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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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The Tampa Film Review for August  by Nolan B. Canova
Summer '06 in Review  by Mike Smith
Las Vegas....Small Markets....Hollywood East  by Mark Terry
Mike Douglas is Gone....VHS Grindhouse....By George -- He's a Dustman!...New York Dolls Back in the News....Screem Magazine Review (#12)  by Andy Lalino
Seen the King Lately?...Movie News....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 33: "Blazing Saddles"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 334  (Vol. 7, No. 33). This edition is for the week of August 14--20, 2006.

Tampa Film Review for August

By Nolan B. Canova

With Will Moriaty out of town and Terence Nuzum deciding to sit this one out, it fell to old friend and local actor Gustavo Perez to be my traveling and movie companion for this month's Tampa Film Review.

We arrived at the International Bazaar with several minutes to spare before the eight o'clock showtime. Inside, film fans and many of tonight's filmmakers had started to gather in that familiar doesn't-look-like-much-right-now-but-it'll-be-standing-room-only-soon scenario. I was delighted to meet for the first time Emerald Gowers and Tim Griffin (Griffowers Productions). Em goes by the name raining_jade on the message board and she has already gotten a lot of attention for her resourcefulness in making decent little flicks working with low-budget gear. One of her films will debut here next month.

Gus and I found a seat next to Em and Tim. I was then surprised to discover we were all sitting directly behind local producer/event planner/model photographer Chris Passinault, who's also posted on the board many times.

We had a lot to movies to watch this night! I'm getting used to Tampa looking better and better as a location in these films, but thought it was kind of funny that El Centro Ybor, and in particular the International Bazaar itself (where the Tampa Film Review is held), is showing up so often! Anyway....on with the show.

Blood Lust by John Matheny in conjunction with the FMPTA. Approx 15 minutes. Local indie legend Joel D. Wynkoop stars as a visiting businessman who checks out a local restaurant/bar/nightclub (the continental and atmospheric Saffron's of Pinellas, introduced to me by Will Moriaty for a ghost tour just weeks ago) to hang out and find some "action". Apparently this is a meeting place of the city's dark gothic elements, as Joel discovers. Later, he checks into a hotel (in good ol' Ybor) with a woman he picked up at the bar. He's trying so hard to have a good time, he overlooks the obvious truth about these goths until it's too late.
   Beautifully-shot, super-crisp video with gorgeous color. The interior of the club is very dark, maybe too dark, but hey, the mood's in the shadows, right? The lighting on all scenes is very good. The music soundtrack by John Matheny (also the movie's director and editor) is, as always, excellent. The bad news is, except for Wynkoop, the acting has that typical, very basic low-budget feel, like they really don't do this very often. This leaves Joel big spaces for scenery-chewing, and his scenes tend to be the most memorable. There was a close-up of the vampire Danté whose make-up was caked on so thick it generated what was possibly the movie's only unintentional laugh from the audience. You'll probably see the ending coming from a mile away as I did, but I'd still recommend this as a good, fun little flick, with great Tampa backdrops.

Autographs for French Fries by Sean Michael Davis: What if everyone wanted an autograph from a waiter? That's the basis for this short film, a satirical role-reversal comedy about society based in a restaurant. Ralphy Limone, a food server, hates his job and therefore his life. 20 minutes. Extremely well-done comedy, with probably the first big laughs of the night. (Opening titles, shown over very dramatic music: Tom Hanks....Mel Gibson.... David Hassellhoff.....[fade to back]....[fade back in] are not in this movie!) Ralphy needs daily affirmation recitation just to get up the energy to go to his job as a server in a restaurant. I'm sure every server can identify with his plight: unappreciative a**holes who treat you like sh*t, especially abusive, rich and/or famous customers who can get away with it. Meanwhile, the not-so-rich seem to get side-stepped unfairly. How far do you go to please these customers (I face that myself all too often)? It's worse when the boss won't back you up. A bump-on-the-head accident in the kitchen reverses the roles as Ralphy has visions of the way it ought to be: everyone is now stopping him for his autograph and the reverse ass-kissing begins, all the way up to the boss (a stand-out performance by Brett Rice). After having experienced this, when Ralphy awakes, the balance of his shift goes, well...considerably different!
    Very good performances, well-shot scenes (the Panasonic 100A 24p camera was used), real crowd-pleaser. In an earlier edition of this week's TFR review I remarked that I saw actor/writer Tom Ryan in the audience and that I wanted to meet him to congratulate him, but by the time I could make my way over there, he was gone. I have since been advised that Tom Ryan was not in attendance this night, so someone who looked a lot like Ralphy almost got an unexpected greeting from me! Woops! Other production members were present, however, and I would still like to meet them someday.

Tokyo Shoes by Chris Giuffré and Galileo Studios. 4 minutes. A fast-moving montage of images of Japanese commuters, workers, and the general population walking non-stop through the city, often through a fish-eye lens, all to the music of techno-industrial band Enotide. There's kind of a choreography to this and it basically functions as a music video, but it's probably classed more appropriately as experimental/avante-garde.
Before the film, Chris Giuffré explained at length to the audience what he was going for here, but I confess I don't remember much of it, except for a similar approach he used for last month's short, The Mechanics of Choice. This was produced in conjunction with the Pinellas County Arts Council.

Hand Delivery by Damien and Josh Kincannon: Is Clark boring or crazy? It depends who you ask … 16 minutes. In the past, I've usually voted for a "hit movie of the night" or "runaway hit" or something to that effect. The high caliber of movies this night made it a little more difficult, but this comedy by the Kincannon brothers just edges out the others as the belly laughs I experienced were sincere and frequent (as were the audience's). Damien Kincannon plays the nebbish half of two brothers, a successful businessman, very neat, very fastidious, and, well, self-consciously dull. Younger brother Josh, on the other hand, is the wild one. As Damien packs his suitcase ever-so-neatly for a business trip out of town, Josh secretly replaces his business attire with women's lingerie. This isn't discovered until too late. Damien phones Josh from his hotel room intending to lay into him, but instead, accepts a challenge to prove he's not a fuddy-duddy. Easier said than done. Alone in his hotel room, Damien tries the hotel's sample alcohol and dons the women's clothes, getting more drunk and more wild as the night wears on. Finally, in a final fit of decadent defiance he decides to order a porno movie via the hotel's closed-circuit TV system. He's horrified to discover that the movie will be hand-delivered by the gorgeous female concierge (newcomer Krystal Marie Badia) he encountered earlier and now desperately wants to impress under the worst possible circumstances.
    The Kincannon Brothers' development from the first simple monster movie I saw at the Coffeehouse (Back to the Machine) to this effort has been amazing. I still remember Damien as teenager Ben Waller's assistant! His and Josh's technical chops are getting scarily good as they play with their Sony FX-1 HD digital camera. But what I took away from this is Damien's previously unknown talent as a slapstick comedian! Didn't see it coming. Krystal Marie Badia met us later for pizza and beer and told us how funny it was watching Damien direct the movie wearing lingerie! This short movie had all of us rolling in the aisles and is very highly recommended.

Quietus by Jason Ellis and Brandon Hein: John (Jake Cartwright) struggles with the loss of his girl friend Sarah (Cassandra Moore). In which he loved very much. So, John tries to reason with god as he attempts to take his own life. 20 minutes. Paul's description pretty much sums it up. Told as a flashback, with short inserts of the suicidal present. John is an everyman (actor Jake Cartwright reminds me of a cross between Meatloaf and Jack Black) who tells the story of his romance with Sarah -- pretty typical dating scenes as the two fall in love. Then Sarah announces she has a terminal disease. Her physical condition degrades until she asks John for an ultimate favor to end her misery. Initially gratified, John's emotional collapse and spite for "god" escalate. Very nicely shot and edited (kudos to Brandon Hein), good music soundtrack and good performances.

Matias by Claudine LoMonaco and Mary Spicuzza: Documentary of two brothers from Mexico who try to cross the U.S. border through the Arizona desert. 22 minutes. I'm normally opposed to playing documentaries at mini-fests like this as I'm always afraid their studied manner and dry facts will dilute the momentum of a night otherwise filled with mini-dramas and light comedies. Not so with Matias. The gripping subject matter had the audience's attention from the outset and that's saying something already. Beautiful videography (I want to say a Sony PD150 was used) accentuates the color of the region around the California/Arizona/Mexican borders. The female narrator calmly takes us through several dramatic twists and turns as a desperate attempt to flee into America ends on a bittersweet note when the desert exacts its toll on a Mexican family. One can take various conclusions out of this story as the filmmakers don't beat you over the head with any overt messages, but, of course, there is a timliness that deals with our immigration issues which have elevated to critical status this year in particular.

Two one-minute shorts completed the night:

"The End is Blossoming" -- trailer. Peter Guzzo. Long-time readers may remember I attended an evening's shoot of this feature a few weeks back. The results are stunning, at least as far as the trailer goes! An extremely atmospheric harkening to 1940s Tampa, specifically Ybor City, when it was controlled by underworld elements. This should be great.

"Fake" Pepsi commercial, The Kincannon Brothers. Josh and Damien wanted to make a commercial just because...well, just 'cuz. A woman (Amy Campione) on her way to work leaves her partially-emptied Pepsi can on top of a note to her husband: "I left you you dinner in the fridge." Hubby comes home (area regular Rod Griffin in a very funny turn), discovers the can and starts to drink when he discovers the note stuck to the can's bottom: "I left you" (the rest is obscured by the can). Distraught and in despair, he starts to destroy everything in the house. He's in the middle of cutting up a dress when his wife walks in the door carrying a 12-pack of Pepsi. Hysterical. Hey, if I was Pepsi, I'd jump on this!

For completeness' sake I should also note that a 1-minute video ("Tinnitus PSA") was submitted by KSFilms of Orlando, but was not playable in the deck used, so was postponed until September's meeting. I didn't have any better luck with it here, unfortunately.

Before the night was over, well over a hundred people had swelled the ranks of the TFR. Spotted in the audience were ICON's Chris Woods and Simon Lynx who had joined the festivities already in progress earlier in the night. St. Pete Times reporter and friend to the arts Rick Gershman came up to say hello, he's a great guy. Also in the audience were Marivamax's Larry Buchovey and his significant other, Sheri. Always fun to see them. I don't think I'm breaking any confidences here by reporting that, according to Larry, Marivamax is in negotiations with Hasbro to tie-in their film RISK to the game of the same name and bring it to the big screen! I couldn't be happier for them as RISK is one of the best locally-produced, full-length feature comedies ever produced.

Visit www.thetampafilmreview.com for more information regarding the Tampa Film Review.

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

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