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.



Monday, March 29, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 at 12:30 PM

FILM REVIEW: NOBODY
Now Playing at Roadhouse Cinemas and Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18


Bob Odenkirk has been one of my comic idols for the past 30 years. His impersonation of Charles Manson on The Ben Stiller Show had me hooked, and his run on Mr. Show with partner-in-crime David Cross solidified him as one of my heroes.

It was a great pleasure to see him pop up on Breaking Bad in a pure dramatic acting role as sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, and later on the spinoff Better Call Saul as Jimmy McGill (Saul’s real name). The guy should have a shelf full of Emmys for his work on that show.

Nobody, an ultra-violent thriller from writer Derek Kolstad (creator of John Wick) and director Ilya Naishuller, takes Odenkirk in a direction nobody could’ve seen coming. In it, he plays Hutch Mansell, a mild-mannered husband and father who has his house invaded by a couple of nervous crooks. This event ignites an old, buried aspect of Mansell’s personality, an aspect that results in deserving people losing their teeth and getting their tracheas crushed.

Hutch has an assassin’s past and, like a deprived vampire smelling blood or a heroin addict near a pile of drugs, he can’t resist the chance to dive back in. This results in a lot of John Wick-like badassery in which Odenkirk shows he more than has the chops to throw down convincingly on screen. He trained hard for this movie, and it shows with every stunt he partakes in (it’s seemingly always him on screen). Kudos to the fight choreographers for this film, and kudos to Odenkirk who rises to the challenge in majestically bloody fashion.

The plot involves the Russian mob and gold bars, much like Wick, but this film has a very different, more grounded tone. Connie Nielsen is on hand as Hutch’s mysterious wife (she’s pretty darned good at patching up his wounds), and Christopher Lloyd has some of his most on-screen fun in years as Hutch’s also very mysterious dad.

Seeing Odenkirk breaking arms and performing emergency tracheotomies is just about the most bizarre theater-going experience I’ve had in the last decade. It’s also a total blast. I doubt this is the start of an action hero phase for Odenkirk, but who knows? Maybe he has himself a franchise now. I would certainly line up for Nobody: Chapter 2.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Mar 26, 2021 at 11:50 AM

While the governor may have kicked the state mask mandate to the curb, our friends at the Fox Theatre are reminding us to mask up with their new "hacked" movie poster series hanging outside the venue.

Created by Sante Fé artist Mattew Chase Daniel, the Masking Movie Posters project features several doctored iconic movie posters—from classic Zorro and the Lone Ranger to the 1994 Jim Carrey comedy The Mask—now wearing masks to promote mask use and getting vaccinated as the pandemic continues.

“As the Crown Jewel of Downtown, we feel that the Fox is ideally positioned to take a lead in encouraging everyone to work together cooperatively to move the needle," Fox Executive Director Bonnie Schock said. "Being able to fill our poster cases with such meaningful images to the public obviously fits into our messaging.”

Daniel approached the theater about displaying his recently completed work last February, which was made possible by a grant from the Sante Fé CARES initiative. As a part of the grant, the artist has to distribute his unique posters to theaters across the country.

His posters currently grace the poster cases of movie houses in Sante Fé and  Albuquerque, New Mexico; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Pasadena, West L.A. and North Hollywood, CA.

The Fox is currently scheduling shows and events for September on a limited basis, Schock said.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 10:05 AM

Some Oscar-nominated films are still getting screen time here in Tucson:

Nomadland, nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, continues to screen at The Loft as part of the Open Air Cinema series and at Roadhouse Cinemas. Minari, nominated for 6 Oscars including Best Picture, is also screening at The Loft and Roadhouse Cinemas.

Nomadland still screening at Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18 with another Oscar-nominated film, The Father. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman both received Oscar nods for their fine work as a father and daughter dealing with the ravages of dementia.


The biggest news on the new release front is the arrival of Zack Snyder's Justice League on HBO Max.

Here's a review:

ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE

Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a new 4-hour cut currently streaming on HBO Max, is a definite improvement over the 2017 Justice League part-authored by the recently disgraced Joss Whedon.

Whedon’s cut, a ridiculous attempt at Marvel-izing the DC Universe, was a total disaster. This cut? Certainly not a disaster, but nothing to get too excited about, either. Snyder's Cut is an almost forgivable behemoth, while Whedon's essentially stalled his big screen career.

For starters, whoa, hang on there Zack, this didn’t need to be 4-hours long! Many of the new scenes do a lot to flesh out the story but, good Christ, do you get carried away with the slo-mo. Too many scenes drag on and on via slo-mo and dreary music. There were too many times where I had to stop down and take a lap around my apartment out of pure frustration.  This cut could’ve been a comprehensible 3 hours…easily.

The beauty of getting it on streaming is that you can watch it in parts. Still, even divided up (6 parts not including a prologue and epilogue), too many sequences drag in a hellishly boring way.

Big improvements include a much better Steppenwolf visual experience. The villainous Steppenwolf has some new armor that makes him look less like a California Raisin and more like a demon warrior capable of destroying humanity. He's actually kind of scary instead of being an unintentionally comic travesty.

That stupid opening scene with Henry Cavill and his bizarre, CGI scrubbed face (he had a mustache that needed to be removed in post) is gone. Cavill’s Superman gets a more substantial role here and gets to sport the black Superman suit. The Superman stuff in this cut is actually, dare I say, kind of cool, and that’s coming from somebody who didn’t like Snyder’s prior takes on the character, Batman v Superman and Man of Steel. I've come to accept that the Superman of Snyder world is just sort of dark and whiny, and I just need to put the Christopher Reeve iteration out of my head while watching him. Cavill is good here, and I think it's time for a new Superman movie with him in it provided it has a new director.

Cyborg gets a lot more screen time, and that’s not a good thing. The character was drab before, and remains bland here, with a lot more cinematic minutes and exposition to put you to sleep. Characters like Martian Manhunter and Darkseid are added. Martian Manhunter feels tacked on and useless, while Darkseid is a nice add, giving the apocalyptic Steppenwolf a better sense of purpose. The much ballyhooed appearance of Jared Leto's Joker towards the end is not as stupid as I suspected it would be.

Upon ingesting it, the new cut left me feeling that I had definitely seen a more cohesive story. It makes more sense. It’s also an over-baked, far too padded, sometimes tedious story. The awful, discordant humor of Whedon’s cut is gone (The Flash doesn’t hump Wonder Woman in this one), the vibrant color correction of the prior cut has been replaced by the more typical, darker Snyder tone. Some will gripe about the new cut’s 4:3 aspect ratio (closer to a square) than that HD screen-filling aspect ratio we’ve all grown used to. I know this because my friends have been texting me that the new aspect ratio is pissing them off (I'm okay with it).

So Snyder got this out of his system, and can move on to bigger and brighter things. As for the DC Universe, it's still all over the place tonally. Looking forward to that alleged team up of Ezra Miller's Flash and Michael Keaton's Batman. Happy that Snyder and Whedon won't be directing it.