CLUB UTOPIA           19110_10153689147308694_8352315597190626207_n

In my view it is a film about the owner of a strip club. The writer, director and some cast members may have a different opinion…

Author: bhalsey2 from Laguna Beach

30 October 2013

I have acted in some films that turned out to be disappointing when I saw them on the big screen. When I was offered the role of Cisco in Club Utopia I was immediately interested because I had already had a very pleasant experience working with the Director/Producer, Frank Caruso. When I read the script, I was doubly interested, and when we discussed the project and I learned who would be in the cast and crew, I was confident that I was signing on to a quality film project. In the end, when I viewed the final version of the film, I was very, very happy. We had made a film that I can be proud to recommend to anyone who enjoys a good, fun, fast moving comedy.

Great Movie!

Author: zipper1058 from United States

8 October 2013

The opening scene was so hilarious I was immediately hooked and drawn into the story. This film has it all! Great acting, unique characters, and a delightful fast-moving story that will keep you entertained. Sally’s fantasies were hysterical. Her husband’s reactions to them made me laugh until I cried. I saw the actor who played Alex in a drama. He is an amazing and versatile performer. I enjoy films where the writer also stars. Frank Caruso was perfect as Sabatini. The role was made for him. He and his partner in crime, Mr. Cologne, kept me laughing. I wish I could say more without spoiling. If you enjoy belly laughs and side-splitting comedies, this film is for you!

LOVE LETTERS:

A Romantic Trilogy  * * 1/2  setting: Ont.    

Love Letters

Love Letters

Written, directed and produced by Frank A. Caruso


(2001) Kathy Shower, Brian Frank, Norma Jean Jones, Albert Caverlin, Meeka Majic, Deanna Dizadji, Matt Hummel…..

A writer (import Showers) swaps stories of romanic entanglements with two friends. Erotic drama is, surprisingly, not bad. Although the interest in the stories is, admittedly, maintained by the expectation of the periodic nude and sex scenes, the stories are well enough played out that you aren’t reaching for the fast forward, either. The stories are of descending quality, with the first being the best, with a moderately diverting tale of marital difficulties (between Frank and Majic), punctuated by frequent flesh shots; the second is a lesbian seduction tale, nicely sensual, but with the nudity more infrequent (though it doesn’t skimp on the climax); likewise the closing tale of a ships-in-the-night tryst has a too much talk to sex ratio.

More professional than one associates with the (usually American) genre, with mainly credible performances, while being less pretentious than the arty forays into the field (Bliss) it doesn’t exactly transcend the genre…but is maybe in the upper echelons.

Review from “The Great Canadian Guide to the Movies & TV”

FINAL DANCE      Final Dance

various forms of dance practise

28 February 2012 | by Jawsphobia (Toronto, Ontario) – See all my reviews

Final Dance involves a young woman Julia (Evgenia Milana) befriending Vikka (Srdjan Nikolic) a down-on-his luck immigrant who shares a love of dance and also his tutorial attention as he helps prepare her for a dance competition. Her parents give him a guarded welcome which is more than he expects, thinking of himself as a “forty year-old bum” that may seem an odd companion for a 19-year-old girl who lives at home. Julia may learn from Vikka whether she has what it takes to be a dancer or whether she should pursue the alternative of acting, both of which have been a major part of Vikka’s life before moving to Canada. He may for a time have something outside of himself to look forward to and may or may not like the place he finds in the heart and life of a woman half his age. Vikka may be stifling himself with realism that suffocates dreams. He speaks of his codes and seems to live up to his word.

Since the movie is adapted from a stage play, we might expect a lot of dialogue to be carried over, and in this case everyone seems to say what they feel or think and the conflicts are addressed often in longer scenes that the average movie viewer may not be used to. Having seen this movie more than once, I could not help noticing that much of the conversation on screen has no subtext since if there is a proverbial elephant in the room the characters may simply point it out. Early on, when Vikka accepts a ride in her car and jokes about her intentions Julia says, “You are too old for me.” I do not know whether the original Russian play was more indirect before translation went right to the meaning, but usually audiences like to read into some of the dialogue and they may have to adjust. However, I could argue that characters who are negotiating first meeting and moving in may naturally speak their minds as they have to describe any past stories and concerns. And we may not know at first blush whether anyone is telling the truth. Some details are held hack and paid off in visual context.

Considering what weighs on the mind of Vikka, it is appropriate that in demonstrating what Shakespeare he remembers from his old life in theatre he recites the “to be or not to be” speech from Hamlet for the amusement of Julia. The words are famous enough that it might have been a bold move to just let him do the speech in Russian and let him sell it. But those who don’t know the speech have Julia helpfully say back the famous words to demonstrate that she knows it as well. Since the movie is not mainstream, it might have been worth risking the audience not understanding. Nikolic might have been able to convey the transitions of the speech by his inflection and body language alone. But the participation of Julia is consistent with the movie’s different forms of dance, be it ballroom, salsa or verbal. Even a scattering of casual still photos might evoke a less formal dance of un-posed instants that might or might not be flashes of courtship.

The film has a non-linear framework and could have shown part of the dance-off earlier to break up the event and gradually introduce how the characters met and prepared so the Final Dance of the event was more of a set-piece on its own. But a lot of people will prefer the mostly linear narrative chronology of events flowing naturally. The parents are memorable, dealing with cultural quirks and gradually willing to zero in on the vibration of spirit their daughter and her new friend bring. Tom Bolton as Basil, the father of Julia, gives a bemused and loose presence to the home scenes. Evgenia Milana conveys emotion with authenticity and Srdjan Nikolic is subtle enough to be the suffering underdog, person of mystery and a potentially worthy mentor. The movie makes use of Toronto settings but is not reliant upon them. The focus remains on the characters and where they may or may not be going in life.

A Must-See Love Story

Author: zipper1058 from United States

25 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Final Dance is a touching love story that ends in heartbreak for two people who were meant to meet, meant to love, but never meant to stay together. A love of dance originally brings Vikka and Julia together, but as their feelings for each other deepen, the 20-year age difference between them slowly begins to tear them apart.

Julia is a beautiful young girl who has always felt alone. Her compassion for Vikka, a homeless ex-actor/dancer, compels her to invite him to her home. Their shared love of dance brings them closer, and as the connection they make intensifies, the obstacles against a lasting relationship become glaringly obvious.

Torn by her feelings for Vikka but believing she has to let him go, Julia loses control. Her cutting remarks to Vikka send him away. Unable to take back her words and unable to find Vikka, Julia is hysterical when she realizes she’s lost him forever.

Final Dance will move you in ways no other love story can. Its tour de force is in not revealing the end and letting the viewer decide whether or not Vikka jumped off that bridge.

Two lonely souls, a young dancer and an older immigrant, find each other briefly in this story of unfulfilled love.

Author: Gary Johnston from Canada

22 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

FINAL DANCE is based upon the award-winning play COULDN’T WE BE by Vladimir Milman. Director Frank Caruso and playwright Vladimir Milman wrote the screenplay.

Julia is a beautiful nineteen-year-old dance student. Vikka is a forty-year-old Russian immigrant. They meet in a restaurant after Vikka asks to join Julia and her friend who are on their way to the dance studio. In their brief conversation he learns that they are dance students. Julia is fascinated by this stranger and wants to continue to talk to him, but her friend is nervous and convinces Julia to leave with her. Julia reluctantly does so. She is happy when Vikka tracks her down at the dance studio. He is obsessed with her, and she becomes obsessed with him.

So obsessed is Julia with Vikka that she tricks him into coming to her home where she lives with her parents. She convinces him to stay there. Julia’s mother is reluctant to have him stay, but Julia’s father trusts his gut feeling that Vikka is a decent man.

Julia learns that Vikka was once a great actor and dancer in Russia. He left Russia to find fame and fortune in America. Instead he found failure, and ended up being homeless. His passion for dance is still strong. Julia convinces him to help her with an upcoming dance competition.

Anyone used to Hollywood romantic films, in which everything is clearly explained, will find FINAL DANCE disturbing. I did so at first because I forgot that FINAL DANCE is an art film. In thinking about the film afterwards, I enjoyed coming up with my own conclusions about the characters and events based upon the clues given in the film. I found doing so fun, and intellectually challenging. I want to see this film again to pick up clues I may have missed.

All the actors are convincing in their roles. You would never know that Evgenia Milmana (Julia) and Srdjan Nicolic (Vikka) are not professional dancers.

If you are the average person who likes others to do the thinking and needs to have everything clearly explained, then do not go to see FINAL DANCE. However, if you enjoy thinking for yourself and are happy to come to your own conclusions when things are ambiguous, then you will enjoy FINAL DANCE and may want to see it more than once.

BITTER CIRCLE       

Bitter Circle

Bitter Circle

One of the best crime dramas I have ever seen.

Author: zipper1058 from United States

31 December 2006

Bitter Circle is a fast-moving film noir crime drama. Seductive narration pulls you into the story and events that follow lead you to believe what may not be true. Money and morals drive the plot through unexpected twists and turns that end in surprising outcomes. The story centers around a guilt-ridden undercover cop whose marriage has fallen apart, leaving him lost and alone to deal with his despair. The only person he feels he can talk to is a prostitute he is trying to help. They have an emotional bond formed from pain and suffering and through her we get insight to his overwhelming guilt. The traumatic day that ruined his life is revealed slowly in emotionally gripping replayed scenes. Fine acting by a basically unknown cast. A compelling movie that probes the emotional costs to those involved in fighting crime.

Interesting journey

Author: xtina01 from Canada

20 June 2010

Bitter Circle takes its audience on a circular journey through the life of an undercover police officer who gets deeply entangled in his work and cannot sustain his psychological state. Although hard to follow at times because of its circular storyline, the film captures the different perspectives of each individual involved which allows for an interesting insight into the views of each of the characters. The film stays very true to reality in illustrating the downfalls of undercover work. The cast consisted of unknown actors which worked well for the film because it allowed the unusual turn of events to not be over shadowed. Overall it was a good film that left a lasting impression.

Bittle Circle Review

Author: crazycat15 from United States

12 June 2010

Bitter Circle was a very interesting movie to watch. I really enjoyed how the movie jumped around a lot through the time; how it was not just a linear storyline. I liked how the same scenes kept reappearing except the perspective was different; it made us empathize with each and every character, and this is great because many films do not connect with us this way at all! The movie was a little bit confusing sometimes and only at the end was I able to think back and realize certain things that I had missed when watching, but I think that is one of the interesting things about this movie; it really makes you think and wonder. I recommend! 🙂

Unusual movie, which is hard to judge

Author: sofiasergeeva from Canada

11 June 2010

Just like in many cases, this movie has positive and negative sides. I’m afraid it would’ve been too brave of me to decide which side of it is stronger, but that is partly the reason to watch the movie – to judge it yourself.

The positive side of the movie is definitely the script. It’s message and description of a bit fictional life situation make the movie seem mysterious and dark. The best part of the script is having no real good or bad characters – they are all “alive” characters and they have different sides of their developed personalities.

The weak side of the movie is its accents on different situations and emotions. Many parts and emotions are weak for viewer to clearly judge and understand situation or psychological motivation of the characters. Sometimes the movie becomes a real challenge to understand.

In total, movie is challenging in a good way – it is interesting to watch.

TOUGH LOVE     

Tough Love

Tough Love

a bio pic from the streets

14 July 2007 | by Jawsphobia (Toronto, Ontario)

“It is hard to have sympathy for someone with such a strong will and temperament,” so says the lawyer of Tina Vu. This makes her less the ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances movies require in a lead, and that may be why so many supporting players are stealing scenes in Tough Love. “The title of this movie is very appropriate, because that is what the star and financier Tina Vu is in dire need of.” That would be the stock witticism of a thousand reviews if this movie had a national release. But on video, absent of the restless zeitgeist of an audience, the movie plays much better and the episodes, interviews and interrogations more clearly add up to a nightmare deconstruction of the woman choosing her career over family. At least that is my own bourgeois interpretation.

The film opens confidently establishing a shady nightclub and a stylized elevator descent. The murder of mob figure Peter (convincing and understated Italo Servello) is well handled and the movie is promising a genre sort of world that it abandons to a non-linear drama. In fairness, the movie starts out noting that this is based on a true story. Few movies based on true stories lay out naturally like a movie.

There are filmed events that culminate in a trial and there is a resolution, but the stakes are clouded inasmuch as the movie is bound to much of the official account and the false conceit that this paradigm will carry the audience along.

One of the “boat people” from news of the 1980’s ended up raising a family in Canada and gradually abandoned them in favour of the nightlife and a lucrative position in the growing ecstasy industry. Vu’s choice to leave the kids and her long-suffering husband immediately poisons me as a viewer against her. The movie wants to be about Woman versus Society when it should have been Woman Versus Herself.

The main character’s arc is completed off camera, whether she had much of a choice in it or not. The main body of the film appears to be about narcissism. Either she got over it and is responsible for Love Kids Foundation which builds homes for kids in Vietnam, or she does that good work while exorcising her narcissism through movies. If we feel for anything here it is through the supporting roles.

Tamara Haasan (Jolaine) in her very first starring role as Lisa lets us in and is constantly conveying information. Haasan resembles a young Nancy Allen minus the running and screaming of the De Palma years and even though she is in effect the devil that draws Vu into her circle of shady business we connect more to her than the stoic screen version of Ms Vu. And there were some fascinating performances by the “Serb” mobsters (Lazar Rockwood and Serge Nikolic).

The more weathered faces on screen have a natural presence whether they be actors or merely playing themselves to a degree and they project authority. Tony Tran comes across very well, though his wife who does a serviceable job as herself. To a non-English audience, her performance may be fine. But what may have been a witty line from time to time is handicapped by the middle ground of broken English. Had she spoken Mandarin or Vietnamese the entire movie, and had misunderstandings with English-only authorities, and had it taken place in the 80’s or had she come over in a different set of boats during a more current immigration crisis, there might be more tension or Aristotelian unity of time, place and conflict.

The best true stories focus on one event: Apollo 13, World trade Centre for example. Had she turned out to be the inventor of e, or the founder of Big Sisters then her journey would be more topical. Had she been a known figure, each scene might have had a backhanded Quantum Leap kiss with history to it as a survivor walks through confrontations that we know they have already overcome.

But there is no getting over the core emotional indifference the audience must feel, except for the scene where she rushes out of bed to confront someone dealing on her turf and there is a bit of a gun standoff. At least then there is a crisis.

Where there are no dramatic beats and should be, post production goes for a freeze-frame and ka-thump music more to break up the scenes into chunks than to emphasize a dramatic turn. This does work the first four or five times, and then appears to parody itself. The digital images hold up and express realism, despite the strongest aspects of the movie being those that bring to mind genre scenarios. The scenes are well covered by director Frank Caruso and his team, except for an exterior car chase in the snow in which realism works against contributing tension to a sequence.

More intimate scenes are better served by the approach. There were some axis crossing issues in a three-way interview, but I didn’t consciously notice it the first time around so my interest must have been held. The axis crossing may have been a deliberate agitation to convey Vu’s mindset in the scene. There is a laid back mood presented by mobsters in power, including the director Caruso himself which is at once detached and welcoming. It should also be noted that when I watched the movie again it was in several sittings. Taken scene for scene you can appreciate the sum of its parts.

Review of Tough Love

Author: anna_alexo from Canada

3 October 2010

I enjoyed watching Director Frank Caruso’s film Tough love because it evoked emotion and didn’t fall into the typical habits of Hollywood. Most Hollywood films use explicit sex scenes to portray the idea that the characters are about to be intimate but Frank was able to do the same thing without making the movie Rated “R”. Many of the actors in the film I have not had the pleasure of seeing before and I was happily surprised to see these up and coming actors give a stellar performance. The story line had a strong beginning, middle and end with twists and turns throughout the movie while evoked my emotions and kept me entertained

The courtroom scene did have some flaws which I noticed with one of the jurors stuttering on their lines which took my attention away but it was quickly brought back into the scene with continued excellent performances by all.

Decent actors, good story line, relationships and character developments. Not enough connection between the events in the movie and dynamics of intensity.

Author: from Canada

3 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A few of the actors were very good. Especially Srdjan Nikolic, who is always in the moment and has amazing presence and easily stands out even if he was in limited scenes. The two leads, Tina Vu and Tamara Jolaine, also did well with their roles.

Perhaps the greatest factors missing from the movie are connection and intensity. There were several scenes and relationships that were not required in the movie. For example, there was no prior indication of Lisa’s love for Tina and no need for the scene where Tina meets the parents. Instead, it would have been appreciated to see Tina reunite with her sons for a greater sense of completion. There was no initiation, increase, and climax of intensity in the movie. It was carried out at the relatively same level throughout.

Overall, the story was interesting. Tina’s character development followed it well and so did the change of the people she interacted with at each stage of her story.

VERY good job!

Author: Ana Lia Arias from Toronto, Canada

3 October 2010

This movie genre, is certainly not my favorite, but I did enjoy watching this film. The story was very well developed throughout the movie, and the performances of most of the actors, were very natural! That is real acting: being natural. And that’s exactly, why the movie gets you in the story, because you believe everything that is going on. So, it was a very good cast. Tamara Haasen was astounding! Such an organic performance! Definitely, my favorite performance in the movie. I noticed also, that the movie had very good continuity; I didn’t see any mistake in it. Great shots, specifically, the close- ups! Very well done!

It was good and I enjoyed it!

Author: jonah_vangeest88 from Canada

2 January 2010

This movie reminded me of a Canadian version of an American Gangster film! If you like movies about gangsters, drugs, and the Italian Mafia then definitely see this movie. I liked how the movie showed that no matter who you are, there is no limit to how far you will go to protect them. Tina and Lisa were quiet the team as they lied and manipulated to get their way. I really liked the actress that played Lisa I thought that she made the movie. I thought the story was very entertaining I didn’t loose interest at all. At some parts of the movie I was sitting at the edge of the seat, waiting to see what would happen next. Some of the acting I thought could have been better. But I also thought for how much the movie cost to make it was really really good. Frank Caruso is a good director and I hope to see more of your movies in the future.

great movie, with few flaws

Author: Harrison Pokrandt (harry_man_yo@hotmail.com) from Canada

1 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

the fact that this movie is based on a true story makes it better. this movie has a good storyline that is not to confusing to follow. this movie is about a Vietnamese immigrant name Tina Vu (played by Tina Lee)who was forced to move out of her house by her husband. now she has no choice but to go into the drug trade in Canada. as she has made it to the top of the drug trade, someone set her up and got her caught by the police.

in the movie, my favourite character is Lisa (played by Tamara Jolaine) because she is an outgoing person played by a good actress. Tamara is Tina’s friend who gives her a place to stay and live. near the beginning of the movie she gets her into the drug trade as her helper to sell drugs at parties.

as this was a low budget movie there are some flaws though, but, most of the flaws aren’t that noticeable. in the movie some of the scenes looks more quickly set up but it is still not very noticeable. this movie could of been a lot better if they used a little more money in it.

over all, this is a good movie to watch on your free time, and is also a good movie for acting students as well.

story of a Vietnamese woman’s struggle in a new country

Author: Identguy131 from Canada

6 March 2006

I recently privately screened this movie and found it to be a hard, gritty look at a young Vietnamese woman’s struggle to find her way in a new country. I thought the story provocative and the editing and music helped to propel the viewer into the story. The story is well told in both narrative flash backs by Tina herself and her struggle to remain free. The movie reveals the strange lure of both the underworld to newcomers and the rave scene which have become rampant among todays youth, which is reminiscent of the sixties. The story does lag a bit before the final climactic scene, however the story as a whole will keep the viewer interested till the end.

NIGHT CRAWLERS     nightCrawlerPoster

User Reviews

pretty good

18 March 2006 | by AndySamide (Canada) – See all my reviews

The story was short and sweet with interesting charters. Just enough time to tell a good story, the acting was enjoyable; I most enjoyed the charter of the mayor and the problems he had to deal with. For example the upcoming election. I also liked that the movie did not hide things like the CN tower, yet it did not say exactly what city it was in. Also I liked the woman that played the prostitute with all the mind games she played on the mayor. You really got to learn a lot about her too. The plot took on lots of twists and turns it kind of reminded me of “Pretty Woman” a prostitute with a hart of gold. Pretty good for half an hour, I really enjoyed watching it.

NO ANGEL     No Angel_edited-1 (1)

No Angel (1992)

Author: Kerry Hawkins

from Canada

3 March 2013

A satirical look at one man’s obsession with women, and one mysterious woman in particular, No Angel definitely brings home the message that “if you mess around, you are going to get burned”! Even though the film was shot in 1992 the storyline and message is still very much relevant today. Tom (lead male) is your typical womanizing cad who ends up being “duped” by Laura (lead female) in the most outrageous way and even though he deserves everything he gets you empathize with his plight and take pity on the poor guy. Just when you think he can’t endure anymore something else happens! A well written script, great score, a great cast and many hilarious moments make No Angel a film that will be heartily enjoyed!

A movie with a message!

Author: zipper1058 from United States

30 December 2006

No Angel is a light entertaining drama, occasionally amusing. Tom is a womanizing bachelor who can’t stay faithful to his long-term girlfriend. He begins an affair with Laura, a beautiful intriguing woman, who quickly turns the tables on him. Driven to distraction by her aloofness and disappearing acts, he can’t think about anything but her. Some great lines putting the fidelity issue firmly on the other foot are quite amusing as well as enlightening. A secretive woman with her own agenda and ties to a mobster, Laura does an exquisitely executed sensual dance for Tom that is mesmerizing and escalates his obsession for her. His job in jeopardy, his life in turmoil, but unable to help himself, he becomes her pawn in a dangerous game. No Angel is an excellent movie with a message – highly enjoyable.

RISK FACTOR    5.9 ******     11081406_10153276582488694_282827924262164206_n

Retired CIA operative is lured back into the game by a beautiful mysterious woman.
Plot Summary
A successful fashion photographer and former CIA operative who specialized in surveillance work finds himself lured back into the game by a beautiful, mysterious woman who works with a major arms dealer.