Cinema

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cinema Clips: Graduation

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 5:00 PM


Romero (Adrien Titieni), a concerned father, is forced to consider his own inadequacies while trying to help his daughter Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus) in the aftermath of a vicious attack in Romanian director Cristian Mungiu’s striking film about father-daughter relationships.

Romero wants his daughter to receive her free ride scholarship, but what was once a sure thing is cast into turmoil after she is attacked near her school. Eliza must deal with the investigation into her attack while sitting for her final exams. This puts Romero in the unsavory position of asking school officials for favors and pushing his daughter to do whatever it takes to pass her exams, even when she is emotionally traumatized. All this occurs while Romero carries on an affair that renders him all the more unreliable.

Mungiu’s character study is a strong and complicated one, with all involved delivering good work. It goes into soap opera territory at times, but it’s always pulled together by solid acting and production value. Worth a viewing, especially if you are a fan of Mungiu’s prior film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cinema Clips: Norman

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 1:30 PM


Richard Gere delivers one of his very best performances as Norman, a New York “businessman” who doesn’t really have a business or a job.

A mysterious, earbud wearing, graying old man riding the trains and grabbing crackers for dinner at the local synagogue, Norman, nevertheless, has big aspirations. A self-professed “good swimmer” fighting to stay afloat, Norman finds himself in the company of an upcoming Israeli politician (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi), and in a moment of generosity/desperateness, buys the man a pair of shoes. That gesture earns him some good favor as the politician becomes the Israeli Prime Minister, and Norman’s act of kindness earns him the man’s friendship. With big friends, comes more notoriety, and Norman finds himself involved in political intrigue and rising responsibility in the NYC Jewish community.

Gere, who basically shrinks himself under a sun cap and trench coat, sparkles in the role, making Norman a memorable, likeable, and appropriately annoying character. Supporting performances from Dan Stevens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi round out an excellent cast. Director Joseph Cedar presents the story in surprisingly layered, often funny fashion, with a definite tragedy at its center. Gere’s work here is some of the year’s best so far.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Casa Video Top 10

Posted By on Tue, May 16, 2017 at 9:00 AM

People say Tucson slows down in the summer, but that's only true if you're judging by "the number of people" metric. Sure, there are fewer people on our streets and, perhaps, not quite as many events to attend. But Tucson comes alive for those who stick around during the summer months. There's plenty to do, and when you do them the lines are shorter, the crowds are friendlier and you can stay out all night without a sweater.

You might have seen our Summer Survival guide a couple weeks back, which should have you running around town until the students are back, clogging up the line for Sunday breakfast at Bobo's.
 
You've made it through the busiest time months in Tucson, so it's time to get busy yourself. Enjoy it. Then, when you collapse on the sofa after a long day of running through the city, dig into a growler and a few movies from the Old Pueblo's favorite video store/bar combo.

This is your Weekly Casa Video Top 10:

1. Split

Continue reading »

Monday, May 8, 2017

Cinema Clips: A Quiet Passion

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 5:30 PM


History has already told us that poet Emily Dickinson had a lonely, isolated life. Writer-director Terence Davies has made a film that also shows us she may’ve been completely miserable.

Cynthia Nixon is heartbreaking as Dickinson, one of the world’s most infamous poets, a title she didn’t get to enjoy during her life. Her poems were rarely published while she was alive, were often heavily edited, and were even published anonymously. It wasn’t until after her death, a death graphically and mercilessly depicted in this movie, that Dickinson got noticed.

The film starts with Dickinson young (played by Emma Bell, who was badass in the wolf horror movie, Frozen). Misunderstood at a private school, her father (an excellent Keith Carradine) brings her home, where she will spend most her remaining days, writing her poetry in the dark, early morning hours, and rarely leaving the house.

Davies conveys the contradictions of the times. While Emily’s dad encourages her daughter’s writing and denounces slavery, he grumbles when a woman dares to take a stage to sing. Nixon lives up to the title of the movie, delivering searing passion in a film that is mostly quiet, although there are moments when Dickinson lets loose, and Nixon imbibes those with fury. When Dickinson falls ill, Nixon gives the depiction of her declining health a tremendous, tragic energy.

The movie is not fun, and Dickinson’s life is depicted as somewhat of a nightmare, a nightmare that inspired some incredible lines of poetry.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cinema Clips: Colossal

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 1:00 PM


Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis gloriously upstage two kaiju monsters in Colossal, a science fiction monster mash that features many twists and a psychological/emotional river that runs mighty deep. Hathaway outdoes herself as Gloria, an NYC writer who gets herself kicked out of her boyfriend’s (Dan Stevens) apartment for constant partying and being somewhat “unmanageable.” She winds up in her hometown sleeping on an inflatable mattress where she bumps into Oscar (Sudeikis), a friend from childhood.

Oscar, an overly sweet and generous guy at first glance, immediately seeks to help Gloria out, giving her a job at his bar and showering her with furniture for her sparse home. This seems to be the setup for a strange romantic comedy between Gloria and Oscar with science fiction/horror as the background.

Writer-director Nacho Vigalondo has something much different in mind. Gloria awakens one morning after much drinking to discover that a giant, lizard-like creature is attacking Seoul, Korea. After examining some YouTube and news programs, she realizes that the monster seems to be mimicking her mostly drunk body movements half a world away. Yes, the monster is the manifestation of her self-loathing, out of control, alcoholic ways, and it’s taking lives in Korea. She feels more than a little bit guilty about this.

Things get weirder when an equally large monster robot shows up next to Gloria’s monster and appears to be the manifestation of Oscar’s anxieties. Oscar is far more into the notion of having a monster under his control and starts playfully taunting Gloria. The two monsters wrestle it out, and their battles become more intense as Oscar and Gloria begin to have bigger and bigger problems in their newly reborn friendship.

While the movie has plenty of fun with giant monsters beating each other up, it has even more fun with mystery that is Gloria and Oscar. It becomes an introspective, and even scary look at messed up relationships and, more prominently, severely messed up dudes and their manipulative ways.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Cinema Clips: Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

Posted By on Mon, May 1, 2017 at 3:00 PM


John Scheinfeld’s heartfelt documentary not only does the greatness of John Coltrane justice, but serves as a nice tribute to the likes of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk as well.

The legendary saxophonist, who died far too early at the age of 40, is represented in a few quotes by the voice of Denzel Washington, who gives the film a nice flavor. Interviewees include Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Common, Sonny Rollins, John Densmore and, yep, saxophonist Bill Clinton, who actually offers some of the film’s best insights on Coltrane’s music.

The film focuses on Coltrane’s early struggles and conflicts with Davis over drug use, and his eventual rebirth after quitting drugs cold turkey. Fans will enjoy the appreciation of such classics as “Love Supreme,” while the non-initiated might find themselves struck by just how good Coltrane was and go stream a song or two after viewing.

I thought I knew a lot about the guy, but I didn’t know his last tour included a trip to Nagasaki, Japan to pay tribute to those who lost their lives to the atomic bomb. He was a very interesting man, and this is a very interesting documentary.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cinema Clips: Free Fire

Posted By on Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 11:00 AM


Bullets whiz, whistle and rip with a darkly comic ferocity in Free Fire, the latest from little known but super talented English director Ben Wheatley.

Wheatley has quietly been establishing himself as a solid indie director of action and horror with obscure gems like Sightseers, High-Rise and A Field in England, along with one of the better installments in the horror anthology The ABCs of Death.

With Free Fire, Wheatley gets to employ his action-directing prowess along with sharp dialogue and snap acting. He’s working with his biggest cast yet that includes an Oscar winner in Brie Larson, along with Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy and Sharlto Copley. The film is co-produced by Martin Scorsese, and the setup sounds like the sort of movie he should be making.

Two groups come together in a deserted Boston warehouse sometime in 1978. Things go awry, and the whole movie becomes one elongated shootout where everybody is taking bullets, and the losers will easily outnumber the winners. The movie is a blast, thanks in large part to Wheatley’s staging of the event, and the actors (especially Hammer) taking it to great heights. There’s some mystery involved in the payoff, but it’s secondary to the action, which is appropriately disorienting at times. I couldn’t always tell who was shooting who, but this works for the movie in adding to the chaos of the situation.

Throw in an extremely well placed John Denver song, and you have what amounts to a solid, eccentric step in the evolution of Wheatley, a white-hot director who is just getting started.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Cinema Clips: The Void

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 3:00 PM


This throwback to John Carpenter/Clive Barker horror films is completely insane, horribly acted, and totally great for anybody who likes their horror served up with a side of cheese.

A brash policeman (Aaron Poole) picks up a stranger on the side of the road and takes him to a sparsely populated hospital (shades of Halloween 2). While there, a possessed nurse (shades of Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness) murders a patient, then promptly turns into a messed up monster (shades of Carpenter’s The Thing) while the hospital is besieged by a zombie-like throng of people dressed in white cloaks (shades of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13).

Shortly thereafter, the head doctor dies, but comes back, promptly skins himself, and unleashes a world down below filled with mutants (shades of Barker’s Hellraiser). That’s just some of the homages, and they all come together to make little or no sense. Still, the style of the movie, which features schlocky special effects and both over and under acting, makes the whole mess work in an effective horror revival sort of way. If you hate horror films full of blood and puss where skinless doctors are bellowing devilish incantations, this one isn’t for you.

If you are a fan of the recent Stranger Things and the Carpenter fare of old, this one will satisfy you.

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Butterfly Magic

Butterfly Magic is a fully immersive experience that surrounds you with rare butterflies, tropical plants and orchids… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 1-May 31, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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