Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Few More BRUCE-arific REVIEWS!

The Awesome Badness folks find much to love in My Name Is Bruce:



When "My Name Is Bruce" comes together, it really works well, and a couple of times it had me rolling on the floor laughing...the part where we get to watch "Bruce" filming "Cave Alien 2" is priceless...and look out for Ted Raimi’s Chinese accent. The film functions as both a likeable horror comedy for the general public and one long slow wink for the fans, and does so in such a manner that one does not interfere with the enjoyment of the other...no small feat.

Taken as a whole, "My Name Is Bruce" the kind of fun movies USED to be back in the eighties when home video was first helping low-budget horror take over the world, before everything became CGI-ed to death. It’s a big, fat, silly good time at the movies. You got a problem with that, mouth breather?

This next fellow takes greeeeeat umbrage at the New York Times for daring to diss the Bruce... and this is only part one of his tirade! Go for it, buddy!



If a film is made, and without a single shred of doubt, is clearly created precisely to amuse (and simultaneously administer a loving backslap at) the admittedly goofy cultists of the Bruce Campbell camp (amongst whom Jen and I will forever firmly align ourselves), and then this film satisfies the bulk of them in some arcane fashion, is that not some small form of success, however downgraded some might consider it? Certainly I found some fault and one major annoyance within the film, but given that he filmed most of it on his own property on a relative micro-budget, and also given that the film is so purposefully shaggy and self-deprecating, I honestly could see that, if such a film were viewed by those largely unknowing of Campbell's talents, they might actually come to love the big lug like the rest of us. If, do to my cultism concerning Mr. Campbell, you think that perhaps I am not the best person to be judging anything he has created, then you are probably not aware of the main thrust of this blog, which is for myself to remain frightfully honest at all times in these pieces. This includes rating films like My Name Is Bruce appropriately and truthfully, despite my prejudices either for or against the creators of said film as I enter the theatre.

The Houston Press includes a review/interview with Bruce in their "Best Films Of 2008" section, which merits friggin' big time inclusion here whether it makes any sense or not!



My Name Is Bruce, however, ought to play better with the base, considering it was made just for (and about) them: Campbell plays himself as an over-the-hill, burned-out, alcoholic B-movie actor who is recruited by a rabid Evil Dead fan to save the day when an evil Chinese demon is accidentally unleashed upon a small town. "This is how I stay away from The Surreal Life," the director-star deadpans, "I just make movies about it. My Name Is Bruce is my worst nightmare come true. It's not a horror movie, but that to me is the true horror — if my career was like that, in the movie. I mean, it's close, but it's not that bad." Indeed not: Three shows booked for the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin sold out immediately.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Catching Up With Things...

TRAGEDY IN LAS VEGAS: Much to my horror, a recent visit to lovely Las Vegas was marred by the discovery that the MGM casinos (the Mirage, Bellagio, Luxor, etc.) have REMOVED THEIR WHEEL OF FORTUNE slot machines! I realize this may not rank as "tragedy" in any sane person's book, but I've been losing, I mean, "playing" Wheel Of Fortune for years and it's still one of my favorite machines. I managed to lose, I mean, "play" some other machines (a nice waitress pointed me at an especially liberal ersatz-Wheel game that proved to be a winnah) and I got a dose of Wheel at a non-MGM casino, but still... jeez.

TRAGEDY IN THE THEATER: I caught a screening of The Spirit. Yikes. I want to give every benefit of every doubt to Frank Miller, who has done great work in comics and helped create the movie versions of Sin City and 300, but this is a real misfire. Stylish as heck, but all in service of... not much. Something tells me Spirit 2 may be awhile in coming...

NON-TRAGEDY IN THE HOME VIDEO WORLD: Slumdog Millionaire really IS a great movie and highly recommended. How the producers were able to cajole "Do You Want To Be A Millionaire" to allow them to use their game show is one of those mysteries that I probably don't need answered. Frost/Nixon is fun, though Mark Evanier has an interesting perspective/debunking of some of the movie's points on his site. He wonders why David Frost is enthusiastically supporting a movie that presents him in a rather unfavorable light, and I have to agree... I don't recall there being this much angst over a mere "talk show host" getting the Nixon exit interviews back in the day, nor do I recall Frost being considering some airheaded doof who lucked into the project. That said, it's still fun!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Comics Reporter...

Just because I've never mentioned it and it absolutely deserves mention, folks vaguely interested in comics should check out Tom Spurgeon's "The Comics Reporter" blog. Tom regularly features news, interviews and other material that goes considerably deeper than the latest Marvel/DC news (though there's that too). He's got an interview with Fantagraphics publisher Kim Thompson up right now that is informative as always. I've added the url to the blogroll to the right, so check it out!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bit And Pieces...

I hope folks got a chance to catch Bruce Campbell during one of his appearances with My Name Is Bruce; his Q & A's have been flat out hilarious. Last night's edition at the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles (at one of three sold out screenings) was just great.

Curious about the television version of Timecop? No? Well, jeez, you don't have to be rude about it! For the rest, the fine folks at McFarland have just released "Science Fiction Television Series, 1990 - 2004", featuring a chapter about Timecop the series and an interview with yours truly. Timecop was my first television experience, memorable mostly in that I learned a lot. Or not much, depending on who you talk to.

Portland radio hosts Cort and Fat Boy are going to be presenting Battlestar Galactica on the big screen up in Portland for the duration of this last run, and I'll be flying up for "my" last episode of the show, "The Oath", which will play January 30th. I may do a Q & A and give away the finale (just kidding, Ron!) so if you're in Portland and interested in all things BSG, drop on by. It's at the Bagdad Theater (three blocks from one of the many rental houses I endured while living in Portland) and I'm sure there will be more mentions as the time draws nearer. I also did a radio interview with these guys a few days ago discussing BSG, Heroes, Bruce and whatever else felt "germane."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gee, Mark, Have You Been Reading The Los Angeles Times?

Why yes, not only did I once work for the august publication, I still read it! And here's a great interview with Bruce Campbell on the glory that IS My Name Is Bruce.


Speaking Of Lists!

Both Battlestar Galactica and Heroes made the Los Angeles Times list of "Best TV moments of 2008." BSG got the nod for finding Earth (or is it? I'm not telling!) and Heroes for the moment when Sylar took the top of poor Claire's head off and picked at her brain. Eww. But cool!

Speaking Of Bruce (in LOS ANGELES!)...

My Name Is Bruce begins its limited theatrical engagement in Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 19, at the Nuart Theater in West L.A.! Bruce himself will be blabbling at several screenings. I'd say "come on out to the Friday 7:30PM show and say hi!", except it's already sold out. Don't know about the other screenings, but check the Nuart's website for ticket info! And don't MISS IT!

Variety LUVS My Name Is Bruce!!

I knew there was a reason I renewed my subscription! Variety truly hearts My Name Is Bruce.



Cheerfully embracing his status as cult B-movie genre megastar even as he sends it up, Bruce Campbell's sophomore directorial excursion, "My Name is Bruce," is a big in-joke of definite if limited appeal. Select theatrical dates (accompanied by the headliner's personal appearances) should nicely build genre-fan buzz for concurrent DVD release.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Newsweek On Battlestar...

A very interesting piece on Battlestar Galactica and the show's place in illuminating the post-911 era...


Bruce Takes Portland Oregon By STORM!

A literal storm... I flew into Portland last night to attend the un-reashing of MY NAME IS BRUCE on an unsuspecting sell-out crowd at the Fox Regal Theater, and a great time was had by all. Enjoyed dinner with Mr. Campbell pre-show at some semi-chi-chi Portland restaurant, discussing just about everything BUT the friggin' movie/TV business. Bruce was on the 15th or 16th city on his whirlwind tour, but you wouldn't have known it, as he kibitzed his way through a Q & A session post-screening. Afterward, enjoyed drinks with my old pal Stan, who plays "the guy at the table behind Bruce during the strip joint sequence" in the BRUCE film. Of course my star turn shoving money in the stripper's pants was cut... no respect, man, writers get NO respect...

The Portland weather reports were threatening all sorts of Biblical-level cold-front ice-storm disaster, but when I peeked out the hotel window at 7AM Sunday morning, there was nothing. So I fell back to sleep, secure that I'd be able to make my plane that afternoon. Woke up at 9AM and looked out at -- a whiteout! A blizzard had rolled in! Freeways were closing, wrecks were piling up, IT WAS ARMAGEDDON!! But I had cagily paid extra for liability coverage on the rented Ford Edge, so what the hell. Some icy slipping and sliding later, the airport loomed and what you know, despite the snow the flight left right on time. And I sat next to, of all people, Ed Asner (!).

This Friday, Dec. 19th, Bruce begins his Los Angeles appearance schedule with a run at the Nuart Theater. If you enjoy refined, sophisticated comedy... I'd find something else to see! But if you like down and dirty yucks the Bruce Campbell way, come on out!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The VERDICT is IN! Bruce is Aces!!

DVD Verdict gets all gooey on MY NAME IS BRUCE....



Campbell, as ever, gives 110 percent to the role. Playing himself as a bombastic, drunken, lecherous coward, Campbell seems comfortable mocking both himself and his career. It's this combination of self-depreciation and self-awareness that has always made Campbell such a likeable actor; here it acts as the channel for so much of the film's humor. The cowardly aspect, something that has been a great source of comedy since Campbell screamed like a woman in Evil Dead 2 is mined to great effect during the first half of the movie. Upon first encountering Guan Di, Campbell, who until that moment had assumed the whole thing was a joke, runs away in fear, leaving the folk of Gold Lick in his wake. Campbell's reaction is hilarious, as is the sight of him firing wildly in the direction of Guan Di, only to hit the fleeing townsfolk instead. Meanwhile a Rawhide gag early on is worth the price of admission alone.

Following his directorial debut with the 2005 stinker The Man With The Screaming Brain, Campbell shows a much more assured touch here, keeping the film far more focused on what is essential than the often scattershot Screaming Brain. There's no question Mark Verheiden's script is vital to the film's success, its relative simplicity helping to ensure the film maintains a consistent flow of gags and action. Clearly understanding both his subject and target audience, Verheiden lovingly sends up and celebrates the glory that is Campbell without ever coming close to ridiculing him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jo-Blo And BRUCE...

Another incredibly perceptive (i.e., positive) review...



It takes a lot to look back on your career and shake your head in full view of a moviegoing audience, but Campbell pulls it off, and without making the whole affair feel like a dirge at that. My Name Is Bruce comes with energy to burn, bouncing off the walls with a steady stream of profanity and lowbrow gags that are all in good fun. Though his often zealous fans receive a good amount of ribbing, Campbell has saved the most savaging for himself. Name me any big-name Hollywood actor ready and willing to play himself as a drunkard who berates the handicapped and guzzles whiskey from his dog's bowl. There'll be winter advisory warnings in Hell before Sean Penn does that, but Campbell is loose enough to poke fun not only at himself but to hilariously play up the story's B-movie conventions. He's even brought some friends along for the party, as those putting in appearances include The Evil Dead's Ellen Sandweiss and Ted Raimi (brother of Sam), who appears in at least three roles, each one more stereotypical than the last.

My Name Is Bruce spends so much time lampooning terrible movies, viewers may forget that it's actually a pretty good one. There's plenty of humor and heart to go around, a self-aware silliness that translates into a much smarter picture than people will give it credit for. Bruce Campbell has made some stinkers in his time, but My Name Is Bruce is pure cinematic gold.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Speaking of Battlestar Galactica...

Sci-Fi's BSG update has been updated... in 13 minutes you get a snarky recap of the entire series to date. A lot to process, but for those in need of a refresher course, a fun look back.


Best Wedding Ever (Battlestar Style)...

BSG (now CSI) writer Bradley Thompson went and got hitched the other night, and he did so in grand style. The officiator was none other than Admiral Adama himself, Edward James Olmos, in a ceremony that concluded with a rousing "SO SAY WE ALL!" It was a great party and a blast to see so many members of the BSG cast and crew again. Reminding me that BSG will be back for the final episodes starting in January!

The first episode back, incidentally written by the self-same Mr. Thompson with his partner David Weddle, is one of the most riveting of the entire series. Much is revealed and there are some story turns that will leave viewers in shock. I'm talking big-time, gut-punch, "oh my God, did I just see that?" stuff. And it just rolls from there...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Horror Commentary Commentaries BRUCE!

My new favorite website...



Right off the bat I’ll say that people who’ve never heard of Bruce Campbell will be scratching their heads at this one. But that’s not who this is made for, this one’s for the hardcore fans. And they will experience all sorts of warm fuzzies watching Bruce do what Bruce does best, making an ass out of himself!! The script by veteran comics writer Mark Verheiden cleverly makes fun of Bruce and us fans without alienating us. It’s clear that Verheiden is a Campbell geek himself, and treats Bruce’s character with the respect he deserves, which, for these purposes, is none. A clever, campy, fun B-movie script perfect for the greatest B-movie actor of all time.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Huffington Post Huffs BRUCE!!

Sick of reviews yet? Too bad, 'cause I'm not!



Since I've never met the man, I cannot say if this jack-ass loser version of Bruce Campbell is accurate, but I'm guessing that it's an approximation of what he fears that he has become on his lowest days (stuck making the zero-budget Cave Alien 2, he hits on the leading lady, yells at his fans, and pushes a wheel-chair bound man into traffic). But Campbell has plenty of fun aping his screen persona and his life as a z-movie god. None of the remaining cast really stands out, but none of them particularly hinder the project either. The obvious lack of production values are actually a plus in a film like this, as the cheap special effects capture the goofy charm of a 1950s sci-fi adventure. There is no real plausibility to the proceedings, but I'll assume that wasn't the point (is there really any reason for young Jeff or eventually the townspeople to think that Bruce could help them?).

Collider Collides With Bruce!!

And the semi-raves just keep coming!



"My Name Is Bruce," as the title suggests, plays directly into the warm, sweaty hands of the fanboys who've turned Campbell into the own personal chainsaw-wielding, boomstick-carrying Fonz. Those causally walking by the film might not know who Campbell even is, but the picture assumes anyone sitting down to watch is a die-hard supporter, making the experience even more welcoming for the treehouse demographic. Here Campbell drinks "Shemp" liquor, owns a dog named "Sam 'n Rob," and passes out deodorant to his most loyal of unshowered fans. Campbell plays himself as a broken down blowhard, struggling through the production of "Cave Alien 2," barely accepting his divorce, and bearing the brunt of criticism from all sides. It's a twisted take on his own legend, but Campbell, always an actor of rich humor and comedic range, encourages the humiliation, making the world of Bruce Campbell something of living hell, albeit an amusing one.

BRUCE Gets Mugwumped!

I think this guy hated the movie, but he skewers it in such robust, sarcastic fashion, his work deserves mention for sheer creativity. Note that despite this sizable extract, the review itself is even LONGER...



The stupidity (Bruce spends much of the film thinking the monster scenario an elaborate birthday gift), the callousness (a too-inquisitive fan in a wheelchair gets kicked out of shot, the squeal of a vehicular collision sounding as Bruce departs) and the cowardice (when confronted with the reality of the monster Bruce immediately runs away, leaving the local population behind to fend for itself), all are core traits of Ash. On arrival in Gold Lick, the local fanfare gets spoiled as Bruce harangues them, cantankerously complaining and poking fun at the yokel alterity each presumes. Coarse words said against the mayor prompts young Jeff into admonishing Bruce, alerting him that it is the mayor his words are being directed at, to which Bruce hilariously replies,

“I don’t give a shit if he’s the king of kiss my ass!”

It’s genius of this stature that impels one to soar to the highest echelons of highfalutin praise in describing Bruce. Impossible to resist, the tendency gets realised too easily. Especially when Ash-style hysterics get rolled out so often. The twofold sense of awe and expectation expressed by the local crowd harkens back to the similar reaction of the medieval peasantry in Army of Darkness. There’s even a Sheila for Bruce to fawn over.

A history of cinema lives in My Name is Bruce. The obvious send-up of Bruce’s career is there, lovingly arranged on jazzy tendrils of hilarity. But there’s also an array of other allusions and inclusions. Making an appearance as Bruce’s ex-wife is Ellen Sandweiss who played Cheryl in the first Evil Dead (remember the amorous tree?). Dan Hicks, who in a former life was Jake in Evil Dead 2, plays a citizen of Gold Lick, and Timothy Patrick Quill, who was the blacksmith in Army of Darkness, plays his lover. Catchphrases from the past feature heavily, notably used to humorous effect such as when Jeff attempts to seduce a zesty nubile with the words “give me some sugar, baby.” Casual references to obscure films like Assault on Dome 4 also contribute to the creation of this marvellous bric-a-brac Bruce Campbell landscape.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Cynics Even Like Bruce!

That's right, it's the straight dope from Moviecynics.com...



The best part about this film is Bruce Campbell himself. You’d think some moron in Hollywood would have figured out that Bruce’s persona from The Evil Dead sells. Sadly, no one except for the man himself seems to realize that this is the only role that Campbell can play and be actually interesting. Campbell delivers corny lines left and right and even references himself throughout the film, quoting lines from his other movies and occasionally bashing himself and the movies he has made in the process. It’s Campbell’s slick combination of self-mockery and faux ego that makes the film work.

Film Fiend Not So Fiendish Toward BRUCE...

A short review, but a good one...



Most of the jokes, of course, are aimed directly at Campbell, who uses this oddball opportunity to poke fun at his rabid legion of pasty, basement-dwelling admirers, the proverbial Hollywood machine, and, most importantly, himself. Campbell pulls absolutely no punches when it comes to bashing his own body of work; Cave Alien, as mind-numbingly campy as it sounds, could easily be in development somewhere within the bowels of the Sci-Fi Channel's low-budget headquarters. My Name is Bruce marks a return to form for Campbell, proving once again why he's the undisputed king of B-grade silliness.

Critics Agree! * BRUCE Is Swell!

Another, umm, incredibly perceptive commentator...



In this meta-comedy, Campbell plays Bruce Campbell, an alcoholic dickwad living in a trailer, suffering through a divorce, and showing up on the sets of direct-to-video shit in order to make alimony payments. (The actual Bruce Campbell is married with kids, and his career's going pretty well at the moment, thanks for asking — he's got a nice gig on the surprise hit show Burn Notice.) Campbell is playing a farcical nightmare version of himself, and having a ball doing it. You get to see him abusing dumb-ass fanboys, which is always good for a laugh, but he also mercilessly takes the piss out of his own place in geek-fandom.

It's this funhouse-mirror Bruce who gets drawn into a supernatural adventure not far from his trailer. Some teenagers have awakened Guan-Di, a Chinese god guarding a mine shaft where Chinese workers once died; three-quarters of the teens are summarily dispatched, and the lone survivor — Jeff (the feminine-looking Taylor Sharpe), a die-hard Bruce fan — escapes and kidnaps Bruce, convinced that only he has the stuff to rid the tiny town of Goldlick of the wrathful god. Thinking that the whole thing is a birthday surprise via his agent (Ted Raimi, in one of three roles), Bruce agrees to play "the hero" — until he discovers that Guan-Di is quite real, at which point he fills the seat of his pants.

* Critics I agree with agree, that is...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

CAPRICA is a go...

Sci-Fi Channel has ordered 20 episodes of the BSG prequel, to start airing in early 2010. Plenty of lead time there! I wrote the first post-pilot episode a few months ago, so I am fairly familiar with the story and I'll just say -- if you enjoyed the challenging and intriguing world of Battlestar Galactica, you'll love Caprica. That said, it's as different from Battlestar's "feel" as you can imagine, dealing with emotional and science-fiction conceits in an entirely different and very adult way...