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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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Tampa Premiere of "The End is Blossoming"  by Nolan B. Canova
"The Prestige"  by Mike Smith
Hitting Home....El Rush-bo....But What Are You Going To Do For Me?...What? No A-Ha?...Maybe Next Year....Passing On....Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Beat Me, When I'm 64?...My Favorite Films, Part 43: "Halloween"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 344  (Vol. 7, No. 43). This edition is for the week of October 23--29, 2006.

The End is Blossoming premiere at Channelside Theater

Long-time readers may remember when Corey Castellano and I attended a late-night shoot of "The End is Blossoming" for PCR #330 back in July of this year. What we saw was amazing concentration of efforts by dedicated local filmmakers bent on raising the bar for what could be produced film-wise from this area.

In this particular case, Peter and Paul Guzzo's The End is Blossoming, the first chapter in a 13-part series called The Ghosts of Ybor dealing with a dark period of Tampa's history, that of the early 1940s when mobsters controlled much of Ybor City.

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Tampa's lovely Film Commissioner, Krista Soroka, works the ticket table at Channelside
Nolan Canova on left, with chameleon/actor Jereme Badger
Left to right, Peter Guzzo, Nolan Canova, Paul Guzzo
Actors Guz Perez, left and Ivan Ilarraza mug for the camera.
Left to right, Rod Griffin, yours truly, and Robert Elfstrom
Director Peter Guzzo, left, talks with cinematographer Chris Rish
Two stars of The End is Blossoming, Robert Elfstrom, left, with Justin Trombetto
Not an actor in the movie, but someone in the audience I have long wanted to meet: Gene May of Damage Control, Inc. comedy group!

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Great picture of yours truly (center) with two of the film's stars, Lynn Moore and Joe Lala
Gus Perez, left, clowns around with Guzzo staple, actor Matt Camero
Krystal Marie Badia (Hand Delivery, A Quiet Place) and Rod Griffen
L-to-R, Robert Elfstrom, Jennifer Moore, Gus Perez
Lynn Moore, right, converses with a fan, while Pete tries to direct
John Matheny, left, converses with Robert Elfstrom about the movie
Filmmaker and promoter Chris Woods joins the action late in the evening
L-to-R, George Dapabei (post-production soundman), Joe Lala's girlfriend (sorry, we lost her name), Joe Lala, and Krystal Badia

This night at the Channelside Theater (downtown Tampa), the movie premiered to a packed house of some 345 fans, actors, well-wishers, and supporters. I was able to meet and greet with many of them beforehand, some after-hand (haha).

Before the movie, brothers Peter and Paul introduced themselves and said a few words. A lot was riding on this 45-minute mini-feature. More and better equipment was used on this film than the brothers had ever had access to before, and a high caliber of talent was present in every scene both in front of and behind the camera. There are deals already in the works for sequels and television producers have shown interest. Uh-oh, the lights are dimming...shhhhh.

Downtown Tampa, more specifically, Ybor City, 1942. Classic still B&W photographs and period-sounding music set the tone of the era. The interior of the Cuban Club comes into view in a beautiful panning color shot that captures the flavor of not only the period but that noir feeling of gritty danger. We're at the main bar, everyone smoking and drinking and having a good time. But there is a disquieting forboding as personalites enter and cross the room.

Sicilian mobster Giuseppe Frederiano (Robert Elfstrom of The Dance and 99) pretty much owns Ybor City. His only rival in power is the legendary Bolita-runner, Charlie Wall. Bolita is the illegal gambling game that brings in the most consistent money to the mob. Guiseppe's brother Sonny (Al Sapienza of The Sopranos), in fact, observes that except for Bolita, Tampa's business is not much to brag about.

Meanwhile, local henchman Salvatore (Jereme Badger of 99, The Dance, Cellphone) tries to talk Charlie Wall loyalist Ernesto (character actor and musician Joe Lala, whose resumé could fill this page) into abandoning Wall and joining the Sicilians.

But Mr. Frederiano is into several rackets, not the least of which is prostitution. Enter Diana (Lynn Moore of 99 fame). Beautiful, but vulnerable, and "owned" by Frederiano. Her wiles are not lost on him as he jealously protects what he sees as his property and product.

The bartender, Alex (Justin Trombetto, also of 99), wishes to see the beautiful woman set free, but feels powerless to help. Enraged one evening by Frederiano's roughness with her, Alex lashes out to be a hero, but instead endangers himself and Diana. He learns that Diana is in debt to Frederiano, and her baby will stay with the mobster until that debt is paid off. Now that the assault on Frederiano has attracted the wrong kind of attention, his own life is in mortal danger.

Then, in one of the most chilling scenes ever filmed, Sonny Frederiano makes Diana an offer she can't refuse: she and her baby can be set free forever, but only after she agrees to carry out a "very big favor".

The production values on this film are top-notch. Cinematographer Chris Rish (an International Academy of Art & Design teacher whose documentary on Danny Rolling I reviewed last week) delivers beautiful pictures rich with color when appropriate, or de-saturated for a more period look. Close-ups, depth-of-field control, all amazing. (Some hand-held shots seemed extra jittery, but this could've been deliberate.) Naturally, this is using all Hi-Def video stuff, expensive and not for the squeamish.

The soundtrack's music is fantastic, provided by Lounge Cat, an area jazz ensemble (check out "Love Again" on the the band's MySpace for a sample).

The acting is the 1DayFilm troupe's best to date -- and as much as I want to credit director Peter Guzzo for bringing out these performances, apparently, by all accounts, Pete directs by...er...not directing. I'm left to conclude the actors simply want to do a good job. Of course, they'd have nothing inspiring to say if it wasn't included in the screenplay cleverly-crafted by writer Paul Guzzo .

Acting cameos by Matt Camero, Guz Perez, Jennifer Moore, and Ivan Ilarraza round out the cast.

The question and answer period after the movie brought out that over $3,000 was raised from the movie proceeds to go toward the Gasparilla Film Festival. Paul also wished to note the collective efforts of the students of The International Academy of Art & Design for copious amounts of work donated to the film. On a personal note, the film's debut was on writer Paul Guzzo's birthday (he turned 31).

There was an after-party held in Ybor, but I couldn't go as I was unable to get the night off from my odious night job, but I left Channelside satisfied that the Guzzo's efforts for an authentic look at the seamy underbelly of old Tampa were not in vain.

"The World Premiere of 'The End is Blossoming'" is ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova. All photos in this article by Nolan B. Canova

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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