Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The International Indian Film Academy is coming

CL writer Aaron Alper can't wait to get a little Bollywood in the Bay.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 1, 2014 at 10:01 AM


When I heard Tampa would be hosting the International Indian Film Academy’s 15th “Bollywood Oscars” in April, I was psyched. India’s biggest stars would be coming to our modest hamlet. There was even talk of Kevin Spacey giving a speech for a Master Class panel in conjunction with the event. Would I go as a journalist? I had no guarantees; but the thought of an event celebrating the diversity of culture in film happening so close to me made me at least feel a little glammy. I mean, stars from other countries are still stars and Bollywood is cool (to get a dose of coolness, YouTube “Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna” — it’s thunderously entertaining).

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Out to Kill: Tampa's gay whodunnit

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Filmmaker Rob Williams directs actors Mark Strano, second from right, and Scott Sell, far right, during a scene from Out to Kill. Also pictured are boom operator Ralph Barnette and camera operator/director of photography Paul D. Hart.
  • Filmmaker Rob Williams directs actors Mark Strano, second from right, and Scott Sell, far right, during a scene from Out to Kill. Also pictured are boom operator Ralph Barnette and camera operator/director of photography Paul D. Hart.
For years, writer and director Rob Williams has brought his films to the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. And he was always struck not just by how gay-friendly the area is, but by how friendly in general it is.

“Everybody made me feel like part of the family,” he said.

So it was a no-brainer for the California-based filmmaker, co-founder of Guest House Films, to use Tampa, rather than Los Angeles, as the backdrop for his seventh feature-length film, the gay murder mystery Out to Kill.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Measuring up with UnHung Hero, Patrick Moote

"The best part of having a small penis was making this film, and making this film was the best thing for my penis."

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 9:08 AM

  • breaking glass pictures
The Youtube video of Patrick Moote having his marriage proposal rejected before a stadium full of people received 10 million views in 10 days. It was covered on major news stations and national talks shows. If this public humiliation wasn't emasculating enough, Moote's ex claimed one of the reasons she couldn't marry him was because his penis was too small.

Fueled by this rejection, Moote embarked on a globetrotting quest to answer two questions that are fundamental to masculine identity: 1. Does penis size really matter?, and 2. Are there any safe methods for increasing your penis size? The "cockumentary" of Moote's misadventures follows him from porn conventions to uncomfortable encounters with "dick doctors" in Third World motel rooms. Along the way Moote talks cocks with a wide range of experts, including doctors, anthropologists, penis pump pitch-men, and sexperts like Carol Queen, Dan Savage, and Annie Sprinkle. He also gets the opinions of a few porn stars like Ron Jeremy, Andy San Dimas, Allie Haze, and Axel Braun, and discovers what the man with the world's largest penis, Jonah Falcon, thinks about size.

I caught up with the UnHung Hero just before his cockumentary was unleashed on DVD, December, 10.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

We're off to see the wizard — again and again and again

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 6:39 PM


Remember the joy of seeing The Wizard of Oz the first time?
Boomers! Remember how CBS used to show the movie just once a year, then open it for us in prime time as a holiday gift? It was an Event, right up there with Halloween, Christmas and birthdays.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hey Bartender documentary comes to Tampa Theatre

Posted By on Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 3:29 PM

  • 4th Row Films

The rise of the craft cocktail has been no accident; bartenders across the country (and world) have worked to build a new liquid consciousness, drink by drink. Hey Bartender, a new documentary, gets up close and personal with some of the best bartenders. Tampa Theatre will host a one-night-only screening of the film on Wednesday, Oct. 2, at 7:30 p.m. I recently had the opportunity to speak with the film's director, Douglas Tirola, about why bartending, like art, has its own cultural movements.

"I was about 15 and got a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant/nightlife bar," Tirola said. "It turned into the town's big nightlife spot, all New York-style with velvet ropes and a huge bar. One night, the barback doesn't show up and I'm the barback."

Then one night the bartender didn't show up and Tirola took over.

"I was making sea breezes and Long Island Iced Teas then," he said. "The bartender is the official mayor for communities. There's a special relationship between regulars and bartenders and I always noticed that."

Today, Tirola makes documentary films at 4th Row Films in New York. But the bartending scene always fascinated him and the idea for a documentary about corner bars stuck in his head — but it still wasn't the exact story he wanted tell. Then, while staying at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, the drinks made at the library bar caught his eye.

"This bartender was doing a lot with cocktails, fruits and vegetables," Tirola said. "He was going to the Santa Monica farmers market, a renown farmers market, for all these ingredients."

Back home in New York, Tirola discovered the Spring Lounge, then Employees Only — both New York bars taking risks with spirits.

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Friday, August 2, 2013

This Week @ The Movies: 2 Guns, The Attack, Jaws, Amerikan Holokaust and more …

Posted By on Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 1:02 PM


It's going to be a busy weekend film fans, as a number of new movies arrive in the Bay area including a big star vehicle, venerated classic, locally produced gorefest, and critically acclaimed foreign import. Apparently, there are Smurfs as well.

The big stars show up in 2 Guns, this week's entry into the summer blockbuster sweepstakes. 2 Guns stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg as a DEA agent and special forces vet working undercover as bank robbers. CL Intern Davis Johnson reviewed 2 Guns and loved it, saying "Every scene seems to captivate the audience — whether it be a high-octane car chase, a chaotic shoot out, or just the hilarity of Mark and Denzel sitting in a diner discussing bank robbery and the quality of the donuts." 

Speaking of Johnson, also check out his print piece (now online) detailing the way Hollywood actors get paid. In it, Robert Downey Jr. makes one amazing point.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

That's a wrap for the 48 Film Project — screenings this Wed., July 31 and Thurs., Aug. 1

Posted By on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 4:07 PM


The 48 Hour Film Project brings together aspiring filmmakers for a high-stress battle to see who can pull off the best 5-7 minute short film in — what else? — 48 hours. Teams are randomly assigned a genre, prop, character name and line of dialogue on a Friday night, and then have to scramble all weekend to write a script, costume the actors, rehearse, shoot, edit, score and deliver a movie for exhibition by Sunday evening — all basically from scratch.

The Project takes place in dozens of cities around the world, with the Tampa/St. Petersburg victor nabbing a trophy, a screening slot for their movie at Filmapalooza (the annual grand finale event for the contest, held at the Chinese Theaters in Hollywood), and a free copy of script-writing software Movie Magic Screenwriter 6. As a special bonus, 10 of the best films from the 2013 Tour will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner in 2014.

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunscreen's Film Institute is ready for its close-up

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM

Attention, aspiring filmmakers! The Sunscreen Film Festival has joined forces with Indie Studios to launch The Film Institute starting Aug. 5.

The institute will offer college level classes with currently established educators and working professionals (Curtis Graham, Tom Hammond and Tony Armer to name a few). It will also have online classes, which will give an opportunity for working adults, interested in film.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Stuffing the beach bag for a summer full of reading

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 11:26 AM


Time to load up the beach bag for summer reading. Here’s what I have so far, with some new additions:

Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris, and the Renegades of Nashville by Michael Stressguth (It Books, $26.99). This is a great book idea whose time has come. The hit television series Nashville tells tales of the singer-songwriters trying to make their mark in today’s Music City. Outlaw is a group biography of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson, mostly about their formative years in the early 1960s and their attempts to break away from the city’s mainstream music industry. We can forgive the occasional error (Streissguth puts the venue Panther Hall in Dallas, not Fort Worth), because Outlaw is a wonderful narrative about three wild and original talents.

Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25). This is a real-life horror story rooted in that sometimes odd and obsessive relationship between teacher and student. “Relationship” is not quite the right word to describe the fantasies and imaginings of an obsessive student who creates an alternate universe in which she and her mentor have an affair. Lasdun tells us how he rebuffed the student, who then launched an assault on his character. Reads like a thriller, though this story is true.

Springsteen on Springsteen by Jeff Burger (Chicago Review Press, $27.95). Think you have enough Springsteen books? Think again, Bubba. Until the boss writes an autobiography, this is the next-closest thing: a collection of interviews, speeches and the occasional letter to the editor by Bruce. A highlight: his beautiful speech inducting Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. It’s a superb collection.

That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick by Ellin Stein (W.W. Norton, $27.95). This is a terrific narrative of the comic revolution at the dawn of the 1970s. The book focuses on the epicenter of this comedy, National Lampoon, and its stars, Doug Kenney, Michael O’Donoghue and P.J. O’Rouke. The Lampoon was wickedly funny then and this well-crafted saga ought to help you appreciate the breakthroughs. One complaint: no illustrations. What’s up with that?

Lee Marvin Point Blank by Dwayne Epstein (Schaffner Press, @27.95). It’s time to revisit this movie tough guy, who’s been gone now for a quarter century. Epstein covers Marvin’s early life, his war record, and his steady rise from tough-guy and heavy roles to brutal leading man. Seems that Marvin excelled in every role he attempted, even as a singer in “Paint Your Wagon.”

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Local officials celebrate bringing the International Indian Film Awards to Tampa

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Race for the prize: Santiago Corrada stands next to Bollywoods Oscar
  • Race for the prize: The IIFA award, aka the "Bollywood Oscar"
There was a large group of people standing behind Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada and Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham at Monday's press conference discussing Tampa's role as host of the 2014 International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards, but none loomed larger than Lutz real estate agent Chetan "Jason" Shah.

Shah is the man who got the process rolling back in January, when he presented the idea to Higginbotham unsolicited during "a five-minute window" in the commissioner's schedule. Shah made the most of it, describing how big a deal landing the event could be for the Bay area. Tampa made its bid after plans for the original 2014 host city were canceled. (That locale was never revealed to the public.) His hard work paid off last Friday, when IIFA made the announcement in Macau, China, that Tampa had beaten a number of American cities (New York, Chicago and San Francisco among them) and would host the event.

"The credit goes to everyone. I'm not the only one who can take any of this credit," Shah said today.

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