TNTM: My Name is Bruce

The trailer.

Much to Sam’s dismay I found “My Name is Bruce” on the DVD shelf at Hastings.  Unaware that it existed on DVD already, happiness was mine.  Bruce Campbell is a guilty pleasure of mine and this flick starred Bruce, was produced partly by him, and directed by him.  A triumvirate I felt I would enjoy.  Ted Raimi was also involved with several parts played by him.

Why was this movie made?  Fun.  Obviously a love letter from Bruce to his loyal fans, it involves much of what we expect from him: cheesy one-liners, blood and gore, slapstick humor, and some weird special effects.  Bruce plays himself, but an alternate version.  This Bruce is a drunken jerk, obsessed with himself.  The real Bruce is a pretty down to earth guy who seems to enjoy his place in life.  I sense a bit of frustration in this movie that he still gets stuck with some real clunkers of some movies.  But for all the crap he’s been in, there are a few really decent pictures.

“My Name is Bruce” (MNIB)  accomplishes its mission of providing the loyal fans with a quintessential Bruce movie.  Part of me really enjoyed it.  Another part of me didn’t.  Mainly due to having to watch it with Sam who tries very hard to hide her distaste for bad movies, and partly because I’m somewhat tired of the shtick.  Acting is something I think Bruce is pretty good at.  I’ve seen many of his roles – from the classic “Why are you torturing me like this?” line in Evil Dead to his amazingly solid turn in Bubba Ho-Tep.  It sucks that he isn’t seen as better than B-List.

“MNIB” is almost a coming to terms with that status – more so than his Confessions book.  Despite the plethora of crap he’s been in, Bruce Campbell has an amazingly loyal fanbase.  This is a group of people who will see anything he’s been in.  I should know, I’ve seen “Maniac Cop.”  MNIB is the type of fan service you would never see from Oscar winners and fancy movie stars.  Campbell is someone the nerds of the world really enjoy watching because he’s somewhat one of us.  Vanity makes me think this flick is really his way of saying “You know what, guys?  I’m where I am because of you.  Thanks.”

It’s sounds hackneyed, but really only the true Bruce fans will probably enjoy “MNIB,” but enjoy it they will.  As a Bruce fan, it’s pretty solid stuff.

TNTM: Friday the 13th

(Possible spoilage ahead)

Last night I saw Friday the 13th.  Sad, yes, as I didn’t get to see it on Friday the 13th, however such things do little to really worry me.  I had my popcorn, I had my drink, and I had a large woman to my left.  The theatre was crowded.  Attempts was made to find a seat away from others so I could have double armrests, but this seemed to be the date event of Stillwater this weekend.  Movies tend to grab me in so I am unaware of my surroundings, so this didn’t matter much.  Once during a chase I sat back and was very aware of being in a movie theater which was somewhat surreal.  Pictures moving on a wall everyone is staring at seems surreal to me when I step back and watch this.

PREVIEW REVIEW:  The previews weren’t so great.  I had seen most of them with the exception of the new “Watchmen” trailer.  Which didn’t grab me too much as I’d already decided to view this flick.  Other previews mainly involved other horror offerings.  Apropos.  I do love previews.  Half an hour past the start time, the film proper began.

Opening credits are archaic and I don’t really care for them.  They are little more than “Yippee, look, I made a movie” tags for the people involved.  Working hard on a movie is a pretty cool thing, but we don’t always want to sit through them.  F13 has nice jump cut credits around the back story of the film:  Jason’s mother.  Much hoopla and gnashing of teeth no doubt has been made about this.  I liked it.  The original Friday had a pretty slick twist ending going for it, especially for newcomers expecting -knowing- Jason Voorhees as the perpetual villain.  However, I don’t think it would work out for a remake/tribute, which is what this is.  Many folks have said it’s the first 3 Fridays combined and remade, which isn’t very true at all.  It takes elements mainly from the first two movies for the first act, and then borrows from most of the others throughout the rest.  True, there’s a bit more from part 3, but only if you’re really looking.

The opening credits over, we start the movie proper and learn that Jason Voorhees has become a pot farmer.  This extra level to his character really pops.  I’m joking.  (And I have never understood people who think Jason is a complex character with rich portrayals on screen.  If the dude playing him can loom and has crazy eyes, he works.  This guy works).

I enjoyed the first act which all happens before the main title.  The audience in my theater shared a big laugh at this, something some people have derided as “artistic.”  I think it was funny, and maybe the filmmakers meant it that way.  Kind of a “Guess what, f-ers, the move hasn’t even started yet.” Which is fine, since the arguably most gruesome death has occured already.  And Jason doesn’t have his mask yet.

The actual pacing and set up of the movie – with this mini-movie beginning- worked well.  I had a great Friday the 13th buzz going throughout.  There is little messing around.  Jason is given a home in this flick, which is kind of cool, and it adds a dash of Texas Chainsaw Massacre I thought.  We get a little bit of Jason’s mental workings but not too much.  As I said before, he’s really just a ruthless killer.  There’s not  a lot of need to expound on that.

Let me just interject as well that I thought the music and soundtrack throughout worked really well.  There’s not a lot of the “ki ki ki – ma ma ma” business.  It’s a little fresher and works really well.

Other Pros:  The tail ending has a great homage to the original F13.  Just excellent. Jason doesn’t seem to travel at as impossible a speed in this movie, which I liked.  There’s plenty of titillation, much more than My Bloody Valentine.  There are a few very creative bits of suspense.  One or two things are clearly telegraphed, but somethings provide new twists on old standbys (at least for me).

Some Cons:  There’s a lack of really creative kills.  Yes, that’s a shocking thing to say, but its what you expect.  They violate that law of literary suspense:  If you show a woodchipper in the first act, by the end of the show someone must be tossed in.  The dialogue is lacking at certain parts.  Listening closely, I realized part of it is that drunk college kids can and do sound completely idiotic sometimes.  Other times, it seemed to force exposition.  Dependent entirely on your point of view, some of it is extremely on point with the characters speaking, and some of it is ludicrous.  Depends.  I would also love to see a scary movie where the black guy lives.  Quite frankly, this is a cliche that needs to get lost.  I am pretty tired of seeing a black guy in a scary movie and thinking “that guy is screwed.” No Kevin Bacon cameo (I kept hoping).

Mixed:  The movie has a brighter feel.  A lot of action takes place during the day.  This is another point of view item; I thought it made what was going on seem far creepier.  Assumptions are made that during the day, you’ll be safe.  Until the sun goes down, there’s nothing to worry about.  Not so here.  In this new F13 world, you can die anytime, anywhere.  People will certainly not like the daytime kills, however.  It’s easy to understand that opinion.

Overall, I really enjoyed it.  Too many people may go in looking for problems, but I thought it was good.  The high production value was nice to see, since that’s something every Friday movie has lacked.  That’s not the end all/be all, however, since Jason takes Manhattan had a pretty good looking production movie, but seemed like a comedic parody of previous Fridays.  This movie is certainly not as gritty as some of the earlier movies which I liked.  Why?  Because I could see what was going on.  And that’s one thing I really liked about this.  The original F13 is dark, not necessarily for mood.  I’m pretty sure its because they couldn’t afford lighting on the budget they were shooting with.  In the first ever F13 you can’t see a thing in many of the scenes.

Friday the 13th is pretty cool, though.  I really had fun watching it and it looked fun to make.  I could certainly expound upon minutia for a long time, but there’s blue coins that need collecting.

Coraline

I saw Coraline this weekend (in 3D) and had an excellent time.  I’ve said it before, but I love going to the movie theater.  Sitting in the dark with my popcorn and getting into a movie is a great experience.  The Dark Knight was probably the last film I saw that I really was on the edge of my seat for, and it was definitely worth it.

Coraline is also worth it, especially in 3d.  Selick’s company Laika does amazing stop-motion.  This is a form that has fallen by the wayside, which is far too disappointing to be true and I’m glad we’ve still had the occasional puppets crop up (such as Corpse Bride a few years ago).  The visuals are bright and vibrant, unless they are creepy and dark.  The 3d has an occasional “in your face” moment, but mostly serves to deepen the frame.  Instead of poking you, it steps back so you look farther into the screen.  It adds a dimension making things akin to a movie theater.

There’s much talk about the differences between the book and that’s generally what happens.  Things are different in the movie, of course.  There’s an extra character and the message is a little more pronounced.  That’s okay with me.  Books for young folk are generally written in a way so that a person can keep reading it as they grow older and learn new things from it.  Movies (despite the advent of home video and DVD) are meant to be a one-time experience.  They are an extension of live entertainment, despite losing some of the spontaneity.  So the director needs that message to get across, especially with a kids’ movie.

Adults don’t just have “adult” movies.  They have science fiction, and action, and romance, and comedy.  Kids have “kids’ movies.”  There may be genres within, but for the most part an animated movie is seen as an animated movie.  There’s not sub-genre.  With genres, directors can be more picky about messages and themes because an adult will sometimes see a movie more than once in a theater and give it repeat viewings.  Kids will pay attention to whatever kids movie they go see because their parent generally picks it.

And many parents only take their kids a few times in a few months.  So kids’ movies have to get the message clear.  Coraline does it quite well without being preachy and syrupy.

Another thought is that with a book, a parent can read with the child and after a chapter they can discuss what is going on.  This gives the child a chance to process what has been read and the parent can help them along with that.  With a movie, you can’t discuss it until its over.  So you’ve got to deliver that theme so they remember it.  They can’t go back and re-read what they missed.

There are some folks who really didn’t enjoy the changes and others who didn’t really mind.  I think the most important people are the kids. I think the Coraline in the book and the Coraline in the movie are certainly different people.  The book Coraline is a bit quieter and more thoughtful, more mature than most ten year olds.  Coraline of the movie is far more similar to kids I have met.  She can be obnoxious and she’s feisty.  And she’s still brave, even when circumstances are pretty darn scary.  They share this trait, and its a very important trait to have.

I enjoyed this movie.  It’s been a long time since I first saw the trailer for it – way back when I saw Beowulf (don’t get me started!).  And I’m happy that it doesn’t disappoint.  Highly recommend for anyone of any age.

TNTM: Doctor Who

Lately (as I have mentioned) Sam and I have been watching Doctor Who.  The new ones, starting in 2005.  It has been in the back of my mind since the reboot began that it would be a show I would enjoy.  Living in areas that are cable-less prevented me from doing such and it has been a long while since I have thought on it.  A couple friend mentioned that we would enjoy it a few weeks back and so we DVRed it a few weeks back and we really do enjoy it.

The sad business is that it is close to the end of the season on both Sci-Fi and BBC America.  Luckily, our friends own the DVDs so we can get up to speed.  It also helps that Sci-Fi seems to run marathons on the weekends often.  I wish we could count on the three channels that run it (BBCAM, SciFi, and PBS) to be showing different seasons, but that luck is not there.  DVDs will do us.

We finished the first season the other night which stars Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor.  I enjoyed his turn at the part quite a bit, but I like David Tennant a bit more.  Part of the reason is that the newer episodes I have seen are better written – my opinion, yes, but they are.  This is probably due to knowledge of longevity.  When the first season started, I don’t believe they knew they would go past it.  Popularity is a fickle thing.  However, they did set themselves up quite well to do more seasons and I don’t know if my theory really holds true.

Still, Doctor Who!  It is not hard to believe that I haven’t gotten involved as there was nowhere for me to view the old programs while I was growing up.  I will be watching some of the old shows with friends, just to see what they are like, so that will be very interesting.  I greatly enjoy the reboot.  I like that they’ve basically made it continuous with the old show, at least in theory, so they can reference what they wish.

The writing is quite good and it is a serious show while not taking itself too seriously.  The writers are fine with waving away continuity errors with a little “It’s a show about time travel” or giving the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver an ability we didn’t previously know about.  I understand in past series it was a bit of a deus ex machina, but whatever.  It’s playful.

They’ve certainly woven an excellent story throughout this show’s seasons.  With David Tennant ending his time and the eleventh doctor coming up, I wonder how things will go.  I understand they are changing writers or producers or something as well, so it really is a crapshoot.

Something else that also interests me is that The Doctor will soon be on his eleventh generation.  It has been explained in previous episodes that he only gets 12, so in a few years perhaps we will see the end of this Doctor.  How will that happen, I wonder?  It would be interesting if they ended the series and did a full reboot, probably with a lady doctor this time to shake things up a bit.  Who knows?

What I find interesting as well is how many people haven’t seen the show, but how ingrained it really is in everything.  If you do a Google search for “first doctor” through “tenth Doctor” you get Doctor Who wikipedia entries.  I suppose that’s the only time you would use those phrases, but it’s still quite interesting.

Cranky Old Man (Comics!)

Every week (about) Sam and I go to the video rental.  It’s part of a larger bookstore area and has a big ol’ comic book rack.  So that’s how I get my comic fix.  I’m a browser, I’ll admit.  But considering the amount of story I get for the amount I would have to pay, I just don’t feel comfortable shelling out the cash for a comic these days.  Especially with the amount of trash I could get.  There aren’t really any I feel are worth it right now.

I’ve been trying to keep up with Hulk mostly.  It is a fairly entertaining read, but they’ve been milking the same “Who is this guy?” question for far too long.  It’s not done suspensefully either.  It’s just the Red Hulk beating people up.  I find the storyline crazy but fun, but I’m still pretty sick of it.

In the DC Universe, things continue very confusingly.  They’re on something like their hundredth Crisis right now so I don’t even know what books apply to what.  The bulk of the universe seems to be ignoring the whole thing, so that’s kind of weird.  The standout from what I’ve read is Green Lantern, which is pretty cool to me since I’ve been a big fan for a long time.  Apparently Batman is dead or MIA right now, so that’s stupid.

What really grinds my gears is that Barry Allen, silver age Flash, is being brought back to life.  This is jackassery on a high level, right up there with the recent retconning of Spider-Man (don’t get me started!).  I find the Flash to be pretty damn entertaining, especially from a sci-fi perspective.  And when Barry Allen died in the Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was pretty sad to read.  Even if it was pretty eighties to read.  He’s been dead for over twenty years, so it’s really, really stupid.  I actually grew up reading Flash with Flash being Wally West.

The main demographic right now?  Wally West.  Barry Allen has been dead for over twenty years.  All the kiddies that comics needs to pull in to the books so they can keep replenishing a purchasing base?  They don’t give a crap who Barry Allen is.  I think it’s pretty obvious I don’t think we need to direct comics toward a younger set, but this isn’t about that.  It’s about inclusion.  It’s about setting up books that the average new reader can get into without having to know an entire fifty year history.  It was confusing enough without people

“Who is this guy, Comic Reading Friend?”

“That’s the Flash.”

“Oh yeah?  What’s his deal?”

(This should be where you can just say “fastest man alive.”)  “The Fastest Man Alive.”

“Whose that?”

“That is also the Flash.”

“What?”

“Yeah, but he’s the first Flash.  He’s from the forties.”

“Whose this?”

“That’s the Flash.”

“There’s Three Flashes?”

“Well, there were two, but then one died over twenty years ago, it was pretty pathos filled.  But then his sidekick became the Flash, but then DC had the original Flash’s great-grandson come back in time and he became the Flash but then he died and so there were two Flashes but now the original Flash, I mean the second one, is back to life.”

“That’s a yes, then.”

“Yeah, but there’s also a few other speedsters.”

“Speedster?”

“Yeah, that’s a…”

“Screw this man.  I’m getting into indie rock.”

And that’s verbatim what will happen DC!

Personal Thought – I should outline these posts sometimes.   Because I’m really not hitting all the points I want to.  But I think you get my gist.

Anyway, I caught The Brave and the Bold on CN today and it’s trash.  After an amazingly awesome big screen treatment and and excellent cartoon series in The Batman, they’ve brought back some sort of SuperFriends version.  I can get behind that somewhat, because it’s obviously marketed at kids.  Kind of like the Spectacular Spider-Man which was pretty sweet.  Unfortunately I caught the episode with Wildcat, a hero no one who reads my blog has ever heard of.

Wildcat’s deal is that he dresses like a cat and used to be a boxer.  That’s how he fights crime.  But in a respectful sort of treatment in the comics.  In the television program he’s this old, sad boxer.  Still pretty cool, but they’ve given him an old man hump and geezer voice.  Stop it, you guys.  Just stop it.

Thank God for webcomics, or the genre would be gone in no time.

MixTape

Kalin has recently posted about her lack of tunage for her trip to Italy.  Who knows what sort of crazy trends they have going on in Europe?  Maybe they all still listen to Joshie or something.  They could be into auto-techno by now, I don’t know.  But we are all speeding away on our computers compiling playlists for her.  It’s easy!

Kind of.

I have talked on this subject before, the demise of the mixtape.  Mixtapes are ancient technology by now.  They were amazing feats of audiology, bringing love or destruction with them.  The challenge was great when making a mixtape, there was a lot more to worry about.  Generally, one made them on an audio stack with a mix of LPs, cassettes, and CDs – if you were lucky.  You had to judge the audio level on many of these and actually listen to the music as it recorded onto the cassette.  A cassette with Two sides.  It can be frustrating enough to clip the CD to match up close to 70 minutes.  If either side of the cassette was off, you could force your listener to a Hell of blank tape for what may have well been eons.

It was from the depths of the eighties mixtapes became vogue.  Their reign lasted well into the late nineties and are still revered in some cultures.  During this period I made several mixtapes.  They were amazingly fun to make and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when they were finished.

I utilized Microsoft Publisher after the end of each compilation to create a tape case label.  Each tape bore the label “Matt’s Tape.”  Followed by some little name I made up.  What I remember – in order – are “Matt’s Tape,”  “Matt’s Tape II,”  “Matt’s Tape:  With a Vengeance,”  “Matt’s Tape:  Revisited,” and “Matt’s Tape:  Protest Contest.”  Each label contained it’s own individually selected clip art.  I’m fairly certain each of these contained several REM and Bob Dylan songs and would no doubt embarress me in public should I be forced to listen to them.  In private though, I would probably rock out.

Those days are gone now and I’m onto the CDs.  Of course, we don’t even need hard copies at all.  Thanks to the power of our electronic world, all anyone really needs to do is post a playlist and allow others to listen to it.  It kind of recreates the “album.”

It’s like everyone can create their own personal “Moulin Rouge” complete with playlist and libretto.  Why aren’t more people doing this?  What a way to write a tale.

“And then Bill looks with lust as Jesse and Veronica walk away.  He looks at the floor and his voice rises in mournful tones, a cover of ‘Jesse’s Girl’ in a minor key.”

Far Out.

Right now, I’m building a playlist to remind Kalin of Summer Camp, which is easy.  The hard part is that I’m sure several people are doing the same, so there will be same song problems with people’s CDs.  BUT we all know that, so we will be trying to throw curveballs at her.  Which will backfire incredibly, I’m sure.

Man, I would love to see the blogosphere erupt into playlist musicals.  What a fun thing that would be to read.  Maybe it’s already been done and I’m on the back row of another trend.  But I stumble a lot, so I don’t know if that would have happened.

In other musical thoughts, has anyone heard the new Fountains of Wayne album?  Is it any good?  I loved Welcome Insterstate Managers.  FOW is a band that knows how to make an album.  Anyone who knows me knows I like albums as opposed to singles surrounded by filler.

That’s another beauty of playlists.  People can take all those one-hits and compile sweet albums with similar themes based upon them.  It’s challenging though, because you don’t want some $5 greatest love songs disc you would find by the binful at the gas station.

That’s all I’ve got.  I need to make a CD.

Ded Jimmy Gets a Haircut

This is an almost-finished poem for my poetry book “Ded Jimmy: Poems with Illy-strations.” The drawings turned out well, especially with the barber. The poem itself is still being reworked. Please feel free to comment on your impression of it as a whole. I can’t format it right with the pictures full size, so you’ll need to click through.

Ded Jimmy Gets a Haircut

“What about a haircut?” Ded Jimmy said,
Patting the hair on his round curly head.
“In such a short time my crown’s gone askew
It must be time to procure a new do.”
jimmy-wig.png
The man was not far, it was quite a short walk
Jimmy sat in the chair and they started to talk
About sports and items political, too.
“I’m right,” said the barber. “I’ll prove it to you.”

He hmmed and he hummed over Ded Jimmy’s hair
And asked him politely what was wrong with it there.
“It’s lovely,” he said. “You really look good.”
Ded Jimmy replied “Why thank you, dude!”

But I wish it were shorn, for it’s really quite hot.
It makes my head sweaty. It itches a lot!
I thank you for your kind words and all that you’ve said,
But please do this for me and shave my poor head.
barber-chair1.png
“I shall,” said the man. “Though it pains me a bit”
And he fussed with the comb as his brows knit
In thought and ideas as he readied the scissors.
“If I had this hair, my true love would I kiss her.”

“I am jealous, it’s true. You don’t know how lucky
You are. But too bad, I better start plucking.”
With a frown on his face he plunged the comb in
To the thick vibrant locks much to his chagrin.

But as he pulled up a lock to make the first snip,
He felt not a tug, not a stop, not a rip.
For skelling-tons do not grow hair like us folk
Someone had played on Ded Jimmy a joke.

For to the amazed barber’s eyes the hair lifted off
Leaving a bony white head in need of a buff.
He blinked in surprise and showed the dead boy
“Someone has fooled you,” he said, hiding his joy.

“The wig is undamaged! Beautiful, too!”
“Why it is,” Jimmy said, “So I’ll give it to you.
“Use it tonight, surprise your one true.”
“Why,” said the barber, “I must thank you.”

He took a fresh cloth and wetted it down
And swept over and on and around
Young Ded Jimmy’s head until it positively shone
Bright white and shiny. An enviable dome.

They shook hands and Jim left with a spring in his feet
Whistling a tune as he hopped down the street.
The barber looked after, standing outside the store.
He smiled, walked in, and shut the wide door.