Nolan Canova here. This month's TFR was the second at the new location, The Cigar Warehouse Theater in Ybor City.
PCR staff writer William Moriaty provided my transportation and, even relying on ye olde editor's fragile memory for directions, we arrived safely and in plenty of time to hang out with a few other film patrons on the scene, like Joe Davison, Gene May, and of course the TFR director, Paul Guzzo.
Dan Brienza's Film Network Meeting, already in progress, was wrapping up close to the TFR's 8:00pm showtime as Chris Woods and I made our way to the front row seats. (The two other PCR reviewers who accompanied us last month, John Miller and Terence Nuzum were unable to attend, so this month will be just myself and Chris Woods examining the films!) The initial turn-out was modest to say the least, and in the opinion of director Guzzo, it's because the 48-Hour Film Contest Meeting had been scheduled the same night at another location, a situation he found extremely irritating and made no secret of it. Of course, more people arrived as the night wore on.
To those new to the process of reviewing the films, all our reviews are bundled together under each movie title, and I've been using a color-coded system to help the reader differentiate when a reviewer's "voice" changes. To wit:
All movie titles and descriptions, usually written by Paul Guzzo (or myself if none is provided with advance publicity) will be in black with a yellow background.
Nolan Canova's reviews will be in Navy Blue
Chris Woods' reviews will be in Deep Purple
All reviews finish with our critic's rating which sit at the end of our review and are in boldface.
Special thanks to Chris Woods for noting the exact order the films were exhibited. As stated here a few months ago, it's our policy to grant all reviewers the ability to "opt-out" of commenting on things like movie trailers and short previews which are promotional in nature, and therefore, awkward to judge and rate; also anything deeply conflicting with personal beliefs.
Here we go....
"The Job Interview" by Damage Control, Inc. An interviewee rolls off an impressive resume of obscene-sounding former employment to the human resources interviewer at a prospective new job.
Nolan Canova: I have always loved these guys. Simple sketch comedy is something they've always excelled at, and this 4-minute example is no exception. A prospective job applicant (the incomparable Jay Hewlett, who fans might remember as hilarious Attorney Moskowitz in various Damage Control shorts) finds himself in the hot-seat while his interviewer (Melissa Gridley, in a 180-degree switch from the Jerry Springer-style bitchy mama in the "HO-JACK" segment of No Show) grills him over his past employment history. For openers, we find out he's been a "fudge-packer" (for a fudge manufacturing company), a framer for Well-Hung Framing, Inc., and a "dick", i.e., detective, ("I wasn't just any dick, I was a real dick"). His favorite position was "69", that is, "Inspector 69" at a women's underwear factory, and he was also a "rear-entry" inspector at a men's prison. The list goes on. The job he's applying for here? Blow Jobs Hair Salon. Very Highly Recommended.
Chris Woods: Great little comedy by Damage Control. Very funny. If youíre offended easily this my not be for you, but itís done in good humor. Itís a top-notch comedy skit that would fit perfectly on SNL and I think itís just as good and even better than some of the skits on that show. Very Good Ė Recommended.
"The Great Invisible Go-Kart Race" by Darren Richmond. A young man gets tips from a dark stranger on how to win the invisible go-kart race.
Nolan Canova: A young go-cart enhusiast (Drew Osler) gets unexpected help from a dark, bearded stranger (Nich Pacetti) who mysteriously appears in his apartment and announces his intentions to fulfill his mission to make the kid a winner. After some brief "training" the race ensues with predictable results.
I may be the only one here old enough to remember a film shown on the old Ed Sullivan Show about a group of bikers who ride invisible motorcycles. This was accomplished with stop-motion animation, i.e., the actors would squat in a sitting position with their hands forward as if holding handlebars and move forward slightly as one frame advanced. The Great Invisible Go-Kart Race uses the same technique, only the "drivers" are sitting on pavement.
If memory serves this was one of three films submitted by students from the International Academy of Design. I liked the photography, the acting was OK, the script decent, if pedestrian. The audio seemed to have problems keeping a consistent level. But, an OK effort. Decent.
Chris Woods: An interesting student film that had a pretty good story idea. Some good stop motion effects were done in the film. The actors were decent but the story seemed to drag in the middle but picked up at the end. There were also a few audio issues through out the film but over all it was well shot and put together. Decent.
"Criminal Incompetence" by Nic Brown and Ben Johnson. A comedy about mobsters.
Nolan Canova: I got a real bad feeling right off when the three husky laughing-boys who came up to introduce the film only said, "Uhhh....*snicker*...this is a film we made...harharhar.." and went back to their seats all the way to the back of the hall.
The muddled plot had something do with being saved from mobsters, but it was so tedious, I forgot to care after the midway point. Good photography and admirable production values couldn't save this horrible mess of bad script, bad acting, and obnoxious mugging that the tortured patrons of this month's TFR had to sit through. This was obviously designed as a comedy, but it tried too hard for laughs by in-your-face over-acting. The main comic character, a morbidly obese man-baby who always wears a bicycle helmet, was brutal in its burlesque and painful to watch. The only ones laughing through the whole thing were the original frat boys who introduced the film (you could hear them at every close-up, HAR HAR HAR HAR). The contempt for the audience was insulting.
Paul Guzzo was told this was a 15-minute film, but it was easily twice that long. This was another entry from the International Academy of Design. Poor.
Chris Woods: Some good production value and a cool intro that had some good After Effects/Photoshop animation doesnít save this poorly-written comedy. The story was not executed well and the humor was just plain bad. The actors were decent but couldnít really pull off good performances. The jokes were very stale and the same ones seemed to be used over and over again. It seemed like the only ones who found this movie funny were the filmmakers themselves. But again, the production value was good and it was well put together, I just wished the story was better and the actors were more believable. If they could work on that they could put out a really good film. Poor.
"Gramma's Place" by Grant Tyson. A man takes over his grandmother's house to make a porno movie while she's on vacation.
Nolan Canova: The final Int'l Academy of Design student film of the night was a decently funny piece. A man (Jon Spiracio) and his friends conspire to make a porno video at his grandmother's house while she and his mother are away on vacation. Things initially seemed to go smoothly at poolside until the leading man (Rajgopal Muralidhar) discovers he can't...er..."perform"...so the director takes him inside for a pep talk. Meanwhile, the bored leading lady (Audrey Turner) has apparently grown tired of the wait and wandered off. Not knowing this, the reinvigorated main actor runs back outside and whisks off his clothes to stand naked in front of.....mom and grandma, back from vacation prematurely.
The plot certainly wasn't groundbreaking, but the players here showed a lot of heart, and the performances came off as sincere. BTW, I wish I had relatives like this guy has. That house was huge! What was gramma...a retired CEO?? The cast reuniting to dance to the end-credits music was a nice touch. Good.
Chris Woods: Another student film with a pretty good story idea about a kid and his friends making a porno movie while his Grandma and Mom are away in Vegas. This film is very well put together and most of the actors in the film are very good and likeable. But like Criminal Incompetence, the story just doesnít stick. An interesting concept but the story just lays flat at times and also relies on lots of frat-boy humor thoroughout. Besides that, it is a very good effort from this first-time filmmaker, which can pull off great production value and can edit the final product very well. I think if they can concentrate on writing a good script and putting more passion behind the story telling instead of rushing it along, they can produce a good movie and have a better product in the end. Decent.
"Crotch Rot" by Robert Kreh. Donovan is your typical hormone-driven college player. One night, he takes home the wrong girl and ends up contracting a really nasty STD that makes him start to fall apart... literally!
Nolan Canova: One of the most disturbing films ever to play the TFR! Jeremy Burns stars as a man who banged one skanky whore too many. The next morning, he gets a phone message from his date that she left him "a little something" to remember her by. His groin starts to itch, then hurt terribly. The pain escalates until he starts hallucinating. He calls his friend for advice, but the pain is too much, he drops the phone and heads to the bathroom where he witnesses his genitals literally rot and drop off in front of his eyes. Crotch Rot may have been shot on film, it certainly looks like it. Burns' performance and special make-up effects by Mallory Fischer make this 4-minute shocker unforgettable. Very Highly Recommended and Tie For Film of the Night.
Chris Woods: A very good short about a man who has a pain in his crotch the morning after he sleeps with some woman. The film is short and sweet and has a gross out shocking ending that you gotta see. The whole thing is very well done. At first your not sure where itís going, is it a comedy, drama, horror, and then when the climax comes itís terrifically disturbing. Good acting through out, great production value, and some really cool effects. This is a must see. Very Highly Recommended.
"Truth or Dare preview" by Tim Ritter. A celebration of the release of Tim Ritter & Joel Wynkoop's Truth or Dare.
Nolan Canova: Tim Ritter's machine-gun pace voice-over summary of the Truth or Dare trilogy is an entertaining experience all by itself. 5 or so minutes of scenes from the horror anthology starring Joel D. Wynkoop scream by in quick-cut fashion. By preview's end, you're not only out of breath, you've definitely got the story idea: an insane serial killer, previously missing, seems to be back...or is it a copycat?
Chris Woods: A very cool preview that summed up the Truth or Dare trilogy. I seen all three films and enjoyed them all. Afterwards, Joel Wynkoop interviewed myself, Nolan, and others and asked what their thoughts were on the preview. The interviews will be on the re-release of the first Truth or Dare DVD.
"Call Center" by No More Talk Productions: A comedic take on call center life. The story follows Eric Barnett, a lowly Customer Service Representative for SuperCom Telecommunications. Just when he thought that today was going to be just another typical day his world is turned around when he realizes that itís the last day of the quarter and he has still yet reach his quota. When a glitch in the system occurs in his favor, Eric is presented with a chance to redeem himself.
Nolan Canova: The above description fills out the plot pretty thoroughly, so I'll just say this was a very well-made and enjoyable romp into typical office life (think "Dilbert" in a call center) with an extremely well-cast group of characters.
A particular stand-out is our "Dilbert", Eric Barnett (wonderfully played with creative restraint by Derek Mungor), a sleepy-eyed employee who just wants to get through the day, and his arch-nemesis, a superdick on steroids, office jerk Seth (played with snake-like appeal by Tony DeMill). Eric's only friend seems to be Joey (Cody Stone), the calm-head-in-a-storm in the cubicle hell they inhabit.
A typical day ends with the scary notion someone's going to get fired, and one by one, our friends are marched into the office as the boss lady rates them according to their call "points".
A very professional film, well-directed (kudos to Adam Dyess), with good photography, editing and production values that are well above average. At about 30 minutes, it almost feels like a TV pilot and I have to say, if it were on the broadcast schedule, I'd probably watch this regularly! Very Highly Recommended and Tie For Film of the Night.
Chris Woods: Okay, this is what Iím talking about! An excellent film with great production value, edited well, and also has a very good script thatís executed well and is very character driven with likable actors playing the parts. The story centers around a day in the life of a man who hates his job which is an operator at a call center. What makes this film good is the cast and the great chemistry between them and the comedic timing they have. The humor of the story kind of reminds me of Office Space or Napoleon Dynamite. The lead actor carries the film and you feel for him throughout. Another actor in the film plays the office jerk and does an excellent job at playing a jerk and you hate him so much. Call Center is an all around good film with all the elements great throughout. Very Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.
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"The Tampa Film Review for August" is ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods.
All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.