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Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 321  (Vol. 7, No. 20). This edition is for the week of May 15--21, 2006.

The Tampa Film Review for May

By Nolan B. Canova

Pictures will open in a new browser window
L-to-R, Nolan Canova, Craig Kovach, Chris Woods, and Will Moriaty converse about the night's festivities.
Tampa Film Commissioner Krista Soroka, extreme left, discusses the Florida film scene with actor Larry Bukovey (RISK), extreme right, while two attentive patrons look on.
L-to-R, Krista Soroka, with Simon Lynx and Chris Woods of ICON Film Studios.
This distant shot gives a better perspective of the surroundings of the International Bazaar. Lost in conversation are, l-to-r (males), Nolan Canova, Larry Bukovey, and Paul Guzzo. I'm afraid I don't know the identities of the ladies.
Pop Gun Pictures main man Joe Davison listens for a reaction from Krista Soroka regarding his three film entries.
Peter and Paul Guzzo (left and right, respectively) are the founders and managers of the Tampa Film Review.
A gag shot where Pete Guzzo (left) appears to deliver a knock-out punch, Batman-style, to brother Paul.
It's a social as well as educational experience as good friends reunite at these meetings. L-to-R, Nolan Canova, Chris Woods, Joe Davison, and Simon Lynx.
Craig Kovach, left, discusses the small matter of Nolan's (right) review of "Unearthed" as Joe Davison looks on.
L-to-R, Craig Kovach, Joe Davison, Nolan Canova, and Chris Woods.
L-to-R, Nolan Canova, Paul Guzzo, Chris Woods, and Pete Guzzo.
ICON's Simon Lynx, left, visiting from Jacksonville, discusses the Tampa film scene with USF's Rodrick Colbert.

The first meeting of the Tampa Film Review in two months brought together a good turn-out and some pretty darn good movies.

My traveling companion for this excursion was, once again, fellow PCR columnist Will Moriaty. We arrived at The International Bazaar just before 8:00pm. Standing outside was a friendly group: TFR head Paul Guzzo, Chris Woods and Simon Lynx (Simon visiting from Jacksonville), "Angry Old Artist" Martin F. Hennigan with friends Jeannia Ingle and Will Dawson. Then arriving just before we all went in, Tampa's delighful Film Commissioner, Krista Soroka.

Inside and seated comfortably, the show begins...

Works by Will Dawson. Long-time readers may remember the experimental film that played here back in February, also called "Works", or something very similar. The art of Martin Hennigan, mostly religious iconography, was animated via slow pans and zooms into a secondary work of art that became the film. Tonight's version of "Works" takes up where that left off, where the art speaks for itself but is made more compelling watching by the documentary-like slow zooming and panning all to a classical music background. Tranquilizing pieces like this are best consumed in an artsty environment like we had.

First Round: Wolverine vs The Punisher, Get Me Out of Jersey Productions. Produced, directed, and starring Corey Sosner as The Punisher. The action is non-stop as the Punisher kills his way up the ladder of organized crime in New York City. He is relentless in his hunt for the Kingpin behind it all. Before he can complete his revenge, one man stands in the Punisher's way: Wolverine, straight from the comics. It's the ultimate Battle Royale. Skull vs. Claws.
I have said for a long time that I always believed the producers of Batman Begins got their major clue for how to make an authentic-feeling comics-to-movie film by watching excellent fan films like Batman: Dead End. The producers of The Punisher, the one filmed in Tampa, could've used First Round as a template for how to do comic violence right! Another terrific fan film made for very little money (I believe Paul Guzzo said in his introduction this film only cost $1,000 to make!), it makes me wonder how these guys don't get the big contracts. This film was not made in Tampa -- the Guzzos' new policy is to exhibit one out-of-state film per show -- but I like 'em already. Right off, the animated title sequence revs up like manga/anime on steroids, letting us know we're in manic comics territory. Corey Sosner's Punisher is hunting and killing gang bosses, looking for number one. He closes in on an underling when he is stopped by an impatient Wolverine, apparently on a similar mission. Eric Von Sydow plays the ever-cigar-chomping Wolverine with great faithfulness to the comic (even calling The Punisher "Bub", haha). Nothing against Hugh Jackman, but this is Wolverine as I always pictured him. The two characters do battle, but just enough so that they understand each other. The make-up and costuming are amazing especially considering the budget. Nothing, though, can prepare you for the first time you see The Kingpin (Wallace Carter) -- I mean like straight out of early Spider-Man, the huge frame, first seen from behind, staring out his office window, just like a comic panel. He was a little younger than I pictured Kingpin, but this was WAY closer than Michael Clarke Duncan's less satisfying turn in Daredevil. Look for this fan film at a convention near you, or better yet, go to http://www.coreysosner.com and just download it!

Risk. Marivamax Productions. Written and Directed by Dave DeBorde. Business is war. As the new salesman at Barton Professional Leasing, Troy is eager to succeed and get along with the rest of the sales staff. Upon meeting the core salesmen of the company, he is invited to join them that night and play the board game RISK -- the game of world conquest. Manipulation, guile, and negotiation are the order of the day and Troy soon discovers that in the game -- and in business -- war is hell.
It may be a bit overzealous of me to label this film "the hit of the night", but if it wasn't it was damn close! I think this was my favorite film of this Review, overall (Duck Feeders and First Round sit at close number twos). Poor Troy (Larry Bukovey) has no idea the how this "kids' game", as he initially calls it, has consumed the lives of his co-workers and causes over-flow into real life. The only female co-worker at the agency, the incredibly sexy "Splenda", is unfortunately just out of Troy's reach as she is also influenced by the manipulative manager, Mel, (the delightfully smarmy Jeff Grant), who takes the game deadly seriously. As psycho as this all sounds, this is actually a very funny movie as Troy learns the game, and eventually wins a few rounds while the soap opera it causes continues to escalate. Troy is surprised that the hellish devotion to the game has actually improved his performance as a salesman -- and brought Splenda back within reach. Was this the whole idea, cooked up by the owner of the Agency? This is one of the most perfectly-cast indie movies I've ever seen, each actor totally inhabits his/her role. Incredible performances and a delightful script. I was shocked to learn that they are all real-life friends who all live in Brandon, FL! I'd love to be a fly on the wall at their private get-togethers and see how close it is to Risk!

Bay News 9 On Demand. Clips furnished by Chris Woods. Back in March, Paul Guzzo and I were interviewed for a spot on Time-Warner (Bright House) cable TV's Bay News 9 "On Demand" where we pontificated on the Tampa Film Review and the state of indie film in general. The resulting segment wound up not only "on demand", but in regular rotation on the main station as well. I am deeply honored by this and heard from plenty of people about it, all of whom were quite supportive. The hysterical irony is I couldn't see the spot myself as I haven't had cable television in three years! Chris Woods was kind enough to bring the spot to the Fest and gave Paul and me personal copies as well. My proudest moment? Somewhere in my rant, I talk about Hollywood producing "remake after remake after remake..." which actually drew a smattering of applause from the TFR audience. It was too dark to see me blushing, but I was. Thanks to Bay News 9 and to always amazing Christopher Woods.

The next three films involved Joe Davison while he was living in England.

Office Devils: What it's like to work inside the evil lair of a maniacal arch-enemy of James Bond. Deep within the volcano is there love starting to brew? Will it be too late to do anything about it before Mr. Bond shows up himself to eradicate everyone?
Written and Directed by Carl Homer
Executive produced by Joe Davison
I already told Joe, of the three films of his spotlighted tonight, Office Devils was my least favorite. It had potential, but the overly dry script and more obvious gags (everything they touch on the desk may be a secret weapon, so accidents will happen) tended to mute the advantages of the English cast, plus the scenes were lit a little too darkly for my taste. After the volcano starts rumbling, our two heroes scramble for cover and the film ends abruptly.

Duck Feeder: Sandra is worried about her friend Dave who has been sitting at the park for the last couple of days feeding the ducks in hopes to meet a girl he saw there a week ago. Sandra then asks his flat mate Tim to go an have a chat with him at the park. Will Dave find happiness or just run out of bread?
Written by Stuart Walkins
Directed and Produced by Joe Davison
This is my favorite Davison film on a personal level. The cast, the script, the scenery, all just work really well. The interpersonal relationships of the three main players is plumbed in an amazingly short amount of time. We actually care about them, which is the mark of a good cast and (sigh) good director. The actors' accents have that wonderfully British sing-songy-ness to the dialogue making it more listenable, at least to me. The coy twist ending is quite satisfying.

Into The Darkness. A young female librarian is suddenly charged with the guardianship of an important book that pits Michael (the archangel in earthly guise, I think) against a dark nemisis (The Devil in earthly guise, I surmise). Written by Joe Davison
Directed by Kate Robinson
This was the best Davison film on every technical level, with an astoundingly effective musical soundtrack. It felt much more expensive than it probably was. If you could get past the canyon-sized plotholes, you could really have a good time here. The fandom nod to "Highlander" is obvious (I guess if you live in England it's beyond temptation), and I did like the actors very much. Unfortunately, we're never told why the book is so important, or why it was sitting on a library shelf totally undisturbed for ages apparently, except for right now, where it's a life-and-death matter. Or for that matter, why she was chosen to be its keeper all the sudden. There's a duel between the good guy and the bad guy in a church, but we're not shown that, only the bleeding Michael who exists. Weird, because at their next encounter, the Devil(?) puts up a much more brutal defense. The librarian comes to the rescue during one sword fight in the woods, suddenly gifted with the ability to read the book's arcane language (why? who knows), and the earth will live another day. Even with the holes, I found Into The Darkness to be a very enjoyable romp through British Highlander territory, with deft camera work and the already-mentioned stunning music track.

Battered Sausage, produced by Joe Davison, and Veverly by Gloria Rozier, both announced in publicity as playing at the Review, were not shown.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ę2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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