religion of Peace" would never ever do such a thing and never has throughout it's history over the centuries. In fact, Director Ron Howard and scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman went out of their way to have this non-descript, non-Muslim assassin utter lines about how the Jewish G-d, allah, and the Christian G-d are all the same and all murderous. Yup, love that anti-religious moral equivalency lumping us Judeo-Christians with the religion of Greater BarbArabia.

**** SPOILERS BEGIN HERE ****

That said, for the first two hours and five minutes of the two-hour, twenty-minute "Angels & Demons," I thought, "WOW, this is a great movie, and very pro=Catholic, too." But, then, when the heroic Irish Catholic priest who is the adopted son and personal assistant to the Pope suddenly becomes not the young moral superman and hero we thought, but instead a crazed murdering, torturing monster, the movie lost me. The movie lost me, especially because the reason the padre did this was because he was against science. Pure propaganda.

Even though I'm no Catholic--I'm a Jew--I am pro-life and against embryonic stem cell research, just like the Vatican. Does this mean I am "against science"? Does this mean that my religious leaders would set of a chain reaction of torturous murders of top clerics and try to blow up an entire major city . . . all just to fight science? Are those of us who are conservative on social issues and don't want the "brave new world" scenario--are we all monsters?

The movie slapped me with this message basically in the second to last scene of the movie. It was such a buzzkill. Until then, my only reservation, other than the Muslim whitewash, was the repeated scenes of priests being branded, tortured, and killed in disgusting ways. That was painful to watch, and I hope it doesn't give nuts copycat ideas. "101 Ways to Torture and Kill a Priest" isn't a video manual we needed (especially when, in the original "Angels & Demons" book, it's more like, "101 Muslim Ways to Torture and Kill a Priest").

And that's sad, because until then, I loved this movie. It was fun, exciting, suspenseful and thrilling (if kinda gruesome). The special effects are fantastic, the scenes of Rome and the statues inside old churches--most of which are likely Hollywood sets and computer generated images--were stunning. I found it extremely entertaining and enjoyable.

The story: The Pope has just died, and a new one must be chosen by Vatican Cardinals. Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is invited by the Vatican to help in a desperate crisis. Someone has kidnapped four "preferiti" (Cardinals favored to become the next Pope). That same person assassinated a priest working at a supercollider and stole a dangerous vial of "anti-matter," which could blow up a major city.

The kidnapper threatens to murder one of them each hour for four hours. At the end of the day--at Midnight--the killer will let the anti-matter explode all of Vatican City and parts of Rome. The kidnapper has identified himself as part of the Illuminati, a mysterious ancient society of scientists at war with the Catholic Church.

Dr. Langdon, with his knowledge of symbols and ancient societies like the Illuminati, is brought in to try to decipher hints of where the preferiti are being held. Also there is a female scientist who headed up the supercollider anti-matter project. They work with the Vatican City's Swiss Guard and the help of the late Pope's adopted son/personal assistant, a young Irish Catholic priest. It is a race against time to find the priests before they are murdered one by one and then everyone is blown to kingdom come.

I didn't find this movie to be anti-Catholic. If anything--despite the murderous, anti-science, young Priest (which was definitely objectionable, not to mention preposterous)--the movie is endearing to the Catholic Church and far better than "The Da Vinci Code." The Church and its traditions is contrasted with the absolute pronounced agnostic and nearly-atheist bent of Robert Langdon, whom you can tell must have a tiny shred of belief somewhere under all of his elitist Harvard scientist armor.

Yes, overall, it is a positive portrayal of the Catholic Church, including the very end. But it is not a positive portrayal of those of us who are morally conservative and have ethical dilemmas with brave new world technologies--a core position of the Church. We are not against science. In fact, many of us, like me, embrace science, which has made our lives easier and helped us to develop cures and better treatments for diseases, etc.

But that doesn't mean we have to embrace science's extremes. Nor that we have to accept this otherwise great movie's portrayal of us as extremists.

TWO REAGANS (Would have been THREE, but One Reagan Deducted for Muslim Whitewashing in Script and Phony Anti-Science Extremism)
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Posted by Debbie at 01:28 PM

May 12, 2009

The "End" of Westerns: Did Americans Really Lose a Sense of "Manifest Destiny"?

By Debbie Schlussel

Although there have been some good westerns in recent years--my fave is the remake of "3:10 to Yuma" (read my review)--they are sparse and few.

And that's sad. Even more disturbing, though, is one commentator's belief as to why this is, which I was disappointed to read in this weekend's "USA Weekend" celebrity gossip column:

Will actors Sam Elliot, Tom Selleck or Bruce Boxleitner, who have played memorable cowboys, star in a new TV western? No one makes them anymore.

Roy McCallen, Aurora, Colo.

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Gary Edgerton, author of a new history of American TV, says westerns are on the wane because we're "less enamored with a sense of manifest destiny and nation-building than 50 years ago." Creators of new TV westerns need to freshen up the formula, Edgerton says. As for the actors you mention, none of them has a western in the works.

Well, I'm all against "nation-building"--which is something we did and had no business doing in Iraq and something which the Nation-Builder-in-Chief, Bush, campaigned against. (Now we've built a "nation," indeed--a greater Iranian Shi'ite nation.) But there is nothing wrong with the best era of American's boldness--our manifest destiny, with the great old west and discovering, conquering, and settling new lands in the west and the south.

I don't agree with Edgerton that "we're" less enamored with that era. Hollywood is. And that's because that's an era of American pride, where Americans worked hard, sold hard (there's a great tradition of Jewish traders and salesman out west, including the ancestors of late Senator Barry Goldwater), and succeeded. Hollywood doesn't like to remember times when America was great, and when they do, we're usually portrayed as rapers and murderers of Indians. So, maybe it's best, they no longer make those films.

Still, it's sad that there are less Westerns. They can be fun, exciting movies. And I wish we had more, instead of the giant heap of crap Hollywood has been serving up lately.

So, what is your take? Why have Westerns "gone out of style"? Why aren't they making them? Have Americans really lost interest in them? Are they too slow for the IPod, Playstation, Wii, post-post-MTV generation?

Posted by Debbie at 12:17 PM

May 11, 2009

Hollywood Does It Again: "Angels & Demons" Flick Changes Muslim Villain to "Danish" Villain

By Debbie Schlussel

Over the years, I've written about the many movies in which Hollywood changes the villain or the terrorist in the original script or novel from a Muslim to something else out of politically correct deference to Islam, the religion of whiners (and ultimately, murderers).

Now, Hollywood continues in this tradition. This week, "Angels & Demons"--the controversial second installment of Dan Brown's already controversial "The Da Vinci Code"--opens in theaters. My review will be posted at Midnight/early Thursday Morning (stay tuned).

But I'm already learning that the movie has been "disinfected" by Islamopanderers (Director Ron Howard) not wanting to upset our dear friends in the "Religion of Peace," who might do something "peaceful" if the movie had stayed true to the book.

Reader Michelle writes:

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Well, Debbie, Hollywood has chickened out again.

I read the book last year, and the Hassassin was muslim.
I just checked the cast list in IMDB, and the Hassassin is now Danish.

They mustn't offend, now, must they?
Barf.

Double Barf.

For readers who think Michelle typoed, using the word, "Hassassin," she actually didn't. You see the word, "assassin," comes from the Arabic word, "Hashashin" [hashish user] because Muslim assassins smoked hashish before they murdered.

But don't worry. They won't use the word Muslim or "assassin" or "hashish" in the same sentence because that would be wrong. Instead, Director Ron "Opie" "Richie Cunningham" Howard will vilify the Catholics because that would be . . .oh so right. Right?

Howard admitted he took "a lot more creative license" with this adaptation of a Brown thriller, changing both the ending and an assassin, who is Muslim in the book. . . .

One theater trailer, however, claims the church "ordered a brutal massacre" to silence scientists, and another focuses on the "war"
between science and religion, a key theme explored in the book.

And if you look at the credits, the "Assassin" character isn't played by an Ahmed Baba Ganouche or a Mohammed Tabbouli. Nope. It's played by some dude named Nicolaj Lie Kaas. Yup, just like reader Michelle said, a Scandinavian name. Because everyone knows that those blond Scandinavians are the original Middle Eastern assassins who introduced us to the marvels of hashish and khat.

Alhamdillullah [praise allah] for Hollywood and Ron Howard. And where's Pottsie and Ralph Malph (or is that "Mouth"?) when you need them to inject a little sanity?

Posted by Debbie at 02:33 PM

May 08, 2009

Rest of the Weekend Box Office: Skipworthy (Other than "Trek")

By Debbie Schlussel

You've already seen my review of the new "Star Trek" movie. Here are my reviews of the rest of the new releases, this weekend. These two movies have a couple of things in common: 1) I hated them, and 2) both feature limb-cutting disgusting scenes designed just for the purpose of shocking us. I say, stick with "Star Trek," or rent something.

* "Next Day Air": This movie, starring a mostly Black (and the few that are not Black are Hispanic) cast, is something of a voluntary minstrel show. Black actors voluntarily join the casts of this type of garbage, and Black audiences go to see movies like this in droves, after Black radio stations promote it and give out free tickets. And it's complete and utter crap. If I were Black, I'd wonder why Hollywood consistently serves my people up with so much trash like this. I'd wonder why they think I should see this kind of big screen glorification of pointless violence, obscenity, and drug trade.

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Donald Faison plays a delivery man for a private national express mail service, much like FedEx or UPS. A complete stoner, he is high when he accidentally delivers a large ceramic piece containing a huge cocaine shipment to the wrong address. The slacker stoners who live in the apartment quickly plan on how they will sell the stuff and make millions for themselves. They deal with one of their drug-dealing cousins, but don't completely trust him. Meanwhile, the man who as supposed to receive the shipment, across the hall, and his girlfriend are sweating over the drugs. Their kingpin travels from Mexico to get them to talk and find the drugs.

The movie is mostly four-letter words--pretty much every other word--and an exercise in observing unworthy lowlifes in, um, "conversation." That, and a disgusting scene in which a man's tongue is cut out by one of the slacker lowlifes planning to deal the drugs. Yes, American society has long past disintegrated, and this piece of on-screen celluloid crap is Exhibit "A." Extremely violent, disgusting, boring, and pointless. Stop glamorizing the dregs of the 'hood, Hollywood.

If the studio allowed me to still review this movie, not having seen the whole execrable thing, I'd have walked out. Believe me, I wanted to very badly, the entire time.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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* "Is Anybody There?": Michael Caine plays an aging man who lives in a senior citizens nursing home in the house of a middle-aged, bitter working-class English couple in the midst of marital strife. Struck with mild dementia, he befriends the couple's young son. But while his declining mental state is not apparent, it soon becomes so, with dire and disgusting consequences. He performs a finger-cutting magic trick that he screws up, accidentally cutting off another ailing senior citizen's finger in front of the kids at the young son's birthday party. That was disgusting and unnecessary.

As was, in my opinion, the rest of this boring movie. A complete, depressing waste of time. I like Michael Caine, but I wish I'd skipped this. You were forewarned. Most critics raved over this, but the movie emperor wears no film. There's nothing here to see here.

THREE MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 06:16 PM

May 07, 2009

Seeing This Today . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

Bet I laugh a lot. Stay tuned for my review, next week.

Posted by Debbie at 11:58 AM

"Star Trek" Review: Fun, New Big Screen Installment Marks Refreshing Rebirth of Aging Franchise

By Debbie Schlussel

*** review bumped up from Midnight ***

Stardate 2009.05.07. (Okay, I promise, this is the last stardate . . . until the next "Star Trek" movie.)

Though I'm no Trekkie, I liked the "Star Trek" TV series re-runs and movies as much as the next person (and my mom taught Leonard Nimoy's son in the New York Public Schools--see my Schlussel Star Trek Trivia post

). But it was getting a little old, like its stars, and tired and haggard. Heck, the original Scottie, James Doohan, is long dead. And the last couple of sequels and TV spin-offs were just not all that.

But "Star Trek," the latest installment of this late '60s TV series turned movie franchise, breathes new life into it. And it's a fun, engaging update, which not only pays homage to its past, but even includes one of the past--Leonard Nimoy as original Spock--in a significant role. His presence is a nice handing off of the proverbial baton, and I'm sure William Shatner is regretting his decision to have himself killed off as the original Kirk, preventing any plausible return in this incarnation.

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The movie begins tonight in limited release, with full national release Friday. I saw it amidst a Trekkie audience that consumed it like junkies on crack.

"Star Trek" isn't so much a "sequel" as it is a reboot with a modern update. We learn how James Tiberias Kirk became Captain of the U.S.S. Starship, and how the half-Vulcan/half-human Spock got there, too. We see both of them as young kids, and that's fun and interesting. It's always fun to see a young Vulcan beat up other Vulcans who mock his half-humanness. And it's fun to see the robot cops on flying motorcycles apprehending a wayward young daredevil, Kirk.

There's somewhat of a confusing flashback/flash-forward to get us through this and bring back original Spock. But it all gets straightened out and tidied up eventually, amidst terrific special effects and battles with Romulan aliens.

Yes, there is the usual beaming up (and down) of the crew of the spaceship, which is in space amidst a threat from the surviving Romulans (led by actor Eric Bana), out to destroy some important planets. And there are the lines we've all come to remember from Montgomery Scott a/k/a "Scotty," Nimoy's Spock, and the like.

And the resemblance between the old and new cast members with some modern snarky updates is incredible. The new Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy character, played by Karl Urban, reminds us of the original, DeForest Kelley, getting his mannerisms and hyper-seriousness exactly on point. Ditto for Zachary Quinto's Spock, who looks just like the younger Nimoy, after make-up, eyebrow transplant, and ear-plasty (or whatever you call an "ear job"). And, of course, main star Chris Pine (whom I liked in last year's excellent "Bottle Shock"--read my review) is a good casting choice as the funny, restless and slackerish yet smart James Kirk. He's got spunk, and he's funny. And I like the new Scotty, as well as learning how he learns to transport members of the Enterprise while the ship is moving. You hardly notice he is the usually goofy comedic actor, Simon Pegg, even though he's, well, goofy.

If there were any characters I thought were over the top or who added nothing, that would be Chekov and Sulu. Anton Yelchin overdoes Chekov's Russian accent, extending a stupid joke from a previous Star Trek movie, about being unable to pronounce the "v" sound (which is actually a sound quite common in Russian and easily pronounced--Vasily, Vladimir, Vanya, etc.). The role of Hikaru Sulu is wasted on John Cho, whom we'll forever see as the stoner in the Harold & Kumar movies. He seems to be there only because he shares George Takei's Asian visage. Cho adds nothing and is barely noticed. Takei has nothing to worry about in terms of a Star Trek legacy because his "replacement" is like the invisible man.

The beautiful Zoe Saldana, too, adds nothing as Uhura and is more supermodel than Nichelle Nichols' race-barrier-breaking original. But she is cute and adds the chick factor and mini-skirts to lighten things up.

The always handsome and charismatic Bruce Greenwood as the mature Captain Pike, teacher to both star pupils Kirk and Spock, is a better fit. On the other hand, it was weird and jarring to see the aging Winona Ryder as Spock's human mother. Shoplifting at Saks makes you look old, apparently, in addition to a good make-up artist on the set.

In case you were wondering, there is "interspecies erotica"--sort of--in this movie. Not the vile, disgusting kind as in "Clerks 2" (read my review of that depraved flick), but very tame romance between humans and aliens . . . and half-aliens (don't worry, parents, it's just some kisses and a scene in underwear).

Sad to say, there are no Klingons in this installment (though there is one passing reference). They need to save something for the next sequel.

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Old Spock, New Spock

There isn't a lot of suspense or excitement to the story, but that's typical of the "Star Trek" genre, both on TV and on screen. Some of the best scenes include one in which Kirk trying to escape giant beings chasing him on a wintry planet. It's reminiscent of a young Luke Skywalker running from beings in "Star Wars." And a cool bar scene toward the beginning is also reminiscent of Star Wars' "Cantina," with aliens drinking and partying side by side with human space crew members. Both scenes were fun, light, and escapist, the way you want your sci-fi adventure movies to be. I want one of those cool Starship Enterprise salt shakers.

Another bonus: The movie is fine for kids, other than some four-letter words and one frisky, relatively tame brief scene between Kirk and a green woman. It's not very violent. There are a few fighting scenes between Enterprise crew and alien Romulans, but it's not bloody or disturbing in the least. It's basic Star Trek-esque stuff. Also great, the movie is devoid of political sentiment and statements. Very welcome.

If anything, this movie is brighter and more optimistic, plus more humorous than I remember the other "Star Trek" movies. The cast is mostly fresh and a welcome update.

With this new, young cast amply comprising the updated Enterprise crew we know and love, you can be sure the "Star Trek" series will live long and prosper.

Don't beam me up just yet, Scotty. There's actually some tiny modicum of intelligent life in Hollywood, after all.

THREE REAGANS
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***

BTW, there's sort of an homage to this scene in the new "Star Trek" movie (and I'm not talking about that weird man-bra Kirk is wearing):

PREVIOUS: "Star Trek" Fever

Posted by Debbie at 01:28 AM

May 06, 2009

Good News, Trekkies: Schlussel "Star Trek" Review Posts @ Midnight Tonight; Also, Schlussel Review on ABC Radio's "Curtis Sliwa" Tonight

By Debbie Schlussel

Stardate 2009.05.06.

I just got permission from the studio to post my "Star Trek" review, soon. It'll be up at about Midnight, Tonight. You can also hear my review, latenight, along with my discussion of other topics on the nationally syndicated ABC Radio show, "The Curtis Sliwa Show," where I usually make a weekly appearance or more.

Stay tuned.

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Posted by Debbie at 02:43 PM

May 05, 2009

Just Got Back From Screening . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

. . . Yet another crappy movie. Can't say what it is now, but you'll see in my reviews, posted every Friday or hear it when I review movies, every Friday on the Sirius Patriot Channel's Mike Church Show, between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Eastern.

Seems like such a shame to waste my life away in the middle of such a beautiful, balmy day inside a dark theater watching crap. Oh, the stuff I sit through, so you don't have to . . . . : )

I know, I know--I'm whining about easy work. But trust me, seeing most of these movies ain't fun. It's work.

Posted by Debbie at 01:36 PM

Star Trek Fever

By Debbie Schlussel

Stardate 2009.05.05.

Last Night, I saw "Star Trek," the latest movie incarnation of the famed TV series, which ran from 1966-69. I can't post my review until Friday--it'll be up at Midnight, just as Thursday ends. Check out Zachary Quinto, the new Spock actor, and how amazingly close he looks to Nimoy's Spock from the '60s.

Until my review posts--even though I'm not a Trekkie--here's a little of my own Star Trek trivia.

My mother was a teacher in New York City Public Schools in the late '60s, as "Star Trek" was on the air, and she taught Leonard Nimoy's son. Even though the Trekkie phenomenon grew after "Star Trek" was canceled and into the rerun phase, at the time, the school had to hold separate parent-teacher conferences for Nimoy, away from the other parents. The fan-dom was that big already. My mother swore there was something weird about Nimoy's ears. They seemed a little "bent."

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Old Spock, New Spock
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The sign that Spock makes with his hand split, as he says "Live Long and Prosper" is ripped off from Judaism. It's the sign the Cohen--the Jewish high priest--makes. When I was a little kid, and I didn't know this, I made the sign with my hand after watching a "Star Trek" re-run on TV. My dad admonished me never to do it again. It's considered a holy thing that only the Cohens are supposed to do.

And you know what? Even though "Star Trek" made a mockery of a holy thing in Judaism, we Jews didn't riot all over the world, try to burn down Western embassies, and kill nuns in Africa. When they do something like that with a symbol or icon of Islam, well, you know what happens (which is why you'll never see Star Trek or any show mock Islam like that).

And, hey, the fact that the two top guys helming the Starship Enterprise were both Jews--William Shatner and Nimoy--isn't exactly a source of pride for me.

Leonard Nimoy has made something of a post-Trek career of mocking Judaism and unboldly going where no man should go before, now, or after. He is a photographer who publishes picture books of naked women--particularly his fetish of naked fat women--posing completely in the buff with Jewish religious paraphernalia. Again, imagine if he did that with Muslim religious paraphernalia--all the Vulcan know-how in the world wouldn't protect him from not living long and prospering. But, here in the liberal-dominated Detroit Jewish community, they--a liberal schmuck named Hanan Lis, who married into a rich, leftist family--even invited Spock to show his disgusting nudie book at the Jewish Book Fair.

Yup, beam me up, Scotty, there's no intelligent life in my community of fellow co-religionists, including Spock Nimoy.

Just a little off-the-beaten-path Trekkie trivia.

Again, stay tuned for my review at Midnight, Thursday Night/Friday Morning.

'Til then, read (my site) long and Twitter (it).

Posted by Debbie at 09:59 AM

May 01, 2009

Weekend Box Office: X-Men's "Wolverine" Tops Very Lame Offerings; UPDATE: Review of Dumb "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" Added

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE: Scroll down for review of horrid "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" ****

* "X-Men Origins: Wolverine": This was better than I expected, but not that great. It was just okay. It's got fantastic special effects. Very cool set designs and scenery. And for that, it's worth it. That's what people go to this kind of superhero movie to see--the FX. And you'll get your fill here.

It's just that it was missing that "something special," that magic that makes a good superhero movie great, like "Iron Man" or the far superior original "X-Men" movie, which I liked a lot. Also, this movie let me down in that it begins with a bang and ends with a mediocre, formulaic whimper.

At the beginning, we learn how Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) discovers his powers as a kid, along with his crazy brother (Liev Schreiber). We see the two of them fighting on the side of the U.S. in a number of wars--the Civil War, World War II, and Vietnam. That was cool. And we learn how Wolverine's claws and the rest of his body become undestructible. That was cool, too.

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But it just wasn't all that. And I could have done without the usual anti-military tripe that comes out of Hollywood: that an evil general is turning humans into ultimate weapons and setting Wolverine up and trying to blackmail/extort him. We've seen this before. That aspect of the movie is typical and boring. And it's the sign of a weak script and plot.

But, hey, like I said, the script and plot isn't the reason we go to see this kind of movie. And for what we do go to see, it's not bad. It's got its moments of excitement and the like. But there wasn't much in the way of suspense or the magic sparks I like in my superhero flicks. And there wasn't any humor. I laughed like maybe three or four times, where I don't think it was meant to be funny. I like a certain amount of humor and snark in the guys with special powers. But this movie just takes itself too seriously.

(Also, parents should note that it's a tad violent for younger kids. Lots of stabbing with the Wolverine claws, and there's a beheaded wolf. But it should be okay for teens.)

Worth ten bucks and almost two hours, but not spectacular. Just all right.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Battle for Terra": This was probably the worst animated movie I've seen in a long time. It's not just that the animation was stiff and seemed like 20 years behind the times. It's that the story was ridiculous and boring. And all of the alien characters looked the same. It was in 3D, and the 3D was unremarkable and useless. Did nothing for me.

And then there's the anti-war theme, that we human Americans want to war and destroy a peaceful people and take their land. Sound familiar? Ditto for the global warming BS.

Terrians are aliens who look like tadpoles or sea monkeys. They all look the same and can float and undulate. (It's odd, when one of them crashes and gets injured because we know they can fly.) They live on the planet of Terra, which has very cool animated sets, but that's where the coolness of the animation ends. The rest is anachronistic in terms of today's animation technology and imagination.

Humans from earth (they're Americans with standard English names) have destroyed there planet because they "misused the natural resources and the land and destroyed it." (At this point I was thinking, "Shut up, Al Gore and Sheryl Crow.") They've been relegated to a giant spaceship, which will soon run out of oxygen, so they plan to invade Terra, destroy the Terrians and change their atmosphere to an oxygen-based one.

But the Terrians, after an initial exploratory invasion by the humans, fight back, led by a young Terrian girl, Mala. We're told, "Even the most peaceful world has a right to fight back and defend itself, when it's under attack." Sounds like what Al-Qaeda says to recruit terrorists, while showing them Iraq video clips.

I found it odd that an animated movie meant for kids was not only so boring, but way too complicated and over the top for a younger crowd.

Skip it. If you're looking for a great movie for kids, try the timeless (non-animated) classic, "My Side of the Mountain," instead. It's from 1969, and despite the 40-year lag, it's far more advanced for kids than this baloney.

TWO MARXES
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* "Lymelife": In case we didn't see enough attacks on American life in the suburbs and capitalism--with movies like "Revolutionary Road" (read my review)--this boring, pointless movie, starring Alec Baldwin (need I say more) will give you more than you could ask for. The movie poster features this horrid film's message: "The American Dream Sucks." Um, no, it doesn't. Just in Hollywood, where they want us to feel bad and despise America.

Baldwin plays a successful Long Island builder bent on building a bigger house. His wife is happy in their modest middle class home and life back in Queens. In the meantime, Baldwin is cheating on his wife with his female employee, whose husband (Timothy Hutton) is an unemployed man afflicted by Lyme disease. Baldwin's son is friends with and has a crush on Hutton's daughter. Everyone is miserable. Then end.

A complete waste of time. Save two hours of your life and $10 and avoid like the plague. Utter crap.

FOUR MARXES
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**** UPDATE--"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past": Possibly the dumbest, most annoying, most cheesy, dopey, and predictable movie ever. It was torture sitting through this absolutely awful chick flick starring the utterly untalented Matthew McConaughey and almost as untalented Jennifer Garner. If I wasn't reviewing it, I'd have walked out in the middle (or probably toward the beginning). Painful. If we were still allowed to "torture" terrorists, this would be at the top of my list to make 'em sit through over and over. This was supposed to be a comedy, and I didn't laugh once. But I did fall asleep (yaaaaawn).

McConaughey plays a playboy and a photographer who is single, alone, and a proud womanizer. He was raised this way by his late uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas). Now, he's at his uncle's house for his brother's wedding, where he's trying to bed everything in sight and finds his past girlfriend, Garner, whom he left because he's a commitment-phobe. Soon, he's visited by ghosts of his uncle and others from his life, warning him not to be a womanizer or he'll die old and alone and ruin everything.

The only thing good about this movie was Michael Douglas as the womanizing uncle, and he makes only a few brief appearances.

Guys, don't let your wife or girlfriend drag you to this tripe. Absolutely awful. Avoid at all cost.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Listen to my movie reviews every Friday morning between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Eastern on the Mike Church Show on the Sirius Patriot Channel 144.

Posted by Debbie at 12:36 PM

No Kidding: Brush-cutted Kelly McGillis Confirms She's a Lesbian

By Debbie Schlussel

Actress Kelly McGillis--who stopped looking like a woman after her star turn in "Top Gun," a few decades ago--reveals something everyone in the world (except her two husbands) already knew.

Kelly McGillis, best known for playing teacher to Tom Cruise in "Top Gun," has confirmed long-held rumors that she's a lesbian, according to an interview on the website shewired.

"I'm done with the man thing," says McGillis, 51, who is twice married and twice divorced and has two teenage daughters. "I did that, I need to move on in life. It's a part of being true to yourself. That's been a challenge for me."

Gee, after two decades plus of the butch-look, brush-cuts, thousands of pantsuits, and "sensible shoes" (or is that "comfortable shoes"?), who knew? She probably thinks that outing herself will help her faded career. And, knowing Hollywood, it probably will.

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Sadly, Don't Ask, Don't Tell Doesn't Apply to Military Movie Stars

Watch the full video interview here.

Posted by Debbie at 12:12 PM

April 29, 2009

Who Should Play Captain America?: Hamm is Kosher in This Case

By Debbie Schlussel

Just got back from a super secret movie screening, so secret that I am forbidden to even name the movie on this site until Friday (watch for my reviews at Midnight, just after Thursday ends, and stay tuned for my reviews on Friday Morning on the Sirius Patriot Channel's Mike Church Show).

In the meantime, they're getting ready to make a new Captain America movie, "The First Avenger: Captain America," and here are the actors being talked up for the role:

* Matthew McConaughey--Too goofy and unheroic. Captain America ain't no slacker, and he doesn't run around naked beating tribal drums either;

* Jon Hamm--This is my personal choice--suave, debonaire, confident, has that polished superhero look and a snarky sense of humor. This "Mad Man" could definitely be Captain America. Captain America is very muscular, so he might have to bulk up a bit or fake it under a muscle suit.

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Jon Hamm: The Schlussel Choice to Play Capt. America

Yes, sadly, this handsome Midwesterner is a lib (partied with the green global warming crowd at a Natural Resources Defense Council fundraiser), and since the crowd writing Captain America has gone lib, too, this is appropriate. You'll recall that Captain America--part of the ACLU of superheroes--was assassinated in the steps of a courthouse in an argument over the Superhero Registration Act, which was essentially the comic book version of the Patriot Act (hmmm . . . when was anyone ever assassinated over the Patriot Act? );

* Channing Tatum--Too hip-hoppish and ghetto (Am I still allowed to say that? After all, we Jews were stuck in plenty o' ghettos) and too young and wet behind the ears;

* Jon Cena--Too wrestler-ish and not polished. Lacks the suavity;

* Matt Damon--She's too effeminate and miniature; Captain America isn't a girlie-man or a part of an Arrogant Affleck sandwich. Stick with the Jason Bourne stuff;

* Brad Pitt--Too pretty-boyish and eccentric, too left, too conceited, too sensitive, too whipped. Captain America is not a Mr. Angelina Jolie, er . . . Angie Voight;

* Jerry O'Connell--Um, do I need to comment on this? "The Apartment," anyone? 'Nuff said. Plus, Captain America is not a brother of "The Bachelor" or Mr. Rebecca Romijn, either. He's not a starter, he's scout team or Arena Football;

* Paul Walker--Hot, but sounds like he's full of rocks when he talks. Too surfer-boyish and brainless to play a hero;

* Justin Timberlake--Captain America doesn't have a brillo pad for hair or do videos about his penis in a box. You stay classy, Justin. And he didn't "date" (euphemism) backwoods nutjob Britney Spears. No thanks;

* Scott Speedman--Who? Felicity's ex-boyfriend? Too blond-ish (yes, I know Captain America's alter ego is blond, but I like my superheroes with dark hair).

Like I said, the Hamm is kosher for this part in my book. Whom would you pick--on this list or someone else?

Posted by Debbie at 01:05 PM

April 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

By Debbie Schlussel

On Friday, I told you about the racist movie "Obsessed," brought to you by Beyonce Knowles, her daddy, and Magic Johnson (yes, that "Magic" Johnson).

Some people e-mailed and/or commented that I was wrong or over-reacting. But not the "Why Black Women Are Angry" blog, written by, obviously, an "angry Black women." Actually the name of the blog is "Diary of a Content Black Woman," but the URL for the site bears what she obviously meant to call it: WhyBlackWomenAreAngry.blogspot.com. Clearly, this woman is far more angry than content, and she illustrates the point I was making about how this movie plays into Black women's racism against White women.

The reason that Obsessed is #1 is because Black women have been dying to see a movie where the Black woman kicks the ass of the white woman who tries to steal her man! There. I said it. . . .
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[T]hrough the silver screen, every Black woman's fantasy was fulfilled. Beyonce (Susan) kicked "this crazy white woman insistent on taking her husband's" ass.

It was exhilarating!

'Nuff said. Time to send this chick, er . . . "Angry Black Woman," er . . . "Content Black Women" to anger management and sensitivity training.

*** UPDATE: It gets worse. Here's what a Black woman said about "Obsessed" on a Black supremacist website:

Go see the movie Obsessed. White women stalking and seducing a black man. . . .

My husband told me one time he notices that white women are aggressive especially when you turn them down.

Hakeema

Posted by Debbie at 02:52 PM

April 24, 2009

More Weekend Box Office: "Obsessed" = Blondingo--Beyonce's Race-Baiting White-sploitation

By Debbie Schlussel

I'd planned to post my brief review of Beyonce Knowles' "Obsessed" as an update to my reviews of this weekend's other new releases. But after seeing it, I think this movie should get its own post. And not because it's good. But because it's racist. Blatantly so.

It's not bad . . . for a Lifetime movie of the week, produced by BET. (There was absolutely no suspense and it's a poor, cheap copy of the far superior classic, "Fatal Attraction.")

But it's also racist in a way that would be unacceptable, today, the era of Obama and the Post-"Mandingo" movie age, were the races in this movie reversed. You've heard of "Blaxploitation." Now, check out the new racist trend out of Hollywood: White-sploitation.

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In this movie executive produced by Beyonce Knowles, her father/manager, Matthew Knowles, and Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Beyonce plays the Black wife of a Black investment executive. Her husband is relentlessly pursued and stalked by a hot, White (and crazy) blonde temp (Ali Larter). Although the husband never gives in to the White chick's pursuits, she frames him up to make it look as if he did, and he's in the doghouse with his wife.

And the Black couple is surrounded by a cadre of brainless and otherwise non-ideal human beings with gaping flaws. There is the lecherous, married White male co-worker (Jerry O'Connell) who can't believe the Black executive won't accept a little something on the side with the hot blonde--something he (the White guy) says he wants to do with her. Then, there is the world's most brainless White baby sitter, who gullibly lets the stalker White chick into the house to kidnap the baby. And don't forget the world's most brainless gay White male secretary, who ditzily gives the stalker White blonde the complete scoop on the Black couples' weekend plans, making it easier for her to stalk them. Even the White chick cop (Christine Lahti) isn't too bright. Yup, not a single White character in the movie who is sympathetic.

Sure, race is never mentioned in the movie. It doesn't have to be. Look at the movie poster and the colors they chose for the design, and the way the characters are juxtaposed. It's all about Black versus White, baby. I live in a mostly Black suburb of Detroit, and I saw the movie in a local theater with an entirely Black audience. I heard all assortment of racist comments about the White people and the White chick stalker, throughout the movie and afterward as I left. No wonder this obvious race-baiting film wasn't screened for critics.

It plays on the worst fears of many Black women in America, who fear that White women are stealing their men--even though less than 5% of Black men are married to White women, according to the Janks Morton documentary, "What Black Men Think." And of those 5%, I doubt most of the women were merciless stalkers as in this movie. Movies like this breed and feed on racism, particularly against White women. This kind of pop culture influence on the Black community is of no benefit and serves no purpose other than confirmation of baseless anger and racial hatred. I can't tell you how many times In my own neighborhood stores, I've been called racial epithets, like "bony-assed White bitch," for no reason whatsoever other than my skin tone.

I wondered how the audience would like it if the movie was about a Black male stalker was terrorizing a White couple, and all of the other Black characters in the movie were vapid, morons, or both. And why Hollywood can make a film like this, yet it's justifiably no longer permissible to make a movie in which the races are reversed.

Well, actually, I know why. We've long advanced past the era of "Mandingo," but we've regressed "forward" into the era of . . . "Blondingo," courtesy of Hollywood's newest producers (and race-baiters), Beyonce and her daddy.

The movie is mildly entertaining, but would it have killed them to include a single sympathetic White character in the entire movie? Are we all that bad and/or stupid?

I guess Beyonce, her father, and Magic Johnson have forgotten the race of most of those who've made them rich beyond their wildest dreams and beyond the wealth of most Americans, Black OR White:

Blondingos like me.

FOUR MARXES
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(From the Debbie Schlussel Hollywood Zombie Card Collection)

Posted by Debbie at 07:43 PM

Weekend Box Office: "Fighting" Rocky Lite Bests Sorry Selection

By Debbie Schlussel

Hear my reviews every Friday Morning between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Eastern on the Sirius Patriot Channel's "Mike Church Show."

It's ironic that the movie I most expected to hate, "Fighting," is the one I liked the best of the bunch of new movie releases this weekend, top-heavy with sorry offerings. "Obsessed" was not screened for critics, a sign it's a dud. But I'll review it later this afternoon. Here's what I did see:

* "Fighting": This movie was far better than I expected. While it's not a "great" movie (the thin story is predictable, and a good deal of it is schlocky), it's not bad. It has a "Rocky"-for-the-Ultimate-Fighting-crowd vibe to it. And even though it's obviously low budget, it had a certain charm to it. The audience at the screening I attended applauded at the end because it turns out to be a feel-good movie. It is what it is--a working-class-guy-struggles-to-make-it fighting movie, starring a very hot-looking actor (the smokin' hot Channing Tatum) with a love interest story in the background.

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Channing Tatum plays a hayseed fighter from the South who is struggling to eke out a living on the streets of New York by selling counterfeit merchandise. When he gets into a fight, a street hustler (Terrence Howard) spies his right hook shot and sees a diamond in the rough--a fighter who can make him some money. Soon, Howard is wheeling and dealing with mobsters to organize private fights at clubs between Tatum and others, and they're in business in underground, unsanctioned street fighting. Tatum also meets a cute but mysterious Puerto Ricana single mother and tries to romance her.

But can Tatum win the ultimate fight of his life, in which the purse is 100,000? Can he swallow his pride and agree to lose to his hated childhood rival if it will help his friend and patron make money by betting against him?

Like I said, this movie was far above my expectations, even if it seems kind of dated and like something from the '80s. It's really a guys' movie, but with the eye candy of Tatum, it will keep women interested. It's fine for teens and above. While the fighting was very violent (and there is some blood), there isn't that much in the way of four letter words, and even the "sex" scene is just a scene of Tatum and the girl sharing a kiss.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Anvil!: The Story of Anvil": Not knowing that there actually was a metal band from the '80s called "Anvil," when I saw this movie, I thought it had to be a parody in the vein of "This is Spinal Tap." But, sadly, it isn't. It's a documentary about losers who won't wake up and won't grow up, to the total disregard of their families.

These guys are losers. The members of the '80s band are still--in their mid-fifties--unable to face the fact that they didn't make it. And they're still pursuing their dream, even though their style of music long ago became passe. And even though their long lush locks of hair are now scraggly fragments hanging from scalps that are covered with doo-rags, apparently to hide baldness.

I hated these people, and I wanted them to fail. Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow are the original members of Anvil, the rock group that had one hit in the '80s, "Metal on Metal." And they just can't let go of the fact that it didn't go beyond that. At the beginning, we see disgusting shots of them from their better years: Kudlow playing a guitar with a vibrator (wow, this guy has taste) and another shot of him in complete hairy, gross frontal nudity. Yuck.During the course of this movie, we watch these idiots trudge through Europe on a tour, where they are treated like dirt and, in many cases, no-one (or barely anyone) shows up to their gigs. Still, they don't get it. They leave their families for months on end and later beg and borrow to get funding for a 13th album, which they must sell on-line and out of their cars.

The best scene in the movie is when "Lips" Kudlow, in a bid to earn money to fund the album, works at the telemarketing firm of one of his superfans. We watch him fail miserably to telemarket sunglasses, as he unconvincingly tells someone on the phone that the sunglasses are the ones worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix." Yes, even "Anvil" superfan geeks have grown up and succeeded in the real world. But not "Anvil" band members, who just can't get it together.

Most annoying part of this movie--and there are many such parts--when both Kudlow and Reiner tell us how their parents were Holocaust survivors.

They survived the camps and escaped the Nazi ovens so their kids could do this?! Hilarious. And ultimately, very sad.

While I hated these people, the documentary is a great case study in narcissistic losers who don't grow up, even at age 56. And you gotta watch it that way to enjoy it. Memo to Anvil: Get a haircut. That is, the few hairs you have left.

ONE REAGAN
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* "Earth": While this movie is stunningly beautiful and very entertaining, my biggest beef with it is the same beef I have with every other movie about animals aimed at kids: parts of the narration (in this case, by James Earl Jones) are so annoyingly eco-frightening and meant to scare your kids, it disappointed me. Fortunately, of those movies, this one is the best and the eco-preachy messages in the movie aren't as obtrusive and frequent as in "Under the Sea 3D" (read my review) and "Arctic Tale" (read my review).

This Disney flick follows a year in the lives of three families of animals--elephants, dolphins, and polar bears--along with assorted scenes of other animal and plant life. It's fascinating and the imagery is unbelievable. It's also interesting, too. While the brief environmental messages are there--the animals are always thirsty, hungry, and in desperate struggles to survive because of global warming, we are told--I still recommend this movie highly for your kids. It's a wonderful portrayal of nature and wildlife and a great way to get kids interested in science and nature. You can explain to them that they should ignore the narrator's brief hyperbolic interludes on impending disaster.

TWO REAGANS
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* "The Soloist": When will the uber-boring romanticization of the homeless end? I feel bad for those less fortunate, but as the main character in this movie illustrates, some of them are given all the opportunities in the world, but they are down and out anyway, by virtue of their own refusal to get it together.

Jamie Foxx plays a homeless, Juilliard-trained cellist discovered on the streets in L.A. by a Los Angeles Times columnist. It's based on a true story profiled on "60 Minutes." But that's where it should have remained--as a boring 12-minute segment on a news show, instead of an extremely boring two-hour exercise in insomnia cure at the box office.

We're treated over and over again to scenes of Jamie Foxx acting like a nutty, out-of-touch homeless guy refusing help when it is offered and any chance of making it back to the real world. Some of the scenes are so laughable, I thought it was a flashback to Foxx's days on the comedy show, "In Living Color." The arrogant, annoying reporter, Robert Downey, Jr., is equally boring. What's the point of this movie? That homeless people are people, too? I already knew that. But this repetitive waste of time didn't help their case. This movie was so fricking slow and boring I fell asleep twice and didn't miss a thing. Dude, go back to playing Ray Charles.

Extremely skipworthy.

FOUR MARXES
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* "The Informers": Annoying, has-been novelist of '80s "excess"-laden angst of the yuppies, Brett Easton Ellis, brings us more. As if we needed it. We didn't. I already saw this same movie by the same author, back in the '80s. It was called "Less Than Zero." (This also copies much of "Bright Lights, Big City.")

I think the purpose of this movie was to show us '80s assymetrical hairstyles on men and scene after scene of topless sex orgies. Um, no thanks.

A group of over-privileged, spoiled Hollywood kids party, do drugs, and have bisexual orgies. One of them gets AIDS and dies. An English rock star barely gets to see his son who lives with his estranged wife. In the meantime, he has endless nights of sex with teen boys and girls. A Hollywood studio exec (Billy Bob Thornton) who is estranged from his wife (Kim Basinger) gets back together with her, while he pines for his TV reporter girlfriend (a very old-looking and hardly recognizable Winona Ryder). And a failed actor/doorman who was kidnapped as a kid is visited by his former captor who raised him, who has kidnapped another kid for sale to a pervert. The end.

A horrible, horrible, dreadful movie. Completely vile, disgusting, and pointless. And, oh yeah, there's no plot. Semi-porn. And complete trash.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 01:23 PM

April 21, 2009

"Red Dawn": Important Movie Marks 25th Anniversary, as Star Fights Heroic Battle Against Cancer

By Debbie Schlussel

This is one of those things that makes you feel old. Some movie publicists tell me that Thursday is the 25th anniversary of an important movie, "Red Dawn," which depicts a Soviet Communist invasion of America and a band of American teens--the "Wolverines"--who heroically fight them off. (IMDB differs and says it was released on August 10, 1984, so I'll repost on this, again, then.)

American Cinemathique sent me word that the organization will be marking "Red Dawn's" 25th anniversary with a special showing and discussion at the historic, restored Aero Theatre in Santa Monica, on Thursday Night at 7:30 p.m. So if you live in the Los Angeles area, this is a great opportunity to see this excellent movie as it was meant to be seen--on the big screen. More details here.

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"Red Dawn" Trailer . . .

Although it was panned by many critics (a/k/a liberals) at the time, "Red Dawn" is a great movie that stands the test of time . . . if you realize that the Communist threat of yesterday in the movie could easily be the Islamic threat of today, taking over our country unless we stop them. Only a few years after "Red Dawn" came out, the Soviet Union fell. But several of the Communist leaders on our own Western Hemisphere, in Latin America, who were around then--like Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega--are back or have been replaced by far worse, such as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales.

As I wrote in a previous column:

At the time it came out, we were in the midst of fighting the Soviets and other forces of Communist hegemony in the Cold War. That's why despite universal critical panning, the movie was a box office success, with Americans paying to see it in droves. It was an important film that embodied the fight Ronald Reagan was preventing in our future by fighting--and beating--it during his Presidency. If only President Bush had done the same in the last 6.5 years, instead of kowtowing to it. Unlike Ronald Reagan, his actions insure that "Black Dawn" will not just be a movie.

I've always said that "Red Dawn" and "Arlington Road" are both great movies that should be remade into timely movies with Muslims replacing Communists and homegrown militias. They are the current threat. But Hollywood refuses to believe it. Given that mentality, it's in fact miraculous that "Red Dawn" was ever made. Don't look for "Green Dawn" or "Black Dawn"--about the Muslim invasion--to ever get greenlit.

And as we celebrate this great, important movie, let's not forget its star, Patrick Swayze, whose heroic battle against pancreatic cancer has taken a turn for the worse. He has lived far longer than most who are struck with this horrible disease. And, even though I've been critical of some of his political statements in the past (here and here), I don't forget his contribution in starring in "Red Dawn." And we should keep him in our prayers.

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Posted by Debbie at 11:51 AM

April 17, 2009

Weekend Box Office 2: "17 Again," "Mysteries of Pittsburgh," "Observe & Report"

By Debbie Schlussel

Earlier today you read my review of "State of Play," a propaganda-laden "thriller," starring dough-boy Ben Affleck, which was a complete mess. Here are the reviews of most of the other new releases I didn't get a chance to post reviews for earlier.

* "17 Again": This movie is all the rage for tweens and teens because it stars their heartthrob, Zac Efron. The plot has been done before in reverse in "Big," and done similarly in "13 Going on 30," "Freaky Friday," and a gazillion other movies.

Overall, though very predictable, it's a positive movie and good for teens and would be great viewing for Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, and her ex-boyfriend Levi Johnston. In this movie, the pregnant teen and her baby daddy get married and make a life. And in the end, the father becomes a great dad and realizes the important things in life. Plus, there's plenty of humor in it.

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But I was troubled at some of the mature subject matter for a tween-appealing movie. Sex and condoms are discussed at length, and the issue of teen pregnancy is central. Some of the situations are suggestively incestual as a daughter comes on to the boy who is, unbeknownst to her, her father. Characters are shown in bed, coming on to each other, and high school kids call each other "douche" and "bitch" and told that they "have a small weiner." Not that they don't say those things in high school. I'm sure they say things far worse. But high schoolers are not the primary audience for this and not Zach Efron's fan base. They're far younger.

Matthew Perry plays a failed salesman in his late thirties, who wishes he could live his high school days over again. He blew a chance at a college basketball scholarship and never went to college, so that he could marry his pregnant girlfriend. And he regrets it. They're in the middle of a divorce, and his kids aren't close to him.

Soon, he finds himself 17 again and looks like Zach Efron. He discovers that his daughter is dating the school jock/bully and is planning to sleep with him and give up her college opportunity at Georgetown to be with him. His son, who he thinks is on the school basketball team, is actually not on the team but bullied by them and his daughter's boyfriend. He goes to high school with them to be the parent to them that his kids won't allow him to be as himself, but are very open to, when it's in the form of a cool 17-year-old peer. While doing all of this Efron stays at the home of his very wealthy and very geeky computer programmer friend, whose house looks like a museum of outer space kitsch.

Like I said, not a bad movie and it has very positive messages (like waiting to have sex and a loving father who wants to lead his family but isn't given the chance until he becomes a kid), but not as clean of a movie as I expected for an audience this young.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Observe & Report": This is a low-class, obscene, dark, stupid rip-off of the charming, far superior "Paul Blart: Mall Cop" (read my review). If the F-word is funny to you, then you'll love this because it's every other word. And if you like watching extended, unfunny scenes of a fat naked guy running with his penis bobbing up and down, this is your flick. For everyone else, even the tiniest modicum of class and taste should keep you away from this.

Seth Rogen plays a fat, self-important but incompetent mall cop. He's trying to find out who is stealing from the mall and stopping the mall flasher. The flasher thing and a no-talent cast is the only thing different from "Paul Blart." When will the undue obsession with this talentless, unattractive hack, Rogen, end? Not soon enough. This movie is complete garbage. Skip it all all cost. Two hours of valuable life wasted I'll never get back.

FOUR MARXES
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* "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh": The son of a mobster spends a college summer working at a bookstore and having sex with his manager. Soon he falls in love with an attractive blonde (Sienna Miller) and her mob hitman boyfriend (Peter Sarsgard)--who is sent to assassinate him--and sleeps with both of them, literally. Then, the hitman commits suicide. The end. Who the heck greenlights this crap? Disgusting, stupid, pointless, and a complete waste of time. Extremely skipworthy, complete trash.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 07:37 PM

Weekend Box Office: "State of Play" Collapses Under Anti-Blackwater, Anti-Blog, Anti-FOX News Propaganda; Congressman Ben Affleck? (OY)

By Debbie Schlussel

[Note: Because of Passover, I did not see "17 Again" and "Sin Nombre," but will try to post reviews of those and another film I did see, "Mysteries of Pittsburgh," later today.]

"Congressman Ben Affleck." It's enough to make you sick. It's also hard to see pictures of Affleck in military fatigues and talk of his military service in the First Gulf War. As if.

But in "State of Play," the smug, pasty-faced, chubby-cheeked, one-time paramour of J-Lo plays exactly the kind of Congressman he'd be in real life: an extremely liberal, arrogant, moralizing hypocrite who cheats on his wife (Mrs. Jeff Spicoli a/k/a Robin Wright Penn) and is far worse than the Blackwater-like outfit he claims to be upset about. The only great part of "Congressman Ben Affleck" in this movie is when he starts crying on national TV and real men on the street notice with disdain. Affleck's sensitive man tears sure beat his over melodramatic screaming and whining, which got so bad I thought I was watching a chick flick.

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But don't let my description of Congressman Affleck's impersonation of an elected official/liberal hypocrite fool you. This movie is a hit-piece on Blackwater, blogs, and News Corp (which owns FOX News, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and assorted other media outlets around the globe). The propaganda and smug preaching and moralizing against these parties is so heavy in this movie, the film tumbles under its weight into a tangled mess. It's a terribly substandard semi-ripoff of the far superior "Enemy of the State," with a dash of "All of the President's Men" thrown in the jumble.

Given that the U.S. government canceled its contracts with Blackwater, and that the liberal left is now in power in the corridors of Washington and failing miserably, this movies seems dated and a matter of piling on over an era that was better and is over. The movie's attacks on blogs in favor of newsprint that will leave you with "smudged hands" is also passe, given that many newspapers have gone out of business and those that survived are mostly alive online.

This movie might have gone over better had it appeared in theaters a year or two ago, when its statements were still the weak arguments of the left. Now, it's just yesterday's trash and birdcage liner.

Plus, you know a movie is probably a stinker when media whores Chris Matthews and Lou Dobbs invade your escapism by their appearances on the big screen. They'll do any movie. And any movie that asks them, ain't all that.

Affleck is a Congressman holding hearings to investigation Pointcorp--this movie's fictional name for Blackwater (now known as "Xe"), the private company with which our government had contracts to protect public officials in Iraq and to do other security duties not performed by and/or in conjunction with our soldiers. Blackwater, to its credit, never lost a single person it was protecting. It never failed in its security obligations. But it's been unfairly vilified because how dare private enterprise--employing many retired military vets looking for extra money--actually shoot violent Iraqis out to kill them. And how dare Blackwater's owner, Erik Prince (also lampooned in "State of Play"), actually make money and get compensated for his company's success.

Affleck lectures us on "Pointcorp"/Blackwater's alleged view of its military vet contractors:

Innocent civilians are disposable lives and collateral damage.

But did Blackwater hire women to sleep with Congressmen and spy on them? Did it possibly hire hitmen to snuff out its Congressional critics' mistresses when they refuse to continue to be double agents?

Well, despite absolutely no evidence that it ever did either, Blackwater, er . . . "Pointcorp," perpetrates at least the former and perhaps the latter in this movie.

Congressman Affleck is cheating on his wife with his chief researcher in his hearings against Blackwater/"Pointcorp." At the beginning of the movie, she has a mysterious fatal accident on the Washington subway on her way to work. The night before a pizza delivery man and another guy are also shot, one of them fatally. Are the two murders connected?

It appears that they are. And it also appears that this is the work of the evil Pointcorp, attempting to frame and blackmail its main Congressional critic.

Soon we learn that Pointcorp wants to take over 1/3 of the federal government by providing a standing army and taking over and privatizing the Department of Homeland Security.

Not that Blackwater ever tried to do that, but being something of an expert and critic on that bloated, incompetent agency, I ask: And if Blackwater replaced the Department of Homeland Security, this would be a bad thing because . . . ? PUH-LEEZE. If Blackwater ran ICE, illegal aliens would be eradicated from America. If Blackwater took over terrorism investigations and border security, America would be batting 1,000. And the Islamic terrorists who were afraid of Blackwater in Iraq would be afraid here. Yup, what a "horrible" prospect. I guarantee Blackwater wouldn't waste DHS money and resources putting out "White Papers" about the "threat of right wingers."

All of this is fleshed out by grizzled newspaper journalist Russell Crowe. He works for a newspaper, The Washington Globe, which has just been bought by "Media Corp" (the movie's obvious take on Rupert Murdoch's "New Corp"). Media Corp isn't interested in real, substantiated journalism, but sensational stories that sell papers. Crowe's editor, a feisty Helen Mirren, is wasted on this film, which is simply beneath her. But there is a cute sign about her on someone's desk: "Never Trust an Editor."

Crowe, by coincidence, is the former college roommate of Congressman Affleck, and also by coincidence, he's investigating the murders of the pizza delivery guy and the other shooting victim. But unlike the gossip columnist blogger at the Globe (Rachel McAdams), he actually takes a long time to get his facts straight, whereas she just posts things every hour.

Soon, they are teaming up to report the story on Congressman Affleck's dead girlfriend, the evil PointCorp, etc. And eventually, McAdams learns to appreciate that print journalists are the "real" journalists. And blogs are just crap. When they finally get the big story, McAdams declines his offer to put it on her blog page at the paper.

A story this big, people should probably have newsprint on their hands, don't ya think?

Awww. No biggie that newspapers aren't the ones doing the real investigative journalism and digging these days. That's why the Detroit Newsistan had to follow my lead when I broke the story about how your tax money was funding Muslim foot baths at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Or why I had to point out what the Detroit Free Press consistently suppressed--the Shi'ite Muslims names and Hezbollah terrorist connections of arrested food stamp defrauders and cigarette smugglers. The only thing I get from my local newspapers are the newsprint smudge and some good recipes in the food section. Accurate information and original news reporting--the journalism part--just ain't there.

As they investigate PointCorp, they realize that it has 14 or more other corporations with different names all allied through a fake umbrella company called MoFI--the Medal of Freedom Institute. The makers of this film might as well call it "MoFO," since they make it very clear in the script that's what they think of Blackwater, blogs, and News Corp. When Crowe and McAdams go to MoFI's offices they find an empty suite--a front for what is obviously a shell.

I don't recall Blackwater doing this over the last several years, but I do recall several Muslim lobbying organizations having such an arrangement--with several names when it was all really the same thing, terrorist fundraising at 555 Grove Street in one of Virginia's Washington, DC suburbs. I also remember how money-laundering Grover Norquist, his Indian-defrauding lobbyist buddy Jack Abramoff, and their Islamofascist lobbying partner Khaled Saffuri had a similar arrangement. Saffuri headed something called the Islamic Free Market Institute at Grover's Americans for Tax Reform offices and the three were connected in several mysterious lobbying organizations, including something called "The Lexington Group," which also had empty offices in one of Virginia's Washington, DC suburbs.

But don't worry about a Congressman Ben Affleck movie ever going after or moralizing against extremist Muslims in our midst with their shell corporations and mysteriously empty office suites. They have a much more "worthy" target, in their minds, in Blackwater. And we know their point of view when Congressman Affleck waxes on angrily about Blackwater/"Pointcorp"'s sole source of income as "The Muslim Terror Goldrush."

The movie is long--just over two hours, mostly predictable, too preachy, and slow-moving. I'd give it FOUR MARXES, but because there is one great, thrilling escape scene in which Russell Crowe tries to evade a scary killer, and it has a scant few other interesting parts and lines in it, there is a mild entertainment factor. None of this is enough, though, to overcome the heavy-handed propaganda in this movie.

And so, it gets . . .

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 12:19 PM

April 16, 2009

New Game: Guess the Propaganda Director's Religion--"Lemon Tree"

By Debbie Schlussel

Recently, I told you about the anti-Israel propaganda film "Waltz with Bashir" ["Vals Im Bashir"]. As I noted, that piece of high quality Bin Laden cinema was made not by HAMAS or Hezbollah's Nasrallah or the Saudi Royal Film Commission, or even madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was made by Israelis.

And as I noted then and many times on this site, the most anti-Israel, most pan-terrorist filmmakers are not in the depths of the Islamic world and the Arab street. They are in the heart of the discos of Tel Aviv and the beaches of Eilat. They make our America-hating Hollywood left look like red-blooded patriots. And unfortunately, they receive a ton of tax-funded money from the Israeli government and its film commission. Let's see if new Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has the guts to put an end to that, but don't hold your breath. It's like our PBS. No-one will kill the monster, once and for all.

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"Lemon Tree": More High Quality Bin Laden Cinema @ a Theater Near You

As a movie critic, I recently received notice from Mark Cuban's Landmark Theaters about upcoming movies, which they periodically send me. And in that latest e-mail missive, there was word that the following movie was coming to Detroit on May 15th, to be shown at the Landmark Maple in the heart of an area largely populated by secular Jews--you know, the 78% of my fellow co-religionists who voted for Obama and eat up this propaganda.

I would ask you to guess the religion and nationality of the director/co-writer of this celluloid propaganda fiction, the latest high quality Bin Laden cinema, but I think it's too easy. The Muslims and the pan-Islamist Arabs are HAMAS-green with envy over this "cinematic splendor." And all the better that it debuts in Detroit on Israel's birthdate of May 15th. But it's been making its way around U.S. arthouse theaters for the last couple of weeks.

May 15

LEMON TREE / MAPLE / 106 Mins / IFC

Hiam Abbass (The Visitor) won the Israeli Academy Award for Best Actress for this film. She plays Salma, a Palestinian widow who stands up against her new neighbor, the Israeli Defense Minister, when he moves into his new house opposite her lemon grove, on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli security forces are quick to declare that Salma's trees pose a threat to the Minister's safety and issue orders to uproot them. Together with Ziad (Ali Suliman), her young Palestinian lawyer, Salma goes all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to try and save her trees. Her struggle raises the interest of Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael), the Defense Minister's wife, who is trapped in her new home and in an unhappy life. Despite their differences and the borders between them the two women develop an invisible bond, while forbidden ties grow stronger between Salma and Ziad. Salma's legal and personal journey lead her deep into the complex, dark and sometimes funny chaos of the ongoing struggle in the Middle East, in which all players find themselves alone in their struggle to survive. Directed and co-written by Eran Riklis (The Syrian Bride, Cup Final). (Partially subtitled)

Let's here it for Grrlpower! It's like a bad episode (redundant phrase) of Oprah where the sistaz are doin' it (America's moral and cultural destruction from within) for themselves.

It gets worse. Watch the trailer, below, for "Lemon Tree" ("Etz Limon) and its "Israelis as the new Nazis" imagery--a common theme of HAMAS, Fatah, and other Islamic anti-Israel propaganda (and, of late, of Israeli film garbage like this and "Waltz with Bashir"). The evil Zionists erect concentration camp-style guard towers in the poor, disheveled, widowed Muslim Palestinian woman's lemon tree grove. The Israeli Gestapo-like soldiers target innocent, old, poor Palestinian Muslim Arabs as they meekly walk through the lemon grove. The propaganda is so thick, you could cut it with an Islamic sword.

Do you think our government would hesitate to chop down a lemon grove if Defense Secretary Bill Gates' next-door neighbor's backyard was an entry point for Al-Qaeda terrorists out to assassinate him and kill more innocent Americans? Gimme a break. Just ask Susette Kelo, whose home wasn't taken for the noble cause of protecting us from Islamic terrorists bent on our destruction, but for the greed of New London, Connecticut driven by a proposed condo and townhouse development.

"Lemon Tree" is very tangentially based on a true story. A Palestinian woman did take a fight all the way the Israeli Supreme Court to keep her tree grove that was, indeed, a pathway for terrorists to enter Israel and attack innocent civilians. But other than that skeletal set of facts, the rest of the movie is just conjecture and slanted propaganda. The movie very apparently doesn't stress the important part: that a Palestinian Muslim woman could actually go all the way through the Israeli court system to protect her terrorist shielding backyard.

Do you think a Jew (or anyone else) could go to court in an Islamic country to protect his house, which wasn't a strategic entry point for terrorists? Fuhgedaboutit. They wouldn't live to see another day, and they'd be cut down along with the trees.

A million Jews were not only kicked out of Arab and Islamic countries, but their homes and property were seized by the governments and their Muslim countrymen, no questions asked. My friend Jeff's family members' homes in Libya and Iraq were seized from them. My friend Sherri's mother's home in Tunisia--taken, because the family were Jews. Newsflash: They didn't get to go to court to get their homes and property back. They barely escaped with their lives. Where is the Israeli movie about that?

Don't expect "Lemon Tree"'s Israeli director/co-writer Eran Riklis to make a movie about that. He's more concerned with portraying Arab Muslim terrorists and aggressors as victims and good people. Take his 1992 piece of ap-cray, "Cup Final" ("Gmar Gavi'a") about a group of Israeli soldiers who are taken captive in Lebanon and connect with their captors over a shared love of world soccer.

Do you think the horribly tortured, mutilated, disfigured Israeli soldiers captured and murdered by Hezbollah in Lebanon were thinking about their "shared love of soccer" as their lives were snuffed out and their penises were cut off and inserted into their mouths? Some of the bodies of the Israelis captured by the mutually "soccer-loving" terrorists have never been found nor returned by these Lebanese "soccer lovers." One of them, Ron Arad, is certainly dead, and his body has been missing for decades, "shared love of soccer" or not.

And it's no coincidence that "Lemon Tree"'s star, Muslim Arab Hiam Abbass, was also a star in "The Visitor" (read my brief commentary on this movie), which as I've noted on this site is a BS propaganda film about how bad we Americans are because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents actually deport a Syrian Muslim illegal alien squatting in some guy's New York apartment. The nerve.

Yup, Ms. Abbass, has made a career of making anti-Western, Muslim victimhood movies. It's ironic (and hypocritical), since Abbass, who insists on identifying as Palestinian (she was born in Nazareth, ISRAEL), has the privilege of being an Israeli--where as a Muslim woman, she is treated far better than she (or any Jew, for that matter) would be in any Islamic country. She even won the Best Actress award from the Israeli Film Academy (Israel's Oscars). She makes a better living from Israel than most Israelis--Jew or Arab--could ever hope to make.

It's also no surprise that another anti-Israel Muslim Arab actor, Ali Suliman, stars in the film. He was one of the stars of "Paradise Now," the pro-homicide bomber, anti-Israel movie also funded by Israel. He is also from Nazareth, Israel. Like I said, the Israelis have made these two actors wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, funded by Israel, attacking Israel from within.

The bottom line, apparently not shown in this movie, is that if Palestinians--with whom Ms. Abbass now identifies after years of saying she was an Israeli Arab--stopped supporting and committing terrorism and using their land to shield and harbor cold-blooded killers on their way to blow up pizza joints and kill toddlers and babies, there would have been no need to go after this woman's lemon grove. But why dwell on that fact, when we can have critical thinking-free propaganda films against Israel?

Forget Hollywood's anti-Israel viewpoint in films. Hollywood has nothing on Israel's film industry. I await the day when I will actually see a pro-Israel--or even a balanced--film coming out of Israel.

But it's pretty likely that I'll be waiting forever. The Muslims don't need to make anti-Israel--and frankly, anti-Semitic--films. They have the Israeli Jewish left and its film industry doing it for them.

Neither Bin Laden nor Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, Haniyeh, Abbas, Qaddafi, and the King Abdullahs need to open a studio. They already have several in Tel Aviv "Hollywood."

Posted by Debbie at 02:20 PM

April 06, 2009

Finally: Fox News Fires Liberal Movie/Celeb Writer Roger Friedman

By Debbie Schlussel

In the past, I've decried FOXNews.com's extremely liberal entertainment writer, Roger Friedman, who fancied himself a critic, but really wasn't one. And I'm glad to see that, today, Friedman was fired. His gushing over liberals and liberalism was tiresome. And certainly neither "Fair" nor "Balanced."

Friedman would praise outrageous movies like Angelina Jolie's Islamo-sympathizing "A Mighty Heart" and Michael Moore's "Sicko." and stood up for Muslim extremists like HAMAS finance moll Cat Stevens a/k/a Yusuf Islam. And then, liberals like Rosie O'Donnell and the hags of "The View" would say, "Well, FOX News praised it," or "Well, FOX News said . . . ."

The guy was an ignoramus.

But he was even more of an ignoramus than I thought. That's because he bragged about stealing from his own employer on his employer's own website. And, predictably, it was his professional death knell. Long overdue, in Roger's case.

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Talk about chutzpah. And stupidity. Friedman wrote about downloading a pirated FOX movie product, the new X-Men movie, and wrote about how easy and pleasant it was.

What was that saying about "don't [euphemism] where you eat/live/work"? Guess he never heard that one.

Roger Friedman, an entertainment columnist for FoxNews.com, discovered over the weekend just what Rupert Murdoch means by "zero tolerance" when it comes to movie piracy.

On Friday, the film studio 20th Century Fox - owned by the News Corporation, the media conglomerate ruled by Mr. Murdoch - became angry after reading Mr. Friedman's latest column. . . . The subject was "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," a big-budget movie that was leaked in unfinished form on the Web last week.

Mr. Friedman posted a minireview, adding, "It took really less than seconds to start playing it all right onto my computer."

The film studio, which enlisted the F.B.I. last week to hunt the pirate, put out a statement calling Mr. Friedman's column "reprehensible," among other things.

Not a smart move. And now he's gone. Buh-bye, Roger. And don't let the bit torrent hit ya on the way out.

Now, maybe FOXNews.com can pick a real movie critic, instead of a celebrity gusher who dabbles in saying ignorant things to promote bad movies. And maybe they'll actually pick a conservative, instead of the same old liberal we see on every single other mainstream media website and news network.

But don't hold your breath.

Posted by Debbie at 07:51 PM

April 03, 2009

Weekend Box Office: "Fast/Furious" Has Cool Chase Scenes, Little Else; Charming But Slightly Raunchy "Adventureland"

By Debbie Schlussel

Two new flicks at the box office. Neither is that bad. Both are very adult movies.

* "Fast and Furious": Wow, the creators of the original "The Fast and the Furious" were really inventive with the title of their third sequel in dropping the two "The"s. I liked this one far better than the other two sequels, but that's not saying much. The benchmark was low. And the movie was better than I expected. Again, the benchmark was low.

You needn't see any of the sequels and only the original to understand what's going on here. This incarnation was written to begin where the original left off and works as if the sequels had never occurred. All of the lead actors in the original (none of whom became a huge mega A-list star)--Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Michelle Rodriguez--are back.

Walker is now an FBI agent, and car thief Diesel is in Mexico with girlfriend Rodriguez. Both of them have fled there to avoid being caught by the feds for running their auto theft ring. Soon Diesel learns that his girlfriend has been murdered by a vicious, brutal Mexican drug lord after she returned Stateside, and he and Walker team up to find him and bring him to justice.

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This movie had great car chases and very cool, death defying stunts, but little else . . . unless you're a red-blooded woman like me admiring the extreme hotness of Paul Walker, who looks slightly more haggard in this latest incarnation but just as hot as the original. That wasn't enough to save this movie, though.

The plot was a mess, the story weak, but what else did you expect from the fourth in a series of fast car movies, the original of which wasn't all that? Not that anyone goes to this movie to see a plot of any sort. People go to movies like this to see fast cars, big stunts, and hot chicks. And they got the first two out of the three. The cars in this movie are pretty sweet.

Mildly entertaining if you like to watch fast cars with loud engines. But, overall, I was bored. When there was action, the action was great. But when there wasn't, it was sleep-inducing and slow. Only the eye candy of Walker kept me awake and alert between cool car stunts.

Bloody, violent, and full of four-letter expression. Not for your kid. But not too bad.

HALF REAGAN
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* "Adventureland": Although I had mixed feelings about this movie, overall I enjoyed it very much. Though it's made by the "Superbad" team, it's not nearly as raunchy, tasteless, or obscene. But it's got more than enough. And it's well done, with a far more decent storyline. Definitely not for prudes, though. Despite all that, it's got a certain charm to it.

If you grew up in the '80s--in which this movie is set--you'll probably enjoy it, as I did. The target audience is quite apparently the Gen-X crowd.

I laughed like crazy and I thought it was sweet and entertaining. On the other hand, there were a lot of drugs, which bothered me more than the lewd references and innuendoes. This movie is very adult. The R-rating is there for a reason. It's not for your kids.

Up-and-coming, very talented actor Jesse Eisenberg plays James, Brennan, a somewhat geeky college grad on his way to New York for journalism school. But, soon, he learns that his father has been "downsized" and he has to work for the summer. But the only thing a person who majored in English literature can get is a job at the local amusement park, "Adventureworld."

Brennan finds himself falling for Em (Kristen Stewart), an aloof girl at Adventureworld and interacts with fellow geeks, girls, and others at the amusement park, all set to an '80s soundtrack and complete with '80s hair and clothes. We watch Brennan try to get the girl but also come to terms with his collapsing future.

The one part I didn't like is the continuing theme of pot use as a social mechanism. Brennan's wealthy best friend gives him a bag of super potent marijuana before leaving for Europe for the summer. The pot makes Brennan instantly popular at the theme park.

Best line in the movie: When a geeky Jewish co-worker is rejected by his girlfriend because her Catholic parents don't want her to date a Jewish guy, Brennan's love interest Em, goes to tell the girl off and call her "anti-Semitic," to which the Jewish guy responds, "The Jews have been through worse." No kidding.

Like I said, this movie is absolutely not for kids and not teens below 17 either. It's an adult flick, and it's rife with four-letter salutes and suggestive situations. If you're a prude, it's not for you.

TWO REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 01:02 AM

March 27, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Ho-Hum "Haunting in Connecticut"

By Debbie Schlussel

[NOTE: I did not screen "Monsters vs. Aliens," though I may try to see it later and if so, will post my review after that.]

After other movies about scary possessed houses, like "The Amityville Horror" and even the bad 1981 Parker Stevenson TV movie, "This House Possessed," "The Haunting in Connecticut" doesn't seem that scary.

Yes, there are parts where I jumped or screamed, but mostly I alternately laughed out loud and was disgusted. "Haunting" relies more on morbid bodies, body parts, and visions of dead spirits to scare you. And while it half does, it also makes you wonder . . . about bad story lines with gaping holes.

Based on a true story, Virgina Madsen plays the mother of three kids, who is also raising her teen niece and has a reformed drunk for a husband. Her teen son is very sick with cancer. The constant hour-long drives from their distant home to take her son for cancer treatments is grinding on both herself and her son, and she looks for a rental home in the city where the hospital is located. The family is strapped for cash and she settles on a home which used to be a mortuary.

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Soon, the cancer-stricken son begins to see ghosts and visions of spirits throughout the house. Some are scary, and others--walking charred bodies--are just laughable like from a zombie movie. The rest of the family thinks these visions are just the imagination of a kid sick with cancer. They can't see these spirits, and a priest, who is also sick with cancer, tells the son that those dying of cancer are in a netherworld, where they can see the dead.

A major hole in the story, which glared out at me, is when the family finally starts seeing the haunting effects of bodies once embalmed in the house. Why don't they just leave the house and check into a motel, instead of just cowering together on a bed? Well, then the movie would end.

A box of dried eyelids is just gross. Scenes and pictures of people with giant ectoplasmic emanations from haunted people's faces simply made me laugh out loud endlessly. They were more silly than scary. Scenes featuring the relapsed drunken dad were stupid and irrelevant to the story. They felt like they were just thrown in for unnecessary extra melodrama.

If you want to get frightened, there are several parts of the movie that will make you jump. But, in the end, this movie wasn't that scary.

If there's one thing I liked about this movie, it's the constant belief in G-d that's evident in the mother's character and the priest. In the end, that belief wins out.

There's nothing offensive about "The Haunting in Connecticut." There's just nothing special or exciting about it, either. Definitely creepy, but more gratuitously so than scary. The movie was just okay. Not bad, but not great, either.

This movie is PG-13. It's creepiness and gross-out factors are not for young kids. But for teens, it's fine. It's morbid, but not offensive in any way. Just kinda silly.


ONE REAGAN.
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Posted by Debbie at 02:38 PM

March 20, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Excellent Movie Featuring My Friend From High School & Other Okay Selections

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE: Review of "The Great Buck Howard" Posted Below--SCROLL DOWN ****

There is one excellent movie, this weekend, and it happens to include my friend from high school in a minor co-starring role. The rest of the selections range from not bad to funny but vile/disgusting. There was no advanced screening for "The Great Buck Howard," so I will see it and add a review here, later today.

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* "Duplicity": Since I loathe Julia Roberts, I expected to hate this movie. But I was surprised. It was excellent and enjoyable from beginning to end. And not because my friend since high school, actor Rick Worthy (his real name from the days at Southfield High is Rick Titsworth, but he changed it for obvious reasons), is in it (he's the tall Black bald guy with the mustache--super nice guy and so down to earth).

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My Pal From High School, Actor Rick Worthy, Co-Stars in "Duplicity"

This movie is everything a movie is supposed to be. It's fun, light, very suspenseful, and humorous. And it's clever. Roberts and Clive Owen play, respectively, former CIA and MI6 agents who were lovers in the past. They are now partners in crime in corporate espionage. She's involved in corporate security at a large pharmaceutical company. And he is working for a counterespionage outfit hired by a rival pharmaceutical company to spy on her company. She is secretly a double agent for the counterespionage outfit, and together they work to con the company out of a new product worth gazillions.

There are a lot of flashbacks in this movie, which are slightly annoying, but it would be hard to tell the story in a continuous timeline, without giving almost everything away.

This is one of those great caper movies you'll probably see on TV endlessly, once it's out of theater circulation. But you'll be happy you saw it in the theaters. Don't let the presence of the repugnant Julia Roberts scare you away from this. The best actor in this movie, though, is the always excellent Paul Giamatti as the pompous, insecure CEO of a rival pharmaceutical company.

Has some mild sex scenes and content, so not really for kids, and the plot is too sophisticated for them, anyway.

THREE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Knowing": Although the last fifth of this movie was kind of a mess and slightly rambling, I liked it. Nicholas Cage stars in his fifth thriller involving coded messages and numbers in this doomsday movie. But he's convincing as usual in his sense of urgency.

A young girl at a school in 1959 suggests that she and her classmates draw pictures of what they see for the future, to be deposited in a time capsule, which will be opened on the school's 50th anniversary. The girl is suddenly possessed by voices, which force her to write a series of numbers. On the 50th anniversary, the capsule is opened and Nicholas Cage's young son gets the list of numbers.

Soon, Cage, a physicist who has done studies on flaring stars, discovers that the numbers correspond with the dates and numbers of human casualties for each disaster since 1959 . . . and future disasters. He reunites with the daughter of the girl from 1959 to find out what is happening and why strange men are haunting his family.

I don't want to say much more, as it will give away the movie, but I will note that there is a Noah's Ark-esque ending and message, which I liked.

As I noted, this movie ends kind of messily, but it begins with a bang and keeps you hooked until the mess begins. Not bad, but could have been tightened up. Fine for kids, though might be slightly scary for them.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "I Love You, Man": While I'm embarrassed to say I laughed effusivley a few times during this flick, it was mostly vile and disgusting. Lots of bathroom humor--farts, vomiting, dog defecating jokes--and lots of pretty explicit, gross sexual humor. Um, I didn't need to know about a guy's masturbation station. TMI. And I don't exactly enjoy "bro-mance" movies that are basically gay, as this movie is. Nor did I need to see two guys French kiss. Didn't we already have this in "Milk," just a few months ago?

The people who made this movie were more interested in pushing the envelope than anything else. And the story is stupid.

The best parts of this movie are the presence of Lou Ferrigno and the band, "Rush." And that's not saying much.

The "plot": A L.A.-area real estate agent (Paul Rudd) with no guy friends but many female ones is engaged to be married (to Rashida Jones). He goes out on "man-dates" to meet male friends in search of one to become his best man at his wedding. Rudd eventually meets Jason Segel (who famously showed us his penis onscreen repeatedly in his last big box office release, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"), a free-spirited slacker former child star who free-loads at real estate open house buffets, hangs out in his man cave, and refuses to scoop after his dog poops.

Rudd meets him at the open house he is holding at Lou Ferrigno's mansion, which he's trying to sell. They start hanging out, and eventually their relationship supercedes Rudd's relationship with his soon-to-be bride, causing tension.

The funniest parts are the jokes about Lou Ferrigno and the Hulk and a guy throwing up on another guy after a beer drinking contest. And that should tell you something. This movie is just average. The jokes are raunchy and cheap. And the humor wrapped in mostly vile and disgusting dialogue simply isn't worth it.

Lines like,

He's forty pounds overweight, with a Jew-fro and a small d--k,

populate this trash. And that's the tame stuff.

This movie was clearly made for the twenty-something oversexed frat boy crowd whose diet includes too much Jon Stewart and little of substance or worth. For the rest of us--i.e., civilization--it's not for you. And definitely not for kids or even "mature" teens.

I Hated This, Man.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Sunshine Cleaning": I had mixed feelings about this movie because it basically promotes single motherhood, giving us the message that "it all works out in the end," which as we know ain't the truth. Plus, it was kind of a grotesque version of a "sister doing it for herself" chick flick.

Amy Adams plays a single mother, who is stuck cleaning houses for a living. She's still sleeping with the married father of her kid, a police detective who was her high school quarterback boyfriend. While he has excelled in life, she's faltered and is stuck in a rut. And she has a loser sister, who is always late to work and gets fired for insolence. Then, there's her eccentric father (Alan Arkin) who is also hard up for money and always making bad business decisions, while looking for the "big" deal.

Adams' "gifted" (really, perverted and impolite) son is kicked out of school, and she needs to make more money to put him in private school. Plus, she is embarrassed when she ends up cleaning the home of a former high school classmate, who is relatively well-off.

Adams learns about the world of "biohazard removal"--basically cleaning up after dead and/or murdered people at crime scenes and starts her own business with her sister. The money starts to roll in.

But as in every movie with a story, it doesn't stay that way. Oh, and don't forget the girl who thinks her sister is a lesbian and comes on to her.

Not my cup of tea, but mildly entertaining. Not enough, though, for your ten bucks.

ONE MARX
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* "The Great Buck Howard": I'm a fan of John Malkovich's acting, and that's why I thought I'd like this story of a has-been mentalist who is trying to get back on "The Tonight Show," and keep people coming to his touring shows. His character is based on "The Amazing Kreskin." The movie is the story of his young assistant (Colin Hanks, who is briefly joined in the movie by Tom Hanks who plays a novel role: his dad), a guy who drops out of law school to find himself as a writer and took the job as Buck Howard's road manager to bide his time.

Malkovich is his usual talented self, though his ambiguously gay, aging performer shtick seems like I've been there, seen that before. And I have, when he played an aging gay man who impersonates Stanley Kubrick in "Color Me Kubrick." And there wasn't that much new here. Still, it's entertaining, if slow and pointless, and it's funny.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 09:38 AM

March 18, 2009

Memo to "View" Hags et al: Sorry About Natasha Richardson, But Tell the Truth About the Redgraves, Esp. Islamic Terrorist Gun-Moll Vanessa

By Debbie Schlussel

**** Update/FLASHBACK: Read my work on how Vanessa Redgrave posted bail for an Al-Qaeda terrorist, whose family founded the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group, posted bail for two Gitmo terrorists, and read Gitmo detainees' poems at a performance. **** SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE UPDATES ****

Today, on ABC's ignoramus hag-fest, "The View," the ugly chicks discussed the brain-dead status of actress Natasha Richardson. While I don't wish that on anyone, these ignorant dogs went overboard. Joy Behar said, "The Redgraves are such good people. They never bothered anyone. They just mind their own business."

Oh, really? Perhaps, this aging dumbass forgot the 1977 Academy Awards acceptance speech by Richardson's mother, Vanessa Redgrave, about "Zionist hoodlums." My favorite part of this video is writer (and World War II Purple Heart awardee) Paddy Chayefsky's total smackdown of Ms. Redgrave--who didn't ever mind her own business and actually made a career of supporting the P.L.O., Al-Qaeda, and all variety of Islamic terrorists against Israel and America. Chayefsky's message was sadly lost on future Oscar winners, and it needs to be required viewing for all of them. It's a must watch:

Listen to the applause Chayefsky got from the Hollywood audience and the boos that Nazi-ette Brit Redgrave got. Those were the days. Today, he'd be the one booed, and Redgrave would be cheered by the Hollywood Oscar crowd.

Of course, the dumb hags of "The View" are so stupid, so dumb, so ignorant, so completely clueless--and that includes the utterly vacant Elisabeth Hasselbeck--that they agreed with Behar's ignorant and incorrect statement about the Redgraves never bothering anyone and minding their own business.

I am sorry Ms. Richardson is basically dead. If only her mother was the one who had the skiing accident in her stead forty years ago.

But, then again, anyone who sits in Vanessa Redgrave's perch in favor of Islamic terrorism, is basically brain dead without the skiing accident precipitating it. And definitely humanly and morally dead.

**** UPDATE: I wrote this pretty quickly before I left for a movie screening. On the way, I remembered that I wrote about Vanessa Redgrave's work on behalf of hardened Al-Qaeda terrorists and Gitmo detainees. She even posted bond for one of them.

I also realized I should point out that the great Paddy Chayefsky--who gave Redgrave, as my father would say, a real verbal "zetz"--was a proud American Jew, who enlisted in the U.S. Army and proudly served in World War II, earning a Purple Heart. Contrast that with the vile Vanessa Redgrave who "minded her own business and . . . never bothered anybody" (according to Joy Behar) in her lifelong avocation of helping Islamic terrorists beat the West.

One other thing, a little background is needed on why the "Zionist hoodlums" a/k/a proud Jewish Americans were up in arms about her Academy Award nomination. From my 2007 column, "Vanessa Redgrave's Al-Qaeda Activity No Surprise":

Throughout the 1970s, Vanessa Redgrave had been a pro-Palestinian activist, praising the P.L.O. and denouncing Israel as fascist and Nazi-like. Many of her comments were anti-Semitic. In 1977, Vanessa Redgrave starred as "Julia" in the movie of the same name, which co-starred Jane Fonda as Communist writer Lillian Hellman, who smuggled funds into Nazi Germany to the resistance movement during the Holocaust. Julia was an anti-fascist activist and Jew who was Lillian's friend. Redgrave was given the role, despite the just and rightful protests of Holocaust survivors and other Jews all over the world. Now, she's helping Al-Qaeda. No suprise.

Also no surprise that she used the Holocaust yet again to justify her pan-Islamist activity:

It is a profound honour and I am glad to be alive to be able to do this. Guantanamo Bay is a concentration camp. It is a disgrace that these men have been kept there all these years.

Yup, the Redgraves "minded their own business" and "never bothered anybody" except innocent non-Muslims who want to live in peace and keep their freedoms.

**** UPDATE #2: Vanessa Redgrave's daughter, Natasha Richardson, died. I stand by my comments about her vile, disgusting mother, and again state that the wrong person got taken out via a skiing accident.

Now that she is dead in an untimely death at such a relatively young age, I'm sure we'll hear endlessly about how great her mother is.

No sympathy for this pan-terrorist witch from me. Only for the late Richardson (who was great in "The Parent Trap" remake with Lindsay Lohan and Dennis Quaid), Richardson's husband, actor Liam Neeson (one of my favorites), and her children. Her mother, Vanessa Redgrave, can go to hell. And since she's consorted with the P.L.O. throughout her life, we can safely say she's already visited many times.

Posted by Debbie at 06:23 PM

March 16, 2009

Cool-Looking Movie I Was Supposed to Screen This Morning

By Debbie Schlussel

Remember the good old days--when aliens were from outer space, not the Middle East, Latin America, and Europe?

This morning, I was supposed to screen this movie, "Alien Trespass," but, unfortunately, the print didn't arrive from the studio on time, so they're sending us DVD screeners. I can't wait for this one, which comes out in April and looks like my kinda movie.

I love the old-fashioned alien and outer space movies, like the original "Day the Earth Stood Still," "Forbidden Planet," and the newer but old-styled "Mars Attacks!" "Mars Attacks!" is probably my favorite because everything that professor Piece Brosnan, President Jack Nicholson, and all the peaceniks in it say about how we have to just "understand" and be nice to the aliens (and then they get zapped) is what our leaders have been saying forever--and especially in the last 7.5 years--about Islam (with similar results).

Here's the "Alien Trespass" trailer (stay tuned for my complete review on the day the movie debuts in theaters):

Posted by Debbie at 03:12 PM

March 13, 2009

Weekend Box Office: STAY HOME--Lame Disney Space Mountain Remake, Vile Torture/Snuff-Porn Wes Craven Remake; When Hollywood Libs Like Waterboarding

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend is prime for staying home and renting. The "choices" as the box office are bad remake movies (not that the originals were good or necessarily better). Hey, Hollywood, come up with some original--and more worthy--ideas.

* "Race to Witch Mountain": When I was a kid, I begged my parents to take me to the Witch Mountain movies--"Escape from Witch Mountain" and "Return to Witch Mountain." (And I begged my mom to let me go on the "Witch Mountain" roller coaster ride at Disney World, where she almost dropped me like five stories, and we were scared to death.)

I don't remember the original Witch Mountain movies I saw, but I remember liking them and finding them charming. I can't say the same for Disney's latest incarnation of this movie, "Race to Witch Mountain," which stars Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Carla Gugino, and two blond kids I never heard of.

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There's nothing offensive about this movie, and it's fine to take your kids. But it was old hat, lame, unoriginal, and unexciting. The thing about the original Space Mountain movies and many Disney big screen properties is that they're magical and filled with wonder. This wasn't. It was just dull and formulaic. It might have worked in the early 1970s. But, today, in the age of Wall-E and even the lesser "Nim's Island," this movie seems unsophisticated for kids. It's just too simple. I felt like, "Been there, seen that." Ho-hum.

The story: Two alien kids come to earth, on behalf of their parents, to show their planet that they can regenerate the planet's energy and survive, instead of taking over our earth and destroying us. They end up in ex-con Johnson's Los Vegas cab, and after doubting them, he helps them on their mission, with the help of a discredited female scientist in town for an outer space/science fiction convention. At the same time, they are also fleeing government agents and scientists who want to dissect them, and mobsters who are after Johnson.

Like I said, nothing really wrong with this movie. Just nothing exciting or noteworthy. I thought it was boring, and it put me to sleep. But it's fine for your kids.

ONE REAGAN
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* "The Last House on the Left": This is a remake of Wes Craven's 1972 torture/rape/snuff-porn flick of the same name. And while it's better than the '72 flick, that's like saying completely extreme crap is slightly better than almost extreme crap.

You get what you expect here--gratuitous, grotesque violence of all varieties. But why would you seek this out?

Torture/snuff-porn movies like this have no purpose other than to satisfy some warped moviegoers' need for bloodlust. The movie was vile, sickening, and depraved. And we wonder why violent crime and the depravity of criminal acts is escalating, as its portrayal onscreen escalates. What's on the screen influences what's on the street.

The story--of a daughter (Sara Paxton, who "graduated" from starring in kids' show "Darcy's Wild Life" in 2006 to starring in rape/torture porn), who is raped and left for dead by violent, sick criminals, who are then tortured and killed by her parents (Monica Potter and Tony Goldwyn)--doesn't provide the satisfaction of, say, "Death Wish," or "Taken." The revenge is sick--not as sick as the crime, unfortunately. And while it is the least that is deserved by the criminals, it doesn't justify sitting through the onscreen portrayal of disgusting, unhuman criminal acts of savagery and sheer animal behavior. This movie is just gratuitous violence for the sake of it.

I nearly walked out (and would have, had I not been reviewing this) during the disgusting rape scene and other shots of a woman being stabbed and cut with knives. These were slightly less offensive than similar scenes in the 1972 version. But not by much.

Some movie critics were disgusted with the cheering on of revenge by the family and planned to write about it. But, to me, that was the only "redeeming" part of seeing this, though not nearly redeeming enough for this violent piece of garbage. There is one part of the revenge involving a sink, which is shocking. But this kind of shocking shouldn't be in R-rated movies. It should be restricted to NC-17 products. I already saw the same incident of violence in a William Devane movie, "Rolling Thunder" (which has a similar revenge-against-criminals theme and which is also distasteful in its bloodlust, though not as much as here). It's vomit-inducing and simply not necessary.

Of note, part of the revenge which people liked was when the parents waterboarded one of the criminal thugs who left their daughter for dead after raping her. It's the second movie I remember where viewers audibly enjoyed the waterboarding of criminal scum (the first was "Passenger 57," when Wesley Snipes waterboards a terrorist hijacker in the plane's toilet). And so they should--this is what we want (minus the rape and torture scenes that come before it). The bad guys deserve it. It's interesting that we're told by liberals that we can't waterboard Islamic terrorists who want to kill thousands of Americans, but Americans justifiably love when we waterboard criminals who tried to rape and kill two women on a movie screen.

If you allow your kids--no matter how old they are--to go to this, you need to be locked up (and yes, despite what "Watchmen" fans still lurking on this site may say, I saw that parents still don't care about exposing their young kids to this garbage--see my column on "The Morons Who Take Their Kids to 'Friday the 13th'"). Like I said, it's rated "R," but stuff like this deserves an NC-17.

If you need to ask why, after what I've already written, here's a great tongue-in-cheek spoiler quote from my friend, fellow critic Corey Hall: "It's the best microwaved head movie scene ever."

This movie left me cold . . . and angry that it will be a hit at the box office. America, you're warped.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Hear me talk more about this weekend's new movie releases on "The Mike Church Show" on the Sirius Patriot Channel 144, this morning, after 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Posted by Debbie at 12:04 AM

March 11, 2009

Yuck: Another Long Day Screening Movies

By Debbie Schlussel

It was a long day, with three movie screenings, back to back. I hate this because it makes me feel gross. I know I shouldn't whine while so many Americans are busting their butts to survive. But, at these things, you're sitting there for six hours straight doing nothing but passive viewing as life passes you by. Yuck. Not healthy, but no way else to get 'em all in for reviewing.

Here's what I saw, with my reviews to be posted at Midnight, Thursday Night/Friday Morning on the days they open. (I saw "The Last House on the Left" yesterday--so, yes I'm all movied out.)

"The Last House on the Left":

"Sunshine Cleaning":

"Adventureland":

"Race to Witch Mountain":

If you managed to wade through all these trailers, imagine sitting through several hours of this stuff. You might think it's fun, but trust me, it gets old. I know, quit whining.

Posted by Debbie at 09:49 PM

Israeli "Waltz w/ Bashir" Director Pimps for HAMAS

By Debbie Schlussel

I warned you about Academy Award-nominated Israeli movie, "Waltz With Bashir." As I noted, the far-left, false, anti-Israel movie made by Israeli self-haters is high quality Bin Laden cinema.

Now, our friend, Finnish commentator Kenneth Sikorski (KGS) of Tundra Tabloids points out that the movie's director, Yoni Goodman, is pimping for HAMAS. Goodman made a short film attacking Israel for blockading HAMASastan a/k/a Gaza and whining about the economic effects it is having on them. To that I say, Tough. Whit. (Yup, I mean the word that rhymes with "whit.") Needless to say, I'm not posting the propaganda video here.

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Waltz with Islamic Terrorists

As KGS correctly notes, the short film is the moving picture version of the HAMAS talking points this self-hating jerk put to film. If only he would have the conscience to do a film about the economic effects the HAMAS rockets have on Sderot, Israel, where poor, working-class Jews (from families who were thrown out of their homes in Arab countries) struggle to survive and can't afford to move.

If only.

Posted by Debbie at 12:24 PM

March 05, 2009

"Watchmen" Fanatic Derangement Syndrome: Disease of the Pretentious Slacker Ignorami; "Watchmen" Was Anti-Reagan Rant; "Not Marketed to Kids" on "American Idol"

By Debbie Schlussel

I guess I shouldn't be amazed at the number of slacker ignoramuses who are up in arms about my frank review cutting down the absolute crap they worship a/k/a "Watchmen", coming out in theaters late tonight. The e-mails they send me and the comments they make about how "deep," "edgy" and "profound" this vile piece of trash (which is none of these) is, reminds me of the blind statements of followers of Jim Jones. And we all know what happened after they drank he purple Kool-Aid. If only this movie could achieve that result, it would be the most fantastic exercise in natural selection ever conducted in America.

But sadly, there is no instant cure or sudden death for "Watchmen" Fanatic Derangement Syndrome. You can read some of the so infected and diseased in the comments section of my review. But I've received a ton of vile, obscene, and just plain stupid and obnoxious e-mails because I dared call this trash wrapped in the guise of a high brow graphic novel what it is: pure garbage.

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Oh, and by the way, to all of you slacker Watchmen defenders and fanatics--who resemble the many respondents on "Jay Walking," yet are suddenly the self-appointed intellectual lights of our world--grisly is grisly, and gratuitous, graphic violence serves no positive or useful purpose in our society, even if you read it first in a comic book. You're a bunch of dummies with no moral compass, but liking this stupid comic book which pretends violence and the depraved is "edgy" or "sophisticated," makes you feel smart. When you're actually quite stupid. But now, with this movie, you've got pretentious stupidity. You don't realize you're still just as dumb, your IQ just as low and probably lower.

And, yes, you future citizens of "Idiocracy," it's a comic book. Quit your pretentious drivel about this being important because it's a "graphic novel." Memo to the creators of Richie Rich and Archie: You missed your calling. If only you'd called your product a "graphic novel" and added scenes of Archie raping Betty and Veronica and Jughead sawing off Reggie's Arms, you'd be in businesss. Dummies.

It's frankly hilarious to read the arrogance of the ignorami, telling me I don't have "cultural literacy" because I don't like a movie based on a comic book promoting rape, torture, and brutal killing. Here's a tip to you clueless wonders: You can't have culture literacy when there ain't culture. Just like I'd be wrong to call this a clash of civilizations, because then we would be wrongly assuming that there is civilization on your end.

While most of the e-mails are vile and stupid--and simultaneously so pretentious and self-important--it's obvious they'd be best saved for open poetry reading night at the local college coffeehouse. That's the only place where your fertilizer has willing consumers (and at at the box office on Friday, where I'm sure this crap will be a huge hit for you pretentious geeky slacker losers with no life and absolutely no sense of decency or class).

You keep writing me these deranged e-mails, which include statements about how I "don't understand the background" and that it was exactly the same in "the graphic novel." Get a clue: That I didn't first look at a comic book picture of a rape scene before seeing the same in a movie is a distinction without a difference. That you did, is a distinction with merit, i.e., that you're an idiot who spends valuable time and money on idiocy and depravity. You are what you eat.

And you are no better than the lumpenproletariat lowlifes at the Coliseum who orgasmically watched and cheered when Christians were forced to fight animals. You are no different, and you are essentially chomping at the bit to go see the modern-day version, tonight. With people like you populating America and dominating pop culture offerings, I have no doubt that soon enough we will return to the days of the barbaric live human versus beast shows. You salivate at the chance to watch barbarism tonight. That's who you are.

Why not just watch "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"? At least that was honest about what it is and didn't march under this ridiculous banner of being highbrow when it's really just crap.

Poor Hitler. If only he'd made Mein Kampf into a comic book instead of an actual written screed. Then, the ovens of Auschwitz and the human lampshades would be all the rage and cool of kitsch. Silly me, for not understanding that close-ups of sawing off someone's arms and dogs chowing down on a six-year-old girl are so much high culture because they were in a comic book first. Idiocy. And, oh, it's a disgusting comic book that TIME Magazine liked. Therefore, it must be the end all, be all. Tell it to Ariel Sharon, who knew something about the "truth" and "accuracy" of TIME. Oh, wait, I'm assuming something really big here: that you "Watchmen" ignoramuses actually know who Ariel Sharon is or what his deal was with TIME. And that would be truly clueless.

And to those imbeciles who claim--blindly--that this outrageous movie is not marketed to kids, pray tell who is the target audience of "American Idol" on which several trailers ran this week. Yup, "American Idol"--no way that's a kids show or that kids who see it won't want to go see this horrible movie. Only if they market it on Sesame Street are they marketing it to kids, right?

Not that if it weren't marketed to kids, that would make this crap smell any better.

Still, I've gotten many e-mails like these from parents, who attest that they thought this was a superhero movie and that their kids have been bombarded with the marketing for this grotesque movie:

Debbie,

I cannot recall how I got pointed to your review of Watchmen, but thank you for your review! Ever since the trailers came out my son, 15 1/2 wanted to see the movie. No he has not read the novel or comics, but something about this movie made me research it more. Let's just say I had a bad feeling. I greatly appreciate your detailed review of this movie. We are not going to see this movie and it became a great teaching point.

Michael

Uh-huh, not marketed to kids, right? His son just found out about the movie and wants to go see it . . . by accident?

While I'm not surprised to find out that many of those who've written their deranged, undue outrage that I deigned to tell the truth about this trash and insult their low-class cultural sensibilities (or rather non-sensibilities), voted for Barack Obama and are liberals, I am surprised that anyone would claim this is a conservative movie.

It was originally written--per the author's own declaration--as an attack on Ronald Reagan. Reader Christopher summarizes it in this letter:

Ms Schlussel,

First THANK YOU for the article on Watchmen.

I wanted to add that you are dead right on the slant of this movie. The writer's original intention as declared by him in a 1987 interview in The Comics Journal was for this have an anti-Reaganism theme. He feared directly attacking President Reagan because he figured it would make people not want to read.

I think this is absolutely a golden opportunity to hammer home the point that mass media influences matter. People are actively ignoring even the stated goal of the author himself for the sake of "a good time'... This is how we get the fouled up pop culture.

You have a better opportunity than I to present this side of the story to people so please consider looking into what I said here and decide if you think it's worth while to write more about.

Again thank you,

Christopher

Bottom line: If you're a "Watchmen" fan, there's something sick about you. You're sick if you enjoy watching wanton rape, torture, and murder, no matter what the background for it is. I don't care if it first appeared in a warped comic book paraded with a high-brow euphemism for comic book.

I don't give a crap if it's meant to show that "the world is dark" and that "superheroes have problems and are everyday people, too," which have been among the insipid, vapid excuses I've received from empty-headed Watchmen fanatic who mindlessly repeat the phony talking points that make them feel smart.

Guess what? We know there are bad people and that people are everyday people with problems. If you don't know that, and you think a movie like this is necessary to make the point, you're even more warped and stupid than I originally diagnosed.

And maybe your sister should be fed to dogs and your mother raped and your brother should have his arms sawed off (as they do in this snuff/torture-porn movie). You know, just to make the point.

But we'll be sure to depict it in a comic book first, just to make it "high-brow." And get the money of the mindless "Watchmen" fandom sheeple.

Posted by Debbie at 12:23 PM

March 04, 2009

The "Watchmen" Lie: Hollywood Sends More Depravity Your Kids' Way Costumed as "Superhero" Flick

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE, 03/05/09: Watchmen Derangement Syndrome Takes Hold; Movie Continues to Be Marketed to Kids ****

If you take your kids to see "Watchmen," you're a moron.

If you see it yourself, you're also probably a moron and a vapid, indecent human being. The movie arrives in theaters at Midnight, Thursday Night. It's rated "R"--which should kinda sorta be a hint--but it really deserves an "NC-17," at the very least. And plenty of clueless parents brought their young kids and kept them there for the entire almost three hour "experience" at the screening I attended.

Yes, I know, it's being heavily marketed as a superhero movie, with action figures for your kids. But that--and the heroic-looking movie trailer--are a big, fat lie. And that's where real parenting comes in . . . like actually investigating the movie before you take or send your kids to see this garbage.

In fact, as a movie critic who sees most new releases, I haven't seen a more violent, depraved movie in years (not to mention a longer, more boring movie with a more preposterous and silly plot). This movie makes the graphic bloodshed of the recently released "Friday the 13th" look like "Cinderella."

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This really isn't a superhero movie at all. In fact, there was little "superheroing" until after the second hour of this nearly three-hour exercise on defining deviancy down. Some on the right are claiming this is a conservative movie because it's made by some of the same people as "300" (read my review). But this is no "300." (And that wasn't for kids either, but this is far much less so.) A few lines of dialogue by the character "Rorschach" deriding "liberals and intellectuals" doesn't excuse the nearly three hours of poison here. In fact, the movie kind of has a peacenik-themed ending and "message" regarding nuclear weapons. If this move is "conservative," who the heck needs liberal?

There were so many disgusting, violent, morbid, grisly scenes and acts of killing, I had to start writing them down, lest I forget. And that's in addition to the rape scene between superheroes (complete with violent beating of a female superhero) and an explicit sex scene between two other superheroes. Oh, and don't forget another superhero's swinging computer-generated penis frequently in your face on-screen.

In just the opening credits of this mindless celluloid claptrap, there's a lesbian take-off on the famous photo of a woman kissing a sailor in Manhattan who is returning victorious from World War II. The lesbian make-out scene, featuring a "superhero," is bad enough. But then, we see cops looking over their naked, bloodied, dead bodies on a bed, with the words "LESBIAN WHORES," written in blood on the wall.

Mommy, mommy, what's a lesbian? What's a whore? And remember, this is just the opening credits.

The "plot" of this movie--if you can call it a plot--is that there were costumed superheroes in the '40s and beyond. They grew old, but some of them didn't. Then a new crop of costumed superheroes with special powers cropped up, some of whom were related to the older ones and some who still remained from the older group. But they all retired. Now, a superhero known as "The Comedian"--who is also a rapist and shot a Vietnamese woman who was pregnant with his kid (all of which we see depicted on-screen)--is murdered, and some of the superheroes, the "Watchmen," get back together to find out who did it.

At the same time, the Soviets are about to nuke America. It's 1985 and Nixon is President. We've won in Vietnam. Oh, and Henry Kissinger has a Russian accent. And Ronald Reagan is thinking of running for President in 1988. Wow, isn't that cool that they got it wrong on purpose? I'm so amazed at this "high-brow art" of deliberately getting dates and timelines wrong, you know, just to be "artistic," and get the drooling of the critics. That is sooooo genius. Like way totally cool.

Maybe if I make a movie about how Eisenhower was President in 1972, we "lost" World War II, and Bin Laden was gonna bomb the World Trade Center then, I'll be cool, too. . . so long as it's "dark" and I include a bunch of rape, torture, explicit sex scenes, and extremely graphic killings, and oh, write a "graphic novel" a/k/a comic book about it, first.

In the midst of this stupid story, we're treated to the following:

* Dogs fighting over, tearing apart, and eating a six-year-old girl--we're shown them chowing down on and tearing apart the remaining leg and leg bone, with the sock and shoe still on the bone as the dogs wrestle over it;

* A close up of man repeatedly getting an axe-blade driven through his skull while he's being butchered;

* At least two very graphic scenes of naked superhero "Dr. Manhattan" vaporizing people to just blood, limbs, and guts hanging from the ceiling or spread in the snow;

* Many scenes of Dr. Manhattan's computer generated penis swinging about;

* A kid biting a giant, bloody chunk of flesh out of another kid's face--he grows up to be "Rorschach," one of the superheroes' compatriots;

* A man's hands and arms being sawed off with an electric saw--we're shown the bloody stumps and the bloody sawed off limbs in close up shots;

* A man with vat of hot french fry oil deliberately thrown over his head--we literally see him fry, and he ultimately dies, we're told (no kidding);

* Many, many scenes of people's hands, arms, fingers being broken in half or crunched by the "superheroes";

* Cops being set on fire and burning to death by superhero compatriot "Rorschach;"

* Superhero "The Comedian" (a bad Robert Downey, Jr. look-alike) brutally beating and raping another superhero--tis movie concludes that the rape was a good thing b/c the slutty superhero had a slutty superhero daughter from him;

* Superhero "The Comedian" shooting and killing a Vietnamese woman because she's pregnant with his kid;

* Superhero "The Comedian" being thrown off a roof of a tall building--we see his body hit the ground and the blood flow out;

* Two superheroes have an explicit sex scene in a spaceship--she's on top, then he's on top, awesome--you can teach your young kids multiple sexual positions before they even reach puberty, by taking them to see this (there's a less explicit sex scene between the slutty superheroine and another superhero not long before that).

And these are just the highlights, plus superheroes hurling obscenities--great for the kiddies. There's so much more--along with horrible make-up, bad acting, and terrible computer generated images (including the penis). Not to mention, a bad, extremely slow, and boring script.

Yup, this is the garbage that Rupert Murdoch's Fox and Warner Brothers and Paramount are marketing toward your kids. All of these studios have a piece in this movie. And even thought the budget was just $100 to $125 million, because of a long legal battler between WB and Fox, the legal fees and pay-out make it such that they must recoup at least $200 or 300 million and make a profit. To do so, they are pimping the movie to all niches, especially your young kids.

But just because shameless whores and crack dealers of Hollywood deal this stuff out, doesn't mean you have to buy it and poison your kids' minds with it.

Remember the morons I told you about who took their kids to see the latest "Friday the 13th," last month? Well, they were back with their kids at a Monday Night screening of this horribly depraved, whacked out movie.

Remember the White single mother who told me her ten-year-old son could see it because "he knows it's not real and he knows the difference between right and wrong"? Well, she was back with her ten-year-old, and they waited in line for at least two hours with their free pass to get in to this screening, I'm told. I saw them walking out at the end.

Her son is going to grow up to be messed up. Don't do the same to your kid.

And do yourself a favor, too. Save the ten bucks and the three hours of your life you'll never get back. And the nightmares of some guy's bloody, sawed-off arms and hands still clinging to the doors of a jail cell.

I don't just worry that this is the new superhero movie being marketed to your kids today. I worry about the ones that will be even more depraved a decade from now.

G-d help this country (minus Hollywood).

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 12:21 PM

February 27, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Depressing, Predictable "Two Lovers", Muslim Students Run Asylum in Boring French "The Class"

By Debbie Schlussel

No big blockbusters out this weekend (next weekend is "The Watchmen" weekend), just a couple of indie, smaller releases:

* "The Class" (Entre Les Murs): It figures that this movie was a nominee for best foreign language film (along with "Waltz with Bashir"--read my review) at this year's Academy Awards. It's one of the most boring movies on earth. Have insomnia? See this. It's in French, with English subtitles.

On the other hand, it's an insight to what's coming to America, if we continue to allow Muslim immigrants and illegal aliens to come to our shores.

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A French public school teacher loses control of his classroom, as Muslim troublemakers--both Black and White--from North Africa act up and exalt their ignorance upon the rest of the class. It was written by the real-life teacher and stars his real-life students, based on their real-life experience. We see how most of these students' parents can't speak French and are complete unabsorbed into their population. Some of them get deported, and the idiotically liberal teachers feel bad for these aliens and take up collections for them. The insolence of the students is headed up by a troublemaker named Suleman, but we're suppoed to feel sorry for him because his father might send him back to Mali if he's expelled. I say, get packing.

Political correctness, thuggery, ignorance, and hip-hoppery run the classroom and its teacher, not the other way around. We already have a lot of this here. Expect more with illegal aliens. Islam and polite western civilization don't mix.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Two Lovers": An aging Jewish couple is selling their business to a younger Jewish couple, as they worry about their troubled son, Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix). He once tried to commit suicide and seems to be going nowhere. They want him to date and marry the lovely daughter of the Jewish couple that's buying their dry cleaning business, and secure a good future for him. But he's drawn to the beautiful but wild, nutty, and aimless blonde gentile woman (Gwyneth Paltrow) in the apartment building, who uses him--and, as you could guess, doesn't change, despite pretenses and promises otherwise.

He dates the Jewish chick, but obsesses for the blonde, who wants someone else and plays him. It's the age old story of someone wanting someone who plays them repeatedly and predictably and doesn't really want them. On another level, I reject this self-hating hypothesis presented by liberal Hollywood Jews--that Jewish women are less sexy and desirable, the lesser alternative choice. Interestingly, in this movie the less desirable Jewish chick is played by the Jewish Vinessa Shaw, whereas the "hotter" (in the movie's eyes) chick is played by the half-Jew, Gwyneth Paltrow.

The one thing I liked about this movie is that they touch on an issue not well-known outside the Jewish community, and less-known within it, as intermarriage plagues Judaism at a rate of higher than 50%. It's the Tay-Sachs disease test that most Jews get before marriage. The usually fatal disease is more common in the Jewish community than other populations, and many Jews get tested to make sure they are not both carriers of the gene. If both are, the chances that they will have kids who have the disease and will die--and the couple have to re-think whether they will marry, if they want to have kids. We learn that Leonard was engaged to the love of his life, but both tested positive for the dominant gene, and the relationship collapsed.

The story told in this movie, while mildly entertaining, was unoriginal, predictable, and sad. And the movie was cold. A far superior, more cheerful and warm version of this movie was in 1988's "Crossing DeLancey," which I highly recommend (my dad took me to see it and we both loved it). This movie also has slight echoes of the original 1972 version of "The Heartbreak Kid."

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 05:40 PM

VIDEO--ICE The Movie a/k/a "Crossing Over" Debuts: Destined to Be An IED

By Debbie Schlussel

As longtime readers know, I've been on the case of the movie "Crossing Over," which I call "ICE The Movie," for a long time. I have and read the original script--before they removed the Muslim honor killing scene after protest from Muslims--and I've received written threats from Writer/Director Wayne Kramer's lawyer and the lawyer for the Weinstein Brothers' studio (The Weinstein Company). I posted the honor killing scene exclusively on this site, despite the Weinsteins' and Kramer's lawyers' threats.

As I also noted, the movie--starring Harrison Ford as an ICE agent (and at 66, he's a little old for the role, since ICE agents must retire by their 57th birthdays)--sat on the shelf for nearly two years, repeatedly delaying its debut date. It's that bad. And its defamation of ICE is legion, as is the way the movie gets ICE policy wrong. I've discussed all of that on this site. Note the reference to the "immigration gestapo" in the movie trailer below.

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As I also discussed on this site, I believe that writer/director Wayne Kramer--a Jewish South African immigrant--committed immigration fraud, just like Gavin--a Jewish South African immigrant (who was changed to a British immigrant, after I wrote about this)--a character in this movie. Kramer said, in a New Zealand interview, that the movie is largely autobiographical and that he lived it every step of the way, and then claimed--in his lawyer's threatening letter to me that it wasn't. Still waiting for a gutsy ICE agent to start investigating Kramer, as I'm confident--based on his statements regarding himself and the movie--that he, indeed, lied to stay here and become a citizen.

Today, "Crossing Over" debuts in limited release (in New York and Los Angeles), and its getting trashed by even liberal movie critics, including the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern, USA Today's Claudia Puig, and AP's Christy Lemire. Having read the script, I concur.

And--as I've noted on this site--aside from the script and movie comprising crappy propaganda against our enforcement of immigration law, it's pan-Islamic propaganda. I only wish we did enforce the law that strictly. But, unfortunately, we don't--as the movie claims--deport hijab-encrusted Islamic kids who write and read essays to the class about how we should sympathize with the 9/11 hijackers and see them as humans and fathers.

In fact, as I've also noted repeatedly on this site and in the New York Post, top ICE officials--like then ICE Chieftess Julie L. Myers a/k/a "The ICE Princess" and Michigan/Ohio ICE Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz a/k/a "Abu Moskowitz"--regularly feted organizations who openly support Islamic terrorism.

Watch this scene of an ICE raid from "Crossing Over," as well as the trailer for the movie, posted below. Even those lie, because, in fact, it's ICE policy never to separate an illegal alien mother who is the sole caregiver, from her child--a main storyline in the movie, which results in the mother's death. Would never happen. Just like most of the events in this movie (other than the Citizenship and Immigration Services employee--Ray Liotta--exchanging promises of a green card for sex from an illegal alien; that's happened lotsa times, sadly). Read more of the defamatory, lying script of this movie here.

"Crossing Over" is scheduled to reach nationwide release around the U.S. by the end of March, but I wouldn't bet on that. Like I said, having read the script, I can tell this is FOUR MARXES-PLUS cinematic screed.

Posted by Debbie at 01:02 PM

February 24, 2009

New Nick Cage Doomsday Movie Looks Interesting

By Debbie Schlussel

Last week, studio reps sent me the newest trailer for the upcoming film "Knowing" (which opens in mid-March). If you watched the Academy Awards pre-game, you might have seen a shorter version of it. Because of technical problems, I wasn't able to record the trailer and couldn't post it. But they recently sent me another. The movie looks interesting, and I normally like Nicholas Cage and doomsday movies. We'll see on this one. I learned long ago that you can never judge from trailers.

Below is Trailer #2, followed by the first trailer (released last year). Stay tuned for my complete review of this movie on opening day.

Posted by Debbie at 05:23 PM

February 20, 2009

"Waltz With Bashir": Anti-Israel Propaganda Made by Israelis; Shame on Oscar

By Debbie Schlussel

**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****

At Sunday's Academy Awards, "Waltz With Bashir" is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

And while the foreign language it is in is Hebrew, it might as well be in Arabic or Farsi. That's because while neither Ahmadinejad nor the Muslim world could possibly make something more anti-Israel . . . and, frankly, anti-Semitic, they'll simply love this movie. And that's why I'm betting on it to win the Oscar. It's high quality Bin Laden cinema.

Since we already have an annoying actress cleaning up in the movie awards biz for playing a semi-pornographic, hot SS guard as the good guy (Kate Winslet in "The Reader"--read my review) for sending Jews to the ovens, while the two Jewish Holocaust survivors who testified against her are the insensitive bitches of the movie, why not round out the Nazi anti-Semitism with a little anti-Israel anti-Semitism to keep up with the times?

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This movie and "The Reader" would make for a great double feature at the next SS/Gestapo reunion.

And it's no surprise that "Waltz With Bashir" is made by Israelis--in particular, director Ari Folman doing his best Leni Riefenstahl. Goebbels would be proud. As I've often noted on this site, the Israeli left and the Israeli movie industry make our left and our Hollywood look like centrists and moderates.

I saw in this animated piece of garbage virtually every canard that HAMAS, Hezbollah, and Israel's enemies around the world have hurled.

Jews as Nazis . . . Check.

Arabs killing Arabs, but it's the Jews' fault . . . Check.

Jews as murderers of "innocent" Muslims . . . Check.

Terrorist Muslims as innocent victims of the Jews . . . Check.

Jews as the Michael Vicks of the Middle East, killing dogs and Arabian horses . . . Check.

Israelis as porn and sex addicts . . . Check.

Israelis as drug addict slackers . . . Check (well, that part is true about the Israeli left, like the scum that made this movie).

Check, Check, Check, Check, Check.

The only thing missing from this vile celluloid exercise in the sickening are the traditional blood libels of Jews cooking Arabs and using their blood in pastries. The Israeli filmmakers--nice guys that they are--want to leave at least something as the exclusive domain of the Arab world and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The movie follows Folman, the director of this film, a middle-aged former Israeli soldier who served in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion in the early 1980s. Let's not forget what Folman goes to great lengths to omit from this movie: Israel entered Lebanon in the early 1980s at the invitation of the majority of the Lebanese people --both Shi'ite Muslims (the same ones who now support Hezbollah) and Maronite Christians. As I've written, most of the Lebanese people welcomed the Israelis as heroes for liberating them from Yasser Arafat and his P.L.O., who took over their houses, raped their daughters, and murdered their sons. No less than David K. Shipler, the New York Times' anti-Israel then-correspondent detailed this, and I've summarized much of it on this site, as well as given other examples from my own knowledge and research over the years.

There's a reason that much of Lebanon was known as "Fatahland" at the time. None of that exists in the vacuum of this lie-filled movie.

At the beginning of the movie, a friend and Folman are at a bar. The friend says he has nightmares about 26 dogs trying to kill him. These are the 26 dogs he shot as Israel invaded South Lebanon. The killings were necessary because the dogs would bark and alert wanted Palestinian terrorists that the Israelis were coming to capture them.

But since this is an anti-war, anti-Israel movie, the Israelis are as bad as Michael Vick. Because shooting dogs to save people from Islamic terrorists is just a vile thing to do . . . according to PETA and these Israeli self-hating filmmakers who produced this trash.

While his friend tells of his guilt over the dogs, Folman tells him he can't remember a thing about his service in Lebanon. It's "not in his system," he says. Of course, those inhuman Israelis--it's just not in their system to care about--or even remember--war.

Folman seeks out his former unit members from his time in Lebanon to remind him what happened there. The whole rest of the movie is spent rehashing and blaming Israel for the events at Sabra and Shatila--Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where Maronite Christian Phalangist soldiers killed Palestinians, some of them terrorists (but they don't want you to know that in this movie). What Ari Folman also doesn't want you to know is that these camps were not only the subterfuges for Yasser Arafat's P.L.O., but they were the breeding and training grounds--much as all Palestinian refugee camps remain today--for Islamic terrorists.

Frankly, while--unlike the message of this movie--the Israelis (the movie also singles out Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin, in addition to soldiers and commanders) have no blame in the Sabra and Shatila massacre, I can't blame the Phalangists for slaughtering the Palestinians there. What would you do if Sunni Muslim terrorists under the leadership of Arafat ravaged your country, took over your homes, raped your wives and daughters, and executed your sons before your eyes? Would you look the other way? Or would you seek the only justice available in the Middle East?

But the movie only shows us one group of people taking over Lebanese homes . . . Israeli soldiers. And it shows them watching vile, obscene porn, lounging in their bathtubs, and drinking their alcohol. Uh, thanks, Ari Folman, but you have the wrong ethnicity. Not that a minor detail such as that would get in your way of vilifying Israel and the Jews.

And you wouldn't know that it was the Phalangists--and not Israelis--who "massacred" these terrorist-monger Palestinians, unless you sit through the entire movie. It implies the Israelis did it, until the last third of the movie. You know, they wouldn't want you to get the wrong impression--i.e., that Israelis didn't massacre anyone, but that their Arab brethren who were forced to live with them were driven to it.

On the subject of the Phalangists, the movie is named for their dead leader, Bashir Gemayel--a charismatic, pro-Israel leader who was about to recognize Israel and, for the first time ever, create real peace in the Israeli-Lebanese relationship. Sadly, he was assassinated by the Syrians, shortly after becoming Lebanon's leader, for that very reason.

But instead of wishing he had taken over, director Ari Folman vilifies the dead Gemayel. The people in his movie describe the Phalangists' admiration of him as homo-erotic, a claim he'd never dare make about the real homo-erotic admiration actually going on in Lebanon . . . for Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Unlike Mr. Folman, the dead Bashir Gemayel's family (excluding his Syrian-allied brother Amin Gemayel) continues to sacrifice its family members even in recent times, as victims for trying to free Lebanon from the puppets of foreign Islamic rule based in Iran and Syria.

And Folman does exactly what we've seen from the supporters of HAMAS and Hezbollah. In a 1.5 hour movie, I counted at least three comparisons of Israeli soldiers to Nazis and the situation to the Holocaust--that's one per half hour. They were called "Nazis." And their entrance into and activities in Lebanon were called both "Auschwitz," and the "Warsaw Ghetto." So let's compare: Innocent Jews rounded up and cooked in ovens versus Palestinians who raped, tortured and murdered the people versus Lebanon getting a tiny deserved taste of their own medicine. Hmmm ... sounds exactly the same to me. How' bout you?

In addition to being Nazis, cruel dog-killers, porn addicts, and home invaders, we're told that Israeli soldiers killed an entire field of Arabian horses. "The horses never did anything to anyone. They didn't deserve to die," Folman tells us.

Yup, that's what you want to do when you go to war against Palestinian terrorists who are shooting down on your country and using the country to your north as a base of attack: Worry about guard dogs who protect them . . . and Arabian horses who might get in the way of bombings and gunshots. The PETA plan of attack--I'm sure it works wonders . . . in the cartoon land of the vegetarians and Ari Folman.

We are also shown scenes of Israeli soldiers landing on a Lebanese beach and shooting up a car carrying a family, just for the heck of it. Oh, and then there's that porn again. We are constantly shown scenes of naked Israeli soldiers, with full-frontal penile nudity on the water off the coast of Lebanon, and full-frontal naked women who are the fantasies of pot-smoking Israeli soldiers. And then there are the scenes of Folman and one of his former unit-mates in Holland smoking pot.

Perhaps Mr. Folman should have stuck to pot-smoking instead of filmmaking, because clearly his vision of what really happened in Lebanon is drug-addled.

The only part of this movie that isn't animated is the end, during which the audience is treated to gruesome footage of Palestinians' bodies at Sabra and Shatila and piercing screaming of crying Palestinian women. Hmmm . . . too afraid to show us the crying and screaming and far more gruesome pictures of what the Palestinians living in those camps did to Lebanese Shi'ites and Christians all over the country?

Yeah, why give the complete picture when the goal is to destroy Israel from within? It was a civil war between Christians trying to save their once civilized and beautiful country and Muslims trying to savage it and wrest control. Israel had far less business interfering in this alleged "massacre" of its enemy by its ally than it did interfering--which Israel did not--in the many, far larger Palestinian massacres of Lebanese Christians and Shi'ites.

As I left the theater, a noblesse oblige ignoramus-ette said to me, "Oh, the inhumanity of those Israelis and Jews."

To her, I said,

Lady, if you had a clue, you'd know that the Lebanese people were raped and murdered by these Palestinians, that they welcomed the Israelis in to rescue them. Too bad they didn't bother to show you that in this propaganda film.

Oh the inhumanity of those Israelis and Jews that they didn't let the Maronites finish the job.

Look for Oscar gold, Sunday Night, for the new Goebbels-esque filmmaker, Ari Folman and his "Waltz with Bashir."

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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***

READ "When Shi'ites Welcomed Israel Into Lebanon: P.L.O. Mass Murder, Torture & Rape in 'Fatah-land.'"

**** UPDATE, 2/22/09: Fortunately, "Waltz with Bashir" did not win the Oscar. Glad to be wrong in this case. ****

Posted by Debbie at 04:53 PM

Movie Review Coming Soon

By Debbie Schlussel

For those of you looking for this week's movie reviews, there were three new movies, this week. One of them, "Medea Goes to Jail," did not have a critics' screening. I hope you will forgive me that I will not pay to sit through this movie to review it. I could not make last night's screening of "Fired Up!" and I hear I did not miss much.

I did see "Waltz With Bashir," which is, unfortunately but predictably up for an Academy Award this weekend. I'll be posting my review of this horrid FOUR MARXES PLUS anti-Israel propaganda (by anti-Israel Israelis), shortly. It's the most baloney-filled, anti-Israel piece of propaganda I've ever seen. High quality Bin Laden cinema.

Posted by Debbie at 03:15 PM

February 13, 2009

Alhamdillullah [Praise allah], Muslim Beheadings Come to American Soil: Head of Islamic Propaganda Cable Network Cuts Wife's Head Off--Buffalo, NY

By Debbie Schlussel

But wait, but wait, we were told that Muslims in America are different than their violent brethren around the world, that they are "moderate" and "peaceful."

Hmmmm . . . tell that to Aasiya Hassan. This isn't the first time Muslims have beheaded their wives in America. It's only the latest.

Ironically, Mr. Hassan is the founder and head of Bridges TV, an American Muslim cable channel which he set up after 9/11 to show us how "moderate" American Muslims are. I wonder when we'll see the Bridges TV Muslim Beheading Year in Review.

Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband--an influential member of the local Muslim community--reported her death to police Thursday.
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"Religion of Peace" = Religion of Pieces
Police identified the victim as Aasiya Z. Hassan, 37. Detectives have charged her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, 44, with second-degree murder.

"He came to the police station at 6:20 p.m. [Thursday] and told us that she was dead," Orchard Park Police Chief Andrew Benz said late this morning.

Muzzammil Hassan told police that his wife was at his business, Bridges TV, on Thorn Avenue in the village. Officers went to that location and discovered her body.

Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light.

To paraphrase the loathsome "Dr." Phil, "And how's that workin' for ya?"

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Muslim Wife Aasiya Hassan: Now Headless
The killing apparently occurred some time late Thursday afternoon. Detectives still are looking for the murder weapon.

"Obviously, this is the worst form of domestic violence possible," Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said today.

Authorities say Aasiya Hassan recently had filed for divorce from her husband.

"She had an order of protection that had him out of the home as of Friday the 6th [of February]," Benz said.

Why is this beheading only second degree murder? It's not that easy to behead someone, and it was likely planned in advance "with malice aforethought."

Like I said before, this isn't the first time.

In the past, I've written about Dr. Azizul Islam, a Muslim doctor in Michigan, who chopped his wife to bits (including beheading her) and spread her "parts" around.

Posted by Debbie at 02:44 PM

Weekend Box Office: Best Movie is About Vagrant Girl & Her Dog; Jason Garbage Returns

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend's box office is largely a garbage dump. And, ironically, the best movie is about a homeless vagrant woman and her dog, with a short 3D movie for kids as the runner up. Sad to say, it's probably best to stay home and rent a great movie like "The ODESSA File," or, if you haven't already, see the excellent "Taken (read my review)."

* "Confessions of a Shopaholic": Well, it's Valentine's Day weekend, so, guys, you'll probably get dragged to this dumb, predictable, non-credible comedy, starring the real-life Borat Baby Mam, Isla Fisher (she's long been "engaged" to Sacha Baron Cohen and had his kid). Think a better-looking but dumber version of "Grease"'s Frenchie, lotsa pink, and a dopey, hackneyed romance. I laughed like twice.

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Rebecca Bloomwood is a shopping addict, who dreams of writing for a high fashion magazine. But her huge bills, for high-priced designer duds she really can't afford, are getting in the way. And she's stuck in a dull job writing for a gardening magazine. Soon, though, a chance meeting combined with dumb, immature behavior, combined with the need for yet another expensive accessory--a silk green scarf--are the stars that align to get her a job as "The Girl in the Green Scarf," a financial advice columnist who uses metaphors about buying clothes to serve up a message of fiscal responsibility and frugality.

Bloomwood finds herself falling for the editor who is now her boss. But all the while, she's battling her shopping addiction, as she's stalked by a bill collector.

Um, how many bill collectors stalk a person by visiting their office, apartment, and a TV show on which the debtor is a guest? It just doesn't happen that way. Nor do high finance companies hire foolish, ditzy writers in pink plaid miniskirts and ponchos, whose wardrobes run the gamut of bubblegum pink to Barney purple, and who crawl onto the conference room table. So many other things in this movie were equally annoying and stupid.

And you know a movie is in trouble when it has to resort to former NBA star John Salley--not playing himself--in several cameos.

Nothing objectionable. It was just, well, dumb. And it wasn't very entertaining.

ONE MARX
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* "The International": This was very slow and boring for a "thriller." And it wasn't very thrilling. The confusing, uninteresting, and busy plot centers on a Swiss-based international bank, IBBC, which launders the money of mobsters and organized crime and creates wars to control warring countries' debts.

Ostensibly modeled on the real-life BCCI, this movie managed to make an interesting bank scandal extremely dull. BCCI (the Bank of Commerce and Credit International) was the playground of Islamic terrorists, Gulf-state sheiks, and the real-life husband of "Wonder Woman" Lynda Carter.

In this movie, the bank CEO, an unscrupulous Swiss man, is a murderer who mysteriously assassinates agents and government officials looking into his operation. But the plot is thin and we never really know much about what he's doing, other than double-dealing rival countries through the sales of weapons to make war.

As conspiracy theory movies go, this one was simply ridiculous. The only cool part of the movie was an extended, bloody shoot-out scene at the Guggenheim museum. I love to see people with guns destroy crappy modern art. But other than that, this movie made me feel like I was falling asleep.

With the current wave of hatred of banks and bank CEOs, audiences will surely take the bait of revenge against evil, conspiratorial bank officials. But, sorry, that left-wing message doesn't go for when there's not much of interest for the rest of the flick. Naomi Watts and Clive Owen are boring to tears in this. And their feigned outrage and sense of urgency was way too overwrought and over-acted.

HALF-MARX
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* "Friday the 13th": I've already relayed to you how four stupid, selfish single parents brought their babies and young, impressionable kids to see this celluloid cesspool of violence, graphic dismemberments and beheadings, explicit sex, and glorification of drugs. Basically, this movie is what you'd expect from a Friday the 13th movie, only worse. It's complete trash, and in this age of declining America, that's why it will probably be a huge success at the box office this weekend. It's not just bad for young, impressionable kids. It's bad for humans. Period. If you like seeing these kinds of movies, there's something wrong with you. You're deficient.

A brother is looking for his sister who disappeared weeks earlier at the former Camp Crystal Lake grounds, where legend has it that Jason came back to life after being killed by a camp counselor who fought back. His sister and her friends were at the site to find a massive pot crop, which they planned to sell.

While looking for his missing sister, the brother runs into several college-aged creeps who, like him, look like they walked off the pages of the Abercrombie and Fitch catalog. Meanwhile, the college aged-creeps engage in a day of explicit sexual and drug-laced debaucherie in the swanky cabin of one of them.

Jason, replete with hockey mask, murders them in grisly ways, picking them off one by one, amidst graphic sex scenes, gratuitous topless shots, and bong hits (hey, a great walk-on role for Michael Phelps).

Ironically, other than two good-hearted 20-somethings, the people in this hack-fest are such sad excuses for humans, the most admirable character in this movie is Jason. That's because he keeps his mouth shut, instead of betraying uber-stupidity, sluttiness, and a fondness for pot and bongs. And he puts those that do out of their misery. A lot of people in this movie I didn't miss when they were sliced to the next world.

And frankly, the movie would actually have some redeeming value, if Jason took the makers of this piece of horrid garbage with him in some of those same grisly ways.

For putting America through the latest torture porn flick, they deserve it.

Completely vile. Skip at all cost, if you are actually human. Ch-ch-ch-ah-ah-ah. Get lost, Jason.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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* "Under the Sea 3D": This short 40-minute movie is extremely interesting and very cool. The cinematography and fantastic story of underwater sea life is unbelievably fascinating. And it would be a great movie to which to take your kids. . . if you could turn the sound off. While narrator Jim Carrey tells us very interesting things about how eels, cuttlefish, and stingrays camouflage themselves, capture prey, and survive, he's also way too cutesy and tells your kids repeatedly how these cool fish and adorable sea lions and coral reefs are all gonna die and disappear because of global warming.

That propaganda and other tactics make this movie the carbon copy, Summer-ized, warm water version of "Arctic Tale (read my review)," in which Queen Latifah was the cutesy narrator, instead of Carrey. And in which she also talked in such a cheesy way about how the animals have sex--just like Jim Carrey does in this. And in which she, just like Carrey, scared your kids into telling you to go green because you're killing the sea lions. Yup, there's no originality in Hollywood, just repeats of the same old rigid liberal lectures.

It's really a shame, because the visuals and science learning opportunities for your kids are immense with this movie. And it's an effective movie (though, seeing giant sea snakes briefly come at you from the giant IMAX screen is kinda creepy). Just be prepared to tell your kids to ignore the global warming messages. You can tell them that sometimes (many times) adult narrators read lies that they're paid to repeat.

TWO REAGANS (Would have been THREE REAGANS, without the annoying, repeated global warming nonsense)
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* "Wendy and Lucy": Of all the movies out this weekend, I liked this one best. But it's not a fun, escapist movie. It's very sad and depressing. And not what you really want to go out on a Saturday night to see . . . if you are looking to have a good time. But it's absorbing.

Michelle Williams is Wendy, a girl who is driving cross-country to ultimately seek work in Alaska. Her jalopy car on its last legs. Her only friend and companion is her dog, Lucy. This is like the anti-Marley and Me movie, showing the love of a person for her dog, especially when life is looking ever down.

But Wendy is not just any down-on-her-luck vagrant. She's sane, resourceful, and trying to pay her way, without asking for hand-outs. When her home and means of transportation--her car--breaks down, things change.

Wendy's car stops running in a small town, and she finds she can't afford to pay for it to be fixed and for food. Her mistake: She shoplifts at a supermarket, gets caught, and taken to jail, where she has to pay off most of the rest of her money in fines. When she returns to the market, her dog, Lucy, is gone from the bike rack to which it was leashed.

Wendy spends several days in town desperately looking for Lucy. With her car locked in a garage, she must sleep in the woods, where she is stalked by a crazy homeless man. She has to wash up in a gas station bathroom. And she forages for cans to make some extra money for food, but then finds the line to trade in cans is hours long. The security guard at a mall parking lot, whose initial stickling and by-the-book behavior got her partially into this mess, comes to like and feel sorry for Wendy. The comfort of strangers.

Being a conservative doesn't mean that you don't feel for people who are down on their luck. It means that you especially feel bad and have empathy for those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps, try hard to make it, and still find themselves in desperate situations (though we don't know what brought Wendy to this point in life, how she ended up here). Despite her momentary desperation of shoplifting, Wendy is one of those people. And we could be her.

In this poor economy, there will be many more Wendys who want to succeed. And who love their dogs, but know that sometimes they have to grow up and make things better for themselves, lest they make their pets the priority that draws them into further misfortune and dire straits.

Extremely depressing, but entertaining nonetheless. It pulls you in.

TWO REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 03:52 AM

February 12, 2009

"Inglourious Basterds": Quentin Tarantino Nazi Movie Trailer Debuts

By Debbie Schlussel

Weinstein studio reps just sent me this trailer of "Inglourious Basterds" (no, I didn't misspell this one), Quentin Tarantino's new movie about American-recruited Jewish soldiers who kill Nazis during World War II.

Drawback #1: It stars Mr. Angie Voight a/k/a Brad Pitt.

Drawback #2: It's by Tarantino, so it's likely gonna be a sarcastic bloodfest, instead of an interesting movie.

Drawback #3: It comes out in late August, the pet cemetery for movies to which the studios want to give a quick, painless death--movies they think are duds. Is this an exception to that rule? Doubtful.

In my view, Tarantino is the most over-rated director in the movie biz--the Obamessiah of Hollywood. I don't think I've liked a single one of his movies, which really are just violent hackfests, which continue to define deviancy down. But I'll reserve judgment until I review it, since this looks like I could actually like it--I'll never be disturbed by seeing Nazis hacked to death. Stay tuned for my review on this site, G-d-willing, the day it debuts in theaters.

Posted by Debbie at 01:47 PM

February 10, 2009

The End of Parenting: The Complete Morons Who Take Their Kids to "Friday the 13th"

By Debbie Schlussel

Tonight, I concluded that the decline of America is increasing with rapidity and escalation far worse than I've earlier diagnosed.

I just returned from a special critics and promotional screening of the latest installment of the "Friday The 13th" movie franchise. This latest one bears the same name as the 1980 original--simply, "Friday the 13th." And I watched parents voluntarily subject their very young children to graphic, bloody violence, from which many parents in the Third World only wish they could shield their kids.

Al-Qaeda murdered 3,000 Americans on 9/11. That was an outrage. But thousands more American parents--who are merely sperm, egg, and womb donors--are doing to this country what Al-Qaeda could never do. These American parents have voluntarily turned their kids' minds to mush--kids who will still be around, who will "grow up," and who will continue to add to America's decline.

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Does This Look Like It's for Babies & 10-Year-Olds?

In the past, I've complained on this site about selfish parents who take their babies to the movies, so we hear them crying instead of the movie. And I've lamented that irresponsible parents take their very young kids to violent, graphic, sex-laden, R-rated movies like this one. This latest "Friday the 13th," should have been rated NC-17 and, a few years ago, it would have been. But Hollywood is desperate to keep teens coming to these flicks and manages to get the ratings standards relaxed.

But while I blame Hollywood for creating ever trashier garbage, I blame these pseudo-parents far more.

Tonight, I saw ever more extreme examples of this--of the morons who are "raising" America's next generation.

"Friday The 13th" is what you'd expect--except that it's more graphic, bloody, and violent than ever. Posters and passes to the free screening of this movie say, "FROM THE PRODUCERS OF THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE." (There are more graphic beheadings in this movie than a dozen Al-Qaeda videos.) It also is more replete with topless, heavily-implanted women, sexual language and content, and a prolonged, very explicit sex scene.

It's NOT for kids. But fewer and fewer parents in America seem to care anymore.

Tonight, I saw--or rather, heard--at least two crying babies at the "Friday the 13th" showing. And I saw at least two parents with VERY young, impressionable kids. It was one of those times I wish I had a video camera with me. I spoke with each of these parents I saw.

First, the babies. I understand that it's "Friday The 13th." It's no masterpiece. More like the anti-masterpiece. I expected lots of laughter at supposedly scary points in the movie and lots of talking back to the screen.

But I didn't expect surround-sound baby. Two single parents--a baby mama and a baby daddy--brought their babies to the movie. They didn't think: Hmmm . . . I don't wanna or can't afford to spring for a baby sitter. So, the right thing to do would be to be a good parent and a good citizen and stay home with my kid.

Nope, they thought: I wanna see a free movie, and damn it if I have this inconvenient product of my slutty single sex life get in the way. I'm gonna go see that movie, not matter what. And I don't give a crap if the rest of the people in the theater can't enjoy the movie when my baby predictably cries or makes noises.

That was selfish enough. But, then, as you'd predict, their babies repeatedly cried, cooed, and screamed during the entire movie. Not once did they get up and leave the theater. No, that would ruin their movie-viewing experience. Who gives a crap about the rest of the people in the theater?

I asked both of the parents of these babies why they brought their crying babies to the movies. Both happened to be Black, but don't you worry that this is a race thing, because I'll get to the two moronic single White mothers who brought their young kids later on in this column.

First, there was a single Black mother with her baby. I shouted to her, "Why did you bring a baby to "Friday the 13th?" "Shut up, bitch," was the response. To another film critic's questions, she and her friends said, "Mind ya own damn bid'ness." Um, well, we would, if we wouldn't have to hear the result of your bid'ness throughout the movie, sister.

Then, there was the single Black father and his aging mother with a baby. I'd bet money his mother is raising this grandkid. They were parked next to me, and after the movie, I asked, "Why was it necessary for you to bring your baby to 'Friday the 13th'? Don't you think that's rude and irresponsible?"

His response: "He say he wanna get scared."

Me: "Huh? How old is this kid? Can he even talk?"

Baby Daddy: "He one-year-old."

Me: "A one-year-old can understand what's going on in 'Friday the 13th'? Come on . . . ."

Baby Daddy: "You'd be surprised."

Me, getting into my car: "Well, that's very irresponsible parenting and very rude to the rest of us who heard his crying."

Then, there are the two White, single mothers with their kids, who looked to be between the ages of 8 and 11.

White Single Mother #1 took two young daughters to see this disgustingly violent, explicitly sexual movie. I asked her youngest daughter how old she was. She looked at me and her mother like even she knew she wasn't old enough to be there.

White Single Mother (WSM) #1: "She's eleven."

Me: "Why would you take an eleven-year-old girl to see this movie?"

WSM #1: "Well, if I would have known it would be like this . . . ."

Me: "If you would have known?! Lady, it's 'Friday the 13th.'"

And it's R-rated. WSM #1 threw her hands up and smiled because she knew quite well what the content of "Friday the 13th." It's not like there haven't been a gazillion sequels to and incarnations of this movie over the last three decades (the first was in 1980).

Me: "Great parenting. You're a moron."

White Single Mother #2 had a teeny, tiny, young boy with her. I asked the boy how old he is. He, too, had the same look of guilt as White Single Mother #1's daughter. He knew he shouldn't be at this movie.

White Single Mother (WSM) #2: "He's ten."

Me: "Why are you taking a ten-year-old to see such a graphic, violent movie?"

WSM #2: "It's only a movie. And, yeah, I know it's violent and stuff, but he knows right from wrong. And ya know, it's only a movie and stuff."

Me: "Huh? That's Bullsh-t. He's only ten and you're taking him to a movie where people are hacked to death, burned alive, and otherwise killed in morbid, grisly ways?"

WSM #2: "I can't believe you just cussed in front of my son."

Me: "Why does that suddenly bother you, since you just dragged your ten-year-old son to a movie at eleven o-clock at night, in which they're swearing throughout the entire movie? [Every other word is sh-t, f-ck, the p-word, etc.] You're completely irresponsible."

WSM #2: "Well, that's not real. Mind your own business."

You know what? I wish Americans could mind their own business. I wish that we didn't have so many morons, so many irresponsible people raising kids in America. But that is my business, and it's yours, too. Because how they raise--or rather, don't raise--their kids is going to affect us and future generations of this country. "Deep Throat" is "just a movie," too. I wonder why this woman isn't also showing that to her 10-year-old. Or maybe she is.

Trust me--this isn't the first time White Single Mothers #1 and #2 are subjecting their kids to these kinds of movies, violence, and sex, because they, themselves, can't pass up a free movie ticket. If they have no problem with this, odds are that they have no problem with a lot of other objectionable things that come up in raising their kids. And the same goes for Black Single Mom and Father. They'll do the same. These so-called parents have no sense, no basic standard of what it means to be responsible, to raise your child with the tools to be good people and use common sense. It's, frankly, indecent. And sickeningly selfish.

And this is one of the reasons I'm not optimistic about America's future.

When I was a kid, my parents investigated the movies I saw BEFORE I saw them. They didn't let me see the movies I was too young to see. They didn't view parenting as a passive, go-through-the-motions avocation. It was their very serious vocation. (And they taught me to be a polite citizen--not to consider a movie theater my own personal living room, in which I can answer my cell phone, bring a crying baby, provide John Madden-style endless play-by-play color commentary of the obvious regarding what's happening on-screen, or otherwise disturb everyone else repeatedly.)

At first, my father wouldn't let me see "Star Wars," because he heard there were monsters and scary-looking people in it. I was seven or eight at the time and begged him to see it. He saw it on his own first to check it out and loved it, realizing that his concerns were not borne out. He couldn't wait to take us. But I'm glad--and lucky--that I had a parent who cared enough to be concerned in the first place.

When I was in high school, my dad wouldn't let me see "Risky Business" because it glorified prostitution and pimping (as a way to get into the college of your choice). But compared to the new "Friday the 13th," "Risky Business" is nothing.

Sorry, but parents who take their ten-year-olds to see "Friday the 13th" shouldn't have kids. It's child abuse of a more insidious kind.

These were just four irresponsible parents--all single parents, too. But I've seen other parents take their young kids to violent, risque movies. And there are, sadly, tens of thousands--probably hundreds of thousands and even millions--of American parents just like them who just don't give a damn.

They don't give a damn about the rest of the people in the theater. And, even worse, they don't care a whit about their own children.

And when people don't care enough about their own kids, who and what will they care about?

Certainly not the rest of their country. The stuff to which you subject your children is the stuff that they will be.

Garbage in, garbage out. And sadly, we have a lot of trash to take out in America.

Let's take out the trash before it takes us out.

Posted by Debbie at 11:30 PM

Child Abuse Cinema: "Under the Sea 3D" Hits Your Kids Over the Head 3D with Global Warming Fright

By Debbie Schlussel

Earlier today, I attended a special critics screening of "Under the Sea 3D" at an IMAX theater. The movie comes out Friday, and I'll post my review then. Again, this isn't a review, but I fotta say this: while the visuals are extremely cool and stunning, the audio felt like child abuse. To hear narrator Jim Carrey say a gazillion times how we are destroying the planet, how global warming is gonna kill the cute, cuddly sea lions living in Australia's Barrier Reef, etc., etc., etc., was really getting on my nerves. It reminded me of "Arctic Tale," which pulled the exact same stunt. I was wishing for a mute button . . . in vain. "Shut up, already."

And movie-makers lie to parents in the trailer, below, not giving them an iota of an inkling that this 40-minute visual feast will be ruined by the pungent stink of non-stop, "You are ruining the planet and will make cute animals--and scary, poisonous sea snakes--die." Not sure how you can "leave your world behind" and "lose yourself"--as the trailer tells you to do--when this movie won't let you get away from left-wing environmentalist propaganda.

Hollywood has learned a new trick: Stunning eye-candy visuals, accompanied by hypocritical celeb lecturing.

Hey, Jim, how much energy did you waste filming the stupid "Yes Man"? How much global warming did you create with your and girlfriend Jenny McCarthy's private jet-trip to be on Oprah, last year? When she dies or they burst a hole, what will you do to make sure that McCarthy's silicone implants don't pollute the environment? Dude, did ya know they're not biodegradable?

Just checkin'. And wondering why that wasn't in "Under the Hypocri-Sea 3D." I guess you killed a whole lotta cute sea lions yourself, huh?

Posted by Debbie at 03:14 PM

February 06, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Animated Movie Bests Actors

By Debbie Schlussel

Four new movies out this weekend, and I did not screen one of them, "The Pink Panther 2." Among the other three, the best--by far--is the super animated 3-D "Coraline." And don't forget last week's two great offerings, "Taken" (which I originally gave Three Reagans, but thought I underrated it and upgraded it to Four Reagans) and "The Uninvited" (Two-and-a-half Reagans).

* "Coraline": Don't let the fact that this is animated fool you. It's lifelike and extremely entertaining from start to end. Although this movie is extremely creepy for a movie aimed at tween kids, it was fantastic. The 3-D graphics are among the best I've seen in an animated movie. As an adult, I loved it. It's non-stop eye candy, almost to the point of overload, but not stepping over the bounds of well done.

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Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning) is a tween daughter of a couple who move to a new city to an old pink mansion that's been divided into apartments. Coraline's parents (mother is voiced by Teri Hatcher) are online writers for a website about plants, who don't actually plant or grow anything. They're no fun and pay very little attention to their daughter (no surprise, since Coraline's dad is a Michigan State grad--just kidding, but he wears the MSU shirt non-stop). Alone and looking for excitement and stimulation, she wishes for something better than her current parental situation and soon finds it. A neighborhood boy gives her a doll that looks just like her, with buttons for eyes.

Soon, Coraline's doll displays magical powers, and a secret portal in the apartment takes her to an alternate universe where her parents have buttons for eyes, but they look exactly like her real parents. Except that they pay attention to her. Her alternate universe mother is fun and cooks delicious dinners of her favorite foods, and her father plays magnificent music on the piano. They even have a beautiful magical garden. But everything is not what it seems. The message: Be careful what you wish for. What seems much better than the family you have, may really be much worse.

But before we get to that message, we and Coraline meet the other, extremely eccentric neighbors who live in the apartments of the subdivided house, "The Pink Palace." There is the greasy Eastern European neighbor who has a circus act performed by rats. And then there are the two old, big-busted spinster sisters who have hardened saltwater taffy collections dating back to the early 1900s. I did find one scene--in which one of the corpulent sisters is in an onstage cabaret act wearing what amounts to a bikini and semi-pasty bra to be extremely odd, much less in a movie for kids.

But then, the whole movie is odd and creepy. This is not for young kids, who will be extremely frightened. There are discussions of replacing people's eyes with buttons in the alternate world. And there is an evil witch-like character.

But don't let my description scare you away. A ten-year-old or older could watch this movie and be fascinated. It's wonderful and weird at the same time. Great for adults to take their children, too. But again, be forewarned about the creep factor.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "He's Just Not That Into You": The first half of this movie is mostly hilarious, though not believable. It's hard to believe that there's a woman on this earth as desperate, clueless, and aggressive for men as Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin, whose parents had to be different and display their special spelling skills). Watching her turn off guys with such extremely obtuse behavior was at once funny, but extremely annoying and painful. And that turned me off.

Then, there was Jennifer Aniston, living for 7 years with Ben Affleck, who is against marriage. She's not happy either and wonders if he really loves her, since he won't seal the deal with a wedding. There was no chemistry there and the whole thing wasn't believable onscreen. (Ben Affleck has so jumped the shark, and Aniston is still playing Rachel from "Friends," which gets old.) Then, there is the mopey, bitter-looking Jennifer Connolly who is completely overbearing on her husband on all things, especially smoking. She is more bothered by the possibility that he's smoking behind her back than if he's cheating on her. Which . . .

Well, then there's Scarlett Johansson, who meets Connolly's studly husband (Brad Cooper) at the supermarket, and they have an instant attraction and non-stop flirtation. He feels tied down because he married before he was ready to someone he doesn't think he really loves.

Then, there are Drew Barrymore and Kevin Connolly. Connolly is attracted to Johansson, who's "just not that into him." And Barrymore--more annoying and baby-talkish than ever--is desperately trying to find a guy, most of whom are "just not that into her."

With so many characters and intertwined story lines, are you keeping track?

Finally, there is Justin Long (Barrymore's real-life ex), who though no stud, begins giving Gigi advice on guys' secrets and how to handle them. (He's the real star of this movie and the only one who shined in it.)

The bottom line is obvious: If a guy doesn't call, he's just not that into you. Get lost.

While the message of this movie, as summarized above and in the title is hardly news, the other messages in the movie were kind of sad: That all guys are cads, or at least most of them; That a long-term live-in relationship is more stable than marriage, since your husband is trapped and wants to cheat.

But other than that it was entertaining and funny, until the last third when it turned cheesy, sappy, and predictable, since ultimately it became the chick flick it pretended it wasn't, but really was. And at that point I was . . .

Just not that into it.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Push": This movie was a mess. There was so much action it made my head spin. But it was supposed to be a thriller, and it just wasn't thrilling. I didn't care what happened next, even if it was about people with special powers who could tell the future. I liked the high-styled Hong Kong sets. But usually high-style in movie makes up for low substance. This is no exception. It was mindless.

Three Americans (Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Camilla Belle) have special powers. Evans can move things with his mind, Fanning can see into the future in pictures she draws, and Belle can get into people's minds and make them think memories that never existed and take actions against their own wills. They're trying to find a suitcase that may save their lives and reverse visions of their impending deaths. Sadly, neither Fanning nor Belle can act worth a lick, so that made the movie completely dull.

The Americans are in Hong Kong trying to escape an evil U.S. government division called Obama. No, actually, they're not that creative. It's just called, "Division," headed by Djimon Hounsou. They run around Hong Kong trying not just to escape Division, but also a family of Chinese with similar powers who want to kill them.

Not only was this movie a complete mess, it was kind of boring. Lots of action, but the same stuff, the same types of scenes basically repeating themselves, with droll, overblown sassiness by Fanning that sounded like she was reading lines rote.

Extremely violent and bloody. Not fun. Great visuals, but little else. Tried way too hard to be cool, and wasn't.

HALF MARX
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Posted by Debbie at 12:05 AM

February 05, 2009

Enough Already!: Hollywood Pushes Recycle T-Shirt on Us in TWO New Movies Out Friday

By Debbie Schlussel

Since I see the new movie releases before they come out, I couldn't help but notice a really annoying trend of Hollywood preaching.

In two new movies coming out on Friday--"He's Just Not That Into You" and "Push"--the main star is wearing a recycle symbol t-shirt. I guess they think if they can't directly lecture you, they'll do it subliminally. But, sorry, Hollywood liberals, I noticed, and ya know what? It's REALLY obnoxious.

In "He's Just Not That Into You," star Ginnifer Goodwin (her parents got the "Jennifer Memo" but couldn't spell), playing a very aggressive stalker of men, is shown wearing this t-shirt while sitting on her bed. Ah, sexy. Um, I'm Just Not That Into Recycling.

In "Push," Dakota Fanning (who stopped being cute two years ago and stopped being a good actress when she was born) plays a psychic with super jedi mind trick powers. But despite all those powers, the only jedi mind trick she can play on the audience is her hypocritical t-shirt.

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No word on whether the recycle symbol t-shirt is a symbol that these two hacktresses are the most recycled pieces of equipment on the Hollywood set.

If I want to recycle (and I don't), I'll recycle. When I see a movie, I want to relax and see a movie, not get preached to from Hollywood starlets and their t-shirts. But with two out of the four new movies out Friday pulling this stunt, you can't get away from it at the theater. Enough already.

(Can't post my reviews of these movies until Friday. They'll be posted here at Midnight. Stay tuned.)

Posted by Debbie at 02:41 PM

It's Not Just Heim or the Grand Mufti: Islam & Nazism's Long-Standing Connection; ODESSA

By Debbie Schlussel

Last night, after attending a critics' screening of yet another new Hollywood offering of crap, I watched the great 1974 movie, "The Odessa File," starring John Voight as a German reporter who infiltrates a group of Nazi SS officers in 1963 Munich. (I highly recommend this Four-Reagan-worthy film.)

It was fortuitous, given yesterday's allegations that Nazi "Dr. Death," Aribert Ferdinand Heim, became the pious Muslim, Tarek Hussein Farid, and allegedly died in Egypt (though Simon Wiesenthal Center Nazi Hunter Efraim Zuroff doubts he's dead). (More about Farid/Heim from Andrew Bostom.)

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Nazi/Muslim Aribert Heim Echoes Themes of "Odessa File"

You see, there are many, many connections and collaborations between Islam and the Nazis. It's not just Farid. It is many other things you probably don't know about, some of which were elements of "The Odessa File," a terrific thriller which is partially based on fact.

You probably know about the special Islamic unit of the Nazi SS. And you probably know about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini (Yasser Arafat's relative), and his cordial meeting and plea to Hitler to finish the Final Solution of the Jews more quickly and expand it to the Middle East. And you know about American Muslims' constant shouts of, "Go back to the oven," on the streets of Ft. Lauderdale.

But did you know that the yellow star that Nazis forced Jews to wear originated in the Islamic world, where Muslims forced Jews to wear it? And did you know that Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner--the most senior aide to Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann--lives the good life, sheltered from justice in Islamic terror-host state Syria?

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One and The Same

And did you know that organized former SS officers, known as "ODESSA" (Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehorigen, or "Organization of Former SS Members")--which helped these former SS officers elude justice--was working with Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser, to help him achieve a new Final Solution of Jews in Israel?

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Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, Hangs w/ Hitler
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Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Proudly Inspects Muslim SS Unit

Nazi scientists and former SS officers worked with Nasser to develop rocket missiles loaded with deadly diseases, designed to kill as many Jews as possible. It was the ODESSA Nazis' job to create the guidance technology for the deadly missiles. Fortunately, they were not successful.

In part because of Hajj Amin Al-Husseini (who lived in Egypt), ODESSA--and its former Nazis--were welcome in Egypt and helped lead to the expulsion of Egypt's Jews. Nasser was very proud of his association with the Nazis and the Muslim Brotherhood was very close with this secret society of Nazi SS men.

That's probably why Aribert Heim a/k/a Tarik Farid ended up in Egypt. And since most major Sunni Muslim terrorist groups--Al-Qaeda, HAMAS, the P.L.O./Fatah, etc.--came out of the Muslim Brotherhood (the most influential organization in Sunni Islam), the tight Nazi/Islamic alliance continues.

Instead of going to the movies, this weekend, I recommend renting "The Odessa File." This exciting, suspense-filled movie stands the test of time. And given the Heim story in the news, it's relevant to date.

***

Another close Nazi-Islamic connection is that of Youssef Nada and the Third Reich. Mark Erikson of Asia Times does a good summary:

Another valued World War II Nazi collaborator was Youssef Nada, current board chairman of al-Taqwa (Nada Management), the Lugano, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Bahamas-based financial services outfit accused by the US Treasury Department of money laundering for and financing of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda. As a young man, he had joined the armed branch of the "secret apparatus" (al-jihaz al-sirri) of the Muslim Brotherhood and then was recruited by German military intelligence. When Grand Mufti el-Husseini had to flee Germany in 1945 as the Nazi defeat loomed, Nada reportedly was instrumental in arranging the escape via Switzerland back to Egypt and eventually Palestine, where el-Husseini resurfaced in 1946.

Posted by Debbie at 12:17 PM

January 30, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Thrilling "Taken," Guilty Pleasure "Uninvited" vs. Anti-American "New in Town"

By Debbie Schlussel

Usually January is pet cemetery #2 for bad movies (#1 is August)--where Hollywood puts its lackluster movies to die a quick death and get cremated. But I've been surprised at some of the movies out in January 2009. This weekend includes one of the good ones, "Taken."

* "Taken": Is Liam Neeson--in his late fifties--the new Dirty Harry/Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson in "Death Wish") of the 2000s? Could be, if this movie is the success I predict it will be at the box office, this weekend. I liked Neeson as an action hero better than I like Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. I loved this movie.

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This is the kind of action thriller we loved a lot, but haven't seen since the '80s. And I'm glad it's made a comeback. It's the latest of only a few movies that dare try to melt the post-9/11 official Hollywood rule that you can't make Arabs and Muslims look bad or portray them as terrorists or thugs. More than one of them get their violent comeuppance from the action hero of this movie, and I wanted to cheer out loud (but it's unseemly at a critics' screening, so I didn't; well, actually, I did it as quietly as possible).

Neeson (who was great in this, but could use better hair coloring than the obvious Grecian formula stuff here) plays a CIA agent who retires from the Company, so that he can be closer to his 17-year-old daughter whose childhood he mostly missed while on assignments. But it's tough to compete with her multi-millionaire stepfather. He is initially resistant when his daughter wants to go to France with a girlfriend. (The movie errs here in having the two teens shadow the U2 European concert tour--what 17-year-old teens are U2 groupies in 2009? That's for 40-something middle-aged women.) But eventually, he must go to France to rescue his daughter or lose her forever.

Neeson's daughter is kidnapped in Paris by an Albanian Muslim-run sex slavery operation. And that's where Hollywood's "Thou Must Whitewash Islam" rule starts to melt. While they never outright tell us that the Albanian sex slavery mobsters are Muslims, there are several quick, but deliberate shots of the crescent and star tattoos on their hands--yup, the "Religion of Peace." And then, there are the Arabs who are prominent among the sex slave purchasers. One of them is purchasing the women as concubines for his boss, a big, fat, ugly Arab Muslim Sheikh on a yacht. (I'm sure Mr. Neeson's agent will be getting a call from CAIR, ADC, and the other Mid-East whine merchants, real soon.)

There is a great scene where all of these evil Arabic-speaking scumbags get sent to a permanent conference call with the 72 virgins. That is the kind of stuff people went to movies to see, and they don't get to see it much at all anymore. Bring it back and bring it on. Just bring it. And this movie does.

"Taken" was funny, exciting, suspenseful, and it flew by. Though parts of it--like the endless dodging of bullets that surely would hit their target--are not believable, most of it is. And it's clever, even if some of it is predictable. Some of the things Neeson does to find the men who have his daughter are ingenious. And if you like guns, action, and the bad guys meeting a nice, evil death in your movies, this is your flick.

Despite his choice in mother-in-laws (he's married to the daughter of pan-terrorist hacktress Vanessa Redgrave), I've always like Liam Neeson. He was great in "Darkman." And he's great in this.

I'm sure the mainstream liberal movie critics will pan "Taken," but don't believe the tripe. It may not be highbrow and deep enough for them. But it's what it is--a fun action adventure. This is the movie I recommend for this weekend.

One other note: This movie is not for kids. It's violent and bloody--though the right people are subject to the violence and bloodletting. And there's, of course, the theme of sex slavery. Don't take your ten- or even 12-year-old to see it. It's for, minimum, age 14 and up in my mind.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "New in Town": I saw this movie on TV in 1996, and it was called "Christmas in My Hometown." This movie has the exact same plot, only it's not half as good as that schlocky Tim Matheson-Melissa Gilbert production. And it has a gazillion times more snoot.

"New in Town" seethes with the smug, unfunny comedy writing of anti-American Hollywood liberals who can't stand small town Middle Americans. It's almost two hours of snobbery and mocking of small town Midwesterners as dumb, backward, ugly, uncultured, and so on and so on and so on.

Renee Zellweger--looking particularly manly in this movie--plays a high-powered executive in corporate America, who lives the good life in Miami. Soon, she's sent to New Ulm, Minnesota to downsize a company plant and lay off workers. It's complete culture shock.

In the movie--and as Hollywood sees it--the small town people are disgusting, annoying, boorish, intrusive and nosy, and just plain out of touch with reality. It's like a repeat of "Northern Exposure" for two onscreen hours. And it mostly just wasn't funny. I barely laughed. The jokes were more mean than they were laugh inducing. And they were at the expense of most of America--the parts of America that didn't vote in droves for Barack Obama, the parts of America that still have some semblance of values.

Zellweger's character can't stand it in small town Minnesota, and the factory workers aren't exactly taken with her snobbery and big city manner. She develops a love-hate relationship with the plant's union rep, Harry Connick, Jr. And you can predict what happens if you saw "Christmas in My Hometown," "Baby Boom," or any of a gazillion other movies this one rips off and dumbs down.

Dumb, dopey, sappy, predictable, and too much snobbery to fill a La Jolla country club. Skipworthy. Send New in Town back where it came from.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "The Uninvited": Don't let the crappy movie poster for this flick fool you. The movie isn't dark, but it is a nailbiter. It's one of those low-budget thrillers that was much better than I expected. While the movie is aimed at teens, I found it engrossing, entertaining, and unpredictable. It's a guilty pleasure movie you'll enjoy. I felt kind of ripped off with it's M. Night Shyamalan type of trickery. But it's fair trickery, and you'd definitely never predict the ending. The movie is well done.

A young girl returns home (to her wealthy author father's beachside mansion)from a mental hospital, where she's being treated for attempting to commit suicide after accidentally killing her ill mother. Or, at least, she's been led to believe she did it. She constantly has nightmares of what happened and sees ghosts, hinting to her that things aren't as they soom. Soon, she and her sister suspect their mother's sexy former nurse (Elizabeth Banks), who is now their father's girlfriend is behind everything. They must convince their father (David Strathairn) that she's the real killer before she kills them.

This movie rips off plot points from many other movies just like it, but it's still good and very clever with it's ending.

It's rated PG-13 and deserves it for it's bloody and violent images.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:20 AM

January 28, 2009

Guess Which of These I Liked

By Debbie Schlussel

Yesterday was a movie-screening marathon day for a handful of Detroit-area movie critics. Five movies. But I was in court on a pro bono case defending yet another victim of Islamic attempts to crush free speech of non-Muslims (can't write about that 'til it's over). So, I only saw two of the movies, "Taken" and "New in Town." Below are the trailers. I loved one and hated the other, but I'm prohibited from posting my reviews, until Friday morning. I think, though, you can guess quite easily from these trailers which one I preferred. Hint: CAIR won't be happy.

"Taken" is about a retired CIA agent (Liam Neeson, whom I loved in "Darkman"--and who is sadly the son-in-law of pan-terrorist hacktress Vanessa Redgrave) whose teen daughter is kidnapped in Paris by a band of Albanian Muslim sex-slavers. "New in Town" is about a big city executive (Renee Man-Weger, er . . . Zellweger) who arrives in small town Minnesota to downsize a company plant. Like I said, the trailers say it all.

Posted by Debbie at 11:38 AM

January 23, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Mediocre

By Debbie Schlussel

While there's nothing offensive about the two new offerings at movie theaters, this weekend, they're just kind of mediocre. The better of the two--by far--is "Inkheart."

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* "Inkheart": A book doctor (Brendan Fraser) has a special power. Books speak to him from their pages. And when he reads from them, characters--some evil--appear in our world from the book, while members of his family are taken away from our world and trapped in the setting of the book. He and his daughter set out with their eccentric, wealthy aunt to track down his wife and set our world and the world of fairy tale novels straight before the villains destroy ours.

This was okay. Not a great movie, but entertaining enough. I liked the messages of good versus evil, the commitment to doing what's right, and the importance of keeping your family together. It's aimed at kids, and it's not bad for that purpose. Some younger kids might be a little frightened by the behavior of some of the villains.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Outlander": This is a poor rip-off of the vastly superior "Beowulf" (read my review). And it's one of those cases in which a movie is so bad, it's good . . . for comedy value. Jim Caviezel plays a high-tech outer space alien sent to Norway in the age of the Vikings to save rival Nordic kingdoms from the evil alien monster, Moorwen. Parts of this movie were so ridiculous that I laughed endlessly. Those were scenes that were supposed to be scary.

Oh, and one other thing: I guess this movie was trying to be political. You see, the Moorwen were nice, but aliens from another took their land and their planet to develop into new neighborhoods, making the Moorwen angry, so angry that they terrorize the people of earth. Aha, a justification for terrorism against innocent civilians, even in a dumb alien/Viking movie. Maybe they shoulda called this, "The War on Moorwen Terror."

Entertaining enough, if you're bored and have nothing else to do and ten bucks to waste.

ONE REAGAN
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Posted by Debbie at 01:40 PM

January 22, 2009

Predictable: Oscar Nominates "Sexy" SS Guard, Man Who Welcomes Muslim Illegal Aliens

By Debbie Schlussel

Remember the "good old days" in Academy Awards history . . . when the Oscar went to "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp" as best original song?

Now, it's far worse. Oscar is crawling lower, burrowing so low he may soon find himself in China . . . or another galaxy. And so predictable. I refer to Kate Winslet's nomination for Best Actress for her role in "The Reader" (read my brief review) one of the year's most awful movies. In it, Winslet plays a Nazi SS Guard who sends Jews to their deaths in the ovens. But the guard is portrayed sympathetically because she has hot sex scenes with the 15-year-old she seduced. The Holocaust survivors are the mean, evil bitches in this one. Perfect Oscar material. I'll bet she wins.

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Then, there's Best Actor nominee, Richard Jenkins, who plays a cold, mean American college professor in "The Visitor" (read my brief review) whose life is made full again when he hangs with the Muslim Arab illegal aliens who are squatting in his apartment, and sleeps with the Syrian mother of one of them. But then, the evil, mean immigration people at ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) ruin everything by arresting the male Arab Muslim (in sanctuary city New York City, where this would never happen--but who cares about accuracy). The message: As Americans, we are cold, hard, mean people, but Muslim illegal aliens will make us better and make our lives worth living again. Uh-huh.

Yup, sexy, hot Nazis who must be inconvenienced by Jewish Holocaust survivor bitches who had the gall to send 'em to prison, and Americans who harbor Muslim illegal aliens and love them--I think I've predicted the Oscar winners in two of the top three categories, come February.

For Best Picture, it may be a tough contest between the anti-Nixon movie, "Frost/Nixon," and the pro-gay rights flick, "Milk" (read my review).

Posted by Debbie at 11:45 AM

January 20, 2009

During the O-Nauguration, I Was Screening This

By Debbie Schlussel

I was away for the late morning and early afternoon, screening the new animated 3D movie, "Coraline." I missed the O-Nauguration, but it looks like I made the right decision. I'm prohibited from posting my review until the day it debuts (February 6th). But WOW! Here's the trailer (if the mother sounds familiar, it's because she's voiced by Teri Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives"), which simply doesn't do it justice:

Stay tuned for my complete review.

Posted by Debbie at 07:37 PM

January 16, 2009

Weekend Box Office: Terrific "Defiance," "Paul Blart, Mall Cop" vs. Disgusting Worship of "Biggie" Rap Thug

By Debbie Schlussel

January is usually the pet cemetery for unwanted dogs in the movie biz. All of the ones that aren't wanted are dumped and buried there. But not this weekend. While I did not screen "Hotel For Dogs" (sorry), I saw the rest and liked three out of four--rare for me:

* "Defiance": This is not only a well-done movie, it is an important movie. It chronicles the real-life story of the Polish Jewish Bielski brothers, who fought back against the Nazis. They were brave Jewish partisans who saved hundreds of Jewish lives and killed a lot of Nazis, too. The Jews didn't willingly march to their deaths in the camps. When they could--as with the Bielskis--they fought back. And there were several other Jewish partisan groups that did so throughout Nazi Europe, not just the Bielskis.

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The Bielski's heroic fight is captured well here by Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. Although I'm no fan of Craig as James Bond, he was in his element here (and while it's not important to the movie, I am a woman--and he looked very hot here, all the more so because he was a Jew with guns fighting Nazis, plus I like the rugged look). While Craig is good, it must be remembered that Craig--who makes his living off of movies where he has guns--is for gun control. Gun control is what made it harder for the Bielskis and other Jewish partisans to survive and fight--they needed to steal guns in the wake of laws that prevented Jews from owning them. This is why I used to speak at the NRA convention about the Bielskis (I've since been barred from the group at NRA Islamofascist board member Grover Norquist's insistence.)

The real star of the movie is Schreiber, who has the best line in the movie. Tuvia Bielski (Craig) is their leader, and he requires Zus Bielski (Schreiber) to only take some of the (Nazi-sympathizing) local villagers' food at gunpoint and allow them on their way. Zus wanted to take all of the food and kill them. Because they followed Tuvia's more liberal policy, the surviving villagers tell the Nazis and it results in lost lives. Says Zus: "Your policy of diplomacy is sh-t." Exactly what President-Elect Obama needs to be told.

Another great line is when a religious Jew with his Torah books tells Tuvia Bielski that his courage amidst the Nazi mass-murder makes him renew his faith in G-d. Brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me of my father and grandfather.

The movie is excellent, and I highly recommend it. But don't forget, in the back of your mind, that while the movie shows courage against evil, its writer/director, Edward Zwick, won't show that same courage when it comes to Islamic terrorism and defending Israel.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Paul Blart: Mall Cop": This movie was waaaay better than I expected. Hilarious, fun, perfect escapist movie for you and your whole family. Loved it.

Paul Blart--a loser, overweight, longtime mall security guard (Kevin James)--is lonely and ridiculed. His illegal alien Latina wife, who married him for a green card, left him, and he lives with his mother (and daughter). And everyone at the mall treats him like dirt. One day, he meets a cute girl working at a hairpiece kiosk, and instantly, he's in love. But while she's nice, she's not interested. Soon, though, Paul Blart, Mall Cop, has the opportunity to prove himself and be her hero when he gets stuck in the mall, as criminals take over the mall and try to rob credit card codes.

While some of the jokes are dumb, most of it is laugh out loud funny. I laughed the whole time. Well worth the ten bucks for what it is--pure, light comedy.

One note: You can tell the movie was made a while ago because one of the stores in the mall is "The Sharper Image," which is now out of business.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Notorious": If I were a Black American, I'd be p-ssed that Hollywood is constantly glorifying the worst examples for my kids. On the other hand, I walked out of this movie thinking, hmmm . . . if Hollywood can make a scumbag White guy (Larry Flynt) and a scumb Latino guy (Ernesto "Che" Guevara) into heroes, then this is the new "civil rights," the new "equality." A Black drug-dealing, womanizing sleazebag who chants cusswords for a living and fathers kids all over the place, out of wedlock, can be lionized by Hollywood, too.

Let's get this straight: Christopher Wallace a/k/a "Biggie Smalls" a/k/a "The Notorious B.I.G." was a piece of crap, whose death (a result of rival rap gangs feuding) is no loss to America. If only all of these East Coast-West Coast trash-talking rappers would eliminate each other, our country--our society--would be a whole lot better off, so long as there aren't these fictional, white-washing accounts of what great people they were.

Wallace was a no-talent hack whose every other word--as the dialogue in this movie--was the f- or p-word, whether he was rapping or "conversatin'." He was a violent guy--not shown in this movie--who beat up and robbed the promoter of his concerts. He was a gun-toting thug, who sold crack--beginning at age 13--to pregnant women when other drug dealers wouldn't. Thankfully, that's shown in the movie. "I'm a businessman," he says. Indeed.

Wallace also recruited other thugs and trashy human vessels to bring their filth upon America, like his extramarital girlfriend, Lil' Kim--who got preganant by him and aborted the kid (not depicted in the movie). And "Biggie" beat and robbed even those who promoted his concert. The guy was a human sewer.

Sadly, Wallace's 12-year-old son plays his worthless father (from age 8-13) in this ode to crap and probably believes the hype. It should also be noted that Sean "Diddy" Combs is the one who made this guy into a rap star. Yup, the same "Diddy" who is a big-time Obama star. Just another example of Obama's "peeps" (that's street for "people").

This movie, like Wallace, was filthy and disgusting. Even more disgusting was what a hero this movie made this lowlife out to be. Couldn't believe people were crying for this bloated bozo at the end of the movie. I fought my urge to cheer when the shots hit his flesh onscreen. Just die already, I thought. Buh-bye.

Skip at all cost.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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* "Last Chance Harvey": Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) is a music composer for TV ads, but he's older and about to be "downsized" by his mean boss. And he's gone to London to attend his daughter's wedding. But Harvey feels as if he's an outcast. His daughter shuns him for her stepfather (Mr. Barbra Streisand a/k/a James Brolin), and he feels all alone and distraught. But, soon, he meets Emma Thompson, an airport employee at Heathrow, and everything is suddenly looking up again. This is sort of like a "Before Sunrise" for middle-aged adults. Entertaining, but nothing new or different from a million other movies. Enjoyable enough, but kind of hackneyed, even if Dustin Hoffman is very good here. And some of the scenes between him and his daughter were painful and extremely sad.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 03:17 PM

January 15, 2009

Disconnect: "Defiance" Director Zwick Not So Defiant Against Islamic Terrorists

By Debbie Schlussel

As I always say, Hollywood loves the dead Jews, but they hate the live ones.

Hollywood loves the Holocaust, but hates Israel. They love to portray Jews as victims of the Nazis, but they hate to portray the Jews as victims of the new Nazis--extremist Muslims around the world, whether it's the HAMAS terrorists in Gaza or the Muslims who demonstrate on the streets of Fort Lauderdale and openly tell Jews to "go back to the oven."

And so it goes with Writer/Director Edward Zwick, whose "Defiance" opens in nationwide release tomorrow (Friday).

"Defiance" is a great movie, one of the year's best. And it's an important movie, as it shows that Jews were not the stereotypical weaklings who meekly went to the camps to their slaughter. Those who could--with all odds against them and laws preventing them from owning firearms and weapons--did fight back. The Bielski brothers saved hundreds of Jewish lives and killed more than a few Nazis in the process. They are the good guys. And, just as it should be, there is no ambiguity about that in this film.

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Not So Defiant: "Defiance" Director Ed Zwick

But Ed Zwick is trapped back in time, or perhaps he is trapped forward in time . . . in a "post-Zionist Hollywood." He fails to make the connection with Jews under siege in Israel today, with Jews under siege in greater numbers today than at any time since the Holocaust.

On Friday, I interviewed him. I solicited questions from readers (who had some great suggestions--thanks). But I already knew one question I was going to ask. And I had a pretty good idea of the answer he'd provide.

I know Dr. Jay Bielski, son of Zus Bielski, one of the brothers portrayed in this movie (by Liev Schreiber). I noted to Mr. Zwick that while Jay said that this movie captured his father perfectly, Jay--after several years as a U.S. Marine during Vietnam--served in the Israeli Defense Force and fought in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Right now, Jay's two sons serve in the IDF. (Zwick is friends with Jay Bielski and says the Bielskis "brought him home" to Judaism and Jewish pride. But I don't see it.)

I also noted to Zwick that he produced "The Siege," the 1998 movie which showed an alleged post-9/11-style persecution against "innocent" Muslim-Americans "victims," which never happened.

I asked him why Hollywood is so anti-Israel and when would he come full circle and make a movie that shows the Jews who are now the victims of the new Nazis in the Middle East, in Israel.

Edward Zwick's squirming was so loud, I felt like I was watching worms crawl through my phone.

Zwick said he didn't know of any anti-Israel movies coming out of Hollywood. He said he couldn't see himself doing a movie about the Jews versus the Islamic terrorists in Israel because,

It's very difficult to parse morality in what's going on in the Middle East and especially in the last two weeks. It's full of moral complexity that I'm not sure I could address in a two-hour movie. What I'm loathe to do is to analogize between this [the Nazis vs. the Bielskis] and the contemporary situation. I didn't want to have a movie with an agenda.

But when I pointed out that there is clearly an agenda and clearly good guys and bad guys in "Defiance" (not to mention, "The Siege"), he responded with more psychobabble gobbledygookish squirming, that his movie

showed the difference between passivity and powerlessness [and was] a necessary historical redress.

Well, there's a "necessary historical redress" about what Islamic terrorists are doing against Jews in Israel and throughout the world. Sadly, Zwick either doesn't get it or won't admit to it, lest he be out of step with Hollywood's rigid orthodoxy on the subject.

Oh, and Zwick also said

in the Middle East, you're not talking about genocide.

When Muslims, especially those of Palestinian terrorist groups, shout how they want to "push the Jews into the sea" and "spill rivers of Jewish blood," it's quite clear that it, in fact, is genocide they wish to carry out.

Next week, "Defiance" opens in Israel, and Israeli soldiers will reportedly be shown the movie (perhaps in time for the start of the next failed "truce").

Let's hope the Israeli soldiers connect the dots that Edward Zwick--and the rest of Hollywood--won't.

They are fighting the same Nazis, the same evil the Bielskis fought.

***

Since I've invoked his name, I want to be fair and point out that Jay Bielski disagrees with my take on this. He recommends that people read this New York Times column by Zwick, in which Zwick brags about his grandfather and great-uncles who were bookies for Al Capone's mob. This is something to be proud of? Yet, he won't defend Israel.

Jay says that his friend, Zwick, is on the right side of the Israeli-Islamic terrorism issue, but can't afford to say so, in order to sell this movie. If that's the case, that's even worse because it means that you can be "Defiant" against the Nazis, but not Hollywood.

Posted by Debbie at 01:36 PM

January 09, 2009

Flabulous Filmmaker: Hey, You Know Who's Trying to Censor Movies? . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

. . . Michael Moore, that's who.

The big story in the mainstream media about Michael Moore, today, is that he's allegedly behind Congressman John Conyers' opposition to Dr. Sanjay Gupta becoming Barack Obama's Surgeon General.

But this should be the big story about Michael Moore:

National Theater Chain is pressured to pull movie critical of Michael Moore
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Traverse City, Michigan, January 9, 2008. Bowing to pressure from a group organized by Jeff Gibbs, a close friend of Michael Moore and his co-producer on the movie Fahrenheit 911, Carmike Cinemas of Traverse City has pulled the plug on a new movie critical of the activist filmmaker. "Shooting Michael Moore," was scheduled to start a one-week run today in Moore's home town of Traverse City, Michigan. According to Gibbs, the title was a "thinly veiled call to violence" against Michael Moore.

Kevin Leffler, the producer and director of "Shooting Michael Moore" explained that the movie title is only referring to shooting the Oscar-winning filmmaker with a camera, not a gun, and absolutely does
not encourage violence against Michael Moore. Leffler went on to state, "The fact that Michael Moore has the power to pressure a national theater chain to pull a movie critical of him is sad. All sides of an issue should be aired." To ensure that the public has a chance to see his movie, Leffler even changed the film's name to "Exposing Michael Moore." In spite of this, Carmike Cinemas still refuses to air the movie that they were once enthusiastic about showing, simply because Moore has let it be known that he does not want the movie in theaters. The movie has already been aired in both Miami and Detroit.

A protest and press conference is planned for Friday, January 9th, at 4:00 pm. at the Carmike Horizon Cinema 10, located at 3587 Market Place Circle in Traverse City.

More about "Exposing Michael Moore" at the movie's official site.

Posted by Debbie at 04:35 PM

Weekend Box Office: Feel Good Post-Holocaust Jewish Exorcism Movie of the Year & Other Crap, Semi-Worthy "Wrestler"

By Debbie Schlussel.

Not much to rush to theaters for, this weekend:

* "The Wrestler": I had mixed feelings about this movie. It's one of the most depressing films ever. Plus, it features topless strippers, a gross sex scene (after lines of cocaine), shooting up steroids, etc. On the other hand, Mickey Rourke is phenomenal in a role that was perfect for him, and it has a sort of good message. It just took a lot of ugly salami-making to tell it. If you're nostalgic for the '80s and/or like pro wrestling, you might like this. But it's not a feel good film. And it's not for kids . . . or anyone under 18, in my view.

Rourke plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a big-time wrestler in the '80s who is now down on his luck . . . and still living in the '80s. He makes his (very little) money in small-time wrestling venues and signing autographs at youth clubs for now adult fans of his from back in the day. He withstands getting stapled by a staple gun and other painful stuff in the pre-planned, but still rough and tough, wrestling bouts. He listens to '80s metal music, like Ratt's "Round and Round" and spends his time at a strip club pining for an aging stripper (Marisa Tomei), who is also too old for her "stage" and hasn't moved on.

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Randy lives in a trailer, when he isn't locked out by his landlord for non-payment of rent. We see him spend his days getting his hair bleached, going to tanning beds, and shooting up with steroids to maintain the wrestler physique in his fifties.

And then, there's his daughter, whom Randy abandoned along with his wife. He badly wants a relationship with her, but he just can't get it together. He sacrifices everything to remain a wrestler and to hold on to the past, even though his past might kill him.

Not recommended for a happy, escapist movie experience. But well done for its point, which is: grow up and be a responsible adult, or you will lose everything chasing after a past that can be no longer.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Bride Wars": Completely moronic. It's an embarrassment even to chick flicks to call this absolutely horrid, completely stupid movie a chick flick. But it is. Guys, do whatever you can to avoid taking your wife or girlfriend to see this two-hour exercise in pain management. Far worse than a visit to the dentist.

Two childhood friends (Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway) dream of having the perfect wedding at New York's Plaza hotel. But when they both finally get the two wimpy, girlie-man they are living with to propose to them, they accidentally have their weddings scheduled on the same day. Neither will bow out, and they become bitter enemies over it, trying to sabotage each other.

But this is no funny catfight. It's just mean, bitter, and stupid . . . kinda like Kate Hudson, who seems to be quite bitter about Americans. Not fun to watch Just torture. Extremely skipworthy.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Revolutionary Road": An anti-capitalist, far-left attack on America's middle class, marriage, the nuclear family, and the suburbs. Based on a book of the same name by a man who was basically a communist and didn't like the fact that Ameica's suburbs helped Americans become upwardly mobile, self-sufficient, and home-owners.

Leonardo DiCaprio (more like "DiCrapio" here) and Kate Winslet play a young married couple who are both unhappy with their suburban lives and marriage--and, in his case, his corporate job. They both cheat on each other and constantly yell and scream at each other. The end. Completely pointless and a lie. Propaganda Karl Marx would be proud of. Long, boring, and great for insomnia. I fell asleep several times during this hifalutin' version of melodrama.

A great commentary on this movie is Lee Siegel's "Why Does Hollywood Hate the Suburbs?"--a must read.

FOUR MARXES
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* "The Unborn": The feel-good post-Holocaust-Mengele-Twins-Experiments Jewish Exorcism thriller movie of the year.

I don't think I've seen a more preposterous, unintentionally hilarious, absurd movie in the last decade. In this how-did-they-get-this-script-greenlit? flick, a beautiful college student is haunted by images of a young boy, and bad things begin to happen all around her.

Oh, and her mother committed suicide after a long bout in a sanitarium. Soon, she finds out that she is a twin, whose twin died in the womb, and that she is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor whose twin brother died in Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele's twin experiments. So, she gets a Jewish exorcism--new to me--and uses all kinds of Jewish kabbala stuff to get her dybbuk (haunting spirit) exorcised.

It is funny to watch "Rabbi" Gary Oldman (nice yarmulke, dude!) trying to pretend to speak in Hebrew from an obviously transliterated script. Like my friend, reasonable liberal movie critic Cory Hall joked, with all the Jews in Hollywood, they had to cast Gary Oldman as the rabbi?

All of this is accompanies by numerous gratuitous butt, belly, and bikini underwear shots.

What a waste of time, and as a religious Jew, I laughed myself silly in disgust and disappointment at how ludicrous this is.

"The Boys From Brazil" (read my review) was a great thriller invoking Dr. Mengele and the Nazis. This was just dumb schlock.

Please, Never Again.

TWO MARXES
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* "Not Easily Broken": Based on a book by respected conservative Black Rev. T. D. Jakes, this movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And it was actually entertaining. If you wanna see a lot of "No, You di'in't"s and overbearing wives and mother-in-laws fighting in fun catfights over interracial affairs, etc., this is your movie. I laughed a lot (even though I don't think that was always the intent). I liked the message, even if it was delivered in a really heavy-handed, somewhat cheesy way.

Talented actor Morris Chestnut plays a Black baseball player, whose career is cut short by an injury. He's married to a materialistic, self-centered, extremely shrewish Black woman who doesn't want to have kids yet. Chestnut--who earns a decent middle-class living as a construction company owner--can't keep up with his wife's spending habits, while she can't tolerate his mentoring and coaching of a Black inner city baseball team for boys. He's a great husband who tries to do the right thing, but isn't appreciated. Plus, he's henpecked by his wife's obnoxious mother-in-law. Soon, Chestnut finds himself infatuated with a White woman who looks like Cindy McCain 20 years ago. And he must decide whether or not to leave his marriage.

This movie has a ton of melodrama and is kind of a "morality chick flick." Still, it was entertaining, even for the guys.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:34 PM

Questions for "Defiance" Movie Writer/Director

By Debbie Schlussel

Today, I have a phone interview with Ed Zwick, writer/director of "Defiance" and a number of other movies and TV shows. The interview focuses on "Defiance," starring Daniel Craig. As I've noted on this site, it's the story of the Bielski brothers, Jewish partisans who fought back against the Nazis and saved hundreds of Jews. They are true heroes, and the movie captures that.

The movie is also important because it betrays the myth that Jews willingly went to the ovens and didn't try to fight back. The Bielskis and the Warsaw Ghetto uprising are the two most famous instances of many such efforts to stop Nazi evil. I've always said, Jews with guns are my favorite combo. Hate to quote America's most well-known porn star (Paris Hilton), but "That's Hot." (Not sure why she gets ownership of that common phrase.)

I've not yet posted my review of the movie, which I'm barred from doing until the movie releases in Detroit. But I liked it a lot, and I've written about it here and, as a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, I voted for it as one of the year's best pictures, best ensembles, and Liev Schrieber as one of the year's best supporting actors, as Zus Bielski. Zus' son, Jay (who served in the IDF and is a New York doctor), commented on this site that the movie captured his father perfectly.

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So, what questions would you suggest I ask Zwick? Please post 'em in the comments section. I'm reposting the trailer as a refresher.

One thing I plan to ask Zwick: Why do the Jews in Hollywood love portraying the bravery of Jews fighting tyranny 65 years ago, but can't bring themselves to show the bravery of Jews fighting it in Israel today (and instead villainize them)?

Posted by Debbie at 01:09 PM

January 06, 2009

Less Blogging Today Because I Had To Go Screen This

By Debbie Schlussel

Since I try to screen all new movie releases so I can save you from bad ones and help you to the good ones, some days I just can't put up as much as I'd like. Plus, there are the other activities I must do, for instance, a giant lawsuit against extremist Muslims I'll be announcing in the coming weeks or months (stay tuned).

Today, I was at a screening of this--"Bride Wars." Not allowed to post my review until it debuts on Friday, but if you read my site often, you can probably predict from this trailer what I think of it. Oh, and don't forget how much one of its stars--Kate Hudson--hates Americans (see below). The feeling is mutual, hun.

Famous Kate Hudson description of those who made her a multi-millionaire despite zero talent:

Sometimes I'll be walking down the street and I'll hear some American and I'll just go, "Of course they hate us, of course they can't stand us." We're the most annoying, boisterous creatures in the world. I mean we come in and we eat mounds of food, and we're like, "Where's the kaachup [sic] for our French fries."

Speak for yourself, Ms. Hudson.

Posted by Debbie at 05:59 PM

December 29, 2008

Conservative in a Sea of Liberals: Detroit Film Critics Society Picks Winners

By Debbie Schlussel

As I've noted before, I'm a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society. Every major city has one of these and each votes on the year's best movies, actors, etc. And as in most, there are few conservatives. As far as I know, I'm the only one in the DFCS, which is dominated by liberals. As a member, I'm required to publicize this year's choices, even though I don't agree with most of them. Loved "Slumdog Milllionaire," except for the brief Islamic propaganda part, and thought Mickey Rourke did an excellent job in a thoroughly depressing "The Wrestler." Here are the picks (with my reviews of some films linked in bold). Compare 'em with my original choices/nominations. I'll try to have my list of the years best and worst movies posted tomorrow. Stay tuned.

* Best Film: SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

* Best director: DANNY BOYLE - SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE

* Best Actor: MICKEY ROURKE - THE WRESTLER

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* Best Actress: KATE WINSLET - REVOLUTIONARY ROAD [DS: Hated this left-wing attack on American suburbs and capitalism. I voted for Melissa Leo in "Frozen River" (about an illegal alien smuggler and the consequences), with Meryl Streep in "Doubt" as my second choice.]

* Best Supporting Actor: HEATH LEDGER - THE DARK KNIGHT [DS: I voted for Robert Downey, Jr. in "Tropic Thunder," with Ledger as my second choice of the available nominees.]

* Best Supporting Actress: MARISA TOMEI - THE WRESTLER [DS: I don't generally like to vote for actresses who go topless and play strippers. I voted for Amy Adams in "Doubt," with Tomei as my second choice, only because there weren't many choices.]

* Best Ensemble: FROST/NIXON [DS: Didn't like this propaganda movie. I voted for "Burn After Reading."]

* Best Newcomer: MARTIN MCDONAGH - IN BRUGES (WRITER/DIRECTOR) [DS: I hated this movie. I voted for Dev Patel, the star of "Slumdog Millionaire."]

Again, stay tuned for my own list of the best and worst movies of the year, which will be markedly different from this list.

Posted by Debbie at 12:28 PM

December 25, 2008

Holiday Box Office: Lotsa Good Stuff & Some Utter Crap to "Balance" It Out; UPDATE: Fun "Bedtime Stories" Review Up

By Debbie Schlussel

**** SCROLL DOWN FOR "BEDTIME STORIES" REVIEW ****

Because of a snowstorm, I did not make it to a screening of "The Spirit," and missed "Bedtime Stories" because it screened at the same time as "Valkyrie." Will see the first showing of Bedtime Stories in the morning and add the review here by Noon.

* "Gran Torino": Although Clint Eastwood long ago veered away from Dirty Harry in favor of more politically correct films with anti-war and pro-euthanasia messages, it's fitting that this is likely his last film as an actor. Although he plays Walt Kowalski and not Harry, Eastwood has come full circle to the kinds of films that made American audiences love him and pay to see him act on the big screen.

And it's got a lot of great things about it: the bad guys get their due (with a "peaceful" twist), a man who is cynical about religion finds G-d, and it's a-laugh-a-minute funny on top of it. Politically correct, this movie is not.

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In this--as with the Dirty Harry movies--Clint Eastwood tells the bad guys where to go in many scenes. There are no "Go ahead, make my day"s or "Do ya feel lucky?"s. But there's plenty of dialogue just like it.

Eastwood's Kowalski is a 78-year-old recently-widowed army veteran. He's tough and doesn't take guff from anyone, especially his ungrateful, spoiled children and grandchildren, of whom he's not fond. He rightfully sneers when his granddaughter wears a belly shirt to his wife's funeral in church. Kowalski's openly racist and bigoted and insults and mocks pretty much every single ethnic group you can think of (except, interestingly, Muslims and Arabs--gee, I wonder why). He also doesn't like the fact that his neighborhood has been taken over by Hmong (Vietnamese and Laotian) immigrants.

(If there's any fault with this film, it's that it takes place in Michigan (as a tribute to the place it was shot--metro Detroit). There are few Hmong here. As a one-time Wisconsin resident who worked with the Hmong in Madison, I know well that their area of popular concentration and the area where there are problems with Hmong gangs is Wisconsin, where the film was originally set.)

Kowalski has a prized possession that everyone wants--his beautiful classic Gran Torino. He catches the young Hmong boy from next door, trying to steal it. Soon, Eastwood takes the boy under his wing, and slowly learns to appreciate his Hmong neighbors. But the boy is being heavily recruited by a violent Hmong gang, which terrorizes the neighborhood.

Gun control is, happily, not practiced in this movie. Walt is ever-present with rifles, pistols, you name it. They help ward off crime. And while Kowalski is skeptical of the Catholic Church and repeatedly fends off the young, peacenik priest who pesters him to go to confession, Kowalski eventually appreciates the need for spiritual sustenance in a moving way.

One of the year's best, this movie is a can't miss, but it's far too violent for young kids. For teens, it is okay.

FOUR REAGANS PLUS
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* "Marley & Me": This is a fun, cute, hilarious, lighthearted movie you can take your whole family to see. Yes, the ending is sad, but not too sad for kids. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the movie follows a couple of newspaper reporters from their snowy wedding night in Michigan to becoming the parents of three young kids, all while they experience it with their dog, Marley (named after Bob Marley).

The husband, Owen Wilson, is troubled that he's given up his dream to become a famous investigative reporter for the New York Times, to become a columnist for a major Miami newspaper, writing a lot of columns about his dog and how it interacts with his growing family and his Florida surroundings. He wishes he could have the career of his friend, a playboy who is a fellow reporter and makes the move the the Times, when the real thing to covet is in his own lap.

The dog is the real star of the movie, and there's lots of laughter about the worst dog, the uncontrollable Marley, who is forever eating and destroying everything in sight. Absolutely hilarious.

Could have done without Jennifer Anniston screaming and getting all angry in one scene, but other than that it's a great movie. Aniston adds nothing to the movie (other than coldness and bad acting), and really Owen Wilson and the dog are the whole movie.

Even though I'm not a dog owner, I like dogs and found it touching and above all, highly entertaining. In one of the movie's funnier scenes, there's even a cameo of Kathleen Turner--gee, that man looks familiar--as a professional dog trainer.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Doubt": Since I'm not a Catholic, I feel kind of out of place reviewing this excellent movie. It takes place in the early '60s, when change and liberalization is taking place in the Catholic Church--something the movie applauds subrosa, but something maybe it shouldn't. That liberalization, among other things, has led to many lapsed Catholics and a watering down of the religion.

I liked this movie because I feel bad for the Catholic Church, with the admissions in recent years that some priests molested children. Many others did not. And the revelations have hurt the Church and Christianity in general in America. As readers know, I feel a strong Christian presence in America is the bulwark against Islam taking over here.

This movie--though it never quite says so, and you don't know for sure--is about one of the priests who is wrongfully accused based on no evidence and a lot of innuendo and speculation by an imperious head nun at a Catholic school, played masterfully by Meryl Streep. A strict, old-fashioned nun, she doesn't like that her church is liberalizing. She thinks it leads to lazy, undisciplined, valueless kids, and she has a point.

The symbol of that liberalization is a young, modern priest, played--also masterfully--by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Streep simultaneously bullies and uses a young nun, played by Amy Adams--also excellent, to help her persecute and accuse this priest of molesting a Black child--the only in the Catholic school in a time of much racism. Again, it's based on mere innuendo and not a shred of actual evidence.

This movie is well done and raises a lot of good points about gossip and innuendo. The best scene in the movie is one of Hoffman's sermons to the church. He tells congregants about gossip spreading like the feathers of a pillow slashed open in a windy outdoors. You can't get the feathers back, once they've been released. We're shown the literal, while Hoffman makes his sermon.

And his sermon is really the message of the movie. Magnificent. One of the best movies of the year.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Valkyrie": I'm really surprised the studios held this back from early screenings and that it's not been well-received. I thought this performance by Tom Cruise as a Nazi colonel who plots to assassinate Hitler wasn't bad, even if he's probably not the best choice for the part. Still, the men who play his fellow anti-Hitler Nazi conspirators were the real masters in this movie and show up Mr. Cruise.

The operation to assassinate Hitler and take over was called "Valkyrie," because he was hijacking Hitler's Operation Valkyrie--the code name Hitler used for troop positions in the event of his death.

This movie is important as far as history goes--the story is that Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Cruise) thought he blew up Hitler, he thought wrong, and as we know, Hitler only died of his own suicide when it was apparent he'd lost. But it is entertaining as a World War II thriller about counterspies within Nazi ranks.

I don't know how accurate it is to the real story--von Stauffenberg is regarded as a hero in Germany. But if every German--or even a significant minor percentage--were as anti-Hitler as the heroes of this movie are portrayed to be, the Holocaust would not have happened. And while the Colonel is shown to be motivated by his opposition to World War II and the treatment of Jews and others--and I don't know if that's accurate in real life, it's not clear whether doing the right thing--as opposed to a quest for power--was the real motivation.

As we know, the case was otherwise--Hitler was not assassinated, and the Nazis exterminated 6 million Jews. Noble effort, not a great movie, but not bad either. Interesting.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button": It turns out this movie bears little resemblance to the F. Scott Fitzgerald short story from which it takes its name. Instead, writer Mitch Albom discovered that it's a rip-off of a novel by another author, whose book producers tried to buy but weren't successful.

Not that this matters, because--plagiarized or not--the movie is long, boring, cloying, and a Lifetime Network movie of the week at best, or--at almost three hours--a substandard, way too long episode of "The Twilight Zone." It's not just Brad Pitt's really awful attempt at a New Orleans accent or his terrible acting and the computer-generated graphics making him look, at one point, as young as he did in "Thelma and Louise."

It's that this sleep-inducing story is pointless and stupid, and it takes far too long to tell it. And it's forced. Oh, and then there's the fact we don't care a whit about any of these characters.

This is the story of a man who is born with the scrunched up face and body of an old man and grows younger, until he dies in the body of a young baby, even though he's an old man with Alzheimer's. Bad sci-fi plot and obvious CGI aside, the manipulative plot shows that Pitt, er . . . Benjamin Button is rejected by his real father and adopted by a Black woman and her friends.

Soon, Benjamin is sleeping with old women who live at the rooming house for older women at which his adopted mother is employed. He falls in love with a girl (Cate Blanchett), who eventually falls for him. But they can only be together for a brief time at which they are both the same age and their contrasting age and physical progressions meet in time.

The end. Wake me when the boring chick flick is over.

ONE MARX
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* "The Reader": The should re-title this "Nazi SS Concentration Camp Guard Porn" or "Sympathy for a Nazi Murderer Because She Likes to Have Sex." Yup, that's how disgusting this exercise in semi-porn is, in both its message and its enactment.

Kate Winslet plays a 30-something woman who seduces a fifteen-year-old boy. They have lots of graphic sex scenes, much of which we are shown. It's just plain sick and gross. Did I really need to see this kid's erect penis in the shower. Uh, no. But, hey, we're supposed to appreciate how highbrow this is because the woman has the kid read to her from great books. Ah, great literature trumps child molestation grossness, every time.

Then, when the kid becomes a young adult and is in law school, he soon learns that the woman was a Nazi SS Guard at a concentration camp who sent Jews to their deaths. But we're not shown any depictions of that because breast shots of the Nazi guardess in hot sex scenes took up most of the film and are far more important, right? And not only are we not shown any of her horrid treatment of the Jews or how she picked which one would be sent to her deaths, we are shown the two Jewish female Holocaust survivors who testify against her to be cold bitches with lotsa cash and a multi-million dollar Manhattan apartment.

The movie takes the point of view that this poor Nazi guard was treated so badly, when she was such a hot sex partner when she was young and just a lonely old inmate who wanted to read when she was old. Sorry, but I don't feel sorry for any Nazis.

Nor do I feel sorry for the pervs that go to see this ridiculous movie, which probably should have been called, "I'll Show You My Auschwitz, If you Show Me Yours for 15-year-old Boys."

Sick, sick, sick. Disgusting. Figures that most movie critics are hailing this movie and Winslet's performance. Liberals love Post-Holocaust Porn masquerading as art. So does HOprah--this was one of her book club selections.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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**** UPDATE: "Bedtime Stories": Finally, I like an Adam Sandler movie. This is what kids' movies are suppose to be. This Disney movie was fun, charming, magical, and hilarious. And a bonus--it makes fun of Prius-owners, organic food eaters, and the whole green movement. That's a refreshing change from the Booger Green Santa that F.A.O. Schwarz is pimping on kids.

Sandler is Skeeter, the son of a proud small businessman motel owner in Los Angeles. Dad's motel is failing economically and he sells to a British hotel developer (who looks like Richard Branson plus 50 pounds) on the condition that Skeeter gets to one day manage the hotel.

Zoom forward a couple of decades and Skeeter is the maintenance man of the hotel, treated like dirt by the higher-ups. Soon plans are announced to build an even bigger hotel, and Sandler finds himself with a chance to compete to manage it against the mean, stuck-up, favored hotel manager, Kendall (Guy Pearce), who is dating the hotel magnates daughter.

Meanwhile, Sandler's sister (Courtney Cox), is an uber-green, organic fanatic and a high school principal who lost her job. She makes her kids wheatgrass birthday cakes that no-one eats. "It's very good, once you get past the smell," she tells the kids. Since she's being downsized, she has to travel to Arizona for a job interview and asks her brother to take care of the kids for the week. The kids ask Sandler to read them a bedtime story, but their books have titles like "How the Green Alligator Saved the Environment" and "The Organic Monkey Rides His Bike." "I'm not gonna read you these Communist books," Sandler protests, and starts making up his own fairy tales.

Soon, those fairy tales start coming true in his own life, and good things begin to happen with Skeeter at work and in his personal life. That includes a romance with Keri Russell, the kids' enviro-friendly teacher, whom he derides as a Prius-driver (the best scene is when her Prius gets towed).

I really enjoyed this movie, and that's the point--it's a great kids movie, which you will also enjoy when you take them to see it. And you'll get a chuckle at the constant mocking of politically correct, uptight parents who insist on organic food and no sugar.

Could have done without the presence of Russell Brand, the far-left, unfunny British comedian who hosted the MTV VMAs and used it as a platform to urinate on America and conservatives. Could also have done without some of the very minor bathroom humor. And some might say, there's an anti-business theme, with the hotel shutting the school down to take its property. But if anything, it's pro small business owners. And overall, it's a lot of fun. There's something in it for everybody. Plus, you'll laugh.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 12:00 AM

December 19, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Skipworthy, Maudlin "Seven Pounds," Say No to Moronic, Repetitive "Yes Man"

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend's weak new box office offerings send a message: Save your movie money until Christmas Day. Hollywood saved some great flicks for then. So many good ones on one day--that's a rarity for decades. My reviews for Christmas Day movies will either appear on Christmas Eve or by Midnight that night--but there's a lot I liked. Stay tuned. Until then, here's the substandard leftovers keeping some seats warm at your local cineplex:

* "Seven Pounds": Will Smith stars in what is, at best, suitable for a Hallmark Channel movie of the week--and even then it's shallow and silly by comparison. In this manipulative, maudlin, cloying movie--so long, it made me fall asleep--he plays IRS agent Ben, who mysteriously has the time to drive around all day in an unmarked cop car Crown Vic playing G-d and granting people in need extensions on their IRS taxes. Gee, and I thought you just had to fill in the form, and they gave you 'til October.

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And that's not the only inconsistency and truth-challenging aspect of this preposterous, boring plot. Smith checks into every aspect of the late filers' lives. And he acts like a creep, calling a blind steak company telemarketer (Woody Harrelson) and harassing him for being blind, telling him he bets he's still a virgin. This is supposed to be a touching, do-good movie? Whatever.

Oh, and there was so much loud, emotional background music (um, it's supposed to be in the background) telling me I'm supposed to cry or say "awww," I wanted to vomit.

One of the people he stalks--in this movie, it's not stalking, it's do-goodery Obama-style--is Rosario Dawson, in need of a new heart. Suddenly, she's his love interest in possibly one of the most annoying, sappy relationships I've seen in all chick flicks and Lifetime Network programming combined. Just couldn't take it, or the rest of this slow, boring movie.

Not Will Smith's best work. Maybe he should go back to praising Hitler and whining about how White America hasn't accepted him (yet makes him the highest-paid, most successful movie star on the planet by paying ten bucks to see schlock like this). Absolute dreck.

ONE MARX
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* "Yes Man": Gee, I saw this Jim Carrey movie before, and it was called, "Liar, Liar"--and the first time around it was funny and entertaining. This time, it's just a complete waste of your ten dollars and time. Jim Carrey's act is old, and that's why he gives us a substandard repeat of his shtick. Been there, seen that, laughed more.

Carrey plays a boring bank loan officer and misanthrope with no girlfriend, who is stuck in the same job forever, bitter about his ex-girlfriend, and just plain negative and going through the motions. He runs into an old friend who is in on one of these self-help cults, like Tim Robbins followers. The guru tells everyone to say yes to everything. Soon, Carrey finds that saying yes has found him a new, beautiful love interest, a promotion at work, and friendship and love all around. But it also gets him into hot water.

Yes, there are plenty of funny moments in this movie, but plenty are just plain dumb. And I'm sorry, but he and this movie lost me after the absolutely tasteless scene, in which Carrey accepts oral sex from his elderly neighbor as a thank you for fixing her shelves. We're shown her taking out her dentures and Carrey noisily going through this disgusting scene. Um, no thanks.

The funniest thing going in this movie is Rhys Darby, the English actor who plays Carrey's nerdy, Harry Potter-obsessed boss. Possibly worth it just to see him. But not really.

ONE MARX
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Posted by Debbie at 03:52 PM

December 12, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Lotta Crap, A Time to Rent Originals

By Debbie Schlussel

Not much worthy at the box office, this weekend. The best stuff--I've seen most of the new releases--comes out on Christmas Day. For this weekend, at least, the best movie is a remake far inferior to the original classic. (Will add my review of "Beauty in Trouble," soon.)

* "The Day the Earth Stood Still": There's not really much objectionable about this remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic about a spaceship that lands on earth, with an alien, Klaatu, who warns of our imminent doom. It's just that--like most remakes of classics--the rehash isn't nearly as good. It's yet another on-screen version of "If It Ain't Broke . . . Don't Remake It."

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Then, there's the tad of leftist green envirocrap inserted in. In the original, an alien comes to earth to tell them the earth will be destroyed unless nations get together and make peace. It was allegedly a reference to the nuclear arms buildup and the Cold War. In this version, Keanu Reeves says that we earthlings are destroying the planet. He never says how, but apparently he means we are wrecking it environmentally. It's not very in your face, so I wasn't too offended.

This version was longer than the original, and seemed much, much longer. It was slow and boring. It missed the charm and class of the original. It did have better special effects, but we expect that when it's a 2008 flick versus one from the early '50s. The only other difference seems to be what I call the Obama movie factor--everybody's in interracial families and relationships in so many movies, lately. In this version of "The Day The Earth Stood Still," the single White mother (Jennifer Connelly) has a Black kid (Jaden Smith--Will's annoying, whiny son), whose father died in Iraq.

Like I said, the movie wasn't bad. It just wasn't great. You can definitely take your kids to it. But best to rent the original.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Frost/Nixon": Hmmm . . . When are they gonna make "Frost/Clinton" or "Walters/Lewinsky," or "Barack Hussein/Jeremiah/Khalid/William and Bernadine"? Don't hold your breath. Never before have I wasted two hours watching the description of how someone prepared for a TV interview trying to "get" someone.

This movie is about journalist David Frost doing the first, in-depth TV interview with former President Richard Nixon, post-Watergate/Nixon resignation. Nixon is played by Frank Langella. And while he looks the part, David Frost looks like Tony Blair (no surprise, since the actor who plays him played Blair in "The Queen").

Frost and left-wing journalists Bob Zelnick and James Reston are shown trying to get the Nixon interview, trying to pay for it, and most importantly, trying to "get" him. Gotcha journalism is loved by liberal movie critics everywhere, who are raving over this okay, but not very interesting movie.

The best parts of this movie are when--for about 2/3 of the way--Nixon outsmarts his lesser interviewer. That was entertaining. I found myself quietly rooting him on against these arrogant, unduly indignant lefties who really weren't interested in real journalism, so much as they were solidifying the left's takeover of Congress and other institutions. Also well done is Kevin Bacon, playing his Vietnam War Vet chief of staff and trusted adviser and protector. I probably should have nominated him for Best Supporting Actor for the Detroit Film Critics Society.

But mostly, this film was just a sneering exaggeration of the real Nixon. And, admittedly, some of it is made up. Shocker.

Do you really need to waste your time and ten bucks seeing an interview you didn't really watch or care about in the 1970s? Do we really need to relive and relive a tiny blip in repeated leftist media victories that weren't so victorious for America's long-term survival?

In history, this interview doesn't really have a place. It's really an irrelevant figment of pop culture, not history--no matter how much director Ron "Opie"/"Richie" Howard wants to make it so. It's been long forgotten, and President Nixon's reputation was rehabbed, anyway, despite the effort to embarrass him further on national television via this interview. Nixon went on to become a trusted foreign policy consultant to every President until his death. He was sought out for interviews on his views in that area. David Frost, on the other hand, went on to a lackluster perch at the Terrorist News Network a/k/a Al-Jazeera. But they don't tell you that in the movie. Gee, I wonder why.

Yes, this interview wasn't history. This movie is just a desperate attempt to make it so. And despite that, Nixon will be remembered as a good and decent man. And David Frost? Remind me again who he is.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Nothing Like the Holidays": If I were Hispanic, I'd sue the makers of this film for defamation. It's a dumb American-Hispanic-Family-Gets-Together-for-Christmas movie, full of stupid, dopey jokes you'd see on a bad sitcom and stereotypes, not just of Hispanics but Jews. And it was just a slow, boring waste of time I'd expect to see as a TV movie. Not sure it's even worthy of Telemundo or Univision. It's the usual plot: everyone is fighting, then there's a happy ending. Like an episode of "The Love Boat" or "Hotel" revisited. No thanks.

The Puerto Ricano family consists of the usual suspects you see in Hispanic movies: cheating, unfaithful father . . . check, boisterous interfering mother who likes to cook and complain . . . check (well, this one is in every ethnic movie, to be fair), Iraq veteran "war hero" who is really not a hero and is in the Army because he has no other place to go . . . check; pretentious, vixenish actress wannabe . . . check; successful professional son who out of the ethnicity to a stuck up Jewish woman . . . check, check, check.

The movie was annoying and had way too much screaming and melodrama piled on top of the dumb jokes and stereotypes. Extremely substandard. The only thing that stuck out in this movie was actress Debra Messing's nose. Time to get the bad nose-job redone . . . check, check, check.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:10 PM

December 10, 2008

My Best Film, Actor Nominations, Etc., Circa 2008

By Debbie Schlussel

Last night was the deadline for nominations for the Detroit Film Critics Society. As I noted on Monday, I'm a member of this group, and the movie studios have been sending me DVDs of movies and holding special screenings ad nauseam (and ad sleepium).

Below are my picks. Some of the movies grew on me, others lust their luster as the year went on. In some categories, it was tough to eliminate movies, like Best Picture, I had like eight choices and had to get rid of "Doubt", "Slumdog Millionaire", and "Flash of Genius." I had to remove Clint Eastwood for Best Actor, because I could only vote for five. I'll have my own, separate list of my Top Ten Best & Worst Films of 2008, at the end of the year or beginning of next. Stay tuned for that.

In other categories, since I had to rank my five favorites, I put names on there that I really didn't like that much, like Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler." She plays an aging stripper and appears topless in the movie. I don't like to give awards to women for taking their tops off onscreen. But as far as supporting actresses go, there wasn't much to choose from. If I could just vote for Best Picture and Best Actor, that would be good. I don't really care much about the rest.

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So here are my picks ranked in order. You may not have seen or heard of some of these movies because they aren't out yet, but will be shortly.

BEST PICTURE:

1) "Boy in the Striped Pajamas"

2) "Gran Torino"

3) "Henry Poole is Here"

4) "And When Did You Last See Your Father?"

5) "Defiance"

BEST DIRECTOR

1) Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino")

2) Mark Pellington ("Henry Poole is Here")

3) Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire")

4) Anand Tucker ("And When Did You Last See Your Father?")

5) Randall Miller ("Bottle Shock")

BEST ACTOR

1) Colin Firth ("And When Did You Last See Your Father?")

2) Luke Wilson ("Henry Poole is Here")

3) Greg Kinnear ("Flash of Genius")

4) Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Doubt")

5) Mickey Rourke ("The Wrestler")

BEST ACTRESS

1) Demi Moore ("Flawless")

2) Melissa Leo ("Frozen River")

3) Meryl Streep ("Doubt")

4) Kristen Scott Thomas ("I've Loved You So Long")

5) Mena Suvari ("Stuck")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

1) Anil Kapoor ("Slumdog Millionaire")

2) Liev Schreiber ("Defiance")

3) Michael Caine ("Flawless")

4) Dennis Hopper ("Elegy")

5) Stephen Rea ("Stuck")

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1) Misty Upham ("Frozen River")

2) Amy Adams ("Doubt")

3) Ahney Her ("Gran Torino")

4) Marisa Tomei ("The Wrestler")

5) Patricia Clarkson ("Elegy")

BEST NEWCOMER

1) Anil Kapoor ("Slumdog Millionaire")

2) Asa Butterfield ("Boy in the Striped Pajamas")

3) Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire")

4) David Hayman ("Boy in the Striped Pajamas")

5) Ahney Her ("Gran Torino")

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST

1) "Doubt"

2) "Burn After Reading"

3) "Bottle Shock"

4) "Defiance"

5) "The Bank Job"

I'm still recovering from my movie coma.

Posted by Debbie at 05:31 PM

December 08, 2008

I'm in a Movie Coma (After Five Studio Screenings, Today)

By Debbie Schlussel

As you've probably noticed, I haven't posted anything since early this morning. That's because I've been at a special day-long screening of five movies, put on by movie studios for members of the Detroit Film Critics Society.

My cousin Ira describes the state of eating too much as a "food coma." Well, I'm in a movie coma. After watching movies from literally 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., with a half hour break for lunch and five minutes between the rest of the movies, I'm burnt out. It's not healthy. I feel gross. But what am I gonna do to relax--watch a movie? Yaaaawn. One movie in a day is fun. Five movies in a day is work.

On the flip side, I'm not whining. There's no other way for us to see all the movies in time to vote on them. We gotta do it this way. I realize if this is the worst of my problems (it isn't), I'm batting 1,000 . . . and that plenty of Americans are actually doing real, hard work, and I have it easy. And I really appreciate all the movie studio reps and, especially, our Detroit Film Critic Society volunteer executive director, Ruth Daniels (Vice President of a major movie theater chain), who put this confab together for us.

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The movies I screened today included "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Defiance," "Revolutionary Road," "Seven Pounds," and "The Reader." I'm prohibited from posting a review of any of these until they debut in theaters. But I only really liked one of these (and disliked three of them). I'm sure you can guess which one.

And there are at least two more screenings, tomorrow (though I'll be posting throughout the day, tomorrow).

You may think it's cool being a movie critic. But it isn't that cool. Trust me, I sit through hours and hours of crap--valuable hours of my life I'll never get back.

Now, I'm getting DVDs every single day from movie studios wanting me to vote for their movie. Tomorrow night, we submit nominations for our Detroit Film Critics Society awards for 2008. (I'll let you know my pics.) Every major city has one of these, and every studio wants their movie and respective actors to win. Most of the DVDs are of movies I hated, and some of the movie studios tell you, "Ya better destroy this copy or else . . . ." But there are a few gems, like "Gran Torino." No, I didn't want or need the "Sex & The City Movie" DVD, but the studio wants me to vote for these hags for something, so they sent me one. They ain't gettin' my vote.

Trust me, it's no big whoop. More than anything, I'm just tired. Tired of movies . . . especially today.

For now, here are the trailers of the movies I sat through, today:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button--guy born old gets younger and younger . . .

Defiance--depicts the real-life Jewish Bielski Brothers militia that fought back against the Nazis . . .

Revolutionary Road--middle-class couple in the '50s goes through strife . . .

Seven Pounds--IRS agent goes out of his way to help good people in need . . .

The Reader--15-year-old is seduced by older woman, then years later learns she was a Nazi . . .

Posted by Debbie at 10:11 PM

December 05, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "Slumdog Millionaire", "Nobel Son"

By Debbie Schlussel

One good movie and one sorta okay one, this weekend at the box office. I did not review "Punisher: Warzone" or "Cadillac Records."

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* "Slumdog Millionaire":This is a great, interesting, beautifully shot movie (with a happy ending), but gets taken down a notch by its brief pan-Islamist propaganda. It is almost all in English.

Set in India, this is the story of Jamal, a young boy who rises from poverty to win India's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,", then gets arrested, beaten and harassed by Indian police who think he cheated. He recounts his interesting life as he relays to police how he knew each of the answers. We not only learn how he managed to survive life as an orphan but about his lifelong, unrequited love for the beautiful Latika and how it brings him to this point.

I thoroughly enjoyed co-star Anil Kapoor's brilliant turn as the smug, condescending "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" host, who tries to make Jamal lose.

As you can tell by the name, Jamal is Muslim, but not religious at all. Whereas Jamal has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and garnered a better life, his brother, a religious Muslim (we see him praying), is a gangster working for an Indian Muslim organized crime kingpin.

My objection to this movie is the scene, close to the beginning of the movie, that shows how Jamal's mother is murdered in a Hindu mass murder of Muslims living in a poor village. It's kind of ironic now, given what happened in India last week--in real life, we know who the real aggressors are in India: Muslims. And it's not just the event of last week, as there have been many Islamic attacks on Hindus, Sikhs, and other non-Muslim Indians.

A few weeks ago, Director Danny Boyle was in Detroit for a reception with the Detroit Film Critics Society. I asked him why he showed only one side. He acknowledged that there was plenty of Islamic violence against non-Muslims in India, but said that it simply wasn't a part of this script or story. Too bad, since those who are ignorant of what happens in India need to know that the violence of last week wasn't the first time Muslims attacked innocent civilians.

The film was a little slow at the beginning, but once it gets going, it moves quickly and is very entertaining. There are a couple of disturbing scenes--when police try to torture Jamal into admitting he cheated on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," and when Jamal is kept as a young kid by men who deliberately maim children and make them beg. But other than that, the movie is a beautiful, if small, slice of life in India, with a great story.

Stick around for the credits, when the stars do a cute dance number in a salute to Bollywood.

THREE REAGANS (Would Have Gotten Four, if not for brief Islamic Propaganda)
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* "Nobel Son": This dark caper/comedy movie simultaneously makes fun of the pretentious and is way too pretentious itself. It had its good points, but overall left me cold.

I had mixed feelings about this movie. A flick that begins with completely disgusting, unnecessary, repeated scenes of thumbs being hacked off someone's hand during the opening credits can't get much worse. That part was graphic, disturbing, and not for the weak-stomached.

Starring pro-Palestinian, self-hating Jew, Alan Rickman, it's about a scumbag, philandering chemistry professor who wins the Nobel Prize, so it's ironic that this movie comes out on the eve of Nobel week. Rickman's character is about as loathsome as other Nobel prize winners, such as Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter. His son--running late to the airport after a night with a beautiful woman he's admired from afar--is kidnapped and the ransom is Rickman's $2 million Nobel prize money.

But Rickman doesn't even care. Only his FBI criminal psychiatrist mother (Mary Steen burgen) does. Who is the kidnapper and what is his motive? I can't tell you because it'll be a spoiler.

The movie was definitely different and interesting, which I liked. It wasn't predictable and kept you guessing, and you didn't know where it was going until toward the end, which is always a plus. But it tried to hard to be dark and different, which made it just annoying. It was very pretentious and artsy--even if it made fun of the pretentious and artsy, such as people who read horrid "poetry" at coffeehouses.

Some of the plot in this caper-filled movie is fun and interesting. Some of it over the top.

I did like that the Nobel Prize winner was such a creep and undeserving fraud, which is borne out so much in real life with the Nobel Committee's choices. I like anything that continues to take the Nobel Prize down several notches.

Constant loud synthesizer house music playing over the movie bothered me to no end.

The movie was a little much, and at the same time, not enough at all.

HALF-REAGAN
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Posted by Debbie at 02:42 PM

December 02, 2008

Just Got Back From Seeing Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino"

By Debbie Schlussel

I just got back from a critics' screening of Clint Eastwood's new movie, "Gran Torino," and I'm floored. I loved, loved, loved it. "Dirty Harry" is back. Yes, I know it's not a Dirty Harry movie, but if you liked Eastwood in the days when he played law and order tough guys who got the bad guys--as opposed to the contemporary Eastwood of anti-war and pro-euthanasia movies--you'll love this.

I can't post a review yet until the movie comes out, but I can tell you I plan to give it FOUR REAGANS PLUS. It's definitely one of the best movies of the year. I bet it does mega-profits at the box office, as opposed to his recent anti-war bombs. This is the kind of movie Americans wanna see.

If you're counting your pennies, as we all are in these tough times, and can only see one movie over the holidays, this is the one. Well worth the ten bucks. The movie comes out on Christmas Day in limited release and wider release after.

Stay tuned for my review right before Christmas. For now, here's the trailer:

Posted by Debbie at 01:16 PM

November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Box Office: Boring Race-Laden, Gay Propaganda Turkeys Dominate Turkey Day

By Debbie Schlussel

It's sort of fitting that a bunch of turkeys comprise new movies at theaters on what is often nicknamed Turkey Day. This includes the race-card laden "Australia" and the gay-propaganda flick, "Milk". Who wants to pay ten bucks to be hit over the head with left-wing propaganda on the extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend? I did not review "Transporter 3," since I didn't see the first two "Transporter" movies, and I just didn't feel like it. Sorry, but I waste enough hours of my life watching drek.

* "Four Christmases": Reese Witherspoon and the ever-ballooning Vince Vaughn are mismatched in this unfunny comedy about a boyfriend and girlfriend committed to being single and not having kids. It is very funny at the beginning of the movie when the couple practice their annual ritual of lying to their families, so they can celebrate Christmas away from them on the beach at some tropical locale.

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The movie is at its funniest at the beginning, when they put on elaborate ruses, pretending they are off to help orphans in Burma and other excuses like that. But it's all downhill from there as they are caught and forced to spend Christmas visiting with each of their four dysfunctional divorced parents. Most of the jokes are stupid and some are gross. When I wasn't groaning, I fell asleep during this boring, miserable movie of less than an hour-and-a-half that seemed like five hours.

The most (unintentionally) funny part was watching Witherspoon struggle to walk in way-too-high heels up a driveway.

HALF MARX
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* "Australia": No wonder Oprah loved and heavily promoted this dud. It was as if Spike Lee redid his long, boring, race-laden "Miracle at St. Anna" and set it in Australia. This movie--clocking in at 2 hours and 45 minutes--was waaaaaaay toooooooo looooong. It was like five different movies were stuffed into one very bad one, and it's a complete mess. I fell asleep like 7 times, and then I lost count. Some people call this movie "epic." I call it "ennui."

Most of the movie takes place during World War II, when a haggard, very aged-looking Nicole Kidman plays the snooty, uptight wife to a British nobleman. Strapped for cash and believing her husband is cheating on her, she travels to Australia to track him down and sell their money-losing ranch. She finds her husband dead and discovers that her ranch hand is impregnating Aboriginal women and stealing her cattle for a competitor who wants to buy the ranch at lowball prices.

Kidman and a "drover" (like a herder) she's hired (Hugh Jackman) strive to foil this and come to love "Nullah", the very cute illegitimate bi-racial Aboriginal kid the evil ranchhand has fathered. Throughout the movie, we are hit over the head by the racism in Australia against Aborigines and are shown how the Catholic Church and Australian authorities seize the half-White Aboriginal kids to "get the Aboriginal half out of them." World War II is also taking place and we frequently see the telepathic/psychic communication between Nullah and his Aboriginal leader grandfather, "King George" and how they use their magical Aboriginal powers. This was the only charming part of the movie--and not worth sitting through nearly three hours of crap.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Milk": Timing is everything, and I doubt it's a coincidence that Hollywood--without knowing the election outcome--chose a few weeks after the election on California's Proposition 8, to release this very heavy-handed gay rights propaganda flick.

To say this movie is "flamboyant" would be the understatement of the year. Watching Sean Penn kiss anyone (or the ass of Iran's Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Chavez) is bad enough. But watching him make out with and have sex with James Franco turned my stomach. Bleccccchhhhh to the nth.

It's the story of how Harvey Milk--a gay activist from New York--became the first openly gay man elected as a San Francisco Supervisor (akin to a City Councilman). He's shot to death by fellow Supervisor Dan White (Josh Brolin), whom the movie unfairly implies was a closeted gay--despite no evidence and the fact that Wilson is not alive to disavow that description.

Unrelated to gay issues, White assassinated Milk and was the first to successfully plead the insanity defense now known as the "Twinkie Defense." Frankly, the trial and that defense would have made for a more interesting movie. White committed suicide not long after he was released from prison, and it is believed he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from serving in Vietnam--an aspect completely skipped by the movie.

Conservatives and others who oppose the militant gay agenda (including Anita Bryant) were portrayed as bigots and extremists. But, in fact, most of America--while having no problem with gays doing what they want in their own homes and bedrooms--doesn't like this agenda being shoved in their faces and--pardon the phrase--shoved down their throats. We know it's not about equal rights. It's about their right to impose upon us. That's the part they don't show you in this movie.

Other than being incredibly one-sided, this was way too long and boring and far too many scenes of Di-Fi (Dianne Feinstein). The movie was two hours and had like a gazillion endings. It could have been done in 1.5 hours, or--as far as I'm concerned--zero hours.

Appeals to the Elton Johns and Clay Aikens of the world far more than it did to me. The ghost of Liberace is applauding.

THREE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "I've Loved You So Long": Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this French-language (with English subtitles) movie about a woman who stays at her estranged sister's home after a long, mysterious absence, which we learn from almost the beginning, was a prison sentence she was serving. While somewhat interesting, the movie is mostly politically correct: her sister makes a point of noting that she has chosen not to have children and instead adopted two cute young Vietnamese kids. "We are like a Bennetton ad," she brags. The two sisters, who barely know each other, struggle to cobble together a relationship, while Thomas struggles to rebuild a life as an ex-con convicted of a heinous crime. This film moved very slowly and is somewhat depressing and pointless but was slightly interesting in other ways.

ZERO REAGANS OR MARXES - A WASH
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Posted by Debbie at 12:27 PM

November 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Mostly Good Movies, For a Change

By Debbie Schlussel

At the box office, this weekend, it's a unique rarity: Three movies I liked and only one I did not.

* "Twilight": Read my complete review. I mostly liked this slightly hokey, chick-flickish teen human-vampire love story. I liked it for the action adventure, the well-told story, the teen relationship without sex and with chivalry, the strong father characters, and the vampire aspects of it. Again, read my complete review.

THREE REAGANS
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* "Bolt": This is what Disney is supposed to be about--a great, 3-D animated flick meant for kids, but extremely entertaining and enjoyable for this adult. Light, funny, and a great escape for you and your kids . . . or even just you. Don't be turned off by the fact that John Travolta and Miley Cyrus voice two of the main characters in this. You forget it's them.

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A dog who plays a superhero on TV doesn't realize that he really doesn't have any magical powers and that's it's just a TV show. That is, until he is accidentally shipped across the country and desperately tries to make it back home to his beloved young female co-star, a pre-teen girl who loves and misses him. Bolt is accompanied along the way by a smart-aleck cat and superfan hamster, and meets many entertaining pigeons and other animals in his fun cross-country journey.

I like Israel's Hebrew "Bolt" poster the best:

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THREE REAGANS
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* "JCVD": The initials stand for Jean-Claude Van Damme, who plays himself in this entertaining, funny movie in mostly French subtitles. JCVD returns to Belgium and is short on money, his career reduced to B-movies that are sold for millions overseas, but for which he's paid a pittance. He's in the midst of an American battle for custody of his daughter, during which lawyers cite the violence in his movies as a reason he shouldn't get his kid. His lawyer is pestering him for money. Soon, JCVD finds himself in the midst of a bank hold-up, and the public, media, and police think the cash-starved, desperate JCVD is the one pulling off the robbery. It's a great commentary on how society worships celebs, shown in the way fans cheer on JCVD, even though he might be a murderous bank robber. And it's fun to see his interaction with other fans, such as a senior citizen Belgian female cabbie.

Aside from some slow moments and an unnecessary JCVD monologue in the middle, this movie is entertaining, but for the beginning, in which some Arab Muslim video store owners decry the "unfair" portrayal of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists in the movies. They obviously haven't seen anything since 9/11, in which they are whitewashed ad absurdum. And the pre-9/11 stuff? Well, it was mostly accurate. This irrelevant propaganda was inserted by the film's Arab Muslim writer/director, Mabrouk El Mechri, who should keep his baseless victimhood whines to himself.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Synecdoche, New York": This movie was such pretentious, senseless, depressing piece of garbage, I walked out after about an hour, and wished I'd done so sooner. Feh. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a director of a community play in Schenectady, who soon finds himself in various silly, seemingly fictional scenarios of affairs with various women in his plays, and his wife leaves him and takes custody of his young daughter, taking a lesbian lover in Germany. At the same time, he's also coming down with a serious illness that seems deadly. It's like a bad imitation of a bad David Lynch movie. Non-sensical, disjointed, dysfunctional, depressing, and a mess. Skip this one at your local arthouse theater. In hell, they'll make you watch this over and over.

THREE MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 02:23 PM

November 20, 2008

"Twilight": Entertaining Teen Vampire Movie's Superhero Moves Balance Out Chick-Flickism

By Debbie Schlussel

Several parents with young daughters have asked me whether it's okay for their young daughters to see "Twilight", the teen vampire love and adventure movie in theaters at Midnight, Tonight.

I say, take 'em, provided they are twelve years old or older. There is no sex and very little violence. The little blood that there is, is mostly the result of violence that takes place offscreen.

I expected to hate "Twilight", what with all the hype surrounding it and its teen heart throb star, Robert Pattinson. But it was actually a decent movie, much better than I expected. It was interesting, entertaining, and had its exciting moments. And it had a lot of action and heart-pounding thrills to balance out the chick-flick romance.

The only thing I really disliked about "Twilight" wasn't the fault of moviemakers. It was an external thing: the non-stop shrieking and audible swooning of tweens and teens in the audience of the special screening I attended for this movie. Girls like these are expected to help this movie clean up at the box office, this weekend and beyond.

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I like vampires and thrillers about them, and this more than fit the bill, if it got a few major vampire principles to the (were)wolves. Think "The Lost Boys", only lighter and updated for the 2000s.

The two things I liked most about the movie are its portrayal of strong father figures in both human and good samaritan vampire families and its portrayal of teen romantic relationships without sex and with the addition of something that has been missing far too often: chivalry and the art of being a gentleman. Author Stephanie Meyer, on whose hit book the eponymous movie is based, is a Mormon with traditional values that she manages to impart to teens in an interesting way through her books and this movie.

The story centers on Bella, who moves from her mother's and boyfriend's home, when they go on the road. She goes to live with her father in small town Washington State, near an Indian reservation. At school, she meets Edward Cullen, the brooding, pale, mysterious foster child of a local doctor. When he saves her life, displaying superhuman powers, Bella soon learns that Edward is a vampire. But not the bad kind.

The Cullens are a group of vampires who are known as "vegetarian vampires", meaning they only drink blood from animals and resist the overwhelming temptation to drink human blood. Edward can't have sex with Bella or get overly excited, as he's liable to give in to the temptation to drink her blood. Instead, he focuses on being the perfect gentleman, considerate, manly, and heroic. Together, he and his foster family of vampires fight the non-vegetarian, human-seeking vampires.

Author Stephanie Meyer, on whose book this movie is based, admits she did zero research on vampires. That explains the fact that, unlike standard vampire legend and lore, these vampires can be out in the sun and the daylight (but in sunlight, their skin sparkles like diamonds), why there was no use of garlic or stakes through the heart, or anything like that.

There is also an interesting backstory, that has no background in Transylvania or Van Helsing-dom. The local Indian tribe has a sort of vampire radar (vamp-dar?). Legend has it that the Indians and the vampires, while enemies, have a deal to leave each other alone. But, in author Meyer's later books, the Indians are actually werewolves, rivals to the vampires. Hmmm . . . think I could write a book about how Muslims are werewolves, and get away with it?

Looks to be an interesting set of future sequels to please the Harry Potter crowd as they age into something slightly more mature, though without sexual adult themes or major violence.

There were a few things about the movie that take away from its luster: some really, really, really, really bad romantic dialogue lines that made me laugh out loud, the obvious fact that the vampires are unnaturally pale and white-faced, and some slow, dull moments. The ending scenes were hokey. And I'm not a huge fan of girlie-manish male lead Pattinson, who has way-too-overdone bedhead hair, way-too-sculpted eyebrows, and looks like he wears lipstick.

But over all, as movies for teens go these days, this was one of the better ones . . . much better.

THREE REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 03:56 PM

November 19, 2008

The Latest Girlie-Man Your Daughters Are Idolizing (For the Moment)

By Debbie Schlussel

This is Robert Pattinson. If you have a teen or tween daughter in America, you probably know who he is or should. He plays a teen vampire in "Twilight", which comes to theaters at Midnight, Thursday Night. I've seen it and am prohibited until then from reviewing the movie, which is based on the best-selling Stephanie Meyer series of novels.

But, if you've watched any variety news shows or entertainment shows, you've no doubt seen the Beatles-sized mobs of young girls who've swarmed this guy wherever he goes. He's the teen idol flavor of the moment. He was profiled on ABC News' "Nightline", a few nights ago. The report is funny to watch:

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While I understand the excitement about the movie and the huge readership of Stephanie Meyer's books, I don't understand the attraction to this guy--this actor, Pattinson (and the shrieking, which I heard last night at the screening). I was never this bad when, as a teen girl, I liked Rick Springfield, Dennis Quaid, and guys like that. I think these girls are confusing the book character, chivalrous vampire Edward Cullen, with the Englishman who plays him. This guy looks like he wears red lipstick and has been ever since he was a little girl. And he has carefully shaped eyebrows that look a little too feminine.

But there's a trend here that's been going on for the last decade-and-a-half or so. The male heart throbs, like Pattinson, are more girlie-manish than ever. The more masculine idols of yesteryear are permanently a thing of the past. And female fans are getting more and more aggressive--a male trait.

The blurring of America's gender roles continues.

Stay tuned for my review of this interesting movie, tomorrow. In the meantime, here's the trailer:

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Posted by Debbie at 03:31 PM

November 17, 2008

HILARIOUS: Video Of the Day - "That's a Knife"

By Debbie Schlussel

One of the greatest movie scenes of the '80s "re-enacted" by Lego (19 seconds):

Now, here's the original version--I almost like the toy version better (47 seconds):

And here are a couple of very quick good ones (too quick, actually--9 seconds and 3 seconds)--I definitely prefer these to the real-life Gov. of Cauliflower:

Posted by Debbie at 09:48 PM

November 14, 2008

FUN: New Words for James Bond Theme Song

By Debbie Schlussel

Very funny, well done, and echoes what I said is missing from the latest James Bond movie, "Quantum of Solace" (read my review)--ie., fun.

**** UPDATE, 11/14/08: Here's a great rendition of the classic version. Pour yourself a martini, shaken, not stirred.

Posted by Debbie at 04:11 PM

MOVIE Of The YEAR: "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"

By Debbie Schlussel

Although it will be dwarfed at the box office by the new James Bond "Quantum of Solace" flick (read my review here), this weekend's best new release is "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (also called, "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas").

It's also the best movie of the year, and I can't say enough good things about it. This poignant film should be must viewing for everyone interested in preserving our freedoms and civilization as we know it.

If you can only see one movie this year, this is it. It's touching, moving, and a great discussion starter to teach your kids.

Based on a best-selling fiction novel for kids of the same name, "Striped PJs" is about Bruno, the eight-year-old son of a rising Nazi officer. His father gets promoted to the position of Commandant of a concentration camp, and the young boy must leave his friends for a large, cold, dark house a mile from the camp.

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Without any young children his age and sheltered, naive, and unaware of the true horrors afflicted on Jews interned very near the home, Bruno soon finds himself in contact with "the strange people from the farm"--the cover story he's told about the camp by his parents to protect his innocence. Pavel, a Jewish doctor, is now the gaunt servant in striped pajamas who must serve this Nazi family. And soon, wandering the woods, Bruno arrives at the edge of the camp, where he meets Shmuel, an eight-year-old Jewish concentration camp prisoner.

Some might wonder about the accuracy and credibility of some of the movie--since the Nazis exterminated most children immediately upon arrival at the death camps, and since it seems a guard tower in the distance is not too watchful over Shmuel at the fence of the camp, though he is somewhat hidden. However, the book on which the movie is based apparently takes place at Auschwitz--where some young kids were allowed to live so that the evil Dr. Mengele could experiment on and torture them. In the movie the name of the camp is not revealed.

At first, I thought this movie did not show enough of the brutality of the Nazis perpetrated on six million Jewish victims (and millions of others). But, in fact, you do see the brutality--how Jewish servants are treated and the demise they meet. The end of the movie is the ultimate in showing what happens. And the movie--while very much appreciated by this adult and suited for all audiences above the age of ten--is, again, based on a book for teens and young adults, so it is not as graphic as say "The Pianist."

Some of my friends--children of Holocaust survivors--worried that the movie would show this Nazi family as too civilized. Don't worry about that. We see Bruno's 12-year-old sister modeling herself as a junior Eva Braun, and their home-schooling German teacher instructing them on the evils of the Jews. "They're not people", and "they're not human", are pronouncements Bruno is constantly taught by his teacher, sister, and father, but can't quite understand, given his naivete, innocence, and secret friendship with Shmuel and the liking he's taken to Pavel. And we see the violence and brutality against Jews within Bruno's earshot.

The movie presents the irony of the Nazis--Germans who thought they were so refined, wore the finest clothes, and listened to the most culturally-uplifting classical music. Yet, they were the ultimate barbarians and uncivilized animals and savages. Bruno's mother is disgusted by the stench and what is going on in the camps, but she knows full well why these people in striped pajamas are peeling her potatoes, are scarred from beatings, and gaunt from starvation and lack of sleep. She pretends to be disturbed, but is mostly just bothered by the smell of the ashes from the ovens, circulating in her air and how it will affect her children. She is selfish, not morally upright.

If they were all really so bothered about what was happening, they would have prevented the Holocaust. But they did not. Like the Commandant's wife, they just held their noses and continued to let their kids learn that Jews are "subhuman." They had all the luxuries and accoutrements of high culture and civilization. But they were not civilized at all.

A warning: This movie is very sad. The ending is disturbingly so, but then so are so many parts of it, in a subtle way. I cried at the treatment of the Jews working in the Nazi home. It reminded me of the many stories my late grandfather told me of how, as a young adult, he managed to survive the brutality of camps like Dora and his constant cheating of the certain jaws of death, and how he overheard neighbors who hid him for a day, brag to their friends that they were about to turn him over to the Nazis for a bottle of whisky.

The movie is only an hour and twenty minutes--always a plus in my book. It's a tight, well-written script, well-shot movie, with beautiful and effective cinematography and excellent acting. As a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society, I plan to vote for the precocious, magnificent young Asa Butterfield, who plays Bruno, for "Best Newcomer". And--unless I see anything better this year, which I doubt I will--I will vote for this movie as "Best Picture."

Rush to the movies and see this. And take your whole family. You don't want to miss this excellent, important, and moving film, best viewed on a giant screen in a dark theater. (It is shown mostly at arthouse theaters.)

FOUR REAGANS PLUS
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**** Watch the Trailer:

Posted by Debbie at 12:40 PM

"Quantum of Solace" Will Leave You Barely Shaken, Only Slightly Stirred

By Debbie Schlussel

The best thing about "Quantum of Solace"--the latest James Bond flick--is that the aptly-named villain-in-chief, Dominic Greene, is an environmentalist wacko, a "green" fanatic.

And, like most of them, he's a Gulfstream eco-hypocrite, who actually rapes the land and victimizes indigenous peoples, while raising money in the name of helping them. The movie debuts today, and I was shocked that Hollywood dared go there, especially since the script is co-written by uber-leftist Paul "Crash" Harris.

Still, the villain was boring. He doesn't compare to Blofeld (full name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld)--my favorite repeat Bond villain (best played by the late Telly Savalas)--or even Jaws. Not even close.

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And aside from portraying the green movement as utter hypocrisy, the movie was dull, only so-so. Note to the Broccoli family (which owns the rights to Ian Fleming's James Bond movie franchise): Stick to more glamorous locales than Bolivia (the setting for a significant chunk of this movie), which was very Bolivi-oring.

As was the case with "Casino Royale" (read my review), I continue to struggle to like Daniel Craig as the new James Bond (sadly, the first James Bond actor to have posed nude--not classy, just gross; Sean Connery came very close to doing the same) . I want to like him as Bond. He is masculine, hot, charismatic, and sexy . . . in a haggard, Vladimir-Putin-lookalike kinda way (I also try to forget his horrid role in the equally horrid pan-terrorist "Munich"). And they love to show this well-toned Bond with his shirt off, great for red-blooded women like me.

But the humorless script didn't help him much. James Bond is supposed to be fun and casual--a hail fellow well met who is a good sport and doesn't take himself too seriously, even when he's getting the bad guys. But this movie was the exact opposite. It was smothered under the weight of seriousness, revenge themes, and bitterness. Don't get me wrong--I love revenge, a motive and response which is under-rated and over-panned. But I just didn't feel it here. It was empty and stupid.

One turn-on: Fortunately, Craig's Bond wasn't girlie-manish and metrosexual in "Quantum," my chief objection to him in "Casino Royale."

I wasn't overly thrilled with Craig's debut in "Casino Royale", but I liked this one far less. I now have a better appreciation for "Royale", which really was far more Bondian in tradition, tempo, and demeanor. "Royale" had a discernible, plausible plot and heart-pounding action. This one had lots more action, but it was mostly dull and unexciting action, which left me cold. That's unless you count the scene of Bond repeatedly walking through massive flames of fire, unhurt. That's a "Come on?!" moment that's hard to believe. And while, yes, most Bond movies have stunts that are just not believable, the flamewalker stuff was just blatant in-your-face BS.

There was some great shooting and cool gun scenes. Love those guns--suave men with guns are hottt. But other than that, yaaawn.

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Daniel Craig: Bond . . . James Bond, or Putin . . . Vlad Putin

And this one was missing even more of what Bond is all about and what makes male moviegoers want to be him and female movie fans want to "date" (euphemism) him: "shaken/not stirred" drinks, sexy women, and cool gadgets. Does our depressed economy translate into a shortage of all of those? Apparently so. While Ian Fleming's written-page Bond was actually not a womanizer, that's not the bachelor (except in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service") Bond we've come to know on-screen. But in "Quantum", Bond has only two women (who are strikingly flatter than General Motors' profits and the main course at IHOP). The cool gadgets? Well, there aren't any. Didn't you hear? Sharper Image went out of bid'ness. And the drinks? Well, "shaken, not stirred" is gone from the Bondian dialogue. I don't remember even hearing the "Bond, James Bond" line.

Especially in this sad economic state of affairs, we more than ever need more of this stuff in our escape at the movies. And they gave us less. It's like we flew coach on Northwest to Greater Bondia, and they not only took away the peanuts because of someone's allergies and the snacks to cut costs, but they ripped the cushions out of the seats, too. Plus, they lost our bags (but not the bags underneath Craig's eyes).

Oh, and remember "M," the elder Bond boss? It was bad enough when un-Bond-like women's lib transformed Bond's boss from male to female (Judi Dench). Now, it's worse. The senior citizen was supposed to be a cameo, but now she's a co-star. Too much of her, far too less of Bond women, gadgets, cars, and drinks. What is this--"AARP Magazine" on film? Apparently, Helen Thomas is doing the casting for Bond girls now and the guys writing Dench's growing share of dialogue think she's one.

Then, there's the murky, absurd "plot". It's a mess and hard to discern. The movie takes place immediately after "Casino Royale", but you needn't have seen that to understand this. Bond and M discover moles in the British Secret Service that work for this unnamed criminal organization. Apparently this same organization is responsible for killing Bond's true love (agent Vesper Lynd who is killed at the end of "Casino Royale"), and he wants revenge. Meanwhile, he meets a Bolivian woman who has her own similar motivations in trying to stop the eco-villain and his criminal organization from installing their own dictator in Bolivia, a corrupt general. Asleep yet?

And the plot isn't just weak. As with all weak plots these days, it's anti-American, the fail-safe Hollywood plot device. Two geeky, evil CIA agents are working with the eco-terrorist villain to help the corrupt general take over Bolivia, and only Bond--of course!--can stop them. Not that I love the pan-Arabist Valerie Plamesque CIA, but hey, the MI-5 and -6 guys ain't no saintly champions of Western values either. Kim Philby, anyone?

The one cool thing in the movie was ripped off from "Goldfinger". A Bond girl is found dead in Bond's hotel room covered in black oil. Remember the Bond girl found in a hotel room covered in gold paint? Been there, seen that.

Yes, there are some funny lines in the movie, but very few and far in between, unlike most Bond films. And, frankly, the best line in the movie was a serious and true-to-life one uttered by the eco-terrorist:

While America is tied up in the Middle East, Latin America is falling like dominoes to the Communists.

So true, and it's something I've been shouting from the rooftop of this site for a number of years, as President Bush did nothing to stop Daniel Ortega and other Communists from retaking power in our Southern Hemisphere neighbors.

Exit question: Will Hollywood ever have the guts to make James Bond fight Muslim terrorists the way he fought Cold War Communists? James Bond bedding scantily-clad Muslim women under the noses of Bin Laden acolytes, then rubbing their faces in it and his bullets, is exactly the excitement we need. And so does he.

Bottom line: The movie was entertaining and not objectionable. But it just wasn't what we expect from James Bond. Not only wasn't it a great Bond movie. It wasn't even an average one. It was just okay, and--as much as I hate to say it--in terms of a Bond movie, it was sort of mediocre. I love James Bond and James Bond movies. But I don't love "Quantum of Solace." It was just "eh". That's why I can only give it . . .

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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***

Read more about how this movie clashes with Ian Fleming's consistent vision of James Bond, in Allen Barra's interesting, "Will the Real James Bond Please Stand Up?"--entertaining must reading for Bond fans.

***

From a past entry on "Casino Royale" and Daniel Craig as the new fair-haired Bond, here are some of my Bond favorites:

Fave DebbieSchlussel.com James Bond flick: "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," starring George Lazenby, the one and only time he played Bond. Also liked, "From Russia With Love," "Goldfinger," and "Dr. No."

Fave DebbieSchlussel.com James Bond: George Lazenby and Sean Connery.

Fave DebbieSchlussel.com James Bond villain: Blofeld (full name: Ernst Stavro Blofeld), as played by Telly Savalas (Blofeld was also played by Donald Pleasence and Max Von Sydow).

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Sean Connery, George Lazenby as James Bond & Telly Savalas as Blofeld

Posted by Debbie at 12:00 AM

November 13, 2008

New Bond Movie Review Comin' Up Soon: Schlussel "Quantum of Solace" Review Posts at Midnight, Tonight

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm screening "Quantum of Solace," the new James Bond movie, tonight. It debuts tomorrow, and I'm prohibited by the movie studio from posting my review until tomorrow--so stay tuned to Midnight, at which time it shall be posted here. The movie's getting mediocre reviews so far, but I'll judge it for myself and you, my loyal readers. So far we know one thing that's missing: "Shaken, not stirred." The line's not in this one, according to news reports.

In the meantime, here's the trailer:

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Posted by Debbie at 05:15 PM

November 10, 2008

Whatever Happened to "ICE, The Movie"?: Movie that Defames ICE Agents, Deleted Muslim Honor Killing Scene, Shelved Again

By Debbie Schlussel

As readers know, I've been following the case of "Crossing Over", which I call "ICE, The Movie."

It's the propaganda film that incorrectly portrays the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) treats illegal aliens. In real life, ICE bends over backward--and forward--for them, contrary to the cold, harsh way their enforcement of immigration laws is portrayed.

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Harrison Ford is ICE Special Agent Max Brogan in "Crossing Over"

Both the movie studio--Miramax--and the writer/director--Wayne Kramer--sent me threatening letters from lawyers, letters which didn't silence me from writing about and exposing their about their awful celluloid screed that has yet to reach actual theater screens, and about Kramer's own apparent case of immigration fraud.

Well, as I previously told you, the latest date the movie was supposed to come out was October 24th. Then, it was December. And now, it's been shelved to an undetermined date in 2009--two years after it was supposed to propagandize American moviegoers. Don't be surprised if it goes straight to video, far better than this piece of pure fiction deserves. The movie has no poster or trailer, a sure sign the studio knows it's dreck.

As I've noted, I read and have a copy of the original script . . . the version before the politically correct Weinstein Brothers a/k/a Miramax--in response to whining from Muslim activists--dumped a scene in which a Muslim ICE agent and his brother honor kill their sister for sleeping with a Hispanic man. Read the entire honor killing scene they dumped.

The rest of the movie is a sob story over Muslim illegal aliens (and other illegals), what good people they are, and how mean we are for deporting them over anti-American sentiment, as if that ever happened. PUH-LEEZE. DHS and ICE officials kowtow to these American-hating Muslims--they fete them. They don't deport them.

This long, boring movie--starring Harrison Ford as Special Agent Max Brogan, a divorced, and somewhat unsympathetic ICE agent--also tells what is apparently the real story of writer/director Wayne Kramer, a South African Jew, who apparently lied and used false pretenses to get to America and ultimately gain citizenship. He's using the movie to defame other Jews, because as everyone knows, our biggest immigration problems are not the Muslims who come here to commit terrorism, or the gazillions of Hispanics who roam our borders illegally every day, it's those lying, deceitful JOOOOOOOS. Right?

The movie also has a few brief scenes with Sean Penn as a Customs and Border Protection agent, working the Southern California border.

Now that Obama has been elected, and Democrats will push through illegal alien amnesty to keep themselves in power, I guess this movie--yet to be released--has already served its purpose.

Posted by Debbie at 01:56 PM

November 07, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Raunchy "Role Models", "Soul Men" Appeal to Lowest Common Denominator

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm getting really tired of movie comedies that would be more worthy of your ten dollars, were they not so raunchy and vile. That's the case with both of this weekend's new offerings, "Soul Men" and "Role Models". My advice is to skip both and rent a good movie like "The Final Patient" (read my review), instead. Or wait for next week's selections, including "Quantum of Solace" and "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". I did not review "Madagascar 2".

* "Soul Men": This movie, about two members of a former hit Motown-style group (think "The Temptations", or a male version of "The Supremes"), had an interesting, interesting story and a lot of funny lines. But parts of it were so raunchy, stupid, and silly, that it made the movie entirely unworthy of your $10. You don't need to be a prude to feel that way. There are only so many utterances of the P-word one should have to endure in a movie (I'd prefer zero).

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Parts of it are simply vile. I mean how many gratuitous naked female breast shots must I endure, especially incongruously enormous ones? Haha, funny. Juvenile and moronic, as were the many gratuitous and gross sex scenes, including one where a woman removes her dentures. Blechhhh.

It was clear the movie was trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator in urban America. And in that realm, it succeeded. If you like hip-hop videos and obscene rap songs, you'll like this. For the rest of us, stay away.

Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac play former members of a successful soul/pop group, whose third member has just died. He left them to become a successful soul act, and they left him to become, respectively, a con serving time in jail for coke possession who has become a down-on-his-luck auto mechanic, and a retired car wash magnate. They're invited to perform at a VH1 tribute to their former partner and overcome their mutual dislike for a cross-country road trip to New York to do the show. Many cameos by the late Isaac Hayes grace this unworthy film.

I would have given this vulgar movie more Marxes in the ratings system, but there were a lot of funny lines, and I liked how they made fun of hip-hop dummies (a hip-hopper think T. S. Elliot is rapper Missy Elliot, and he calls musical instruments, "instrumentators"). (Best line in the movie: "You ain't had a hit since Ike hit Tina.") So I give it . . .

TWO MARXES
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* "Role Models: This is basically the White version of "Soul Men" with a different story line. It's a vulgar buddy movie about two 30-something immature guys who work for an energy drink company and travel to schools making anti-drug presentations. Because of an incident at one of those presentations, they find themselves sentenced to community service, consisting of working as mentors to troubled kids at a "Big Brother/Big Sister" style organization.

The two men, Seann William Scott ("Stiffler" from "American Pie") and Paul Rudd mentor the kids and get into lots of trouble. One of the kids is a Dungeons-and-Dragons-obsessed nerd ("McLovin" from "Superbad") and the other is a young Black kid with a foul mouth and obsessions with naked women's breasts. Need I say more? It's a really funny movie with a predictable ending, but it's very low-class and full of gratuitous sexual references, obscenities, and naked butt and breast shots. Enough of this oversexed crap that is so weak it uses this as a crutch.

Um, sorry, but a ten-year-old Black kid speaking like a sewer just isn't that funny to me. Ditto for his "mentor" (Scott) encouraging the interest in breasts and "enhancing" the dialogue.

Best scene in the movie: Toward the beginning, when Paul Rudd attacks a barista in a Starbucks-esque coffeehouse regarding the pretentious "Venti" and "Tall" names for sizes, something that has annoyed me and many others for years. But that was the only good scene in the movie, and it's all significantly downhill from there.

The only other redeeming part was the other mentor (Rudd) and his mentee (McLovin), who encourages him to be himself and win at the Medieval fighting re-enactment game he plays. But it wasn't redeeming enough to make this movie worth your time or excuse the vileness of the rest of it. The movie simply appealed to the lowest common denominator to appeal to teen and frat boy America.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:13 PM

November 04, 2008

Some Favorite Presidential Movies

By Debbie Schlussel

Recently, I was inducted as a member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.

That means that along with Tom Long of The Detroit News and other prominent Detroit-area movie critics, I vote on our choice of the year's best film, etc. It's similar to the other film critic societies that each major city around the country has. You often read of their choices for best picture in the national papers.

About a month ago, members of our organization were asked by a Lansing, Michigan reporter to note two of our favorite films depicting American Presidents, real or fictional.

I picked one of each:

* Terry Crews' portrayal of President Camacho--reader Ari reminds me that his full name is President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho--in the 2006 movie, "Idiocracy": This is a movie readers of this site know well, since I constantly note how fast we're approaching that fiction as our reality. If you haven't seen that movie, you must rent it. Trust me, you'll love it, since it documents well our dumbing down and decline. I've posted this video several times before, but I just can't get enough of President Camacho's "State of the Union" address sometime in the year 2500. Pour yourself a glass of Brawndo, because with tonight's overwhelming vote for Obama, we're headed there even faster and sooner than expected.

* Charlton Heston's magnificant portrayal of President Andrew Jackson in his pre-White House days in "The President's Lady." A classic, classy movie from 1953.

Which movies and Presidential portrayals would you pick?

Posted by Debbie at 09:17 PM

October 31, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "Changeling", "What Just Happened" Only Semi-Decent Offerings Amidst Mountain O' Crap, Esp. Vile "Zack & Miri"

By Debbie Schlussel

So many crappy movies, so little time. And yet I waste my valuable life-hours to watch this trash, so you don't have to.

* "The Changeling": Even though this stars Palestinian-terrorist-lover Angie Voight a/k/a "Angelina Jolie" (who cheered Palestinian kids as they sang of their desire to get revenge while taking "back" Jerusalem), it's halfway decent. But not because of her. And not because of her naked butt and the shower scene either. Not sure why this mother of six has this need to constantly show us her naked rear in movies. Grow up, chickie.

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This thriller, directed by anti-war faux-Republican Clint Eastwood, is entertaining, but waaaaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooo loooooooooong. At nearly 2.5 hours, I was antsy, as it veeeery slowly tells a story that could've been told in 1.5 hours. And the real star--the real entertainment in the movie--is great actor and supporting cast member John Malkovich, of whom we don't see nearly enough of in this movie. If only they'd spent half as much effort on editing this flick down as they did on the marvelous 1920s wardrobe and set design, the best thing about the movie.

It's the "based-on-a-true-story" feature about a single mother in the 1920s whose young son suddenly disappears. She searches in desperation for him, while authorities return a boy who is not her son and force her to act as if he is. This is despite the fact that the boy is three inches shorter than her son and, unlike him, is circumcised. When she's had enough, the Los Angeles police frame her for insanity and lock her up. They're basically abusive and act outside the law. Malkovich plays a German-American Presbyterian minister with a radio show who rails against police corruption.

In addition to the length, the movie seemed cold to me, especially Angie Voight Pitt's acting. She seemed distant and not angry and sad enough for a mother whose kid is missing. At other times the movie seemed way overwrought in places it shouldn't have been.

I could have done without the scenes--albeit not graphic--of a guy chopping kids up, and the shower scene of a naked Angie Voight being hosed down by nurses in a sanitarium, complete with butt-shot. It seemed a gratuitous stunt that won't fix this movie's problems, espcially of length.

Otherwise, it was mildly entertaining and nearly halfway decent.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Zack and Miri Make a Porno": If you wonder why America is going down the tubes fast, it's "movies" like this.

This vile, disgusting excuse for a movie should have been rated NC-17. But I'll bet tons of mindless American parents--the same ones voting for Barack Obama--will let their kids see this trash. Since it's by Kevin Smith, I suppose I should be happy that it didn't contain what he called "interspecies erotica", like "Clerks 2" (read my review). Lots of full-frontal nudity of both sexes in this semi-porn piece of garbage.

In the "good old days", if Superman--say, actor Christopher Reeve--played a gay porn actor in celluloid scuzz like this, his contract to play the man of steel would be voided out. But not the case with Brandon Routh, the current star of the Superman franchise and, in this movie, gay porn actor "Bobby Long". I guess this means we've "evolved", or rather devolved. Even the dinosaurs had better decency standards.

Zack (Seth Rogen, fat star of all that is gross) and Elizabeth Banks play loser roommates who've always had crushes on each other. Down and out on their luck and with no money, they attend their high school reunion and discover how washed up they are. So, they decide to shoot their own porno flick, in order to earn enough money to get their electricity, heat, and water turned back on. But while filming this vile enterprise, they fall in love after filming their live sex scene. Awwww. . . how romantic.

Bleccch and Eeeeuuuuwww are the two words that best describe this occasionally funny, but mostly sickening movie. Does America really need to see someone defecate on someone's face?

If you let your kids see it, you should be sued for malpractice. If you waste your own ten bucks on this, boy are you a loser . . . just like Zack and Miri.

You don't have to be a prude to hate this movie. But, as this movie shows, sometimes being a prude is highly under-rated.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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* "What Just Happened?": Robert DeNiro stars as a Hollywood producer who must juggle two ex-wives, kids, and phonies galore, plus erratic, tasteless directors, and director-wannabes who act like kids in this relaxing, fun inside baseball story of life in the movie industry.

It was slightly funny, and I'm partial to DeNiro, so I liked this. But while it was relaxing and fun, I'm not sure it was worth $10. Plus, it was too focused on the Jews. The crazy English director has a Hebrew "Chai" (life) tattoo on his neck that we constantly see, which was very annoying and distracting. Ditto for his whining about being descended from the Jewish shtetl in Europe. That's not to mention the constant scenes of Israeli money man financing movies. Someone was too Jew-centric when they made this. I found that distracting.

But, hey, it features a bearded Bruce Willis (playing himself) wearing a yarmulke.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* RocknRolla: I used to think that Madonna was the complete bitch and nutcase in the now-crumbled Madonna-Guy Ritchie union. But after seeing this dumb, pointless waste of time he directed, I say they deserve each other.

While I couldn't understand a lot of the indistinguishable cockneyed form of English that plagued this movie, I understood just fine what was going on. An English mobster is trying to get financing for a building from a Russian gangster, while in the meantime the Russian's accountant and the English mobster's thugs are in cahoots to steal the money. Meanwhile, the English mobster's rock star son fakes his death and has the Russian's missing painting.

Not funny, hard to understand their jumbled speaking, and just a waste of your money. I love gangster and mobster movies, but this ain't no "The Departed". Not even close.

ONE MARX
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* "Happy-Go-Lucky: It's as if a third-grader wrote this stupid movie. It's the moving picture definition of dumb. Two hours of a thirty-something loser teacher in England who constantly laughs and dresses like the Olsen Twins and takes driving lessons. The end. Like a bad reality show. Don't waste your time or money.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:25 PM

October 26, 2008

DVDs I Like (& You Should Rent): "The Final Patient"

By Debbie Schlussel

On weekends when there aren't a lot of new movies to review, I post reviews of releases you can rent and see in the comfort of your own home. Again, because of lots of stuff to do before the Jewish Sabbath on Friday, I didn't get to a lot of things. And this review is one of them.

"The Final Patient" is a great thriller by the independent Mainardi producing team, Angelo Films. Jerry Mainardi directed this cool, different movie and co-wrote it with brother Michael Mainardi. I've been meaning to review it for a while, but time got the best of me.

A lot of independent producing teams send me their low-budget movies to review, and usually, I don't post reviews because they're not good movies. This, on the contrary, was a completely refreshing different take on small town, middle America life, and the eccentricities of a retired local doctor, who develops legendary superhuman strength. Has he discovered the "fountain of youth"? And what's up with his elusive wife?

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Other than the largely no-name cast, it's hard to tell this well-done production is low budget, even though the Mainardis (incidentally political conservatives) tell me the budget was literally a shoestring one. The only name in this movie is that of star Bill Cobbs, whose name you might not recognize, but whose face and great acting skills have been in countless major films you've seen. This talented Black character actor was a great choice to play the country doctor who is the subject of a curious former patient and his med school colleague.

The story of this movie is different and new. And, while it's a little slow, it is a relaxing and, at the same time, exciting thriller, whose direction will keep you guessing and whose ending is not predictable and nicely ambiguous. Also, a lot of great lines and quotables from the movie, like in this scene:

From Crackle: THE FINAL PATIENT

But, say the producers:

We've had some difficulties getting traction, probably because we left out the nudity, graphic violence and foul language.

Yes, the movie thankfully and refreshingly leaves these things out, but I didn't even notice because I was engrossed in the story--only the case in a good movie with a strong script and plot.

The movie was shot entirely on location in rural Pennsylvania--you know the area that Congressman John Murtha is now saying is racist. But in this movie, even though the main character is Black as is his wife, race does not enter the equation. It's just a matter of fact that doesn't play a part in the movie. And that's the way things should be.

I enjoyed watching this movie, and it's a great escape for anyone looking to rent something different and unhyped. Although this movie hasn't gotten a lot of exposure, the 2005 flick is available at most movie rental retailers, Walmart, and online. And it was a selection at a prominent movie festival.

Watch the trailer:

I can't wait for more movies from these guys. They do the work that some Americans--ie., Hollywood--won't do: make good movies.

THREE REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 01:08 PM

Late Weekend Box Office: More New Age Melodrama Crap from Hollywood

By Debbie Schlussel

Was extremely busy on Friday and didn't get a chance to post a lot of things, including my weekly movie reviews. And since--because of Jewish Holiday scheduling conflicts--I did not screen "High School Musical 3" or "Pride and Glory", I figured you aren't missing much. Actually, I never saw the first or second "High School Musical" flicks, so I didn't bother asking about the screening for the third installment because then I'd have to watch those, and life is simply to short to waste on that.

Unfortunately, I did go see this movie, which did not have a press screening, and I don't wonder why:

* "Rachel Getting Married": One of the worst movies of the year and a complete waste of my--and your--time. Hollywood apparently feels it doesn't put out enough New Age melodramatic crap, so they brought us this cinematic version of "Oy."

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Or someone wanted to give their talentless hacks--at both acting, music, and wedding party planning--exposure, so they wrote this movie around it. Either way, there are only two possible reasons this movie got made: 1) the person who wrote it has the last name "Lumet" (Jenny Lumet) and is apparently a relative of the talented director Sidney Lumet; or 2) someone needed a large business loss tax deduction before the end of 2008.

And it's a great example of how Hollywood can't come up with anything original, even in the crappy melodramatic, bad wedding movie genre. Last year, there was another, even more crappy movie about a similarly mentally screwed-up sister who similarly sabotages her similarly New-Aged sister's wedding plans at a fancy East Coast home. That torture session was called "Margot at the Wedding" (read my review), one of 2007's worst movies.

The "plot"--if you can call it that: A drug addict, played by Anne Hathaway, who has been in and out of various rehab facilities for the last ten years, returns to her New Age, wealthy Whitebread Connecticut family's home for her sister's New Age, interracial, Indian-themed wedding to a Black man. Amidst all this, we're treated to fleeting--but not fleeting enough, unfortunately--scenes of Indian and other Bhaghwan Shree Rajneesh guru types and speeches--and performances by talentless no-name musical (un)"talents".

Hathaway's character is incredibly needy of attention and disrupts a lot of the wedding festivities and plans with her acerbic comments, speeches, and antics . . . and she sleeps with the best man, also a recovering addict, within an hour of meeting him. Oh, and Debra Winger, back in movies at age 53, is her mother. We're also treated to a lot of melodrama, screaming, yelling, whining, fighting between characters we don't give a damn about, and two hours of wishing we'd walked out of the theater earlier.

Blechhhhh. See, I knew you wouldn't miss my movie reviews, this weekend.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 12:51 PM

October 17, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "W." Helms Bevy of Skipworthy Dreck; Still Running Western "Appaloosa" Not Bad

By Debbie Schlussel

I was unable to screen "Max Payne", the latest vehicle of convicted criminal thug and racist Mark Wahlberg, which is based on a video game and is being universally panned by critics. I also skipped the screening of raunch-fest "Sex Drive", which sounds disgusting. I'm including reviews of "Quarantine", "Appaloosa", "Battle in Seattle", and "Miracle at St. Anna", which I was unable to screen previously for various reasons:

* "W.": Readers of this site know I'm no fan of George W. Bush and that I feel, as does this movie, that the guy is a lightweight and not very intelligent (the movie gets his "nuke-yuh-ler" pronunciation down pat).

But this movie was awful. It was like watching a prolonged very bad "Saturday Night Live" sketch. It was just stupid and silly, not to mention long and boring. What was two hours seemed like four. And I'm not sure what the point was, unless you and I need a selective refresher of a few things that happened over the last eight years. And, frankly, we don't. We're tired of it already. We just lived it . . . and are still living it. So, why would we want to see a dopey movie about it?

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The good news for conservatives: The movie wasn't as bad in its portrayal of Bush as I expected. The bad news: like I said, the movie stank. The movie actually shows Bush making some smarter comments and observations in White House meetings than I thought he'd be portrayed as making, in this movie.

And it is true to life in showing Bush say he wants democracy spread throughout the Middle East and that he doesn't care what kind of governments it brings in, so long as they're democratically elected. Too bad that Stone doesn't have the guts to show us the consequences of this dumb Bush policy. To wit, that this policy ushered in HAMAS, helped bring Hezbollah to power in Lebanon, and brought Iranian-allied Shi'ites to the helm of Iraq. That is the true Bush legacy, and would have been presented in a smart movie, which this isn't. It's just a clownish shell.

"W." skips over 9/11, like it was a tiny ketchup stain on a black carpet. Not a mention, of course, of any of the biggest mistakes of the W years, to which we conservatives object: the lack of any substantive new restrictions on immigration since 9/11, the Bush push for illegal alien amnesty, and the palling around with and inviting to the White House of extremist Muslims of every variety.

And here's where more of the unfairness comes in. It's not just the selective quotes from Bush, many of which he actually, publicly said, if in a slightly different forum or context. It's that the movie uses endless close-ups of Bush's face and his Christian minister's disfigured, sleazy visage, as if that is supposed to tell us: "Hey, they're evil." Sorry, but that doesn't tell me a thing. It's just a cheap Hollywood form of manipulation that didn't work on me.

Nor do endless scenes of Bush and his cronies eating and drinking. Just another two-bit ploy. Is Bush the only person in America--the only person in politics--who eats, the only one who supposedly ever got part of his sandwich on his face? HUH? That's just a baloney tactic and not very good manipulation. The same goes for the scene in which Bush choked on a pretzel. It's almost as if Stone is cheering on this real-life event because he wanted Bush to die. Has none of us ever choked on anything because our throats are "smarter" than Bush's? Dumb.

The other characters in the movie are like cartoons and caricatures. Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice, or as we call her on this site, "Condi Clueless"--I just couldn't take much of. While the movie gets her shallowness, lack of knowledge or contribution to anything substantive, and incessant pandering to Bush right, the voice that actress Thandie Newton used to sound like her, sounded like a woman with a stick up her rear. On the real Condi, that sorta works. But on this actress, it was incongruous and gave me a severe case of cognitive dissonance.

The other people, Bush's father, George Tenet, Karl Rove, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney (played by uber-liberal Richard Dreyfuss), and Rumsfeld really didn't look much like their real-life counterparts, but for the hair. And they were cartoons of themselves. They engaged in fictional conversations that probably never happened. So what's the point? I mean, other than to further unfairly villainize Cheney and Rumsfeld, who were actually the good guys in this sorry administration.

The Laura Bush character is totally off the mark, showing her as a sweet, supportive, non-influential member of the Bush marriage, when in reality she's a tough, liberal woman who donned a Muslim headscarf and dissed her husband because he announced he wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." That's not depicted in "W" because why worry about fact versus fiction?

Josh Brolin looks a lot like Bush in the White House scenes, but as a younger "W", he looks more like James Brolin (Josh's father and Barbra Streisand's BoyToy).

Much of the movie focuses on Bush's early life as the Bush family black sheep, as a drunken loser who drifts from job to job while his father helps him via his cronies. It shows Bush as a failure at most things until he's able to finagle his father's friends in a shady financial deal that gets him the Texas Rangers team ownership without putting in much of his own financing. That story is true, but it's only mentioned once and not examined at all. We also see dreams that Bush has. Dream sequences on a real life story in which none of the participants cooperated with the movie, is always a sign of trouble . . . and fiction. Not to mention, stupidity.

The movie tries to be, at once, a comedy (and there were some funny parts at which I laughed, but just a scant few) and a serious take on an eight-year Presidency that isn't even done yet. It doesn't show us anything about history and impact over time.

But that's not the reason Oliver Stone made this movie. It's no accident this movie comes out now, about two weeks from the election. In case you doubt that, Oliver Stone shows you footage of John McCain cheering a Bush State of the Union address.

"W." is irrelevant and a waste of time. You can get the same by staying at home and watching Keith Olbermann or CNN. And those are insufferable, too.

THREE MARXES
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* "The Secret Life of Bees": More like "The Not So-Secret Life of How to Waste Two Hours of Your Life". This movie was yet another Obama commercial, replete with not so subtle reverse racism.

Based on a fiction novel, this is the story of a young Southern teen, played by Dakota Fanning, and her Black housekeeper, played by Jennifer Hudson, who flee Fanning's abusive father and racism against the housekeeper in the mid-1960s (Lyndon Johnson is running for President and the Civil Rights Act has just passed). Fanning's mother is dead and she never really knew her.

She finds a map and hints that take her to a town where three Black sisters keep beehives and sell honey for a living, where they are sheltered from their life on the run and fanning gets a Black boyfriend who is beaten by White racists. The three sisters include Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys. (You know it's a bad movie when three singers are playing lead roles.)

The movie is maudlin, manipulative, and full of comments like "They [White people] hate us so much, but we raise their kids fo' em'." The ending is predictable, and what goes on in the middle is silly and boring. There's constant melodramatic symphonic music playing in the background, telling me how I'm supposed to feel. It was annoying.

Yes, there was tremendous racism in the South. But this sappy movies about the evil White American man versus the saintly Black women who raise bees and save the abused White child, just didn't cut it. But, hey, it's just in time for plenty of people to see it before the November election.

TWO MARXES
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* "Quarantine": This extremely bloody and violent doomsday-style movie--about people stuck in a building quarantined because it contains a quick-spreading strain of rabies--is a low-budget film that's high up in box office receipts. But I found it to be annoying and a waste of time. It's a cheap rip-off of far superior movies, like "28 Days Later" and "Night of the Living Dead."

The most annoying part of this movie is star Jennifer Carpenter, who plays a giggly airhead TV reporter, who constantly whimpers and yells and screams. Enough already. I wanted to kill her before the rabid humans did. On the other hand, she demonstrated well how useless, ignorant, and idiotic TV news reporters are, and how they invade privacy, get in the way of things, make them worse, and jeopardize lives.

The best part of this movie--other than when credits rolled--was when a religious Muslim Somali couple is located in the building. They can't speak English and can't understand what is going on, a perfect demonstration of why we don't need more non-English speaking aliens in America and how their lack of English skills can endanger lives.

ONE-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Appaloosa": It pains me greatly to praise a movie starring dual Marxists Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Harris, who also directed, was one of the most outspoken critics of the Lifetime Achievement Oscar given to anti-Communist, patriotic director Elia Kazan, a few years ago at the Academy Awards. He and his girlfriend, Amy Madigan, markedly sat on their hands when Kazan received his award, while others applauded. It was disgusting.

That said, this movie isn't bad, as pure Westerns go. Harris plays a Marshal--Mortensen, his deputy--in a town that is run by a gang of murderous thugs headed by Jeremy Irons. They are brought in to bring law and order and justice to the town. Harris is sometimes overzealous, and his zealotry gets in the way of seeing through his new girlfriend, Renee Zellweger. A good juxtaposition of good and evil in the Old West, but not nearly as good as the infinitely far superior "3:10 to Yuma" (read my review) remake, starring Christian Bale.

TWO REAGANS
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* "Battle in Seattle": Charlize Theron's D-List actor boyfriend wanted to make a stupid movie glorifying protestors at the WTO conference in Seattle. So she obliged along with several other actors and made this annoying, irrelevant, pointless piece of tripe. Protestors were violent and disrupted a city and a conference because they didn't like possible future treatment of some turtles. Therefore, they are worthy of glorification and exaltation? I don't think so. But they are the heroes in this movie. Long, boring, a complete waste of time. Oh, and it also co-stars the annoying Jennifer Carpenter who stars in "Quarantine" (see above review). Blechhhh.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Miracle at St. Anna": Out of all the great, true stories of heroic sacrifices Black soldiers made in World War II, anti-Semite Spike Lee chose to make this fictional, almost three hours of gobbledy-gook. This movie was a mess, replete with flashbacks and flash-forwards and pointless scenes and dialogue.

Long, boring, slow, this is the story of a Black WWII soldier who, years later, shoots a man while working at a post office. Soon, we see his story and that of his three unit mates as they traverse part of Italy during World War II, first fighting the Nazis, then fighting with a racist, incompetent commander and staying with an Italian family, as they struggle to return to their fellow troops and save an Italian orphan. Weaved into this are stories of partisans against the Nazis hiding in the forest, but also betrayed by their own and a mysterious head from a statue.

Also mixed in was the story of one of the Black troops, played by Michael Ealy, who is a creep and lecherous, bedding an Italian woman he targets for his predations. He's not exactly something I'd say sheds light on Black heroism during WWII. In fact, he embodies the most negative of stereotypes.

A female lawyer in the movie says things to a judge that would be grounds for disbarment in real-life. Would never happen.

Like I said, this movie was long and a mess and really took away from the heroism of the story. It was a mish-mosh, not a movie. It never ends, and I was very happy--and antsy and tired--when it did.

If I were to make a film on the sacrifices and heroism of America's Black soldiers during WWII, I'd make a movie of this story.

Miracle at St. Anna just belittles their contributions. It doesn't honor them the way they deserve. The ending was touching but it wasn't worth the almost three hours of boredom and annoyance to get there.

ONE-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 01:08 PM

October 13, 2008

Yet Another Anti-War-on-Terror Film Bombs, But Hollywood Keeps Makin' 'Em While Taxpayers Bail Lala Land Out

By Debbie Schlussel

I took great pleasure that over the weekend a talking dog ("Beverly Hills Chihuahua) dominated the box office, while "Body of Lies"--yet another crappy anti-American film--tanked. Read my review of this horrid film. Read about >anti-American director Ridley Scott's moral equivalency statements about America vs. Islamic terrorists.

USA Today notes that it's the eighth recent anti-War film to flop, but the paper's left-wing move reporter, Scott Bowles, fails to note that these are liberal, anti-war films. Instead, he calls them "Mideast war films." He does include one quote regarding the perception that these movies will be liberal, and that's right. That's the reason these movies fail. They are liberal. And not just liberal, but far-left. These Hollywoodites are rooting for America to fail--in these movies and in real life.

The fact is that "The Delta Force"--which was a PRO-AMERICAN and unfairly-panned "Mideast war film"--did better than any of these (in today's dollars/accounting for inflated ticket prices). It's not "Mideast war films" that fail. It's anti-American films that fail:

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It may be time to relieve Hollywood's war films of duty.

Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, was supposed to snap the industry's losing streak with Mideast war films. With a $70 million budget and Ridley Scott at the helm, it was projected to be an easy winner at the box office over the weekend.

Instead, it lost to a talking dog and a low-budget fright flick.

With a debut estimated at just $13.1 million, Lies became the ninth contemporary war drama in the past two years to go largely ignored by moviegoers. Since December 2006, the average haul for a Mideast war film has been only $11.2 million.

And some movies, such as Grace Is Gone, Home of the Brave and Redacted, have grossed less than $70,000 despite big names including Samuel Jackson, John Cusack and Brian DePalma.

"We thought we could break through with the clutter with this one," says Dan Fellman of Warner Bros., which released Body of Lies. "But I think the climate out there makes for bad timing with anything dealing with terrorism."

But some say moviegoers are as leery of Hollywood's reputation as its product.

"The movies are repeating the same themes people see on TV and the Internet," says Brandon Gray of BoxOfficeMojo.com. "But there's also the perception that if Hollywood does take a political stand, it's going to be liberal and Democrat."

So some studios are reaping the benefits of being politics-free.

Disney moved Beverly Hills Chihuahua from summer to fall to offer a lighthearted alternative, and the film took the top spot for the second weekend with $17.5 million, according to estimates from Nielsen EDI. (Final figures are due today.)

And the $12 million Quarantine was a surprise No. 2 with $14.2 million. Says Rory Bruer of Sony Pictures, which released the creepy thriller: "People are steering toward things that are pure escape from the world we're living in."

So why does Hollywood keep making these films, despite the lack of moviegoer support? Well, it might have something to do with that giant bailout bill, which bails out . . . gazillionaire liberal Hollywood producers?!:

Even Hollywood got something out of the Senate bill: renewal of a tax incentive worth nearly $48 million a year for film and TV producers who produce their work in the United States.

As my friend, Sirius Patriot Channel 144 host Mike Church--on whose show I do movie reviews every Friday--notes, this bail-out earmark for Hollywood is worth about $500 million.

We keep bailing out not just consumers for making bad choices, but Hollywood producers, directors, and actors for making bad choices.

Posted by Debbie at 12:31 PM

October 10, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Some Good Choices, But Is Ernie Davis Flick an Obama Ad?; Horrid "Body of Lies"

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE, 10/12/08: One thing I forgot to note about "Body of Lies." It's executive produced by my distant cousin, Charles J.D. Schlissel, who has also produced other propaganda/BS movies sympathizing with Muslims and portraying Americans as the bad guys, like "Flight Plan". You know what they say: You can't pick your family. I don't know the guy and don't plan on it. ****

In this week's reviews, I've also included a couple of movies already in theaters (which due to Jewish holidays, etc. I couldn't screen or review), the brilliant "Flash of Genius" and the lame "Allah Made Me Funny", plus this week's new releases. "Quarantine" was not screened for critics, usually a sign that it's a dud.

* "Body of Lies": The Good News: This movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The Bad News: This movie was horrid and very anti-American.

I had mixed feelings about this movie, but overall it stank. I've never seen a movie that had that many explosions and killings that was this boring and pointless. Plus, DiCaprio just looks way too young to be the head of CIA operations in Jordan. It's not credible.

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The reason I have mixed feelings about the movie is that it's about a CIA counterterrorism operative, Leonardo DiCaprio, who works for a fat, unethical boss in Washington, Russell Crowe. I'm no fan of the CIA, as I believe the agency is pan-Arabist, anti-American, and works counter to the goals of our country. Scholar Laurie Mylroie has written some excellent books on this. This movie essentially makes the same point. Except that the point of this movie is really not about the CIA. It's against America in general. And that's why it's wrong.

Basically, this movie's message is that America's counterterrorist operatives overseas set up innocent Muslims and frame them as terrorists, leading to their deaths; that America betrays those Muslims who give us intelligence overseas and lets them be killed by rivals; that basically America is not the good guy in the war on terror. We're the stupid jerk and scumbag. I'd say that would be accurate domestically for FBI counterterrorism and ICE superiors.

In the war on terror abroad, I'm confident that America is the good guy far more than anyone else. We are not the same as they are.

But writer/director Ridley Scott recently told USA Today he thinks we are morally equivalent to the terrorists. That's why there's a horrid scene in which Islamic terrorists hammer off agent DiCrapio's fingers and tell him, "Welcome to Guantanamo."

Disgusting. Anyone who compares our kid glove, bountiful halal buffet, La-Z-Boy chair, Harry Potter books and videos treatment of Gitmo prisoners to this, is sick in the head. And that includes not just the makers of this movie, but all of those who act in it and lend their endorsement via their participation.

And, oh yeah, did I mention that agent DiCrapio has a sexy, religious--and largely fictional-- Iranian Muslima girlfriend? Talk about smoke and mirrors.

FOUR MARXES
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* "City of Ember": This is, by far, the best new release of this weekend, and it's great for the whole family, since it's targeted to kids. I loved this science fiction-meets-doomsday-meets-"Journey to the Center of the Earth" flick. It's a great adventure and a tribute to individualism versus statist predetermination.

The city of Ember is buried underneath the earth, reliant on an ever-failing generator and Christmas-style lights for illumination. The founders of the city built it to get away from the bad influences of earth, feeling that their future generations would have a better life.

The city is run, almost Communist-state-esque, by a corrupt Mayor--Bill Murray--who steals from the city's store of food. The citizens survive on old cans of food and the few greens grown at a single greenhouse on the city's outskirts. Upon graduation, every high school graduate must pick out of a hat to learn his/her new profession for life--menial tasks like pipe-worker and messenger.

But as the generator's blackouts get longer and longer and come more frequently, a few realize that the city's future may soon end. Among those few are an entrepreneurial boy and a girl who've just received their live's assignments and aren't looking forward to it. Together, they exercise their individualist spirit to find a way out and up to earth. But they face many obstacles, not the least of which are Mayor Murray and his supporters.

Yes, lefty Tim Robbins is in this, but only in a minor role and he leaves the politics at home.

Charming, magical, and fun.

THREE REAGANS
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* "The Express": There were points--many points--during this movie that I thought I was watching a Barack Obama campaign commercial. And, since star Dennis Quaid--who plays the Syracuse coach of Ernie Davis, the first Black man to win the Heisman Trophy--is in the tank for Obama, I don't think this is a coincidence.

This is the story of Davis, his football-playing days at Syracuse and how he, sadly, died of Leukemia before he ever got to play a down for Art Modell's Cleveland Browns, with his hero and friend Jim Brown. But this is no "Brian's Song." Not even close. Instead, it's filled with sports movie cliches and seems old hat and manipulative.

In fact it is. I already saw this movie in 2006. Then, it was called, "Glory Road", and instead of college football, the racial-barrier-breaking sports movie was about college basketball. Different sport, same difference. Both movies had an over-dramatic coach, in this one Quaid far over-acts. Both had similar scenes in bars where athletes went to dance because Blacks weren't allowed in other places. Both had the racists that I know existed. But it seems like the same lines and same script over and over again.

Still, there are touching moments in this movie, like seeing Ernie Davis with his family, or how as a boy he learned to run fast from racist boys who wanted to beat him. And it's sad when he learns he is sick with Leukemia. I would have liked to learn more about Ernie Davis the person. The parts that showed that and some of the racism he endured were moving. The scenes of NAACP meeting urging a boycott of Kresge, not so much. Those were the parts that reminded me of an Obama commercial. That and other hackneyed lines and scenarios.

Still, Rob Brown as Ernie Davis is phenomenal. He steals the movie, and I expect to see him more of him on the silver screen.

With all the "evil White guy" movies out there, I can't wait 'til they make the movie about a White guy trying to make the Syracuse team in 2008.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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* "Flash of Genius": This is one of the best movies of the year--definitely the best still in theaters. It's a testament to the individual versus the collective. As someone who is often plagiarized and ripped off, I especially liked this story of one man's fight to claim the credit that was stolen from him.

It's the true story of a Detroit engineering professor Bob Kearns (Greg Kinnear), who invents the intermittent windshield wiper, inspired by the loss of vision in one of his eyes. Ford Motor Company steals it from him, and he loses everything--his unsupportive, dream-killer wife, his kids, his job, and his livelihood--in his long fight to get credit and royalties for his invention.

I loved the fight in this man, who turned down a $30 million settlement from Ford because they would not credit him for his invention. The best parts are the scenes in a courtroom in which this non-lawyer single-handedly takes on Ford. Kinnear is at his best here.

Great lessons in this movie for your whole family and a tribute to the sacrifice and--sometimes--victory of the entrepreneurial spirit and individualism.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Allah Made Me Funny": More like, "Allah Took Away the Funny". This is basically a filmed version of one night at the "Allah Made Me Funny" tour, a traveling group of three Muslim comedians who aren't funny. I laughed once during this almost 1.5 hours, which seemed far longer. Here's a tip to the Palestinian uncomedian: yelling doesn't make you funny. It doesn't make your old, tired jokes from the fifties any less stale.

The stand-up routine is also filled with plenty of anti-White, anti-Southern, and anti-American jokes. Thanks, allah. Haha, funny. Predictably, the audience shots are filled with Muslims laughing like crazy at every single humorless utterance. I guess when your life is dominated by the "Religion of Peace", everything seems funnier if it doesn't involve IEDs, honor killings, and repression.

They also show us dumb, uninteresting clips of each comedian with his family. I loved how the Palestinian Muslim's daughter is Elyse Gutierrez. I think I'd take my mother's name, too, if I were her.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:44 PM

October 03, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Hilarious "American Carol" vs. Bigoted, Atheist, Moral Equivalence "Religulous"

By Debbie Schlussel

Took me a while to post my movie reviews, today, because the two biggest movies--at least, in my mind--involved one movie that didn't have screenings (to keep out biased liberals), "An American Carol"; and another which excluded me from screening it because it is extremely liberal and they didn't want a good conservative with reason (me) to review it, "Religulous". Because of the Jewish Holidays, etc., I was unable to screen most of the other new releases out this weekend, but will try to see them and post reviews, later. I did see "Blindness" and "Fireproof."

* "An American Carol": This was not screened for movie critics, who are mostly liberal and would savage it, so I paid to see it, this afternoon. The studio was stupid in not sending me a screener, so I could have posted this very favorable review earlier. I liked it a lot.

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I was shocked with how good it is. I expected it to me stupid, since conservatives aren't known for their sense of humor and most attempts come off as stupid exercises in ideology. But this wasn't that. It was hilarious. Yes, some of the jokes and gags were stupid, but most weren't. I found myself laughing in humor--and also in agreement--with this movie more than I do many mainstream major movie comedies.

The plot: It's the Fourth of July, and a goofy grandfather, Leslie Nielsen, is telling his grandchildren a fairy tale about the grinch who stole Independence Day. Only it's not a grinch. It's Michael Moore, er . . . "Michael Malone." And it's a true story, not a fairy tale.

Moore/Malone wants to eliminate the Fourth of July and has enlisted a number of liberal groups to do it with him. Meanwhile, Islamic terrorists want to recruit Moore to do a terrorist movie for them, to make it easier to recruit jihadists. Moore's nephew is in the military and wants Uncle Mike to understand why what he's doing is harming America. It takes three ghosts of characters past--John F. Kennedy, General George S. Patton, and George Washington--to teach Michael Moore, er . . . "Malone" a lesson. Yes, it's a take-off of Scrooge or "It's a Wonderful Life."

There are so many funny, oh-yeah, yes-yes-yes! moments in this movie, I laughed out loud a lot and so did the other people in the theater.

Surprisingly, a lot of B-list celebs made cameos in the movie, in addition to the starring role played by Kelsey Grammer (Gen. Patton). The list includes Paris Hilton, Kevin Sorbo, Gary Coleman, David Alan Grier, Jon Voight, James Woods, and Dennis Hopper (thought he was a big lib, but I guess I'm wrong).

The movie does a great job of skewering everything from ACLU lawyers to Rosie O'Donnell (the actress playing her is a dead-ringer and spot on) to MoveOn.org to Hollywood . . . and, of course, Michael Moore and his "Sicko" documentary. The best two parts are when Rosie O'Donnell shows a documentary about radical Christian terrorists on the "O'Reilly Factor" (yes, that's a downer in the movie--the repeated presence of blowhard and pseudo-conservative Loofah/Falafel champ O'Reilly); and when we are shown the famed HOLLYWOOD sign in the Hills changed to an "ALLAHU AKBAR" sign and signs for "Victoria's Burka" lingerie stores.

The ending was kinda sappy and not believable. I would have preferred the "Team America: World Police" ending for Michael Moore. But this'll do. The only other negative is the repeated jokes about how he's only a documentarian, not a feature film maker. But documentaries have their place, when they're done accurately and correctly and illuminate an important issue or subject. That's the point--what Moore makes isn't documentary, it's propaganda.

If anyone from the producing team of "An American Carol" is reading this review, please, I beg of you, send me the prop poster of Michael Moore/"Malone's" movie, "Die You American Pigs." (His other movies are "Shame on You, America," and "America Sucks a Big One.") It's funny seeing Moore in the poster with a keffiyeh around his neck and an AK-47 in his arms. It's what we know Moore is really about. If only he'd admit to it in real life.

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Let's hope that "Carol" is just a start for movies like it and a prelude to a lot more. You don't have to be a conservative to love this movie, just a proud American. Funny and worth the money.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "Religulous": Though most other Detroit-area movie critics were invited to this screening, I was specifically excluded, and I think we know why. They knew I'd hate it. And guess what? I did.

This movie mocks all religion and goes with the Rosie O'Donnell theorem that Judaism and Christianity are morally equivalent to Islam and Islamic terrorism: that we're all equally extreme and deadly. Um, how many Jews or Christians directed planes into tall buildings recently? He doesn't address that because it would get in the way of his faulty thesis that Judaism and Christianity are as responsible for contemporary bombings and acts of terrorism as Islam is. Anyone who believes that BS must provide the evidence and Bill doesn't have any.

Maher begins by saying that he's not atheist, but agnostic. He doesn't know what exists. But it's a fraudulent premise: Anyone who knows anything about Bill--whom I know and dislike--knows that he's an avowed atheist and has been for some time, though he just won't admit to it. He's against religion, and, in case you couldn't figure it out, he basically lets you know at the end what he thinks of all religion.

Part of the problem is that Maher was born to a Jewish mother and Catholic father who confused him and weren't truly committed to anything. We meet his mother and sister and learn about his early religious life.

And Maher perpetrates more fraud on the people in this movie. At the Trucker's Chapel, he tells the Christian truckers that they're smart people and that's why he can't understand why they believe in Christianity. But he's lying. He thinks they're dummies, just as he does everyone else in the movie who is a person of faith. He has smug contempt for them.

Then, there's his choices of interview subjects. Maher chooses the most extreme and ridiculous representatives of Judaism and Christianity in order to mock them. An example: He interviews Yisroel Dovid Weiss, the outcast Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who hangs with Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and is believed to be on his payroll. I call Weiss "Hezbollah's Rabbi." Every segment of Judaism has basically excommunicated him, but now I have him--thanks to Bill Maher--as my pseudo-representative of religious Judaism. And Bill knows better. Yet, he chooses to perpetuate this fraud anyway.

The people I respected most in this movie are the ones who pointedly declined to participate--the Mormons (although two former Mormons of course obliged to trash their faith) and a Christian trucker at the Trucker Chapel. They passed the IQ test. They knew that no matter what they said, it would be a casualty of Bill Maher's editing and fall to his cutting room floor.

Bill Maher used to claim to be a libertarian, but libertarians wouldn't be at war with me for my beliefs and out to tell me what to think. They'd leave me alone. Bill Maher doesn't do that. He's out to get rid of our beliefs and change us. Maher is just as much a zealot against religion as many of the more civilized examples of religion that he sets out to ridicule and discount. In fact, he's more zealous.

The only good parts of the movie were when Maher interviewed Muslims, because as we all know, they endorse violence. And support for violence is the mainstream of that religion. A couple of corrections to the movie: A Muslim cleric in Amsterdam says Islam means "peace." Wrong. It means submission. The know-it-all Maher didn't correct him.

Also, the imam of the Dome of the Rock mosque, built on top of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem talked about how Mohammed allegedly descended from that very spot on a horse and claimed the Koran says so. But the Koran says nothing of the sort, and in fact, neither Jerusalem nor the Dome of the Rock are mentioned a single time in the Koran. I've written about how the story got changed in 682 CE, for political reasons, by an Islamic leader, Abd Al-Malik, the Ummayad Caliph, because he didn't have access to Saudi Arabia for his Islamic population to make the hajj (the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca). Maher doesn't know this either, because he's actually more of an ignoramus than his arrogant persona will let on.

Bill once told me on ABC's "Politically Incorrect" that Keith Richards--who admitted to snorting his father's ashes--has had a much better life than me because he smoked endless pot and slept with endless groupies. That's how Bill Maher measures life and he lets us know it when an evangelical at the Trucker's Chapel says he left a life of drugs and sleeping around to become a good Christian. And we can't have that.

Maher notes that America has the most believers in creationism and religious Christianity of any Western industrialized democracy, but he fails to show why that's bad. It's America's strong evangelical Christian heritage and continuing religious Christian ethos that is the reason we haven't yet fallen to Islamic invasion and Islamists' values the way all of the other countries he listed, have. He doesn't tell you that, though. Shocker.

(For the record, I myself believe in both evolution and Creation as it is described in the Bible. It's the view of several noted Jewish Biblical commentators that a "day" in Genesis might mean several million or a billion years. I don't believe the theories are incompatible, and there are several notable books by Jewish Biblical scholars about how evolution proves the Bible.)

Yes, there are some funny parts, at which I laughed. As we all know, Bill Maher is not just completely rude and obnoxious, he's a quick wit. But so what? The movie stank under the weight of his dripping arrogance.

Incidentally, when I came out of the movie, there was a man from the atheist Center for Inquiry manning a propaganda table and passing out literature, right outside the particular theater, but inside the movie theater building itself. I've e-mailed theater owner Mark Cuban to find out if he allows this kind of politics in his theaters. Strangely, there were no tables manned by Christians. I wonder why. Actually, I don't wonder. It's a safe bet they weren't invited.

***

BTW, don't forget my previous column, "Bill Maher Passes Gas in America's Face". Remember, he wanted the price of gas to go up so high it would be prohibitive for the average American. Another one of his great theories.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Blindness": A plague of complete blindness starts to strike people at random. But it's contagious. One of those struck is ophthalmologist Mark Ruffalo, after one of his patients comes down with it.

Soon, he and all of his patients are quarantined to an old hospital ward to fend for themselves. His wife, Julianne Moore, can see and mysteriously doesn't go blind (the movie curiously never explains why), but she fakes it to go with him to the ward.

The patients must deal with filth and squalor as they try to live and perform normal human functions with no sight and no-one to care for them. And gangs and brutality develop.

This movie began as a different, interesting movie. But it degraded into a violent, disgusting doomsday movie without anything of interest to go along with it. The two scenes of mass rape and torture lost me and ruined the movie.

Although the movie ends on an up note, that doesn't excuse the wanton, gratuitous violence that didn't help the story. Violence and blood has its place in more interesting doomsday movies, like "28 Days Later," but this one is far inferior and very unworthy of your ten bucks.

THREE MARXES
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* "Fireproof": This independent Christian production was well-made, given the shoestring budget. I respect religious Christians and understand why Christianity was pushed in this movie, even though I don't believe in it. However, I think filmmakers would have been more successful with their message, had it been more subtle.

Kirk Cameron plays a fireman who is having problems in his marriage. His wife doesn't love him anymore and is interested in someone else. He uses a book, "The Love Dare", to try to bring his marriage back together. At first, it's very frustrating.

I could have done without all the fighting and yelling, but that's was a major element of the story. Also, the story ended a little too neatly and sort of defied belief.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 05:07 PM

September 28, 2008

Farewell, Cool Hand Luke & Ari Ben Canaan; VIDEO: Newman v. Heston in Nuke Freeze Debate

By Debbie Schlussel

One of my favorite old school actors is Paul Newman, who died yesterday of cancer at 83. A great American with tremendous talent on-screen and great generosity off-screen is gone.

Yes, Newman had left-wing politics, some of which was reflected in his more contemporary movies. But unlike today's talentless Hollywood hacks, he rarely expressed his views and, in fact, rarely gave interviews. And when he did express his views, he was far more subtle and muted than the comparably amateurish contemporary actors, like Sean Penn and George Clooney, who openly embrace our enemies. An aberration is the debate Newman and Charlton Heston had regarding the nuclear freeze. Video is posted below--Heston kicked his butt (based on the incomplete video available), but both demonstrated class.

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Aside from his six decades in film, he was a tremendous philanthropist and donated over $250,000,000 in charity to cancer hospitals, camps for kids with illnesses, and other worthy causes from the sale of his various "Newman's Own" food products. (Read the "Newman's Own" tribute to Paul Newman.) And he was one of those very cool race car drivers, too.

My favorite Paul Newman films are "Cool Hand Luke" and, of course, Leon Uris' "Exodus", a movie that would never be made today, given the domination of Muslim whining and conniptions that dominate the Hollywood agenda.

But there are so many Newman films I loved. To name a few: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "Hud", "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", "The Sting", and the great hockey comedy, "Slap Shot."

Paul Newman was not ashamed of his role as the courageous Ari Ben Canaan, the Zionist hero of "Exodus" who seizes a cargo ship and smuggles 600 just-liberated Holocaust survivors to then-Palestine (when the Palestinians had names like Ari and Shlomo, not Ahmed and Yasser), despite British refusal to let them into the country. The movie was based on real-life events, the acts of Israeli hero Yossi Harel (and others), and the actual ship, "The Exodus" (which my father told me was a Boblo Boat from Detroit--Boblo was a now-defunct amusement park on Boblo Island in the Detroit River). Newman was proud of the movie and a supporter of Israel.

Paul Newman was the hunk/hottie of his day, but far more dignified and well-behaved than today's versions.

Newman was also proud of his Jewish heritage. Born to a Jewish father and gentile mother in Cleveland, he went to high school with many of my Jewish Cleveland friends' granparents and older relatives. And he identified as a Jew and with the Jewish people, given today's increasingly anti-Semitic atmosphere worldwide.

From Israel's Ha'Aretz:

Otto Preminger, who directed the 1960 epic ["Exodus"] on location in Cyprus and Israel, said he chose Newman because he wanted an actor of Jewish origin who didn't look Jewish.

The actor was born in Cleveland, Ohio on January 26, 1925 to an affluent family. His Jewish father Arthur owned the city's largest sporting goods store, which his Catholic mother Theresa, born in Slovakia, helped run.

In a 1980 interview with TIME magazine, Newman said he identified himself as Jewish, stating, "it's more of a challenge."

Paul Newman's charm, handsome blue eyes and visage, and tremendous acting talent, class, and charity will be missed. His death serves as a reminder of the almost-completed changing of the guard in Hollywood and the movie biz from class, taste, dignity, morality, and patriotism to the continuing escalation of the ultimate in garbage, barbarism, himbo-ism, skankiness, and America-hating traitorism.

Paul Newman, Rest In Peace. A true acting legend--and a Great American--is gone.

***

Paul Newman's death reminds me of an unfortunate story my dad told me, when I told him we saw "Exodus" at school. In addition to Newman, the movie also stars the late Sal Mineo. My dad said he once saw a patient who told him, "They tell me I have this disease--I'm Sick of Sal Mineo or something." What she, unfortunately, actually had was Sickle Cell Anemia.

***

Cool Hand Luke v. Ben-Hur/Moses

Here's the debate between Paul Newman and Charlton Heston on the nuclear freeze. Heston wins it based on the limited video available in both Parts I and II. And America won, because we didn't follow Newman's advice--our not doing a nuclear freeze helped bring down the Soviet Union:

Can't imagine Clooney, Alec Baldwin, or Penn having an intelligent, educated, civil debate like this with, say, Tom Selleck or Jon Voight. They would sneer at the conservative for sure.

***

Watch the "Exodus" trailer:

Gotta Love the exploding toilet.

***

A nice, brief report on Paul Newman, followed by a couple of montages:

Posted by Debbie at 12:33 PM

September 26, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Very Little Worthy of Your Dollars

By Debbie Schlussel

Of the new releases out this week, I did not screen "Miracle at St. Anna," but will try to post a review of that, later. Here's what I did see:

* "Eagle Eye": Two strangers (Shia LeBeouf and Michelle Monaghan) get calls on their cellphones ordering them to do things as part of a terrorist plot, or they'll be killed (or their relatives). The plot appears somehow tied to his dead twin brother, a dead soldier. The plot against America is taking place after America relied on faulty evidence to strike a funeral in Afghanistan to get a terrorist leader (yeah, terrorist leaders would nevah evah be at Islamic funerals in Afghanistan, right?).

Soon, people all over the country are getting the call to participate in the terrorist plot. The FBI is onto it, as is military intelligence, both of whom chase the two main characters around the country. That's the movie. I made it sound oodles more exciting than it actually is.

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At first this movie seemed exciting, but it's really just a waste of time. While it's about a terrorist plot against America, here's a hint: the "plotter" isn't exactly human. And the fictional aspect of it doesn't ring true--you don't suspend your beliefs for this movie. I fell asleep during an extended action scene that went on way too long and wasn't exciting, and I fell asleep again. Both times, I missed nothing.

Not exciting. Just slapped together. Only mildly entertaining, mostly boring and empty dressed up in exciting music and empty action scenes. Ho hum.

ONE REAGAN
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* "The Lucky Ones": Despite Mr. Susan Sarandon a/k/a Tim Robbins as one of its stars, this movie about three Iraq war veteran U.S. Army soldiers who return home after injuries is not an anti-war movie. It actually could have been a good movie, as it shows how soldiers are greeted--by family and total strangers--when they come home.

But what started out as promising degraded into mocking of religious Christians, middle America, and people with Southern accents--all of which are embodied in one very dumb female soldier. It also degrades into very stupid sexual escapades and jokes regarding one of the soldiers' injuries--his penis was hit by a piece of shrapnel and he's not sure it will still "function". Was this really necessary? No. Nor was this boring movie.

Mostly a waste of time. Skipworthy.

ONE MARX
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* "Nights in Rodanthe": Another chick flick from the makers of "The Notebook." It could have been worse, but also could have been better.

A woman and mother (Diane Lane) who is contemplating divorce because her husband cheated on her spends the weekend tending to her friends' inn on a Southern coastal beach. A mysterious but semi-arrogant doctor (Richard Gere) is the only guest. He's there to patch up things with the family of a patient that died. Soon they fall in love.

Nothing objectionable about the movie, just nothing great about it. Plus, been there, seen that. An okay movie as far as chick flicks go. But it plays cheap emotional tricks at the end.

ONE REAGAN
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* "The Duchess": I already saw this movie earlier in the year. Then, it was called, "The Other Boleyn Girl." Different figures in British history, same old story--a young girl (Kiera Knightley), an ancestor of Princess Diana Spencer, is married off by her mother to the Duke of Devonshire. She, therefore, becomes Duchess. But the Duke is cold and unloving and merely wants her for the purposes of bearing a male heir, which she has trouble doing. Soon, the Duke takes her best friend as a lover and they are forced to live together. Meanwhile, the Duchess is having an affair with her real love, the commoner Charles Grey, who becomes Prime Minister of England. And she bears his kid.

Tired of these stories about greedy British parents of old marrying up their kids to royalty they don't love, while they love another. It gets old. Nice clothes and set design. Cool wigs. Not much else. Mostly miserable. Could have done without the gratuitous lesbian scene, too. Blechhhh.

ONE REAGAN
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* "Choke": Look at the poster for this movie, above. It should tell you everything. The title of this movie is what you should do before setting foot in a showing of this horrid piece of celluloid trash. A loser who works at a colonial-style tourist attraction is addicted to sex and attends sex addicts anonymous meetings--having sex with members in the bathroom. Meanwhile, he visits his "mother" (a woman who kidnapped and raised him) who has Alzheimer's at a mental facility. Pointless and extremely disgusting and creepy.

Skip at all cost.

they film the "dialogue" at "The Pink Pony"?

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 01:35 PM

September 25, 2008

Leonard DiCrapio's (No Typo) , Director Ridley Scott's New Anti-American, Islamofascist Film; Devout Muslima Girlfriend

By Debbie Schlussel

You've probably already seen the TV trailers for "Body of Lies."

The movie debuts in theaters in a couple of weeks (October 10th), and at least they got the title right. I haven't screened it yet for review, but based on what I've read and based on the comments of writer/director Ridley Scott, that's what this movie is: a Body of Lies. A Body of anti-American, sympathize-with-the-terrorists Lies.

Ridley Scott is a talented director. He is the man behind one of my favorite movies, the great "Blade Runner," and a few other decent films.

But he is also the guy who made, "Kingdom of Heaven"--the Islamic propaganda film glorifying Saladin and lying about history.

Now, he's yet again decided that making great movies gives you leeway to make horribly anti-American ones to "make up for it":

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Leonardo DiCrapio's Muslima Girlfriend Golshifteh Farahani in "Body of Lies"
Based on the novel by Washington Post correspondent David Ignatius, Lies tells the story of two CIA agents, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, searching for an Islamic terrorist. DiCaprio's character takes a more sympathetic worldview as he travels the Mideast; Crowe's character is a single-minded agent running the war from his laptop in suburban Washington, D.C.

Translation: Dicrapio's "more sympathetic worldview" means he loves Muslims and isn't so crazy about America--so he's the hero. Crowes' "single-mindedness" means that he actually gets it about Islam--so he's the bad guy.

Scott pulls few punches in the film, in terms of both action and polemics. In one scene, a terrorist torturing an American says, "Welcome to Guantanamo."

"Of course it's a political film," Scott says. Ignatius "has this great knowledge about what makes the Arab tick and what makes us tick, and how we misinterpret and underestimate each other."

Scott says he wanted to make a film that is as morally conflicted as his views about the Iraq war.

"Should we have gone in?" he says. "No, I don't think so. Are we going to get out soon? No. Now we're up to our necks. To leave now would be terrible."

[Scott] says that many of the earlier war-related films were "kind of jingoistic."

Those movies intimate "that we are right and they are wrong," Scott says. "No one's ever totally right or wrong. What makes a difference is there are a lot of reality checks in this film."

Wrong. Americans have shown--with the bombing of several such movies, "Lions for Lambs", "In the Valley of Elah", "Redacted", "Rendition", etc.--that they don't buy this moral equivalency BS.

So sad that Ridley Scott didn't get the message and has chosen to produce yet another anti-American, pro-Islamic terrorist film that will hopefully die at the box office.

If this movie--which sounds like a "Munich" clone--does succeed, it will probably be because of star power, not content and message.

FYI, in this movie, DiCrapio's love interest is a devout Muslim in a hijab (Muslim headscarf). I guess Hollywood is trying to tell us something about who is hot and what is sexy. Don't bother.

She is played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani--who proudly lives in Iran and is very protective of her extremist country and its Shi'ite Islamic extremism:

Farahani had insisted in her contract on wearing the Islamic headscarf or a wig in the film in order to respect Iran's law, which requires every post-pubescent woman to cover hair and bodily contours in public.

In real life, DiCrapio's girlfriend is far-left Israeli model and draft-dodger Bar Refaeli, who bragged about her draft-dodging.

Can't decide which of his girlfriends--on-screen or real-life--I dislike more.

Posted by Debbie at 11:50 AM

September 19, 2008

Weekend Box Office: A Few Good Selections

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE: Review of Horrid "Towelhead" Added, Scroll Down ****

There are a few good new choices at the movies, this weekend. I did not review "Igor" because the screening was held on the Jewish Sabbath. "My Best Friend's Girl" was not screened for critics, which as I usually note is a good sign that it stinks. I will be adding my review of "Towelhead", later today.

* "Lakeview Terrace": I think this is one of my favorite movies by director Neil LaBute. I usually like his movies because he doesn't shy away from controversial issues, whether it's misogyny or relationships with fat women or, in this case, racism.

We usually hear the narrative about White racism against interracial couples. But in this movie, LaBute explores Black racism against interracial couples. And it comes with an interesting twist: Samuel L. Jackson is great as a Black single father and cop, who is doing his best to raise his kids with good values and deal with the mean streets of the inner city he patrols.

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Enter Patrick Wilson, who is White, and his wife, Kerry Washington, who is Black. It's not just that they are an interracial married couple, it's that Wilson is your typical White liberal. He's a Berkeley grad who drives a Toyota Prius and listens to loud Gangsta Rap and Hip-Hop, polluting the neighborhood's quiet street, music which even his Black wife does not like or approve of. And he works for an eco-friendly supermarket chain like Whole Foods.

That's what I like about this movie--that even though Samuel L. Jackson is the racist villain, it's not all black and white or . . . Black and White. We see Wilson and his wife having sex in their pool, while Jackson's kids are watching. Jackson is rightfully upset that, while he's trying to raise his kids with good, conservative values, the neighbors might be a bad influence.

But he takes it way too far and enlists violence. His hatred gets the best of him. The movie also briefly depicts other Black-on-White racism, as Washington's Black executive father (who appears to be a lawyer) refuses to talk to Wilson, his daughter's White husband.

It's interesting, though it gets a little messy and carried away toward the end. Perhaps it might have been better explored without mixing in a thriller. Perhaps not. Entertaining and noteworthy, but lots of bad language (and some implied sexual situations and violence).

THREE REAGANS
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* "Ghost Town": Funny, light, and entertaining. This is the way movies are supposed to be--an enjoyable escape.

Ricky Gervais is a perfect fit for his role as a self-absorbed, misanthrope dentist who lives alone and looks down on people. But there's an accident during his colonoscopy. He insists on a full anesthesia and dies for seven minutes.

Soon, he sees ghosts of dead people who are stuck on earth to finish their unfinished business: A woman who wrote a letter to her daughter, but it got stuck and hidden under a rug; a man whose son can't find his favorite stuffed bear hidden under the front seat of the car; and a jerk who was cheating on his wife and died the day she found it. All went his help to communicate with their living relatives.

That last example is Greg Kinnear, and he succeeds in getting Gervais to talk to his wife, in an attempt to break up her impending marriage to a man Kinnear doesn't like. Soon Gervais falls for the wife. But does he give up his selfishness and hatred of people, or does he use his new gift for his own immoral purposes?

Could have done without the brief jokes about a mummy's penis and the dog poop and farting jokes--both of which were stupid and completely unnecessary. But there are a lot of funny lines in this movie that'll keep you laughing.

Charming and cute. Would love to have seen more of SNL's Kristen Wiig and a hospital legal administrator, both of whom are hilarious in this movie.

THREE REAGANS
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* "TransSiberian": In this thriller, a married American couple (Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer) are taking a train ride across Russia and the former Soviet Union at the conclusion of doing charity work in China.

The husband is your typical middle America good guy, but the wife was a bad girl at one time and has become restless. Soon, they meet a mysterious couple (Kate Mara, Eduardo Noriega) who teach English in Japan. The male, of Hispanic origin, is apparently a drug smuggler. Can't say more or it will ruin the movie, except that people disappear and it's not always what you thought.

Interesting, but violent and a little slow. Entertaining, and I liked the message I got out of it, which is that an average middle American life with its boredom and predictability is often preferable to restless adventure, which can have dangerous and deadly consequences. Did not like the portrayal of Middle Americans--via the Woody Harrelson role--as naive and dopey, though.

Also stars Ben Kingsley as a Russian narcotics detective, though he has a relatively minor role in the movie.

TWO REAGANS
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* "In Search of a Midnight Kiss": This movie, shot complete in Black and White, has a few brief, sweet moments, but it's mostly disgusting and vile, with a masturbation scene at the very beginning. It's all downhill from there, and depressing.

It's also a poor semi-imitation of the far-more charming but somewhat over-rated "Before Sunrise."

A lonely guy who moved L.A. is sad because he has no-one to kiss at midnight on New Year's Eve. He posts an ad on an online dating site, and soon meets a shallow blonde who moved to L.A. to become--what else?--an actress. Soon, the guy is sucked into what seems like a lifetime of drama and unfun "adventure" with the self-absorbed blonde and her estranged boyfriend. All actors in this movie are unknowns, and the movie tries very hard to be artsy and avant-garde (and not very hard to be entertaining, interesting, or give me a reason to care about these vile, loser characters).

If I needed melodrama and stress, I wouldn't go to the movies to get it. He gets the kiss at midnight, but you get kissed off by this substandard movie and lose ten bucks and 1.5 hours of valuable life never to be redeemed.

THREE MARXES
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* "Baghead": Four amateur actors involved in a dating love triangle go to a family cottage in the woods to write an indie movie starring themselves. Soon, they find they are terrorized by someone with a bag over his/her head. They think it's one another playing tricks on each other. But is it?

Obviously low-budget and amateurish and not very scary, but hardly as bad as I expected.

ONE MARX
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* "Towelhead": Blecccch! This is one of the grossest, most disgusting, most stupid movies I've ever seen. It's the "coming of age" story of Jasira, a horny, slutty half-Lebanese Arab girl sent by her Anglo loser mother to live with her stupid, immature, racist Lebanese Christian father in Texas. We're treated to such class activities as watching her masturbate to Penthouse-style magazines many times in the movie, having sex with her callous Black boyfriend (forbidden by her father because he's Black), and having sex with her adult, married, next-door neighbor. Oh, and we see menstrual blood on her underwear, a bloody tampon up close on the screen and another seen where her next-door neighbor has her vaginal blood on his hands.

Yeah, a fun, tasteful time at the movies. A complete waste of time and completely sick. And did I mention, completely disgusting? Skip at all cost. Warped to the max.

***

By the way, CAIR just sent out an e-mail that it participated in a taped "dialogue" about ethnic slurs, which will be featured on the "Towelhead" DVD. One wonders why, since the people in this movie are Christian Arabs. Islam is neither mentioned nor featured. But, hey, hilarious that CAIR wants to be connected with this piece of vile garbage. So much for Muslim "modesty." Just curiuos: Did they film the "dialogue" at "The Pink Pony"?

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 12:03 PM

September 12, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Pointless De Niro, Pacino Cop Flick, Most Annoying Women's Movie Ever; UPDATE: Hilarious, Entertaining "Burn After Reading"

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE: "Burn After Reading" Review Added ****

* "Burn After Reading": This is the best movie out, this weekend. Hilarious, entertaining, funny, and different, I think this is my favorite Ethan & Joel Coen movie yet. And the best part about it is that it's a great comedic presentation of how inane and inept the CIA is. Also a great commentary about how stupid and shallow some Americans are, willing to sell out their country for some cosmetic surgery.

The talented John Malkovich plays a CIA analyst who quits when he's demoted. He decides to write his memoirs of life in the CIA and puts it on his computer. Malkovich's wife, who is having an affair with creepy, philandering Federal Marshal George Clooney (as if), decides to divorce Malkovich. And soon, it ends up in the hands of two dimwitted gym employees (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt), one of whom is trying to get money for plastic surgery and both of whom are attempting to blackmail Malkovich.

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Could have done without a weird sex chair built by Clooney's character, but other than that the movie is tight and well done. If anything, it could have used much more Malkovich.

This movie is NOT for kids, and every other word is a four-letter one. There is some graphic violence and blood, but it's part of the story. A lot of fun. And unlike a lot of movies, it ends at just the right point.

THREE REAGANS
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* "Righteous Kill": This movie is being marketed as only the second one in which Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have extensive time onscreen together (the other was "Heat" and they were not onscreen together in "The Godfather II).

Although mildly entertaining, it's a rip-off. I can't give away why it's a rip-off or it will make the movie pointless. And frankly, it's pointless anyway. The movie begins with and repeatedly features extensive video of Robert De Niro as a cop, making a video recording about all of his kills (and one frame-up job) as a veteran on the police force. He is corrupt and lawless. Think "Training Day" or "The Shield" or "Dexter." All the victims were bad guys who got away with it via legal technicalities.

De Niro's partner is veteran cop Pacino. While it appears they're trying to hide who is doing the serial murders of criminals, Pacino is loyal to his partner. Meanwhile, two other cops, John Leguizamo and Mark Wahlberg, are hot on the trail of the killer, De Niro.

But there's that twist, which is just totally off-base. We never really know what is going on and why until the end. And then, when we do, we realize we just wasted almost two hours. Like I said, the movie is mildly entertaining. But the most righteous thing about the movie is when it finally ends (after about three false-alarm endings).

There are some funny lines in the movie, but a lot of it is confusing and a mess. And it's very crude. De Niro and Pacino were once great actors. But their presence on screen is an exercise in aging-actors-need-another-paycheck co-dependence.

HALF REAGAN
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* "The Women": Sometimes things from 1939 actually are far better and more sophisticated than things from 2008. This movie, a remake of the 69-year-old flick, is one of them.

I never thought it was possible to make "Sex & The City" look like Shakespeare. But this absolutely horrid chick flick does the trick. This is the even more dumbed-down version of the "Sex" chicks ten years later.

Almost two hours of completely stupid dialogue, cackling, overwrought faux-drama, and crying, this wasn't a guilty pleasure like, say, "Desperate Housewives." It is just a damn shame . . . and waste of celluloid.

The "plot" (if you can call it that): Meg Ryan plays a rich woman who finds out her husband is cheating on her with the much younger Eva Mendes. Together, she and her mother (Candice Bergen) and her cackling, annoying friends (Annette Benning, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Debra Messing) figure out how to waste two hours of my time in a movie screening room.

Avoid this movie at all cost. Dumb beyond imagination. An embarrassment to even chick flicks. Ugh to the Nth. Pure torture.

What's that rustling sound I hear? Oh, it's Clare Boothe Luce, who wrote the original play, turning over in her grave.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 04:23 PM

September 10, 2008

Movie I'm Really Looking Forward to

By Debbie Schlussel

**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****

On Friday, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" debuts in theaters throughout the United Kingdom (with "Pajamas" spelled in the European "Pyjamas"). It comes to American theaters in early November. It's sad that it will be mostly confined to smaller arthouse theaters because "Pajamas" looks like a great movie.

Based on the worldwide bestseller of the same name by Ireland's John Boyne, the movie is about Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the Nazi commander general of Auschwitz, which he knows nothing about. He and his family are moved to a mansion next to a forest. On the other side of the forest, young Bruno can see from his bedroom window a fence with people in striped pajamas on the other side. Soon, he goes to the forest to play and finds himself at the fence of Auschwitz, where he meets another 8-year-old boy, Shmuel, and soon learns more about his father's camp. If you've read the book, you know there is a very ironic twist at the end of the book, and likewise in the movie.

I don't know a lot about the historical accuracy of the basis for the story, since I was under the impression that most kids--especially those as young as eight--were immediately exterminated at Auschwitz and never ever got to the stage of the striped pajamas. Still, this fiction novel and movie are important, and I'm sure--if the movie is like the book--entertaining and moving.

Can't wait to see this. And, of course, G-d-willing, I'll post my review on its release date. Stay tuned.

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*** UPDATE: Reader Rochel says:

There was in fact a children's block in Auschwitz. To this day no one knows why the Nazis decided to have one.

Posted by Debbie at 09:38 AM

September 05, 2008

DVDs I Recommend

By Debbie Schlussel

When there aren't many new movies out, I give you recommendations for movies you should rent. Here's the latest installment.

I picked, in light of this week's news that Israel located Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, but couldn't nab him, lest the Mossad agents involved risk jeopardizing their impending transfer of Final Solution mastermind Adolf Eichmann to Israel to face charges. I like movies about Nazis, in which they get their due. And they do in these two exciting thrillers.

* "The Boys From Brazil": If only Josef Mengele a/k/a the "Angel of Death" had died the way he did in this flick in which Gregory Peck played and uncannily resembled his likeness and wickedness so well. In addition to Peck, the cast features other greats--Sir Laurence Olivier and James Mason.

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Mengele is located in Paraguay by a young Jewish amateur Nazi Hunter (Steve Guttenberg at the beginning of his acting career). Soon, a Simon Wiesenthal-type by the name of Lieberman (Olivier, who is excellent) discovers a weird plot by Mengele to clone Nazis and rebuild the Third Reich. This movie was suspenseful, exciting, and heart-pounding. And it had an interesting, odd science fiction angle to it. This movie is from 1978, but 30 years later, you can hardly tell. It stands the test of time. A great thriller. (Runtime: 123 Minutes)

THREE REAGANS
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* "Apt Pupil": This 1998 movie tells the story of a high school student (actor Brad Renfro--who, sadly, died of a heroin overdose at the age of 25, early this year) discovers that one of his neighbors is a wanted Nazi war criminal (mastefully played by Sir Ian McKellen).

Soon, with this secret, the student blackmails the Nazi and uses him for his own purposes. He promises not to turn him in, if the Nazi tells him about the killings of the Jews and how he did it. The boy becomes sickly fascinated. They ultimately become friends, but it is an evil bond.

This movie is so true-to-life on so many levels. This selfish, spoiled kid knows what the Nazi did, yet doesn't seem to care much, so long as he can use the Nazi to his own benefit. He doesn't seem to care whether the Nazi is brought to justice or how many innocent lives he took.

The tagline of the movie is, "If you don't believe in the existence of evil, you've got a lot to learn." You ain't kiddin'. That's definitely what happens in this movie.

There's a great scene in this movie where the Nazi faces one of his victims. Based on a Steven King short story, this thriller is full of suspense and excitement. You definitely want to know what happens next. (Runtime: 111 Minutes)

THREE REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 07:20 PM

Weekend Box Office: Interesting But Way Too Long Doc on Tightrope Feat Between WTC Towers

By Debbie Schlussel

There's just one new movie at the box office this weekend which I reviewed, a documentary. The other new release, "Bangkok Dangerous", was not screened for critics, a pretty good indication it's bad. Will try to screen and post review later. Because there's only this one movie, I'll revisit my "DVDs I Like"--for great movies you can rent--later today.

* "Man on Wire": It's 1974 and self-trained French acrobat Philippe Petit erects and walks across tightropes from the tallest of structures. But there's one that's the tallest that he longs to traipse across in mid-air, the twin towers of the World Trade Center atop a thin wire.

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While the feat is exciting, this documentary was far too long, and it managed, at times, to turn a fascinating feat into sheer boring cinema. On the other hand, I enjoyed seeing how Petit and his team snuck into the World Trade Center towers and eluded authorities, and you almost fell as if it was yourself, not Petit, who was thousands of feet above street-level, and could fall at any moment. Even though we know that Petit not only made it but went across and back eight times on no sleep, we feel suspense, as if he will fall, and we with him. We root for him to get across.

It's fascinating to see how they planned and trained for the attempt and how they got the wire across and shored up to the two towers.

Somewhat interesting and entertaining, but way too long. What was 1.5 hours seemed like 3 and could have been told in a half hour. Still I find it mildly amusing, if mixed with lots of slow and inane parts and re-enactions, which are a sore point with me when it comes to documentaries.

It is eerie to see inside, around, and atop the World Trade Center towers that are now gone, eliminated by Islamic terrorists as they murdered thousands of Americans. I found it odd that no-one in the movie found fit to address that and how the participants in "Man on Wire" felt that it was no longer there. The 9/11 attacks on the towers are not even mentioned. That's a hole in this movie that was glaring.

Other than that, there is nothing objectionable in the film, other than brief nudity in one of the unnecessary re-enactment scenes.

TWO REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 03:12 PM

August 29, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "Frozen River" Accurately Depicts Indian Tribes' Alien Smuggling, Possible Consequences

By Debbie Schlussel

**** Read My Review of "Traitor" Here. ****

"Frozen River" is not your average left-wing arthouse movie about the underclass and working class in America.

It is that, but it's more. With no name actors, the movie focuses on a topic I've written about and which doesn't get enough attention--border Indian tribes and their involvement in smuggling illegal aliens across the border. As I've noted, Indian tribes on the border of New York and Canada--as in this movie--also helped Hezbollah in their cigarette smuggling scams.

I also liked that this movie showed the terrible consequences that might happen (but, sadly, don't happen enough) to those who engage in alien smuggling into America. In this movie, the consequences are tragic and the message is good: Don't do it. It's not worth it.

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The movie is also quite illustrative of two other issues, which never see the light of day, Native American racism against Whites and the inability of Border Patrol and police to have any significant police power on tribal lands. That's often the problem in enforcing our borders.

Still, I had my problems with this movie. And that's other than the fact that it's extremely depressing and mostly dark.

While we can't deny that there are many working-class people in America, struggling to survive, this movie makes it look as if they must break the law and engage in activities like jeopardizing our borders, in order to survive.

I also didn't like the conventional narrative of the loser husband/father who leaves the family in jeopardy and despair.

Melissa Leo plays Ray Eddy, a working-class woman employed part-time at a dollar store. The mother of two, her husband is a gambling addict, who left her and her sons, taking their rent money to gamble in Atlantic City. As a result, she can't afford to pay for the family's double-wide trailer, which they need to live in (they're stuck in a smaller unit).

Looking for her husband and his car at a tribal bingo hall, Ray finds the car, but not her husband. The thief, it turns out, is another single mother--an American Indian woman who smuggles illegal aliens into the country over tribal lands and frozen lakes. Soon, they become unwilling business partners in crime.

One scene I found interesting was when they smuggle in Pakistani aliens. Ray doesn't want to do it because she fears that they could be Islamic terrorists. But she gets through that fear in a second and takes them anyway . . . for the money. That's the ethics of illegal alien smugglers. They don't care about America's borders. They just want the money. In the same scene, Ray dumps a bag the Pakistanis are carrying, saying it could be a bomb. Um, she doesn't think they can get the components to build a bomb and create one from scratch, once they're on American soil?

In this movie, those things are shown to mock rightful American suspicions of Muslim illegal aliens from places like Pakistan. But despite trying, the movie can't get away from the fact that these are valid concerns.

That's why I liked this movie--not for the messages it was trying to send, but for most of the messages it did send:

To wit, that smuggling aliens into America is a bad idea and bad businesss. And the people we think are so worthy or our respect and pity--American Indians and down-on-their-luck Americans--are often involved in this very unrespectable sleazy operation.

THREE REAGANS

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Posted by Debbie at 01:29 PM

August 28, 2008

Midweek Box Office: "The Jerk" Makes Boring, Moral Equivalency Terrorism Flick "Traitor"

By Debbie Schlussel

Leave it to Steve Martin--yup, that Steve Martin--and a liberal Jew, Jerry Nachmanoff--to make yet another insipid, "they hijacked my religion"/"Christians are terrorists just like Muslims" movie in the mold of Rosie O'Donnell's ideology.

Now, I know why Steve Martin--who wrote and executive produced this movie--played "The Jerk." He wasn't really acting, apparently. His boring Bin Laden cinema, "Traitor", debuted in theaters, yesterday.

Posters for this awful movie say, "The truth is complicated." But, more accurately, the truth is actually very simple . . . and it's not in this movie. Silver screen sleeping pills are, though.

When I first saw the trailer for the movie, I thought it looked like a "blame-America-for-creating-the-Islamic-terrorists" flick.

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Real-Life Traitor Steve Martin:
The Jerk Wants You To Know America's Just Like Islamic Terrorists

It's that and more. Worse is the highly objectionable moral equivalency that swaths itself throughout this boring, sleep-inducing movie that's a bad rip off of what was a great Showtime miniseries, "Sleeper Cell."

The plot is similar: A Black undercover operative who is a devout Muslim goes deep undercover to infiltrate a terrorist cell planning an attack on America. (In this one, the Muslim is Don Cheadle.)

But that's where the similarities ends.

Whereas "Sleeper Cell" was exciting and mostly accurate from beginning to end, "Traitor" manages to make even explosions, bombs, and terrorist plots extremely dull amidst the non-stop pan-Islamist propaganda pimping throughout. I literally fell asleep several times, desperately trying to stay awake through this almost two hours of drivel.

Cheadle plays Samir Horn, a Sudanese-born son of a man mixed up in the Muslim Brotherhood. His father is blown up when he's young, and Horn is raised in Chicago by his Muslim mother who dons a hijab and looks like she walked out of Farrakhan-casting central. And yet, somehow, Horn is a moderate helping America fight terrorists? (In real life, not on this planet.) FBI agents don't know Samir is really a CIA operative on our side.

This movie is peppered with the same old, hackneyed, false narrative about Islam, which we heard from everyone including President Bush right after 9/11.

Here's a sampling of some of the moral equivalence dialogue peppered throughout this 2-hour ordeal in ennui:

A terrorist says to Samir:

They forget that the Americans were once terrorists to the British.

Funny, this is almost an exact quotation from real-life CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) chief Nihad Awad and MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) chief, Salam Al-Marayati.

When FBI agents visit Samir in a Yemeni jail, one of them tells him that he's selling weapons to terrorists to kill innocent people. He responds:

America uses bombs on innocent people, too. They just have darker skin.

The FBI agents don't disagree. And in real life, that's often the FBI view.

When an investigation is done into Samir's background, his former employer says they fired him because he's a Muslim and that their clients don't like Muslims. That's the justification--we're hit over the head with it in this movie--for getting involved with terrorism: because America treats Muslims so badly and discriminates against them at every turn (which is why they flock to live here in the tens of thousands, every year). We're the real bad guys, we drive them into this life.

When America makes Samir a high-value terrorist target, the terrorists with whom he's working tell him:

America put a fatwah on you.

Get it?--America puts fatwas on people just like Muslims do. We're all terrorists. We're all the same. We're no better.

We repeatedly hear the hero of the movie and assorted Muslims say the same old BS--"They betrayed Islam"--about terrorists. That's interesting, because when I watched 10,000 Muslims in Dearbornistan marching daily on the streets to show their support for Hezbollah in 2006, I didn't hear a single one of 'em say, "They betrayed Islam," amidst their cheering for "the martyrs." Not one lamented how Hezbollah murdered over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians in Lebanon and countless other innocent civilians at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.

And there are plenty of quotes about how Americans, especially Christians, are just like Islamic terrorists. More on that, below.

Some of the movie is actually reflective of reality, but it's juxtaposed with constructs that Muslims and Hollywood liberals want you to believe:

* Guy Pearce--an actor I used to like (until this movie)--plays the lead FBI counterterrorism agent on the case.

Bad suit--check, awfully-played accent (with Southern comments about "mah deddy, the Baptist minister")--check, and horribly out-of-date goatee and haircut--check.

Pearce, like many clueless FBI counterterrorism agents I know, thinks he knows everything and is the "expert" on Arabic and Islam. He lets us know that he fell in love with the world's ugliest language, Arabic. And being the "expert", he, of course, notes the repeated far-left lie that Christians are terrorists as much as Muslims.

The Klan burns crosses and calls it Christianity. It seems every religion has two faces.

(Yup, remember when Christians blew up the Empire State Building and the Jefferson Memorial on 9/11 and murdered 3,000 Americans? I remember it well, as much as I remember all those embassies in Africa those awful Christians blew up in 1998. And that cruise ship, on which the evil Christians shot and killed a Jewish man in a wheelchair. And then there's my fave terrorist group, "Christian Jihad." Etc., Etc., Etc.)

Just to make the point, this stupid moral equivalency dialogue is uttered in response to statements made by his "ignorant", violent sidekick/partner, FBI agent Neal McDonough (THE Jump the Shark actor for the 2000s--everything he's in stinks and fails), who swears a lot and really doesn't understand those peaceful Muslims, what with him uttering things like:

That's some crazy sh-t, Muslims blowing themselves up for the 72 virgins.

He, of course, beats up Muslim terror suspects like Horn and has a thing or two to learn from the FBI agent who loves Arabic, respects Muslims, and thinks all Christians are Klan terrorists and just as bad as Muslims.

* Islamic terrorists in a terror cell get into the U.S. on student visas, and guess what? Only one of 'em is actually going to college. That's often true in real life.

But the movie departs reality, when authorities find that out: ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) makes every single Muslim on a visa stand in line at federal buildings and go to intense questioning sessions. Yeah, like that would happen. In my dreams.

As I've repeatedly noted on this site, the FBI never pursued a planned program to look into just a few hundred student visas after 9/11, and ICE--for PC reasons--ignores Muslims on student visas and rarely investigates those who violate them and/or overstay. This remains the case, even after it was learned that British Muslim doctor terrorists tried to get medical internships and residencies here.

And, of course, this was used as a construct in the movie for the FBI agent to denounce profiling and comment on how it never works in finding terrorists. Uh, sorry, but it does work. That's why we don't do it. That--and political correctness.

* The Islamic terrorists have moles inside the FBI, including an Arabic translator who leaks everything to the terrorists.

That part is, sadly, very true to reality.

But, in this movie, it's balanced out by very loyal-to-America counterterrorist Muslim Arab FBI agents, like a woman named "Layla." That part isn't true. Many Arab and Muslim FBI agents--like Nada Nadim Prouty (a Druze Arab who worked for Hezbollah), Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, and Wilfred Rattigan--have tipped off terrorists and refused to investigate Muslims. Sorry, there ain't no Special Agent Laylas in real life.

Oh, and by the way, I learned something else Islamic terrorists and we, Americans, have in common. We both "dream in English." Awww, I knew we were the same.

The most disturbing thing about "Traitor" is not its awful messages of moral equivalency, it's the movie's target audience. Because Cheadle is Black, the movie has been promoted ad nauseam in Black America. At a screening I attended, the packed audience received free passes from Detroit Black radio stations. Sadly, they clapped for the movie at the end. Even more tragic, they laughed with and cheered the various anti-American dialogue in the movie, including the line about how America is just like the terrorists because we allegedly bomb innocent victims who "have darker skin."

Do these people who are voting for Barack Obama really hate America this much? Do these Americans really think America's that bad? Yes, they do, if this is any indication.

But their reactions reflected naivete and ignorance. The audience, for instance, reacted with shock and laughter to the part of the movie in which Yemeni police help Islamic terrorists break out of prison. But this has happened in real-life in Yemen many times over the last several years. Yes, only a clueless crowd that doesn't read a paper would like and ignorantly buy into the PR BS put forth in this failed flick.

And Islam is heavily pushed as a respectable, superior religion in this movie, with Cheadle being peaceful, devout, and the movie's hero at the end. I guess we don't have enough Black Americans converting to Islam. So, Steve Martin and Jerry Nachmanoff took it upon themselves to help in the proselytizing department. Louis Farrakhan and Ibrahim Hooper thank you, "The Jerk."

The end of the movie is another rip-off--this time, not from "Sleeper Cell," but from Judaism. Samir and FBI agent Pearce quote from the Koran about how if you save or take a life, it's respectively like saving or killing a whole world. But, like much of the Koran, that's a well-known precept stolen from Judaism. (The parts of the Koran and Islam not stolen from Judaism, are shoplifted from Christianity.)

The only briefly laudable part of this movie is when an FBI agent (Pearce) asks Samir's mother whether or not her son is a very devout or extremist Muslim. She responds:

He's a Muslim. I don't believe there's a sliding scale.

And this movie is extremely bad. I don't believe there's a sliding scale.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 05:45 AM

August 22, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Lotsa Duds

By Debbie Schlussel

Lots of garbage debuting at the movies, this weekend. Yes, I sat through hours of this crapola so you don't have to. And, ironically, the relative (and I stress the word, relative) best is made by two of the most unlikely people. (My review of "The Rocker" was posted earlier in the week.)

* "The Longshots": Who'da thunk that obscene rocker Fred Durst (of the group, Limp Bizkit) and foul, racist, anti-cop, scumbag rapper Ice Cube would make the most palatable and family-friendly fare of the weekend?

But they did. Durst directs and Ice Cube stars and produces in this film based--very loosely--on the true-life story of Jasmine Plummer, the first female Pop Warner (youth football) quarterback.

Normally, I'm against these movies about female quarterbacks. We've seen a million of 'em--from "Quarterback Princess," Helen Hunt's TV movie when I was a kid to, now, this. But one thing in the movie's favor: It's not a feminist movie or pro-Title IX celluloid propaganda. I like this aspect of it--that it's not in-your-face.

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Still, it's hackneyed and filled with the usual sports cliches. And the most objectionable thing about it is that the story is a lie against fathers. In this movie, the father has abandoned his wife and daughter and is a loser and a jerk. In real life, I'm told, Plummer's father was there and her family was intact.

Then, there's Keke Palmer, who ably plays Plummer in the movie. The talented young actress looks like a model and her character dreams of becoming one. But the real-life Plummer is far more masculine. She was a national youth wrestling champion and said she chose football because she didn't like to play with Barbie dolls.

But there is truth to one thing. Her team, with her as quarterback, did reach the finals of the Pop Warner football tournament in Florida.

While it is full of trite sports movies lessons, it was overall a charming movie for kids and their families. But, like I said, we've grown tired of the manufactured "evil father" tripe coming from Hollywood, so explain to your kids that that part is pure fiction.

ONE-AND-A-HALF-REAGANS
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* "Death Race": This extremely bloody, violent, and just plain horrible remake of the 1970s movie "Death Race 2000," is nothing like the David Carradine/Sylvester Stallone original, in which racers drove across the country and got points for running people over (including crazy fans who set themselves up to be hit).

Instead, this one is set in a prison, where Jason Statham (who plays a has-been race car driver down on his luck) was sent after he was framed for murdering his wife.

This movie is preposterous. Statham is told by warden Joan Allen that if he races in and wins the "Death Race" (a televised auto race to the death among competing prisoners), he'll go free.

There's really not much more to this, other than that it's sickening, disgusting, just plain stupid, and a complete mess.

Skip at all cost. Ridiculous.

FOUR MARXES
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* "The House Bunny": "Revenge of the Nerds" called. It wants its plot back. Where that movie--about nerds in a frat house in college becoming cool and popular--was hilarious and even had a weird charm to it, this is just a bummer.

What happens when a Playboy playmate (Anna Faris) hoping to become the Miss November centerfold gets kicked out of the Playboy Mansion by Hugh Hefner? She becomes homeless . . . and gets a job as a housemother for a nerdy sorority and makes them cool and beautiful (well, sort of--we're talkin' Demi Moore's homely daughter and another actor I'm convinced is a man in drag).

Any movie that features Hugh Hefner, his three girlfriend playmates, AND Demi Moore in speaking roles . . . well, you know it can't be good.

Like I said, it's basically a bad remake of "Revenge of the Nerds," using sorority sisters instead of frat boys, with a Playboy bunny character thrown in for bad measure.

Mildly entertaining, but mostly just dumb. The jokes are mostly stupid. I laughed less than a handful of times.

Best line in the movie:

You're 27? That's like 59 in Bunny years.

Skipworthy. Rent "Revenge of the Nerds" ("Oh, No, the nerds saw me naked!") instead.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Elegy": I sort of liked the message of this movie about an empty, hedonistic professor whose life is basically full of sad, empty relationships. But it was kinda like watching salami-making to get there.

This chick-flick May-very December romance movie gave me the creeps. It stars 64-year-old (pro-Palestinian) Ben Kingsley as David Kepesh, a cultural critic who supports the concept of "emancipated manhood"--which basically means sleeping around and eschewing marriage, which he thinks was his one big mistake in life (he divorced after having a son).

Kepesh has lots of empty sex with students and other young women (as well as the older Patricia Clarkson), but gets captivated by one student, Consuela (Penelope Cruz). He falls in love, but he feels foolish as an older man in love with a younger woman and is embarrassed to attend her college graduation party.

It was very hard for me to believe the romance between this senior citizen and the much younger woman who was once his student. It not only gave me the creeps, but some of the dialogue was more suited to a porno flick. Yuck:

Kingsley: You have the most beautiful breasts I've ever seen.

Cruz: You like them?

Kingsley: I worship them.

Or this:

Kingsley: This girl will never once tell me she yearns for my c-ck.

Or this scintillating discussion of Cruz's past boyfriends' turn-ons:

Cruz: He liked to watch me menstruate.

Then, there is a comment about pulling a tampon out.

GUH-ROSS!

Didn't need to hear the gratuitous Kingsley comment that Cruz's "Cuban, Ronald-Reagan-loving-parents" were the proud parents of someone who engaged in obliging this "turn-on." Now, it's Ronald Reagan's fault that some fictional Cuban characters had extremely disgusting sexual habits?

Classy script.

Now, do you understand why I find this movie creepy (in so many ways)?

And it frequently seemed like the movie was more of an excuse to show extended shots of Cruz's naked chest, more than anything.

The many close-up shots of Kingsley's giant nose didn't help the movie. (Whatta schnozz!) Nor did the scenes of Cruz with mid-length hair and bangs and suddenly long hair. Or the shots of the part Asian and very ethnic Kingsly with his "son," the very waspy-looking, whitebread actor, Peter Sarsgaard.

The movie was mostly sad and depressing and throws you a completely different story about 20 minutes toward the end, which seems like an entirely different movie.

The best dialogue in the movie is delivered by Dennis Hopper, who plays Kingsley's fellow womanizing professor and poet:

Kingsley: For a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, you display an incredible lack of imagination.

Hopper: That's why they gave me the damn prize.

Or this:

Hopper: You have to stop worrying about growing old and worry about growing up.

Mildly entertaining, though sort of Wood Allen-esque. Very depressing, but a great message about growing up versus growing old: They are two different things, and the Hugh Hefner lifestyle is emotionally bankrupt in the end.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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*Hamlet 2:Shakespeare is turning over in his grave.

One of the dumbest, crudest, worst movies of the year. English actor Steve Coogan plays a washed-up, loser actor who teaches drama in an Arizona public high school. His students are mostly Hispanic with some bigots. They don't give a damn. He is with a loser wife or girlfriend who's trying to get pregnant. He's putting on a stupid musical in which Hamlet goes back in time on a spaceship. Oh, and they make fun of Jesus Christ. It was supposed to be a comedy, but simply wasn't funny. Not even barely.

This movie seemed like a fifth grader wrote it and inserted lots of expletives. The only good part was Amy Poehler playing a typical ACLU lawyer biotch. But even that was overdone, and lasted for only like five minutes total of this whole exercise in vomit.

Uggh. Completely absurd. And a complete waste of ten bucks and two hours.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Stealing America: Vote by Vote": This left-wing documentary is the same old stuff you've been hearing about how Republicans allegedly stole the election in 2004 (and 2000). While there were a few interesting things I learned, it was mostly the stuff you've already heard over and over and over and over. Not sure how this is a "documentary," since it's so one-sided. When the heck will they move on from this whining?

But here are a few interesting points from this boring, repetitive movie:

* Republican Congressman Tom Feeney hired someone to write a program that automatically switches someone's vote away from what they really chose. Then, he was a Florida legislator. Scary guy.

* Anti-Israel, pan-Arabist, pro-Obama faux-Republican Senator Chuck Hagel owned the company that counted votes in Nebraska, including the votes for his re-election race. Hello . . . ? That's a huge problem, and no-one cared.

* Exit polling companies, when their exit polls are wrong, change their exit polls to reflect actual polls. Isn't that cheating? How are they "exit polls" if you changed the results you got when people "exited" the polls?

And finally, there was the repeate of Al Gore supporters' whine that if all the votes in Florida were counted he would have won. Maybe so, but he and his people chose not to count the entire state. Their fault. They weren't cheated out of it. They chose.

On one thing I do strongly agree with the moviemakers' apparent viewpoint: Since I ran for the Michigan House twice and lost by just one vote the first time, I, myself, am against the use of electronic or computerized voting machines. As the movie showed, there's no record of the actual votes, and it's very easy to write programs that change the results.

We should rely on paper ballots (not the punchcard kind--I experienced the hanging chad problem a decade before the Bushies in Florida did). We should use the ballots, on which you connect the arrow to the candidate of your choice or fill in the circle. Then, there's a concrete record easy to recount and hard to fake.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:05 PM

August 20, 2008

Midweek Box Office: "Rocker" is Extremely Funny

By Debbie Schlussel

Normally, I'm not a fan of Rainn Wilson ("Dwight" on TV's "The Office"), but he's extremely funny in the equally funny, "The Rocker," in theaters today. This movie is a lot of fun, even if it lags a bit from the middle and toward the end. Some critics are saying it doesn't compare to "School of Rock," and while it's a takeoff on that, I liked this and laughed.

Wilson plays Robert "Fish" Fishman, drummer for the '80s hair band, "Vesuvius." At the cusp of their success--just as they are about to sign their record deal--Fish is dumped by the band. While they go on to huge success, Fish becomes a bitter loser, unable to hold a job and relegated to sleeping in the attic of his married sister's house.

Fish's high school-aged nephew's band is in need of a drummer for their gig at the high school prom. And Fish gets the gig. Soon, he turns their band into a "Jonas Brothers"-style hit after sending out promo tapes to bars and clubs . . . and after his niece posts a video on YouTube, which Fish unknowingly shot of himself playing the drums naked.

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I don't buy Christina Applegate as a mom of a high schooler (even though she's technically of that age). And the movie has some stupid, bathroom humor-style jokes. But mostly it's extremely funny. The movie's makers get the '80s hair band parody stuff right. That part is the best of the movie and should have been expanded. The rest seems sort of aimed at teens.

Last month, Rainn Wilson was in Detroit promoting the movie. I didn't get the fascination with this geek until I saw him in this movie. Really funny and well played. Still, I didn't need to know that he thought of faces he makes while having sex to get the "I'm playing drums face" in the movie. Three letters, Rainn: T-M-I.

Overall, a very funny movie with a kinda weak, mushy middle. It's not a great movie. But it's entertaining enough.

TWO REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 04:35 PM

August 15, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "Henry Poole" One of Year's BEST; Anti-Communist "Singing Revolution" Skips Estonian Anti-Semitism/Nazism, Demented But Okay Woody Allen's Latest;

By Debbie Schlussel

**** Read my reviews of "Tropic Thunder" and "When Did You Last See Your Father?" From Earlier in the Week ****

Among this weekend's offerings at the box office is ONE OF THIS YEAR'S BEST MOVIES, "Henry Poole Is Here." Due to dueling movie screenings, I did not screen "Fly Me to the Moon," and did not see "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," because the screening was on the Jewish Sabbath. I hear both are substandard. "Mirrors" was not screened for critics, a hint that it's bad.

* "Henry Poole Is Here": This is ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR! It's hard to describe this movie without giving away key spoilers. But this movie is a must see.

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If you are a person of faith, see this movie. It is about the power of belief in G-d and miracles. And it brought me to tears--of both sadness and, at the end, joy. It is moving without trying to be, and it's well done. It's about how those who do not believe, those who are atheists and agnostics, fail to see what's right before their eyes.

Even though it had Christian and Catholic themes and I am a religious Jew, as a person of faith I loved this movie. Finally Hollywood has made a movie for us.

Luke Wilson, who does an excellent job, in this movie as the lead, a man who plops down money on a house in the neighborhood where he grew up. He's a negative, pessimistic man who is down on life and just wants to be left alone as he drinks himself into stupor after stupor. He keeps telling people he won't be living at the house for a long time.

Wilson's unwelcome next door neighbor, a religious Hispanic Catholic soon discovers that a rust stain, from a bad stucco job on Wilson's home, resembles Jesus. Soon, Catholics from all over come to see the stain, and miracles begin to happen.

I can't say much more or it will ruin the movie for you. And this is a movie well worth seeing. I cannot say enough great things about it.

It's sad this movie was debuted in the movie cemetery of August. Go see this movie and catch it while you can. Better seen on the large theater screen than on DVD.

FOUR REAGANS
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* "The Singing Revolution": Playing at arthouse theaters, this short documentary (1.5 hours) seems very long. It's about how Estonians managed to destroy the Soviet Communist yoke of tyranny on their country through nationalistic songs about freedom at an annual singing festival, called "Laulupido". Lollapalooza it ain't. It's more important than that, BUT . . .

And a big BUT:

While I'm strongly anti-Communist and love the rare documentary that shows its horrors and the victory over it by people's yearning to be free, I couldn't help but remember the history of Estonian anti-Semitism and pogroms against and persecution of Jews in that country, which continue even today.

The Estonians are not wholly innocent people, and they've not been called to task over their tyranny against the Jews in this movie. That's a gaping hole in this movie because it purports to tell the history of Nazi and Communist domination of the country.

When the Nazi's takeover of Estonia is mentioned, it is quickly glossed over and pawned off on the "Estonians had no choice" baloney. They had a choice, and they chose to not only fight alongside the Germans, but to endorse and participate in the Nazi mass murder of Jews. That's a choice. And they chose it. They even had a special SS Waffen unit that was especially brutal in its treatment of Jews and other Nazi victims. And Estonians continue to choose this immoral and outrageous path in their continuing embrace of the Nazis and anti-Semitism.

Yes, they were victims of Communism, but the Estonians were also perpetrators and aided in the Holocaust--and that far outpaces and overshadows their "victimhood." More than anything, Estonians were perpetrators, NOT victims. To skip that part of the story is to not tell their story at all. And to lie. Again, while I like any anti-Communist documentary, especially one with a happy ending, I don't like fake-umentaries and docu-fakeries. And that's what this is.

Plus, it was long, boring, and seemed very dated. What was 1.5 hours should have been 20 minutes. We don't need to hear the same stuff repeated over and over and see a million little kids singing songs that sound terrible and which we can't understand.

TWO-AND-A-HALF MARXES
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* "Vicky Cristina Barcelona": I had mixed feelings about this 39th film from Woody Allen. My initial reaction is, "This is Demented, with a capital 'D'."

But, after all, I did like the conclusion of the movie: That if you cheat on your stable but boring relationship, you'll only get trouble; and if you constantly seek an "exciting", "passionate", melodramatic relationship, you'll only get trouble and never be happy.

Still, I'm not sure it was worth watching the salami-making in between to come out with that message.

The best thing about this movie is the beautiful scenery and architecture of Spain--the cities of Barcelona and Oviedo are the settings. Having never been there, now I don't have to go there and spend money and give funds to left-wing, America-hating Spaniards. I've seen it in this movie.

The story is about two close American friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall)--who is staid, conservative, and engaged to be married to a regular and boring, but stable, guy--and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), who looks down upon stable American-style relationships and sees herself as a Barack Obama-style citizen of the world, who seeks a European-style (or what she thinks is "European") passionate, messy, and melodramatic relationship. They travel to Spain on vacation and are staying at an older American couple's house.

They meet a Spanish artist (Javier Bardem), who recently had a messy divorce with his ex-wife, Penelope Cruz. He invites Vicky and Cristina to fly on his plane to Oviedo, spend, the weekend with him, and have a three-some. Vicky declines, but comes along to protect Cristina. Eventually, both fall in love with and sleep with Bardem, and it ruins Vicky's life and relationship forever. Cristina then moves in with him and eventually has a weird menage-a-trois relationship with Bardem and Cruz.

The best part of the movie is Vicky's fiance's monologue about Cristina's pretentious hatred of stable married relationships and her endless, unhappy quest for something more and more deviant, complicated, and melodramatic.

Like I said, some good messages, but you have to tread through too much demented excrement and bizarre stuff to get there. Everyone is unhappy and crazy in this movie. Typical Woody Allen.

ZERO REAGANS OR MARXES - A WASH
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Posted by Debbie at 02:50 PM

August 12, 2008

"ICE, The Movie" Delayed Again

By Debbie Schlussel

Readers know that I've been following the odyssey of the anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) movie, "Crossing Over," or as I call it, "ICE, The Movie." It stars Harrison Ford and Sean "Jeff Spicoli" Penn. I've read the script, and I'm negatively impressed.

As I've noted, "Crossing Over" lies about ICE policy regarding detaining alien mothers and their children--a main premise of the movie simply isn't true. As I've also noted, makers of this movie eliminated a very accurate Muslim honor killing scene when Muslims whined about it. And finally, as I've noted, writer/director Wayne Kramer appears to have committed immigration fraud to get U.S. citizenship, since he is apparently a main character in the movie who commits the crime and since he claims he lived every step of the movie. When I first noted this, the director's and studio's lawyers sent me threatening letters (which didn't work).

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Harrison Ford is ICE Special Agent Max Brogan in "Crossing Over"

Many readers--including ICE agents--have asked me when the movie is coming out, since it does not appear on the schedule anywhere, and when I last wrote about it, the movie was scheduled for the August cinematic cemetery, where all bad movies go to die a quick death.

Since then, the movie has been yet again moved to the end of October. The movie was originally set to debut last November, then December, then March, then April, then June, then July, then August. That's a bad sign when a movie keeps getting moved. It's also a bad sign when the movie doesn't even have a trailer or movie poster yet. I predict that this movie--IF it's ever released in movie theaters--will bomb.

Posted by Debbie at 03:43 PM

Mid-Week Box Office: Funny But Vile "Tropic Thunder", Depressing But Poignant "When Did You Last See Your Father?"

By Debbie Schlussel

Two movies, one debuting tonight at Midnight ("Tropic Thunder") and the other ("When Did You Last See Your Father?") was out Friday, but I didn't get a chance to review it 'til now.

* "Tropic Thunder": This movie started out strong and finished flat and stupid and ever vulgar. It was very funny at the beginning, with the best part being the fake movie trailers that parody today's stars like "Sylvester Stallone" and sundry rap star moguls who pimp energy drinks and want to be taken seriously as actors. The clips from "Access Hollywood" and other entertainment shows are funny, too.

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I especially liked Robert Downey, Jr.'s character in this movie, a pretentious Australian who gets a skin operation to become a Black guy. He has you convinced in this movie that he's really Black, which drives the real Black actor in the movie, nuts.

The story is essentially a parody of Hollywood and Hollywood stars. Several actors are making a movie about the Vietnam War. The movie is the story of the making of that movie, during which they suddenly find themselves at war with actual Asian druglord terrorists.

Ben Stiller plays the Sly Stallone-esque character. His career as "The Scorcher" is downhill, after several sequels. And his movie attempt at playing a retarded man is a failure and laughed at throughout Hollywood. It is his portrayal of "Simple Jack" that has elicited protests of "Tropic Thunder" by activists for the mentally disabled.

Brandon T. Jackson, a Detroit-born comedian, plays rapper Alpa Cino (haha, funny), who sells "Booty Sweat" energy drinks and wants to be a serious actor. Jack Black plays a fat actor who makes fart and fat people movies and also wants to be taken seriously.

And finally, there is Tom Cruise, who plays Len Grossman--a stereotypical balding Jewish Hollywood producer mogul who dances around to rap music, has sycophantic assistants, and constantly yells and screams obscenities at everyone around him. Normally, this is the part where I'd complain about this kind of stereotypical portrayal of Jews in Hollywood. But sadly, I hate to say that this is what many of them have become. Was Cruise wearing a prosthetic nose? Now, that I do object to.

The one great thing about this film is that no Hollywood stereotype is off-limits, from the BS-ing agent, to the animal-rights panda-pandering hypocrite celeb, to the scummy producer who doesn't value the human lives of his actors one iota.

While I thought the movie started off well and laughed a lot throughout, it quickly degraded into a disgusting set of events, from a whole scene with a beheaded head to some really gross, graphic dialogue. The P-word is frequently uttered and there is a sick part with false teeth that is the reason for the real-life protests of the mentally disabled activists.

Given the gross dialogue and sick beheading scene, I have to downgrade my rating. So I barely even give it a. . .

HALF REAGAN
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* "When Did You Last See Your Father?": Having just lost my father about a year ago, this was tough for me to watch. Although my father was nothing like the philandering jerk in this movie, the part with him dying of cancer and wanting to ask and say certain last things to the soon-to-be-departed parent, without really getting the chance, is a vivid memory.

It's the story of Blake (Colin Firth), a married writer in England who learns that his father is dying of cancer. His father was always a scammer and cad who also was having--he suspected--an extramarital affair with a family friend. Blake always wanted to be a writer, and his father always wanted him to be a doctor, and is never happy with his son's achievements.

Blake comes to his parents home to be around him as his father is dying. We see him have flashback memories of growing up--of all of the times he caught his father cheating, and of his father's cheapness and scams, but also of all the times his father took him camping, taught him to drive, etc. While his father is dying, Blake is reminded of his resentment for his dad, but once his father is gone, he finally realizes that, for all his faults, his father loved him and helped him grow up.

I had mixed feelings about this movie. Through about half of it, I thought, wow, is this movie horrid and depressing. But then, about halfway through, I realized that the ending message is a good one. It was touching and made me cry, as the grown son finally realizes his father's love after his death and cries.

Bottom line: Not all fathers are perfect. Everyone has their faults and things that lead them astray. But Blake realizes that, despite his father's philandering and carrying on, he loved his son, cared about him very much, and tried the best he knew how.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:20 PM

Affirmative Action for Anti-American Actresses: Meet the "Real Reason" Batman Movie is a Hit

By Debbie Schlussel

For those of you who saw it, why did you go to see "The Dark Knight," the latest Batman movie? Was it because you like superhero movies? Was it because critics were raving about it? Are you a Christian Bale fan? Did you want to see how the late Heath Ledger amped up the Joker?

Or did you go see it for the homely, anti-American co-star who said America deserved the 9/11 attacks? Well, I doubt anyone who saw "The Dark Knight" went to see it for Maggie Gyllenhaal, except maybe her communist parents, ambiguously incestuous brother, and the unmarried father of her out-of-wedlock kid. Okay, so that's four people. The tens of millions of others who went to see it didn't go to see it for Gyllenhaal.

But that's not what the mainstream media wants you to think. There's this affirmative action PR trend afoot crediting this homely biotch for the success of "The Dark Knight." First, the Wall Street Journal, on July 25th credited Gyllenhaal for the movie's success:

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Gyllenhaal charmed critics and helped "The Dark Knight" rake in a record-breaking $155 million its opening weekend.

Puh-leeze. She had nothing to do with opening weekend profits or those thereafter. She was a placeholder. That's it. Added nothing to the movie.

Now, in today's USA Today, at the top of the Life Section there's this photo with news of "The Dark Knight's" continuing domination at theaters and continuing record-setting. Again, why her photo? What did she have to do with it? No photo of Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, or Aaron Eckhart--all of whom made the movie what it is, not her.

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So, why the interest in promoting this chick who said,

Because I think America has done reprehensible things and is responsible in some way

for the 9/11 attacks?

I think it has a lot to do with her left-wing views and her lack of box office success. She's ugly both inside and out and her movies don't do well. Finally, she grabs onto the coattails of a giant success, which made it despite her presence. And certain parties in Hollywood want to credit her. And help promote her and expand her acting career.

Yes, affirmative action doesn't just happen on college campuses and in corporate boardrooms. It happens a lot in Hollywood, and often, it's based on hate-America ideology, not race or gender. There's a reason most conservatives in Hollywood don't dare out themselves and their ideologies. They don't get the Maggie Gyllenhaal treatment by USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

I'm tired of this woman. If during World War II, an actress attacked America and said we deserved Pearl Harbor, her career would be over.

Now, it is being boosted.

So, readers, tell me: Did any of you who saw "The Dark Knight" see it for this reprehensible pinko actress? Let's do an unscientific--but probably very representative--poll in the comments section.

Posted by Debbie at 12:28 PM

August 08, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Skip Violent, Bloody, Vulgar & Stupid "Hell Ride"

By Debbie Schlussel

*** I reviewed new releases, "Pineapple Express," "Bottle Shock," and "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2," earlier this week. (Click on movie titles herein to read my reviews. ***

One of the worst movies of the year, probably the decade, and possibly the century.

I've never understood the cult fascination with the bloody, insufferable "Reservoir Dogs." It seems like a national movie IQ test. If you liked it, you failed.

"Hell Ride" is in the same vein. Except that it makes "Reservoir Dogs" seem like high-brow Shakespeare.

"Hell Ride"--a complete mess about rival motorcycle gangs has a stupid story (if you call that a "story," and I don't)--and lots of blood, gore, topless and full-frontally naked women, and stupid dialogue meant to be funny and cute, but just entirely inane.

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This is a movie made by pigs for pigs. The lesser-than-human making the lesser-than-human for the lesser-than-human.

You can't even tell what the hell is going on, and you don't want to. If you're me, you just want to leave and wonder why you wasted valuable life you'll never get back on this disgusting, vulgar display of cinematic screed. It's supposed to be a throwback to '70s grindhouse films, so I should have known better.

It stars a fat, washed up, old Michael Madsen, trying to relive his "Reservoir Dogs" days. Time to move on, Mike. Other stars include Dennis Hopper, who gets his cowboy boots peed upon by another gang member. And then there's gang leader, Pistolero, played by Larry Bishop, the son of Rat-Packer Joey Bishop. Clearly, the talent DNA ended in the previous generation, as Bishop wrote and directed this giant piece of excrement.

Since there's no real discernible story, it seems like some out of work, fat and aging actors got together and said, "Hey, let's make a movie where we wear black leather and ride motorcycles in the desert and look cool, and we'll add a lot of wanton murder, topless women gyrating around and using four-letter words and film it."

There's the "charming" scene, where we see a dismembered human head in a box. And then, there's the "enlightened" scene, in which a man's body is cut up and dismembered while he's alive. At least I think that's what happened, but I covered my face and eyes, so I wouldn't have that pleasant memory in my mind for the rest of my life.

Bleeeechhhhh. Skip at all cost.

FOUR MARXES PLUS
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Posted by Debbie at 02:41 PM

August 06, 2008

More Midweek Box Office: One of Year's Best Movies, Insipid Chick Flick

By Debbie Schlussel

Earlier in the day, I posted my review of "Pineapple Express." Forgot that two other movies are debuting at theaters, today:

* "Bottle Shock": This is ONE OF THE BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR, definitely in my top five, thus far. Based on a great true story, it is patriotic, pro-American, anti-French, funny, and good all-around. It reminds us of what makes America great and what we need a lot more of at this time--our can-do spirit.

Set during our nation's Bicentennial in 1976, Alan Rickman--the raging anti-Israel fanatic (thanks to reader Facts of Life for that tip)--plays a Brit expat in France, looking for a way to get respect in Paris and customers into his wine shop and academy. With help from an American expat (Dennis Farina), he comes up with the idea of a blind taste test--American wines from Napa Valley versus French wines.

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Rickman travels to the Napa Valley and meets with several vintners to taste their wines. They think he's a snob, but soon discover that he's fair and has taken a liking to some of their wines.

The movie focuses on the characters of Chateau Montelena, a Napa Valley winery in debt and barely surviving. It is the dream of Jim Barrett (Bill Pullman), a lawyer who leaves a thriving law firm where he is partner to struggle and realize his dream of producing fine American wine. His hot, loser son, Bo (Chris Pine) is more than he appears, but is a hustler when we see him at the beginning of the movie. Then, there is Gustavo, the Mexican winery-hand, who has developed his own wine on the side, and Sam (Rachael Fox), the gorgeous summer intern, who is the object of desire of both Gustavo and Bo.

Best dialogue in the movie, is when Bo and his father are talking about Bo's lifestyle. Bo can't remember the name of a woman he slept with the night before:

Bo: I slept with a person, not a name.

Jim (his dad): It's 1976. Woodstock was seven years ago.

Other great line, from Alan Rickman, as the British Frenchman:

Why don't I like you? It's because you think I'm an a--hole. And I'm really not. It's just that I'm British and you're not.

And finally, this line, when the Americans win the blind French wine tasting competition:

We have shattered the myth of the invincible French wine.

You don't have to know anything about wine--I don't--to love this movie. And you will learn a lot. The title, "Bottle Shock", is what happens to wine when it rolls around in the cargo section of a plane. That's elemental to a portion of the movie that shows part of what makes America great.

I cannot say enough great things about this charming, proud-to-be-American movie. I laughed and cheered. You will, too. GO SEE IT!!!!

FOUR REAGANS
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* "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2": Oy, this is like "Sex & The City" lite for teen girls. Gag. There is only one White man in this movie, and has a bad father. But maybe White men should be happy, since every other guy in this movie is basically a girlie-man tool-ette.

While the first installment of this movie was somewhat charming--but mostly annoying (and promoted the idea of a teen girl practically raping her counselor at soccer camp), this sequel is insipid and even more annoying.

The movie has more crying, whining, pouting, shouting, screaming, and drama than five decades of SoapNet. Make it stop. Please.

We now find the four homely 17-year-old girls--who had a pair of pants that miraculously fit all of them perfectly--are older and in college. The Peurto Rican one (America Ferrera from "Ugly Betty") is a clumsy drama costumer, who lucks out and gets the leading role in a summer Shakespeare play in Vermont. The goth one (Amber Tamblyn) is forever angry and pouty over her Korean boyfriend and the unprotected sex they had.

The only decent-looking one--the blonde--is on a summer archeology dig with unrealistic, moderate Muslims in Turkey, but leaves to meet the grandmother whose letters were hidden from her. And the Greek one learns to draw at summer art school, and goes back and forth between relationships with a nude Black model and her Greek true love who got married because he made someone pregnant.

Yup, you really want your girls to see this movie, right?

Insipid, stupid, pointless, and bad for young girls. If this is grrrlpower, I'm glad I've long been an adult.

THREE MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 08:48 PM

Midweek Box Office: "Pineapple Express"

By Debbie Schlussel

When a movie co-stars Rosie Perez (for whose Spanglish I need a translator), it's in trouble.

While I liked the ultimate message of "Pineapple Express", which is "Don't do drugs and don't deal 'em either," getting to that message was like watching salami being made--we'd rather not see the process. This movie was extremely violent, bloody, and disgusting. And while parts of it were very funny, it's like all Judd Apatow movies: I'm embarrassed I laughed.

I like actor James Franco, but he can and should do better than this. He plays Saul Silver--an obviosly Jewish stoner drug dealer, whose only mature characteristic is that he takes care of his "Bubbie" (grandmother). I really wish the Jewish Apatow would stop inserting the gratuitous Jewish references in his disgusting, vulgar movies. We don't need to claim him.

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Silver sells his pot customer, loser process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen), a rare exotic strain of marijuana, "Pineapple Express." Denton is about to serve a man, when he sees the man and a female cop (Perez) shoot to death an Asian man. Denton drops the pot he's smoking and drives away.

But the man who did the shooting is Saul Silver's drug kingpin supplier--who killed a rival Asian gang leader--and he figures out that the pot is his "Pineapple Express," tracking down both Silver and Denton, who are now on the run from him. The rest of the movie is Silver and Denton running from the drug kingpin and Rosie Perez in a series of very bloody, violent, disgusting "madcap" scenes.

Like I said, this is typical Apatow stuff plus your typical stoner movie, which means it's mostly skipworthy. Yes, it's funny in parts (but not enough), but not enough to make up for the lame plot, the obvious ad-libbing, and the blood and violence.

Seems to me they smoked too much "Pineapple Express" when they wrote this script. Is it just me . . . or are you sick of the Seth Rogen's "disgusting nerdy loser Jew" act? Come up with something new--and less self-hating.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 04:16 PM

August 05, 2008

Parental Malpractice Nation: Too Many Americans Are Kathy Hilton, Many 10-Year-Olds See Violent R-Rated Films

By Debbie Schlussel

**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****

I'm not surprised that Kathy Hilton--Exhibit A of parental malpractice in America--has the chutzpah to attack John McCain for using an image of his daughter in a campaign ad.

McCain's the bad guy for using a picture of someone we all know is a dingbat and a whore in his ad. But she's done nothing wrong by raising her daughter to be a porn star and professional airhead.

That's the way it is in today's America. Up is down, right is left. And Michelle Malkin criticized the McCain campaign for mocking the porn-star daughter of campaign contributors, even though that daughter and those contributors are complete embarrassments--and John McCain is right.

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Rick & Kathy Hilton: Far Too Many Americans Are Like Parents of Paris; Let 10-Year-Olds See Violent Flicks

And, sadly, Kathy Hilton is just a wealthier, higher profile version of far too many parents in America. Researchers found that 35% of "tweens"--kids aged 10-14--in America say their parents let them see R-rated movies in which savage beatings, severed heads, murder, rape, and torture are depicted on the big screen.

As I've noted, I was aghast at the violence in the recent Batman movie, "The Dark Knight," which you know plenty of young kids went to see. I remember that--at the screening of "300"--I watched a father answer questions from his daughter, who couldn't have been older than eight, about the sex and blood in the movie.

While a big part of the problem is Hollywood, the other major component of the problem is absentee and/or neglectful parents, who ought to be sued for malpractice. They're raising yet another generation of dishonest, stupid, desensitized morons . . . just like Kathy Hilton did with daughter, Paris.

I remember as a kid how my father--before he saw "Star Wars"--worried the movie might be too scary for young kids. After he saw it, he thought it was great and took us to see it. Few parents preview movies these days. They just take their kids to see it with them for the first time or lazily send them with friends as a baby-sitting technique. I also remember when I was in 8th or 9th grade, and my father didn't want me to go see "Risky Business," since it was about and glorified prostitution and pimping.

Today, I think few parents would think twice about that. According to a "Pediatrics" magazine study, I'm right. And in many cases, over 20% of 10-year-olds say they've seen these violent, bloody movies. If you allow you 10-year-old to see these movies, you should be on birth control or have a vasectomy:

Researchers know what your tween saw last summer: savage beatings, severed heads, murder, rape and torture.

In a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from Dartmouth Medical School estimate more than 2.5 million children ages 10 to 14 watch the typical violent, R-rated movie.

A few movies, such as Blade, Hollow Man and Bride of Chucky, claim what researchers say are huge child audiences — as many as 7.8 million, including an estimated 1 million 10-year-olds. . . .

Previous studies have found violent media can increase aggression and desensitize to real violence, and many violent films are marketed during kids' TV shows.

Worth and colleagues asked 6,522 children if they had seen movies from a list of 534 released in the past few years. Researchers plucked 40 R-rated movies with "the most extreme examples of graphic violence" and found that, on average, 12.5% of kids had seen each movie.

The study didn't ask whether children saw them in theaters, on video, on cable TV or on the Internet, but more than one in three said parents let them watch R-rated movies "sometimes" or "all the time." Even among kids who said their parents never let them watch such movies, 22.6% had seen at least one.

Children with TVs in their bedroom saw more violent movies, and African-American boys were much more likely to have seen them. More than 80% said they had seen Blade, Training Day and the horror spoof Scary Movie.

Yes, far too many American parents are just like Kathy Hilton, with sons and daughters just as useless and vapid as Paris Hilton.

But John McCain is the bad guy.

**** UPDATE: Reader Sean writes with some good suggestions (and points):

Amen to your post about absentee parents who let their kids see almost anything. My wife and I check out websites like www.kids-in-mind.com or www.screenit.com to preview exactly WHAT is in these movies.

There are even some movies that are PG-13 that should really be R so we trust our judgment, not that of the film industry. Our boys are 14 and 12, and they don't like the fact that we preview the movies either online or in person, but that's how it goes.

The same is true with video games. Rated M? Fuggedaboutit! They are certainly rough and tumble boys, but we make sure that they know that Hollywood's version of reality is not acceptable in our little corner of the world.

We see plenty of parents who are reaping what they've sown now that their middle schoolers are becoming unruly and out of control in part because of years of exposure to violent movies and games. We vowed not to go down that road.

Posted by Debbie at 11:13 AM

August 01, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Don't Choose "Swing Vote" - Anti-Semitic GOP, "Typical" White Male Redneck Loser

By Debbie Schlussel

Is Kelsey Grammar really a Republican?

Hard to tell, since he chose to be in "Swing Vote" and portray Republicans as anti-Semites and White men as rednecks, idiots, and incompetent fathers.

You know when a movie about a Presidential election begins with an anti-Semitic Republican President scheming on how to keep Jews away from the polls, it's not going to be even-handed or good. Or funny.

You also know that when the star of a movie--Kevin Costner--is forced to invest $20 million of his own money in an August movie release in order to get it on-screen, it's not a good flick.

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At the beginning of this overly dramatic silver-screen annoyance, it's election day, and we see Republican President Kelsey Grammar with his evil, scheming political advisor in the Oval Office. While Grammar listens, the advisor (Stanley Tucci) tells the Republican Party of Florida to round up as many tall, blonde, Arian-looking guys they can and send them to the West Palm Beach polling places to keep Jews from voting.

Apparently, Kelsey Grammar didn't have a problem portraying the GOP as a party of anti-Semites. And it's downhill from there. This movie is sappy and banal beyond belief. Didn't care for the term, "right wing blogosmear," either.

Kevin Costner plays "Bud," the working-class New Mexico screw-up at the center of a tied Presidential election. He promises his young daughter he'll vote in the Presidential election, but when he doesn't show up, she sneaks in and votes for him. An electrical malfunction prevents the vote from registering, and Costner gets to recast his vote later, since it will decide the White House race--the State of New Mexico will decide the race, and it's tied.

To win his vote, both President Kelsey Grammar and Democratic candidate Dennis Hopper pander to him. When Bud says he thinks gays should get married, Republican Grammar shoots an ad endorsing it. When he says he's pro-life (he doesn't know what it means), the liberal Democrat makes a pro-life ad.

Bud is your typical Hollywood version of the middle-American White male: stupid, a drunk, immature, irresponsible, a bad parent, a poor employee, etc. Is there any other kind of White male in America, according to Hollywood (and apparently investor Costner)?

And, of course, like most of these movies, along with the dumb-dopey-working-class-immature-trailer-park-failure-father, there's a very smart daughter, who is the adult in the movie. Are you as sick of this as I am--that, in Hollywood, the kid is often the adult and vice versa? It gets old. Madeline Carroll, the young actress who plays her, and Paula Patton, the actress who plays an aggressive, scheming local news reporter are so saccharine and phony, it's unbearable. There is more crying, yelling, screaming, and melodrama in this supposed comedy than five decades of "All My Children." I couldn't take much more of this.

But, wait, it gets worse. The most annoying political commentators pollute the screen throughout: Chris Matthews, Arianna Huffington, Larry King, Tucker Carlson. They're embarrassing, but, sadly, not embarrassed. The only one missing is Keith Olbermann. Thank Heaven for small favors.

If there was one good thing about this movie--aside from the fact that it actually ended--it was that the movie made a point against illegal aliens taking American jobs, but it didn't make the point very well.

While Costner works at an egg-processing plant that employs a lot of illegal aliens and makes company announcements in Spanish, he loses his job because he's a screw-up. While he complains about the problem of "insourcing"--importing illegal aliens into America to take away Americans' jobs--he is repeatedly late to work, destroys a lot of eggs, and is just a bad employee.

If "Bud"/Costner worked for you, you'd probably be tempted to replace him with an illegal alien, too. But, then again, that's Hollywood: They can't even tell the truth about "insourcing"--and that it's taking jobs from good, hard-working employees.

Worst line in the movie (uttered by campaign manager Nathan Lane to his liberal Democrat Presidential candidate Dennis Hopper):

You wanna win? Go and rip the Statue of Liberty a new one.

Bottom line: This movie stank. It was long, boring, not funny, and not exciting. I laughed like maybe once at the dopey "jokes." So uninteresting I briefly fell asleep. But don't worry--the non-stop cloying, maudlin and pseudo-patriotic muzak throughout the movie kept me awake, annoyed, and mostly distracted from trying to hear the dialogue.

If Kevin Costner's "Bud" is the kind of voter that elects Presidents, perhaps we should become a dictatorship. On the other hand, we already have this system in place, because all of the Presidential candidates go on Oprah. But you'd never see a movie like this, where the one vote is cast by a typically stupid female Oprah worshipper.

The motto of this movie should be, "One man. One vote. No clue."

SPOILER: After sitting through this horrid film for two hours, there's no "pay-off," even if you could legitimately call the end of this movie a pay-off. We're not shown for whom Bud casts his vote. He goes into the polling booth, and the movie ends. Not that I really cared who he voted for. I just wanted him and his movie to go away.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 02:01 PM

July 29, 2008

Shocked by Great, Patriotic "Bottle Shock"

By Debbie Schlussel

I just got back from screening the movie, "Bottle Shock," which comes out in most of the country, next week. It is one of the great movies of the year and captures the great can-do spirit of America, so well. I'll be reviewing it very soon. But for now, watch this trailer, and you'll see why you must see it. I'm grateful to reader Ari, who in 2006, turned me on to the great true story behind this movie. As Ari said, then, "It warms my heart." Mine, too.:

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Posted by Debbie at 02:21 PM

July 25, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Funny But Vile "Step Bros", Gayest Anti-Christian Movie Ever-"Brideshead"; UPDATED: Horrid/Morbid "X-Files" Review

By Debbie Schlussel

Not much of a great selection at the box office, this weekend.

* "The X-Files: I Want to Believe": I want to believe I didn't just waste two hours at this horrid piece of doggie dung. Because the studio did not offer a full critic advanced screening, that was a sure sign it was crap. And it was. Plus, they made both stars available for even the tiniest radio stations' interviews--again, not a good sign. It's been six years since the TV show of the same name went off the air, and let's hope it's far more than six before they ever make another flick based on the show. This is simply awful.

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Not sure how this bloody, morbid movie, featuring severed heads and limbs managed to pull a PG-13 rating, but DO NOT take your kids to see this long boring movie in which the psychic who leads former FBI agents Mulder and Scully to the murderer, is a child molesting Catholic priest who raped 30-odd alter boys. He's played by Billy Connolly--that annoying Scottish "comedian" who's never funny. And there's enough screaming, whining, and bitching by the aging Gillian Anderson (as Scully) to last five decades of soap operas. The overwrought melodramatics--please, make it stop. But even with all that, I fell asleep--it was that slow, boring, and terrible--and didn't miss much.

Agents Mulder and Scully, as we know, are the FBI agents who investigate the paranormal. The movie starts with them gone for years from the agency. Mulder is a hermit whose career has been ruined and discredited by the agency, which has brought him up on charges. Mulder is a practicing medical doctor, trying to save her patients, one of whom is dying of a rare brain disease. She's looking into DNA experiments. Meanwhile, the FBI has an agent missing, and they come to Mulder and Scully for help. All is forgiven, if he'll only return, which he does. Looking for the agent takes him--via the priest molester psychic--to a farm where they experiment on dogs and humans with DNA.

A lot of severed heads--including one that's still alive--and body parts in this long, boring, preposterous plot. This movie is a mess, filled with complicated, non-sensical stories about a missing FBI agent and doctors who work with DNA to sever heads and give them new bodies they sew on so they can live. Yes, I just spoiled it, but who cares. It sucks.

Yes, some TV shows need to end when the ratings go down, and never come back. The world will be better off if Scully and Mulder stay retired and paranormal forces have their way. That--and most other things--are better than sitting through this painful movie.

Mucho skipworthy.

THREE MARXES
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* "Step Brothers": I'm embarrassed to say that I laughed (a lot) at this disgusting, vile, lewd, and vulgar--but very funny--movie. The language and images were just non-stop filthy and Guh-Ross.

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly play 39- and 40-year-old immature moocher losers, each of whom still lives with his single parent. When the parents get married, they move into the same room. Initially, they hate each other, then they ally against the successful, annoying older brother of Ferrell's character and plot to stay in the house their parents want to sell.

There's a lot of ad-libbing and each gag goes on too long, like a bad SNL skit made viler. Just, ahem, a "taste" of the disgusting stuff in this flick: Will Ferrell's character licks dog-poop, and there's a close-up--extreme close-up--of it. YUCK! Also, Will Ferrell puts his testicles (it's a prosthetic, but still, eeuuww!) all over a drum set. And, as I recall, there are quite a few naked men's butts. Blecccch. NOT FOR KIDS. Oy.

ONE MARX (DISGUSTING AND VILE, Though Funny)
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* "Brideshead Revisited": You already know you'll hate this movie when you note that it has the same name as and is based on the same story as a BBC/PBS TV series of the same name. Not only did I not want to "Revisit," I didn't want to "visit" in the first place.

This horrid, depressing, boring, slow movie is about a middle class, atheist Oxford student during pre-WWII. He meets a flamboyantly gay student from an extremely wealthy English family of nobility. The gay falls in love with him, and they kiss. Gay Mardi Gras in Italy ensues. And then he falls for the gay guy's sister, and they kiss (and sleep together). But the mother keeps them apart and marries her off to someone else because she won't allow her daughter to marry a non-believer and non-Catholic. The gay guy becomes an alcoholic and dies young of some sort of illness in Africa. The sister leaves him. Their controlling, religious Christian mother dies. And then WWII starts. The end.

Religious people in this movie are evil, cold, and extremely mean. The movie is a complete attack on religion and G-d with no basis. Extremely anti-Christian.

Just awful. Pointless. And skipworthy.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 03:13 PM

Video of the Day #2: HILARIOUS--When Indie Met Sarah Jess-Equine

By Debbie Schlussel

Also sent by reader Ari, this trailer for a scary, but really funny, new, um, movie is, hilarious (and only 47 secs):

Posted by Debbie at 12:58 PM

Video of the Day: "Cracked" on Dark Knight Action Figs

By Debbie Schlussel

Yesterday, I cited the "Dark Knight" Joker terrorist action figure for kids as an example of "The Dark Knight" movie engaging in the marketing of terrorism and gratuitous violence as sexy for kids. Even Batman, himself--actor Christian Bale--told "Entertainment Tonight" that his young daughter's favorite character is The Joker. Sick.

What I didn't realize is that reader Ari had sent me this video from the humorous Cracked, making my exact point in a funny way. Must Watch. How did I miss Ari's timely e-mail? (Sorry, Ari.) He wrote:

Here's a GREAT parody of the violent movie being marketed to kids.

Click on over. 50 seconds makes my point.

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Posted by Debbie at 12:53 PM

July 24, 2008

Here's Why I Have the Prob w/ "Dark Knight" and Kids

By Debbie Schlussel

**** UPDATE, 07/25/08: See Cracked's funny video parody of this absurd marketing of violence and evil to young kids ****

When I reviewed "The Dark Knight" and was asked about it last week, I told people that while I loved the new Batman movie, I was dismayed at the gratuitous violence (by the bad guy--the Joker--some of it against innocent people) in a movie aimed at and marketed to young kids.

People challenged me for examples that it's marketed to kids (even though it's obvious that little kids will want to see anything that's Batman--it's known as a kids' superhero). Well, over the weekend in USA Weekend, there was a full-page spread from Wal-Mart of "Dark Knight" toys and capes and bat mobiles aimed at young boys. And there was this portion of the ad, in which kids are pimped on a "Dark Knight" The Joker Action Figure, complete with the hand-held rocket launcher he shoots at police and Batman.

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You want your kid playing with this? As I noted, in "The Dark Knight," the Joker murders, via stabbing or point-blank range shooting, almost 100 people, many of them innocent. And he speaks graphically of how his face was carved up and how he wants to do so with others. The Joker is a terrorist. You want your kid playing with this? Why not just buy him a Bin Laden action figure? Then you'll be honest about what you're really buying your kid.

The Wal-Mart ad says,

Get all the new Batman gear without having to tighten your utility belt.

How 'bout tightening your parental responsibility belt? Unfortunately, few parents actually do that, these days.

Sad. Very sad.

Posted by Debbie at 01:47 PM

July 22, 2008

Old School Videos of the Day: Cool Moves From the '80s

By Debbie Schlussel

Remember this old school hip-hop from the '80s--"Breakin'"--brought to you by the silver screen Israeli producing team of Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan a/k/a Golan-Globus and Cannon Films/The Cannon Group? While the music may not stand the test of time (it does in my view--both songs are part of my work-out music (including the Chaka Khan song), so sue me), the breakdancing moves still do. I remember in the '80s when we had breakdancing contests and parties (I went to a Black high school).

None of the stars of this movie went on to big careers, but if you notice at about 1:03 in the first video, Jean Claude Van Damme is in a cheesy, black wife-beater tank top and shorts, dancing and clapping. The cheesy part as an extra paid off, since Golan-Globus produced a lot of his starring role films. Pro-cop-killing Ice T was also in the movie. In the first video, you can see that this movie had the same formula as all the '80s dance movies, like "Flashdance," where the stereotypical "uptight, stuffy," old White people are at first stern and disapproving and then start dancing and cheering. Second video shows the Black dancers teaching the stiff White chick how to be hip.

(You can see a better view of Van Damme at 1:20 in this higher quality version, which can't be embedded here.)

Even the trailer was cool:

And, no, I was not a fan of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." So, I'm not that cheesy.

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Posted by Debbie at 03:14 PM

Meet ABC News' Newest Reporter, Ben Affleck: Fan of Chomsky, Hater of America; Gives Oprah Mag his Anti-U.S. Book List

By Debbie Schlussel

What do you do when you're a fat, washed up actor who could never act, is tired of waxing your back, and now can't attract movie-goers? Oh, and you can no longer attract media attention as Mr. J-Lo a/k/a Ben-Lo?

Well, if you're Ben Affleck, you become a reporter for ABC News. Affleck has been hired by the network news division to shoot a "documentary" (sounds like Michael Moore, only not as fat . . . yet) for "Nightline," the ABC's latenight news show. Yup, sadly, I had to "read" the July 14, 2008 issue of Us Magazine to learn this. See the caption on the pic, below.

I'm not sure if this--a left-wing movie star now serving up the news--should be a source of irritation because Affleck's far-left, airheaded views are really no different from those of most other network TV news reporters. His are just out there for us to see.

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Meanwhile, the arrogant Affleck tells the August issue of Oprah's "O" Magazine that among his five fave books--the ones he says "made a difference" in his life--is far-left Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent." What a coinky-dink: Affleck and tyrant Hugo Chavez (and airhead swimsuit model, Elle MacPherson) are fans of the same hate-America author. Says Comrade Ben:

I'm grateful to the book for introducing me to Chomsky, a political analyst [with] startling briliance. . . . Chomsky is a writer I believe everyone should read.

Red Ben also notes something he's noted before--on Oprah's daytime talk show--that he's also in love with Howard Zinn and his "A People's History of the United States," a far left, hate-America, revisionist "history" of America that is sadly a textbook in many U.S. classrooms.

In the rest of new ABC News reporter Affleck's choices, Jihad Ben--who tells us he majored in Middle Eastern studies in college, but doesn't tell us that he dropped out of college after barely a year of attending--attacks American foreign policy in the Mid-East. Methinks there's not much about the U.S. that Ben Affleck likes, except the green America's strangely stuffed in his bank account and the freedom of speech that allows him to put forth his incredible arrogance and hatred for this country.

Please, Ben, go back to making great movies like "Gigli."

Posted by Debbie at 02:04 PM

July 21, 2008

Movie About Arab Daughter in U.S. Paints Americans as Cold, Abusive, Pedophile Soldiers

By Debbie Schlussel

As I've repeatedly noted, August is well known as the cemetery for bad movies. If a movie debuts then, it means that studios and theater owners expect it to die a quick death.

And August is when "Towelhead" debuts. I haven't yet seen this creepy movie about Jasira, the 13-year-old daughter of an Arab and a cold, slutty American chick. But it features such "delightful" scenes as the father taking his daughter to buy tampons and discussing "flow." GUH-ROSS.

Then, there is the way the Americans treat this Arabic girl. A neighbor, an American military reservist, is a pedophile who essentially rapes (and sodomizes) her. Her mother is a mean, uncaring person, whose second husband also abused Jasira. It seems the only thing accurate in this movie is that her father is upset she's dating a Black guy. We'll see how accurate it gets, as in, does he honor-kill her, like Sarah and Aminah Said? Here's the trailer and a clip ("Sharmuta" means whore, but the word in Arabic is far more offensive than "whore"):

Just so you know, actress Summer Bishil, who plays the wronged Arab daughter in this movie also plays the wronged Muslim daughter in another anti-American movie slated for the August cinema cemetery, "ICE The Movie," a/k/a "Crossing Over."

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Posted by Debbie at 01:02 PM

July 18, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Great/Violent "Dark Knight," Homo Mia!, Fat Muslim Cheating/Agit-Prop Flick, Charming Senior Love Story, Cool Murder Mystery

By Debbie Schlussel

Lots of interesting flicks debuting this weekend at the box, and three of them I actually liked. But I will never ever forget the scene seared in my mind of a morbidly obese Muslim in London having sex with (or is that on?) his wife. GUH-ROSS!

* "The Dark Knight": This second installment in the Christian-Bale-as-Batman series is a great dark adventure, but too violent for kids. Read my complete review.

THREE REAGANS (Minus One Reagan for Extreme Violence in Movie Kids Will See in Droves)
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* "Mamma Mia!": More like Homo Mia. This truly painful musical aimed at women and gay men is a must-not-see tribute to slut-dom and single motherhood. Read my complete review.

THREE MARXES
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* "Elsa & Fred": Who knew that a Spanish film about two very senior citizens could be so charming and touching? Even if you hate chick flicks--as I do--you'll enjoy this movie, which includes Rome and a tribute to a classic movie. The quirky Elsa and the uptight Fred are fun to watch, and it's good to know that you can find love even in your life's twilight. At arthouse theaters. In Spanish with subtitles, so you have to read quickly to watch.

THREE REAGANS
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* "Tell No One": A great thriller with a too-convenient ending, this French murder mystery focuses on a doctor who remains the key suspect in his wife's murder. But ten years later, no-one is ever arrested and suddenly evidence starts pointing to him, even though mysterious online videos suggest his wife is still alive. So which is it? Is she dead? Did he kill her? Or is it all a set-up? With English subtitles, so if you don't speak French, you'll have to work. Well worth it, though the ending is slightly cheating. In arthouse theaters.

THREE REAGANS
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* "Brick Lane": Let me start by saying that the very unpleasant scene of a morbidly obese Muslim dude having sex on top of his wife will, sadly, be forever be burned into my mind. Offensive to my eyes in so many ways.

A Muslim village girl from Bangladesh, whose mother committed suicide, is married off to a VERY FAT British Bangladeshi Muslim. She moves to Great Britain, where she is unhappily married to the fat dude, who has repeated employment and money probs and is kind of a failure.

She has an affair with a younger Muslim guy who becomes a radical. In the meantime, her husband borrows money from a Muslim woman in the Muslim London neighborhood, and they have to pay exorbitant interest (interesting, since the Koran prohibits Muslims from paying interest and Muslims from charging other Muslims interest). The woman's husband learns of the affair and doesn't honor kill her. Yup, it's fiction. And BOOOOOOORING.

Plus, aren't you tired of movies showing Muslims around the world upset over the 9/11 attacks, especially since London Muslims--like the ones in this movie--continue to celebrate those attacks 7 years later? Like I said, it's fiction. Ditto for the scenes in which we're repeatedly told about and shown this mythical "backlash" that never happened to Muslims after 9/11--which, in this movie, is what caused Muslims in London to become extremists and terror supporters (even though they always were).

Again, FICTION. The only accurate line of dialogue in this movie is when the morbidly obese Muslim hubby shouts,

Why did Allah curse me with daughters?

Yup, ain't it grand to be a Muslima. In arthouse theaters.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 07:05 PM

"Mamma Mia!"? More like Homo Mia: Former James Bond Falls Far in Painful Movie Aimed at Gays, Women; Feminist Attack on Batman

By Debbie Schlussel

Did you know that feminists are trying to turn this weekend's box office take into a battle of the sexes? They are, and in this "Mamma Mia!" versus "The Dark Knight" contest, it's really no contest. They're gonna lose.

When the "Sex and the City" movie came out earlier this year, I wrote that it was a national IQ test for women. If you liked it, you failed. What I didn't realize is that it was a two-part test.

The second part debuted at Midnight, last night. It's "Mamma Mia!" More like Homo Mia! This dopey, annoying musical set to the songs of '70s pop group, "ABBA," is an ode to slutdom and what gay men want to project onto straight women and their relationships.

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And it's painful. The three middle-aged, haggish, oversexed women at the center of it all--Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski, and some chick with a butch haircut and an English accent, whose name I don't care to know--are the "Sex and the City" women in ten years. Blechhhh! Who wants to see and hear three dirty old women simultaneously having hot flashes and yearning for orgasms, set to music now played only in gay dance clubs?

Middle-aged women and gay men. That's who. Yesterday, I arrived late to the screening of the movie, and I went to a midnight showing to see the beginning that I missed. Amidst a cinema multiplex filled with males attending several sold-out showings of the excellent-but-violent Batman flick, "The Dark Knight," the theater also had the midnight showing of "MM!" thinking that women would flock to see it, while their husbands and boyfriends saw Batman. No such "luck." In the empty theater along with me were three middle-aged women and a gay guy. In his effeminate voice, he said to me, "I'm not a Batman guy, I'm a Mamma Mia guy." No kidding. (Except maybe about the "guy" part.)

There's some sort of weird feminist anti-Batman backlash hype the press is trying to generate against "The Dark Knight" and in favor of "MM!" USA Today did a whole piece on this movie as "The Dark Knight" for women and a sign of grrrrlpower at the movies. And this weekend, NOW--the National Organization for (Ugly) Women--is billing its three-day annual conference in Bethesda, Maryland, with this theme:

No Capes, No Masks, No Boundaries: Feminist Super-Women Unite!

Uh, no thanks. "Super-Women"? There's a reason no-one uses "Wonder Woman" and "NOW" together in the same sentence.

Since it's a musical, you have to wonder why they cast Pierce Brosnan as one of the male co-stars. Hearing him attempt to sing is like hearing the sound of animals being beheaded. Truly distressing and excruciatingly painful. I searched in vain for the industrial strength earplugs I keep in my purse.

It's truly embarrassing and pathetic to see the fall of this formerly suave James Bond now forced into singing, karaoke-style, the playlist of an Elton John-George Michael soiree, while wearing--as he does at the movie's conclusion--a fluorescent, tight jumpsuit and platform high-heeled boots. How do you say "007" in fruity-speak?

Then, there's the plot of this thing: Meryl Streep plays a single mother hippie whose daughter is getting married. The daughter doesn't know who her real dad is and surreptitiously read mom's diary to find out. During the time she was conceived her mother slept with three different men, so she invites all of them to her wedding. The tripartite family values of being a slut, I guess.

In the meantime, Streep is trying to dissuade her daughter from getting married and push her toward pursuing her career instead, which (this isn't a spoiler because you really don't care anyway) is what she ultimately does. And all the while, Streep's two slutty, middle-aged friends in heat are desperately hitting on anything in pants. Embarrassing and classless.

The message of the movie: marriage is bad, and ho-dom and sluttery ain't no big thang. Everything all works out in happiness at the end of such a lifestyle. At least, on-screen.

Most of the movie is women crying, weeping, or shrieking hysterically. Who needs it? The "jokes" in this movie are so bad, it's not funny. I didn't laugh once. Listening to the throngs of mindless women who crowded the evening screening cackling loudly and non-stop at the most lame of lines and scenes drove me crazy. It was unbearable. As was their applause and standing ovation at the end for this unworthy, substandard, mindless waste. Oy vey.

If there's one thing that's good about this movie, it's Meryl Streep's surprisingly decent singing voice. But it's not enough to justify wasting ten bucks and two hours.

It's not that I don't like musicals--one of my favorite movies is the classic, "Showboat." And last year's "Sweeney Todd" was cool. It's that I don't like dumb movies that waste two hours of my life I'll never get back.

And I don't dislike some of ABBA's hits either. It's just that in this movie, the '70s called, and they want their songs back. The members of the now defunct ABBA are not complaining, of course, because this is a new and expanding revenue source for them. And I can't blame them.

But if you're a guy whose wife or girlfriend wants to drag you to see "Mamma Mia," take it from me, kill yourself first. You'll thank me from your man cave in Heaven.

Keep your manhood--and sanity--intact, and go see "The Dark Knight," instead.

The only ABBA song that truly fits here is "S.O.S." But this ship is beyond saving.

THREE MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 01:35 PM

July 17, 2008

Review: "The Dark Knight"--Great Movie, But NOT For Your Kids

By Debbie Schlussel

Tonight at 12:01 a.m., "The Dark Knight," the latest Batman movie and 2nd installment featuring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, debuts at theaters.

It's a great movie, with a terrific--if gritty and graphic--message of good versus evil. Batman refuses to kill anyone, and he insists that his non-superhuman counterpart, District Attorney Harvey Dent (the talented Aaron Eckhart), abide by his standards. And to hold up Gotham and justice Batman even takes the blame for bad things he didn't do. Batman never stoops to the level of his enemies.

The mob is still controlling Gotham through five banks that it runs. While Dent has put half the mob away, a Chinese money-launderer with a corporation that does the laundering, is helping the organized crime syndicate evade justice.

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But the Joker steps in. He wants a piece of the action--half of it--from the mob. And he shows them--brutally--that he means business. Soon he's working with them--or they're working for him. Everyone's scared of the Joker, because he cannot be reasoned with. He's insane.

The Joker realizes that he must take Batman down to keep the order in the chaos he's created. So he takes hostages, kills people, and blows things up, until he gets Batman to appear and play his game. To make matters worse, there's the burgeoning problem of mere mortal Batman copycats, who don the cape and try to play the hero, all over Gotham. I don't want to say too much more about the plot, as it would spoil the movie for you.

At 2.5 hours, the movie goes quickly and doesn't seem that long, though there are several stories going on, and we meet an interesting looking new villain, other than the Joker. There is a lot of action, a lot of explosions and things on fire. Interesting terrorist plots--some a little too interesting and real. But definitely creative and believable. Your heart is definitely pumping seeing this. It's fun, exciting, and has everything you'd expect from a superhero movie (except a little too much violence). And the use of technology in the plot of this film is very cool. The movie is partially shot in IMAX (with the very heavy IMAX cameras).

Michael Caine, as Bruce Wayne's Butler, and Morgan Freeman as his gadget-guru and CEO of his company, is also back. Caine warns Batman that fighting for good and winning against the most evil people always has its very high costs. But in the end, it is worth it.

Katie Holmes as prosecutor Rachel Dawes is replaced by the homely Maggie Gyllenhaal (who famously said America deserved 9/11), who is annoying in her wispy, babytalk voice. It stretches belief that playboy Bruce Wayne--whom we see with lots of beautiful airhead models--would go for this woman, who doesn't add much to the movie. Not believable when the Joker repeatedly tells her how "beautiful" she is. She's now dating Harvey Dent, the D.A., though Bruce is still hopelessly in love with her.

There was one weird inconsistency I noticed. The Joker's hair is black and greasy for most of the movie, but in some scenes toward the end, it's suddenly dark green. Perhaps a mistake in makeup with the actors that played the Joker after Heath Ledger's death?

The always great Christian Bale is fine here, too. But there isn't a lot of Bruce Wayne onscreen (and you know that Batman doesn't talk a lot with his husky voice), and Heath Ledger's Joker--Ledger is thoroughly convincing and does a great job of portraying the vicious, sinister, unbalanced-but-calculating villain--gets more screentime than anyone, including Batman. Ledger is clearly the movie's star, and that's the scary part. In a way, it's as if Hollywood is choosing this evil, vicious, sick villain over the hero.

And, as I wrote earlier this week, I'm troubled that this movie--which kids will want to see and which features a comic book superhero marketed to young kids--is very violent, though bloodless. By my count, upwards of 50 and maybe almost 100 people--all of them killed by the bad guys and most of them innocent people--are killed by gunshot at close range or stabbing. And all of them are killed by the bad guys. That's not to mention the hideous disfiguring scars on the Joker's (Heath Ledger) face, "extending" his smile. There are several graphic descriptions given by the Joker regarding how his face was carved up. It is gruesome for young people to see.

Some people are excusing this by saying that this Batman movie isn't being marketed toward kids. But that's like saying a particular genre of Lucky Charms isn't being marketed toward kids. We know Batman as a superhero and icon of childhood hero-worship and delight. To make such a violent Batman film isn't fair to the few responsible parents who will have to struggle to say "no" to their kids' request to see a Batman movie. It's rated PG-13, and I suspect it missed an R rating because it doesn't show much of the blood that results from so many killings (which is a bad thing--it somewhat makes killing look painless and consequence-less).

The title isn't a lie--this movie is far darker than "Batman Begins."

And while I recommend you go see it--again the message is GREAT, I also recommend you leave the kids at home.

THREE REAGANS (One Reagan Deducted Because of Too Much Violence in Movie Kids Will See)

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Posted by Debbie at 02:25 PM

July 15, 2008

CORRECTED: On Tom Cruise's Self-Celebration: Is It Just Me . . .

By Debbie Schlussel

**** CORRECTION: For some reason, even though I posted the pic of Tom Cruise Jumping on the Oprah Couch, it didn't post, and instead featured a pic of his recent wedding, not my intent. Fixed now. Scroll Down. ****

. . . or is there just something weird and wrong about this? Tom Cruise is marking 25 years in showbiz in a very ostentatious and conspicuous way.

Maybe it's just that everything Tom Cruise does gives off this strange vibe. But this ad, below, has been running on a number of movie websites, and it's just odd. Yes, we all like to mark our anniversaries professionally, but I can't imagine the late great Jimmy Stewart engaging in this kind of self-congratulatory promotion for 25 years in acting. And I can't remember any other living actors doing it. So, it seems strange to me that Tom Cruise is doing it.

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And rather than this shadowy profile of his face and outline of his head--which seems like something a follower of the L. Ron Hubbard science fiction religion would do--I think that this would make a better ad for Tom Cruise's 25th anniversary.

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Then, we'd all click over.

Posted by Debbie at 06:12 PM

July 14, 2008

Even in IMAX Theater, Dark Knight is Too Dark for Kids

By Debbie Schlussel

This is a big movie screening day, thus my absence from the site, but I'll be posting stuff on and off for the rest of the day, with a lot of new stuff tonight and tomorrow, too (including new, VERY disturbing information about now-fired FOX News/NewsCorp Muslim anchor Fanchon Stinger--really disturbing stuff).

I just got back from a special screening, "The Dark Knight," the second installment of the Christian Bale (as Batman) series on the comic book superhero. It was a great movie, and on top of that--the screening was held at an IMAX theater at one of my three favorite museums on the planet, "Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village," which Detroiters know as the giant museum and grounds featuring homes and buildings from great historical American figures. If it's old fashioned Americana, it's at Henry Ford. It's America's greatest history museum, in my view--one of the good things the anti-Semitic Henry Ford left.

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(My other fave museums are the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, and the little-known but very important and interesting National Museum of American Jewish Military History--also in DC--which documents the service and sacrifice Jewish Americans proudly gave in every war, including the Revolutionary War.) If you are ever in the Detroit area, a visit to Henry Ford and Greenfield Village is a must.

I've never before seen a movie in an IMAX theater before, and it is "WOW!" Like they say, "Once you go IMAX, you never go BAX." I know--not funny. Don Rickles, I'll never be. But I try.

Anyway, while I really liked "The Dark Knight," I was struck by the massive amount of violence and killing throughout the movie (committed by the bad guys), which I found disturbing for a movie that is being heavily marketed to kids in promotions and toys. And there are also the multiple graphic descriptions of facial disfigurement with a knife, as told by the Joker.

In that respect, it's significantly different from "Batman Begins," the first one with Christian Bale as the "Caped Crusader." the movie is extremely violent and probably almost 100 people are stabbed or shot to death at close range during the movie. Yes, the message of good triumphing over evil is there, but there are so many scenes that really aren't suitable to kids. I'm disappointed that so many parents will take their kids to this 2.5 hours of desensitization to violence.

Christian Bale is one of my favorite living actors, and he's good as usual here, though he's not onscreen a lot. The late Heath Ledger as the Joker is the real star of the movie and gets most of the screen time, as do other characters. Another drawback is the starring role of Maggie Gyllenhaal in the top female billing as Rachel Dawes, Bruce Wayne's true love. As readers will recall, I lambasted the universally homely--both inside and out--Gyllenhaal, who said American deserved and is to blame for the 9/11 attacks. Her close relatives are well-known left-wing activists. I had to laugh when the Joker repeatedly tells Gyllenhaal how beautiful she is.

Clearly, the Joker needs to get his eyes checked.

Stay tuned for my complete review, coming very soon.

Posted by Debbie at 02:18 PM

July 11, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Okay "Center of Earth," Ho-Hum "Dave," FANTASTIC "Roman De Gare"; UPDATE: "Hellboy II" Review Added

By Debbie Schlussel

This week doesn't bring a lot of exciting fare, but it does bring a couple of good movies to take your kids to see. Because of a screening conflict, I did not review "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," but will try to see and review it before sundown (and will post here if I do). By far, the best new offering is "Roman De Gare," one of the best thrillers I've seen in a long time.

* "Hellboy II: The Golden Army": I'm not a huge fan of Hellboy--either the first movie or the comic books. It's just not my kinda superhero. I find Hellboy dull and the guy who plays him--Ron Perlman--even more so. He's just not interesting or cool. Simply boring. Ditto on all of that for his girlfriend, the firestarter played by Selma Blair, who is just not a good actress.

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(For the record, I went to Hillel Day School--a swanky private Jewish Conservative day school in the Detroit area (I was the poorest kid in the school)--with her and her sister. She is now such a self-hater that she denies she was ever Jewish, and according to Jewish law, she may not have been. Her real name is Selma Beitner (Blair is her middle name).)

I didn't think this sequel was bad. It was just the same as the original: just okay, and kind of dull. Not much to write home about. In this installment, Hellboy and his fellow cast of friendly monsters must stop an evil Prince from a non-human race from re-awakening the Golden Army into battle against earth's humans. Ho-hum. Not exciting, or even suspenseful, and it's like you really don't care much what happens. And you know a superhero movie is weak when two of the superheroes sing Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" at length. Pure filler, and not very funny. Just cutesy and corny.

I also noted that, while a number of the monsters were interesting, a lot of them looked similar to the unusual monsters with eyes on their hands and wings that I saw in "Pan's Labyrinth." And that's no surprise, given that Guillermo Del Toro directed that and this.

There was at least one joke, about the F-word, that I was surprised they put in this movie aimed at kids. I also thought the movie was pretty violent and bloody for a kids movie. At almost two hours, though, this slow-moving movie might either make them restless or--as it did with me--put 'em to sleep.

ONE-AND-A-HALF-REAGANS
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* "Journey to the Center of the Earth": This movie, based on the Jules Verne sci-fi novel of the same name, is remade almost every decade. In my view, none of them topped the charming, if hokey, original 1959 version, starring James Mason and Pat Boone. And this one is no exception to that view.

That said, this Brendan Fraser remake is a not-bad update though it's very dumbed down. It does, however, have a few very cool tricks because it's 3-D (though I've seen better 3D, as in "Beowulf"). Characters twice spot in what seems your face because of the 3D, and we see a tape measure sprung in our eye, among other cool 3-D tricks.

It's not nearly as exciting, scary, or cliff-hanger-esque as the 1959 version, but it'll do. The story is basically the same--a professor travels to Iceland to explore the inside of mountains and volcanoes and finds amidst the earth's center, a whole panoply of wonders--dinosaurs and other giant beings, jewel-impacted walls and caverns, giant plants and mushrooms, and a number of other cool, unusual life. And as in the original, the professor tries to escape and come back to earth.

If your child is interest in science, this is a great movie. But if your child is not interested in science, perhaps this will trigger that interest. Recommended, though kinda cheesy and sappy for my taste.

TWO-AND-A-HALF-REAGANS
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* "Meet Dave": This latest Eddie Murphy vehicle is being heavily marketed to urban audiences. The movie isn't inane or terrible. It's just okay--very dull, ho hum, with bathroom humor mixed in to entertain the less sophisticated kiddies.

A group of advanced aliens--who like like tiny humans--populate a space ship that looks like Eddie Murphy, who is also the ship's captain. They've come to earth because their planet will die in less than a generation, and they have a rock-like sphere that will magically suck the salt out of the oceans and re-energize their planet. But earth will die in the process, which doesn't bother them because they see us as despicable, lower life forms.

But the sphere has disappeared, and while they are searching for it, they meet Gina and her son, and eventually come to like them. In the meantime, two cops are on the trail of the alien.

If the story doesn't sound too exciting, that's 'cuz it isn't. It's not very funny, and the juvenile bathroom humor and stupid gay jokes don't make it more so. "Coming to America" it ain't. And why Murphy, alone among the aliens, has a bad foreign accent is not explained. The rest of the aliens look and sound like Americans.

Not objectionable, just not great or worth ten bucks. It's fine to take your kids to see, though. It's just that "Journey to the Center of the Earth" is a far better choice.

ONE-AND-A-HALF-REAGANS
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* "Roman De Gare": I hate subtitles as much as the next guy. (In this case, I didn't really need them because I understand most French.) But don't let the subtitles and the work you have to do reading them quickly, dissuade you from seeing this. Roman De Gare" is one of the best thrillers I've seen, as much as I hate to recommend anything French. The movie is mostly at arthouse theaters.

It's hard to explain the plot much without giving it away, but it's a very clever set of twists and turns you can't predict and which keep you guessing (though I thought the ending was a slight robbery). A woman is dumped by her fiance at a gas station, when he drives off in her car. She's stranded there all night, when she finally decides to accept a ride from a strange looking stranger. At the same time, a serial killer of women is on the loose, a woman's husband is missing, and a famed mystery writer employs a ghostwriter. Which is the strange looking man? Is he more than one of those, or is he none of them at all? I can't say more, or it will ruin the movie.

So fun and enjoyable, you want it to keep on going after it ends and you forget you're reading subtitles. A terrific mystery. Definitely see it, if you like a good thriller. But not for kids because of suggestive situations and four-letter words.

FOUR REAGANS

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Posted by Debbie at 03:59 PM

July 10, 2008

Is "Traitor" Another "America Created the Islamic Terrorists" Movie?

By Debbie Schlussel

Is "Traitor"--the movie coming out in late August a/k/a movie hell, where all bad movies are sent--yet another movie, which blames America for Islamic terrorists? It looks like it based on the trailer (below) and the movie synopsis.

What do you think? It stars Don Cheadle as the U.S.-trained Islamic terrorist and Jeff Daniels as some shadow operative/U.S. government handler of Cheadle. (Full disclosure: For several years, I was a celebrity golfer at Daniels' charity golf tournament benefitting his Purple Rose Theater. Another full disclosure: I stink at golf.)

When strait [sic] arrow FBI agent Roy Clayton (Guy Pearce) heads up the investigation into a dangerous international conspiracy, all clues seem to lead back to former U.S. Special Operations officer, Samir Horn (Don Cheadle). A mysterous figure with a web of connections to terrorist organizations, Horn has a knack for emerging on the scene just as a major operation goes down. The task force links Horn to a prison break in Yemen, a bombing in Nice and a raid in London, but a tangle of contradictoy evidence emerges, forcing Clayton to question whether his quarry is a disaffected former military operative - or something far more complicated. Obsessed with discovering the truth, Clayton tracks Horn across the globe as the elusive ex-soldier burrows deeper and deeper into a world of shadows and intrigue.

As always, I will, G-d-willing, review it when it comes out. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Debbie at 04:31 PM

July 01, 2008

Mid-Week Box Office: "Hancock"

By Debbie Schlussel

I have mixed feelings about "Hancock," the only new release at theaters, this week. The big-budget Will Smith movie that begins at 12:01 a.m., Tonight, begins strong, but finishes "eh." It's no "Independence Day." Not even close.

We see action, literally, from the opening sequence. It's exciting and funny to see John Hancock (Smith), a bungling, loser superhero built in the Dennis Rodman mode. Yes, he saves people. But Los Angelenos aren't appreciative, because in the course of events, he destroys buildings, ruins property, and costs the city millions in collapsed highways and infrastructure. And he's an unkempt drunk.

Even L.A.'s police chief wants Hancock out. He tells the media it would be better if the destructive superhero went to New York to do his bid'ness. It's far more entertaining than a similar storyline in "Superman III," when Superman becomes a bad, bumbling, drunk and screw-up.

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That's the funny part. It's an interesting angle to see a housewife opposed to the idea of her husband bringing a superhero home for dinner. Can you imagine anyone turning down a dinner date with Superman?

In this case, the husband in question is a smarmy, annoying PR man, Ray (Jason Bateman). We see him BS-ing corporate America, trying to force them to adopt his stupid "All Heart" emblem--a throwback to Bono's failed "Red" campaign. No-one's buying.

So when Ray's car is stuck on a railroad track, and Hancock saves him, Ray wants to return the favor by remaking the image of this Bad-Boy superhero, having this superhero take anger management and counseling. At first, that's entertaining, too. For a second.

Then, it gets dull. A clean-cut Hancock in a gay-looking black superhero outfit is boring. So, the movie begins other stories, and it becomes a mishmash. There's the dynamic between Smith and Ray's wife, Charlize Theron (the real-life pro-Castro bitch). We learn big news about her that changes everything into literally a second, separate movie and completely different storyline.

Then, after that, there's a sudden emergence of a substandard criminal Hancock put away. The guy--without any character development--suddenly pops up out of nowhere as Hancock's chief nemesis. Suddenly, Hancock's now vulnerable to human harm. Not believable, since Hancock was immune from bullets and pain. And he conveniently switches back and forth on that.

At an hour-and-a-half, this movie is the perfect length. Not too long, and a lot packed in. It's not that I'm against this movie or was bothered by it. It's quite entertaining. It's just that it's not a great movie. It's okay. Not July-4th-Big-Holiday-Weekend-Box-Office-Worthy.

While there's nothing extremely objectionable, I gotta object to the fact this movie is being marketed to kids as a superhero movie, when it's full of four-letter words, including several where little kids utter them. Aww, isn't that cute. At least, that's what we're supposed to think. And toward the end, it's a little too bloody and violent for kids. I could have also done without the disgusting vision of a man's head literally up the butt of another man's. Was this really necessary? That goes in the category of TMV (Too Much Visual). Ditto for the constant panning of the camera over a Woodstock poster. Gag.

I also need to remind readers of the fact that Will Smith recently praised Hitler. Then, last week, Smith pulled a Michelle Hussein Obama, telling NBC's Matt Lauer, on the "Today" show, that now that Barack Obama looks like he's going to be President, it's a good thing to be an American abroad, whereas before, it wasn't. Then, there is that tax-funded Scientology charter school he and the wife founded. More on that later.

Frankly, I prefer the Bad Boy Bungling Superhero, "Hancock," to the real-life Will Smith. Hancock destroys buildings. Smith destroys brain cells. Shut up and act.

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Posted by Debbie at 10:37 AM

June 27, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Fantastic "Wall-E," Absurd, Bloody "Wanted," Backward "Bab'Aziz"

By Debbie Schlussel

Only one movie I liked at the box office for this weeks new offerings. Not the boring Islamic propaganda film.

* Wall-E: The best animated movie I've ever seen, you forget you're watching animation. This high-tech masterpiece, while marketed to kids by Disney/Pixar, is actually very appealing to adults. I do not have kids, and I would go see this on my own.

There is very little dialogue in this futuristic movie of lonely desolation on earth which ends in optimism and hope. It's also a love story of sorts. Yet, it is exciting and fast-paced.

Set in the year 2700, the earth is abandoned, filled with skyscrapers of trash next to real skyscrapers, which are falling apart. WALL-E is a miniature robot, whose job is to gather trash and compact it into boxes on top of boxes. He's either the last one left on earth or forgotten or both. WALL-E lives his life on earth doing his job alone and hanging around with a friendly cockroach. As he sifts through the trash, WALL-E keeps gadgets and other signs of past humanity (spoons, forks, sporks, etc.) For entertainment, WALL-E watches an old musical movie about love and dreams of holding hands and finding a soulmate like the stars of the old musical.

Soon, a spaceship lands on earth and deposits small robot that looks like a cross between Caspar the Friendly Ghost and an egg. WALL-E and EVE, this new robot, become fast friends as EVE is on her mission to find surviving plant life on earth.

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The humans who used to live on earth, now live on a giant spaceship that looks like a cruise ship. They're all extremely obese, and don't walk. They get around on mobile lounge chairs and communicate via video screen attachments. They seem to have forgotten that they're supposed to be hoping to return to earth, when the mission suddenly confronts them. And some robots, fearing their anachronism, get in the way.

Some have made a big deal of the alleged "global warming" message of the movie. But it's really very vague, and they don't really hit you over the head with it. We're not told why nothing is growing on earth--though it's hinted that's because of all the trash. Still we don't know. It appears humans abandoned earth because of a savvy marketing ploy to buy condos on Mars. And there have been other great movies--"Silent Running" and "Soylent Green," of which this is reminiscent, though far more optimistic at the end--in which there is total desolation on earth and few if any plants grow. Still, they were great movies.

I'm sure you can both enjoy this film with your family and explain to your kids that Ted Turner's scary vision of a scorched earth with no vegetation is fantasy and won't happen.

In the end, this movie is a love story more than anything. Wall-E and EVE fall in love. The dearth in vegetation is just the way to unite them.

Not only was this movie very charming and fun, it was fantastic in its animation, story, and sound effects. Go see it.

FOUR REAGANS
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* Wanted: While this movie is being marketed as an Angelina Jolie vehicle, she does little other than pout, pose, and kick butt. She's a co-star, at best. The real star of this silly movie is James McAvoy. He plays Wesley, a loser, who hates his job and his fat pig boss lady (a dead ringer for Roseanne). Wesley sulks in his cubicle, as his best friend is having an affair with his girlfriend and everyone treats him like dogpoop.

Soon, though, Wesley is recruited by an ancient fraternity of weavers who make textiles, but are actually assassins. They train Wesley to no longer take crap from the world around him, and to become one of them.

The movie is based on graphic novels/comic books and really seems to be a parody, if anything. While a few scenes in the movie are cool--Wesley telling off his obnoxious boss and beating up his friend who is sleeping with his girl--I found it to be absurd, stupid and pointless. And very disturbing, in that it's a ton of very graphic violence, murder, and blood without a point. Gratuitous killing for no reason.

And the bullets go around people's heads to hit targets. Yeah, that's believable. Ditto for the code that automatically comes to this ancient society of weavers, through some master loom. Who is sending the code regarding which person to kill next? G-d? They don't tell us (not that I care, but it makes for an even more preposterous script). Certain skipped stitches just magically appeared.

Most of the story--about training a guy to become an assassin for the wrong people--was a bargain basement rip-off of the great "Batman Begins."

I like guns and shooting more than the next person. But the sheer violence in this movie really does nothing other than show us what a hypocrite Angelina Jolie is. In real life, she pretends to decry violence and is a U.N. goodwill ambassador for refugees. But the pointless, random killing that she glorifies and promotes in this movie is what makes people refugees, amputees, and victims, in the first place. It does mirror the violence and killing, though, that she cheered on as Palestinian children sung of their desire for "revenge" to take Jerusalem and Palestine, when she visited a refugee camp.

Yes, in like the last two minutes there's a faint morality play. But that's not why they made this trash, and it doesn't make up for the 1.5 hours that came before the "do as I say, not as I do--don't kill" message.

Do you think Baby Shiloh, Jolie's unborn twins, or the assorted U.N. of adopted kids she and Brad Pitt have will ever be allowed to see this onscreen tribute to killing? How about her naked butt--also shown on the big screen?

And this chick is our new national saint. Skipworthy.

THREE MARXES
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* Bab'Aziz: The Prince Who Contemplated His Soul: This subtitled Arabic movie showed me one thing--that Arabic movie and TV production really hasn't advanced much beyond the amateurish, provincial stuff you'd see on Iraqi or Egyptian TV in the 1950s or 1960s. Oh, except that they discovered this thing called "color."

The movie looks like one of the Arabs from Lawrence of Arabia made it and in that era. Despite that, this movie is being heavily marketed to the Arab and Muslim communities in places like the Detroit area, as movie studios and distributors try to artificially create a non-existent niche market for bland, boring, unsophisticated Arabic movies like this one. It's not charming, just backward.

You can't blame the Arabs and Muslims for their lack of advancement in story development and video production, though. After all, they have more important industries in which to make their advancements and developments and focus their "ingenuity" and "creativity": the IED industry, the homicide belt bomb industry, and the Mein Kampf/Protocols of the Elders of Zion publishing industry, and the women's sackwear/full-Ninja fashion industry.

Yes, they have advanced video production but only for certain things: beheading videos, Al-Qaeda recruitment videos, and the transmission of anti-American, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic sermons.

This movie was extremely boring. I fell asleep multiple times and didn't miss much. A blind, old dervish (wandering, impoverished Muslim Sufi mystic), Bab'Aziz, and his granddaughter are wandering in the desert to meet with other dervishes at a religious gathering held every 30 years. Along the way, the grandfather tells her a pointless, boring story about a prince who abandons his kingdom. They also meet others wandering in the desert who tell their equally pointless, boring stories. All of the stories are mixed in, make no sense, and are, frankly, stupid. Very hard to follow, not that I wanted to.

The only story I liked was the one told by a man who describes how he found a fountain in the middle of the desert, dove into it and ended up in a palace with many beautiful women who loved and wanted him. He's told by a group of Arabs in the desert, that this is a taste of paradise in heaven. Finally, the Muslims admit that which we all know is true, but which they constantly deny post-9/11: that "heaven"/"paradise" is comprised by the 72 virgins.

In promotional materials sent to me by the movie's publicist, "Bab'Aziz"'s director, Nacer Khemir, says he made this movie

to wipe Islam's face clean with my movie, by showing an open, tolerant and friendly Islamic culture, full of love and wisdom . . . an Islam that is different from the one depicted by the media in the aftermath of 9/11.

That's interesting, since there are no non-Muslims in the movie--we see no tolerance, and--although a bus is mentioned and we briefly see an airplane and a motorcycle--it's as if the movie took place in 1912 or even 1612. And it's not the real Islam of thousands in the streets, cheering on Bin Laden, HAMAS, and Hezbollah. How many Muslims or Arabs do you know who still roam aimlessly in the desert? PUH-LEEZE. How many would take their granddaughter--who'd be relegated to cooking and baby-making--instead of their grandson, who'd be trained in hate and jihad, not told stupid stories of princes and fountains?

The biggest desert they wander in Islam, today, is the empty, thirsty desert of mind, morality, and humanity--which, in the case of that religion, is completely barren.

TWO MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 12:21 PM

June 20, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Several Good Flicks - "Get Smart," "Mongol," Secret Agent "OSS 117," Steroid Docu

By Debbie Schlussel

For a change, there are several good new movies at the box office, this weekend. I did not review "The Love Guru" because it was a choice of screening that or "Get Smart." Based on what I've read thus far, I made the right decision in spades. As for the rest:

* "Get Smart": Read my complete review here. It looks like I'm one of the few critics who liked this movie. But take my advice. It's funny, light, entertaining, and even amusing. These same critics liked the raunchy, unfunny "Knocked Up," but don't like this hilarious tribute to the '60s television series about a secret agent who is a parody of James Bond? I don't get it. But I recommend this movie, except for young kids. Nice escapist stuff, which does Don Adams and Barbara Feldon proud. Again, read my complete review.

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THREE REAGANS.
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* "Mongol": A must-see, whether or not you are a history buff. This is like the Asian version of "Braveheart" or "300." Fun to watch, if a little bloody. And it's probably the best movie I've seen so far this year.

Will the real Genghis Khan please stand up? This masterpiece of a movie is the first of what's meant to be a trilogy about the life of Mongolian warrior king Genghis Khan. We see Khan as a little boy, named "Temudjin," who picks his wife and loses his father to poisoned milk. We see him become a rising warrior and then a prisoner, until he is finally free and regains and increases his stature. The movie follows Khan until he becomes Khan in his 30s.

It's also unique in that it's one of the first to show Khan in a good light and as a kind man who--while a ruthless killer and conqueror--also had principles and a sense of decency, honor, and nobility. And that's why a number of commentators who've seen it disagree on whether or not this is an accurate depiction of the early life of this Khan (king).

The debate really centers on whose history you believe--the history of Khan as written by the conquered, the Arab Muslims and others who hated him because they lost to him; or the history of Khan as written by his own Mongols, of which there is precious far less written history and opinion. This is a first in that it is based on Khan's history as written by the Mongols.

At two hours, the movie is a little slow and seemed somewhat long. But I loved it all the same. Beautifully shot, great warrior scenes, and an interesting take on world history. If you love a great warrior film, this is for you. It's an adventure. You can generally find this film in arthouse theaters.

One drawback: the foreign language film is entirely subtitled, and the subtitles move fast. You have to do some work and work fast.

Here's my favorite "Mongol" poster ("Mongol" in Hebrew):

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FOUR REAGANS.
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* "OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies": If you like the old "Get Smart," from TV in the '60s, or even just James Bond, you'll love this French comedy/parody of Bond set in Egypt in 1955. A bumbling French secret agent, OSS 117, comes to Cairo to determine what happened to a missing French agent posing as a chicken and poultry wholesaler.

Funny, with cool '50s attire and decor (and for the guys, beautiful women whom OSS beds a la Bond), I enjoyed this movie a lot. Best part: When agent OSS 117 is woken up early in the morning by the Islamic call to prayer. First, he shouts something to the effect of, "Shut the F--k Up!" Then, he runs out of his hotel and beats up the man doing the call to prayer. He also repeatedly makes fun of Egypt, Muslims, and Arabs--and accurately calls their society backwards--which surprised me, since there are so many Muslims involved in the production of this film and it's made in France.

In French with subtitles, and they move quickly, so if you don't speak French, you must work fast.

Hilarious, cool, old-style comedy. The movie is generally running in arthouse theaters.

THREE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS.
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"Bigger, Stronger, Faster": When I first saw this movie about steroids, I missed the beginning, and I thought, "What a great documentary!--This is how it's done. Far better than Michael Moore." And it's very good, but after seeing the beginning--and the end--it took what is in the middle down a notch.

This documentary about some Americans' use of steroids and whether or not they are harmful takes the position that steroids aren't so bad, and that there is a mass hysteria and wave of witch hunts against them that aren't deserved. And filmmaker Chris Bell--who once used steroids and whose two brothers still do--was once a writer for WWE. His brother is a has-been, one-time "scout team" wrestler for WWE. Although Bell says he's against steroids and paints his brothers as deceivers and losers for using, his film is mostly a pro-legalization of steroids flick. And the interviews and probing he does is thorough and thought-provoking, while also being very entertaining.

The interview Bell does with Congressman Henry Waxman a/k/a "Nostrilman" is priceless. After showing clips of Waxman "getting tough" in committee hearings against steroid-using pro athletes and those alleged to have used them, Bell asks Waxman a few basic questions that show how clueless this liberal Congressman is. You and I know more than this guy about steroids. Ditto for cigarettes. Waxman is unaware of the legal age to purchase them. Like I said, priceless.

The long-rumored story about Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis using steroids and getting a pass is confirmed. It makes you feel bad for Ben Johnson, whose Olympic medals Lewis got after Johnson was disqualified and banned for using steroids. There's a lot of interesting stuff here and throughout this entertaining movie.

Still, Bell lost me on a couple of things. He starts out his movie implying that it's the fault of someone that he and other Americans use steroids--the fault of . . . Ronald Reagan?! Yes, somehow, by freeing the hostages from Iran and telling the world America is against Khomeini, Reagan caused the outbreak of steroid use. Yup, it's preposterous. But, as he explains it, Chris Bell wanted to be patriotically hulky like Hulk Hogan and Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" and Arnold Schwarzenegger--a frequent target of the movie--so that he could fight that other Muslim, wrestling's "The Iron Sheik."

Then, there's the ending--and the subtitle of the movie: "The Side Effect of Being American." Bell says that we Americans want to do everything stronger and bigger--but easier--than everyone else. But Schwarzenegger, one of the biggest steroid users targeted in the film grew up not in California, but in Austria. This ain't an American phenomenon. And very few Americans as a percentage actually use illegal steroids. It's simply not honest to call this "an American Side Effect." And we don't appreciate the America-bashing, not necessary to make his points. And a turn-off from the movie.

And there are some "points" that aren't strong and could have been left out, like Bell's use of multiple news clips where commentators use the phrase "On Steroids"--ie., "America's Policy in Kosovo is America's Bosnia Policy On Steroids." The use of that phrase doesn't mean anything. In the '80s, lots of commentators used the question, "Where's the Beef?" made popular in Wendy's ads. Does this mean beef is a "bad side effect" of being American? Probably not, unless you're asking PETA activists.

Other than that, this is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen. It's so entertaining, you don't even feel like you're watching a documentary. It's very funny and very relevant and current.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS.

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Posted by Debbie at 03:41 PM

June 18, 2008

Cool, Funny "Get Smart" - Early Review: Finally a Movie Plays Great Tribute to its TV Original

By Debbie Schlussel

As a longtime fan of "Get Smart," I was dreading the new movie version. As a kid, I watched after school re-runs of the show in the late '70s, after my Dad introduced me to the cult comedy classic that was one of his faves. The 1960s Mel Brooks/Buck Henry TV series parodied secret agent movies (like James Bond) during the Cold War and featured a forever screwing-up secret agent, Maxwell Smart, as its lead. I figured this would be yet another cool TV series that Hollywood ruined in a remake.

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New "Get Smart" is Great Continuation of Old "Get Smart"

But happily, I was wrong about this latest silver screen incarnation. The movie is a great, updated, hilarious version of the '60s TV show that plays fine tribute to Agents 86 and 99. In this version, 86 and 99 head to Europe to stop KAOS from its latest doomsday plot involving the development and use of nuclear weapons and its attempt to bomb Los Angeles and kill the President. The movie debuts in theaters on Friday.

I'm no fan of Steve Carell, but here, he does Don Adams proud in the movie, as does Anne Hathaway assuming Barbara Feldon's role as the smart, sexy, feminine 99--though she's somewhat more macho, doing karate kicks and other physical stuff. The other old characters are there, too: The Chief (well done by Alan Arkin), Agent Larrabee, Hymie the Robot--they're all back.

Same for the KAOS v. CONTROL machinations, with KAOS chief, Conrad Siegfried and his top associate Shtarker. Even the old shoephone, the "cone of silence," and the TV show's catchy theme song make appearances. Max's classic lines--"Missed it by that much" and "Would you believe . . ."--are also in there.

And there are some funny cameos--most notably Bill Murray. some conservatives may be offended by President James Caan's caricature of George W. Bush. But it's no lie that he can't correctly pronounce "nuclear." And there's something in it for us, too. The best line in the movie is when the head of KAOS, Siegfried, is told by his portly consiglieri, Shtarker, that his plot to bomb Los Angeles would "kill all those movie stars." Siegfried's sarcastic response:

Yes, what will we do without their razor sharp political advice?

Another great update: Department of Homeland Security and CIA officials are portrayed as the usual buffoons that they are.

One difference from the old "Get Smart," is that in this movie, Agent 99 is the experienced agent, and Maxwell Smart is just starting out. She's sort of "the man" in this relationship--unfortunately an accurate update that reflects too much of today's matriarchal society. We see Max go from analyst to agent. Hilarious is that he passes the agent test with flying colors, especially the essay on existentialism, which he left blank.

The movie is fun, light, escapist stuff that going to the movies is supposed to be about. Although it's almost two hours, it goes by fast. Not all of the jokes succeed, but the majority of them do. Even the few groanworthy ones aren't that groanworthy.

I could have done without Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, as new character, Agent 23. He added nothing to the movie. But the other new additions--including two geeky technology wiz types--added to the update of "Get Smart" from the shoe-phone of the '60s to the cellphones, computers, lasers, and other gadgets of today.

Overall, it's a funny and entertaining movie and far better than the terrible silver screen "Get Smart" flicks with Adams and Feldon--1980's "The Nude Bomb" (minus Feldon) and 1988's "Get Smart Again!" Carell was born to play this role.

One bit of advice, though: Don't take young kids. There are a couple of suggestive situations and even a nude butt. Adams' first "Get Smart" movie--the silly "The Nude Bomb"--featured a bomb that eliminated everyone's clothes. So, this new movie is, in many ways, tame and far milder in comparison.

***

Exit question: Do you know agent 99's real name? In one episode of the TV show, she says it's "Susan Hilton," but later implies that it really isn't. Either way, it's not revealed in this movie.

THREE REAGANS.
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Posted by Debbie at 01:26 PM

June 13, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Okay "Hulk," Lackluster, Enviro-Zealous "Happening"

By Debbie Schlussel

Two okay--but not spectacular--new movie releases at theaters this weekend:

* "The Incredible Hulk": The first motion picture installment of Hulk movies was just "Hulk." Now, this second one--technically not a sequel--is called "The Incredible Hulk." But there was not much that made it more distinctly "incredible" from the lackluster 2003 version. In fact, the only "incredible" thing I learned from this movie is the TMI about how Bruce Banner is unable to have sex because he'll get too excited and turn into the Hulk. Gee, thanks for the tip.

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I liked the first 2/3rds of the movie in which Bruce Banner is in hiding in Brazil, learning how to keep his heartbeat slow and pulse lowered. How he's discovered by the U.S. government, isn't credible, but it's fun to watch him on the run in Latin America and then the U.S., as he tries to elude General Ross' men. It's also a nice update to have Banner, "Mr. Green," in encrypted e-mail contact with "Mr. Blue," a professor who is working to help him get rid of his transformative Hulk blood condition. And I liked this tougher, less-introspective and sensitive Hulk, in contrast to the girlie-Hulk in the first movie.

But once Banner starts fighting a dinosaur-like Hulk nemesis, the CGI battles are fake-looking and not to be believed. For most of the fight Hulk is losing and then he suddenly triumphs because . . .? Well, I can't figure it out, either. Plus, the movie had like five endings and kept on going.

I'm not sure I like Edward Norton's tiny, nerdy guy version of Bruce Banner, any better than Eric Bana's taller, darker, handsomer, introspective Bruce Banner. In truth, neither is superior to TV's Bill Bixby (of whom we get a glimpse in this movie). Liv Tyler's acting as girlfriend Dr. Betty Ross is thin. She employs the same act as in every movie--soft, wispy baby talk. If I wanted that, I'd watch the box set of "The Bachelorette" starring Trista. Yuck. Jennifer Connelly was far superior in the first, poorly-scripted Hulk movie. Ditto for Sam Elliot, replaced by William hurt as General Ross in this one.

Yes, this Hulk movie is faster paced and far more of an action movie, than the boring girlie-man first edition. But some of the action--especially, again, the extended animated CGI fight between Hulk and his new nemesis, a Hulk-like dinosaur-esque monster, on the streets of Manhattan--was just absurd. And seeing the CGI Hulk say, "Hulk smash," when he smashes someone is kind of stupid. Aren't superheroes supposed to be sorta modest?

Nothing objectionable in this movie, and it's entertaining--you can take your kids. It's just that it wasn't all that exciting or magical. And it felt a little long and sluggish. "Iron Man" is the far superior of the Marvel Comics superhero movies, and that's kind of hinted at in a cool way at the end of the film. Another bonus: A cameo by original TV Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, who decades later looks like he was on TV just yesterday.

Not bad, just not great.

TWO REAGANS.
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* "The Happening": I've always thought M. Night Shyamalan was supremely over-rated. His movies are okay. Nothing special. But in Hollywood, everyone believes the hype. And in the wake of this unearned hype, he made a movie into what looks like an extended, substandard episode of "The Outer Limits" or "The Twilight Zone." Except that "The Twilight Zone" was far better and much tighter. This one was somewhat slow, too.

Oh, and this one has an environmental zealot message. Green politics? No thanks. I'd rather see the color on the Hulk.

In this, the "green" plot is thin and confusing, as if a third-grader made it up and it was cobbled and patched together. Real-life, violent criminal thug Mark Wahlberg stars as a Philadelphia science teacher. Just as he's teaching his students that we can't explain every scientific phonemenon--sometimes things just happen in an act of nature--a doomsday bug has hit New York. People are killing themselves all over the place and no-one knows why.

Wahlberg and dull wife Zooey Deschanel--who can't act to save her life in this movie and sounds like she just read the script for the first time--try to escape to the Pennsylvania countryside. But their train stops. The train "lost contact" even though their cellphones still receive and transmit as do the TVs in a local bar.

They soon escape in cars. But there are dead bodies everywhere. And no-one knows why. Wahlberg thinks it's the trees and plants transmitting messages and a virus through the wind, but we're never told for sure. He then surmises that if people travel in smaller groups, they won't die. Bingo, he's right--a preposterous and stupid plot. Not sure what the point of the weird old lady hillbilly was, other than to be creepy, which somewhat succeeded.

There have been so many recent doomsday movies, which were far superior, like "28 Days Later," "Cloverfield," "I Am Legend," and "George Romero's Diary of the Dead," all of which I liked. This one, for the most part, the movie just seemed to be an excuse for scenes of gratuitous violence--people hanging themselves and pulling the triggers at their heads. And it didn't really make even the least amount of sense.

Somewhat entertaining and not that much objectionable about it, other than the repeated guesses that this was nature's way of telling us to stop abusing the planet--cue the Al Gore. But it just wasn't great.

ONE REAGAN.
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Posted by Debbie at 02:43 PM

June 09, 2008

It's Hard Out There for a (Pseudo) Ho: Sarah Jessica Parker's Guide to Ethics

By Debbie Schlussel

As I suspected would happen, the National Female IQ Test a/k/a "Sex and the City," was a one-weekend wonder, as it sunk to fourth place this past weekend.

Still, it's fun to watch the desperate Sarah Jessica Parker flailing around promoting this movie. And now she's instructing the world on her own special brand of "ethics." The woman who built her career on a show (and now, movie) glorifying high-style ho-dom, without batting an eyelash, has an interesting sense of what is ethical and what isn't.

It seems Parker is upset that a gazillion-dollar designer gown she wore to the "Hags and the City" premiere was once worn by equally ho-ish but far more attractive Lindsay Lohan, in a fashion mag back in December and was also worn by an attractive heiress at a charity event. And now the world is over:

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Nothing As "Unethical" As This:
The World According to Sarah Jess-Equine Parker
What they did was so short-sighted. It's just unethical and disappointing that they would allow the dress to be worn again.

To sum up: Teaching the world's 12-year-old girls about giving oral sex and the glories of sleeping around, on her syndicated SATC TV show--not "unethical and disappointing" or "short-sighted." Two far more beautiful women wearing the same dress some time ago--completely "unethical and disappointing," not to mention "short-sighted."

Glad this one-note, over-rated movie starlet has her priorities straight.

As a friend of mine--a former Muslim who converted to Catholicism--writes:

"Unethical"..?! Humans starving, genocide, terrorism,and allowing illegal immigrants to stay is unethical. "Disappointing" is that people actually care about what this hag has to say. Silly that she gets that much attention because her whole act is about "putting out" and being a psuedo-whore.

As you'll recall, back in late 2000, Parker told the Washington Post that she was worried about the Bush Presidency because her poor Ohio relatives on welfare would have their services cut. Not that she'd ever give her relatives a dime of her estimated $100 million empire (endorsement deals, perfume line, acting gig and syndication royalties, clothing line). But "Oh, No!" if the taxpayers stop funding them.

Yet more reinforcement of why Maxim Magazine picked SJP as its 2007 Unsexiest Woman Alive.

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Two-fer: Unsexiest AND Official "Ethics" Scholar

Posted by Debbie at 12:27 PM

Whitewashing Chante Mallard

By Debbie Schlussel

Maybe you remember the story. If you don't, political correctness is to blame.

The mainstream media simply didn't give this racially-charged horror story the attention it deserved because the races of perpetrator and victim were inconvenient to the usual Jim Crow America narrative.

In 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attacks--which the media told us would unite Americans of all colors against a common Islamist enemy--Chante Jawan Mallard murdered a homeless man in Texas.

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The Real Chante Mallard v. Hollywood's Whitewashed Version
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Mallard, a young Black woman in her twenties, embodied everything wrong with the sleazy hip-hop, gangsta lifestyle--especially its inhumanity and insensitivity to the value of all human life. She was high on gin and Ecstasy--not Snoop Dogg's proverbial "Gin & Juice," but close enough--while driving home in the middle of the night after partying a club. Gregory Biggs, the homeless man she hit and ultimately murdered, was White.

Mallard drove home with Biggs' body stuck half through her windshield. He was alive, but injured and bleeding to death from the injuries and shattered glass sticking into his body. Mallard, a nurse's aide, knew how to administer first aid, and she certainly knew--like the rest of us without that training--how to drive to a hospital.

But she did neither.

Instead, Chante Mallard drove her car, with Bigg's body writhing in agony and dripping blood, into her garage and shut the door behind her. Despite a promise to Biggs to call for help--the first of several such empty promises--she went inside her house and had sex with her boyfriend, while Biggs lay suffering and dying. Biggs returned to the garage several times to check on Biggs, each time promising help . . . and each time doing nothing. Finally, Biggs died.

After Biggs' death, Mallard called two friends of hers, also Black, to help her dispose of Biggs' body in a park. Mallard got away with it, until months later she bragged at a party, "I killed a White man," and repeatedly laughed about it. Uh-huh, that's "hilarious." Yes, the life of a cracker or honky simply wasn't worth that much to Chante Jawan Mallard. Neither was the fact that he suffered and died a slow, painful, bloody death at her hands.

And Mallard would have gotten away with it. But an enemy of hers was at the party and informed police. In 2003, a guilty verdict resulted in Texas v. Mallard, and she was sentenced to 50-years in prison for second degree murder. She stood to do life, but now she will be eligible for parole 25 years after she began serving her sentence. While Mallard's victim, Gregory Biggs, died a cruel, cold-hearted death at her hands, she could be out of jail in her mid-50s.

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Chante Mallard Murdered "This White Man," Gregory Biggs

But now a second injustice has been done. It's "Stuck," a major motion picture just released in theaters. It is almost 7 years after the murder. Yet, 7 years later, Hollywood still cannot face facts when the race narrative is not the one they want it to be. If the evil White man convention doesn't fit, we must acquit, er . . . lie in the script?

While the movie is almost completely faithful to the story, Chante Jawan Mallard--a racist Black murderer--is now Brandi Boski, a White chick played by the fair-skinned Mena Suvari. There is no racism in the on-screen story, no comments about "I killed a cracker. Hahahahaha." But most other things are the same, from the nurse's aide job of the perpetrator to the Ecstasy pills to the lengthy sex scene, while a homeless man is dying in her garage. Even the look of the house on set is virtually identical to Mallard's.

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Ironically, the few who object to the racial make-over sound like they are on the same Ecstasy pills Mallard was on the night of the murder. An idiotic, uber-liberal White reviewer writes that he is upset that make-up artists styled the obviously White Suvari with cornrows and made her look and sound "African-American," which he found "insulting and completely racist." Um . . . Hello? Several Black bloggers lamented that "yet another Black role goes to a White woman." From White, guilt-ridden liberals to Blacks lamenting they don't get to play murderers, these card-carrying members of DENSA would be hilarious . . . if they weren't so sad.

Yes, there are a few other differences in this well-done horror thriller. But they are minor in comparison to the Mallard White-wash and help bring the story along.

Gregory Biggs is now Tom Pardo, a 50-something homeless man who has the day from hell, which begins with being thrown out of his dumpy flophouse efficiency to being given the runaround by government employment agency bureaucrats, and being roused from sleep on a park bench by police, to the horror of being hit and left to suffer by the newly-White version of Chante Mallard.

One appropriate embellishment is the scene in which an illegal alien mother and son find the dying man in the garage and endeavor to save him. But when they reach their home, the husband tells them to ignore him and let him die because, "it's not our business. Beside that, do you want to be deported?" While it's not the intended sympathetic-to-aliens sentiment, so much for the public image of illegal aliens as "loyal citizens" who just want to "do the work Americans won't do."

And the ending to the Hollywood version of this movie is far more satisfying than the sad, real-life ending to Biggs' life, making it worth seeing.

But while "Stuck" is a great--though depraved--movie, and well done from almost every standpoint of suspense, misery, and just revenge, one giant injustice rings through:

Bleaching the perpetrator of this horrible murder doesn't just bleach the truth. It adds insult to injury of the memory of murder victim, Gregory Biggs. If he were a Black man, his life might have been worth more to his racist Black murderess.

May he rest in peace, instead of turning over in his grave.

Posted by Debbie at 05:28 AM

June 06, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Silly "Zohan," Awful "Foot Fist," Anti-War "SOP"'s Unintended Insights, Whitewashed "Stuck"

By Debbie Schlussel

The only new movie I semi-recommend, with strong reservations, this weekend, is "Stuck." I did not review "Kung Fu Panda," as the only screening took place on the Jewish Sabbath. Sorry.

* "You Don't Mess With the Zohan": Read my complete review. What could have been funny is actually the worst of standard Adam Sandler fare. Vulgar, disgusting, politically correct, and a waste of time. Not funny. Again, read my complete review.

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FOUR MARXES
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* "Stuck": I will post a full review column on this movie, Monday. It's based on the true story of Chante Mallard, the woman who hit a homeless man with her car and let him die. The movie, starring Mena Suvari, has a much better ending and pay-off for the dreadfulness, than the real-life version. And the ending makes it all worth it. It's like a low-budget Steven King thriller.

While the movie was well-done and shows the inhumanity of those who follow the hip-hop gangsta lifestyle (and have no respect for human life), the biggest objection I have is that the movie's been whitewashed. In the real story, the killer is a Black racist woman. But here, she's been turned into a White woman to be PC and ignore that Black-on-White racism is an important issue, which can often be fatal. Again, stay tuned for my column, Monday.

ONE MARX (PC whitewashing)
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* "The Foot Fist Way": This was one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. A mean, selfish martial arts teacher at a strip mall teaches kids martial arts and constantly swears at them and says depraved sexual things to them in what seems like an early 1980s setting. Every character is in cheesy 1980s clothing, hairstyles, and make-up (blue eye-shadow). His wife is cheating on him and they split. Meanwhile he has a conflict with his nemesis a famous martial arts champ. Who cares?

This cheesy movie with no plot looks like a bad porn movie with no porn. It's that bad. Will Farrell saw this movie which has been around a while and decided to spread this garbage onto the big screen. So horrid, I walked out.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Standard Operating Procedure": SOP is a POS. Yet another awful, anti-American anti-War movie. This one--a "documentary"--is about Abu Ghraib, and tries its darndest to make America look like a torturing, barbaric, inhumane country. But even this likely bomb fails at that goal. And it puts the truth to a lot of the lies about the level of so-called "torture" at Abu Ghraib.

One soldier, Roman Krol, tells about how he was sentenced to several months in prison for throwing a nerf ball at a prisoner and spilling some water on someone. This is torture? "People laugh at that," he says about his sentence for nothing. Not sure how we win a war with this kind of overreaction to child's play against prisoners.

Another soldier, Jeremy Sivits, was sentenced to a year in prison, when he was actually trying to save a prisoners hands from cuffs that were too tight.

We also learn that the famous photo of an Iraqi with a bag over his heads and wires hanging from him was not what it seemed. The wires were fake, not hooked up to anything. And the man--nicknamed "Gilligan" by soldiers--was accused of killing two American military Criminal Investigation Division agents with box cutters. Sounds like we were too nice to him.

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Not What It Seems

And by the way, the soldiers who put him in this position with the wires, etc., were determined by U.S. authorities to have engaged in proper treatment of him. We were never told any of this by CBS' "60 Minutes II" and Seymour Hirsch, who broke the Abu Ghraib story.

Interviews with people like Lynndie England don't make the case against America's war efforts and military, the intended goal of the movie. She blames Abu Ghraib on her being a female. She says that the women in the military are pressured to impress the men. Is this what Gloria Steinem is spewing these days?

The obnoxious former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski buck-passes throughout the movie. But she was in charge, and has now built a lucrative career blaming Israel and America and speaking at Arab and Muslim dinners and gatherings. Good riddance.

Finally, there's an annoying lesbian soldier who keeps writing letters to her "wife." What ever happend to "don't ask, don't tell"? She told, and she was a great candidate for ejection from our armed forces if there ever was one. She sounds like a valley girl and is a complete idiot. She let an old man die, while she took photos of herself giving the thumbs up with him.

She was the only soldier who made the uncompelling case this movie tries, however desperately, to tell. That some soldiers are idiots and inhuman with no heart. This one out of hundreds of thousands.

Case not made.

THREE MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 04:53 PM

Don't Mess with "Zohan": Adam Sandler Joins Ranks of Islamic Terrorism Propagandists

By Debbie Schlussel

A year ago, one of my readers told me about "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," Adam Sandler's movie, in theaters today. In it, Sandler is "Zohan," an Israeli Mossad agent who fakes his death to realize his dream of becoming a hairdresser in New York.

I figured it would be yet another peacenik, moral equivalency movie--as all movies emanating out of liberal LaLaLand always are. And that's exactly what it turned out to be. That, coupled with anti-Israel, anti-Semitic stereotypes, and bad, vulgar, disgusting jokes.

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But along the way, while remaining skeptical, I fell for the usual tricks: misleading, carefully edited Sandler movie trailers that include the only good jokes in the movie, Sandler's donation of 400 video games to Israeli victims of Hezbollah bombings, and his contributions to the Presidential candidate who best understood the Islamic terrorism threat to America, Rudolph Giuliani.

While I gushed over the hype and the funny trailer and was looking forward to it, I forgot the oft-told parable about the turtle and the scorpion:

A scorpion finds himself in the middle of a lake, when he realizes he can't swim and begins to drown. A turtle passes by and the scorpion begs the turtle to allow him to ride on his back until they both reach shore. "But you will bite me, and we will both drown," says the turtle. "No," the scorpion assures him, "I won't because I want to live and if I bite you, we will both drown."

The turtle buys his story and allows the scorpion aboard. But when they come close to shore, the scorpion bites the turtle and he begins to die. "Why did you bite me, when I've saved your life?" asks the turtle. "Because I'm a scorpion. That's my nature."

The story's usually told to describe Jews and Israelis who believe they'll finally get peace by trusting and giving the store away to Palestinians. But it's also a good parable for me, regarding my hope that this very bad movie--which Bin Laden and Nasrallah couldn't have made more to their liking--would finally be the exciting movie that makes fun of Islamic terrorists and shows Jews and Israelis in a positive light, rather than as weak, venal oppressors of primitive peoples.

In that hope, I was the turtle. I expected Sandler--who is, after all, just another fixture of Hollywood and puts out more than his own fair share of its garbage--to act contrary to Hollywood's and his nature.

"You Don't Mess with the Zohan" is hardly contrary. It's a disgusting display of the same old, same old. And it's stupid. In fact, it's one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time. I took a pro-Israel Arab friend of mine who did undercover work against terrorists to see it, and he said it was the worst movie he'd ever seen in his life. He put his head in his hands for most of the movie and wanted to leave. I did, too.

Zohan is tired of fighting terrorists. "When will it end?" he asks. Sadly, that's the same attitude and professed sentiment of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is using it as an excuse to negotiate away Israel's national security. Tragically, it is only Mossad agent Zohan--not Olmert--who fakes his death, in a fight against Arab terrorist, "The Phantom," and moves to New York.

The Phantom is both Hezbollah and Palestinian in this movie (his sister is Palestinian and yet he maintains the "Hezbollah Terrorist Hotline"), which gets even the most obvious details wrong. Why worry about accuracy on the basics, when you're so busy making the "dick jokes" (which just aren't funny) and making fun of the Jews?

So while Phantom is hailed throughout the Lebanese or Palestinian world (we're not sure which) and owns a chain of MuchenTuchen fast food restaurants (this is funny? Arab restaurants with German sounding gibberish names? Believe me, it sounds funnier here than it is in the movie), Sandler/Zohan is busy trying to get a job at Paul Mitchell and other salons in New York.

But, of course, the only one who will hire him is--shocker!--the friendly, generous Palestinian woman salon owner, played by peacenik Moroccan Jew Emanuelle Chriqui (who calls her Israeli relatives and being pro-Israel, very "negative"). Oh, and--another shocker!--they fall in love. This is after Sandler has sex with about 100 grannies whose hair he's cut.

Meanwhile a [insert Palestinian or Lebanese here] cab driver recognizes Zohan and informs the Phantom via the Hezbollah Hotline. They plan to capture Zohan and kill him. But in the end, it's all Rodney King "can't we all just get along?" crap.

Sound entertaining to you? It isn't. This movie's a mess, and I'm being generous.

Instead of being funny and exploring the contradictions of Islamic terrorists who won't make peace and would rather send their own children to their deaths, we're given a steady supply of very graphic penis jokes (including a vulgar discussion of Sandler/Zohan's pubic hair enhancement strategy) which aren't funny and scenes in which Adam Sandler is having sex with old ladies. We see lots of unnecessary shots of Sandler's (or a body double's) naked butt, and every other comment is about "making the big bang boom."

Yup, those randy, Israeli sex fiends. To enhance the "point," Sandler wears a sock or some other artificial enhancement under tight bike shorts throughout the movie to make his groin region look big.

Haha, funny. You know the depraved, slutty life that Bin Laden likes to say America is living? That's this movie. And I question how such a filthy movie--with no less nudity and frank talk than the deservedly R-rated "Sex and the City"--managed to snag a PG-13 rating.

Then, there are the running Israeli stereotypes. Throughout the movie, we're hit over the head with Sandler's sleazy Israeli friends who cheat people with bad merchandise at electronics stores. They all wear shirts unbottoned down to there and look like they're just off the "Saturday Night Fever" set. The stereotype was bad enough when it was a short skit on "Saturday Night Live," over a decade ago, when Sandler and guest host Tom Hanks used bad Israeli accents and blasphemed my religion, citing the Jewish sabbath as some reason to defraud customers. But in this movie, it's non-stop. In fact, the whole movie is like a bad SNL skit that shouldn't have gone on past the first minute when the joke got old.

And, yes, Israelis, like Americans, wore jean shorts when they were in style. But Sandler wears them like that's the Israeli uniform. It ain't. You think Israelis are cheesy dolts, Adam. We get it.

The hummus joke wasn't funny when he brushed his teeth with it. Even less funny when he uses it as hair mousse and to put out a fire.

Oh, and by the way, the fire was set by his evil whitebread landlord who is the common enemy of the Israelis and the Muslims in this movie. Oh, now I get it--the American Muslims who repeatedly send me rape, torture, and death threats are not my real enemy. It's corporate America and evil developers--who make my life far more civilized than the Greater Barbaria that is the Muslim world--whom I should despise.

Yes, the message in this movie is that, Muslims and Jews, Palestinians/Lebanese and Israelis all get along here in America and don't hate each other in the least. Sad that the 10,000 Muslim Lebanese and Palestinians who marched daily--and made anti-Semitic slogans de riguer in their speeches and signage--in Dearborn, during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war, didn't get the Sandler memo.

Our real enemy is not each other, goes the Sandler didactic. It's Whitey and corporate America. Gee, and I thought that was Michelle Obama's enemy, not mine. Silly me.

A few celebs have cameos in this movie--Henry Winkler, Mariah Carey, and Chris Rock, to name a few. But their brief appearances are like attending an Adam Sandler PC beach party, of which this silly movie is the onscreen equivalent.

Do yourself a favor and watch the 2-minute trailers for this movie. You'll see most of what's funny in this movie and save yourself ten bucks.

Other than what's in the trailer for this movie, there's very little that made me chuckle and a lot that made me groan. An Arab terrorist training Rocky-style to fight Zohan, made me laugh. He runs up a desert sand dune to the tune of "Gonna Fly Now," the Rocky theme song, played by the Mid-Eastern Oud instrument. Then, there was an Arab Sheik's request that Mariah Carey sign a photo, "All I Want for Ramadan is You."

But other than that, this movie does to Israel and the Jews what Bin Laden, Hezbollah, and HAMAS could not, in defaming them on the silver screen in wide release in theaters across America and around the world.

Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz reported that Sandler sought to fend off Hollywood criticism of his movie as "The Israeli Movie." Well, he succeeded in spades.

This movie is high quality Bin Laden Cinema. Allahu Shampoo & Conditioner.

Take Adam Sandler's advice: Don't Mess with "Zohan." Stay home.

Posted by Debbie at 03:19 PM

As If: Toronto Star Columnist Calls Schlussel "Sexist," "Threatened" By "Sex & the City" Hags, Compares Them to James Bond (?!)

By Debbie Schlussel

Methinks Toronto Star columnist Peter Howell surrendered his man card.

In a column decrying the film critics--including myself and Roger Ebert--who didn't like "Sex and the City," he calls us "sexist" and claims that we are "threatened" by the success of these four non-existent, fictional sailor-esque man-chicks:

A lot of people who should know better are stunned and appalled that Sex and the City made the Earth move with its $57 million opening weekend, the most ever for an R-rated comedy. [DS: I wasn't shocked. I predicted it. Most American women are incurable sheep-ettes.]

Could it be these people feel a little threatened, too? . . .

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Ad Absurdum: Columnist Claims This Equals This
Even female scribes have been hexed by Sex. Film blogger Debbie Schlussel socked it to the sisters with a screed titled "Hags and the City," in which she declared the release of SATC to be "a national IQ test for women" that many failed when they bought a ticket.

"Unfortunately, (the SATC foursome) are Delphic oracles to far too many American women, if the long lines of drooling women who packed four large theatres at a promotional screening I attended were any indication," Schlussel wrote.

Why do so many critics and commentators have Sex on the brain? Are they unable to accept a movie about four successful women?

Um, you mean the movie about four successful men. They wear skirts and make-up, but they behave like the aging frat boys in "Old School." They don't act like women. And they sure don't act like ladies.

And, FYI, they're NOT successful, with the exception of the sluttiest--and most masculine among them--Samantha, the sex addict. Miranda, the lesbian-looking, emasculating red-head lawyer whose bartender hubby is the shrewed up chick in the relationship, isn't doing so well. Another, Charlotte, doesn't work and marries rich men. Gold-digging is not a profession. Or maybe it is. The starring role, Carrie, is a loser who lost her column, whose books aren't that big, and who needs to marry a man to get her gold, as well.

And you never see these women work. They just gab, lunch, shop, swear, and have sex in various positions. Their success is a figment of Hollywood.

But here's my fave part of Peter Howell's column:

I can actually think of a rough male equivalent for SATC. It's a film franchise about a man with a huge ego and unfettered sense of entitlement, who cavorts with people who have spectacular budgets for clothes, cars and travel. Our hero consumes vast quantities of liquor and caviar and thinks nothing of trashing his high-priced toys.

His name is James Bond. His 22nd movie, Quantum of Solace, is currently being filmed. And when it is released this fall, you won't find anybody seriously suggesting that the enjoyment of it is a chance to get men out of the house, a degrading of the national IQ or a recruitment opportunity for the Taliban.

And why is that?

Peter, if you need to ask, that means the castration procedure was a success.

Carrie Bradshaw is the new "James Bond"? Please help me stop laughing.

Posted by Debbie at 01:11 PM

June 05, 2008

ICE the Movie Defames ICE the Agents: Lying Hollywood Director Provides More Proof He Committed Immigration Fraud

By Debbie Schlussel

For well over a year, I've been writing about what I call, "ICE, The Movie." (See the movie's and director's lawyers' threatening letters and my responses.)

The actual title is "Crossing Over," but it's ostensibly about the immigration process in America. And the film's central character is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent, Max Brogan, played by Harrison Ford. As I previously wrote, under pressure from angry Muslims, the filmmakers removed an honor-killing scene in which a Muslim woman is murdered by her brother (with her other brother, an ICE agent's knowledge) for having an affair with a non-Muslim.

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Originally, this movie was set to debut during the 2008 Christmas season. Then, it was pushed to April, then to June, and now, it's set for the movie hell of August, where many horrid movies are sent for burial. This one is most deserving of a quick funeral.

As I've noted, my spies in Hollywood sent me the script of this boring, fraudulent movie. The only thing accurate in it is a Citizenship and Immigration Services official sleeping with a wannabe immigrant (Ray Liotta) in exchange for getting a green card. Sadly, there have been several documented cases like that. The scene in which a Muslim ICE agent defrauds police and allows a Korean gang member to get away with murder and armed robbery, just before Asian teen's citizenship ceremony, is one of the only other scenes that's believable.

But the movie's portrayal of ICE Agents is mostly negative, defamatory, and not based on fact. The most basic of details were clearly not researched by writer/director Wayne Kramer, himself an immigrant whose statements, actions, and behavior indicate that he committed immigration fraud to get U.S. citizenship.

While I've been quite critical of ICE, my criticism has been restricted to the incompetent management and bloated, aimless, conflicting missions of this dysfunctional agency. The many ICE agents who read this site know that I respect their mission and hard work, which is mostly thankless, underappreciated, and negatively represented in the mainstream media.

This movie is a different story, however. Kramer could have taken a critical look at what's really wrong with immigration enforcement in America, how we don't go after employers, how we don't really crackdown on borders, and how a high school graduate who gives promotions to cronies and extramarital bed partners is basically running ICE, while a valley girl with a well-connected uncle and spouse is the public face of the agency charged with enforcing our nation's immigration laws and investigating those who break them.

And he could have shown how ICE wastes money on stupid things, while agents beg for funds to get oil changes and open new files, how they're hamstrung from doing their jobs and rounding up aliens en masse, and how ICE and its parent Department of Homeland Security have been given strict instructions from the PC Police on how not to talk to terrorism-supporting Muslims.

Instead, Wayne Kramer chose to defame ICE agents as aging, cold-hearted men who don't care. And he got it wrong. Harrison Ford's Max Brogan is identified as being in his "late 50's." Reality check: ICE agents--especially field agents like Ford's character--are required to retire by their 57th birthday. There's no way the 65-year-old Harrison Ford (who looks every bit his age in this movie) would be working for ICE in any capacity other than as a consultant contractor at that age. And he wouldn't be raiding illegal aliens.

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Check out this scene, below, in which Ford arrests a Latina, Mireya, and refuses to let her call those who are taking care of her young son. He coldly discards the phone number she gives him . . . under the disapproving gaze of a Muslim ICE agent, who is far more moral, now that his honor-killing scene has been deleted from the movie.

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***

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(Note the script's use of the politically correct phrase "undocumented workers," instead of what they are: illegal aliens.)

The Muslim agent indicates that Agent Brogan/Harrison Ford frequently hits on the attractive illegal aliens, and that those are the ones who get released on an "Order of Recognizance" (which comes with what's called a "Notice to (Dis)Appear."

Because Special Agent Harrison Ford refuses to allow this woman to contact her son, she is murdered trying to get back to the States to find her son.

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But that would never happen. As I've noted repeatedly on this site, instead of being cold and harsh, ICE is often too soft--repeatedly releasing alien single parents and often giving them humanitarian waivers. That ICE would deport Mireya without her son--as it does in this movie--is preposterous. It's simply against ICE policy to raid a place, detain the single mother, and instantly deport her, without allowing her to reconnect and leave with her son.

As one high-ranking, career ICE agent, previously with the INS, told me:

ICE has very strict guidance about not taking mothers from children if they're the sole caregiver, breastfeeding, etc. We go out of our way to process and release (such as an Alternative to Detention Program such as the Intensive Supervision and Appearance Program (ISAP)) on an Order of Recognizance. Where there is a U.S. citizen child in her immediate care and no one to watch the child, we would give her a G-56 order to appear at a later date to be processed (Notice To Appear, Voluntary Return, Stipulated Removal, etc.).

In the scenario in the movie, we would find out who had the child at that time. If the kid was not on the street or somewhere in danger, we would tell the mother she would be able to call when we arrived at the office. At that time, we would determine what to do. If [unlike in the movie] the child was safe with a family member, especially the father, we would detain and deport the woman. She would be able to send the money to them.

For any worksite enforcement these days, we have child welfare agencies on stand-by, if needed. I'm sure the movie doesn't go into that kind of detail.

No, it doesn't. The truth would be inconvenient to its agenda. To wit, that ICE Special Agent Harrison Ford is responsible for the ultimate death--alone and in the desert, after what is suspected is a rape--of an attractive, hard-working Latina because he refused to help her make arrangements for her son. Yup, ICE agents are the ultimately responsible murderers of innocent people who make our clothes, because they separate them from their children while separating them from out country. That's the fraudulent message--or one of them--in this movie.

Another message is also very stark and equally as phony: A Muslim teenager reads an essay in school, saying that we need to understand the 9/11 hijackers and their justification for the attacks. And because of her essay, the FBI raids her home, says she is a terrorist associate, and ICE deports her.

Like that would ever happen.

Here's what would happen in real-life to Taslima: Michigan/Ohio ICE Special Agent in Charge Brian Moskowitz and his head boss, Julie L. Myers a/k/a "The ICE Princess," who heads ICE, would host a dinner in Taslima's honor for her "diverse" essay.

That's essentially what they did when, last year, Myers hosted a dinner for marriage and immigration fraud perpetrator, FBI award revokee, and "former" Islamic terrorist Imad Hamad, as he and his pro-Hezbollah/HAMAS American Araba Anti-Discrimination Committee handed out awards to judges who throw out the hard work of ICE agents and free illegal aliens and those engaged in immigration fraud. Michigan FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew Arena attended the dinner, too, and both Moskowitz and Arena attended an ADC essay contest awards dinner.

If only real-life students and teachers would react to Taslima's anti-American essay the way they do in this movie. Instead, Taslima's understand-the-terrorists point of view is the one our nation's teachers are frequently pushing on their emptily receptive classes.

And finally there's writer/director Wayne Kramer's shoddy script details on Judaism, which convince me now more than ever of my belief--previously noted on this site--that Kramer committed immigration fraud to become a citizen, like the character "Gavin" in the movie. Like Gavin, Kramer is a South African immigrant and a Jew. And I believe, like Gavin, that Kramer is an atheist who lied about his Hebrew and Judaic knowledge so that he could receive immigration benefits to stay in this country as a Hebrew teacher.

In the script, Gavin is asked by a Citizenship and Immigration Services adjudicator to prove he knows Hebrew Jewish prayer songs by singing them for an "Orthodox rabbi in full regalia" with an "Israeli accent." But the rabbi--who lies for Gavin (yes, our borders are over-run not with Latinos and Islamic terrorists, but fake Hebrew teachers with rabbis lying for them)--invites Gavin to come to "Temple Beth Shalom."

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***

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***

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Any Jew with even the tiniest inkling about his faith knows that an "Orthodox rabbi in full regalia" wouldn't have anything to do with a "Temple." Most Orthodox rabbis won't set foot in one because they consider it "Avodah Zarah," or "strange work" (like idol worship, and contrary to Judaism). Orthodox and Conservative Jewish houses of worship are "synagogues" or "shuls" (Yiddish for synagogue). Only Reform Jewish houses of worship are "temples."

If he knew anything about Judaism, Kramer would know this. And since Kramer told an interviewer that he "lived every step" of this movie and that to get U.S. citizenship, immigrants "are forced to do fraudulent things", I have to conclude that since he shares every other "Gavin" characteristic that he, too, lied about his Hebrew and Judaic knowledge to gain U.S. citizenship.

When Kramer's lawyer demanded I take down my previous post, which surmised that Kramer is an immigration fraud criminal, I asked her to send me a complete copy of Kramer's immigration file and also asked where he worked when he first came to this country (ie., was it at a Jewish school, as it is for "Gavin"?). I never heard back from her, and she dropped the matter. Wonder why?

I think we know the answer. And if I were an enterprising ICE investigator, I'd be poring through "Gavin," er . . . Wayne Kramer's immigration file.

Not because he completely lied about ICE agents and the hard work that they do. But because he defrauded America then . . . years before his latest fraud that takes place at theaters in August.

Posted by Debbie at 03:28 PM

June 02, 2008

Village Voice Upset Over Schlussel "Sex & The City" Review

By Debbie Schlussel

With the tragic success of the "Sex and the City" movie, this weekend, studio execs are, unfortunately, planning a sequel. Who knew my prophecy of "Sex and the Cat Ladies" would actually come to fruition?

Now, The Village Voice--the influence of which now makes it the Village Whisper, er . . . Murmur--is on guard against the great offenses in America, including my review of "Sex and the City," the national IQ test for women that so many of America's fairer sex failed over the weekend. Oh, and the aging hippies at the Whisper claim I sound like a "Women's Studies Prof."

To quote Cher Horowitz, "As if" . . . .

Writers normally devoted to other agenda, . . . put aside their hobbyhorses for a moment to divert readers with the harmless subject.
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Well, most of them did. A SATC review featuring a photo of "Cynthia Nixon (right) w/Lesbian Partner" alerted us that we'd stumbled into the land of the rightbloggers, where blockbuster movies are not mere entertainments, but fronts in the culture war.
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"Sex and the City's" Cynthia Nixon (Right) w/Lesbian Partner
In her epic "Hags And The City" tirade, TV commentator Debbie Schlussel told readers that the "sleazy and low-class" central characters "look like female impersonators in drag," are "pigs in skirts" and, worst of all, serve as "Delphic oracles to far too many American women."

While the Oracle at Delphi spoke for Apollo, apparently Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte speak for "America's feminists and the phony mainstream media" who, Schlussel said, give their message "the kosher seal of approval," thereby covering an extra theological base.

But what is their message? Schlussel didn't focus long enough to inform us, but some clues could be gleaned from her ravings. "Because they dined in glamorous places, wore trapezoid shaped clothes and $1,000 fancy high heels," wrote Schlussel, "this somehow made their low-brow, savage behavior, 'classy.'" So perhaps the message is that the rich can get away with things that the rest of us can't. Schlussel also said that the inclusion of Jennifer Hudson in the film was meant to "answer the complaints over the years by Black America, that there were no Black women in this fashionable pay cable TV gang of hos." Add tokenism to the film's sins. Finally, "If you've ever called men pigs or chauvinists or decried their alleged collective behavior toward women, but yet you like this movie, you're a hypocrite." SATC is an affront to feminism! Schlussel's argument seems based on race, gender, and class issues normally addressed by Women's Studies professors. We hope this doesn't get around or Schlussel may never appear on Fox News again.

Again, As If . . . .

But the photo that bothers them so is emblematic of this movie and what it's really about. And because it bothered the Village Murmur so much, I've posted it again. I mean, should I really pretend this woman is straight like she pretends in this movie? C'mon, let's be intellectually honest.

Hey, at least I didn't do this.

Posted by Debbie at 02:53 PM

May 30, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Nothing Worth Seeing - Horrid "Sex," Torture Porn "Strangers," Anti-Western "Rains"

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm introducing a new ratings system, invented by Mike Church for my movie reviews on his Sirius Patriot Channel 144 show (every Friday Morning between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.). I will be using Reagans and Marxes. Four Reagans means it's great. Four Marxes, it stinks to high heaven (or low Communist hell, actually).

All three new releases, this week, are terrible and earn four Marxes apiece.

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* "Sex And The City": Read my complete review. Four slutty, middle-aged hags turn their annoying, anti-male HBO show into a movie. It's even worse than the show. Completely disgusting, vile, and juvenile. Again, read my complete review.

FOUR MARXES
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* "The Strangers": This movie was 1.5 hours of torture porn--a violent, disgusting snuff film that has no purpose. It's not interesting, not scary, just stupid. No point to it, other than to further define deviancy down in America and contribute to the gratuitous violence and desensitizing that is all too common.

Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star as boyfriend and girlfriend who are vacationing at his father's house in the country. They've just returned to the house, after she rejected his marriage proposal, and they're not exactly happy. Suddenly, they are terrorized by three people with masks who torture and try to kill them. Horrid and a waste of time.

FOUR MARXES
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* "Before the Rains": The evil, capitalist Western White man destroys the dark man native's life and all that is around him, causing death, destruction, and pain.

That's the message of this movie that takes place in the 1930s in India, under British rule. While some Indians are protesting the English and trying to drive them out through strikes and road blockages, the main character here is still in the throes of his evil, capitalist fantasy of building roads on which to better transport the spices he sells.

A married man, he's having an affair with his married Indian servant. Her husband finds out, she kills herself, and death and destruction ensues for the local Indian villagers, including his other Indian servant. But he--the Englishman--gets away with murder. The end.

FOUR MARXES
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Posted by Debbie at 04:34 PM

Would You Let Your Underage Daughter See Filthy "Sex & The City" Flick?

By Debbie Schlussel

If you have a daughter under the age of 17, and you have any sense of parenting, I hope you will read my review of the movie, "Sex and the City," before deciding whether to let your daughter go see this trashy movie. No straight boys (or men) want to be caught dead at this flick, so I'm not addressing their parents.

The movie is filthy and disgusting and extremely explicit.

Unfortunately, Tim Warner Inc's New Line Cinema--the studio that made this trash--is heavily marketing it to underaged girls. And it's all the rage. Phony "wholesome" "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus, of sexy-photos-with-Dad fame, is a huge fan, comparing it to her show marketed at young girls. That's very sad, given the uber-racy and disgusting content of the movie. And that's aside from it's anti-male message.

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More on the dilemma and on the sad appeal these four sleazy, middle-aged sluts have with young girls:

The season's biggest female event is also generating buzz in a group that isn't supposed to see it: girls under 17 years of age.

The situation -- and the tricky marketing challenge it poses for Time Warner Inc.'s New Line Cinema -- reflects the fact that a lot has changed for Carrie Bradshaw and her friends since the original HBO series had its finale in 2004. On HBO, the series was known for using bawdy sexuality and frank language to chronicle the night-crawling lifestyle of four Manhattan women.

But for the past few years, a sanitized version of the show has been in heavy rotation on Time Warner's TBS network, and it has drawn the under-18 crowd, who now make up 10% of the audience. A new survey by the marketing consultant Intelligence Group indicates that "Sex and the City" is one of the most anticipated summer movies for teen girls, right up there with "Indiana Jones." Miley Cyrus, the 15-year-old star of the Disney Channel series "Hannah Montana," has called the show "her favorite" and compared the sexy series to her own show.

Teen girls are drawn to the show's nonstop fashion parade, led by its star, who last year launched Bitten Sarah Jessica Parker, a budget clothing line that routinely sells dresses for less than $10 and appeals to teenagers. "I love Carrie's style: the way she is confident and wears things that are crazy and doesn't care," says Rachel Nyberg, a 16-year-old from Minneapolis who plans to see "Sex and the City" as soon as it opens. . . .

The studio did, however, purchase ad time for "Sex and the City" on TV programs that turned out to have substantial teen audiences, including some in which more than 35% of the viewers are 17 or under, according to Nielsen Co. . . . The studio always recognized the potential of drawing a younger audience. . . .

[Director Michael Patrick] King says he deliberately crafted a story that would have multigenerational appeal. He added a 20-something character who plays Carrie Bradshaw's assistant to appeal to younger viewers, he says. . . .

Mr. King -- who invited his 16-year-old niece to the film's New York premiere this week -- notes that much of the marketing is built around adult brands like Mercedes-Benz and Skyy Vodka. "The reality is that most of the marketing is very grown-up, but that's OK -- it's supposed to be aspirational," he says. . . .

"Sixteen is the new 20," adds Shelley Zalis, CEO of OTX, a consumer research firm that tracks film demographics. "Sixteen-year-olds want to see films with more adult subject matter." . . .

Melissa Benjamin, a 16-year-old from Chappaqua, N.Y., says that her three best friends got advance tickets to see the movie Friday because they watched the show for hours in middle school. "We'd come home at 3:30 p.m. and watch until 9 o'clock on HBO on Demand," she says. "We'd like to say which character we all thought we were most like. Secretly," she confides, "I really relate to Carrie, but my other friend wanted to be Carrie."

Guh-reat. They relate to a major ho in nicer clothing. I love how this movie is "supposed to be aspirational." Aspirational to what--herpes incubation?

If you are a responsible parent, you will tell your young daughter she is above this trash and ask her to rent a better movie, instead.

Posted by Debbie at 02:25 PM

May 29, 2008

Zohan: One of the Worst Movies EVER; Sandler Does to Israel What Hezbollah/HAMAS Could Not

By Debbie Schlussel

Dear Readers, I owe you a huge apology.

Last night, I screened, "You Don't Mess with the Zohan," the Adam Sandler Mossad agent-turns-hairdresser movie I've been looking forward to and promoting on this site. I apologize to you for helping promote this sickening movie.

Although I'm prohibited from reviewing it until the movie's release, next week, I can tell you that it's one of the most embarrassing, disgusting, horrible movies I've ever seen. The trailer--which is a way better movie at 2 minutes of the only good jokes--is misleading. The actual movie is like a very bad SNL skit version of "Munich," and that's being nice to this garbage.

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The movie was vile and disgusting in its crude and explicit sexual exploits and rehearses every anti-Israel stereotype you hear in Bin Laden, HAMAS, and Hezbo propaganda. What Hezbollah and HAMAS couldn't do to Israel's image, Adam Sandler has done in wide release in American movie theaters. Mazel Tov, Adam. If I were any of these groups, I'd make this same movie.

Like the "Sex and the City" movie, this one is obsessed with penises and naked butts (in this case, Adam Sandler's penchant to exhibit his--or a body double's).

I brought Muslim and Druze Lebanese friends who are pro-Israel to the movie, and they were disgusted, too. And embarrassed. And so was I.

And, as I predicted earlier this week, the message of the movie is that Jews and Islamic terrorists are all the same in America and all get along (a big lie). True to left-wing Hollywood form, Jews and Muslims band together to fight their common enemy--evil corporate America and White supremacists. Hmmm . . . Neither of those groups ever sent me death threats, but many American Muslims have.

Ha'Aretz reports that:

From the early production stages, Zohan was known in and around Hollywood as "the Israeli movie." Sandler sought to fend off criticism.

Well, he certainly did that. "The Israeli movie"? PUH-LEEZE. Only if it's HAMAS' "Israeli movie."

I don't care how many free video games he's donated to victims of Hezbollah bombings in Israel. Adam Sandler is a schmuck! And a putz.

Stay tuned for my complete review, next week.

Posted by Debbie at 03:18 PM

"Hags and the City": My Review of Trashy, Anti-Male "Sex & The City" Movie

By Debbie Schlussel

A national IQ test for women takes place starting tonight. It's called, "Sex and the City," the movie (SATC).

If you like this TV-show-turned-feature-length-film and you're female, you failed. If you like it, and you're a guy, you threw away your man card long ago. You're not a failure. Just gay (like the people who created this show) . . . not to mention, completely bereft of testosterone.

When, early in his Presidency, George Bush had never heard of the TV show, he was attacked in New York Times reporter Frank Bruni's book for that. But, au contraire, it was a badge of honor for him and one of the few things that marked his intelligence and good taste.

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A close-up shot of a woman's pubic hair sticking out of her bathing suit, and another woman defecating in her pants--both are, um, "highlights" of the SATC movie. GUH-ROSS. I thought I was watching a bad, juvenile frat boy movie. This is what substitutes for haute culture for women in America, these days. Very sad. But not as sad and miserable as these four haggish women, who like their former TV show, can't be called "past their prime" because they never were "prime." Just primitive . . . and reliably sleazy and low-class.

Unfortunately, they're Delphic oracles to far too many American women, if the long lines of drooling women who packed four large theaters at a promotional screening I attended were any indication.

And the diarrhea accident and unsightly giant vaginal hirsute protrusion shot are just the bathroom "humor" in "SATC," in which three 40-somethings and one 50-something make up a foursome of bawdy, aging women who wasted their lives sleeping around, cackling about it, and acting like immature, 20-something sex-crazed male dogs in heat. Because they dined in glamorous places, wore trapezoid shaped clothes and $1,000 fancy high heels, this somehow made their low-brow, savage behavior, "classy."

With their conduct and bitterness in addition to their age, if these women were even a day older, they'd have to change the title to "Sex and the Cat Ladies."

Disgusting and vulgar, and coupled with so much angst, screaming, shrieking and crying, watching this movie I thought I was caught in the middle of the Spitzer marriage on the day Client-9 was unveiled. Painful to sit through, not to mention for about 2.5 hours. Peppering it with way too many gratuitous shots of sky-high-priced stiletto heels (which, in the case of SATC, are the real "axis of evil") and bizarre fashion--far more than the TV show ever did--doesn't make it any more bearable. If I wanted to look at the Nieman Marcus catalog, I'd stay home and read it on the couch (and see the merchandise on real, glamorous models, not women who look like male transvestites). Equine star Sarah Jessica Parker, looking particular male-with-makeup on in one scene, dons an ugly turquoise bird in her hair. Blech!

For the record, I was never a fan of SATC, the HBO TV series, which takes place in New York . . . or at least the New York in Gloria Steinem's own special torture chamber fantasies. Four women--at least, we think they're women--who look like female impersonators in drag think and act like they're supermodels.

The star, Parker, who looks the most drag-ful, plays a loser sex and dating columnist Carrie Bradshaw, who constantly gives herself over to use and abuse by a series of dysfunctional and/or philandering men who are cold and can't love. Is there any other kind of men in SATC? Uh, no. (The occasional exceptions are men who are so horribly naive and innocent as to be childlike.) The love of her life--"Big," whom we learn is named John James Preston, as if we care--is the worst of them. And he does it even worse in the movie, something we thought was resolved at the end of the TV series.

There's Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes, the lesbian-esque lawyer with shocking red hair who plays man to the chickish male bartender she uses and abuses and whose kid she fathers, er . . . gives birth to. Wasn't Miranda the name of one of one of the elderly witch aunts on "Bewitched"? Very apropos. She's more butch than ever in her behavior in this movie. In real life, Nixon left the fiance-father of her two kids for a lesbian relationship. Shockingly, she's the "female" in the relationship. Think she's happy?

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"Sex and the City's" Cynthia Nixon (Right) w/Lesbian Partner

Kim Cattrall is Samantha Jones, the oldest of the bunch and most vain. She consumes her life with skin treatments, sex toys, and sex acts with near strangers and total strangers. In real life, we call that a "sex addict" or "the most used piece of equipment in the gym." In SATC's alternative hate-men-iverse, it's called "empowerment." Or is that . . . empowerwomynt?

She's lucky SATC came along to rescue her from her previous Shakespearian reputation as the mannequin in "Mannequin," as a slut in the raunchy "Porky's," and as a character in a movie called, "Live Nude Girls." Now, Catrall's a much hipper, wealthier, more "respectable" brand of slut in SATC, and she has nicer clothes. In real life, Catrall--who wrote an explicit sex book with her much younger husband and then divorced him--is living out her character's life and not seeming to enjoy it much. Despite her self-proclaimed expertise on sex (she's written two books on it), she's had three failed marriages. So much for alter egos in the world of glorified on-screen sluttery.

And finally, there's Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, who also has been, ahem, "victimized" by rich men who date and marry her. No biggie that she's a gold-digging idiot who got what she deserved and is more annoying and naive than words.

The movie version rehashes the same old stories that were put to bed four years ago when the show mercifully ended. It's like exhuming the rotted corpses of unworthy people you could barely stand, and for no apparent reason you must look in vain for a gold tooth among the worms and porous bone. You never find the gold, though.

Is there a point to this movie--other than to make money for the Hollywood figures involved and rehash and reinforce man-hating and miserable, sex-crazed attitudes and lives? Oh, I guess there's one point, which is the soft-core porn element of this flick. These aging actresses gotta show us they're still in shape and flash their breasts onscreen--in one case sprinkled with sushi. That, and way too many explicit sex scenes and close-ups of men's naked butts en flagrante delicto.

Why watch sleazy porn and be labeled a perv, when you can watch this garbage and have the kosher seal of approval from America's feminists and the phony mainstream media, all gushing over SATC phony "kitsch"?

The only classy thing in this entire movie is the presence of the talented Jennifer Hudson, the Academy Award winning actress and former "American Idol" contestant. And that's why her character doesn't belong anywhere near these walking disease incubators.

I suppose Hudson was inserted into the movie--as Parker's assistant--to answer the complaints over the years by Black America, that there were no Black women in this fashionable pay cable TV gang of hos. See Ebony and Jet, now your prayers about the ultimate in civil rights--close to equal homie billing with the most haggard foursome of whores--have been answered.

Filth and male emasculation--the staples of the TV show--are even more plentiful and pungently rancid in the onscreen version. Shocker.

Is this really what women want? Forget all the raunchy guy movies that have come out in recent years. None have anything on this grotesque celluloid piece of trash. If you've ever called men pigs or chauvinists or decried their alleged collective behavior toward women, but yet you like this movie, you're a hypocrite. The men in our world have nothing on these pigs in skirts.

Men are from Mars. Women are from . . . aging slut hell. But, hey, their jewel-encrusted stiletto Manolo Blahnik satin pumps cost a fortune.

And that's all that matters.

Posted by Debbie at 01:31 AM

May 27, 2008

Sydney Pollack: So-So Director Was Great in "Tootsie," But Whitewashed Islam From Terror Plot Film

By Debbie Schlussel

The entire entertainment world is abuzz with news of the death of director/producer/actor Sydney Pollack at the age of 73 from cancer.

Frankly, he was a highly over-rated director. He did some good films, like "The Firm," "Tootsie," and "Three Days of the Condor," and some okay films, like the highly-overrated, pan-Communist, "The Way We Were," and the annoying, "Out of Africa." But his real star turn was in front of the camera, in his co-starring role as Dustin Hoffman's agent in "Tootsie," in his best scene ever--below. And a lot of his movies were dreck, chick flick stock, and standard left-wing pap. I like the other Sidney--Sidney Lumet--far better.

In the dreck/left-wing pap category, foremost in my mind is "The Interpreter," which Pollack executive produced and directed, and from which he whitewashed all references to Islam. As I wrote in my review of the movie, when it was originally written the script was about the plot of Arab Muslim terrorists to murder thte leader of their country at the U.N. But the whole thing was changed to Black Africans with AIDS who try to murder their leader (but, hey, no racism, right?) in order to not offend Muslims. The movie stank anyway, but stank far more with the stench of Pollack's PC machinations.

Pollack's last role was in the awful "Made of Honor," currently in theaters. But like I said, his best role--his best scene--is the one above from "Tootsie."

Posted by Debbie at 01:53 PM

Buzzkill: "Zohan" Looking to Be Another Rodney King Peacenik Movie

By Debbie Schlussel

This week, I'll be screening "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," the Adam Sandler Mossad-agent-versus-Palestinian-terrorists comedy about which I've been writing on this site and to which I've been looking forward.

But an interview with "Zohan" co-star Emmanuelle Chriqui in the June edition of Women's Health magazine sounds like the moral message of this movie might be what I originally feared: the Rodney King, "Can't We All Just Get Along?" BS. Diners at Jerusalem's Sbarro Pizza, patrons at Tel Aviv's Mike's Bar and the Dolfinarium Disco, those trying to celebrate Passover at Netanya's Park Hotel--all of them . . . well, the ones who are still alive, know that we cannot all just get along.

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Beautiful Airhead Emmanuelle Chriqui Clueless on Mid-East

But Chriqui, a (tattooed) Jew of Moroccan descent who was raised in Montreal, plays Sandler's love interest--a kindly Palestinian woman who gives the Jewish former Israeli Mossad agent his first job as a hairdresser in New York. Aww, Peace in the Middle . . . Manhattan.

And Chriqui doesn't have a clue. She describes her Israeli Moroccan relatives' support for their country and recounting of the anti-Semitic persecution they endured even in "moderate" Morocco, as "the other side":

I have relatives in Israel. When I was growing up, all I ever heard about was "the other side," and it was mostly negative.

Hmmm . . . how much of "the other side" would she hear in an Arab or Muslim country?

Guess what, Emanuelle? Rape, torture, murder, and property confiscation--the general scheme of Arab Muslim treatment of the Jews in Arab countries--usually isn't "positive." It's generally "mostly negative." Ditto for the experience of being one of the million Jews kicked out of Arab Muslim nations since Israel became a state. Newsflash, Emanuelle: That's mostly negative.

Chriqui continues with her clueless, misguided hippie, peacenik outlook:

Through this comedy, you get to see our similarities as well as our difference--but how we can live together, too. We're actors showing how the world should be, but it's still real. We had both Palestinians and Isrealis on the set.

Um, no. A movie set is not real.

Israelis and Jews do want peace, but those of us who are realists know we'll never get it . . . especially not through a Hollywood set and a silly comedy, while a billion plus of our real-life enemies want to eliminate us and complete what Hitler started.

Like I said, tell it--"how we can live together"--to diners at Jerusalem's Sbarro Pizza, patrons at Tel Aviv's Mike's Bar and the Dolfinarium Disco, those trying to celebrate Passover at Netanya's Park Hotel--all of them . . . well, the ones who are still alive.

This is not even Isreal, and I can't exist here without getting Muslim death, beheading, rape, and torture threats from my Muslim "neighbors" Lola Elzein, Mohammad Fouad Abdallah, Robert Mustaq John, and Wasil Burki.

Israel is not a Hollywood set. It is a tiny island of civility, humanity, brainpower, innovation, and courage amidst several continents and nations comprising Greater Barbaria. It's hardly the same thing as surviving along with fellow ditzes with make-up artists, fancy wardrobing, and giant, unmerited paychecks, and chai lattes amidst palm trees.

So sad that even actors in a comedy about Israeli agents fighting terrorists, don't get it. Even sadder when the utterer of such stupidity is a descendant of a family which saw that life as Jews in the Arab Muslim world was hardly like the good life in Burbank and Malibu.

Memo to Emmanuelle Chriqui: Shut Up and Act!

Looking forward to this "Zohan" movie less and less.

Posted by Debbie at 12:06 PM

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Movie Choices Honoring Our Best

By Debbie Schlussel

With Hollywood's spate of anti-American war movies over the last several years (all of them bombs), my friend Mike Church (on whose Sirius Patriot Channel 144 show I do movie reviews and talk politics, every Friday) has a great list of great movies for Memorial Day. These movies--selections of the KingDude Memorial Day Movie Guide--honor our troops and celebrate their greatness, heroism, courage under fire, and sacrifices throughout American history. I agree with all of Mike's choices (though I haven't yet seen "The Crossing") and add two others:

* The Great Raid (click to read my review)

* Saving Private Ryan

What movies would you add to Mike's and my lists?

Posted by Debbie at 01:26 PM

May 23, 2008

Weekend Box Office @ Home: DVD's I Recommend

By Debbie Schlussel

Since I've already reviewed this weekend's new release, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," and since I'm often asked which movies I'd recommend for rental, I thought I'd take this opportunity before a long Memorial Day weekend to recommend a couple of movies I like that are either out of the mainstream or older. Given my interest in thrillers and homeland security issues, I liked both of these thrillers a lot:

* "Right At Your Door": This movie, made in 2006, was only released in a handful of theaters in 2007 for a couple of nights. And that was it. It's hard to tell why, because it's well done and very timely.

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What would you do if a dirty bomb or some other sort of chemical weapon is detonated in your area? Do you go outside and try to find your wife? Do you let her in after she returns and you've decided she's probably already afflicted with the fumes/chemicals?

This movie, starring little-known actors, asks those questions and shows how unprepared we are for such an attack and how little we know. An unemployed man kisses his wife and sends her off to work. Not long after a chemical attack on Los Angeles takes place. By the time she gets home, he won't let her in and has insulated his house. What happens next is interesting and surprising.

It's a must see.

* "The Parallax View": This 1974 movie is a masterpiece, which stands the test of time. Everything from the way it is shot to the clever, unexpected ending is magnificent. While I don't generally believe in conspiracy theories, especially when it comes to the shooting of JFK, etc., this thriller--which buys into that--plays it well. (Again, for the record, I find movies like "JFK" and theories that the Warren Commission was covering up for some massive conspiracy, to be extremely loony and wacked.)

The story: One by one, those who witnessed the assassination of a rising star U.S. Senator die in mysterious circumstances atop Seattle's famed Space Needle. One witness, a journalist played by Warren Beatty (no, I don't like him or his far-leftism, but he's good in this), starts investigating and finds a mysterious shadow corporation of assassins.

Thrilling, exciting, and with some great action scenes, I hope they don't "remake" this movie and ruin it. Only some video rental chains have this movie. Blockbuster and Netflix both have it, but Hollywood Video does not.

Posted by Debbie at 10:30 AM

May 22, 2008

What's Missing From the New Indiana Jones Movie

By Debbie Schlussel

In addition to what I said in my review, the new Indiana Jones movie, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (try saying that five times fast) is missing the magical scenes from the first edition, "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Like reader MarySJ and, I'm sure, many others, my favorite scene (actually, my favorite movie scene ever) is when the Nazis open the Ark and their faces melt because they looked at the image of G-d emanating from it. (This is a Jewish belief, and we even look away when the high priests deliver a special prayer, so as not to see the presence of G-d.)

As a reminder, here's the scene (shorter version--first, followed by the entire scene, which you really need to see):

Bonus scene: Here's the Nazi uber-aging scene from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" . . .

Nothing even close to these scenes in the "Crystal Skull." Sorry.

Posted by Debbie at 09:35 AM

May 20, 2008

Holiday Weekend Box Office: "Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" Review

By Debbie Schlussel

Let me start by saying that "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is my favorite movie (tied with "Blade Runner," another Harrison Ford vehicle). And I didn't think any of its sequels came close. That includes this latest one--27 years later. Too late. It debuts in theaters, Thursday.

When I wasn't dozing off during yesterday's Detroit movie critics screening of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystall Skull," I couldn't help but notice that many of the plot points are similar to those in the two "National Treasure" films.

The myth of the lost, underground city made of gold and covered with water, the hidden tomb of treasures, even a giant round levered, pivoting floor that must be balanced by the person standing on it--all of these were in the "National Treasure" original and its sequel. Yet, those films were far more exciting and interesting than the new Indiana Jones sequel, though they pale in comparison to the original "Raiders" movie.

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Stodgy and gerontological Indiana Jones is now dull. His long-abandoned void has largely been replaced on the silver screen by Nicholas Cage's starring role in the National Treasure movies. It's true that those movies take place in present, which is not as exciting as World War II and--now, in this Indie Jones flick--the early years of the Cold War. True, Cage doesn't have the level of good looks and machismo that Harrison Ford had in the early Indiana Jones movies. And instead of suavity and brilliance, he's kind of a screwball.

But the 65-year-old Indie didn't do it for me. Neither did the equally stodgy George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and, yes, Karen Allen, brought back--from her new, post-Hollywood life of knitting and selling Indian sweaters in Massachusetts--to co-star in this tired film.

And it wasn't the title character's chronological age that soured me. It was the old, tired, completely absurd quality of this latest script. There was no magic. It all just seemed manufactured. While this movie might have been great and novel in the '80s, in 2008, it's kind of old hat. And there were no cool scenes of Nazis faces melting because they took a prohibited look at the Ark--still a classic scene that stands the test of time from the original "Raiders." There's just no there, there.

The story starts out well enough. Indiana Jones is kidnapped by Russian soldiers who've snuck into America. They're led by Russian agent Cate Blanchett, who does a terrible Russian accent that switches veers too many times back to an English accent. They've gone to the legendary Area 51 military base in Nevada. There they find a crystal skull they've been searching for. It's the skull of an alien being. Legend has it that there's a lost city of gold in Latin America, where other alien crystal skulls are located. Whoever unites all the skulls can possess magical powers, the story goes. When we see this 65-year-old swinging and climbing and jumping--all to thwart Russian commies, it's almost believable.

My favorite scene in the whole movie comes next, when Indie escapes the Russians and finds himself in the middle of a nuclear testing site. The homes and the streets are populated by mannequins, and he saves himself from a nuclear bomb by packing himself inside a refrigerator. That was cool, but even that scene seems borrowed from the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes." And it was all downhill from there, and that was like only 10 or 15 minutes into the movie. And at 2 hours, 4 minutes, the movie seemed to me like 4 hours, 2 minutes. I found it kind of slow.

We find out that Indie has a son with Karen Allen, his old girlfriend from the original Indie flick. Shia LeBeouf plays greaser Mutt (remember, it's 1957, so the "Happy Days" dynamic abounds), but he's kind of boring and too cutesy. If he's being groomed to be "The Next Indiana Jones," fuhgedaboutit. Harrison Ford, in his day, had a certain dynamic in playing the swashbuckling and appealing Indie. Women wanted to "date" him and men wanted to be him. Not even close with the geeky LeBeouf, who's good in other movies, but seemed out of place and a formulaic insert here.

Don't attack me for disclosing this non-spoiler about Indie's son. It's kinda obvious that he's Indie's son from when we first meet him. You don't need to be Einstein or even Professor I. Jones, though everyone seems to get it but this archeological genius that this is his son. We see this "son he didn't know about" gimmick in a lot of the lackluster tired franchises trying to make a comeback. Remember the awful "Superman Returns"?

The rest of the movie is a preposterous mishmash plot involving Indiana Jones, his ex-girlfriend, and their son, trying to thwart the Russians in their race to find the golden underground city in South America. There, amidst Mayan tribesmen, we also meet one of Indie's old mentors who has gone nuts and who is the key to finding the gold city.

I don't want to give any more away about this slow-moving, non-plot of a plot. But I will say this: the scene with the spaceship and the aliens was simply absurd. I was waiting for Richard Dreyfuss and his mashed potatoes (from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind") to make an appearance. It was that bizarre. It's simply not a good idea to throw lucite outer space aliens into the mix of something that's supposed to be a believable movie about history and an archeological adventurer.

And one of the last lines of dialogue about how the aliens are going to "the space between spaces" was just too much New-Age BS to keep me from bursting out in laughter.

As for the snakes (there is one prominently placed on the movie poster), you'll only see one in this flick, and it's hardly scary.

There's nothing offensive or objectionable about this latest "Indiana Jones" installment. And the negative portrayal of Russian communists as thugs was accurate and welcome, coming from liberal Hollywood (waiting for a similar treatment on Islamic terrorists). It's fine family viewing.

But it just wasn't a great movie. And given how it started, with "Raiders of the Lost Ark," they don't have much to show for the 19 years they waited since the last sequel.

I liked the ending of the movie. It's what was in between that and the strong start that didn't impress me. "Crystall Skull" simply wasn't even as good as the previous, inferior sequels to "Raiders."

Posted by Debbie at 05:01 PM

May 19, 2008

Boooooring: Thumbs Way Down on New Indiana Jones Flick

By Debbie Schlussel

Today, I screened the new Gerontology Jones, er . . . Indiana Jones flick--"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (along with two horrid movies which were far worse). And I didn't like it. At all.

I'm prohibited from posting my review until late Wednesday Night or early Thursday Morning (the movie debuts in theaters on Thursday), but with apologies to Roger Ebert, thumbs waaaay down on this. This latest installment isn't even close to being up to the level of either of the lackluster sequels to the original "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

If it's any indication--and it is--I fell asleep like four times . . . and missed nothing. Yaaaaawn. Mixing outer space themes with the Indie Jones thing is a bad idea. In spades.

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Stay tuned for my complete review, later this week. And, please, find someone who can do a better Russian accent than Cate Blanchett. Oy.

Posted by Debbie at 06:19 PM

May 16, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Action-Packed "Chronicles of Narnia" Sequel Far Surpasses Charming First Installment

By Debbie Schlussel

The only new release this weekend is the sequel to the original "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." And it far surpasses the charming original. You needn't have seen the first film to understand and enjoy this second one. The messages--paramount among them the righteous fight of good versus evil (and yes, it's via the sword)--are good ones.

"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian": I really liked this second installment based on "The Chronicles of Narnia" series of children's novels by C. S. Lewis. It's much better than the first, which I liked. This one is faster-paced, has more action--with lots of jousting and fighting sequences, and has a better story. And like the first movie and the books, religious analogies abound (including one that resembles the Jews fleeing the Egyptians in the sea and the Egyptians being swallowed up by the water).

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The story of this great adventure: The four sibling children--who are also coronated kings and queens in Narnia--are back to their humdrum lives in WWII London, wondering when the wizard will summon them back to their other-world kingdom. Soon the call comes. They are returned to Narnia, centuries into the future from their last visit.

Now, Narnia is in bad shape. The trees no longer come alive and dance, and it's been conquered by their human, mortal neighbors. In that neighboring human land, the evil uncle of Prince Caspian, Miraz, has just borne a male heir, and is out to assassinate his nephew, heir to the throne. The Prince flees to Narnia, where he seeks the help of his Narnian enemies. The four Narnian king and queen brothers are enlisted to help the Prince retake his kingdom.

The medieval fighting scenes are great and fast-paced. And the gryphons and centaurs and other mythological characters of Narnia are back to take part in fighting on behalf of good--Narnia and Prince Caspian--versus evil--his diabolical uncle, who wants to wipe out Narnia forever.

Great for your kids and your whole family.

Posted by Debbie at 10:57 AM

May 09, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Three New Releases, Three Headaches

By Debbie Schlussel

I don't recommend any of the new releases at movie theaters, this weekend. All of them gave me a headache. I did not screen "Redbelt."

* "Speed Racer": This non-animated feature taken from the Japanimation series of the same name was more concerned with sets, costumes, and CGI backdrops than its substandard, boring, predictable story. Every second was manic dayglo and brightness everywhere. I was considering putting on my sunglasses in the dark theater. And it stars Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer. That's annoying in and of itself.

Since there were many little kids at the theater and it's being promoted as a kids' film, I had to wonder why this movie contains the F-word, the S-word, and a little kid--Spritle Racer--giving the one-finger salute. Also hard to jibe that a movie aimed at little kids features bad guys putting a guy's arm into a tank of hungry Piranhas to be eaten and a scene in which a man's finger is eaten by them.

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The story: Speed Racer, played by Emile Hirsch, grows up after watching his brother racer, Rex Racer, crash and burn and die. Or did he? Speed becomes a great racer and is offered a big endorsement deal by the evil Royallton Corp (always those evil big businesses). Will he take it? Will he win the cross-continent road rally? And who is the mysterious, masked racer helping him out?

More importantly, do we care? In my case, for the entire 2 hour, 10 minute movie, the answer was a big, fat, "NO."

* "What Happens in Vegas": What Happens in Vegas should stay off the movie screen, if this is any indication. This movie was stupid, formulaic, tasteless, and a waste of time. Plus, it features four of the most annoying actors in Hollywood, including Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. It was supposed to be a comedy, but the jokes--for the most part--weren't funny. Groanworthy, more than anything.

Diaz plays a woman just dumped by her fiancee and Kutcher a juvenile, immature man just fired by his wealthy father. Both of them fly to Vegas from New York and meet each other on a fluke. They get drunk, get married, and win $3,000,000 at the slot machine, just as they were planning their divorce. Then, they are sentenced by Judge Dennis Miller (yeah, that's believable, plus his name is "Judge Whopper"--haha, funny) to live together as a married couple for six months before he divides the winnings. While scheming against each other, they predictably fall in love. Schocking. The end.

A cheesy chick-flick not worth your time. Certainly wasn't worth mine.

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* "Then She Found Me": This movie was directed by and stars Helen Hunt. But Hunt is so anorexically thin and gaunt, you keep thinking she just arrived from Auschwitz and can't pay attention to the horrid story. While wishing she ate more than half a bean for dinner--and in her case, the camera simply didn't add those ten pounds--you try to pay attention to the bizarre, way-too-quirky plot about a stereotypical Jewish woman whose biological clock is ticking and badly wants to have kids. She marries, then is quickly left by the immature Matthew Broderick. She meets and falls for an English man, but finds out she's pregnant with the ex's kid. She is adopted, and learns that her birth mother is the weird talk show host, Bette Midler. But wait, it gets worse. Her gynecologist is played by . . . Salman Rushdie? Hmmm . . . now, we're getting close to the reason for the fatwah. (Just joking, no e-mails please--of course, I abhor the Muslim death-sentence fatwa against Rushdie.)

Skipworthy.

Posted by Debbie at 01:07 PM

May 07, 2008

Hilarious: "Harold & Kumar" Do PC Absurdity

By Debbie Schlussel

Every major city in America has what I call the "hometown pimp and ho rag." It's the free newspaper that's insufferably far left and which makes its money with hooker, er . . . "escort" classified ads and the like in the back.

Detroit's version is "The Metro Times." My friend, Corey Hall, is one of the bright (and very liberal) movie reviewers for the MT. Corey is very insightful, and I enjoy sitting next to him at movie screenings to hear his comments and asides about the movies we're reviewing, even if I disagree with his politics.

But Corey's politics are not this ridiculous. Check out the absurd political correctness--quite clearly not his and very likely his editors' (though I haven't asked him)--that changed his movie review and garnered a letter to the editor by an Indian in response. Again, for the record, I did not ask Corey about this and he hasn't mentioned it, but I happened to notice, and knowing him, I think this is what happened.

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Corey Hall reviewed the horrid "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay." It stars Kal Penn as an American whose family comes from India. In his review, Corey apparently wrote, in the April 30th issue:

The best political argument here is that we've reached the point where a Korean and an Indian can star in movies just as stupid as any white guy . . . but in a perfect world they wouldn't have to.

But it appears that when PC copy editors got ahold of it, they changed the un-PC word "Indian." Here's how it ran:

The best political argument here is that we've reached the point where a Korean and a Native American can star in movies just as stupid as any white guy . . . but in a perfect world they wouldn't have to.

That drew this letter to the editor, from an American who family's heritage is from India--a letter truly best meant for the Metro Times' uber-PC editors:

Re: Cory Hall's review of the film Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (Metro Times, April 30) and his observation, "The best political argument here is that we've reached the point where a Korean and a Native American can star in movies just as stupid as any white guy . . . but in a perfect world they wouldn't have to."

I'm not sure if this quote from the Harold and Kumar review was meant to be humor or not. Granted, the movie was dumb. But if you really want to present yourself as an "artsy" educated person or news source with discerning taste, you might try and learn the difference between Indian and Native American.

Indians are from a country in Asia called India; Native Americans are indigenous peoples from North or South American [sic]. My friends and I got quite a laugh out of your mitake. Maybe it comes from your Michigan public school education. I don't know.

What I do know is you might need to step up your game. I live in Boston and from time to time I visit your Web site; I mean I think it's good, but this is not making people from Michigan look any more educated than people outside Michigan already think you are.

Good luck. - Michael Jain, Boston, Mass

Like I said, Corey's a smart guy. He knows the difference between Indians from India and Indians referred to with the PC-term, "Native American." This is likely an editor's uber-PC-stylebook taking the place of good sense.

But the letter led the Metro Times to realize their hyper-PC screw-up. This week, in the May 7th issue, the review was re-run, using the hyphenated term, "Indian-American."

Oh, the hopelessness of the political correctness crowd.

Posted by Debbie at 06:20 PM

May 02, 2008

Weekend Box Office: "Iron Man's" Good, But Tainted By Defense Contractor/Islam "Message"

By Debbie Schlussel

The only movie I recommend, this weekend, is "Iron Man." It's a great movie, made less so by its message that defense contractors/weapons-makers are evil and that Islamic terrorists work at their behest. HUH?!

* "Iron Man": This is a well-made movie, one of the best superhero movies I've seen in the last several years. But the message--while true to the Iron Man comic book series--is the usual one Hollywood loves to promote, ie., that defense contractors are evil, war-mongers who kill innocent people and enable despots to do so (rather than defending free people, which their weapons mostly do).

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And while I loved scenes in which Iron Man sets Islamic terrorists on fire and also blows some of them up--I applauded and cheered them as did the rest of the audience, that is lessened when we discover that the terrorists are working with an evil defense contractor exec. Do we really believe that execution videos, like the one we saw of Nicholas Berg, are really done at the behest of, say, General Dynamics or Northrup?

Robert Downey, Jr. plays Tony Stark, a brilliant single, immature, playboy billionaire CEO of a high tech weapons making company. He is well-cast in this role, originally modeled on Howard Hughes in the comic book. His loyal assistant, Pepper Pots, is dully-performed by Gwyneth Paltrow, who has a quiet, unrequited crush on him.

The story: Downey, captured by Islamic terrorists in Afghanistan, is kept alive with an implanted, visible electromagnet, which prevents shrapnel from damaging his heart and killing him. While in captivity, he builds the prototype Iron Man uniform powered by the electromagnet, which enables him to escape. After he's freed, he decides he will no longer make weapons because they kill innocent people. His evil co-founder doesn't like that and fights him. Meanwhile, Downey, as Iron Man, flies around killing Islamic terrorists and saving innocent people.

The movie starts out too slow, with too much emphasis on all the big-boy toys and expensive accoutrements that Downey has. But it quickly improves into an exciting action film. The technology and gadgetry on display here is well done. Iron Man is cool, exciting, and heroic. But the peacenik, anti-weaponry message is a turn-off. Ditto for the claim that Islamic terrorists are only as bad as they are because they work in tandem with evil defense execs.

Still, we're making progress. In a stunning, exciting, big-budget movie, the terrorists are finally Muslims. It's a start.

My other objection to the movie is that at the end--and this is not a spoiler--he tells a press conference full of reporters that he's "Iron Man." Aren't superheroes supposed to keep their identities secret? Would love to see how they forget this in the upcoming two sequels of the trilogy of "Iron Man" movies scheduled to be made.

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* "Made of Honor": I hated this movie, possibly the most annoying chick flick I've ever seen. It was almost a carbon copy of "My Best Friend's Wedding," only way worse and with a ton of tasteless, graphic oral sex jokes and other groaners. Blech.

Patrick Dempsey plays a playboy who finally realizes that his female best friend is the woman of his dreams. But he waited too long, and now she's marrying a millionaire Scotsman. She asks him to be her "Maid of Honor." He agrees, so he can try to sabotage the wedding. You know what happens--sooooo predictable. And slow and boring. A guy being a "maid of honor"? 'Nuff said. Skipworthy, big-time.

* "The Life Before Her Eyes": This bizarre, New Age melodrama was way too confusing, not to mention, pointless. Flashbacks and flash-forwards are confusing and repetitive . . . and unnecessary. Due to a scheduling miscommunication, I came 20 minutes late to the screening and missed nothing. Two best friends, a slut and a devout virgin are caught in a Columbine-style high school massacre. One lives . . . or does she? We see he life now, 20 years later. Or do we?

Not worth your time. Skip it.

Posted by Debbie at 02:41 PM

May 01, 2008

"Defiance"--Movie I Can't Wait To See: Daniel Craig Stars As Jewish Resistance Leader Who Fought & Killed Nazis; Gun Control vs. the Jews

By Debbie Schlussel

Earlier today, a reader made the misinformed comment that the Jews "willingly" went to their slaughter at the hands of the Nazis, "without even trying to fight back." That couldn't be farther from the truth. There are many books (like "They Fought Back," by Yuri Suhl), documentaries, etc. that document the Jewish resistance efforts. My own great-uncle died in the resistance, fighting the Nazis.

Since it's Holocaust Remembrance Day, I'm happy to present this trailer of "Defiance," starring the hot Daniel Craig ("James Bond") as one of the Bielski Boys, three Jewish brothers who lived in the forest, set up a militia, saved 1,200 Jews, and killed hundreds of Nazis. They also destroyed lots of Nazi weapons and munitions. There were among many other groups of Jewish partisans and resistance fighters who did, in fact, fight back--and kill--lots of Nazis. The movie comes out in December.

You must understand that there was strict gun control in Nazi Europe. Jews were not allowed to own guns to defend themselves. Those that did, did so illegally. But many did fight back.

I've written about many of these Jewish militias and spoken about it, including twice at the National Rifle Association annual convention (until I was banned by Islamist NRA board member, Grover Norquist). My own grandfather, the late Isaac Engel, Blessed Be His Memory, a Holocaust survivor and Rabbi by training, proudly owned several guns and used them to protect himself and his business in a bad area of suburban Detroit. He always recounted several instances of when the guns saved his life, including when he was a "shoichet," a kosher slaughterer.

My grandfather told me of Jewish efforts to form an underground army fighting Nazi tyranny and how his brother--my great-uncle--lost his life fighting in such an effort. My grandfather and my late father, H.L. Schlussel, MD, would also recount how on the eve of the Holocaust, the late Zionist leader Vladimir "Ze'ev" Jabotinsky visited Europe from his home in then-Palestine. "Yiddin Learnin Shissin!"--Jews Learn to Shoot!--he would tell them in Yiddish. And he told Jews to get guns, the only way to protect themselves. But when he came back to Europe, Jabotinsky lamented that Jewish efforts to learn to shoot and to obtain guns were too little, too late.

But that wasn't the case for all. There were the heroic Bielskis, portrayed in "Defiance." And there were so many other courageous Jewish efforts of resistance as depicted in the blue Jewish stars on this first photo from the brochure, "Holocaust And Resistance," which documents 79 instances in which Jews resisted and/or killed Nazis.

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This second photo also documents Jewish resistance efforts and is from the Partisans section of "Encyclopedia Judaica". The encyclopedia documents the efforst of Jewish Partisans, like the courageous Robert Gamzon, founder of the Jewish Maquis which aided in the fight against the Nazis. Gamzon's group helped the Allies in the landing on French shores, attacking the restreating German forces and capturing an armed Jewish train.

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Gamzon's group was part of the Organization Juive de Combat (OJC)--Organized Jewish militia--which carried out 1,925 actions, including 750 instances of sabotaging Nazi trains, destroying 32 Nazi factories, and blowing up 25 bridges. It also executed 152 Nazis and Nazi-allied soldiers and agents, including a German spy. In 175 other actions, it killed 1,085 Nazis, and blew up seven German planes, 286 trucks, and more than 2,000,000 liters of gasoline.

Jews comprised 15-20% of the French resistance, and 2,000 Jews were in the Slovak partisan movement. That's aside from the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and many other Jewish partisan groups and Jews who participated in other resistance groups.

Jews did, indeed, fight back against the Nazis. They were brave and courageous. And "Defiance" shows just one group--the Bielski Brothers--who saved lives and slowed the Nazis from their final solution.

I can't wait to see it.

Read more about the heroic Bielski Brothers in "The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Saved 1,200 Jews and Built a Village in the Forest" and "Defiance: The Bielski Partisans."

Posted by Debbie at 12:36 PM

April 28, 2008

More Zohan: Israel's Greatest Mossad Agent Ever

By Debbie Schlussel

I've already written at length about Adam Sandler's upcoming, early June release, "You Don't Mess With the Zohan." As I noted, it's about an Israeli Mossad agent who gets tired of fighting Islamic terrorists and fakes his own death to realize his dream of becoming a hairdresser in New York. But soon, the terrorists catch up with him. Reader Andrew--who knows actors in the film--sent this new trailer, below.

If you look closely, that's a Mariah Carey t-shirt Zohan's wearing when he kicks Islamic terrorist butt. She plays herself in the movie. I can't wait to see it, but I have the sneaking suspicion that, like every other Sandler comedy, the best jokes are in the trailer and the rest of the movie stinks. Hope I'm wrong here, since it looks hilarious. The new trailer is followed by the earlier trailer, which I reposted. Oh, and one other thing: Some anti-Israel cretins are punking YouTube viewers pretending by posting the "Zohan" trailer laced with spliced in anti-Israel propaganda. Not funny.

Past writing on the details of "You Don't Mess With the Zohan":

* I Could Watch This All Day: Adam Sandler Does the Mossad - HILARIOUS!

* New Adam Sandler Mossad Agent Hairdresser Comedy Sounds Funny

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Posted by Debbie at 02:34 PM

April 25, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Skipworthy "Selection" of New Movies

By Debbie Schlussel

While there are several new offerings at theaters, this weekend, I can't recommend any of them. They are all skipworthy. Rent something, or try to see "Flawless," "The Bank Job," or "The Counterfeiters," all already in theaters. I did not screen "Young at Heart," due to scheduling conflicts, and I did not screen "Deception," as I was told it was not being screened for critics, a bad sign.

* "Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay": As my friend, Sirius Patriot Channel host Mike Church (on whose show I do movie reviews every Friday morning) says, the audience of young, stupid frat boys, etc. that will go to see this movie, are the same crowd that are working for and will vote for Barack Hussein Obama. And whatta coincidence!--star Kal Penn is spending his time campaigning for Obama.

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As I predicted, this movie is more Gitmo Trutherism from Hollywood and other similar political BS. No, Americans aren't held at Gitmo, nor are aliens taken from American soil to that detention facility. So, right off the bat, this vulgar comedy is entirely BS. This very raunchy movie was completely disgusting, full of bathroom humor and constant gratuitous vagina, penis, and breast shots . . . so many it could have been a porn movie. Plus it made a political statement: that our counterterrorism policy is a racist, degrading over-reaction carried out by complete idiots. Well, at least, they got the last part right.

This sequel to "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" takes place the day after the setting of that movie. Harold and Kumar are traveling to Amsterdam, where they can realize their dream of smoking endless legalized pot. But Kumar sneaks a make-shift bong on the plane, and it is mistaken for a bomb. They are accused of being terrorists by the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, who is a complete idiot (yes, it does resemble real life in certain ways) and a racist. The two pot-smoking Americans of color are sent to Gitmo, where all inmates are forced to perform oral sex on the guards. That's how they are, er, "fed." Gross.

They escape and try to get to Texas, where their acquaintance, a son of one of President Bush's close buddy, can help them get out of the terrorism charges. Problem is, he's also about to marry the woman of Kumar's dreams and he wants to stop that. Meanwhile, Homeland Security is tracking them, and they run into their old friend, Neil Patrick Harris (of "Doogie Howser" fame).

There isn't one good White person in this entire movie. Even a biracial TSA screener is a "bad guy." All White people in the movie are stupid, hickish, inbred, racist, evil, or some combination thereof. President Bush is a major pot-smoking hypocrite (well, they, again, get the second part right). The movie also makes fun of Jews as cheap and money-grubbing, but, hey, it's written by self-hating Jews, so I guess that means it's okay (by Hollywood "standards"). All White Americans are to be mocked and disrespected--that's the message of this highly annoying and sickening movie.

While it has its very funny moments, skip this movie if you have any taste or class whatsoever. Or if you have a conscience. Cinema for the sub-human.

* "Baby Mama": The former SNL-team of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler star in this flick about a career woman and exec (Fey) at a Whole Foods-esque supermarket chain who suddenly decides she wants to become a single mother but can't conceive. She decides to enlist a surrogate mother (Poehler), a hick from a nearby Philly neighborhood, to have her child. Unfortunately, the surrogate moves in with her and "hilarity" ensues.

This movie wasn't as bad as I thought it would be--Steve Martin is hilarious as a silly, new-aged CEO of the organic supermarket chain--but it isn't great either. It has its funny moments, but mostly, it's just stupid. And it's very predictable. It doesn't completely glorify becoming a single mother, as I thought it would, though.

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* "Chicago 10": Almost 40 years after Yippie protesters disrupted the 1968 Democratic National Convention, this inane, annoying, and phony documentary attempts to glorify these 8(7) men who made life hell for Chicago police, residents, convention delegates, and a federal judge. The movie literally gave me a headache. And it doesn't explain why the "Chicago Seven" (originally, "Chicago Eight") are now called the "Ten." Either someone did so many drugs then, he can't add, or he's adding the two prosecutors.

I admit that I walked out on this so-called "documentary," which alternates between animated re-creations of the Chicago 7 trial and news footage of real-life interviews with them at the time they planned and carried out their violent "non-violent" protests. With the constant loud music, bad accents (from Boston, etc.) using the voices of B-movie actors, and the one-sided presentation of the motives, behavior, and results thereof of the Chicago 7, this movie was a boring, aimless piece of propaganda and a waste of my time.

Take my lead, and don't waste your time.

* "The Grand": This over-the-top comedy that is supposed to parody the real-life "World Series of Poker" was mostly very stupid and not funny. It stars, among others, Woody Harrelson. If you love poker, you might like this, but probably not. A waste of time.

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* "The Visitor": This debuted in New York and L.A. a few weeks ago and is in nationwide release, this weekend. The premise--that Muslim illegal aliens brighten up Americans' lives and are unfairly treated by our country and its policies--is absurd. Heavily marketed to the Islamic and Arabic communities in America, I will be posting a full column review of this high quality Bin Laden cinema, very soon. Stay tuned.

Posted by Debbie at 03:32 PM

April 24, 2008

Dirty Harry is Dead

By Debbie Schlussel

No, Clint Eastwood is not dead. He's still very much alive.

But "Dirty Harry," the character that made him a big star, is very much dead. Rigor mortis long ago set in, when Eastwood began his years-long repentance tour around Hollywood for having played the conservative, no-nonsense law and order cop.

When Eastwood made the pro-euthanasia, bait-and-switch "Million Dollar Baby," Dirty Harry went into a coma. When he made the anti-American "Flags of Our Fathers," Dirty Harry's heart stopped beating. And with "Letters from Iwo Jima," which showed American soldiers on the WWII island battlefield as heartless killers, Dirty Harry was dead. When Eastwood told USA Today, he thought there might be some "great stories" from Al-Qaeda's point of view to tell onscreen, rigor mortis set in to the body of Dirty Harry.

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Dirty Harry is Dead

Now, Eastwood has decided to make a sixth Dirty Harry film, "Gran Torino," to be filmed in Michigan (now that suffering Michigan taxpayers will be subsidizing the film under a stupid new law). But, aside from Eastwood being a gazillion years old, there's a great reason not to make this film.

With Eastwood's liberal, anti-war politics--which he's adopted to do penance to Hollywood for daring to play Dirty Harry in the first place--Dirty Harry is dead. Gone. Forever.

Don't go ahead. Don't make my day. I don't feel lucky.

Dirty Harry is Dead. DO NOT RESUSCITATE.

Posted by Debbie at 03:38 PM

April 21, 2008

Meet "Qaeda Morgan": Where in this Fantasy is Osama Bin Laden?

By Debbie Schlussel

You've heard of Tokyo Rose. You've seen Hanoi Jane. You've joked about Baghdad Bob.

Now meet Qaeda Morgan.

Osama Bin Laden has found in Morgan Spurlock the embodiment of all the previous enemy propagandists. Except this one has a major film production deal.

The fake-umentary maker who lied about McDonald's in "Supersize Me," lies about Islam, America, Israel, and Jews in "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?" in theaters, this past weekend.

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In 2005, Spurlock made a pro-Muslim episode of his F/X series, "30 Days" for which he won predictable awards and accolades from the pan-terrorist Muslim Public Affairs Council and CAIR. I was asked by Spurlock's people to be in it, but I refused and wrote about it in the Wall Street Journal. Carefully orchestrated, Spurlock already decided his favorable conclusion about American Muslims, before he even began filming. He's making the same case for extremist Muslims worldwide in this deceptive movie and working with the same crew of propagandist filmmakers.

In this silver screen version of slant, Spurlock presents Osama Bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda terrorists as animated baseball players on cards and in music videos, and terrorism as some sort of video game. And it is, indeed, all a game to him. His fellow left-winger, vegan chef girlfriend is pregnant with his kid, and he's worried about his kid being born into an "unsafe world." Therefore, feels the need to track down Bin Laden. Whatever. For the first ten minutes of the movie it's all "me, me, me." We watch Spurlock go through myriad stupid counterterrorism training and exercises while donning a wife-beater tank top.

And it's all downhill from there.

In this so-called documentary, the most hostile people are not Muslims, but Israeli Orthodox Jews. The most menacing terrorist threat in Israel is . . . a bikini. Almost all Muslims love America and Americans. They only dislike our foreign policy. They are just like us with the same hopes and dreams for their children, and they almost universally deplore Bin Laden. Terrorists and terrorism are created not by Islam or Bin Laden, but by America propping up pro-American dictators, instead of letting, say, the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt democratically to become the latest Al-Qaeda state. Christians are not persecuted in the least in any Islamic country (except Saudi Arabia).

Oh, and America must force Israel to acquiesce to the Palestinians and give them a state (which they de facto already have) to "take away an argument" from Al-Qaeda. Plus, HAMAS doesn't really have anything against Jews, per se, just Israel. And terrorism--as we were also told by everyone else after 9/11--that's not Islam.

Uh-huh.

These and other fantasies and Brothers Grimm material make up the crux of Morgan Spurlock's foray into high quality Bin Laden cinema. And although Spurlock's deliberate selectivity and prompting of Muslims to say what they think will please Americans on film, a minor detail he forgot to edit out was very telling and subtly betrayed his message to the few who know better.

In denouncing the fence that Israel has been forced to erect to try to keep Islamic terrorists out, Spurlock shows carefully edited shots of graffiti on the fence that make the Palestinians look sympathetic. The irony of part of the graffiti he showed was lost on him. It was a picture of a young, beautiful Muslim woman in a kheffiyeh with the quote underneath: "I Am Not a Terrorist."

Problem is, that picture, near the Ramallah checkpoint, is a photo of Leila Khaled, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group. The famous picture of her doesn't include the AK-47 she actually held in the real-life portrait. Khaled, carrying grenades, hijacked TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and tried unsuccessfully to hijack El-Al Flight 219 in 1970 (also with grenades). Even though she failed to hijack the El-Al flight, her hijacking partner shot El-Al flight crew member Shlomo Vider at least five times, seriously wounding him.

As I've noted on this site, Khaled planned the hijacking operation in 1970, which included the successful hijacking of three other planes, and she uttered the code "go" phrase, "Labnah Sandwich," which set off the attack. Details of the hijacking operation are well laid out in the book, "Terror in Black September," by David Raab, which I am currently reading and which will be reviewed soon on this site. Raab was a hostage on one of the flights that was successfully hijacked by Khaled's gant.

One of the reasons Khaled was so attractive was that she had massive plastic surgery to conceal her identity in order to carry out more Palestinian terrorist attacks. Her face has graced pro-Hezbollah rallies in Dearbornistan, and she has the dubious distinction of being the first known female Islamic terrorist.

Now, she's "Not a Terrorist"?

That's symbolic of the lies and fraud throughout this movie. Everywhere Spurlock goes--whether it's Egypt or Jordan or Gaza or the Palestinian Authority or Afghanistan or Morocco or Pakistan, everyone is nice and friendly, hates Bin Laden, and loves Americans . . . again, just not our foreign policy. We are shown a HAMAS city councilman from Gaza, who apparently never read the HAMAS Charter calling for the elimination of all Jews. He claims that he and the rest of HAMAS aren't against Jews. They just don't like Israel. Riiiight.

The only bad places in this movie are Saudi Arabia . . . and Israel. The most hostile people Spurlock encounters in the entire Middle East are ultra-Orthodox Jews in the religious Meah Shearim section of Israel. Unlike the friendly hijab-encrusted Palestinian Muslim women and HAMASniks and even extremist Saudi Arabians (the only Muslims Spurlock portrays accurately), these men won't talk to Spurlock. And he shows endless footage of them refusing his inquiries. Smart men. But, of course, as we know, there are plenty of Israelis who would talk to him. They just didn't make it on film because that wouldn't serve Spurlock's propaganda purposes (but for an anti-Israel far left Israeli journalist, Yair Lapid, whom he briefly interviews). One of the Orthodox men shouts

Get out of here, you filth.

My sentiments on Spurlock, exactly. Great minds think alike.

Oh, and that's after he shows a "frightening" bomb scare in Israel. After showing us the alleged damage Israelis did to Gaza and denouncing the fence bordering it, Spurlock shows us scared Israelis and a robotic team out to defuse a bomb. The "bomb" turns out to be a bikini in a plastic box. Spurlock shows lots of Israelis laughing at the "over-reaction" (to what is often actually a bomb, not a bikini, in Israel), and then starts talking to the robot, inserting C3PO sound effects. Haha, funny.

You get the point. Terrorist "attacks" against Israel are just bikinis and comedy. In contrast, the poor "Jew-loving" Palestinians are prisoners of these bikini-blower-uppers. And then, we are told by Spurlock that, even though giving the Palestinians a state won't end terrorism, we should do it, anyway to "take away an argument" from Bin Laden. Hokay.

And in case you didn't know--just as the Muslim propagandists and Bin Laden say--so does Spurlock. He wants you to know that Israel built the fence between it and the Palestinians, not to protect against terrorists. Nope. He wants you to know that it was

built to expand the Jewish presence in the region.

Hmmm . . . giving up the Sinai, Gaza, many Jewish settlements from which Jews were evicted from their homes in the West Bank. If that's "expanding the Jewish presence," someone got their addition and subtraction confused.

And don't forget: Palestinians hate Bin Laden. Forget about the hundreds of them you saw dancing in the street on 9/11, including that lady passing out candy on the streets of Ramallah and the rest of them honking their horns in celebration of the extermination of 3,000 Americans. That wasn't real. Because Morgan Spurlock, er . . . Qaeda Morgan, says so.

But these poor, peaceful Palestinians, despite their support for terrorism--which we don't see a lick of in Spurlock's whitewash, are "terrorized" by Israeli tanks patrolling the perimeter of Gaza. He implores us:

Imagine living like that and having that come near your house every day.

Um, imagine the tanks not being there and those people rushing through the fence from Gaza to brutally attack and murder Israelis. That's what would happen. He shows a bombed out classroom in Sderot, but doesn't seem to have a clue that the missiles that constantly hit the poor, working class Jewish suburb come from Gaza where those "awful" tanks are patrolling. Hello . . .?

Spurlock interviews Father Nabil Haddad of the pan-Islamist Greek Orthodox Church, who says, "I have no problem [being a Christian] in Jordan. We all worship Allah." That should tell you all you need to know. Christians are particularly oppressed in Jordan, our "moderate" ally. Anyone who says otherwise on camera is living a fairy tale (or worried about living another day if he says the wrong thing). Ditto for Christians, who've been mass murdered and forced to flee their homes throughout the Islamic world. Figures that Spurlock chose not to interview the few Chaldeans left in Iraq, or the few remaining Christians in Afghanistan, Gaza, etc.--all of whom live in fear for their lives.

America is evil, Mid-East Scholar Spurlock tells us, because we propped up the Shah and didn't give the Iranians democracy. Aren't you glad they have democracy now? Spurlock doesn't address the splendid post-Shah, Khomeini-esque consequences. And he interviews many Egyptians who are mad that we support Hosni Mubarak. Because a terrorist-ruled state would be so much better there, right? Spurlock forgot to mention that the Muslim Brotherhood--out of which HAMAS, Al-Qaeda, and Arafat all emerged--is the most popular political group there. Just as he declines to mention and inclines to gloss over so much else. That's what a propagandist does.

This movie--1.5 hours of Al-Jazeera lite--is old hat. We've heard and debunked the myths that dominate this movie, for the last 6.5 years. Ditto for Spurlock's claim that economics drives Muslims to become terrorists. How many times must we point out the rich families from which Mohammed Atta and his 18 colleagues, many Palestinian homicide bombers, and assorted others of the 72-virgin-obsessed club, emanate?

And how many times will our military contine to participate in helping anti-American propaganda films like this. It was bad enough when then-Marine Josh Rushing (who now works for Al-Jazeera) sympathized with the enemy in "Control Room" (the pro-Al-Jazeera documentary). But our soldiers in Afghanistan hang with Morgan Spurlock, risk their lives to take him on interviews with Muslims, and even let him waste a rocket-propelled grenade to see what it's like to shoot one. Why are American tax dollars helping this guy make an anti-American movie?

In the end, Spurlock tells us his pre-conceived conclusion to which he carefully tailors this movie:

We want the same things for our family [as Muslims do]. We [America] create these demons, and we create these visions [of Islamic terrorists] that, you know, are so beyond reality. What kind of world do we want to live in? What kind of world do we want it to be?

I want it to be a world where propagandists like Qaeda Morgan aren't funded by Hollywood film producers, and where America stops patronizing celluloid BS like his.

Ironically, Spurlock ends the movie with the Elvis Costello song, "What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?"

Unfortunately, anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic propaganda isn't funny at all.

It's an outrage.

One more thing: Spurlock doesn't find Bin Laden. Shocker.

Posted by Debbie at 05:35 AM

April 18, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Bin Laden's American Propaganda Film, Semi-Porn Crap, Al Pacino's Tortured Nadir, Great WWII Nazi Counterfeiters Flick

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend, like last, has a lot of very awful new releases and one good one that is, sadly, restricted to arthouse theaters. But the worst of the films out this weekend is the one put out by Bin Laden's new PR-man, Morgan Spurlock. I've never seen such a false movie in my life, as that of "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?". It is so bad that I'm saving my complete review in a different column, to be posted later. For now, I'll only write a brief blurb of a review, in addition to complete reviews of the rest of the new movies. I did not screen Jackie Chan's "Forbidden Kingdom." Sorry. Ben Stein's PR people did not return repeated calls requesting a screener of "Expelled." Dumb move.

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* "Forgetting Sarah Marshall": This latest Jud Apatow movie is completely disgusting and totally juvenile. Starting with the very beginning of the movie, we're exposed to so many shots of writer/lead actor Jason Segel's penis, I thought I'd accidentally stepped into an XXX pay-per-view. Sadly, this movie--with the most graphic dialogue I've ever heard in an R-rated movie--is being heavily marketed to young teens, including a special promotion on NBC, last night, during "The Office."

Kristen Bell plays a TV star on a CSI-style detective show. She's dating a dull, nerdy, girlie-man played by Jason Segel, who does the musical score for her abysmal TV show. She soon announces that she's dumping him (while we're "blessed" with many in-your-face shots of his penis). He decides to sulk at a Hawaiian resort, where lo-and-behold, his newly ex-girlfriend is with her new love, a kooky British rock star. As he basks in misery, while watching them enjoy their time there, he meets and falls for the beautiful hotel concierge (Mila Kunis). Oh, and he's writing a dracula puppet musical.

Like I said, this movie is extremely crass and graphic, and while there were elusive moments that it was funny, mostly it was just gross and groanworthy. Not sure what the point of the movie was, actually, except to give cameos and supporting roles to all of Judd Apatow's friends from his previous hit movies. Possible other motive of the movie producers: to stretch the bounds of R-ratings and well-bankrolled, drunken frat-boy-style stupidity.

Extremely skipworthy. Rated TT for Truly Tasteless. Yet another exercise in defining deviancy--and American culture--downward. "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is forgettable in every aspect, save it's high level of depravity.

* "Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?": I will post my complete, extensive review of this, later. The guy who lied about McDonald's and easily got Hollywood lefties (redundant) to bankroll it, now get them to bankroll his celluloid lies about the Middle East, terrorism, and Israel. This anti-Semitic, stupid, completely false movie is the most fertilized thing I've ever watched onscreen. Again, stay tuned for my complete review column, later.

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* "88 Minutes": Even though my good friend from college--former University of Michigan and pro hockey player Brad Turner--is in this movie (as "Fireman #2"), I couldn't stand this waste of time movie. So much for truth in advertising. This inane, absurd pointless exercise in torture porn and a paycheck for Al Pacino is far longer than 88 minutes. But even that would have been too long.

It's been a long fall from the days when he magnificently played Michael Corleone. No such high-level skill or script here. Instead, Pacino plays a poofy-haired (like he stuck his finger in the socket) FBI psychiatrist and college professor. He helped put away a serial rapist/torturer/killer, who is set to be executed by day's end.

Soon, though, women from Pacino's life turn up tortured, raped, and killed just like those of the death row prisoner. And Pacino starts getting calls telling him he has 88 minutes to live. He tries to solve the murders and find the killer, as well as stay alive. Several women who work with him or are his students are suspects, as is a guy in a leather jacket.

In addition to showing the torture killing of the women and their bodies hanging from pulleys, the movie is torturous in its unbelievable and ridiculous plot and "twists". The script is lame and silly. So many characters and you barely know anything about them . . . or care. The whole thing is hardly thrilling. Just completely dumb and disconnected.

Pacino must have really needed the paycheck.

* "The Counterfeiters (Die Falscher)": This subtitled foreign language Academy Award winner is a great movie about the true story of Jewish concentration camp inmates during the Holocaust. They were allowed to live and treated relatively better because they were counterfeiters charged with creating good phony British Pounds and American Dollars (to flood and destroy the Allies' economies). The great thing about this movie is the moral dilemmas these men faced. On the one hand, they wanted to sabotage the Nazis.

On the other hand, if they sabotaged the counterfeiting efforts for too long, they would be gassed and replaced by new counterfeiters. But they knew that if they succeeded, they'd help the Nazis and hurt the British and American war efforts, counter to their goal of ending the war and defeating the Nazis. Also, if they succeeded too quickly, they'd also be executed, as their lives would no longer be necessary to the Nazis. What to do? This movie tells the story of what they did, how they coped, and what happened in a Nazi death camp as some Jews tried to live while also trying to defeat the Nazis.

One of the year's best movies (even though it was technically from 2007). If it is playing in your area (mostly at arthouse theaters), go see it. If not, try to see it when it's on DVD. Very Well Done!

Posted by Debbie at 03:19 PM

Disgusting: Look Who's Writing the Next "Muppet Movie"

By Debbie Schlussel

Later today, I'll post my reviews of this weekend's new motion picture releases. One movie, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is written by and stars Jason Segel. It's absolutely disgusting (and stupid), and features very graphic/explicit dialogue straight from a bad porn movie. There are multiple gratuitous, up-close shots of Segel in full frontal nudity. I almost thought I was watching the "Deep Throat" sequel.

This morning, I heard an unduly gushing interview with Segel on the Detroit-based morning radio show, Drew & Mike. While the hosts verbally drooled over him, Segel told them the graphic details about how he had to worry about keeping his penis flaccid, because otherwise the movie would have gotten an NC-17 rating (which it well deserved).

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What Will Perverted Writer Jason Segel Do
To Kermit & Miss Piggy?

While, now, guess what? This schleppy full-frontal "model," writer of very graphic and disgusting dialogue, and graphic discusser flaccidity versus the erect is . . .

WRITING "THE MUPPET MOVIE"!

What the heck was Disney thinking? Keep your kids away. Having this pervert write the next Muppet movie is absurd.

Just because you have a muppet named "Miss Piggy," doesn't mean you need an actual pig writing the script. Somebody tell the Disney execs that Kermit is a frog character for kids, not a horny toad.

Oh, and by the way, there are Muppets in this awful, perverted movie, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Forget the next Muppet movie.

Posted by Debbie at 01:03 PM

April 11, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Bad Movies All Around--Violent Bad Cop v. Worse Cops Flick, Plus Two Dullards

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend, there's really nothing new at the box office worth seeing. Best to rent something like "Idiocracy," or to see "21" or "Flawless"--two great movies still at theaters. "Prom Night" was not screened for critics, a sure sign it's a bomb. And while "The Visitor" is out in limited release in New York and L.A., this weekend, I'm saving my complete review of this propaganda flick for a column, separate from this rundown of this weekend's new features, and am giving you only a brief note on that film.

* "Street Kings": I really wanted to like this Keanu Reeves vehicle because I like movies about cops and street gangs. But this film was preposterous. Extremely violent and bloody for no reason, the plot was confusing, silly, and so completely convoluted and cockamamie, it was simply not to be believed. A total mess.

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Although it's supposed to be about a cop fighting bad cops, "Serpico" it ain't. Al Pacino is turning over in his . . . Oh, wait. He's sort of still alive, and hopefully, for his continued health, he doesn't go see this "Serpico Way, Way, Way Lite."

Reeves plays a bad cop who is played as a hero in the media because his commanding officer (Forest Whittaker) and fellow cops cover for him. But the members of his unit tell him that his former partner is telling Internal Affairs everything.

Soon, he finds himself implicated in the gang shooting of his former partner, and it's up to him to lobby the IA officer to see things "his way." But, soon, after he wins ove the IA guy, he suddenly becomes the good bad cop fighting really bad, bad cops. Make sense? It didn't to me, either. Scenes, in which the IA detective is going with him on crime busts did not bear any resemblance to reality in a major city police department, where IA men are separate and don't mix in this stuff.

If lots of shooting at close range, bloody shot up bodies and faces, and decaying heads wearing grills a/k/a "gryllz", is your thing, then this movie is for you. But if you're looking for any sort of exciting plot--actually any plot--keep looking.

Aside from that, any movie with the annoyingly silly Jay Mohr playing a cop with a mustache and trying to play it seriously, is simply unconvincing. I laughed each time I saw his mug onscreen. Ditto for Sarah Jessica Parker's former "Sex & the City" love, John Corbett, trying to play a rough cop. He needs to go back to Carrie and her gazillion pairs of stiletto-heeled shoes, because the badge and gun ill fit him. Double ditto for Hugh Laurie of FOX's "House." I've never thought he carried off the fake American accent well, and his Internal Affairs position is a caricature, if anything.

The only highlight is Cedric the Entertainer playing a drug user and low-level dealer. That should be a hint about the caliber of this flick. (Rappers Common and The Game are also in minor roles.)

There's no street (and very little king) in Street Kings. It's the king of stinkers. Skip this utter disappointment whose sole point is to shoot 'em up on screen.

* "Smart People": Since I'm a big fan of Dennis Quaid, I wanted to like this movie, but just couldn't. Quaid, who dons a beard and a fatsuit to play a washed up, bitter college professor and widower, has a chance meeting in the hospital with a doctor who used to be one of his students. The doctor (Sarah Jessica Parker) used to have a crush on her professor, and upon learning about it, he asks her out. But being the pompous, full-of-himself Victorian lit prof that he is, she has to tell him off to get him to change. Soon, they are dating, but can it work? And do we care? I didn't.

In the meantime, his annoying "Young Republican" daughter (aren't all Young Republicans "annoying" in Hollywood? And by the way, if you're still in high school, it's "Teen-Age Republican"; "Young Republicans" are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s) is trying for a perfect SAT score and makes all the perfect gourmet dinners for her dad. She has no life, and is way too snarky and smart for her own good. The prof's adopted, druggie, loser brother (Thomas Haden Church, who steals the show in this movie) comes to stay with them, and he's the most normal. And very funny. The end.

It figures that critics would rave over this depressing, pointless movie. And that, once again, they'd rave over the most over-rated actress in Hollywood, Ellen Page (from "Juno"), who plays the Young Republican daughter. She always plays the same annoying role--the young Janeane Garofalo. That's what she sounds and looks like. And she's equally annoying. Picture Garofalo 20 years ago playing a caricature of a high school Republican. That's this movie. Or at least enough of the movie to make my mind keep saying to me, "Please, make it stop."

Pointless and a waste of 1.5 hours and ten bucks. Smart People will avoid "Smart People." It's simply a dumb idea. Sorry, Dennis.

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* "The Year My Parents Went on Vacation": It's 1970, Pele is Brazil's soccer star on the verge of winning the cup. And a young Brazilian boy's leftists parents are on the run from the junta that takes power.

The boy is dropped off to stay with his grandfather in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Sao Paolo. But his grandfather died of a heart attack, and together the Orthodox Jewish Holocaust survivor senior citizens take care of this boy, whom they learn is not a Jew (he is uncircumcized and his mother was not Jewish). We watch the Orthodox men, in beards and black suits, and their women watching and cheering on Brazil's soccer team on TV, along with the young boy--a huge soccer fan.

While it has it's charm--the Jewish neighborhood's warmth and appreciation for this boy, whom they treat like one of the family--it's also schlocky. And it's kind of pointless and not really worthy of 2 hours and $10. And as a religious Jew, I can tell you, they got a lot of technical stuff wrong (such as a decorative, lacquered coffin at the Orthodox funeral of the grandfather; Orthodox Jews use plain, unvarnished wood caskets, so they will disintegrate into the earth as quickly as possible--"ashes to ashes, dust to dust"). But, hey, why would Hollywood be interested in accuracy? (Technically, this foreign language film wasn't made by Hollywood, but it's promoted by them, and you get the point.)

* "The Visitor": Stay tuned for my complete review column on this movie. In the meantime, I can tell you that it must be Washed-up-pompous-White-male-widower-college-professor-with-no-meaning-in-life Week at the movies. Like Dennis Quaid's character in "Smart People," the lead in this film is a washed up college prof and widower who is sleepwalking through life, but as in "Smart People," he's woken up and his life given meaning--not by an attractive young female doctor, but by two Muslim illegal aliens squatting in his apartment, who give him joy and culture and life. Yup, I have a lot more to say about this inaccurate propaganda film. Like I said, stay tuned.

Posted by Debbie at 03:09 PM

April 04, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Boring, Inaccurate Non-Football Football Flick; Charming Kids' Adventure, Etc.

By Debbie Schlussel

I wasn't particularly thrilled by any of the new releases at the box office, this weekend, but a kids' movie seems to be the best of them. I did not review the Martin Scorsese Rolling Stones documentary, "Shine a Light," because I am not a Stones fan and am tired of films glorifying aging stoner hacks. A guy who snorts up his father (Keith Richards snorted his father's cremated ashes) doesn't need my review. Also, below are a couple of movies, "Run, Fat Boy, Run," and "Married Life," which I was unable to review, last week.

* "Leatherheads": If you're a football fan, and you're looking for a football movie, go rent "Brian's Song." This isn't it. The movie is barely about football. In fact, contrary to the deceptive trailers and TV marketing of this film, there's only one major scene showcasing any extended moves on the field. And that one's amid muddy chaos, so you can't tell the teams apart.

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What's more, the movie--co-written by Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly--isn't even accurate. A major part of the story is the machinations of the agent of a star NFL football player in 1925. But, in those days, there were no agents in pro football. The NFL wasn't popular, and playing in it was a mere side hobby of working class American men. Contrary to the movie's portrayal, NFL players didn't get endorsement deals or make major money. The emergence of sports agents in the NFL is largely a phenomenon of the late 1960s and early '70s when the players union became a force, negotiated a collective bargaining agreement and certified "player agents."

Then, there's the NFL Commissioner, appointed by Congress in the movie. But Congress never appointed an NFL Commissioner. And while this movie takes place in the mid-1920s, there wasn't an NFL Commissioner until 1941 (Elmer Layden). And he didn't have the power, as the fictional commissioner does in this movie, to order a major Chicago newspaper to retract a story.

Since this Clooney-directed vehicle contained so many factual deceptions, what does that say about his other "work"? "Syriana," anyone?

Rather than football, "Leatherheads" is really about romance and corny 1920s- or '30s-style comedy. And the fare is very light and thin. I found the movie to be very boring and even fell asleep. It's slow, and the plot is barely a plot at all.

The story: It's 1925, and George Clooney plays an aging NFL player. The league struggles to survive and his Duluth, Minnesota team disbands. But he discovers a star Princeton football player who is also a war hero and very popular. He convinces the player--via his agent--to leave Princeton and join his team. At the time, college football is far more popular than pro football, which goes begging for fans. But an ambitious Chicago newspaper reporter (Rene Zellweger) is promised a promotion by her editor if she reports on the phony war hero story and takes the new star player down.

I thought the movie was silly and tired of it early on. But, like I said, it's light. And there's nothing objectionable about it. It's just not a great movie. Just fair . . . and mostly dull. Oh, and again, historically inaccurate.

* "Nim's Island": This is a charming kid's movie that--while not fantastic--was not bad. I liked the way it portrayed science and the study of it as an adventure and exciting. That's well needed in today's America, where science is seen as "nerdy" and unimportant, and we are well behind the other Western nations in that discipline.

Abigail Breslin is Nim, a young girl who lives with her scientist father alone on a secret, secluded island near Tuvalu in the South Pacific. Her father studies aquatic microbes and they live in a cool jungle-style house, sharing the island with friendly wildlife and a volcano. With self-generated power, I was wondering who their Internet Service Provider was--they have a very fast online connection.

While Nim's father studies the water, she reads the adventures of her favorite swashbuckling explorer, Alex Rover, who fights off pirate Arabs in Arabia (PC groups are upset by this, which is a reason you should support this movie and take your kids to see it) and other cretins elsewhere. Little does Nim know, Alex is really Alexandra Rover (Jodie Foster)--a strange, neurotic, psychosomatic, cloistered author in San Francisco with agoraphobia and a million other phobias which prevent her from leaving her home for months. The explorer, "Alex" Rover, is just her alter ego and imaginary muse.

Nim's father gets lost at sea, during one of his scientific expeditions to find new microbes. In the meantime, Alex--struggling to finish her latest adventure--e-mails Nim's father for information on an article he wrote about the volcano. Nim responds, and with her father missing and upon getting an injury, gets Alex Rover to overcome her phobia and come to the island. But, as we see, Nim, is actually the true swashbuckling adventurer, not the fictional one she reads and fantasizes about.

The story is more exciting and charming than I'm telling it here. And the movie's great--and not too scary--for kids. It wasn't a GREAT movie. But it was good enough. And very entertaining. A kid's adventure, slightly lite.

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* "The Ruins": This movie was not "officially" screened for critics, and after seeing it, last night, I know why. Supposedly a horror/thriller flick, it was more hilarious than it was scary (thought it tries hard to gross you out--a man's legs are cut off, lots of blood, etc.). The plot is preposterous and not at all believable. Four 20-somethings and a German guy (with a horridly fake accent that spanned the range of various points in Scandinavia to podunk Iowa) they meet while on vacation in Mexico, go to Mayan ruins and find themselves atop a pyramid. Soon they are being enticed by flesh-eating vines, whose flowers emultate human voices and cellphone rings.

One by one, as they try to survive, they are eaten by the plants, which grow inside them. This was like "Little Shop of Horrors" trying to be serious and get us to believe it's real. Hilarious (though unintended). I kept waiting for a vine to shout, "Feed me, Seymour, Feed Me." Entertaining enough for escapism and light amusement. But not a great horror flick by any stretch.

* "Run, Fat Boy, Run": Directed by "Friends" star David Schwimmer, this movie was highly predictable, but funny and entertaining enough. An English loser leaves his beautiful bride--pregnant with his child--at the alter. Five years later, she's about to marry an American man who's rich, smart, better-looking, etc. But the loser realizes the mistake he made on his wedding day and wants her back. He decides to train for and run a marathon to prove his love and newfound maturity. Amusing.

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* "Married Life": I enjoyed this psychological thriller set in the 1950s. A wealthy businessman (Chris Cooper) is tired of his wife because she only wants sex and isn't into love and romance. He decides he wants a woman who will love and adore him, and he's having an affair with that (younger) woman (Rachel McAdams). He wants to marry his mistress, but doesn't want to hurt his wife, whom he loves. So, he plots to murder her. But Cooper's friend--Pierce Brosnan--wants the mistress, too. And he gets in the way of it all. The intrigue and "Telltale Heart"-esque thoughts and suspense made this period piece timeless and enjoyable. Light and entertaining.

Posted by Debbie at 02:13 PM

March 28, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Thrilling Blackjack & Diamond Capers, Dreadful Anti-War Flick From MTV

By Debbie Schlussel

This weekend's new releases are a study in contrasts--this year's two best movies--"21" and "Flawless"--and one of its worst, "Stop-Loss." Due to a movie-screening conflict, I was unable to review, "Run, Fat Boy, Run" (will try to see and review it later). "Superhero Movie" was not screened for critics, a sign that it's probably a dud.

* "21": Whether or not you like--or approve--of gambling, you will like this movie. It has a moral message. And, regardless, it's a fun, entertaining, non-political adventure. It's getting panned by most critics, but I loved it--one of the year's two best, so far.

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Based on the novel, "Bringing Down the House," about Jeff Ma and some fellow M.I.T. students, it's the story of how the students count cards at the blackjack tables at Vegas casinos. While Ma says that card-counting only increases your chances at winning in blackjack by 3%, that 3% makes a big difference. In the movie, we watch students organized by their cunning professor (Kevin Spacey) making hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop. But it comes with a price.

In the movie, there is no Jeff Ma. Instead, Jim Sturgess, a British actor, plays a working-class MIT student who can't figure out a way to pay for Harvard Medical School. After he's discovered to be a whiz at numbers Spacey and his students, including the beautiful Kate Bosworth, recruit Sturgess.

Soon, he blows off his nerdier MIT friends for trips to Vegas and big money, which will pay for med school. But he soon discovers that professor Kevin Spacey is a vindictive, violent creep. Far-leftist Spacey's real-life love-fest with Venezuela's nutty dictator, Hugo Chavez, definitely came in handy for the thug he plays.

It's really more of a caper movie than a movie about gambling. I enjoyed it a lot.

* "Flawless": This is another caper movie and also one of the year's two best, so far. It takes place in 1960's London, where Demi Moore plays a bright American executive at "Lon Di," the London Diamond Corporation--Europe's largest diamond broker. The only woman executive in a world of males, she is passed over for promotion after promotion, even though she is more qualified. Soon, she learns from the building's janitor, Michael Caine, that she will be fired. Moreover, the company has poisoned the well against her, as she tries to look for another job in the finance world. But, she hasn't been fired yet. She goes along with Caine's plan to rob diamonds from Lon Di.

This movie was fun, exciting, nail-biting, and escapist. And it was charming. The acting was so good, you forget that it's Demi Moore in the lead role. She even gets right the fake semi-English accent that American expatriates to England sometimes engage in (Madonna, originally from the Detroit area, comes to mind). And the clothing, building architecture, and design are perfect to the period--the '60s. The set designers and wardrobe people did their job, here.

While the ending is a little too neat and somewhat cheesy and some occurrences challenge credulity, I highly recommend it, as the rest was pure gold. Mrs. Ashton Kutcher is back. And now she's graduated to great acting in great movies.

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* "Stop-Loss": This movie is exactly what I predicted--on this site--that it would be. Produced by MTV Films (and that's "'nuff said" right there), it's a movie against the war in Iraq, against our military, and against its policies. And worse than that, it's a movie that portrays middle-American soldiers--in this case from Texas--as complete hicks from jingoistic, uncultured families, with nothing going on.

The ex-Mr. Reese Witherspoon a/k/a Ryan Phillippe must've figured that since his ex did an anti-war bomb in "Rendition," that it was his turn to produce the same with "Stop-Loss." And that he did. This movie is as boring as "Rendition," maybe more so. It was so slow, I kept wanting to go to sleep. But I perked up when it showed us the "hick" soldiers shooting bottles in the woods and then catching a rattlesnake, which we saw skinned alive and cooked in a stew of tomatoes for dinner.

And we hear a whole lot of non-stop whining and watch a whole lot of Phllippe and his Texas soldier buddies engaging in violence, drunkenness, relationship dysfunction, crying, flashbacks, and--ultimately--suicide.

Sgt. Phillippe (of Delaware, in real life), with his bad Texas accent (everyone in this flick has a bad Texas accent, so deep and exaggerated it's like an SNL skit), finds out--after returning from a hellish terrorist attack in which he lost several of his men--that he's been "stop-lossed," that the day he's scheduled for an honorable discharge from the Army, he's been ordered to serve another tour of duty back to Iraq several days later.

The rest of the movie--aside from focusing more on the "hick" culture and behavior of Texans, especially American soldiers from Texas--shows us the long, feudal, boring attempt of Phllippe to escape Texas and challenge his stop-loss order in Washington and his non-stop whining and crying about it. (Along for the trip is Australian actress Abbie Cornish, who sounds like an Australian trying to do a Texas accident, but failing badly. She's the woman who reportedly broke up the Phillippe-Witherspoon marriage.)

Phillippe encounters dead ends and obstacles. And *****SPOILER ALERT*****, he ultimately returns and goes back to Iraq. The end.

There are only a few points made in this movie with which I agreed. Phillippe quotes one of his fellow soldiers, telling him:

You're always saying that this war is so snakebit, that they won't let us fight it the way we need to win it.

At another point, another soldier says:

We ought to throw a bomb on a city there, every time there's a terrorist attack against us.

And at the beginning of the movie, we watch the soldiers go door-to-door/apartment-to-apartment, looking for terrorists, who kill them one by one.

This is never how we will win or how we will show the terrorists we mean business. I agree that we're not fighting it the way we need to win it. We are being too nice, too humanitarian. And it will be the death of us, if not there then in the future elsewhere. Had we fought it in a tough manner and dropped bombs, we'd be outta there by now and there would be no need for stop-losses. That ought to be a movie. Not this lackluster, whining screed.

Other than those brief moments of truth--which are not at all the point of the movie--this film is a boring, depressing, complete waste of time. Rated "P" for Propaganda. Skip at all cost.

Posted by Debbie at 01:41 PM

March 21, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Hilarious Geeks-Fight-Back Flick, Depressing Anti-Christian Waste of Time, Etc.

By Debbie Schlussel

While there are several movies I detest at the movies, this weekend, there's one I thought was hilarious. Tyler Perry's "Meet the Browns" was not screened for critics, usually a bad sign:

* "Drillbit Taylor": This comedy is getting panned by the critics, but I loved it. Finally, a Judd Apatow movie I like. I couldn't stop laughing--the funniest movie I've seen in a long time. It's the story of three nerds who are bullied and terrorized by an Eminem-style fellow student in high school. They pool the little money they have--including Bar Mitzvah money--to hire a bodyguard. The problem is, the bodyguard is really just a homeless Army deserter, Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who is scamming them for money and property.

The thing is, Drillbit soon finds he enjoys impersonating a substitute teacher, mingling with the upper middle-class non-homeless, and cares a little bit about the welfare of his "protectees". And he gives the kids the pride to fight back.

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This movie is hilarious, fast-paced, and very entertaining and fun. While it's aimed at teens and college students, adults out of that age group will enjoy it, too. My one reservation was some of the language, as in a scene where the kids rap, and the rap is very crude. It could have been left out, since it adds nothing to the movie and takes away from the movie's suitability for younger crowds. They won't be offended, but their parents will, rightfully, be (and they might object to some of the other language in this movie, too).

This is the only movie I recommend, this weekend. If you liked "Revenge of the Nerds," chances are you'll like this.

* "Snow Angels": This movie was not only very overtly anti-Christian, but it was depressing, pointless, and a statement against small-town/middle America. This is a template for how Hollywood sees Christians and mainstream America.

The story: Kate Beckinsale plays a mother and waitress who formerly babysat another character, a high school student--and that's the only connection between two almost completely unrelated, but equally boring and uninteresting stories in the movie. Beckinsale is having an affair with a loser married man in her hometown. Meanwhile, her loser estranged husband, a devout Christian, is an unemployed drunk. Beckinsale's daughter wanders off and dies in a frozen pond. Her estranged husband, while still making prayers to G-d, murders her and commits suicide. The end. Oh, and did you forget--he's a Christian?

Skip this bigoted, dark waste of time at all cost.

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* "Shutter": A newly-married young American photographer (Joshua Jackson) and his wife (Rachael Taylor) move to Tokyo, Japan, where he is a fashion photographer. They get into a car accident and hit a Japanese girl. Soon, they start seeing her image in all of there photos. They learn that she is dead and is haunting them.

This movie, a remake of a Thai horror film, was so silly and absurd that the test audience who saw it when I did laughed repeatedly (as did I) when we were supposed to be scared. The story is preposterous, as is the ending.

You know "the ugly Americans"? This one shows them in spades. No thanks.

* "Paranoid Park": Don't let the cool, ominous-sounding title of this flick fool you. It's neither cool nor ominous. Just flat out dull. Moves slower than paint drying, and far less exciting than watching it dry.

Sadly, I think this film may be the future of movies. It doesn't have an ending or resolution, and it barely has a plot. But, hey, it's about slacker skateboarder losers whose split-up parents are covered in tattoos, so it must be gold, right?

The "story": A slacker skateboarder who frequents the skater park, called "Paranoid Park," is questioned by police in the death of a trainyard security guard. The slacker skateboarder did it by accident, and we're shown the disgustingly graphic scene in which the guard falls under a train, is split in half and--while still alive--crawls with one of the halves. Disgusting.

Other than that, we just see the skateboard slacker moping around, going through the motions of this empty life, and skateboarding. The crime isn't even solved. The end.

Extreme sports? This movies is also extreme . . . Skipworthy to the extreme.

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* "Doomsday": This debuted, last week, and wasn't screend for critics. After seeing it on my own, now I know why. It starts out well enough, with all of Scotland infested by a deadly virus, quarantined, and left for dead by the rest of Britain. But 30 years later, a female cop who escaped from there as a child goes back in to find new life and how it survived, since the virus has now spread to other parts of Britain and the Prime Minister (played by a Muslim Arab--how prophetic) seeks a cure for political reasons.

I walked out on this movie, after I watched scary humans bite off and eat the ears of a cop (yes, this is far more gruesome stuff than the Ear of Evander (Holyfield) that Mike Tyson bit), and saw a scene where they were about to cut up and eat alive another cop.

Skip this movie, which was made only to shock and gross you out. We have enough dehumanization in our world. Sick.

Posted by Debbie at 03:35 PM

Bait & Switch @ The Movies

By Debbie Schlussel

My weekly movie reviews will be up, shortly (I LOVED "Drillbit Taylor"). But first, check out this Gelf Magazine feature about something I've been miffed about for some time--the misleading and false quotes movie posters and movie marketing materials use to promote movies. (Gelf Mag is a very interesting site with cool articles and features about pop culture and politics.)

As Gelf points out, movie studios often use "positive" quotes from movie critics that are actually from movie critics who HATED the movie. There's a great rundown on the crappy movies that suck you in and how they do it by twisting critics' words.

Not noted in the piece, but a warning from me: another hint a movie stinks--it has a comment praising it from "Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazine." No joke, this guy is not a critic, but praises any and every movie. He's like "Mikey" in the old "LIFE cereal" commercials. He likes it, no matter what.

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In my view, you should never believe the movie critics anyway . . . unless, of course, the critic is me.

Also interesting on Gelf, Kosher Jordan Comes Home, an interview with the "Jewish Michael Jordan," Tamir Goodman--hoops player extraordinaire . . . in a yarmulke.

Posted by Debbie at 03:19 PM

March 18, 2008

"21": Best Movie of the Year, So Far

By Debbie Schlussel

I'm prohibited from reviewing "21" until it comes out at the end of the month. But it's simply the best movie I've seen, so far, this year.

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It's based on the true story of MIT students who won big money at Vegas casinos by counting cards at the blackjack tables. Even if you don't like gambling, you will like this. It stars Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, Jim Sturgess (the lead), and Kate Bosworth. Here's the trailer:

Stay tuned for my complete review when the movie debuts in theaters.

Posted by Debbie at 04:07 PM

March 14, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Violent Karate Kid Rip-Off Starring Hot Guy, German Torture Porn Reproduced by Naomi Watts

By Debbie Schlussel

Unfortunately, I could not review "Horton Hears a Who!" as the only screening for critics was held on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. "Doomsday" was not screened for critics, usually a sign that it's a bomb (may see and review later). But here's what I did screen:

* "Never Back Down": So, a guy in high school moves across the country with his working-class single mom to a new town in a sunny environ, where he and mom live in an apartment and his classmates are rich kids in mansions. He sees a blonde girl he likes. But she's dating the cocky, most popular fair-haired jock in high school, who is a martial arts champion and keeps beating the new guy up. So the new guy trains with an immigrant with a foreign accent on how to fight back and beat the nemesis and win the girl.

Sound familiar? If it sounds like the plot of "The Karate Kid," you're right. But it's also the plot of "Never Back Down," an updated version of the charming 1980s hit movie.

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This one is more cheesy and far more violent and bloody than "The Karate Kid." Ultimate Fighting/Mixed Martial Arts has replaced calm and "wimpy" karate here. Another big difference is that, instead of wimpy Ralph Machio, the new guy in this one is the steaming hot Sean Faris who is already a fighter and a tough guy in his original Iowa hometown, when he moves to Orlando with his mother and tennis champ brother. And his fights are all over Youtube, where all the new kids see and drool over him and the resident hometown tough guy yearns to beat him--and does, several times.

Also gone is the late Pat Morita and his Mr. Miyagi, with the instructions of "Wax On, Wax Off." Instead, there is Djimon Hounsou, who runs and lives in an ultimate fighting gym 365/24/7. And in this case, instead of the hot blond nemesis, Billy Zabka, the less appealing unknown Cam Gigandet plays the violent antagonist.

The message of the movie, amidst the violence, is a good one: Our hero doesn't want to fight, but now he must train to beat up the bully who repeatedly picks fights with him, so he won't have to fight again. Yet, it's not consistent, as Faris fights and messes up three innocent motorists who make the mistake of beeping their horn repeatedly.

While I liked this somewhat cheesy guilty pleasure--seeing this hot guy in various states of shirtlessness and undress, what red-blooded girl would not? (Studio reps asked me to interview Faris when he was in town recently, and I regret that I turned it down.)--I could have done without the excessive violence and the gratuitous lesbian kissing scene in a hot tub. This movie is marketed to young teen girls and guys, and that irrelevant act spoiled it.

"The Karate Kid" was far superior and original, but this updated version wasn't too bad, though more for eye candy reasons than for substantive ones.

* "Funny Games": In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, last week, German writer/director Michael Haneke--who already made this exact movie in German 11 years ago--said the point of this movie is

to show the viewer that he is an accomplice in the violence.

Um, no. The only accomplices to the violence in this disgusting, two-hour torture-porn fiasco are Haneke and stars Naomi Watts and Tim Roth.

Shame on Watts, who also produces this horrid, painful, violent movie that makes "Saw" look like Shakespeare in comparison. On her appearances, this week, on late night talk shows like "Jimmy Kimmel Live," Watts told Kimmel the purpose of the movie is to warn us against the violence in movies, but she seemed unsure as she tried to say so. That's because this movie promotes and further escalates violence with no purpose and further depraves and desensitizes Americans. We didn't need this movie, nor did we need these two foreigners to "warn" us about the act that they perpetrated against us by making this garbage.

The "plot": An upper class couple (Watts and Roth) and their young son and dog are terrorized, tortured, and slowly murdered by two preppy, pseudo-gay young men in tennis whites. The end.

There's nothing funny about "Funny Games." The only joke is on you, if you shell out the ten bucks to see it.

Posted by Debbie at 01:59 PM

March 11, 2008

New Indiana Jones Movie Will Explore Extraterrestrial Aliens

By Debbie Schlussel

Interesting. A new poster for the latest Indiana Jones installment shows a skull of an outer space creature. Apparently, the movie is not just about fighting Soviet Union Communists, but also explores the myths of Roswell, New Mexico:

The new poster for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull confirms something alien is afoot.

The first poster for the film (due May 22) featured part of the title relic, but there was always something odd about the eye socket. In the follow-up, also by sci-fi/fantasy movie artist Drew Struzan, it's clear the skull is not at all human. Add to that the recent trailer, with its shot of a crate labeled "Roswell, New Mexico 1947," and you don't need to be a professor of archaeology to put the pieces together.

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Other clues: Looks as if our hero will face his least-favorite animal and the locals at some Maya ruins. Karen Allen (who also was in 1981's original) seems to be enjoying herself, though.

The movie is predicted to be the only big hit of the summer. But it's, sadly, easy to forget what a hypocrite Harrison Ford is on the topic of the Cold War. Previously, he portrayed a "nice" Communist Soviet submarine commander against the "evil" Americans in a big bomb of a movie. Remember "K-19: The Widowmaker"? In promoting it, he espoused this view of Communists versus America. I remember how upset my late father was by absurd statements Ford made on TV about what nice people the Soviets were and how bad we evil Westerners were.

And don't forget, he's portraying ICE agents in a bad light, this summer, in "Crossing Over" a/k/a "ICE, The Movie." Stay tuned for more on that, very soon.

Posted by Debbie at 01:51 PM

March 07, 2008

Weekend Box Office: Okay Trio of New Movies, Nothing Special

By Debbie Schlussel

Of the new movies out, this weekend, none of the three I reviewed were bad. They were all okay. Two are set in London, and one is set far off in ancient times. I did not screen, "College Road Trip." The reason: three words - Martin Lawrence, Raven. Translation: Life is short. I liked "The Bank Job" the best, although its violence and blood toward the end ruined it for me.

* "10,000 BC": While there was nothing objectionable in this movie, and even the minor killing was such that you could take your young teens to it, I just found this movie dull. It wasn't interesting. It wasn't exciting. There wasn't any suspense. And the story was very simple and old hat. The special effects were so-so, while the costumes were good. And that's about it. There was no spark or charm. It was kind of boring, actually. The "scary monster animals" were simply laugh-inducing giant dodo birds, more comical than scary.

This movie was like "300" lite--way, way, way lite. And the part about the captured peoples working as slaves, building pyramids in an Egyptian-like heat, and at first not wanting to rebel and leave, seemd kind of ripped off from the Biblical story of the Jews' slavery in Egypt.

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The story: It's 10,000 BC and a small community living in a tundra climate survives by hunting Wooly Mammoths. One of them, D'Leh (pronounced "Delay"), is the son of a great hunter who left the tribe. He aspires to be a great hunter like his father and to win over both the prized white spear and the girl with the blue eyes, Evolet (whom we last saw in the remake of "When a Stranger Calls").

But the tribe is invaded and many of the men and Evolet captured by a more advanced neighboring community of a sweltering hot climate. They are made into slaves who build pyramids for shaman-like blind pygmies with blue eyes. D'Leh leads some of the remaining tribesman into the wilderness and then into the enslavers' community to rescue them.

* "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day": Although this is basically a chick flick, I liked its throwback to the late 1930s/early 1940s London. Yet again, the talented Amy Adams shows her versatility as floosie gold-digger/fame-seeker Delysia Lafosse in this period piece. And although the movie was a little too cutesy for me, it reminded me of old movies, of which its basically a color replica. The costumes got the most attention in this script. Still, it was hard to take 1.5 hours of Adams' giggly, sigh-filled interactions. But that is the style of this kind of movie and I liked the moral message. Could have done without seeing a guy's naked butt in my face toward the beginning of the film. That was the only objectionable part.

Frances McDormand is Guinevere Pettigrew, a homeless English woman around the start of World War II, searching for a job in London. She can't keep a job as a governess, but she steals a lead on a job with a new employer. Soon she learns that the new employer, the young Delysia Lafosse, is looking for a social secretary, not a governess, and she plays the part.

Lafosse is an American who is kept by a wealthy club owner she doesn't love, and is also sleeping with the son of a musical producer, in whose play she wants to star. But, alas, she truly loves a third man, an ex-con piano player who can't offer her anything but love and happiness. And she can't see it.

Although Pettigrew is basically a homeless woman not accustomed to Lafosse's station in life, her sound, moral advice is soon taken as gospel and respected by Lafosse and all of her high society friends. Some of them, though, start to look into her past.

Oh, and guys, don't let the sexy movie poster for this one fool you. There is no scene in which these two women are looking up at barely clad women with those expressions. Instead, they are at a lingerie show--1930s lingerie. The poster is just a way to get you in the door with your girlfriends. This movie has nothing to do with what's implied in the poster. Sorry.

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* "The Bank Job": Also set in London, this time in the early '70s, this is based on the true story of a bank heist, set up by MI5, the British intelligence agency. I liked this clever, cunning caper movie, until it degraded into violence and blood towards the end. That ruined it for me, but you might like it despite that. It wasn't that violent or bloody, but enough for me to turn me off.

A has-been model tells her petty thief, married former love interest about a London bank safe, the security of which will be temporarily turned off for technical reasons. She tells him how easy it would be to dug a tunnel into the safe and get millions in jewels, gold, and cold hard cash from the safety deposit boxes. Since he needs money to feed h