Category Archives: Film

Interview: Groovy Bruce Campbell talks ‘Hail to the Chin’

With a career in film and television that spans more than 35 years, actor Bruce Campbell has been a mainstay with fans since his groovy debut as director Sam Raimi’s anti-hero Ashley J. “Ash” Williams in the 1981 horror classic “The Evil Dead.” Since then, he’s thrilled fans by reprising Ash in the sequels “Evil Dead 2” and “Army of Darkness,” and reprised the chain-saw handed, boomstick-slinging Deadite slayer in the outrageously entertaining STARZ horror series “Ash vs. Evil Dead. ”

But in between, Campbell has led a remarkable life as an actor and director on several other projects; and he’s also earned a stellar reputation on the pop culture convention circuit, where he’s greeted countless numbers of fans over the years with his trademark wit and undeniable charm. Basically, Campbell has proven despite his successes in the industry that he’s just an average Joe that has worked hard enough to maintain a living for nearly four decades in one of the most competitive businesses on the planet.

Needless to say, Campbell has amassed his fine share of unique behind-the-scenes stories along the way, which he first shared in his memoir “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of B-Movie Actor” in 2001. But since Campbell’s career kept rocketing skyward after 2001, naturally he has accumulated more interesting tales, which led him to do a follow-up memoir “Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor” (St. Martin’s Press), new on store shelves and online Tuesday.

While often filled with humor, Campbell’s stories, like in the first “Chin” book (an ode to the actor’s square-jawed mug) is also deeply personal and revealing. It’s that sort of honestly in both his screen and personal appearances that fans have glommed on to, mainly because Campbell is so relatable to them.

While most actors give off the whiff of inaccessibility as they attend red carpet premieres, awards shows and other events not privy to the public, Campbell is happy on the flip side to bring the show to the people who have kept him employed all these years. To Campbell, the barrier between stars and fans should be so thick.

“I’m always happy to poke a hole in that. I don’t want people to put me up on a pedestal. I don’t want to be seen as anything special,” Campbell said in a phone conversation from New Jersey on Monday. “So, maybe talking about getting a DUI will bring me down to earth a little bit in some people’s minds, which is exactly what I want. Athletes shouldn’t be put up on pedestals, politicians, no one — because they’re all going to fall. We’re humans. We make stupid decisions.”

Thankfully, Campbell believes the real dumb decisions are behind him, because now they’re viewed in a completely different light.

“Nowadays, good God, with all the social media — all the stupid crap coming out of actors’ mouths is now immortalized on the internet, “Campbell observed. “If you have one bad night and someone photographs you? Oh, baby. And if they record your rant that normally wouldn’t be happening, you have to watch out. It’s a different ball game out there.”

Co-authored by Campbell’s longtime assistant, Craig Sanborn, “Hail to the Chin” not only chronicles some of the actor’s adventures on and off the set with his longtime wife, Ida, it tells several of the stories — sometimes pretty, sometimes not so much — of his work on dozens of projects.

Included are tales of his work on the cult classics “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “My Name is Bruce,” as well as reuniting with his “Evil Dead” director Sam Raimi on the box office blockbusters “Oz the Great and Powerful” and the “Spider-Man” trilogy. Campbell also recounts his work on such television series as “Burn Notice” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” among many others, and his interesting encounters at conventions.

Bruce Campbell 2

Whether he’s on the road filming, promoting his work or meeting with fans, Campbell has more than earned his reputation of being one of the hardest-working men in show business. The actor believes a lot of his attitude is rooted in the solid Midwestern work ethic he developed growing up in Michigan, along with the likes of Sam Raimi and his brother, Ted (who also frequently collaborates with Campbell).

“I don’t know any other way. We grew up in a town full of factory workers,” said Campbell, 59. “These are guys who didn’t even like their jobs and yet they worked at them. It was inspiring in a way to take that work ethic and put it towards something that we chose to do. It makes you want to work hard if you’re doing your own thing, and take responsibility for it, too.”

Campbell is no doubt working harder than ever, not only on by embarking on a three-month, 35-city book tour to promote “Hail to the Chin,” but the third season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which is completed but awaiting a premiere date. Of the upcoming the upcoming season, Campbell said, “Season 3 is a piece of work. We’re hoping by the 10th episode that you’ll have to pick your jaw up off the floor.” He also said to “expect the unexpected.”

No matter how long it will be until more Ash, fans not only have “Hail to the Chin” to keep themselves busy in all-things Campbell, but several more offerings from NECA, the major provider of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” merchandise. On the slate for late November/early December is a full-scale replica of the Ashy Slashy puppet from Season 2, which Campbell tried on Monday (“It was perfect. It was exactly like we shot with,” he said.); and a before that, more action figures from “Evil Dead II” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

Bruce Campbell and his Ashy Slashy Puppet in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2

And while the “Evil Dead II” figures are a wonderful blast from the past, the one thing Campbell said he’s finding is that the new action figures for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” are reminders of just how long he’s been in the business.

“They’ve done a great job, and they’re some of the best action figures that I’ve ever had,” Campbell said. “But I was joking the other day, ‘You know you’re craggy when your action figure is craggy.’ The new action figures got all the wrinkles and the crags, and I was like, ‘Wow. Thanks for nailin’ it.’ You think that they’d cut you a break and make you look 15 years younger, but no, no, no.”

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Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

“The Hitman’s Bodyguard” (R)

Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson breathe some much needed life back into the summer movie season with “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” a high-octane action comedy that isn’t exactly original, but very entertaining nonetheless.

The plot is relatively straight-forward – Reynolds plays Michael Bryce, a down-on-his-luck executive protection agent (which is a fancy name for a bodyguard) who is called upon to transport one of the world’s most notorious hitmen in the world, Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) to an international court of law to testify against brutal Russian dictator (the always great Gary Oldman). But since the dictator could be put away for life, he’s doing everything possible to make sure Kincaid gets dead before he has a chance to testify.

There’s no doubt that “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” has a “Midnight Run” feel to it – Bryce and Kincaid are constantly squabbling, mainly because the hitman has tried to kill Bryce 27 times before – yet the film still manages to hit the mark on many levels. To start, it has great chemistry between the Reynolds and Jackson and a great supporting cast (including Hayek as Kincaid’s wife and “Daredevil” and “The Defenders” star Elodie Yung as an Interpol agent who has a romantic past with Bryce), to intense action and thrills, and hilarious, mother F-bomb-dominated dialogue.

Interview: Elodie Yung talks ‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard’

While we’ve seen these characters from Reynolds and Jackson before, they’re both outrageously entertaining in the film. Reynolds is great at the wiseass thing and it’s certainly the best thing Jackson has done in a long time (can anyone say the mother F-bomb better?). But as good as the actors are in the movie, the person who nearly steals the show is Hayek, who as Kincaid’s kindred spirit is laugh-out-loud funny as she throws out the mother F-bombs in a fast and furious manner.

Topping off “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” is the expert direction by  Patrick Hughes, whose biggest credit before this was “The Expendables 3.” He really puts together some dazzling, action sequences, sometimes that reminds me of the elaborate chase stuff you’d see in a James Bond movie. All told, the film is hardly a dull exercise in action filmmaking. Everybody is clearly putting effort into this movie, and it shows.

Lammometer: 7.5 (out of 10)

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Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Listen to Tim’s review of “The Dark Tower” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard and Phillip “The Philly Dawg” Wise.

“The Dark Tower” (PG-13)

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey help build a solid foundation for the long-awaited big screen adaptation of “The Dark Tower,” author Stephen King’s sprawling magnum opus that is spread over eight novels. Surprisingly short at just over 90 minutes long, the film benefits largely from keeping the plot relatively simple, considering that this is the first of several more films and/or television series to tell the story (presuming this first film is lucrative enough to warrant it).

The Dark Tower despite its name, isn’t evil: it’s  a darkened, massive skyscraper located in the center of the universe that protects Earth and other planets within the realm from monsters hell-bent on destroying them. The tower can only be destroyed by the mind of a child, which is why a powerful sorcerer Walter O’Dim, aka “The Man in Black” (McConaughey), is pursuing Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) – a gifted young teen who has extraordinary psychic abilities – to carry out his plans to bring it down and wreak havoc on the universe. Standing between them is Roland Deschain, aka “The Gunslinger” (Idris Elba), who in addition to protecting Jake has an old score to settle with his nemesis.

“The Dark Tower” operates with the assumption that fans have already read the books, which explains why the film comes prepackaged with lingo only readers would understand. Fortunately, the terms aren’t too complicated, and some, like “The Shine” (Jake’s said psychic ability) are obviously tied into King’s other works (a la “The Shining”). With its short runtime, fans of the book are bound to be disappointed with by the lack of detail, but on a basic level, the film – a sci-fit/Western mashup – “The Dark Tower” works.

It’s hard to tell how “The Dark Tower” will build out from here, but so long as the charismatic principal actors remain attached, the series should at least have enough momentum to push forward to the next chapter.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
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Movie review: ‘Atomic Blonde’

See Tim’s review of “Atomic Blonde” with Adrienne Broaddus on KARE 11.

Atomic Blonde (R)
Charlize Theron mixes a bit of James Bond espionage and a lot of extreme “John Wick”-type action in “Atomic Blonde,” an energizing spy thriller that despite its thrills, still falls short of the wickedness of “Wick” and the intrigue of Daniel Craig’s 007 outings.

“Atomic Blonde” certainly the potential of, at the very least, being another “Wick.” David Leitch, who co-directed the first Keanu Reeves revenge thriller is at the helm of “Atomic Blonde,” and Theron has already well-proven that she has an incredible handle on the action genre with her kick-ass turn as Imperator Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and recent turn as the villain in “The Fate of the Furious.”

Set in 1989 in the waning days of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, “Atomic Blonde” stars Theron as MI:6 spy Lorraine Broughton, a no-nonsense field operative whose myriad of skills includes a lethal form of hand-to-hand combat. When one of her fellow MI:6 agents turns up dead in Berlin, Lorraine is dispatched to the city to not only recover his body, but join the city’s top operative (James McAvoy) to ferret out a double agent betraying the agency and most importantly, recover a list that names several undercover agents and vital personal details about them.

The biggest problem with “Atomic Blonde” is in its pacing, since the film is rooted in a debriefing of Lorraine by her MI:6 superior (Toby Jones) and an American CIA authority (John Goodman), and told almost entirely in flashback scenes.

Hear Tim’s review of “Atomic Blonde” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show” on KQRS-FM.

Yes, while Theron’s charisma commands your attention every second she’s on film, “Atomic Blonde” suffers as Leitch builds intensity in scenes with pulse-pounding action (usually though encounters of hand-to-hand combat or car chases), only to suck the energy out of the air by continually reverting to the debriefing.

The “Wick” chapters, on the other hand, had linear narratives that escalated in intensity throughout the film, creating burning anticipation for whatever the end game was going to be. The hopping back and forth in “Atomic Blonde” only lends to confusion.

Lammometer: 7 (out of 10)

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

Tim Burton Book 2
Click book cover for info on how to buy!