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The Tampa Film Review for December  by Nolan Canova and Terence Nuzum
"Sweeney Todd"  by Mike Smith
Time Warp Toy Box: Week 3  by ED Tucker
My Best Of 2007 List  by Lisa Ciurro
Dan Fogelberg....Dark Shadows DVD Update....Top Ten Christmas Movies  by Matt Drinnenberg
This Week .... Movie Notes .... Those Who Can't Do Teach .... Passing On .... Sorry I Missed You: Part One  by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 404  (Vol. 8, No. 51). This edition is for the week of December 17--23, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for December

by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum

Nolan here. Fellow PCR columnist and reviewer Terence Nuzum was my ride for this month's outing, and we made good time getting down to the International Bazaar in Ybor, arriving about 7:40pm. Terence dropped me off and went to go find parking. I didn't find anybody hanging around outside the International Bazaar, so I grabbed a seat and lit up a quick smoke. It began to rain. Several minutes later, Terence arrived and we were joined by actors Robert Elfstrom and Brent Harvey. Paul Guzzo, the usual emcee at these events was in New Jersey this week, so brother Pete took over the reins.

Another very good turn-out for this month's gathering. Not as many familiar faces, most of the regulars decided to sit this one out, evidently. (I was pleased to see exotic actress Xzanthia in the crowd as well as the Wynkoops.) Like last month, the film submissions were not as compelling as they have been in the past, but there were some moments. I've been really spoiled by the artists at the TFR -- the stakes have definitely gotten higher.

The TFR review color code to help identify when a different reviewer "speaks" to the reader:
All plot synopsises or general descriptions, usually written by Paul Guzzo (or myself if there's no description provided), will be in Black.
Nolan Canova's reviews will be in Navy Blue.
Terence Nuzum's reviews will be in Blood Red.

Our ratings sit at the end of our individual reviews and are in boldface.

Here we go....

Music Video: Fort Pastor's "March Out" by Chris Rish  

Nolan Canova: I really enjoyed this well-performed, well-shot, light-hearted romp. The song is about a guy in a relationship who can't understand why everything can't be about him, haha. The song itself, sort of a folk-rock number, is excellent, really catchy. If the choreography (as it were) seemed a familiar retread of similarly-themed videos, it was easily ramped up by the great production and catchy song. Well done and highly recommended.
Terence Nuzum: One of two music videos directed by Chris Rish that played the TFR this month. This one I believe was a semi-humourous video if I heard the lyrics correctly. By-the-numbers outdoor performance video that ended with a typical crowd march. Decent.

Rock Harder Jeff Pesce, directed by Greg Baldi. Super-hero Rock Harder, man of mystery, cant hold onto a side-kick because of his many goofy mystakes in the field, decides to go pick a new partner at the annual sidekick draft. There he meets his new annoying partner Cheeks, try and guess his superpower, the two have chemistry like no other as they fight a crime that very same night when super-villain Possum Man robs a bank and kidnaps two other super-heros and takes them back to his hideout. Rock Harder and Cheeks must work together, can they save the day?

Nolan Canova: My colleague Mr. Nuzum isn't as enamored of these type of things as I am, but I am a sucker for super-hero spoofs and/or fan films. Plus I'm a big fan of director Greg Baldi. I got a kick out of this film. Our "hero", Rock Harder (Daniel Lee Simmons), whose super-power is never really specified, is on the look-out for a new side-kick. Contacted by The Boss (Shari Roberts) via a special TV/computer lap-top (great effects on that), he gets the head's up on side-kick try-outs at a local park. Stick with me, it gets better. Confronted by the attending uber-geeks and losers already in costume (snuck out of a local comic con no doubt), he's cornered by an obnoxious overweight "hero" named "Cheeks Easton" (Korey Ramos). Cheeks' power comes from being able to fart a special gas that renders crooks nice. If used to excess, however, it can be lethal. After conquering some incompetent bad guy, it ends just as Rock is about to reveal what super power he has.
   Simmons brings the right amount of pathos and slapstick to his clumsy-yet-confident portrayal of Rock Harder. Ramos' obviously enjoys his Cheeks character, who seems to be a confusing combination of hero and celebrity impersonator--and a bad one at that. Decent camerawork, photography and performances lift this out of what could've been a routine home movie. Very good, recommended.
Terence Nuzum: Another in a long line of superhero spoofs that continue to plague the TFR. Obviously, I'm not a fan of these types films so if I didn't exactly love this one, that's why. OK camera work and decent acting don't make up for the lack of laughs and script devoid of energy and enthusiasm. The Hooted Avenger actually had it where this one just didn't. Poor.

Music Video: She's Bad -- Chris Rish

Nolan Canova: Normally I'm not a fan of rap music or hip-hop or whatever roughly falls into that category. But I really liked this video. Nice photography, good performances, decent catchy song. Another winner from Chris Rish. Recommended.
Terence Nuzum: This one was a rap video with the usual booty shaking and bling but they wisely made a joke of that whole scene or at the least made a comedy of it. The tune wasn't so bad either, but I remember thinking that song ended kind of abruptly. Decent.

Tres Cuento, One Cuba by Fred Smith, with photography by David Audet. Tampa-based photographer David Audet, Cuban-born musician Alfredo Rivero and Tampa's Poet Laureate James Tokely each offer their own artistic view of the Communist Paradise in a blind collaboration edited and produced by Tampa filmmaker Fred Smith.With each artist working independently of one another, "Tres Cuentos, One Cuba", blends still photography, poetry and music to create a unique layering of emotions conveyed through the individual story each artist relates about the dynamic land and its peoples hardened by half a century of Castro's regime.

Nolan Canova: I'm always nervous about documentaries playing at TFR, as the fast-moving event usually doesn't favor the slower-moving form. The shorter, the better. OH MAN, did this one go wrong. We're subjected to a slide-show of Cuba with overdubbed spoken poetry that goes on for a HALF an HOUR. The audience and I were squirming in our seats at the 15-minute mark, it was downhill from there.
   It was an interesting concept: take David Audet's admittedly stunning photos of Cuba and its people, dub in Alfredo Rivero's music, get poet James Tokely to read over the slideshow, and edit it all into some magical experience. But one thing went terribly wrong. Rather than insert some kind of motion into it (you know the Ken Burns-type panning and zooming into and around still photos), filmmaker Fred Smith merely puts the still up, motionless, for up to a minute, while the poetry drones on. Then the next slide, then the next. By the end, nobody was paying attention anymore. OK.
Terence Nuzum: A collaboration where each artist contributed their parts separate from one another fails utterly. Why? Because, one artist drops the ball. David Audet's photos are amazing. James Tokley's poetry reading is inspiring and flawless. Fred Smith drops the ball. Instead of doing a Ken Burns thing where he zooms in on the still photos or adds effects, etc., he opts for a 30-minute slide show that does justice to neither Audet's photos nor Tokley's awesome voice. I only give it the rating of decent because of Audet and Tokley's contribution. Smith's part was lazy and unimaginative. Decent.

What Peace Means To Me, documentary by Donna Moldovan: A short documentary looking at what “peace” means to the people of Tampa Bay.

Nolan Canova: This is more like it, short and to the point. Has anyone has been reading PCR long enough to remember the video interview I did with the makers of One Happy Movie? That film featured the filmmaker traveling around the country asking people what makes them happy. It was edited into a roughly 90-minute feature documentary and toured the country. What Peace Means to Me is a very similar concept where the filmmakers go around and ask folks, well, what peace means to them. The area they work is pretty local, and the people interviewed are colorful to say the least. Like One Happy Movie, however, the discovery is there isn't a lot of variation in what makes people peaceful...or happy....after all. The local whack-jobs will always provide comic relief on camera, but after 10 or 15 minutes or so of very similar points being made, we pretty much get the message. Fortunately, that's about how long this documentary is. Good, recommended.
Terence Nuzum: A documentary that sets out to find what Tampa Bay thinks of Peace came off more comical than serious. I think this is due to the fact that a lot of the subjects were homeless and loved the rant time the camera gave them. So it had either a rambling homeless perspective or a religous angle. The two beer-guzzling frat boys were a trip, though. All in all, it was a noble experiment that didn't really fail, but, in fact, tells us less about what Tampa thinks of Peace than it does show how many wacks live here. Good.

Double Vie. Brent Harvey. As a young Editor-in-Chief for a powerful magazine and married to a very wealthy and powerful attorney, Jim (Brent Harvey) seems to have the perfect life. One morning he steps from a shower and finds himself in a life of the completely opposite extreme. It's a life with a beautiful and very affectionate wife Natalie (Chrystelle Noria) and a daughter Claire (Emma Town) Jim struggles with finding whether it's real or which life he prefers.

Nolan Canova: The audio problems plaguing the TFR tonight maxed out badly during the opening to this film, rendering the dialogue nearly inaudible. Pete Guzzo was forced to stop the film and ask everyone to move towards the screen (a first, that). Despite the technical glitches, actor/director Brent Harvey pretty much had the audience in the palm of his hand (as usual) with this mesmerizing screenplay, almost Twilight Zone-esque, of a man suddenly leading a double life. I'm still not sure how this occured (X-Files space warps come to mind), but the actors were engaging enough that it didn't really matter. Chrystelle Noria is the stand-out performer here, her dual-role so convincing I wasn't immediately aware they were the same actress! The ending provides a moving suggestion that Jim must make a choice of which life to lead. It made me think about what I'd do in similar circumstances which is the highest compliment I can pay it. Also to its credit, despite the technical problems this film easily earns a rating of Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.
Terence Nuzum: Interesting Time Displacement drama where an unhappy millionare is placed in the life of a middle class GI. Director Harvey does a decent acting job, but it's the camera angles and in framing a scene where his real talent lies. The French actress who does a Kim Novak-via-Vertigo double-role was amazingly believable as two different characters with nothing but hair color differences to mask it. Very good. Film of the Night.

Visit www.thetampafilmreview.com for more info on the Tampa Film Review.

"The Tampa Film Review for December" is ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

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