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On The Set of "The End is Blossoming", A Guzzo Bros Production  by Nolan B. Canova
The Tampa Film Review for July  by Nolan B. Canova
Clerks 2  by Mike Smith
VSDA  by Mark Terry
I Meant To Mention This Last Week....Anne Francis Stars In....Love Those Wings....My Favorite Films, Part 29: "The Godfather"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 330  (Vol. 7, No. 29). This edition is for the week of July 17--23, 2006.

Tampa Film Review for July

By Nolan B. Canova

I traveled to the TFR this month in the company of not one, but two fellow PCR colleagues, Misters William Moriaty and Terence Nuzum. I'm very glad that Terence has become a more frequent visitor to the TFR than in years past. I think Will has only missed one this year. In any event, The International Bazaar (1600 E. Eighth Ave. in the Centro Ybor Complex), has been a gracious and generous host of these events, and I haven't thanked them enough for such in these pages, so am taking the opportunity to do so now.

Seen in the audience for this go 'round, Marivamax's own Larry Buchovey (RISK), Steve Stavrakis (star of The Cross), and Tampa's Film Commissioner, the amazing Krista Soroka. ICON Film Studios head and co-founder of the Tampa Film Network, Chris Woods, was out of town on vacation (home in Utica, NY), but partner Joe Davison was present. Most local filmmakers who had entries were also present.

Like last month, the "opening" crowd was modest, but grew quickly. And, like last month, by the end of the program, there were in excess of a hundred people there.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. On with the show....

The Dance by Peter and Paul Guzzo, 1DayFilms: Lest anyone think this is a conflict of interest, I'd like to state for the record that the Guzzo brothers rarely play their own movies at the TFR. I imagine The Dance snagged its second encore showing because the brothers are currently filming elsewhere with two of the main actors from The Dance, Robert Elfstrom and Al Sapienza, the latter being a regular on the HBO series, The Sopranos (a special article on the other film is being featured in this issue of PCR). A trusted but aging hitman is suspected of senility after letting slip one too many secrets and is targeted by the mob for elimination. 1DayFilm core actors Robert Elfstrom, Matt Camero, Jereme Badger (and a special appearance by Al Sapienza) come together to tell a story that remains my favorite Guzzo film to date. The amazingly versatile Robert Elfstrom generates genuine pathos as the old hitman who tries to convince his young assassins (Matt Camero, Jereme Badger) to indulge him in a few last requests before his obvious end. Camero's character is obviously both conflicted and honored at this assignment because the man he's sent to kill is an icon, known for "whacking" legendary figures. He wants to get to know the old man, yet he must kill him. Jereme Badger's character is the driver and lookout, a younger, punkish mobster, with no emotional involvement, this is just another job. In bookend segments, Al Sapienza appears as a relative of "Uncle Joe" (Elfstrom), but not interested in carrying on any family traditions. Or is he? The dual-surprise ending is excellently timed and still chokes me up.

Before The Fall by John Matheny (listed as "The Cactus" in a previous announcement. Actually, this film is based on "The Cactus" by O. Henry): Two longtime friends have just returned from the wedding of the sister of one of them. The other had dated the sister for a long time. The two explore the reasons why the relationship broke up. Nicholas A. Denmon and Kevin Bangos play two friends, Travis and Brett, discussing their situation in a, basically, one-room, one-act play. The source material for this is classic, so the script is pretty solid. Despite this, the two lead male actors never really comfortably inhabit their roles, and unfortunately come off like they memorized the script only minutes before showtime, particularly Nick Denmon (Kevin Bangos was OK, but I've seen him better). Like I wouldn't blame any girl for dumping these über-losers, haha. Aggravating the situation were uninspiring camera set-ups and fairly flat lighting. The editing was pretty good (although jarring in a few cases), and I really liked the music, coincidentally composed by director John Matheny who also has a cameo as the minister. I'm just afraid that the seemingly drawn-out and fairly deadpan dialogue delivery may have cost some of the impact of the wonderfully twisted surprise ending so typical of an O. Henry story. John Matheny was much more on top of his game with Disconnection (reviewed in PCR #269).

The Wright Stuff by Ford Austin: Follow the hilarious adventures of the Wright Brothers as they use "Powered Flight" when President Teddy Roosevelt dispatches them to combat crime and evil around the globe. An out-of-town entry and, without doubt, the runaway hit of the night. Rendered in black & white/sepia-tone as an homage/send-up/imitation of late '20s-style filmaking, four hilarious shorts make of the chapters of this previously-unknown history of Wilbur and Orville Wright (snark snark). Each chapter is between 5 and 10 minutes, so they run at break-neck pace. "Fight or Flight", "Chinese Takeout", "Zombies from the Bermuda Triangle", and "Revenge of Mr. Wright" make up this disc, and it's impossible to pick a favorite because they're all similarly demented. Director Ford Austin himself plays Wilbur Wright, Scott Ingalls is brother Orville, and Ethan Phillips positively chews up the scenery as a mad-mirror version of President Teddy Roosevelt. John Payne is the Telegram Boy in all chapters. Steve Duke masterfully adds the atmospheric period music. Add the film-look effects (pulsing exposure, scratches, sepia-tone) and writer-director Austin has admirably pulled off some of the most convincing retro-cinema I've ever seen. Toss in an AtAt Walker from Star Wars and the mind-f*ck is complete. Very highly recommended.

Push by Brian Feldman Unannounced on the previous schedule and only a few minutes long, if that. As I recall, this was an entry to a filmmaking contest. Unfortunately, I don't have the disc for it, but from memory it had to do with some young guy trying to get a prize out of one of those arcade-type machines with the drop-down claw---except this was a variation that involved pushing the prize toward the escape shoot, all to industrial/dance music. If there was any further point to this, it was lost on me. Brian Feldman is host of Flicks on Fairbanks.

The Mechanics of Choice by Chris Giuffre (in a collaboration with Andrew Hawthorne, and Wes Pratt): The Mechanics Of Choice was originally commissioned by the Arts Center in St. Petersburg for a show show entitled "X-ing", which explored themes based on the idea of a "metaphorical crossroads". The filmmakers took this idea at face value and stripped the concept to its most basic element, Choice, and built on that. In this multi-channel video, the viewer observes what seems to be, at least at first, three different storylines played out concurrently. As the piece moves on, however, we see that these characters are in fact, bound together. Readers may remember that Chris Giuffre was responsible for last month's The Watchman. As avante-guard as that was, The Mechanics of Choice is a far more experimental film, requiring close attention to the action. I admire and respect Chris's bold ideas, and if you do pay close attention, it (theoretically) all makes sense in the end. If I remember correctly, Chris said the 5-panel motion pivotal to the film's core concept was accomplished with Adobe's After Effects, after basic cutting was done with iMovie.

Armed by Joe Sanchez: It's 3 in a morning and someone is missing. Detective Douglas knows that sometimes procedure can wait. Tonight he'll go out and look for her but who is she. He's armed and ready but what's her story?
Reunion by Joe Sanchez: Charlene just ran into her old college roommate Bethany but its not what you think. Find out what happens when an unfinished conversation emerges. Reunion: they say your first love is the hardest one to let go but what if it's the right thing to do. I admire Joe Sanchez, but he is a bit of an odd bird. I first noticed that a couple months ago with The Baby starring Jason Liquori. Like that film, these two are a point-and-shoot affair, using whatever camera he had in his hands in auto-mode. That means a mix of exposure, irritating floating focus in dim light, and similar white-balance shifts. So, technically, Joe has a ways to go, but the films have a lot of heart, and this is conveyed. The scripts aren't bad, and the acting's pretty good with one notable exception. Camera set-ups are good and if he could get into his manual controls, he'd have some pretty good-looking footage. The first film, "Armed", has a nifty surprise ending. Actually they both do. Unfortunately, the drama is marred by the same lame actor who shows up in both: in "Armed" as a detective, in "Reunion" as the boyfriend -- a thin, lanky man with a high, nasally voice. Actually elicited chuckles from the audience whenever he appeared. Despite this, all Sanchez productions to date show a lot of potential, just screaming for some polish.

"Hand Delivery" by Damien and Josh Kincannon, listed last week as appearing at July's TFR, was not shown as final rendering could not be completed in time. It has been re-scheduled for next month.

During a break for announcements...

  • Joe Davison reminded everyone of The Tampa Film Network meeting taking place at the Stadium Chili's restaurant on S. Dale Mabry this Thursday at 8:00pm.
  • Paul Guzzo alerted everyone to the fact that the third anniversary of the Tampa Film Review (formerly the Coffeehouse Film Review) will take place next January and that a very special event is being planned.
  • The manager of the International Bazaar announced The World Peace Concert taking place at the Centro Asturiano theater, Saturday, July 29th.
  • Brian Feldman, host of Orlando's "Flicks on Fairbanks" (essentially Orlando's version of the TFR), invited everybody out to participate in their brand of local film celebration.

    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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