May 9th, 2004


film review: Bruce Haack, the King of techno

As the first person in the entire world, ever to put up a Bruce haack info site back in 1998 (yes, I know the design is ridiculously dated. I don't care. the info/research is the important thing), before even came online, I wanted to love this film. Other than the people -in- the film, I probably know as much or more about Bruce's career than anyone who will ever see this film. Not bragging- just a fact.

and it didn't outright suck, though many parts of it did. It had so much potential, which was squandered by poor footage choices and bad editing structure.

summation: If you are a bruce fan, you should see this film, and then talk about how it failed. If you are not already aware of Bruce's genius, this film won't give you enough info to convince you and may just leave you confused.

good things about this film:

1) they used the footage of Bruce on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (I of course already have a copy of this from the special collection/archive of Fred Rogers' shows in Pittsburgh)

2) they played a commercial for a 1960's board game called "Booby trap" (?!) that bruce wrote the jingle for.

3) they revealed (and played over the credits!) that one of Bruce's last (unreleased) recordings was a track (album?) for Russell Simmons of Def Jam records called "Party MAchine". Bruce on Def Jam. The mind boggles at the coulda-been.

bad things about this film:

1) they interviewed a bunch of stoner non-famous musicians (DJ Me DJ You being an example) that pontificated about Bruce's importance in the same manner they might talk about how great Cheetos are.

2) They didn't always explain the relationships to Bruce of the people interviewed. Likewise, while I know that "Praxiteles Pandel" often goes by the name "Ted Pandel", having Prax on screen and then having other people refer to "Ted" without explanation is most unhelpful.

3) filmmaker is a musician that loves Bruce's work and decided to make a documentary, rather than a filmmaker who thought Bruce's story would interest non-fans.

4) filmmaker inexplicably includes footage of audience reaction to THIS film's premiere at Slamdance within
the body of THIS film (ie not as an addendum)

5) the title of this film is ridiculous and a turn-off to potential viewers. Maybe "king of electronica", but "Techno"? I suppose Raymond Scott made "techno" too?

6) there is a gratuitous, pathetic scene of an sickly, aging man (Chris Kachulis) in a torn "wifebeater" tank top lip-syncing for like 3 minutes to a song he sang three decades ago on one of Bruce's records. It's not poignant; it's just pointless and pathetic. I can't figure out why it was included.

7) no one explains why/how the hell CBS records agreed to release "Electric Lucifer" in 1970.

Seeing this film was like being really hungry for days and then someone telling you they will feed you fresh tuna sushi, but instead, they feed you raw tuna fish from a can. You're grateful for the sustenance, but can't help feeling that with a little more forethought, your benefactor could have fed you something way more fulfilling and appetizing. Wait for Dvd/video release if you are a fan. Non fans can safely ignore.