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Book Review -- "Ghosts of the Air: True Stories of Aerial Hauntings"
 by William Moriaty

"Kill Bill, Vol. 2"
 by Mike Smith

Air....Walkmen....Xiu Xiu....Von Bondies
 by Terence Nuzum

My Take On "Reinventing Horror Films
 by Andy Lalino

The Kill Bill Miracle....Donald Who?....Miss USA, Super-Soldier
 by Vinnie Blesi

Midnite Terrors .... Hellboy .... Marvel Trading Cards
 by Joshua Montgomery

Andy's Forry Encounter....Amity island, Here I Come
 by Matt Drinnenberg

The Punishment....Trivial Knowledge....Meet The Beatles, Part 13
 by Mike Smith

Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2003!
    Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our fifth calendar year!
    Number 213  (Vol. 5, No. 17). This edition is for the week of April 19--25, 2004.

   The Tambay Film Festival gets underway!

One of the best and most respected film festivals in this area opens this weekend at the Channelside Multiplex downtown: The Tambay Film Festival.

William and I attended the press preview Wednesday and I have to say I have rarely been so impressed with the ramped-up caliber of talents displayed.

Long-time readers will remember what a good time Will and I had last year meeting the cast and crew of "IF" at the special screening (PCR 161). The winners of the Fest were announced the next issue (PCR 162).

This year, instead of a single feature, the committtee decided on three short films, all of them killer quality in different ways. But before I get to them, I have to remark upon a few..er...remarks...made by Regal Cinema manager (and Terence's boss), Jonathan Douglas, by way of introducing the Tambay Film Festival.

Several of the previous years' entries and their creators have gone on to far greater successes. One of these was an Academy Award winner after showing the film at Tambay (like an idiot I didn't get the name, mysteriously no one else asked, likely to avoid interrupting the ceremony flow. Still, I'd like to know...)

The aims of Leora Chai and her sister Alice (heads of the operation) are high indeed: they are hoping down the line to be on an equal par of something like the Sundance Film Festival, kind of like a Southeastern version of it. Don't laugh, taking a look at the movie schedule over this three-day event it very well could happen!

The press crowd this year was noticably thinner than last year (too bad, too, I was hoping to enjoin Tribune critic Bob Ross in fanboy discussion like we did last year---alas and alack, Bob was not in attendance), but I did met an interesting writer from Creative Class magazine who discovered this site from a link at ICON Film Studios. Nice going, guys.

First movie up was "Stuff That Bear", produced by Bruno Coppola & Laureen Vonnegut, directed by Bruno Coppola. A quiet taxidermist is put upon by his friend, a ladies-man and con-man, to stuff a bear for a wealthy socialite for the purpose of, well, sex and money it would seem. The kid doesn't have a bear, so he reluctantly takes a stuffed dog to show his talents. Somewhere along the way we find the main object of seduction is a lap-dancer who starts to go more for the nerdy kid than the obvious hunk. They all spoke with obviously European accents and I'd finally decided they might be Italian when it was revealed the movie is set in Bucharest and Romania! As odd as the set-up sounds, it works in that comic-romantic-fantasy kind of way. Shot on video, 19 minutes long, feels longer because so much happens (a common reaction I had to all the movies). Really nice cinematography, funny script, and good performaces by the well-cast group.

Next was a most impressive effort shot right here in Tampa, "Quarters", produced by Theresa Fretwell & Dan Cauthorn, directed by Dan Cauthorn. It's described in the literature as "depressed and disillusioned, a young Tampa woman struggles to find her way through a maze of grief and antidepressants. Serendipity presents itself in the form of a small grey cat, a telescope, and pinball." That certainly sums it up, but of course it's much more engrossing than that. If pressed for a category, I'd have to put this under the wide umbrella of slice-of-life/coming of age stories, which normally I avoid like the plague: they've been done to death, but so many filmmakers feel the need to express one (kind of like the other-side-of-the-coin to a typical fanboy's first zombie film). However....it would be grossly unfair to undersell "Quarters" because William and I were VERY impressed with it, especially with the cast (Hollywood could learn a thing or two from these folks about properly casting a movie), the rock soundtrack (I hope it's available somewhere) and the powerful and tight script. The cat, the telescope, and dumb luck result in a kind of boy meets dysfunctional girl story with an unexpectedly upbeat and downright poignant ending. Shot on video on location in Tampa (with a filmlook, though, like "Stuff That Bear", and using familiar Tampa landmarks) and an engaging 25-minute running time that, again, seems longer because there was so much to remember (and certainly not because any of these were dull), "Quarters" is very highly recommended.

The last feature was a mind-f*ck of major proportions. "Day of Independence". Produced by Onodera and directed by Chris Tashima, shot on 35mm film with terrific cinematography, it accomplishes something even big Hollywood often fails to achieve: a period picture that genuinely feels like the era in every single way. That means the costumes, music, hairstyles, and sets have to be dead-on in every way to work, and, in this film, they are! The set is a Japanese Internment camp in 1943. The deceptively incongruous images start with a baseball game being played by people who barely speak English, are imprisoned against their will, yet must sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and are engaged in the great American pasttime of baseball (by, presumably, diversion), while armed watch-tower guards surveil their every move! The foreign accents are mixed as there are several generations here. The emphasis, however, is on a 17-year-old Nisei (2nd-generation Japanese-American) as he aspires to greatness like his hero, Joe Dimaggio. He has a loving family and good friends. Unfortunately, his life is torn apart by the tragic circumstances of his situation and must face the heart-breaking reality that he and his folks may be separated. Seems I remember there were two narrators, one being the boy, but I'm a little foggy on that right now. What I'm NOT foggy on is the brilliant use of the baseball Umpire as the other narrator and "Greek Chrous"---he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly. His deep Japanese-American accent brings a pathos and yet a believability to his determination to be tough and fair in the game. His is a voice of resolute maturity. He appreciates his situation, but knows others depend on him for authority.
   It bears repeating how authentic this film feels in its period. The Umpire almost seems to know he's a man out of his time addressing the future. The script, costumes and music are remarkable (this is another soundtrack I hope is available somewhere). The closing credits carry a reminder that there were 110,000 Japanese-Americans taken from their homes and imprisoned during WWII, and none were ever found guilty of being spies. The American government apologized for this action in 1990 (woo-hoo).
   Now I have to confess something else: it's a rare movie anymore that makes me cry. This one did. An unbelievable amount of action takes place in its short 27 minutes, but it contains images and scenes I will carry with me for a long, long time. It has my very highest recommendation.

Other noteworthy films of my acquaintance or I have seen before and are playing in the Festival are: "Homeland Security" and "Night Demons" by Mark Terry and Vito Trabucco, "The Horizon Bleeds" produced by Lynn Love (yes, as in "Lynn Love's Auto" used car sales, true Tampa believers), and for which Corey Castellano, Steve Beasley and I crewed many years ago, along with Peter D'Alessio and John Carlucci (the last time we all worked together, I think, when, 1997?'98?) and I haven't seen yet, "The Monkey's Paw" (a terrific version of the 1902 horror-thriller story), The Guzzo Bros' "A Joyce Story" (w/cameos by our own Terence Nuzum who also crewed), "Animal Grappler" (think a Mad Magazine take on Steve Irwin), "Entering Wendy" by Fred and Kris Zara, a host of others I'm sure are all great and, of course, Sunday at 6:00pm, a little-known area feature called "Filthy" by our own Andy Lalino, who's won more awards than Bayer has aspirins.

Two seminars are noteworthy additions this year: Saturday afternoon's "It's your life, be creative", and Sunday's must-see: "I've made a film, now what?" that directly addresses every filmmaker's burning questions regarding distribution. If there was only one seminar I'd HAVE to attend it would be this one! Both are 4:00pm--6:00pm on their respective days.

For more information and additional details on this year's Tambay Film Fest, visit www.tambayfilmfest.com.

Long-time readers are also likely shocked that no one here has reviewed The Punisher yet, especially given the Tampa-centric-ness of the movie's location shooting, settings, etc, and I don't blame you! I can't speak for the others, but the same (or similar) set of circumstances that boondoggled my attending Dawn of the Dead appears to be repeating itself, leaving me quite frustrated in the process. Since The Punisher's opening, something has happened every day to prevent me from seeing it (Britton Cinema, my closest-located bijou, is not even carrying the movie, nor is the next-closest, Madstone! Westshore is the closest one, just a little too far to justify cab fare). Despite my optimistic prediction in an earlier edition of this week's PCR that I'd be able to attend Thursday....well, that didn't happen, either. However.....this weekend the stage is set for smoother sailing--by hook or by crook, I'll be getting my Punishment.

SHEEP'S CLOTHING, the newest short from Hocus Focus Productions, will be screening at Beef O'Brady's in Apopka, Sunday, May 30th.

The film will be shown at approx 9:15 PM, but members of the cast and crew will be on hand along with some props starting at 8:30PM. There is no admission and prizes and gifts will be given away.

The management would like an idea of how many people to expect, so please RSVP to hocfocprod@yahoo.com before the event, so we can give him a rough number.

Jason Liquori

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