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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 353  (Vol. 7, No. 52). This edition is for the week of December 25--31, 2006.

THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEW
by Mike Smith

"Dreamgirls"

Casino Royale,
The Book and The Movie: An Appreciation

by Greg Van Cott

Click Here for Full Story

ODDSERVATIONS
by Andy Lalino

Crappy Anniversary: 20 Years Without Cult Movies

MIKE'S RANT
by Mike Smith

That Time of Year....Blowing Our Horn....Passing On....Top 10 Movie Lines....Next Year....My Favorite Films, Part 52: "Die Hard"

The Year That Was, Part 2 Celebrity Passings, Part 2 Tampa Indie Film: Good News and Bad News The Graveyard of Fallen PCR Columns Final Thoughts

Letters to the Editor Well, it's all come down to this last few days. Everything left undone must now be done, everything left unfinished must now be finished. With no more time or energy available than I had before, this presentrs quite a challenge. But it's one I face every year and I will deal with it.

Do you remember a few years back when I thought I put the last PCR to bed for the year and suddenly, I had to report the great tsunami? I thought about that this week when still another celebrity death was reported, right here at year's end.


I had no sooner recovered from the news of the death of Joseph Barbera (the great producer of Hanna-Barbera cartoon fame) at 95, when I suddenly had to deal with the passing of soul-singer legend James Brown at 73 (he who has influenced countless musicians over the years). Now that alone would've warranted a mention here on the homepage in spite of the fact I rarely mention celebrity passings here anymore, preferring to leave it to Mike Smith's infinitely more capable hands. Out of the blue, word came in early this morning (Wednesday, Dec 27th as I write this) of the death of former President Gerald Ford at 93, having lived slightly longer than former President Ronald Reagan, who also died at 93.


Although I've never been a member of the Republican Party (and likely never will), I have very positive memories of President Ford as a genial, decent, honest, nice man who accepted an office he was not elected to (having been appointed by the resigning Richard Nixon) and held the country together during very stressful times. At the time, he was exactly what we needed. Oh sure, he was plagued by a few minor historical criticisms. I've never been sure how to feel about his pardoning of Richard Nixon. Missteps like his occasional clumsiness (frequently spoofed by Chevy Chase on NBC's SNL at the time), and the silly WIN button campaign (Whip Inflation Now) made for much comedy fodder. Wasn't it during this time the gov't wanted to innoculate the whole country against the Swine Flu? His wife Betty, after admitting addiction to painkillers and alcohol, instituted the rehab clinic that bears her name. She later stunned the press with the opinion she "wouldn't be surprised" if she found out her daughter was having pre-marital sex (or something like that). In retrospect, it seems a more innocent time and a world of difference from the bleak, dark times we live in now.

Anyway, just my two cents. President Ford was among the last of his kind and I'm sad to see him go.


The Year That Was: 2006
Part Two
July 1--December 31, 2006

July. Superman Returns continues to heat up the message board and dominate writer's thoughts. The true impact of the film, for better or for worse, will not be known for some time. Syd Barrett the hugely influential and strange original member of Pink Floyd dies at 60. Will Moriaty and I head to Sanford, Florida for what would be the third and greatest "Sanford Summit" with participaters Charlie Carlson, Harry Wise, and Art Litka sharing pictures and stories for an entire day. Corey Castellano and I visit the set of the Guzzo Bros' production The End Is Blossoming and meet Soprano actor Al Sapienza. I get some kinda summer cold or something and have to sit out an issue and Mike Smith takes over with, among other things, an interview with Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson of Clerks/2 fame. As we head out of July, Mel Gibson can't seem to still his anti-Semetic tongue in the presence of an LA police officer and Cuban leader Fidel Castro starts exhibiting what may be his last gasps at this life as he faces his 80th birthday. On the positive side, August sees the return of Andy Lalino to PCR after nearly a year's absence. As yours truly is looking at his 51st birthday square in the face on the haunted 13th, occasional PCR writer Matt Drinnenberg heads out to Amity Island to relive JAWS. Legendary talk show host Mike Douglas passes away and the alleged killer of Jon Benet Ramsey "confesses" (wasn't him, woops). I welcome new writer George S. Roth on board to pontificate on the dangers of accidental nuclear war. The war seems to be over for the moment between PCR and Creature Productions as their Indie Fest V is a screaming success. August ends on a weird note as the planet Pluto is demoted to a "dwarf planet" and Gilligan's boat goes up for sale. September sees one of the most horrific and tragic celebrity deaths ever when Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is stung to death by a stingray while filming a special for his daughter. As the nation gears up for mid-term elections, we observe the five years since 9/11. ED Tucker interviews the Royal Guardsmen who surprise the world with a new take on their hit classic Snoopy vs the Red Baron, entitled Snoopy vs Osama Bin Laden. In another year where I just can't seem to make it to as many movies as I want, I do take in Hollywoodland and relive the bittersweet memories of George Reeves, '50's TV Superman. Terence Nuzum names his "Best Heavy Metal Albums of all Time". Gus Perez and I visit the set of Chris Woods/Damien Kincannon horror production of The Quiet Place. Somehow, I find time to film my portion of Milk Crate Scars, the three-story anthology short film involving Terence Nuzum and Vince Blesi. Now it's October and winter convention season, not to mention Halloween, nearly every PCR writer's favorite holiday. ED Tucker reports on Atlanta's DragonCon and Orlando's ScreamFest with his usual thoroughness and flair. Matt announces his Halloween monster contest. I attend the Halloween Horror Picture Show and am picked out of the crowd by none other than scream queen Tiffany Shepis; I am humbled by the recognition. This month's Tampa Film Review will be special for me as I show the trailer for Milk Crate Scars. While Rush Limbaugh is busy making fun of Michael J. Fox's physical problems, Gus and I attend the premiere of the Guzzo Bros' The End is Blossoming, just completed. As we head into November, BORAT is shaking up the box office and creating huge controversy over the method used to film this mockumentary. As the nation reels over the midterms' election results---turning much control of the government over to the Democrats after a war-weary voter turnout---Milk Crate Scars plays the Tampa Film Review to...er...mixed reviews, but is no less special for Terence and me. O.J. Simpson announces a book and TV special on "IF I did it" (snark snark), while the Lewises hold the last Indie Film Fest of 2006 at the Doubletree. As the public is reassured of the longevity of James Bond via Casino Royale, ED Tucker reassures us of the legacy of Herschell Gordon Lewis with a special article re: same. The Thanskgiving weekend is somewhat somber as we mull the passings of Jack Palance and Robert Altman. Weirdly, Michael Richards, aka, Seinfeld's "Kramer" goes postal on a couple of black patrons at a comedy club---and the resulting You Tube video casts extreme doubt on the future of his career despite public apologies. I inadvertantly offend several people, particularly Joe Davison with a downbeat review of November's Tampa Film Network meeting---hey, I calls 'em as I sees 'em. The TFN will recover to have many other great meetings despite November's gaffe-fest. (When I build my time machine I will re-visit August's TFN meeting with the Davison-Danford SmackDown I missed.) Doug Deal, one of the last surviving members of my old metal band BLADE, comes to Tampa for a Thanskgiving visit. As I get over my hundredth illness of 2006, it's now December and Will and I visit the Josh Sullivan Art Show at The Globe in St. Pete. Will goes on to illustrate the fabulous architecture found in the west-central Florida area in a 3-part La Floridiana series, while Andy Lalino remembers his favorite local movie theaters, and Drew Reiber concludes his 3-part series on upcoming horror movies. My review of the premiere/screening of Creature Productions' Dark Dimensions doesn't seem to win me any more fans, but I don't think the story is all that much of a downer--hey, the movie was a "work in progress", right, so it'll get better. The end of the year is marred by no less than 4 major celebrity passings in a short time: Peter Boyle, Joseph Barbera, James Brown, and former President Gerald Ford.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE. Among those no longer with us, July 1--December 31, 2006:
Syd Barrett (musician/Pink Floyd)
June Allyson (actress)
Bernard Hughes (actor)
Red Buttons (comic/actor)
Mickey Spillane (pulp author)
Jack Warden (actor)
Mike Douglas (talk show host)
Bruno Kirby (actor)
Glenn Ford (actor)
Steve Irwin (TV personality/animal enthusiast)
Robert Earl Jones (actor, son of James Earl Jones)
Pat Corley (character actor)
Edward Albert (actor, son of Eddie Albert)
Freddy Fender (musician, performer)
Christopher Glenn (TV newsman)
Phyllis Kirk (actress)
Herbert Leonard (TV producer)
Arthur Hill (actor)
Sandy West (singer/Runaways)
Ed Bradley (newsman/60 Minutes)
Jack Palance (actor)
Basil Poledouris (movie soundtrack composer)
Martin Nodell (cartoonist/creator of The Green Lantern)
Peter Boyle (actor)
Joseph Barbera (producer/Hanna-Barbera)
Mike Evans (actor/The Jeffersons)
James Brown (singer-performer)
Gerald Ford (former President)
For more complete details on celebrity passings, always search Mike's Rant.


Tampa Indie Film: Good News and Bad News

The Tampa Independent Film scene has experienced quite a few peaks and valleys over the last ten years or so. Since I've been personally following and documenting it the last six, nearly seven years through PCR, I thought I'd share a few observations gleaned from my experience.

The good news is that my initial proposition of finding a huge but undiscovered talent pool in Tampa was answered with absolute certainty. The numbers of talented artists living in the Bay area is staggering and I am proud to do anything I can to bring attention to them and to us.

For the sake of this article, let me concentrate on what I consider my main "beat", Central Florida filmmaking.

While the film scene in Tampa is currently quite robust, probably bigger than it ever was, the film community continues to suffer from such fractured and loose cohesion I don't know if it's entirely correct to still refer to it as a "community". Ongoing attempts to organize, while intially greeted with enthusiasm, seem very hard to sustain.

The biggest problem is one I've seen all too many times in similar groups of talented people: fragile egos and snobby attitudes.

Let me ask you something (and you know who "you" are): It's very easy to show up at a Tampa Film Review (for example) if your own film is playing. Why is it so hard to show up to see other people's films? (Or even stay through a whole event after your film is over?) Is it because you don't want to see any competition or because you really don't care what everyone else is doing? In either case, it demonstrates you're just in this for the self-promotion and couldn't give a rat's ass about the "community", despite (likely) saying the opposite in polite company. Of course, you're also the first to complain when there's no rallying around your efforts to get into a film festival or (ironically) that there's no film scene here. Maybe you just think you're so great you don't need support. Good luck to you, maybe you are.

Social dysfunction, particularly shyness, seems to run rampant among artists and this should surprise no one, least of all me. No one is required to stay after a film exhibition to meet-and-greet other filmmakers or the press, but running outside to escape contact doesn't do much to promote you, either.

OTHER PET PEEVES
"Well, my film needs no introduction as I feel it speaks for itself." I'm probably going to get a lot of sh*t for decrying this old chestnut, but I bristle every time I hear it. The introduction is not just about the film, it's about you! We'd like to know who you are. But, hey, at least you showed up with a film, that's a start.

Alternate version, nearly as bad: The encyclopedia-length "introduction" that takes longer to make than the movie is long. By the thirteenth chapter, somewhere in the middle of the "thank yous" and tech support you've lost 'em. I know you've lost me.

This next one I've actually heard everywhere except the TFR:

"I'M, LIKE, THE NEXT ED WOOD!" I'm going to throttle the next person who says that to me. It's always a cop-out used to explain an exceptionally poorly-made film that halfway through was turned into a comedy due to lack of resources. OR... an intentionally badly-made film constructed for laughs (I hate that. And I'm not talking about clever spoofs of same, I'm talking about stuff that's just crap.). Listen folks, Ed Wood didn't make bad films on purpose!! He was incompetent, that's all, but he thought he was brilliant. That was his charm. Trying to recreate that deliberately is pointless!!!

THE FICKLE PRESS
While The Tampa Film Review, SunScreen, Tambay, the former Saints & Sinners, and even I personally have enjoyed some very positive exposure in the local press, by and large, filmmakers are an ignored lot. Tampa's myopic vision, combined with overcoming its low self-esteem problems, has put a much higher priority on promoting "fine arts", presumably to create a sense of prestige that's on par with bigger cities. Reality check: Tampa's a Joe-6-pack town. The natives are blue-collar as is its arts community. Trying to cater to the rich corporate yankees who own stock in the Bucs or something only alienates the people and disserves the arts.

But hey, Nolan's Pop Culture Review is still here, as well as TampaFilmFan.com, TampaBayMuse.com, and dozens of others who take the time to document what we do here. Maybe that's good enough.

IN ANY EVENT...
Despite all this, I see a bright future in Tampa Indie Film. The Gasparilla Film Fest is right around the corner. We have an involved and enthusiastic film commissioner in Krista Soroka. And a huge pool of creative people whose exploits I'm proud to cover. And I was right about them all along.

THE GRAVEYARD OF FALLEN PCR COLUMNS
The question-mark graffiti symbolizes that Mark Terry's column, while officially retired as a regular feature to concentrate on his movie career, may be back as an occasional op-ed piece. Begun a year ago, "Middle Toe" covered the film scene in California with comparisons to Florida as Mark lived and worked in both places. Occasionally controversial, Mark had some stand-out pieces, particularly on technical issues. Again, some question-mark graffiti as I'm not sure of the status of Brandon Jones' "Splash Page", nor is he. Originally conceived as a way to cover both movies and comics, which it did very well, "Splash Page" frequently moved into other areas of pop culture, such as movies and television, and even politics. Due to Brandon's changing personal situations, he was forced to give up writing the column last summer. I'd like to see him return even if it's an irregular feature.
Ahhh, Vinnie, Vinnie, Vinnie. "Couch Potato Confessions" was a highly-valued column on PCR for many years and covered television, music, some politics, and "ironic pop culture" (new category, haha). Writer Vinnie Blesi, always sensitive to conflicting belief systems going on here, resigned his column in protest to what he saw as my being too lenient on the message board regarding certain inflammatory individuals. Vinnie Blesi again, here got much more political, mostly in reaction to right-wing politics, the Iraq War, George Dubya, rampant coporate hucksters, and conservative posters on the message board. While Citizen X and Citizen Z were frequent posters on the board, "Citizen X" the column only lasted two issues. Again, due to a very negative reaction to message board in-fighting, Vinnie left PCR.
Lisa Zubek is an old and very dear friend whose politics is even more to the left of mine, but not quite as left as Vinnie's (haha). After contributing dozens of great posts to the message board over the years, she decided to start this new political column. It lasted one issue. (If you count one other previous, but untitled, similar column, it lasted two issues.) Ah, the curse of commitment. Please keep in mind these were columns intended to be regular or at least semi-regular. Other regular columns from the past, even some occasionally pronounced dead, have returned in an "occasional" op-ed piece (Deadguy's Dementia, Chiller Cinema, Black Dog, Nicholas Rex to name but a few), while others have dropped from "regular" to "frequently" due to the writer's life changes (La Floridiana, Matt's Rail).
Michael A. Smith (Mike's Rant, Movie Review) continues to be the only writer who's never missed an issue, and I'm eternally grateful to him.
Andy Lalino (Oddservations), after returning from a long absence, is the next most regular writer, and I'm similarly grateful to him.
I thank special feature writer ED Tucker for his outstanding contributions this year.
Thanks to William Moriaty for outstanding personal support and his always enlightening La Floridiana column.
Thanks to Terence Nuzum for his increasingly rare, but always fantastic, Audio Philes columns. And for being one of the best friends I ever had.


Final thoughts...
I want to thank all the readers of Nolan's Pop Culture Review, aka, "PCR", for your continued support and loyalty. We've made many new friends this year the best way we can: through crazed fandom. You are what make the long, lonely hours pecking away at this computer worthwhile.

No Top 10 PCR list this year?
Well, yes and no. Since the PCR format changed this year, splitting the homepage into disparate articles, then back again, it makes it difficult to single out 10 favorite "issues" instead of, say, 10 favorite articles. I'll need a little more time to sort that out, so that may appear here over the weekend, or I may save that for next week's #1 issue depending on my revised work schedule (we think we just lost employee #4...don't ask). In any event, everyone please be safe and have a great new year! See you on the other side in 2007.


HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!
Please consider making a donation to help support Crazed Fanboy! Click on the "donate" link below and give whatever you can. I sincerely thank you for any and all consideration.---Nolan
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"Mike's Rant" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith     "La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2006; by Andy Lalino      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova    
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