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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also a film journalist/critic for Cocktails & Movies and CinemaBlend, as well as the author of several short stories such as "The Devil v. George W. Bush". Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: mikereyeswrites@gmail.com

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Avatar Day, or "I Still Frakking Wish I Was @ Comic Con!"

A while back I was griping about how James Cameron's big picture Avatar wasn't giving it supporters much to work with in terms of what they should be hyping when it came to the film. True to form, James Cameron has proceeded to make me look like an ass, by not only showing footage to Comic Con audiences last night, but also by making a big announcement.

The good news: There will be a trailer, and it will hit theaters on August 21st.

The better news: This is also when they're unveiling the toys and the video game trailer to the general public.

The best news: In select 3D and IMAX 3D theaters, you're gonna get a 15 minute extended look at the beast they call Avatar!

That's right, 15 minutes culled straight from the film will be shown in front of actual public audiences, and you'll have a chance to reserve tickets to the experience! This is a one day event, and it's FREE! Fox hasn't announced locations or how to reserve tickets, but if they're smart they'll block out a whole day of showings and just continue to repeat that loop all day. One showing alone will not do. As usual, I'll be keeping an eye on this and eagerly awaiting the opportunity to go down to Atlantic City and have my eyes pleased by Avatar.

As if this wasn't awesome enough, Disney has announced that Tron Legacy (aka T2ON, Tron 2, Tron 3.0 [if you count Killer App]) will be heading to theaters around the November/December 2010 timeframe. Oh yeah, and it's going to IMAX 3D. Yeah, it's a good time to be a geek! This just makes me wish even harder for an IMAX theater in Central Jersey.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

IMAX Fall Schedule Update

Before I begin, I'd like to say that I've been accepted into the IMAX Crew fan club. As such, you'll probably be seeing me post more about IMAX than usual on here. To those who know me, this isn't a surprise seeing as I've been an IMAX pusher since I saw Batman Begins in IMAX. To those who don't...now you do.

The IMAX Schedule for this fall had a huge gap between Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and Disney's A Christmas Carol, which would leave them with about four months of downtime. After a busy summer, the last thing they would want is downtime, so IMAX did what any good company would do...fill in the gap. I am pleased to announce that Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Where the Wild Things Are have now officially been announced as IMAX releases. This just makes the fact that Cloudy is being released as a 3D picture even more awesome, seeing as there haven't been too many films in complete IMAX 3D.
As such, the fall schedule will go as follows:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (IMAX 3D) - September 18th
Where the Wild Things Are - October 16th.
Disney's A Christmas Carol (IMAX 3D) - November 6th
James Cameron's Avatar (IMAX 3D) - December 18th

For future news and updates on IMAX features, visit http://www.imax.com/. Also, don't forget to friend them on Facebook and apply for your own membership into the IMAX Film Crew. If you're as much of an IMAX fan as I am, you'll want to get in on the exclusives it offers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Palin’s Folly

“Once I am ‘Sarah Palin, Alaskan’, I can really call it like I see it.”

Not satisfied with merely becoming the poster child for the Republican Party’s way of life, Sarah Palin has become the poster child for their hypocritical values as well. With her resignation in effect as of Sunday, now former Governor Palin proved that just because you’ve been elected to office, it doesn’t mean you have to serve. After all, look at all the other figures in political history that have resigned similar, if not bigger commissions: Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, Jim McGreevey…they turned out just fine. I would submit the theory that not only is Ms. Palin’s resignation yet another blow to the reputation of the Grand Old Party, it also fits right into her long history of maverick behavior.

After all, only a maverick would stand by abstinence only programs while her own daughter is pregnant. (And only a maverick would admit to her own teen daughter’s out of wedlock pregnancy in order to prove that yes, she did have a mentally handicapped baby all by herself.) Only a maverick would abandon their post after a successful election, because they feel they can do more for their people by not being in office. Actually, maybe Sarah’s right on that one. She can do more good for Alaska by her removing herself from office! Either that or she has some deep, dark secret she’s hiding. Whatever it is, we’ll never know. At least, we’ll never know until Olbermann finds out whatever it is.

The scariest part? After all of these goings on, Republican voters would STILL vote Palin for President in 2012. According to a USA Today poll taken on July 7, 2009; about 2/3rds of Republican voters would have still liked to see Ms. Palin as “a major national political figure". Amazing how the party that wants to hunt the bad guys and “make ‘em pay, the USA way”, would be the party that ditches their responsibilities and continues to carry on leading an abusive relationship with their electorate. What are we supposed to expect from our politicians now? “You can vote for me, but not only will I not fulfill half the promises I make, I may not even be here in a couple months”? Could you imagine the flack President Obama, or any Democratic politician would catch if they did such a thing?

However, I would also like to say that not all Republicans are bad necessarily. A lot of people make that mistake, and I'll go on record saying that some Republicans aren't as horrible or hardlined as some would like to make them out to be. We can’t have a one party system, and anyone who’s smart can see that. Still, the Republicans need to start choosing their figures more carefully, otherwise they’ll scare off some of their party faithfuls. Case in point: I grew up in a Pro Regan/Pro Bush Sr. household as a kid. My parents supported and respected McCain to a degree, but ultimately even their choice was tempered with the knowledge that should he die (as nature, probability, and Dick Cheney’s personal wishes would project him as doing during his first term), the second coming of Annie Oakley would have the launch codes, and we’d all possibly be Strangeloved. Sure enough, yesterday’s Washington Whispers poll from USNews.com said that 66% of voters felt Palin should be “returning home to care for her family” after her resignation. Clearly, they knew something the 13% of voters who said she should run for president didn’t.

For now though, Palin is sadly the best looking candidate for the party’s future, and that’s a sad note for the Republican Party. She’s still highly visible, highly known, and all they’d need to do is pull the biggest Eliza Dolittle since George W. Bush to get her ready for prime time. Though personally, I think the party should groom Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee coming back to give Obama a run for his money. It’d be nice to see more intelligent discourse on television, and they actually seem like they know what they’re doing. (Plus, Huckabee is a good sport. You can’t deny that after last year’s Conan/Colbert/Stewart throwdown.) Either way, 2012 will be interesting, and if the backlash is just starting now, I wonder what people’s opinions of Sarah Palin will be by time primary season starts?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Cannonball Read: Entry 16 - "The Lie" by Chad Kultgen

The Chairman is smilin' upon us again, which means it's time for another book review. I've got programming laid out until at least book 19, possibly until book 24 (depending on if I like the Percy Jackson series' first entry or not), and I'm gonna just keep plugging through to see how far I can make it by September 1st.

As usual, if anyone has suggestions, requests, or dedications, feel free to post them on the Comments Board. Once more, special thanks to Brian Prisco for allowing me, and all the others, to participate in this clusterfuck of literary wonderment. Here's where you can get the history of "The Run": http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm, and here's where you can sign up to become one of the runners: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ Careful though, you might get published on Pajiba.com; and be open to the ridicule/admiration/unwanted or wanted sexual advances of the Eloquents. It's just how we roll.

With only two books under his belt, Chad Kultgen has proven that he is Bret Easton Elis's smirking revenge. I read his debut novel, The Average American Male, not too long ago; and it had completely impressed me. However, when compared to The Lie it seems like more of a creative writing exercise to warm himself up to write this book. It's as if the protagonist from his previous novel was the inspiration for one third of the vicious triangle that plays itself out. And make no mistake, this isn't a love triangle...it's more like a revenge triangle.

The Lie is the stories of three former college students: Kyle (the nice guy), Heather (the sorority slut), and Brett (the rich misogynist). Through these three viewpoints, one large story plays out through their four years at SMU. The story of a collection of experiences that end up changing all of their lives, and in some way shape or form ruining them. We know this from the outset, and as the story proceeds we're constantly reminded that something big is about to happen. At certain points, each one of them seems to hold onto some sort of redeemable qualities, but the closer these events get to critical mass, the darker and more sinister the deeds of our protagonists get. By the final page, what started as an uneasy truce has become a massively fractured and damaged battleground of hearts and minds. No one leaves clean, everyone has done something unforgivable, and everyone has lied.

Kultgen's writing so easy and fast to read because of the confessional style he uses in his writing. Only this time, we have three people's perspectives It's as if you're listening to someone tell you a story instead of just reading straight prose. It helps fully envision the events when you hear someone recounting them, instead of some omniscient narrator recounting them. It isn't being laid out by someone who isn't there, isn't experiencing it...it's all brought to light by the three people who were architects in their own demises. That's the scariest part of the book: it's real people narrating their lives. There is no separation between the audience and the characters, and that lack of distance puts us in a position to observe these events a little closer than we'd like to.

Though the book is named The Lie, it is not just one lie that sends everything into a tailspin, but a series of lies. Hurtful lies. White lies. Lies of omission and slander. In the end, the scariest thing about the events in this book is that it's hard to pick one lie that's the most devistating or the most unjustified. It swims in the moral gray area, until it nosedives into deep blackness towards its end. If I had a book club, this would be an official selection. If you enjoy dark comedy and even darker drama, pick this book up. (I would even recommend it as the perfect bookend to I Love You, Beth Cooper.)

Coming Up:

Entry 17 - "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

Entry 18 - "King Dork" by Frank Portman
Entry 19 - The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians - Book 1) by Rick Riordan

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Cannonball Read: Entry 15 - "I Love You, Beth Cooper" by Larry Doyle

Quick as a northern bullet, I’m back with another review. My reading speed seems to accelerate in fits and starts, so this should be one of the starts. (New Moon will probably be a hell of a fit.)

As always, I would also like to thank Brian Prisco for not only being able to make sense of my writing but actually sometimes seeing them fit for mass consumption. (It really helps if the authorities think you’re of sound mind.) If fame and adventure through the printed word suit your fancy, here's where you should be going for the ground rules: http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm; and here's where you go to sign up.: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/

Almost any child of the 80’s knows at least one John Hughes movie by heart. Almost any child of the 90’s knows at least one The Simpsons episode by heart. Larry Doyle (who, coincidentally enough worked as a writer for The Simpsons) manages to crossbreed elements of these two genres into one of the wildest nights of teen comedy history.

Valedictorian Denis Cooverman (the captain of the debate team) decides to take a stand and proclaim his love for Beth Cooper (the captain of the cheerleading squad). The only reason he does this is because at the heart of his speech there is a theme that all graduates can take to heart…you are more than likely leaving these halls with some form of regret. Graduation is your last chance to say or do things you’ve been meaning to do for a while, and the best part is…there won’t be any repercussions whatsoever. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to happen, and as life (and really good fiction) would have it…not everything is what it’s supposed to be. In one night, Denis will experience enough revelations, confrontations, and repercussions to last him up until his 10 year reunion. He will also, for one night in his until now pathetic life, get to live the life of a teenager.

This was an easy, easy read; mostly because it’s a lot of fun and not even halfway through the chapter it gains some serious comedic traction. Everything that happens to poor Denis Cooverman (as depicted in illustrations at the head of each chapter) is something straight out of the teen comedy playbook. Underage drinking? Check. Sexual tension? Check. Pop culture references? Check. Quirky sidekick? Check. Part of what works so well about this book is that it has all of the prerequisite elements, but it also has a genuine heart at its core. The characters have some baggage that Hughes’s characters didn’t. Beth knows high school is the peak of her existence, Denis learns that Beth Cooper isn’t perfect but still likes her anyway, and Rich just might be gay. This book is quickly paced and funny enough to keep the pages turning, and Doyle manages to throw together a bully comedy and a sex comedy without sacrificing either’s integrity.

Perhaps the most interesting part about this edition though is that it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of an author revising their own work after its publication, much less after its film adaptation. As the foreword points out, you rarely ever hear about an author revisiting their work after its initial publication. Not only did Larry Doyle write a bestselling, critically acclaimed (and Thurber Award winning) novel…he decided to make some additions to it that were inspired by his own adaptation of the movie. On top of that, there are two pieces by the author on his writing process as well as a collection of true life high school disaster stories. (One of which is, fittingly enough, written by a real life Beth Cooper.) All these elements make this a mass market reissue that actually one ups the original hardcover printing. (Which is so rare, I can’t think of any other instances at this moment.)

Overall, this is to the current generation of teenagers what the John Hughes comedies of the 80’s were to teens of the era: its breeding ground for future nostalgia. Even Doyle himself realizes that all this story has done is, “change the props”. Denis Cooverman’s yearnings have been felt by generations before and will be felt by generations after, which makes this an evergreen read. The class of ’07 has the same issues, hopes, dreams, and fears as the class of ’87; the real life anecdotes help prove that. The big message of this book is that high school doesn’t really end. Sure, you leave the building, but you don’t leave the people, you don’t leave the drama, and you certainly don’t leave your dreams. If you loved “Pretty In Pink”, or perhaps “Bart Burns Down The House”, then you should have no hesitation in picking up “I Love You, Beth Cooper”.

Next Time: The Lie by Chad Kultgen

Monday, July 13, 2009

Guns Blazing

If you've seen The International, then you know what you're about to see, so revel in it. If you haven't seen it, then do so. It's a decent little action drama, with a hell of a shootout.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A True Genius

Just wanted to throw up a quick note that Nikola Tesla, the scientific genius ultimately screwed over by Edison, was born on this very day. You should be celebrating his birthday, for he is the textbook case of unappreciated genius. Read more about his amazingness here, and in further tribute to him I post the ultimate reason that Tesla pwns Edison...David Bowie never played Edison in a major motion picture.

The Cannonball Read: Entry 14 - "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown

Much like a relative or a forgotten TV show about lifeguards, I’ve returned when you least expected. For various reasons, this book was a bit of a climb, but I managed to muddle through. Also, interesting bit of trivia: this is the first review I wasn't able to locate the cover art of the exact issue of the book I own/have read. I just went with the movie one because it looked nice. Just a little nitpick on my end.

As always, I would also like to thank Brian Prisco for not only being able to make sense of my writing but actually seeing them fit for mass consumption. Normally this is where I'd encourage you to familiarize yourself with the rules: http://www.pajiba.com/cannonball-read.htm; and here's where you go to sign up.: http://gospelaccordingtoprisco.wordpress.com/choose-your-weapon-the-combatants/ However, we already have a winner in the "first to 100" portion of the contest. Nevertheless, if you want to sign up and get ready for the next round, then giddy up! All reviews submitted have a shot of being published at Pajiba.com. (Which is as cool as it sounds, trust me. Four times I've had it happen, and it's just as cool as the first.)

Back when everyone was heralding it as the hot book of the summer, I picked up a copy of Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code”. The story of the Holy Grail being the ultimate tell all dealing with the formation of modern religion, and the quest to keep it secret, were both tantalizing prospects for me. What made me even happier was the hero, Robert Langdon, was a professor. He wasn’t some the stereotypical action hero who shot and killed his way to the truth (which I’m fond of in some instances), he was an academic who solved puzzles & thought his way to the end of a crisis. If you really want to boil a Robert Langdon story down to its core essence, it’s a big treasure hunt that involves complicated clues, shadowy organizations, and high intellectual stakes. This is basically what Angels and Demons does, except it’s locked into one location and it’s over the course of a couple hours. While Angels was written before DaVinci, it was DaVinci that took off and was made into a movie first. Another classic case of “Oh, well he wrote this book too” lead Angels and Demons to become the movie sequel, while it was the literary prequel.

Either way you slice it, this book was pretty good. The thing readers have to remember about Dan Brown’s writing is that while it’s fun, it’s not winning any awards. I could totally see the villain coming from the trailers and his motivations weren’t that hard to decipher either. (That’s not a spoiler, there’s only two female characters prominently featured throughout the book. Brown tends to write himself into quite the sausage fest, and one would hope he rectifies this with The Lost Symbol.) The story is simple: Langdon is dragged into a race against time through Vatican City to save the four “preferiti” (the four front runners for becoming Pope) from being murdered by the Illuminati. This all happens after the Pope and a preeminent physicist/priest are murdered and some high grade explosive material is stolen from the CERN particle reactor. Antimatter, that is. Luminescent gold. Swiss tea. Along for the ride is beautiful physicist Vittoria Vetra, daughter to the slain physicist/priest. Throw in an assassin, various members of the Vatican and the Swiss Guard, and you basically have a really good Scooby Doo mystery for adults. Literally, the last 40 pages or so are what I like to call the “I would have gotten away with it all if it weren’t for you meddling kids” section of the book.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, mind you. While Angels and Demons is the more action packed story, DaVinci had the better structure. Exposition was laced throughout and the villain’s motives were clearly developed so that way when the villain was revealed, it wasn’t a total info dump. Another thing I like about Brown’s writing is the fact that he uses “shadow organizations” that actually exist (such as the Illuminati or Opus Dei) and throws in some mythical back story that’s somewhat plausible. The Illuminati did hate the church, but would they really come back after all these years & wage war? Probably not, but it makes for exciting stuff. He mixes the history and the fiction well enough that you don’t see the seams when you zoom past them at breakneck speed. Just don’t slow down, otherwise you’ll find yourself picking it apart mercilessly. The fact is Brown isn’t an “award winning author”, he’s a “best selling author”. He’s able to spin a good yarn, pace his story at a fast enough clip, and get you to have fun while thinking just a little more about said shadow organization’s true history. Basically, he’s James Patterson with a treasure hunting fetish. Right down to the shorter chapter structure.

The highlight of the book, at least in my perspective, is a monologue given a good portion of the way into the book. In this speech is perhaps one of the best pro religion/anti science that I’ve ever read. Normally, I’m one to side with the eggheads who use test tubes and beakers to tell me how the world works; but the way this argument is worded and the points it makes are just so well thought out that I could actually see how the other side felt for once. And better more, I couldn’t just say, “Well, you’re wrong”, because it made so much sense. I highly recommend Angels and Demons if you like The DaVinci Code, or if you just like intellectual treasure hunting adventures in general. It’s both a beach read and a pop culture “must read”, much like its successor. Just don’t expect to think too deep on this one. The pool is shallower than you might expect, but it's still deep enough for a good swim.

Next Time: I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Thursday, July 9, 2009

2012: The Way It Should Be

The actual trailer looks decent, in its "Independence Day meets The Day After Tomorrow" ways, but I like this mock up better.

Oh Roland Emmerich! Splitting with Dean Devlin was the worst thing you've done since Godzilla.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Monday GAAAH! (7/6/09)

I’ve been quite lax with the writing as of late. Blame it on the bossa nova, kids!

- Saw Public Enemies this weekend. It was an ok movie, didn't suck but wasn't too terribly impressive.

- Sarah Palin has resigned her governorship. *Sigh* Doesn't that feel good when you say it? More on this matter later today.

- Futile Box Office Picks for the weekend:
1. Bruno
2. Transformers 2
3. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Lovable Loser: I Love You, Beth Cooper (It honestly hasn't been advertised all that much.)

- A brand new Sonic Drive In opened by me a week or so ago. It's mobbed as fuck, but I still want to squeeze in a Breakfast Burrito sometime in the near future. My only big complaint is you shouldn't need police presence to open a fast food chain. It's a minor gripe at best.

- Sandra Bullock, may I please give you a piece of advice? Either make a sequel to Two Weeks Notice or start a movie series with your character from Murder By Numbers. Seriously, those were the last two good movies you made, and I'd much rather see you revisit those films than anything like "All About Steve" or "The Proposal". (Addendum: Betty White needs more work. She's really funny.)

- The Weather managed to cooperate this weekend. Here's hoping it stays that way for a while. Say, the rest of summer?

- Jon and Kate...god I wish these two fuckheads would just go off the air, sort their shit out, and do what's best for the kids. You've got a big family, as well as big personal problems, and you just need to sit back and rethink your lives for the next couple of months. And no, America does NOT have to watch you do it. In fact, kick the camera's out and just go ahead with your "normal" lives. GAAAH! Looks like I have another column for this week.

- I wish I had a beach house on Point Pleasant Beach. I even have the house picked out too. It'd be nice to be holed up in there for the summer, and even make trips their during the winter.

- I need to get my ass in gear on the Cannonball Read. I'm still working through Angels and Demons, and after that I think I'll try to start reading more of my Hachette review copies. (I feel bad for not submitting in like three months.)

- Evian Water has a new commercial with "roller babies". I guess I'll never drink Evian again. (Never really did for that matter, but this settles it. Enough with the fucking baby commercials, people!)