Sometimes I think of Milwaukee as a “Little Chicago” because it’s got a lot of the cultural opportunities and sports teams, etc., but it’s much easier to drive in, and it’s not intimidatingly huge.

One of the best things about Milwaukee is having several arthouse theaters to fill my need for stuff the cineplexes don’t carry. Joliet, not so much. I mentioned March of the Penguins to mom the other day, and I don’t think she had heard of it, probably because it’s not playing there. And while Movies 8 and Movies 10 were cool when they opened, they’ve been left in the dust by the bigger, better cineplexes in the suburbs. Loews Streets of Woodfield, Lincolnshire Regal, and Seven Bridges Cinemark are movie destinations, not just places to catch a flick. I’m getting off topic here.

Having the Oriental and the Downer is cool enough, I can catch stuff like Murderball and The Merchant of Venice, plus they’ve just got atmosphere. It’s even better, though, that they do special events, and I get to meet Bruce freaking Campbell!

I get Landmark’s weekly e-mail reminding me what movies are playing there this week, and I usually just scan it quickly to see if there’s anything interesting. One week, sure enough, they're like, hey, Brent, come check out Bruce Campbell at the Oriental, as he signs books, and screens his new movie The Man With the Screaming Brain! So, I'm like, sweet!

So I got some tickets through a friend of a friend through the Riggs Hegemony mailgroup, and I headed down to the Oriental. There was a large line, even though I was about two hours early, but we all got numbered badges to represent our place in line. Kelsey met me after a little while, and we both bought the new book "Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way." It's kind of a fictional autobiography, if that phrase makes any sense: Bruce Campbell is the main character, but none of it actually happened.

I also saw Jon Holsclaw there, who I hadn't seen in forever, so that was cool. I hope he gives me a call sometime.

Anyway, after much anticipation, my turn came. Our exchange went something like this:

Bruce: Hi, how you doin?

Brent: Great. Thanks so much for coming, Mr. Campbell.

Bruce: Oh, you can call me Bruce if I can call you Brent.

Brent: Ummm, okay... I'm really looking forward to the movie

Bruce: Really? I just hope you're all entertained. At
least it's a beautiful theater.

Brent: Oh, I know. I come here all the time.

Bruce: You do? Well, good, because if you don't, they will tear
it down. I've seen it happen.

Brent: Well let's hope not. Thank you so much!

During that short conversation, he signed my book with a personalized message, and seemed genuinely interested in talking with me. I know that sounds silly, but hey, he could have just scribbled on it and said "Next!"

Kelsey and I grabbed some dinner, and then sat in a park in Shorewood for a little while, where I took this picture. We then headed back to the theater for the screening.

Bruce answered questions beforehand, which was a little strange, considering we hadn't seen the movie yet. Most of the questions were about his other work anyway, and I understand if he had to get on the road. He really comes across as a regular guy, self-deprecating and sincere. He really lucked into a career as an actor, and he knows it, and accepts it. That's why you gotta love the big lug. What I didn't expect was when he brought out superstar sibling Ted Raimi (!!!) and he answered questions as well. I was so surprised, I didn't even have time to ask Ted about his motivation as the skin-wearing psychopath in Skinner!

The movie itself was about what you'd expect from a movie titled The Man With the Screaming Brain. While I was tremendously entertained, mostly by Bruce and Ted's manic outbursts of insanity throughout, it's not going to win any Oscars. Basically, Bruce plays an American CEO of a pharmaceutical or biotech company or something, and he travels to Eastern Europe to for some business meetings, and he and an ex-KGB cab driver are both killed by the vengeful gypsy ex-flame of the said cab driver. She also kills Bruce's wife. So a crazy scientist puts both Bruce and KGB man's brains in Bruce's body, and wacky hijinks ensue. Also, Bruce's wife's brain is put into a Kill Bill-styled robot, who proceeds to kick ass in every direction.

The whole production had a very 70s feel, which I'm not sure was intentional, given that they shot on location, with an obviously low budget. Either way, though, it didn't have the sheen that so many low-tech sci-fi and horror movie have these days, and that's okay. Different is good. The funny thing is, I was more entertained by Brain than by half the 100 mil budget movies I've seen recently, so I give it a C+.


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