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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part Two †by Will Moriaty
"Eragon" †by Mike Smith
"Charlotte's Web" †by Mike Smith
First Screening: Creature Productions' "Dark Dimensions" †by Nolan B. Canova
The Tampa Film Review for December †by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Part 3 †by Drew Reiber
DVD Grindhouse: Horror Classics - 50 Movie Pack DVD Collection (Part 1)....Peter Boyle is Gone †by Andy Lalino
The Globes....Texas Boud....Passing On....Next Year....My Favorite Films, Part 50: "1941" †by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 351  (Vol. 7, No. 50). This edition is for the week of December 11--17, 2006.

Tampa Film Review for December

By Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods
(All photos courtesy of Chris Woods)

Nolan here. Once again, this month you're getting two reviewers for the price of one. Last month's experiment was pretty interesting. As you may remember, I wanted to avoid any "conflict of interest" appearances over my film Milk Crate Scars showing at a fest I was reviewing, so I tapped on the only other reviewer ever to grace this column, Pinellas county film legend, Chris Woods. We really enjoyed that, so we're at it again.

Terence Nuzum decided to sit out this TFR, so my PCR movie-watching companions this month were Gus Perez and William Moriaty.

Upon entering the International Bazaar where the TFR is held, I immediately recognized Allen Berrebbi of the Tampa-based comedy troupe Damage Control, Inc.. Allen was featured in October's TFR entry No Show along with the rest of the DCI cast. Damage Control, Inc., one of Tampa's best-kept secrets, is ready to explode. Tonight's feature, Mexican Sky goes a long way to ensure it.

Also in the audience were Chris Woods (obviously,) and his ICON partner Simon Lynx. Joe Davison appeared about halfway through the night, but left just a few minutes later. Both Guzzo Bros were present. Some folks from A Ground Up films arrived after we started. They introduced their film In On It, but left before I had a chance to meet them. DAMN, I hate when that happens (Jen, I got your name right this time -- I think, haha. Please next time, Jon, Jen, stay just a bit longer, willya?).

It's worth mentioniong that one of the producers of last month's FMPTA film The Survivor's Club, an older lady, came up and started poking me in the chest, furious over Chris Woods' negative review of the film! No matter how hard I tried to introduce her to Chris to vent her anger in a more appropriate place, she refused to not make me take personal responsibility. Funny in retrospect, I guess, but a reminder of the hazards I face in this job!

I'm sitting comfy while cinematographer Dan Pestana tries to goad me into action!
Before we begin, one final note, a repeat from last month. Chris writes all his reviews from memory. I have a poor memory for details, especially after a week's gone by, but am fortunate enough to have the discs loaned to me for a second viewing (plus I can look up names in the credits and such). Any additional information I can provide is solely due to this arrangement.

All reviews start with a plot synopsis, usually written by Paul Guzzo, or me (Nolan) if the film was unscheduled, and are in black.
Nolan's comments are in blue
Chris's comments are in purple.


Mexican Sky, written and directed by Ken Collins, featuring Jay Hewlett. A mouthy career criminal takes a sheriff and his deputy hostage in their own squad car in a desperate attempt to flee across the Mexican border. 10 minutes.
This is one of the finest films I have ever seen play at the Tampa Film Review. Ever. The lead lawman, Ray, is played by stand-up comic Jay Hewlett (also a member of Damage Control, Inc.), who is outstanding in his role as the taunted lawman. What is it about stand-up comics that they seem so frequently to be able to cross-over into drama. The reverse isn't usually true, at least I've never known it to happen. Jay's performance is amazing. The mouthy skinhead crook, the one with the child-killer past who with great bravado taunts our heroes all the way to Meh-hee-ko, is played by the director himself, Ken Collins. The quiet Hispanic deputy who drives them, Paul/Pablo (Jamie Clark) will get his showdown at the end. And the ending is quite satisfying. Ken Collins has written some juicy parts for himself and his players. Chad Fukuda's cinematography is breathtaking as is the super-tight editing. Congratulations to Largo Films, Mexican Sky gets my very highest recommendation.
This was a good little piece about a sheriff driving a convict who is a child rapist and murderer, to prison but the con turns the tables on them by pulling a gun on the sheriff and the driver. The tables turn yet again at the end. This film is a great example that you donít need a big budget and special effects, all you need is a good story and great performances from the actors. Most of the film was shot in a car with the con and sheriff dominating the scene. And a great twist at the end seals the deal.

Chris Woods (back to camera) and actor Gus Perez converse at Friday's TFR.
Santa vs. Frosty by Damage Control, Inc: A cartoon that pits the two Christmas titans against the other. Let the ultimate holiday battle begin!
I had seen a version of this online at the Damage Control website some time ago; but seeing it again on the big screen reveals how well the "first modest attempt at animation" (as Allen called it) holds up. Frosty's turned into a vulgar, no-good crack dealer who's trying to rub out Santa in an alley, presumably to keep him from improving kids' behavior. Rudolph is there to keep Santa pumped, but Frosty's hi-tech weapons very nearly do Santa in. When we think all is lost, a secret weapon saves the day. The animation is charmingly primitive, the lines are very funny, and the point gets across. This is only one of two animations I've known to play at TFR.
A funny cartoon where basically the title says it all. Damage Control did a great job with the animation. I can see this toon on SNLís TV Funhouse segment or a part of a South Park episode. The cartoon had crude humor such as those two do.

In On It by Ground Up Films: Claireís night out takes a terrifying turn.
This film comes from the same folks who brought us the very entertaining Last Night seen at last month's TFR. This starts out as a romantic comedy, but things quickly get ugly as our leading lady (Heather Diaz), out for a much-anticipated date with her boyfriend (Brandon Windish) gets carjacked at a local gas station when he goes in for cigarettes. She tries to get away from her kidnapper, but the bad guy gets the best of her. What happenes next is hinted at in the film's title, but let's just say her taste in boyfriends is wanting. The twist ending is very dark, but enjoyable in that Creepshow kind of way. Director Jen Persons has pulled off another winner. Jon Wolding's cinematography is at least as good as on Last Night (maybe better, actually) and the writing and editing is tight. Was that our young Ben Waller I saw in the credits as a PA? The one who's now at UCLA? Basically, this is Jen and Jon' show and it demonstrates, yet again, what a small, but very dedicated and talented group of people can do with very little. Shot with a PS2 camera and edited with Final Cut Pro. Highly recommended.
Another cool film that takes a different turn in the middle. The short film starts off like a romantic comedy as we see a girl getting ready for a date and then we cut to the date on his way to pick her up, and both of them are singing the same song. Well, the guy picks her up and on their way to dinner he stops at a gas station for some smokes. As the girl is left in the car alone, she is suddenly carjacked and kidnapped. The girl eventually gets away but only for a few moments when she is confronted with her kidnapper in the woods. I donít want to give away the ending, but of course thereís a twist. The film was very well shot and the video had a nice film look to it. A very well crafted film with all the right elements. Only thing I have to say, it ended too soon and leaving us hanging. But all and all it was a great short.

My old friend from public access days, Dan Pestana on left. Dan's the cinematographer on Draw 3! and did an outstanding job.
Draw 3! by SWG Tampa Ė Directed by Kevin Hoag: Unannounced on the original schedule. Long-time PCR readers and message board mavens may remember when Draw 3! premiered in Temple Terrace about a month or so ago. My old public access friend Dan Pestana and I were reunited when this movie played at TFR. Draw 3! is a mockumentary about 3 championship UNO players. That's it. But it's so damned funny! Similar to Marivamax's RISK in that we follow the exploits of grown men who take a simple game SO DAMN SERIOUSLY that it takes over their lives. Of course, here, we're interviewing them to see what makes them tick. I can't decide if the funniest one is the bully/blowhard or the live-at-home dweeb whose mom tells him what to do. Kevin Hoag had his hands full with directing this cast, but he definitely pulled it off. Dan Pestana's cinematography is great, every shot is beautiful. Unfortunately, one of the cast ran off with the disc, so I couldn't give you any crew names in the earlier edition of this review, but before it went into the Archives, director Kevin Hoag sent the list: Writer: Juan Carlos Millan, Producer: John Maslanka, Casting: Angela Masson, Art: Daniel Mauk. Another highly recommended film.
I have to say this was the film of the night. It was hysterical. Draw 3! is a mockumentary on 3 different championship UNO players. The film is done in typical documentary fashion with a host, narration, interviews, b-roll, etc, but with a funny comic twist. Director Hoag gets great comedic performances from his actors and has a great comedy style. Another awesome comedy of the night that can fit in on Comedy Central or Saturday Night Live. I canít wait to see their next film.

Bicycles & Radios by O. Nathapon: TFRís first international submission. Two strangers meet on a radio talk show. One day, they decide to meet, but what happen when the batteries in both radios go dead.
We were "warned" this was a foreign film with subtitles but to give it a chance, haha. I have to say it was very well done, if a little long. Two people, listening to the same lonely-hearts radio talk show, are unaware they are much closer than they think. They get to know each other via the call-ins until finally fate intervenes and interferes at the same time. I liked it, and do recommend it, but it may require too much patience for some viewers.
This was an international film out of Thailand about two star cross lovers who meet on a radio. The two finally get up the nerve to meet each other but as fate would have it their batteries on their radios die and they need to listen to the broadcast to pick a place to meet. Although this film was beautifully shot and well edited, the story was very slow moving and a few scenes could have been trimmed up a bit. The acting was also well done but the story could have been better.

Well, the last TFR for 2006 had some winners and Iím looking forward to seeing more great indy films in 2007.

This motley crew represents some movers-and-shakers in the Tampa film scene. From left, Peter Guzzo, Simon Lynx, Chris Woods, Paul Guzzo, and over Paul's shoulder, Dan Pestana.
I agree with Chris. this was a very strong TFR meeting and a great way to close out the year.

In 2007, the Tampa Film Review celebrates its third anniversary with a huge shindig in Ybor. Details to be announced.

Terence Nuzum has pledged to be a more regular contributor to the reviews in 2007. That's right, if Chris stays on as well, there could be issues with THREE reviewers for the price of one! Stay tuned, the best is yet to come. Happy Holidays!

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

"The Tampa Film Review For December 2006" is ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods. All photos used courtesy of Chris Woods.

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

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