Nolan Canova here. For those of you who may've thought you missed the issue covering the Tampa Film Review for October, well, there was no issue, because there was no TFR in October this year -- it was canceled due to what was seen as too many competing special events in the Tampa Bay area, mostly because of Halloween. But it returned, as promised, for this month.
PCR staff writer and fellow reviewer Terence Nuzum provided my transportation, but was unable to stay due to a previous commitment. Thanks to Terence, however, I arrived in plenty of time to hang out a bit with PCR head honchos Peter and Paul Guzzo and even made a brief appearance on Wynkoop TV, where I was interviewed by Joel D. Wynkoop for the internet video show hosted on VEFilms.com.
Also in attendance were (among others) Lisa "FANGRRL" Ciurro, Joe Davison, Jason Liquori (Hocus Focus Productions, good to see you and Nancy again, Jason!), and Doug Vaters (VEFilms).
As the roll-of-the-dice would have it, the only other PCR reviewer able to attend this night was staff writer Chris Woods who arrived a little late, missing the very first film. So outside of that one, you get two reviewers for the price of one this month!
Dan Brienza's Film Network Meeting, already in progress, was wrapping up close to the TFR's 8:00pm showtime as I made our way to the front row seats. (Chris would arrive shortly.) The initial turn-out was better-than-normal, and, as usual, more people arrived as the night wore on. Eventually, it was standing room only.
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....
"Loneliness (Girl)" by Allison Koehler, produced by George Denison. One girl, alone, wandering against a myriad of landscapes and backgrounds.
Nolan Canova: A dreamy excercise in stark photography and lilting musical score that features our lonely girl (Ellie Kriseman), small and distant, against several backgrounds (theater, aquarium, beach, city museum, rural dwellngs) that emphasize her, well, loneliness. Repeated cuts to her alone in an auditorium/theater suggest she's seeing this play out before her, but that's more a casual observation than anything.
More existential than narrative, no dialogue (none required), but I liked the photography. A familar idea that's worth a revisit in capable hands. Good.
Chris Woods: (Not present.)
"Attrition" by George Denison. The guilt of murder is too much for one man to bear.
Nolan Canova: A man (Bryce A. Macleod), fresh from a suggested gun-fight of some kind (mob hit? personal revenge?), takes refuge in a diner. Haunted by the ghost of his victim, he increasingly sees everyone around him as his knowing accuser.
Good camerawork and attractive photography make this a watchable, if frustrating, screenplay. We never learn who the man is or, suspicious from his mounting guilt, whether his actions were justified. Decent.
Chris Woods: A hitman with a guilty conscious is haunted by his last
victim while he sits in a diner. Although well put together and
decent acting, the story seems rushed for the most part. The
filmmaker could've gotten into the hitman’s head a little more and drove
him over the edge with guilt. They did have some cool scenes with
the man seeing everyone pointing a gun at him. Also, the lackluster
ending didn’t help the film’s chances. Decent.
"St. Vincent De Paul Soup Kitchen in Clearwater, Florida" by Joyce Cooper. Documentary.
Nolan Canova: Conversations with various patrons of the St Vincent De Paul Charity and Soup Kitchen in Clearwater. Through on-camera interviews, we learn the background stories of the homeless, broke, and disenfranchised who wound up there. The stories are naturally heart-breaking, but ones we've heard before. The point of this documentary seems to be that today's economic downturn has rendered places like St. Vincent's as an ever-needed last respite that's always in need of donations. Maybe there's a cautionary tale embedded, too, that we could also end up there someday.
The photography's OK, but there were inconsistent audio levels. The onscreen appearance from the producer was atrociously shot, with her image ridiculously off-center, occupying the left-bottom half of the picture, while she looked off-camera to read her lines. Despite her audio levels dropping nearly off the map, the message still got through. Decent.
Chris Woods: A short and to the point documentary about a soup
kitchen for the homeless in Clearwater. For what I remember most of
the documentary was interviews from the homeless that talked about
their struggles trying to find a job, food, and shelter. The film
could have been put together better. There was spots with bad audio
and bad editing. Not sure if this was done by a first time
filmmaker, if it was, it was a good first effort. Decent.
"Trash Compactor Cinema House, Double Feature Tralier" by John Jones and Christian Schwier.
Nolan Canova: Obviously inspired by Rodriguez/Tarantino's Grindhouse faux-trailer section, John Jones and Christian Schwier bring us the coming attractions trailers to "Mad Mormon Milk-Man versus Gang-Banger Grandmas" and "KGB 3000: Intergalactic Russian Robot Assassin". Gore, T&A, great costumes and photography with terrific splatter effects. In-your-face grindhouse goodness. Since they're not real movies and this exists as a stand-alone film project, our usual bypassing of promotional trailers doesn't apply, so it rates a Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.
Chris Woods: A very funny spoof on B-Movie trailers.
Kind of Grindhouse-lite is the best way to describe it. There
were two trailers. First one was about a killer milkman who meets
his match against some crazy grannies. The second one was this
Russian spy who looked like a Terminator. Very well done all
around. Good, and Film of the Night.
"Intermingle" by Joe Sanchez. Sean is on the search. However the closer he gets to the man he's been searching for, the closer he gets to who he really is.
Nolan Canova: This mess of a screenplay tries to be too many things at one time, I think. We're introduced to three characters, two young men, and an older man with whom they rendezvous (and the only actor here with decent acting chops), who seem to have a history but we're not told what it is or what has brought them together. The two young men are searching for a "package" and stop the older man at a run-down motel (are they cops? detectives? nobodies? Don't know). In a Faustian turn-around, the old man utters some high-school level devilish dialogue like, "haw haw haw......come, all your answers will be revealed" (like a cocky 10-year-old saying, "what fools these mortals be!" at his Shakespeare recital. I bet this guy would do great with decent lines). Next we're out in the woods, where a ring (wedding band?) is found in the dirt, and a bit of dialogue by one young man about an apparent lost love is thrown in. His friend seems to drift in and out of the picture. Book-end segments suggest the main young man is telling this story to his psychiatrist.
I admit he's come a long way since his first crude home movies, better technical chops and everything, but I've never seen a Joe Sanchez film I really liked and tonight's offering is no exception. Not Recommended.
Chris Woods: I have no idea what this movie was about. First
there’s a guy sleeping on a couch, then he's in a car with some other
guy (I think they’re supposed to be cops), they’re tracking down this
other guy, they comfort him, one of them disappears, now they’re in
the woods and one of them starts talking about their ex-wife or
something. Then it’s back to the guy on the couch, then he gets in
the car and sees the guy he was tracking in the rear-view mirror. It
made no sense. It was also poorly acted with lots of dull camera
angles. Not Recommended.
Music Video: "No Eros Un Sueńo", artist MonteRosa, directed by David Tinoco. Spanish language music video.
Nolan Canova: Beautifully-shot Spanish language music video featuring a very live-sounding rock band in various cityscape surroundings. Loved the video, loved the music -- couldn't understand a word of it, but loved it anyway. Has a very live, jangly guitar-driven sound that always appeals to me. Recommended.
Chris Woods: Not reviewed.
"Return to Sicily: A New Journey" by Raymond Chiaramonte: A documentary on one man’s discovery of his roots.
Nolan Canova: Extensive interviews and some photo-montages paint an historic picture of Sicilian immigrants settling in the Tampa area over the last 100 yeas or so, told through the archives of one man's family history.
Very well done, good pacing, photography, research, and professional production values keep this from becoming a glorified family reunion adventure. The familiar locales, of course, are always good for stimulating audience identification. Recommended.
Chris Woods: An interesting documentary about the connection
between Italian immigrants and Tampa. A father talks about his roots
from Italy and shows his son their motherland. Other Italian
Americans talk about their family coming from Italy and settling in
Tampa. The doc was well put together with some parts dragging a bit
but nonetheless a good documentary. Good.
"Shelter" by Jason L. Liquori, featuring Joel D. Wynkoop: A mysterious trunk, undisturbed for decades, yields a deadly secret.
Nolan Canova: The always entertaining Joel D. Wynkoop stars as a man whose father just passed away, and it's up to him to take care of the old man's belongings. Bringing his own daughter (Nicola Fiore) along for the ride, the two enter the garage and accidentally get trapped inside. Since they're expecting someone along eventually, they're not too concerned. At least not yet. Rumaging through boxes, they uncover an old trunk, apparently undisturbed since WWII and containing souvenirs from same. The father uncovers a mysterious jar with something inside. While the daughter's back is turned, the thing-in-the-jar bites daddy. The daugher finds some literature in the trunk that reveals grandpa was privy to top-secret experiments and the thing-in-the-jar might very well turn out to be a werewolf fetus! Bad news, since dad's been bitten and the full moon is only hours away
I really liked this short shocker. The chemistry between Joel and Nicole is excellent, and Joel's "transformation" scene (allegedly taking three hours to complete) is pretty impressive, although in the dim light with quick-cut editing, you don't get to linger on the werewolf make-up much. My two biggest complaints with the production are the audio (inconsistent levels, apparently the on-camera mic was used exclusively), and the lighting (there was none -- and that garage is pretty dark). Despite that, Wynkoop's over-the-top spastic transformation scene is worth the wait. A mock retro newsreel segment at the film's beginning is a nice touch as well. Recommended.
Chris Woods: A very cool little horror short directed by Jason Liquori,
which is about a father and daughter (played by Joel Wynkoop and
Nicola Fiore) going through his father’s old things in a garage when
they suddenly they find something very strange. The tone of the
story reminded me of an EC Comic tale. As the father stumbles across
a jar with what looks to be some kind of fetus in it and is suddenly
bitten by it. The daughter tries to help her dad but realizes they’re
locked in the garage. When the father starts to get ill he remembers
a story his dad told him about experiments they did back during World
War II that involved werewolves. Could that fetus have been of a
werewolf? A cool story with good chemistry between Wynkoop and
Fiore. I also liked the mock news reel footage from WWII. Some
parts were slow during it but that could be trimmed in editing. An
all around entertaining film. Good.
"How To Kill a Vampire", "How to Kill a Zombie", and "How To Kill a Werewolf" by the Weekend Film School were submitted for exhibition, but none of the three discs supplied would play.
"Ceu" by David Tinoco (A young man suffers from depression after an unclear tragedy. He has given up all hope until he is suddenly stirred by an unexpected source and given hope), announced in pre-publicity as playing tonight, was not shown.
Visit www.thetampafilmreview.com for more info on the Tampa Film Review.
"The Tampa Film Review for November" is ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods.
All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.