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The Tampa Film Review For January †by Nolan Canova, Chris Woods, and Terence Nuzum
The First Fanboy Summit of '07 or ED Tucker's Giant Spider Invasion †by Nolan B. Canova
MOVIE REVIEW
"Letters From Iwo Jima" †by Mike Smith
THE AUDIO PHILES
The Top 20 Albums of 2006 †by Terence Nuzum
ODDSERVATIONS
Putzo's Top 10 Worst Moments in Fandom....The Giant Spider Invasion starring Ed Tucker....Goodbye to Yvonne De Carlo †by Andy Lalino
MIKE'S RANT
Whatever Gets You Through The Night....Passing On....Movie News....Awards Time....Oscar Time....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 3: Dennis Christopher †by Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 356  (Vol. 8, No. 3). This edition is for the week of January 15--22, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review For January '07


By Nolan B. Canova, Chris Woods, and Terence Nuzum

(Photos contributed by Nolan Canova, Chris Woods, and Douglas Lorah)
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Left to right, Terence Nuzum, Tim Griffin and Emerald Gowers share an introspective moment.
An unusually serious expression for yours truly in a candid shot taken by Orlando Greenroom's Doug Lorah.
The triumvirate of Tampa Bay Film Fandom? Left to right, Lisa Ciurro (tampafilmfan.com), yours truly, and St. Pete Times wildman, Rick Gershman.
John Matheny, left, makes a point, while Damage Control, Inc's Gene May concentrates on a Mt. Rushmore look.
I was extremely honored to win this certificate of recognition for contributions to Bay area filmmaking. With me is my presenter, Paul Guzzo.
This was simply an amazing night. Along with being honored for my contributions, I got a chance to meet Weekly Planet/Creative Loafing Senior Editor, David Warner. This is also the best look at my lo-tech T-shirt, "Attack of the Coochie Monster" starring Conrad Brooks. Long story.
Will Moriaty, left, and Terence Nuzum are, I'm sure, exchanging jokes at my expense because they're jealous of all the honor I'm getting. Just kidding. Actually I think it was mystification.
Chris Woods (left, back to camera) with local acting legend Robert Elfstrom, discussing filmmaking.
Pete Guzzo had just gotten to his feet after collecting video equipment when the camera went off right in his face. Haha, Woops.
Robert Elfstrom (right) looks on as Terence Nuzum (left) and Chris Woods (center) crack up over behind-the-scenes filmmaking stories.
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The cast and crew of The Quiet Place take the stage for an extended group photo session. A highly-anticipated horror short produced by the Tampa Film Network, it premiered this night.
At left, one of the young people to play a lost child in The Quiet Place. Standing with him is the film's star, Joe Davison.
A cheery bunch from The Quiet Place: L-to-r, Chris Woods, the red-haired boy (missplaced his name, so sorry), Jack Amos, Joe Davison, Harmony Oswald, and Simon Lynx.
Joel D. Wynkoop, right, speaks with make-up maestro Marcus Koch, center. SPTimes reporter Rick Gershman lurks just over Marc's shoulder.
A motley crew if ever there was one. L-to-r, Chris Passinault, Chris Woods, Nolan Canova (that's me), Simon Lynx, Gus Perez, and Joel Wynkoop. We're all showing off our awards and Joel wants us killed.
From The Quiet Place, l-to-r, star Joe Davison, director Damien Kincannon, and script supervisor, Nicol Winkler.
L-to-r, Chris Woods, Harmony Oswald, and Simon Lynx. Nice shot.
L-to-r, Chris Woods, Will Moriaty, Gus Perez (who hopped into the shot at the last second), yours truly, and Robert Elfstrom trade a few quick ideas towards the end of the night.
Producer Shelby McIntyre, center, sees me just as I raise my camera. You can see the reflection of the flash in the mirror as well as Terence looking on!
Indie film wildman Joel D. Wynkoop takes to the karaoke stage at Gaspar's Grotto where we've moved the festivities at this point in the evening. Here he warms up with a Billy Joel song.
Cathy Wynkoop, center, takes in Joel's performance lovingly, while Lisa Ciurro (at bar, front) checks out my DVDs from The Review. Just over Cathy's head you might be able to just make out Rick Gershman at the bar.
Nolan here. This month, the Tampa Film Review celebrated its three-year anniversary as the premiere monthly film exhibition event of Tampa Bay. It was extremely special in many, many ways. To help comemorate this event, this month you're getting not one, not two, but three film reviewers for the price of one! Regular readers will remember over the last couple of months I have been joined here by Pinellas film legend Chris Woods of Icon Film Studios. Allow me to now welcome PCR staff writer, filmmaker and critic Terence Nuzum to the TFR review family.

In fact, Terence and I rode together to this month's TFR, and we met up with fellow staffer Will Moriaty and indie actor Gus Perez just before the 8:00pm showtime at the International Bazaar in Ybor City.

The crowd numbers on arrival were already very encouraging. By the end of tonight's show, Peter and Paul Guzzo, the masters of this occasion, would celebrate a record crowd of over 200 people. (Standing room only, no lie. While no one was turned away, people coming in late in the evening left quickly after seeing how crowded it was).

Besides all the new visitors to the TFR attracted by the recent publicity, a quick scan of the faces revealed a virtual who's who of Tampa Bay filmdom, too many to list here, but many are featured in the photographs included in this article. Not everyone stayed through the entire evening, but most everyone at least made an appearance. Most notable was a near-100% turn-out of the cast and crew of The Quiet Place, which was premiering tonight to great fanfare.

Several of us, including your humble editor, were honored mid-show with a moving awards presentation, where our services to the local film community were recognized with a special certificate. We were each called by name, wherein we took the stage, accepted the certificate and gave a little speech (if applicable). I was, and am, incredibly honored by this recognition, and pledge to continue to do my best to cover the west-central Florida indie film scene!

Many exciting announcements were made, which we'll get to in a bit. But, we're here for the movies, so let's get to it. For this month's review:

Titles and plot synopsises will be in black (written by either Paul Guzzo or myself). To help tell the players apart, Terence Nuzum's comments will be in dark red, Chris Woods' comments will be in purple, and Nolan Canova's comments will be in blue. Hope that helps!

One final note. Terence and Chris wrote their reviews from memory. Since the TFR discs are loaned to me for re-viewing at home, any additional details, like names of cast and crew, appearing in my reviews are solely the result of this arrangement and should not be interpreted as negligence by my colleagues.

On with the show....

"Crouching Tiger Hidden Dumpling" by SunkenMedow Films
Kung Fu action! Great Scenery! A Dumpling! See all of this in an epic battle between two young warriors for possession of a dumpling that leads from a windswept lonely hilltop to the Forbidden City, from the Temple of Heaven to the Great Wall, then back to the hill where it all began.
Terence Nuzum: I guess this what you would call a cute family film. Basically it is little kids trying to perform Kung Fu in order to obtain a dumpling. Pretty useless unless you are one of those people who find the little kid saying something rude to the camera the best entries in America's Funniest Home Videos. It was shot decently, but still reminded me of a backyard family joke film. Kind of reminiscent of former PCR writer Brandon Jones' home movie, Creature from the Green Latrine. It didnít help that I had a peanut gallery behind me saying every scene was "so cute".
Chris Woods: Two kung-fu fighting kids battle it out to get the ultimate prize, The Dumpling. This was a very entertaining film. The two children actors were excellent and very well skilled in the Martial Arts for their age. Awesome locations in the film as well. Going all the way to The Great Wall of China. A well put together film with a classic Martial Arts Film feel. One of the best films of the night. Highly recommended.
Nolan Canova: The very notion of getting permission to film a kids' action spoof on the Great Wall of China is the first mind-f*ck right out of the gate. I dunno, maybe it isn't that hard to do, but I would've thought you'd need government connections to do something like that. Two boys, around 10--12 years old, find themselves in combat over a dumpling (basically because one declared he wanted the other's dumpling). It's obvious, dad (or whoever shot this) has kids in karate school and was inspired to show off their skills in this light-hearted spoof. Already dressed appropriately, the two tangle, break, run around The Wall, into fields, stop, trade karate chops (the appropriate sound effects are turned up, natch), fall, get up and run some more before the surrender/resolution. I must say it's well-shot and edited for what it is. Cute behind-the-scenes bloopers over the end credits finish our adventure. I fall somewhere in-between my two colleagues: I liked the film more than Terence did, but not as much as Chris did.

"Not Another Student Film" Produced by the Full Sail School of Film in Winter Park, Florida.
Starring Gus Perez, this is a story about three misfits who are convinced that chemistry Professor Ocale (Perez) and his three students must all be terrorists as they all four have dark skin and work with chemicals. Cameo by Mark Terry.
Terence Nuzum: Made by a group at Full Sail, it shows that what they have in technical ability they lack in creativity. All that talent to simply make a juvenile, frat-boy comedy. My god, we have enough of those already. What would have been interesting is if they had made a spoof of frat-boy spoofs. Instead, they simply fall into the trap of actually making a frat-boy comedy, albeit not a very successful one. A poor man's Van Wilder.
Chris Woods: A bunch of burnouts think that one of their college professors is a terrorist. Although the film was very well done as far as the technical aspect goes. (I believe the film was shot on 16mm or a really good HD Camera or 24 P) The film was cut well, sounded great, acting was good. (It was cool to see Gus Perez in the film and he did a good job.) But the story seemed to drag and some parts were very boring. The film tried to be funny like other spoof films, but to me, wasnít funny at all.
Nolan Canova: In case the title of the film sounds familiar to area film fans, it should probably be noted that Not Another Student Film is several years old and many of the behind-the-scenes players have gone onto other things. It is arguably one of Gus Perez's strongest performances (I believe it was he who submitted this film to the Review), but the 25-minute playing time is incredibly challenging when dealing with pedestrian movie themes explored better elsewhere (i.e., college frat-boy comedy/drunken/stoner humor). It is basically a student film comedy. Technically proficient, but as a film, some of it works and some of it doesn't. The bigger kick is seeing how many people on the credit list I recocognize from later and greater accomplishments.

"The Libertines" by For The Record Productions, directed by Jonathan Wolding.
Two close girlfriends are in close communication over their sexy evening plans. One appears to be coaching the other on sexual approach, but appearances can be deceiving.
Terence Nuzum: Hands down, the best entry of the night. With a twist that is predictable but you never guess because of the unpredictable flow of the narrative. Shot well and acted well, except for the dark-haired actress. Local filmmakers need to learn it doesnít matter how hot the girl is, if she canít act, boot her.
Chris Woods: Two women with a great sexual appetite have a little fun with their boyfriends. One of the women sets out to meet her boyfriend, but when she enters his house, the lights are out and heís nowhere to be found. A night that was supposed to be special now turns scary. There are some great twists at the end so you have to see the film to see what happens next. Highly recommended. This film was very well done and shot great. A good cast (Jereme Badger had a cameo in the film). I enjoyed the film. I remember seeing some of the film before at CFR and I believe it played at one of The Halloween Horror Picture Shows. This film, from the troop called Ground Up Films also made the films Last Night and In On It which played late last year at TFR. Those films are also highly recommended.
Nolan Canova: This is a terrific little shocker produced by the same crew that became A Ground Up Film Productions and made a HUGE impact on the TFR late last year (with Last Night and In On It, the latter a personal favorite), these filmmakers are among the most naturally gifted I've ever seen come into this venue. The crazy thing is there are only, like, five regular crew members who do all the jobs. I remember when The Libertines DVD disc screwed up at the very last Coffeehouse Film Review, so wasn't shown. It played at the Halloween Horror Picture Show successfully, but I wasn't there at that time. So I feel a little behind I'm just now seriously discovering these folks (but then that's what the TFR is all about, eh?). The "dark-haired actress" Terence found unsatisfying is actually Lynn Moore who'd go on to great acclaim in the Guzzo Bros' 99 and later, The End is Blossoming. I, personally thought she was pretty good here. Very sexy, although some dialogue was whispered so softly as to be unintelligible. Not enough to matter, though. The other girl, Stephanie Strahlman, was good as the sweet young thing Moore was coaching to...er...intensify her love life (let's say). The Libertines was shot a little differently than Ground Up's later films, here staying with mainly low static camera angles and moving into Creepshow-esque lighting toward the end to bolster the one-two punch of a great little surprise ending. The book-end segments, including some old-film effects and some read or spoken poetry I didn't think was necessary, but again, didn't detract from the final effects. Highly recommended.

Following the new TFR feature of including out-of-state or foreign films comes two films from Lithuania, Ponas Pimpis, and Parents and Children.

"Ponas Pimpis" by Simonas Tarvydas
A man wakes up in the morning and realizes that he lost his "manhood". Shortly after, he meets "him" as a person. A crazy bet about who first will seduce the woman, follows.
Terence Nuzum: All I'm going to say about the two Lithuanian selections were that they were highly entertaining and that they were reminiscent visually and thematically of those X-rated Australian and European commercials for coffee and beer.
Chris Woods: This is one of two International films that played that night. This film is about a man whom one morning wakes up and loses something no man wants to lose which happens to be below the belt. He panics and runs into his kitchen to only find what he just lost, but in the form of a person named Richard. The man tries to egg on his owner and see if he can seduce his girlfriend before he can. But without the right tools it will be very hard for him. The film was entertaining. Very different. The film was from Lithuania and was very well shot and edited. The actors did a great job as well. The film is worth a watch.
Nolan Canova: It would be easy to deduce from watching these Lithuanian selections that Lithuanians have sex on the brain. Ponas Pimpis portrays a sexually selfish man's personal member take form as another man, Richard, or Dick (har har). Richard tries to talk to his "owner" about love and life. The best parts occur when Richard is touched---by a female or just about anything---and our boy reacts as if he's been, well...touched! Recommended.

"Parents and Children" by Antanas Gluskinas
A film about a strict children's education in an old fashioned, intelligent families, and its influence in their future sexual lives.
Terence Nuzum: See Ponas Pimpis, above.
Chris Woods: Another film from Lithuania. This film wasnít as good as Ponas Pimpis and was almost close to soft-core porn without the skin. The film explores the sexual activities between a young couple. Again well shot and put together, but the film was all over the place and didnít really have a structured story. I think they can find a place for this film on Skinamax.
Nolan Canova: An extremely horny young couple decide to get married and make an accidental discovery after an engagement dinner that their parents may not be the prudes they thought they were. Very suggestive (close to pornographic) and sexy in places, but the ending is made for nervous-irony laughs. Kind of have to be in the mood for any repeated viewings of this.

And now...drumroll, please...

"The Quiet Place" directed by Damien Kincannon and produced by the Tampa Film Network
A couple looks for their daughter at a runaway home, but while sitting in the waiting room they enter a whole new world of terror.
Terence Nuzum: This should have been Gone With The Wind, Jesus walking on water with all the talent involved. To be fair, I'm going to give the high points first.
Chris Woods obviously crafted a good, though by-the-numbers ghost story that somehow got corrupted by directorial decisions. For instance, there was no character development or even a long enough time to give a shit if any of these people died or not. Woods personally told me that there were more dialogue scenes that were in the script but never shot by Kincannon. Bad judgment or time constraints?
Joe Davison was enjoyable as usual, but most everyone else was forgettable which isnít even fair as they had little to do but run around. The Ghost Kids should have had more screen time in my opinion.
Kincannon, while a good director of comedy, obviously is a virgin to horror filmmaking. Sporting flat lighting and pedestrian scare scenes, the film somehow comes off as having been made out of necessity and not love for the material. For instance, after seeing behind-the-scenes photos of legendary Marcus Koch's burn makeup we see not one decent or clear close-up. In another scene, blood oozes out from under the door in a dark room but when it comes time to cut to a close-up it is obviously a fully-lit scene showing blood seeping out. These kinds of things coming from these filmmakers is incomprehensible.
The behind-the-scenes whisperings of post-production conflicts (which proved to be partly true going by Damien's TFR introduction) with the film prove that the Tampa Film Network experiment didnít entirely work. Of course, keep in mind it was shot in 9 days in a hot warehouse. That being said, it doesnít excuse poor direction. While I'm sure Damien probably doesnít list this as a greatest achievement, at least he did achieve a result.
Woods stated to me earlier in the year that he added some post effects that "saved" the film. Unfortunately, only one really works. The others come off as just cheesy post effects to try to enhance a scene that just wasnít shot scary in the first place.
Of course I will admit that is probably my own personal preference as is the hatred for the use of heavy metal music at the end of horror films. Thatís just not cool or scary guys, sorry. But they did finish a film in 9 days you got to give them that. Does this mean TFN was a failure? No, of course not. You have to try a couple more times before you can deem anything a failure. Hopefully, all involved learned something from the experience.
Chris Woods: (Chris had to recuse himself from reviewing the film as he was intimately involved with the production.--N)
Nolan Canova: This is a very difficult review for me to write. With the talent level on this production through the stratosphere, and expectations sky-high, the only two words I came away with after viewing The Quiet Place, both at the TFR and at home (several times), is "thwarted potential". I've talked to everybody involved on the film and everyone has a story---off the record---about why some things on The Quiet Place didn't quite work out. First and foremost is "9 days!! Hey we shot the whole thing in 9 days from beginning to end!" "I expected much worse!" (Never a good sign.) "I was afraid of the result and was surprised it didn't look half bad!"
This is from the cast and crew! Well, with one notable exception I'll get to in a second.
Two parents, John and Mary Fremont (Joe Davison and Harmony Oswald), whose daughter has been missing for months receive a phone call stating their daughter is safe at a nearby half-way house/home for runaways. They make plans to go pick her up. After checking in, they are led into a waiting area with other hopeful parents. After a seeming interminable wait, one old curmudgeon (Jack Amos in a terrific turn) finally declares an end to his patience and decides to leave. Suddenly, the lights go out. As the group fumbles around in the dark, strange visions of dead people appear and far-away voices that sound like their missing children call out to them. However, when one parent after another begins disappearing behind one door or another, more nightmarish possibilities begin to emerge.
I enjoy Joe Davison as an actor in everything he's ever done. The Quiet Place is no exception. Joe throws himself into his character 100% and is totally believeable, even in physically demanding scenes (Joe's a big guy). Joe can literally do anything...comedy, drama, anything.
I've already mentioned John Amos--a perfect foil for Joe.
I could almost get the feeling I was watching a cool, old lost episode of Night Gallery but with bad lighting, a flat video look, and half the episode missing. Since most scenes consist of screaming, quick music swells, and running after closing doors, the other actors don't have all that much to do and the narrative resists advancing in any meaningful way until almost the end. There is not much opportunity to sympathize with the characters in the time alloted. I later learned that nearly 10 minutes of The Quiet Place is missing due to the fact it was never shot over time constraints.
Finally, the mystifying lack of lighting in many scenes (including extended scenes in pitch-black darkness I don't think were intentional), mismatched lighting in other scenes (doing no justice to the to-die-for behind-the-scenes photographs taken by Chris Passinault months ago), the unforgivably brief and too-dark reveal of Marcus Koch's burn make-up effects, and the needless addition of computer graphics to punch up a climactic scene makes one wonder who was calling the shots here. It would be too easy to blame either director Damien Kincannon or editor Chris Woods. My personal target is the theory behind the Tampa Film Network as a production entity itself.
The Quiet Place is the first great experiment from Joe Davison's Tampa Film Network, which he based on a similar, but more productive set-up he enjoyed in England called The Cambridge Film Network. Joe absolutely insisted that an umbrella production company encompassing the best and brightest of area filmmakers couldn't help but produce instant classics on a regular basics. As I understand it, no one person is "the director", so the director is voted upon (or volunteers and is confirmed) from the local pool of talent. Same with camera and lighting. The shooting set is mandatorily democratic, yet compartmentalized, where jobs are done with no interference or cross-talk. So far, so good, I suppose, except there appears to be no one "vision" that gets the final say, just a mish-mash of folks doing things their way, without anyone deciding on a unified and distinct way, just a trust that it'll all come out in the wash.
Everyone I've talked to who had anything to do with the production said they'll never work this way again, or at least not without massive stipulations.
Predictably, Joe Davison is unmoveable in trumpeting this production as a success (and is who I was referring to earlier as such) as he desperately wants this approach to take root. And with some irony, it's Joe's lynchpin performance in The Quiet Place that makes the film watchable.
Well, I don't know about Cambridge, but, in my opinion, it just didn't work here. Any further output from The Tampa Film Network is in doubt pending significant restructuring.


Feedback on "The Quiet Place" reviews begin here. Post your thoughts as well.


A recreation of the Hopper-Walken scene from True Romance by Charlie Ray announced in publicity as showing tonight was not shown.

ANNOUNCEMENTS MADE FRIDAY NIGHT         

  • The Tampa Film Review has worked out an exchange with several other film festivals. In September a panel will select the best film or films that have screened at this yearís TFRs.
  • The selected films will be accepted into and will screen at the following film fests: Gasparilla Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival, Bare Bones Film Festival, Delray Beach Film Festival, Sunscreen Film Festival and Wildwood by the Sea Film Festival.
  • Also, every four months the Tampa Film Review is going to exchange films with the WILDSound Monthly Film Festival in Canada and the Home Brewed International Film Festival in Australia. This exchange will bring international exposure to the TFR and to local films and filmmakers.
  • We have already begun the exchange program in Canada. In March, the WILDSound selected the following films from last yearís TFR to show at their monthly event: Into the Darkness by Joe Davison; Last Night - John Wolden and Jen Persons; Purgatoria by Andres Yepes; and Farewell Freida by Emerald Gowers and Tim Griffin.


    Visit www.thetampafilmreview.com for more information regarding the Tampa Film Review.


    "The Tampa Film Review For January 2007" is ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova, Chris Woods, and Terence Nuzum. Some photos used courtesy of Chris Woods and Doug Lorah.

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


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