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The Tampa Film Review for November †by Nolan Canova and Chris Woods
The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show for November †by Nolan Canova
"Before The Devil Knows You're Dead" †by Mike Smith
DVD Review: "Mothra vs Godzilla" †by ED Tucker
Tampa Comic Con Report - Nov. 11, 2007 †by Andy Lalino
Next Week .... Passing On .... Now I Can Concentrate On World Peace .... Golden Globe Time .... Should I Get In Line Now? .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 33: Sean Connery †by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 399  (Vol. 8, No. 46). This edition is for the week of November 12--18, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for November

by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods

Nolan here. Fellow PCR columnist William Moriaty was my ride for this month's outing, and we made really good time getting down to the International Bazaar in Ybor, arriving about 7:30pm. Will dropped me off and went to go find parking and locate friend Jennifer Moore. I found Paul Guzzo and Joe Davison conversing at curbside and I joined them for a quick smoke. Still to arrive would be Chris Woods (my reviewing partner this month) and his ICON co-founder Simon Lynx visiting from Jacksonville.

Extremely good turn-out for this month's gathering, standing room only, in fact, which would be a great thing any other month but this one: the submissions were generally disappointing for this go 'round (with two notable exceptions). It is a rare thing anymore that this happens, but it happens. I'm distressed that many new faces may have gotten the wrong idea of TFR from this comparatively poor crop of films. But, hey, it's been a terrific year up to this point, so what if it careened off track once?

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.
Chris Woods' review will be in Deep Purple.

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

Here we go....

Demon Club by Johann Tertrault and starring Joel Wynkoop:   Joe Ace's girlfriend Maria has just won a contest to win a million dollars, all she has to do is spend the night in a haunted CUBAN CLUB in Tampa. Is that all? No she must also face off with her obnoxious boyfriend who berates her every chance he can. He has forbidden her to enter the contest and goes berzerk when he finds she has disobeyed him and entered the contest anyway. DEMON CLUB is the tale of a girl and her dreams, a jealous, obnoxious and neurotic boyfriend and a DEMON called BAAL.

Nolan Canova: Since this is their first film (I met the filmmakers out front of the Int'l Bazaar), I'm going to try and take it easy, but it will be difficult. I know they were sincere, but this is a poorly-shot (strictly auto-iris stuff, exposures all over the map, noisy background) and poorly edited affair (locked-off camera scenes that went on forever) whose sole saving grace might be Joel D. Wynkoop's over-the-top performance (every time I see him in a new film, he raises the bar on how crazed he can be). I say "might be" because you have to brace for how much screaming Wynkoop you can take in 15 minutes or so. The poor abused girlfriend (new actress Jaimie Lea) is completely overwhelmed by Wynkoop. She vanishes about halfway through the story and we never see her again. Anything resembling pacing and drama is pretty much out the window. I was reminded of the basic plot only when I re-read it preparing for this review. Its relevance is lost in the first 5 minutes.
   The muscular, bouncer type they got to play BAAL had no lines, merely threw a punch to cause Wynkoop's mental breakdown. BAAL's sudden appearance is unexplained, except for the suggestion that the Cuban Club is haunted.
   On the plus side: the appearance of BAAL at the Cuban Club does feature a cowardly/shivering shift to Wynkoop's character that provides some comic relief before the about-face ending.
   To the producers: you got a lot of heart and I appreciate that, but PLEASE learn to light your scenes and be more aggressive in your editing. (Favorite audio blooper: in the "restaurant scene" there is a very loud balloon inflation device that can be heard in the background nearly eclipsing the actors' lines -- two scenes later there are balloons on a stairway at The Cuban Club. The balloon inflation couldn't wait until the first scene was shot??) Fair (barely).
Chris Woods: The best part of this film is Joel Wynkoop. Joel is at his craziest in the role of the jealous boyfriend. He is very over the top but also very convincing as the bad guy in the movie. Also the ending when Wynkoop breaks down and cries when he faces the devil and looses to him in a fight is great. Iíll say the movie is recommended for hard-core Wynkoop fans but the rest of the film has tons of issues. Very bad editing (tons of jump cuts), bad sound and picture in most parts. Some shots are up way too long without any reaction shots and a few holes in the story, as in why does the devil sudden just appear and fight Joelís character. The lead actress, Jamie Lea does a good job for her first film. Fair.

Film trailer. No further info available.

Nolan Canova: This was rushed in and not introduced very clearly. A trailer was shown from a DVD and it was over in seconds. The filmmakers must've taken the disc back, because it's not among the ones presented to me afterwards. Sorry, I have no further information about this entry. Note to like-minded filmmakers: in the future, if you care that your film has truly been digested, please stick around afterwards and introduce yourselves. It's also customary to leave the discs with Paul & me for these reviews, but, of course, that's up you.
Chris Woods: (Trailer Ė Not sure name of trailer): Next up was a trailer to a film Iím not too sure what itís about. Went by very quick, if you blink you would miss it. I just remember some people running around in a forest. Looked well-shot but not sure what the film is about.

Music Video -- Liquid Funk: You're My Everything directed and edited by E. Haase

Nolan Canova: Regular readers may remember we reviewed this band's entry for October, the Stop Da Ignorance music video, and were deeply impressed. Despite this month's offering being shot on film, well-edited and very polished, the song chosen wasn't as catchy as last month's, the singer not as vibrant, and the lighting was much too dark. In all fairness, director Eric Haase came up to me afterward and insisted the TFR projector wrecked his brightness and contrast levels and that it should've looked much better than that. The TFR projector can be notoriously unpredictable regarding levels, yet most films survive that anyway. (Pete Guzzo actually took time to announce problems with projector calibration.) All-in-all, even forgiving such technical matters, I simply didn't like this video as much as Stop Da Ignorance (song included). Good.
Chris Woods: This music video was very well done. Had a great film look to it and was cut good. I think the quality of it is just as good as any video played on MTV. (When MTV played videos.) One thing I have to say I didnít like the song. Music wasnít bad, but I didnít like the singerís voice. But all in all, it was very well put together. Good.

ScreamFest 2007, video special produced and directed by Chris Woods, hosted by Joel D. Wynkoop. Up close and personal interviews with the major players at Orlando, Florida's SCREAMFEST horror convention. 13 minutes.

Nolan Canova: Outrageously good behind-the-scenes video special about this year's ScreamFest convention. Joe Davison introduces the segment and the irrepressible Joel D. Wynkoop takes over from there on a mini-tour of the celebrities' booths and a glimpse of the dealers' area. Notable appearances include Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes), Tom Savini (Creepshow, Dawn of the Dead), Robert Eglund (Nightmare on Elm Street), Ricou Browing (the original Creature From The Black Lagoon), Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,), Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th), and Lloyd Kaufman (head of Troma Films). Many locals are spotted as well including our own Joe and Marcus from 100 Tears, and Andy Lalino from Filthy and PCR column, "Oddservations".
   Joel's enthusiasm is always infectious even if he includes his own plugs here and there (nearly overdone, that). Still, he pulls it off and is a great host.
   The ending sequence surrounding the "Halloween" theme song and Michael Myers is a stroke of Chris Woods' genius. The mood is irrevocably set. It sticks with you.
   I guess this counts as a documentary and it's always hard rating docs up against serious narratives. But what the hell, I'm giving this a Highly Recommended and Runner-up for Film of the Night.
Chris Woods: Recused from jury as this is a Chris Woods film.

The Apple Tree, directed by Jesse Newman. When Ruben's writing is panned and ignored by his ex-girlfriend and best friend, he meets a peculiar young woman who leads him to an apple tree of inspiration. As his newest story becomes more and more realistic, it begins to haunt and control him. It becomes up to his ex-girlfriend and best friend to save him, but in order to change Ruben's story, they must first become a part of it.

Nolan Canova: An extremely ambitious first film from newcomer 20-year-old Jesse Newman (who also stars as "Ruben"). The plot synopsis stated above pretty much says it all, but it's easy to get lost in the story, both figuratively and literally. The dream-like situations Ruben finds himself in echo other similar efforts where a story writer appears to "write his life" live as it's happening (Icon Film Studio's To Live is To Die comes to mind, as well as bits of Todd Langen's 42 Story House). It's not clearly that way at first, but as situation after situation dissolves you begin to wonder if Ruben even has a real life! Foggy scenes in a forest with a mystery woman suggests an Adam and Eve motif, but that is just one among many as Ruben struggles to find his story. Some funny situations occur and the whole film is very well-shot and edited.
   I must say, the young cast certainly has some fine acting chops! Co-star Jesse Wolf I'd actually met at St. Pete's Globe Coffeehouse a year ago under completely different circumstances. And Jesse Newman's father (present at TFR) has also acted in a local film (he told me which one, but I forgot, sorry). This was a delight to watch and the young people behind it have a bright future. Highly Recommended and Film of the Night.
Chris Woods: A good film by Jesse Newman, which I believe is his first film. The movie is shot and edited very well. The actors in the film are likeable and do a good job. The story idea is interesting, but it tends to drag in most parts and thereís lots of confusion at times on whatís going and what is real and what is part of the story that lead character, Ruben is writing. The film picks up and the end and thereís some bright spots in the movie. One of them is when Rubenís best friend approaches a woman and starts to dance with her. The scene becomes like a fantasy and everyone is dancing as music is played. Suddenly the girlís boyfriend comes out of nowhere and punches the best friend. That part was great. There also seemed to be an Adam and Eve theme to it, when Ruben is in a garden and gives him an apple to eat. There are also lots of reds and greens in the film that kind of represents the apple. Not sure if the filmmaker did that on purpose or not, but I picked up on that. Would like to see more films from Newman. Recommended and Film of the Night.

Bob Saves The World...Maybe. Produced by Eric Dewolf, directed by James Knowlton, written by James Knowlton and Michael Pelaez. Bob is a slacker who gets chosen out of need to find and protect an artifact that could destroy the world if put in the wrong hands. He goes on this wacky adventure encountering writers who seem to be writing his next paths, a monk who Bob must fight to gain control of the artifact, and then a bad guy who Bob encounters and must defeat in such games as Rock, Paper, Scissors, Thumb Wrestling, and eventually even Dance Dance Revolution. After the bad guy is defeated Bob can breathe freely as he admits defeat and becomes some what of a good guy himself. 30 minutes.

Nolan Canova: One year almost to the day that Michael Pelaez unleashed The Owl: The Hooted Avenger on an unsuspecting TFR audience (but got decent reviews as a first film), comes tonight's offering that, while ambitious in its scope, failed to deliver anything more than an extremely amateurish film with a non-sequitor type script that was self-referential, frequently breaking the "fourth wall" for comic/irony effect. In and of itself, that's not a problem, it's just inconsistently applied. It starts off promising: a cabal of secret government agents led by a Schwarzenegger sound-alike (a dead-on impersonation by Dylan Schwab, by far the best actor in the film) is forced to hire "Bob" to save the world from the bad guy after they lose their previous agent. "Bob", who answers what appears to be a wrong number, is played by Michael Pelaez, who is a delightful guy in person, but can't act his way out of a paper bag, to the point where he can't keep a straight face during any scene he's in! Bob takes the job.
   What ensues is hard to describe except possibly as a surreal Naked Gun-type comedy, never too serious, always concientious of the fact that this whole thing is a spoof. While this is typical of low, low-budget filmmaking, it's hard to ascertain what it is the filmmakers are trying to deliver here. It's so ridiculous, I actually walked out at one point (OK, it helped that the plug was accidentally pulled about 20 minutes in). Some pretty good special effects are inserted here and there (techincally, not bad) to show dimension-hopping and such (don't ask). A climactic "duel" between the good guy and bad guy (Eric DeWolf) resulting in rock-paper-scissors, then a Dance Dance Revolution video game was too much to take. At 30 minutes it is waaaaaaay too long considering the script and acting problems.
   I almost pronounced this as the worst film ever to play TFR, ironically, on the one-year anniversary of Chris Woods' pronouncing the same of Survivors' Club (and where we first met Michael Pelaez). After a second viewing at home, I can't be quite that hard on it, but I can only give it a Not Recommended.
Chris Woods: Where do I begin with this one? The beginning starts off okay. Some little funny moments and appears to be a cute little film. But then gets very repetitive with the same kind of jokes over and over again. Also the movie is way too long. The first couple minutes you can deal with, but the middle and especially the end take a nosedive. The ending is very bad and drags on and on. Also the quality of the film is not good. Bad editing, sound, picture, acting, lighting, effects and of course a story that just goes all over the place and doesnít make any sense. I hope this filmmaker gets better with his future films, because he does seem to have a good imagination. He just has to focus more on the quality of the story, characters, production, and editing. Poor.

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

"The Tampa Film Review for November" is ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova and Chris Woods.

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

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