Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Oct 21, 2021 at 11:00 AM




Halloween Kills
is the most unfortunate of sequels in that it could’ve been so good and winds up being part efficient slasher movie and part total garbage.

Come on. You have David Gordon Green and Danny McBride working as director and co-writers on this movie. Those are the guys who did Pineapple Express, a stellar example of mixing sinister shit with hilarious comedy. Pineapple Express feels like both a serious crime thriller and a buddy comedy.

Green’s 2018 Halloween balanced sufficient creepiness with some hilarious moments and harkened back the brilliance of the John Carpenter original. The jokes never took you out of the horror vibe, but they were pretty funny (the kid and his babysitter, the son and his dad talking about dancing). It was one of the best things about that Halloween, combined with the kind of look and sound Halloween fans want with these movies.

In Halloween Kills, Green still has the look and sound dialed in perfectly. This is, without a doubt, one of the best-looking films in the series. It sits firmly in the top three. When Michael Myers is killing people in this movie, it is horrifying, and it should be. If you took the murder scenes in this movie and placed them in their own separate place and just watched those, you would think you were dealing with one of the all-time great slasher films. When the movie is good, it is really good.

But, when it is bad…oh boy, is it ever bad.

After the events of the last film, where Michael was supposedly killed in a house fire, there’s an extremely well-done flashback to 1978, featuring a pristine mask and an effects driven Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance). It then jumps back to 2018 and, of course, Michael is very much still ticking. There are some brutal, absolutely horrifying kill scenes in the first half hour or so. At this point, Halloween Kills looks like a solid sequel at the least.

Then, instead of comedy, Green goes for politics in trying to depict a serious mob uprising as the town of Haddonfield decides enough is enough. Halloween canon like Tommy Doyle (now played by Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey (Kylie Richards) show up as scarred, PTSD sufferers who want Mike’s head on a stake. They rile up a crowd at the hospital (echoes of the original Halloween 2), which culminates in a final street fight that feels a little like the ending of Rocky V.

There’s a repeated chant of “Evil dies tonight!” that sounds an awful lot like “USA!” There’s a moment where a person has a choice of jumping off a building or facing an even worse kind of death inside the building. There are moments where those fireman alarms, the ones that indicate a fighter in distress, are going off. It’s a lot of 9/11 and COVID battle parallels, and it is way, way lame. Horrible dialogue, horrible acting, and seriously bad plot choices.

Christ, you have Green and Danny McBride, the Pineapple Express guys. Make that mob comedic on some levels. Pay McBride a little extra to be in that mob. Add some dark comedy, like the Ash and Evil Dead series. Fans don’t want attempts at total seriousness in their Halloween movie. All shreds of dark comedy, and I mean all of them, have been replaced by dumb monologue meanderings on the origins of evil, and Anthony Michael Hall sweating a lot. It’s not fun. It’s the exact opposite. It’s awkward and just damned awful.

Halloween Kills is a true oddity. It has some of the year’s best looking and sounding film moments mixed with very worst picture of the year drama. Another cut of this film that removes the hospital subplot altogether, with Danny McBride and Bruce Campbell replacing Anthony Michael Hall, is in order.

The film made $50 million at theaters, a nice haul considering it was released to streaming on the same day as its theatrical opening. The big haul virtually assures the final chapter in the trilogy, which is scheduled to shoot in January. Hopefully, Green gets back on track and finishes strong.

If you have Peacock, don’t waste your time at the theater with Halloween Kills. That is not money well spent.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Posted By on Wed, Oct 20, 2021 at 10:56 AM


Directors Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi deliver a strong account of that incredible 2018 rescue of 12 boys and their coach from a terrible fate inside a flooded cave in Thailand.

The Rescue combines actual footage with tasteful reenactments to document the incredible ordeal where that group of kids seemed destined to drown. The boys survived for 18 days and were rescued thanks to the contributions of a pair of British cave diver hobbyists (John Volanthen and Richard Stanton) who discovered them 2.5 miles into the cave system. A Thai Navy Seal perished during the rescue effort. The following year, another Navy Seal died from of an infection contracted during the rescue effort.

The directors do a consistently engaging job of building the tension in this movie, even though, if you are familiar with the event, the outcome is known (Hey, Ron Howard did a fine job with the same dilemma in Apollo 13!). Knowing that the boys survived, it is still fascinating to see the footage of them sitting patiently in that dark cave and being prepared for a dangerous swim to safety.

That swim involved putting the boys under with drugs, putting a mask over their heads, and dragging them along during the 2.5 mile journey back, mostly underwater. How the divers managed to do this, a dive most experts deemed impossible, is a miracle, and part of what makes this movie such a good watch.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Oct 1, 2021 at 10:27 AM

The Whole Enchilada Trailer from R&R Press on Vimeo.

This weekend's Tucson Film & Music Festival will include the premiere of The Whole Enchilada, a documentary that explores Tucson’s music scene from the late 1970s through the mid-’90s.

Local filmmaker Maggie Smith captures the origins of desert rock through the words and sometimes fuzzy recollections of those who survived. The fertile scene arose from cross pollination between country, rock and punk, with the growth “largely fueled by the drug trade,” recalls George Hawke (The Dusty Chaps, Los Lasers).

click to enlarge Howe Gelb - CURTIS ENDICOTT
Curtis Endicott
Howe Gelb

The story unfolds in a series of exclusive interviews and never-before-seen footage with local luminaries: Country rockers Bob Meighan, Ned Sutton (The Rabbits), and George Hawke, alt-rock legends Dan Stuart (Green on Red), Howe Gelb (Giant Sand), Bill Sedlmayr (The Pedestrians, Giant Sandworms), Robin Johnson (The Pills, Gentlemen Afterdark), David Slutes (Sidewinders, Sand Rubies), Van Christian (Naked Prey), “wild child” Suzie Caruze and others. 

Maggie Smith became involved in the project about a year ago when her husband (and Tucson Weekly columnist) Brian Smith met with executive producer of The Whole Enchilada Rich Hopkins.

“Brian is the editor of the liner notes/book of essays that accompanies the [companion] 3 LP set Whole Enchilada and I pitched the idea to Rich of directing an accompanying film,” Maggie Smith said.    

Maggie Smith said she was already planning screenings at this weekend's premiere.

“We are planning to submit to other festivals, and to screen the film in Phoenix and again in Tucson at Hotel Congress to coincide with the box set release in March 2022," Maggie Smith said. "All people who purchase the box set will receive a code to watch the documentary via streaming."   


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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2021 at 2:43 PM


"Time-traveling lesbians." That was all the pitch Tierney Harris needed when their friend Will Holst asked if they wanted to participate in a short film, Mind Over Time. It tells the story of Dawn, a young woman who has been haunted for years by a mistake she is desperate to undo. But also, yeah, lesbian time travel. The film premieres at the Phoenix Film Festival on Aug. 14 and will also be shown at OUTFEST Los Angeles on Aug. 20.

Holst is a sci-fi fan, but it was important to him to tell a story where the main characters didn’t all look like him, a white man. He wanted the story to display some of the diversity he knows and loves among his loved ones. For example, the character who proposes the theory for how to time travel is a young black professor. And the story centers around an interracial lesbian relationship.

“I thought it was really awesome to make it a very obviously LGBTQ story, because you do see a lot of, ‘Oh, here’s the story line and it happens to be gay.’ But definitely while I was on set I was like, ‘I’m gonna make this so gay, on purpose,” says Harris, who plays Dawn’s partner, Grace. “I’m bisexual, and I loved an opportunity to really express myself on film like that. It was the first project that I’ve ever been on where I get to show that side of myself.”

Many of the cast and crewmembers are University of Arizona alumni, and all are, or were, affiliated with the university in some way. The group’s familiarity with the city came through in the film: The main characters hike through the Tucson desert, sip coffee at Espresso Art over on University Boulevard, walk across Rattlesnake Bridge over Broadway Boulevard, and even take shelter from a sudden downpour, like all Tucsonans have had to do. In some ways, it serves like a love letter to Tucson as much as it is a love story between two people.

“I was really excited abut making something in Tucson with people that I know and love,” says Isa Ramos, who played Dawn. “It was really cool to add a little magic to places that have formed me.”

While COVID stalled or even annihilated many people’s creative endeavors, Holst said it acted as a catalyst for the movie project.

“We’d always talk about movies or come up with cool ideas and they never come to fruition,” he says. “And this time it was l just like, ‘Well, we should do it,’ because you never know what the future holds. You really have to take every opportunity you can to be creative or do something you love or are passionate about.”

It’s hard to imagine a better year to make a movie about time travel than the year where time felt completely out of whack. Some months in 2020 seemed to drag on for months, while others felt like they lasted seconds. This collectively warped sense of time set the scene well. People’s schedules were different. People’s priorities were different. People’s creative processes were different. But in between other jobs, and in early mornings and late into the night, the 13-member team made it happen. They shared a COVID bubble and worked as safely as they could – the most people on set at any given time was six, and many crew members did their post-production work remotely. Holst said everyone on the crew had a handful of jobs within the project.

“It was something I’d never done before, and it was the middle of 2020, so what else were we doing?” said Dani Danec, who did the show’s makeup and hair (and was second AD, and kept track of the schedule, and was a stunt driver, and did audio work, etc…) She added that, besides being able to make it to filming when she was also working another job, one of the biggest challenges was shooting a film in the heat of summer that takes place in November. “How do we make you look like you’re bundled up without actively killing you?”

Holst said he calculated the budget as approximately $7,000 – which includes both the cost of equipment he already owned, rented pieces and equipment he bought as part of the universally self-prescribed retail therapy movement of 2020.

The team was thrilled when the film was accepted to Phoenix Film Festival, the largest film festival in Arizona, as well as to OUTFEST Los Angeles, one of the largest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world.

See Mind Over Time at the Arizona Shorts A Program at the Phoenix Film Festival, at 4:50 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14. Or see it in the OUTFEST Los Angeles’ What a Girl Wants shorts program at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20. For more information, visit MindOverTimeFilm.com.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2021 at 7:36 AM


The Loft Cinema is loading their calendar now that they’re back to hosting in-person events, and their latest announcement continues one of their most beloved series: the Cat Video Fest is back!

This new addition of the festival features a collection of funny cat videos curated from across the world, and helps raise funds for local cats in need. The festival includes approximately 100 cat videos, and at less than a minute each on average, there’s plenty of opportunity to rapidly see all types of feline fun.

A portion of ticket sales from these screenings will benefit Tucson’s Hermitage No-Kill Cat Shelter and HOPE Animal Shelter. The Cat Video Fest 2021 is only available in theaters. The Fest runs from Friday, July 23 through Wednesday, July 28 (except Monday), on the Loft's big screen. $10.

Read more on the Loft's website

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Posted on Wed, Jul 7, 2021 at 3:25 PM

Harkins Theatres is hosting Tune Squad vs. Goon Squad Space Jam: A New Legacy Special Event on July 17 at Tucson Spectrum 18.

For only $12, guests get a ticket to see the movie, a small popcorn, a mini basketball and a part in the Tune vs. Goon face-off. Guests can wear orange to show their Tune love or purple to cheer on the Goons.

NBA future Hall of Famer LeBron James goes on an epic adventure with Bugs Bunny with the animated/live-action event Space Jam: A New Legacy.

When LeBron and his young son, Dom, are trapped in a digital space by a rogue A.I., LeBron must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the A.I.'s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of professional basketball stars as you've never seen them before.

To purchase tickets, visit Tucson Spectrum 18 or Harkins.com.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2021 at 11:30 AM

After more than a year of outdoor and online events, the Loft Cinema is planning to reopen for indoor screenings beginning Friday, May 7. To begin, screenings will only take place in their main auditorium, and will include staggered seating and mandatory masks for customers and staff (when not eating or drinking).

The Loft is reopening with the "Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street," the new documentary about the groundbreaking children's series. The rest of The Loft Cinema’s reopening programming schedule will be announced soon.

"It’s been difficult and draining to have been closed for almost 14 months," said Peggy Johnson, executive director of The Loft Cinema. “We can’t wait to welcome our audiences back to watch films indoors at The Loft."

In addition to indoor screenings, The Loft is continuing their online screenings and outdoor "open-air" cinema for the time being. For show times, visit loftcinema.org

Monday, April 12, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Apr 12, 2021 at 4:00 PM


The Arizona International Film Festival returns this week with 12 days of online and outdoor film screenings from comedy to drama to documentary. The 29th festival kicks off opening night at the MSA Annex on Wednesday, April 14, with an outdoor screening of Dustwun, a drama about a friendship between an undocumented migrant lost from her group traveling toward the United States and a troubled American veteran building his own "wall" out of trash in the desert. Filmmaker Genevieve Anderson will be present at the screening.

The 2021 AIFF includes 24 feature films and 75 shorts. This year’s films range from a bipolar love story to a hike across Utah to an experimental “film poem” about democracy. In addition to feature length films, there are also blocks of short films and panels where film professionals discuss cinematography, international film, independent films, and their own work.

While multiple festival films were shot here in Arizona, other entries range from Italy to Turkey to Sudan.

The 2021 Arizona International Film Festival runs from Wednesday, April 14, to Sunday, April 25. To view the full schedule and to buy tickets, visit filmfestivalarizona.com.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 9:03 AM

Two weird movies are now playing at local theaters. One of them is an arthouse offering that takes some bizarre twists, while another is as big as movies get on the dollars scale. Both...pretty damn weird.

MOVIE REVIEW: GODZILLA VS. KONG
Now Playing at Roadhouse Cinemas and Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18 (also streaming on HBO Max)

The Monsterverse goes full-tilt bonkers with Godzilla vs. Kong, a good enough smackdown between the infamous big boys, as long as they are punching each other or somebody else. As for the humans in this series, I wish they would just shut up.

Well, let’s step back for a second. Gareth Edwards started the Monsterverse in 2014 with his Godzilla, which did fine on the human front because it had Bryan Cranston, albeit only for part of its running time, delivering some real acting. Since Cranston kicked the bucket in the series, the likes of Aaron Taylor Johnson, Millie Bobbie Brown and a confused Sally Hawkins have had to handle the drama, and they, for the most part, have sucked.

Human suckage continues in this installment, with dopey subplots involving Brown, an embarrassed Rebecca Hall and Alexander Skarsgard that provide nothing but opportunities for the producers to save on huge special effects scenes.



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