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.