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Monthly Archives: June 2012

My Name is Bruce (2007)—and I don’t mean Bruce Lee.

The second film in our series is “My Name Is Bruce,” the 2007 comedy-horror-spoof-film, directed, co-produced and starring the “B” (or C+ if you listen to some people) movie great Bruce Campbell.  As you know we just took a look at Army of Darkness (by far my favorite Campbell film); this time around we are discussing a movie about Bruce Campbell playing Bruce Campbell.  Unlike unintentional actors who are not really acting on screen, like when Chazz Palminteri plays Chazz Palminteri in every film, Campbell parades his status as cult B-movie genre megastar and makes a film that pokes fun at his acting career.  My guess is that most Hollywood “stars” have too big of an ego to make something with this sort of self-deprecating humor in it.

 

In his film, Campbell exaggerates all possible perceptions of what life is like being Bruce Campbell.  Portraying himself as a gone to hell, ruined by the devil’s nectar, divorced, making wretched sequels to already awful movies and living a trailer with an alcoholic dog, being Bruce means at best you are a proud loser barely maintaining a toehold on the “C” list of celebrity parties.

 

Somehow believing that Bruce is the hero he portrays in movies, Jeff, a fan and the sole surviving member of a group of Goth-like teens attacked by an ancient oriental evil demon that protects the souls of dead Chinese and bean curd, decides to kidnap Bruce and take him to his small town in the Heartland.  There, Bruce erroneously assumes his agent has set the stage for his birthday present (which was actually a hooker) by setting him up for yet another horror film shot in reality-style with an all-amateur cast.

 

Bruce is a little slow on the uptake in realizing that this Midwest jerk water burg of Gold Lick is under actual peril from an ancient, white-bearded God of War set on avenging the lives of 100 “Chinaman” workers lost in a mining disaster 100 years earlier.  Nevertheless, Jeff has sold him as the town’s savior, and like in Army of Darkness, takes up a “Hail to the King Baby” lifestyle.

 

After visiting Goldlick’s gun shop, Bruce and many amateur-actor citizens of Goldlick follow Bruce to take on Guan-Di, which Bruce thinks is just part of the movie.  When he finds out that it’s a real demon, he gets the hell out of Dodge, disappointing his female love interest Kelly and upsetting Jeff as well as the entire town of Goldlick.  When Bruce returns to his trailer home, he finds that everyone, including his junkie dog, hates him.  He has a restraining order placed upon him by his ex-wife, Cheryl who also wants more alimony, and finds that his “surprise birthday present” from Mills was just a singing prostitute.  Bruce is then called by Jeff, who informs him that he’s going to take on Guan-Di alone in spite of Bruce’s embarrassing retreat.

 

The hooker takes Bruce back to Goldlick, where he is treated with contempt but is determined to rescue Jeff.  He drives to the old cemetery where they planted dynamite at the mausoleum and try to lure Guan-Di inside with a cardboard cut-out of Bruce, which Guan-Di doesn’t fall for.  Displaying his machismo, Bruce decides to sacrifice himself using bean curd to luring Guan-Di and the dynamite is blown up.  He emerges from the debris alive, and hangs the medallion back on the mausoleum wall soothing the spirit.  Guan-Di then also comes back to life, and at the very last minute, it turns out the whole story was a movie being screened by the principals at the studio.  Bruce argues with Ted Raimi about the timeworn ending and turns it into a “happy ending,” which involves Bruce and Kelly married, living in a nice house, white picket fence and their son, Jeff, who is accepted into Harvard.  After the movie ends, Bruce asks, “What could be a better ending than that?” after which Guan-Di appears and attacks Bruce.

 

I must admit I was a little surprised with this film, I didn’t know what to expect—there are not too many movies where one satirizes one’s own career.  Fans of Bruce Campbell and the genera he represents I am sure were delighted by this film.  Though I am generally not a “B” horror movie fan (I enjoy many other “B” movie types) this film was not a cheap horror at all; instead it was a unique (and funny) look through the lens of the world of cheap horror movies.  It was better than I thought it would be and it needs to be watched more than once before catching all of the hidden humor; and anyone looking to kill a couple hours could do much worse than watching My Name is Bruce.  I will say this, while researching this review I looked at Bruce Campbell’s filmography and I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that all but the most elite actors would give their right arm for the professional opportunities he has had.  Not bad for someone relegated to the seedy underworld of “B” horror movies—according to the site Celebrity Net Worth his is estimated at six million—I don’t know about you but that is a hell of a lot more than me.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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Don’t Drink the Wine–It Does Not Taste Fine. Cary Grant in Arsenic & Old Lace (1944)

Emma and Sally Review Arsenic and Old Lace: Charge!

Why did you want to see A and OL?

Emma: Because it’s a good movie.

Sally: Because I love the Teddy Roosevelt thing. It’s really funny.

Can you describe the plot?

Sally: It was a pretty good funny movie.

Emma: It’s about two old ladies who kill people. They poison them and bury them in their cellar.

Sally: And they think it’s a good thing and their not real nephew finds out about it and he knows that it’s bad so…

Why do the old ladies think it’s a good idea to kill people?

Sally: Because they’re putting them out of their misery.

Emma: Because they are only killing people who are lonely and have no friends.

Sally: They only kill old gentlemen.

What’s your favorite part of the movie?

Sally: When the other guy who doesn’t think he’s Teddy Roosevelt charged up the stairs.

Emma: I don’t know.

Do you think Cary Grant and his new wife will live happily ever after?

Sally: No, I don’t think so. I think they’ll live insanely. Possibly happily.

Emma: I don’t know.

Do you think the aunts belonged in the insane asylum?

Emma: Well they were murdering people.

Sally: And they are kind of crazy. They were murdering people and thinking it was a good thing. They’re insane.

Do you think Teddy belonged in the insane asylum?

Sally: Yes. Although if they had a lot of stairs it might be not so good.

Do you belong in the insane asylum?

Sally: NO. That insane asylum was for people who thought they were historical people. And he said they were a little short on Napoleons.

Emma: Not necessarily. The aunts didn’t think they were historical people.

Sally: True, but they were still insane.

Who did the best acting job?

Sally: The person who turned out not to be a Brewster.

Emma: Mortimer?

Sally: Yeah.

Emma: I thought it was Teddy Roosevelt.

What did you think of Boris Karlov?

Emma: It said that it wasn’t actually, at the end. I thought that he was but he wasn’t. He looked a lot like him though.

Sally: He was weird.

What would you have thought if you were the cab driver?

Emma: I would have been annoyed.

Sally: I would have been really annoyed too.

What did you think of the police officer?

Emma: They all seemed pretty oblivious.

Sally: Yeah, they seemed pretty oblivious.

What did you learn from this movie?

Sally: Nothing.

Emma: Nothing.

Would you have tea with the aunts?

Sally: No.

Emma: I might have TEA with them.

Sally: Yeah, I might have tea with them.

Emma: Just not elderberry wine.

Sally: But you don’t drink, so…

Emma: Yes. Exactly.

What would you do if the aunts invited you to services in their cellar?

Sally : I would ask them why.

Emma: [shrugs]

Which of you is most likely to be found to be insane when you are older?

Sally: Emma!

Emma: Sally!

Explain your answer.

Sally: Well, she’s kind of crazy now.

Emma: So are you.

Sally: No I am not!

Emma: Well, you kind of are.

Sally: No I am not!

Do you consider this a girl power movie, and why or why not?

Sally: No, because it doesn’t really have girl power in it. The girl is just kind of helpless and the two aunts are insane. It’s not really girl power.

Emma: No, because the two aunts are insane.

Did you know that this play is commonly done by high school drama groups? Would you want to be in the play?

Sally: No.

Emma: Yes.

What part would you want to play, and why?

Emma: One of the aunts.

Sally: Yeah, I suppose one of the aunts. If I had to play some part.

Emma: It would be fun.

Sally: I don’t really want to be the other person, so…one of the aunts.

What is your favorite line from the movie?

Sally: Charge!

Emma: I don’t know.

Interviewer: My favorite is when Cary Grant says to one of the aunts, “You’ve just admitted to me that you have been murdering people and burying them in the cellar,” and she replies, “Yes, but you don’t think I would stoop to telling a fib!”

What rating do you think JPFMovies should give this movie, and why? On a scale of 1-10?

Emma: A nine.

Sally: A six.

And why?

Emma: It’s a funny movie.

Sally: Yeah, it’s a pretty fun movie. Especially the [imitates trumpet blowing] and charge!

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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We Interrupt thsi Bruce Campbell Tribute to Bring you Another Review from EJ & SJ: Arsenic & Old Lace (1944) or How to have a Mausoleum in your basement.

EJ & SJ have hit us with another review this time about the classic Cary Grant film Arsenic & Old Lace (1944). Let’s see what they have have to say about this classic comedy starring the larger than life Cary Grant.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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What does Bridget Fonda, a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and Bruce Campbell Equal? Army of Darkness (1993)

 

Army of Darkness, also titled Evil Dead III, is a 1992 comedy-horror film and is the third installment in The Evil Dead trilogy.  The Evil Dead trilogy focuses on the protagonist, Ashley J. “Ash” Williams a manager of a store “S-Mart”, played by Bruce Campbell, who deals with “Deadites”, which are undead antagonists created by the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis.  The original series comprises The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1992).  Army of Darkness premiered in October of 1992, and was released in the United States in February of 1993, grossing $11.503 million domestically and another $10 million outside the USA for a total gross of $21.5 million.  Thanks to video, the trilogy has developed a typical cult following.  When researching this review, I came across a blog whose author claimed to have seen the films a combined 21,000 times.  I was even more surprised that Bridget Fonda had a small part in the film briefly playing Ash’s girlfriend. 

The film begins with Ash Williams and his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 lands in 1300 AD but is captured by a chap named Lord Arthur.  Ash is taken prisoner, his gun and chainsaw confiscated, and is taken to a castle where he is thrown in a pit.  While in the pit, he has to fight a Deadite and regains his weapons from Arthur’s “Wise Man.”

According to the Wise Man, the only way Ash can return to his time is to retrieve the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis.  When he arrives at the Necronomicon’s location, he finds three books instead of one and eventually finds the real one and attempts to say the magic phrase that will allow him to remove the book safely — “Klaatu barada nikto”.  However, forgetting the last word, he tries to trick the book by mumbling/coughing the missing word and grabs the book from the cradle.  An evil clone that was created en route to the site rises from his grave and unites the Deadites into the dreaded “Army of Darkness.”

Using science from the textbooks in the trunk of his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, Ash defeats the Deadites.  After his victory, he makes a potion made from the Necronomicon that transports him back to his own time.  At the end of the film, Ash is working at S-Mart telling a co-worker about his trip back in time, but then a female customer becomes possessed by a demon and starts wreaking havoc on the store, and Ash smokes the creature.

Shooting of Army of Darkness began in 1991, and it lasted for 100 days.  The film was shot on the edge of the Mojave Desert, the cast and crew endured very hot conditions during the day and very cold temperatures at night. Most of the film took place at night and the filmmakers shot most of the film during the summer when the days were longest and the nights were the shortest.

The original ending, in which Ash oversleeps in the cave and wakes up in a post-apocalyptic future, was restored to the film for the UK VHS release, which also had the cinematic ending put in as a post credit extra. This scene has been restored on the “director’s cut bootleg edition” DVD and the double disk DVD, which also featured the cinematic version of the film.

Because of money issues, though Raimi and his crew freedom to shoot the movie the way they wanted, Universal Pictures took over post-production and was not happy with Raimi’s cut because the original ending was undesirable.  A new ending was shot a month after Army of Darkness was made in a lumber store in Malibu over four nights.  Then, two months after Army of Darkness was finished, a round of re-shoots began in Santa Monica and involved Ash in the windmill and the scenes with Bridget Fonda done for very little money.  Raimi recalls, “Actually, I kind of like the fact that there are two endings, that in one alternate universe Bruce is screwed, and in another universe he’s some cheesy hero”.

The film apparently ran into rating problems as well.  With the Motion Picture Association of America over the film’s rating of NC-17.  Universal, however, wanted a PG-13 rating, so some cuts had to be made but was still stuck with an R rating.

As I said before this film has some of the best one-liners I’ve ever seen—making the clips very difficult to cut.  This is a great movie if, and only if, you take it for what it is: a slapstick horror film.  Anyone looking for some substance might as well keep on looking.  The special effects are hardly special so what does this film offer? Simple: Bruce Campbell at his finest. 

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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SS has requested a tribute! And you know our policy here at JPFmovies, requests are honored.

SS has asked that we salute Bruce Campbell; that is right, the star of among other films the “Evil Dead” series as well as a movie where he plays himself: “My Name is Bruce” (2007). The first of the three in our tribute will be one of my personal favorites “Army of Darkness” (1992) a film that has some of the best one-liners in movie history.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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Bullitt vs. Ronin for the winner of the best car chase scene around.

Ronin is a 1998 crime-thriller film directed by John Frankenheimer and written by J.D. Zeik and David Mamet.  Starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno as two of several former special forces that team up to steal a mysterious, heavily guarded suitcase the contents of which is never revealed and as we know from SS, the film is known for its car chases through Nice and Paris.

Ronin is known for two car chases the final chase is through the streets and tunnels of Paris, and according to the DVD commentary used 300 stunt drivers.  If anyone has the credentials to put together a car chase in Hollywood it is Frankenheimer ever since his 1966 film Grand Prix, he has been an amateur racing driver.  Much to his credit, though Frankenheimer was aware of the new digital technology and special effects that have evolved over the years, all the scenes in Ronin are live for total authenticity.  Moreover, many of the shots have the actual actors in the cars.  Apparently, Skipp Sudduth virtually all of his own driving, but crashes were performed by professionals.

Ronin’s cars are on the virtual “A” list of automobiles.  Ronin has three vehicles in Car magazine’s Top 40 Coolest Movie Cars:  a BMW 535i (No. 29), a Citroën Xantia and XM (No. 24) and an Audi S8 D2 (No. 9).  Other fine vehicles that are used include a Peugeot 406, three Peugeot 605s and a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9, a very rare Mercedes-Benz W116 variant with a high-powered engine, as noted by Frankenheimer in the DVD.

So let’s take a look at the two major car chase scenes from Ronin:

And

Bullitt is a 1968 American dramatic thriller film directed by Peter Yates and starred Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Robert Duval and Jacqueline Bisset.  The film was a critical and box office hit eventually winning the Academy Award for Best Film Editing by Frank P. Keller.  Bullitt is most known for its car chase scene through the streets of San Francisco, regarded as probably the most influential car chase sequences in movie history.

The chase scene is so well respected that in 2008, the Ford produced the Mustang Bullitt model for the 40th anniversary of the film.  A car manufacturer produced a make and model of a car that appeared in a 40-year-old movie.  If that does not resonate power, I don’t know what does.  The Bullitt nameplate on the steering wheel honored the movie that made the Mustang one of the most popular cars of the 1960s and 1970s and the specific green color was brought back for the anniversary edition.

Bullitt burning rubber in the car chase scene.

At the time of the film’s release, the car chase scene raised many eyebrows.  Emanuel Levy wrote in 2003 that, “Bullitt contains one of the most exciting car chases in film history, a sequence that revolutionized Hollywood’s standards.”  In his obituary for Peter Yates, Bruce Weber wrote “Mr. Yates’ reputation probably rests most securely on “Bullitt” (1968), his first American film — and indeed, on one particular scene, an extended car chase that instantly became a classic.”

The total time of the chase scene is almost 11 minutes.  It begins in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, followed by Midtown shooting on Hyde Street and Laguna Street, with shots of Coit Tower and locations around and on Filbert and University Streets.  The scene ends at the Guadalupe Canyon Parkway in Brisbane, out of the city.

Two 1968 390 V8 Ford Mustang Fastbacks (325 hp) with four-speed manual transmissions were used for the famed scene, both owned by the Ford Motor Company and part of a promotional loan agreement with Warner Bros.  The Mustangs’ engines, brakes and suspensions were heavily modified for the chase by veteran car racer Max Balchowsky.  The director called for speeds of about 75–80 miles per hour, but the cars (including the ones containing the cameras) reached speeds of over 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) on surface streets.  Driver’s point-of-view angles were used to give the audience the look and “feel” of the ride as the cars jumped through the hills.  Filming the chase scene took three weeks, resulting in 9 minutes and 42 seconds of film.

During this film sequence, two Dodge Charger’s lost five wheel covers and has different ones missing in different shots.  As a result of shooting from multiple angles simultaneously, and some angles’ footage used at different times to give the illusion of different streets.  The San Francisco authorities did not let the filmmakers film the car chase on the Golden Gate Bridge, but they did permit the passage to be filmed in Midtown locations including the Mission District, and in neighboring Brisbane, on the city’s outskirts.

McQueen, an accomplished driver himself, drove in the close-up scenes, about 10% of the chase in the film.  Of the two Mustangs, one was scrapped after filming due to liability concerns and the surviving backup car was sold to an employee of Warner Brothers’.  According to legend, the Mustang changed hands several times, and Steve McQueen at one point made an unsuccessful attempt to buy it.  The Mustang is rumored to have been kept in a barn in the Ohio River Valley by an unknown owner.

Much of the success of the chase sequence is credited to the work of the editor, Frank P. Keller—who took home an Academy Award for his efforts.  The film has garnered both critical acclaim and box office success.  Produced on a $5.5 million budget, it grossed over $42.3 million in the United States, making it the 5th highest grossing film of 1968.

In 2011, Time magazine listed it among the “The 15 Greatest Movie Car Chases of All Time”, describing it as “the one, the first, the granddaddy, the chase on the top of almost every list.”  Steve McQueen’s Mustang places number 2 (behind James Bond’s Aston Martin in Goldfinger) in Car magazine’s top 40 list.

Let’s take a look and see what all the hubbub is about:

To compare the chase scenes between Ronin and Bullitt is like saying you like a Porsche over a Ferrari; that is, objectively they are neck and neck and the winner is chosen by one’s personal preference.  Personally, I think Bullitt edges out Ronin only because the chase is the de facto standard against which all other car chases judged.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Movie Reviews

 

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