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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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Tampa Film Review for June  by Nolan B. Canova
A Ghostly Tour of a Jungle Prada  by Will Moriaty
"Nacho Libre"  by Mike Smith
The Dark Side Winds Again....Speak Up....My Favorite Films -- Part 24: "Jaws 2"  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 325  (Vol. 7, No. 24). This edition is for the week of June 12--18, 2006.

The Tampa Film Review For June

By Nolan B. Canova

Upon arriving at the International Bazaar in Ybor City for this month's TFR meeting, it appeared to traveling companion Terence Nuzum and myself that attendance at the eight o'clock outset was modest. That would change very swiftly over the space of the night as the ranks would swell to record levels! The Guzzo brothers and I felt there was a good chance that this June meeting was attended by over a hundred people! There were still chairs being moved into place until 9:30pm. Incredible. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As I said, my traveling companion for this escursion was PCR senior writer Terence Nuzum (The Audio Philes). William Moriaty (La Floridiana) was stuck in traffic and would be very late. When he did show, he would be accompanied by old friend, Denis Lebrun, former artist for "Blondie". Terence and I sat with Chris Woods about center. Joe Davison was lurking at the fringes. The show begins...

Fashion Statement by Wayne Porter: Bodies are being found drained of blood, with two small holes in the neck. The newspapers warn of the vampire killer. While waiting for the trolley Rosie and Claudia debate whether it is a real vampire or just a lunatic and if a crucifix would be any protection. Rory just sits nervously when Trevor arrives at the stop. He seems innocent enough, talking only of fashion and poetry, but that could just be an attempt to throw people off. Rosie and Claudia eye him suspiciously but Rory just seems to find him boring. Someone will not make it home tonight.
The plot description pretty much tells the whole story! The only thing left is the twist ending which I won't reveal here, but long-time horror fans will probably feel it coming and the which-one-is-the-true-vampire actually was a surprise to me (with a little added stage business I thought was clever). Not a bad little film, I wasn't that crazy about the two lead actresses, but the atmosphere and camerawork were very nice.

The Watchman by Chris Giuffré (10 Street Films). Not originally scheduled. The filmmaker, himself in the audience, explained this film was basically in response to a contest where the contestants were given a camera, a plot, and a very limited amount of time (I want to say, like, a week) to make a movie. The result features a study in paranoia as our hero John (Eddie Rosicky) explains to his friend Ray (Shawn Kyle) that he's had enough of "Big Brother" watching him and plans an escape from the city. As the two friends walk and talk, the POV occasionally cuts to a closed-circuit camera view to underscore how closely they're being watched. Ray is very hestitant to follow, especially after John steals a car to prevent anyone tailing him. Regardless, John drives the car to a remote area, abandons it, winds up on a beach somewhere, apparently lost. He picks a direction and leaves. This is where I got a little lost myself. The POV cuts to a ground-level closed-circuit camera where we see Ray walk by on the same beach(?), notices the camera, walks up to it and tips it over! Cut to static noise. I asked the filmmaker directly if I had the main points right. He seemed to be agreeable on my synopsis, but also seemed a little vague on the ending himself, with a remark something like, "it's up to the viewer to decide" (I bristle at statements like that), but that it had to do with paranoia over the pervasivness of security cameras. OK, I'll buy that. Maybe Ray was in on it? (I also learned that Chris Giuffré was on the crew of Chris Woods' production of POP. An earlier edition of PCR mistakenly referred to Wayne Porter in that context. I apologize for any inconvenience this caused. ---Nolan)

Peetey Pete by Mark Cross: a rich white man arrives to do business with the godfather of the hood. The godfather's daughter arrives catching the eye of the white man's son spinning into a Romeo and Juliet theme through race.
What threw me off about this is in the original flyer for the show, this sounds like an actual movie; what it is is a rap video! Struggling through grit teeth to sidestep my hatred for this "music" genre, I found the actors/performers likable (an extended cameo by actor Eric Roberts is in here for his fans), the colors very vibrant (music videos have such extraordinary color saturation don't they?), and the camera work and choreography quite deft. The producer introduced himself to me after the show (Rob Sterrett), asking for an idea of what the review would sound like. I told him pretty much what you just read and he seemed OK with that. So, if you're in the market for someone to direct your rap video, I recommend Mark Cross!

A Tale of Two Megans, directed by Fred Zara, written by Chris Zara: Confident science major Mark Jarvis has never encountered a problem he couldn't solve through cool-headed analysis. But when he falls head-over-heels in love with two women of equal-but-opposite appeal, the cocky whiz kid finds himself faced with the impossible task of having to choose just one. After fruitlessly grappling with rival ends of his own desire, Mark discovers that, when it comes to matters of the heart, not all quandaries have a logical solution.
I was pretty confident I was going to like whatever Fred Zara brought to the review, as I am a big fan of his. His studio, Sketchbook Productions, has appeared in these pages many times, and always positively. Skippy Lightfoot's Perfect Day and Entering Wendy being just two that come to mind I'm crazy about. Fred's themes of crazy-sexual-attractions-gone-bizarre continue in A Tale of Two Megans. The cast is terrific. Our hero, Mark (John Hill), confesses to his friend Josh (Shane Wilkenloh) that it's a shame he can't graft together his two favorite girlfriends, thereby combining their best qualities into one. Mark's mad-scientist father (Paul Austin Sanders in a hilarious turn as the nutty professor) unintentionally provides the answer when he leaves his new working-but-faulty teleportation device (think The Fly) with Mark. It is through this wacky invention that Mark "solves" the problem of his heart's desire. Only the solution comes with a price. A very funny movie that threatens to end on a bummer note, but is saved by a poignant twist-ending. Like all Sketchbook Productions, this one is also highly recommended.

David Hustlemuff by Damien Kincannon. Not originally scheduled, this is a hilarious spoof of late-night, greatest-hits-compilation CD commercials, lampooning David Hasselhoff in particular, where every song has "love" in the title. We see the different eras and different haircuts "Hustlemuff" sports as he sings a few lines from some of his greatest hits like, "Love Bulge", "Sweet Love Nectar", "Love Only Hurts The First Time", "You've Got Love in Your Eyes (And in Your Hair)", "Love Burns", "There Are Two Tunnels of Love", and the always popular, "Prison Love (Put it Through The Fence)". The album titles are hysterical as well, like "Glory Hole Days" and "Don't Hustle the Muff". The Kincannon brothers (I should mention Josh Kincannon is part of this operation, too) have another hit on their hands, even if it feels like something they tossed off in an evening. Woops, maybe I shouldn't have said they were tossing off. Anyway, like last month's A Dawg's Tale, this is highly recommended. Damien (who just moved back to Tampa) and Josh are among the hottest up-and-cummers...er...comers in the area.

Last month we encountered a three-in-one presentation of Joe Davison movies. Similarly, this month (what, is this catching on?), Marivamax Productions -- the ones who made me pee in my pants with Risk -- are back with a thrillsome threesome on one disc called:

Potluck: A Plate of Life by Dave DeBorde: a package of three short movies by the Lakeland writer/director. The disc was inadvertantly left with the Guzzos, so this is mainly from memory, folks.

Success Story, Part 1. An actor (Jason Matthew Smith of ESPN's Playmakers) has been told by his agent (Osa Winter) that his next big gig demands he play a scene in the nude. While she's totally alright with that, she is surprised to find he has a crisis of conscience and refuses the part. She tries to talk him into it, reminding him it's "only acting", but his religious faith tells him it's wrong. I don't remember much more except this very short film ended rather abruptly on that note.

Bad Day A religious theme continues here with a man named Toby (Cameron Cox) having a non-stop day of bad luck, from getting fired to losing his girlfriend to his car failing, you name it. He winds up at the neighborhood bar to drown his sorrows and talk to the friendly bartender. There is a brief but meaningful exchange between the two as the deeper questions about the meaning of life arise. When the bartender notices one too many references to suicide, he advises Toby to try and find his faith. Toby wanders down the street and faces a church. Fade to black. Like Success Story, this ends rather abruptly. I liked the two main actors very much, Cameron Cox and the bartender, so I could've used another few minutes in the bar and then seen what happened in the church.

He-Man Woman Haters Club NOW we're talkin'! This film is the most complete of the three and features the comedy timing and break-neck pacing I liked so much in Risk. A young man and young woman find themselves on opposite sides of a hallway in a building hosting the He-Man Woman Haters Club meeting and the She-Woman Man Haters Club meeting. They go into their respective meetings to hear proponents bad-mouth and downgrade the other sex. This goes on in an ever-accelerating editing frenzy until the voice-overs are all over the map. Finally, the young man leaves his meeting, the young woman leaves her meeting, and WHAM they bump into each other in the hallway. Sparks fly almost immediately as they come closer. Suddenly, both sets of club members BURST out the doors and into the hallway, pushing themselves between our couple as they hastily and bitterly exit. The script for this is great, spoofing the typical 12-step approach to support groups like this. I recognized about three actors from Risk (the old boss, the office manager, and Troy). The music was excellently adapted to the film (as it is to all Marivamax productions I've seen so far). Good stuff.

Veverly by Gloria Rozier: Her name is "Veverly", with a "v", not a "b" and if you want to get her riled up called her Beverly. She manages an urban record store as well as the patrons who frequent the establishment. Small Shop. Big laughs.
I would describe this as basically a slice-of-life genre, a day-in-the-life, or a-few-minutes-with-whoever type of movie. A short, fat, LOUD black woman straight out of an early evening sitcom (one of those characters who is always spouting off at everybody) is the owner of a small record store. The entire movie takes place in this store with very few camera angle changes. Not too surprisingly, the funny, non-stop script and the performance of the lead actress as Veverly (Paul was unable to lend me the tape, so I don't have her name, unfortunately), is enough to carry the movie on its own, but a few interesting characters flesh it out even more. Veverly's encounters with regular customers/urban dwellers/personal fans reminds me of a typical night at 7-Eleven (which isn't always a good thing, haha).
Now, I hate to bring up technical glitches during a TFR (and its been pretty glitch-free for months), but anyone who attended last Friday was probably terribly confused as to what all the extra "viewfinder graphics" were doing on "Veverly". "Veverly" came to the Guzzos on a mini-DV tape, not as a DVD, and the mini-DV camera they brought to play the movie wasn't one they were familiar with, so the "viewfinder display" mode was super'd on the movie throughout. Easy enough to ignore, except for one part where subtitles were obscured (natch this would be the only movie with subtitles) when a character's speech was otherwise unintelligible. So, if you wondered, that was it.

Postscript #1. The Bonnie Situation by Peter Matkiwsky (out of state entry), originally announced as playing, was not shown. It turned out to be a full-length feature. As of March of this year, the TFR is shorts-only.

Postscript #2. When the lights came up I was surprised to see I'd overlooked John and Ashley Lewis's entrance as well as actor Gus Perez. And we were looking for them, too. In any event I'm glad they could make it. I was also very honored to finally meet James Rice of Rice Productions (Andre the Butcher). I had always given his films good reviews, as I recall, and asked him if he could send me a copy of Andre, as I missed it when it premiered in Lakeland.

As mentioned in the opening paragraphs, the turn-out for this meeting was amazing, easily in excess of 100 people. I hope that means that it's finally catching on and we'll see some of these fine folks at next month's meeting as well!

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

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