Cinema

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tucson featured in BBC's new series 'Seven Worlds, One Planet'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 at 1:21 PM

BBC America's new documentary mini-series Seven Worlds, One Planet examines each of Earth's seven continents and how each area shapes animal behavior and biodiversity. The series, featuring obligatory narration from Sir David Attenborough, marks the first time the BBC Studio’s Natural History Unit has explored all seven continents for a single series. 
COURTESY BBC AMERICA
  • Courtesy BBC America
The new episode, "North America"  which premieres this Saturday, Jan. 25, features animals in Florida, Canada and right here in Tucson. The Tucson segment, filmed between May and June of 2017 and 2018, focuses on the greater roadrunner, only found in the deserts of North America.

According to Chadden Hunter, producer for the North America episode, the documentary crew filmed roadrunners in Saguaro National Park and on private ranch land around Tucson.

Also on the North America episode, camera crews achieved a first in their filming, using "low light technology and cable dollies with a motion control tracking time-lapse camera" to glide cameras through the forests of Mississippi and Ohio for slow-mo firefly shots.

Each episode of Seven Worlds, One Planet focuses on a different continent. The next airing episode is "North America" which premieres Saturday, Jan. 25 on BBC AMERICA, AMC, IFC and SundanceTV.

Watch the trailer here:

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Movie Reviews: Bombshell

Posted By on Mon, Dec 16, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Rating: Good #3

Charlize Theron is uncanny as Megyn Kelly in this hit and miss take on the sexual harassment scandals that plagued Fox News thanks to the deplorable Roger Ailes, played here by John Lithgow under LOTS of makeup. The movie is propped up by terrific work from Theron, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and Margot Robbie as a composite character representing the many women who were assaulted by the likes of Ailes and Bill O’Reilly. Director Jay Roach is all over the place with his tone, with the film veering back and forth between dark comedy and serious drama. It never finds the balance that happens in great films, but it is often a good one, especially thanks to Theron, who is amazing in every second she spends on screen (and the makeup work is Oscar worthy, as well). Roach blows it with his portrayals of Bill O’Reilly (Kevin Dorff) and Rudy Giuliani (Richard Kind), who come off as bad impersonations rather than true characters. What should’ve been an important film comes off as partial failure. Still, worth watching for Theron, Kidman and Robbie.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Loft Cinema screening 70th Warren Miller Film: ‘Timeless’

Posted By on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 at 1:18 PM

With snowy peaks and frosty pines, it's not too hard to make winter landscapes look beautiful on film. And Warren Miller Entertainment knows this better than many, seven decades into filmmaking. But what makes their newest film Timeless so special, is that even compared to the 69 films preceding it, this snow sports documentary is particularly gorgeous.


Filmed on location in snowboarding and skiing meccas like Switzerland, Colorado and British Columbia, Timeless captures both the excitement and pristine beauty found on wintry slopes. As the film’s opening narration states: "If you're doing it right, the best winter ever is always the one you're in right now."

COURTESY: WARREN MILLER ENTERTAINMENT / CAM MCLEOD
  • Courtesy: Warren Miller Entertainment / Cam McLeod

Timeless is a combination of everything WME has strived for since Warren Miller first brought a camera to the ski slopes in 1949. Over an hour-and-a-half, the film documents gorgeous mountain ranges, snowboarding tricks, archival footage, sweeping helicopter shots and slow-motion athletes cutting wakes through fresh powder.


But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Timeless isn’t the stellar skiing shots, but the behind-the-scenes interviews on how they were captured. Timeless features interviews with cast and crew about ascending the rocky summits, sometimes more than 12,000 feet and in negative 40 degree weather, to get the ultimate shots and adrenaline rush.


The film also features more new athletes than ever before, including Olympic skier Jaelin Kauf, Jackson Hole’s 2019 Queen of Corbet’s Caite Zeliff and Canadian World Cup ski racer Erin Mielzynski. Returning athletes include Lorraine Huber, Tyler Ceccanti, Marcus Caston and Rob DesLauries.


“It’s incredible, looking at the fact that this is number 70,” says Timeless narrator Jonny Moseley. “Every year I still get that same feeling I got when I was a kid watching ski movies. I enjoy watching them now more than ever, and that is what Timeless celebrates.”


All-in-all it’s a grand, gorgeous dedication to the wonder of “winter stoke.”


The Loft Cinema is screening Timeless for one day only: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11. $21. 3233 East Speedway Boulevard. To purchase tickets, visit loftcinema.org/film/warren-millers-timeless. For more information, visit warrenmiller.com.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Movie Review: Knives Out

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Very Good #4

Director Rian Johnson, maker of the divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but also maker of the brilliant Looper, takes a crack at the whodunnit genre and comes up mostly aces.

Daniel Craig stars as private investigator Benoit Blanc, mysteriously hired by somebody in a rich family after the strange, supposed suicide death of their patriarch, mystery author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer still going strong). There’s something fishy about his death, and his personal nurse Marta (the awesome Ana de Armas) knows something the rest of the family doesn’t know.

What transpires is a solid mystery with a fun set of characters featuring a stellar cast, including Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, LaKeith Stanfield and Chris Evans. Everybody has a blast, as does the audience, as Johnson takes the genre and twists it into an entertaining pretzel. Craig is especially good in a role that allows him to show his comic side, with Shannon and Johnson also impressive as a couple of paranoiacs. Above all, it gives the talented Armas a chance to really shine.

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Movie Review: Queen & Slim

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 1:00 AM

Good #3

A movie about the worst Tinder date…ever. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith star as the title characters, two young people who meet in a diner for an online date that only goes so-so. On their way home, where the date will not be continuing, they are pulled over by a cop who racially profiles them and bad things happen.

Queen and Slim go on the run, become social media celebrities, and yes, start liking each other a whole lot more.

Director Melina Matsoukas isn’t giving us a very original movie here, but the atmospherics are solid, and the performances truly drive the film. Turner-Smith is terrific as a lawyer who finds herself on the wrong side of the law, while Kaluuya brings a sweet sadness to the teetotaling Slim.

The film deals bluntly with its subject of police brutality, with both good and bad cops present in the movie. There’s no question why it’s being called the “black Bonnie & Clyde” in that the movie follows many of the same beats as the sixties classic. It stands as a decent statement on many current civil rights issues, and its a nice step forward for Matsoukas as a director to be reckoned with.

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Monday, December 2, 2019

Movie Review: The Irishman

Posted By on Mon, Dec 2, 2019 at 10:42 AM


Very Good #4

After a lot of publicity surrounding the digital de-aging or Robert De Niro and Al Pacino for the project, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman arrives on Netflix, and it’s a typically very good offering from the auteur. It has a few problems, but the opportunity to see the likes of De Niro, Pacino and Joe Pesci in a movie together under the Great One’s tutelage more than overrides the shortfalls.

The film is based on the book about Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran (De Niro) called I Heard You Paint Houses (which is actually the name of the film in the opening credits). Sheeran was a labor union and occasional hitman who had ties to Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). The film, like the book, claims that he was the actual triggerman in the assassination of Hoffa.

The film covers a long timespan. We see Sheeran from his thirties up until shortly before his death in his eighties. All ages are played by De Niro, and the much ballyhooed digital de-aging of De Niro (along with Pacino and Pesci) is mostly a bust. There are moments where De Niro looks perhaps a tad younger than his 76 years (he might pass for 58), but it always looks like bad makeup, dye jobs and funky lighting rather than high tech effects masterfully at work. Plus, these are old voices coming out of digitally enhanced, oddly smooth faces. Not to mention obviously stiffer postures.

Distracting effects aside, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci are priceless in their parts, no matter what age they are depicting. Scorsese has made a nice companion piece to his gangster epic Goodfellas (as a Scorsese fan, I consider Casino one of his few missteps), an ugly depiction of the loneliness and alienation that results from things like shooting your friends in the head.

While Goodfellas had a rather likeable, and unintentionally funny, antihero in Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill, none of the main guys in this movie are likeable, especially Sheeran. De Niro depicts the guy as a meathead, a lackey who takes orders from the likes of Pesci’s Russell Bufalino and Pacino’s Hoffa. Sheeran provides few excuses for even uncomfortable laughter; he is quietly despicable and evil at his core.

Pacino is the film’s most fun as a blustering, ice cream obsessed Hoffa. He’s also the angriest guy in the movie, with Pacino sinking his teeth into many an opportunity to go from zero to one hundred in mere screen seconds. Pacino shares a couple of scenes with Stephen Graham as Anthony Provenzano, one of the men suspected of participating in Hoffa’s eventual disappearance in ’75. Pacino and Graham square off in a way that goes right into the “Best Pacino Moments” time capsule.

The film has an epic scope at over 3 ½ hours. I suspect there will be a lot of pausing for bathroom and snack breaks in one’s household due to its presence on Netflix, and that’s too bad. I think Scorsese should’ve put an intermission in the middle, perhaps choosing his preferred moment for the viewer to gather themselves up for the finale, a fine finale at that.

For Scorsese fans, seeing De Niro and Pesci sharing scenes again, talking Italian and dipping bread in wine, is a holiday season cinematic gift like no other. This is De Niro’s best work in years, and Pesci gets a chance to play subdued in a Scorsese flick, which pays major dividends. He depicts Bufalino as a quiet, polite, extremely dangerous man, and it’s mesmerizing.

With the decade coming to a close, The Wolf of Wall Street remains champ as Scorsese’s best effort in the last ten years. That’s more high praise for Wolf than a putdown of The Irishman, which is a fine film in its own right, if something short of a masterpiece. It’s a movie that fits comfortably in the gangster genre, while perhaps firmly shutting the lid on it as far as Scorsese and De Niro are concerned. If it’s their last film together, they are going out on a high note.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Dolemite Is My Name

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2019 at 12:44 PM

Very Good

This movie stands side by side with the best of Eddie Murphy’s Golden Age. A consistently funny  biopic honoring comedian-actor Rudy Ray Moore, it’s clear that Murphy’s heart is in this project full force. It’s the best performance he’s ever delivered in a movie … period. The film takes us on a tour of Moore’s rise to fame, starting with the creation of his Dolemite character (a campy hybrid of Shaft and Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch), and his poetically profane comedy albums. Moore mixed profanity with rhyming in ways that have earned him a “godfather of rap” moniker, with rap giants like Snoop Dogg, who appears in this film as a record store DJ, saying they wouldn’t have careers if not for Moore. Clearly, Moore helped lay the groundwork for the likes of Murphy and his standup greatness as well. Which makes it all the more appropriate that Eddie headlines this movie. Murphy, playing Moore, finds himself very much occupying a prototypical Eddie Murphy movie like those from his early days. It’s consistently funny and powered by Murphy’s infectious charisma. Murphy is commanding in a way that, quite frankly, I forgot he was capable of. Whether he’s recreating some terrible Kung Fu antics, or reacting uncomfortably on the phone as a studio guy rejects his movie, Murphy shows that he indeed remains one of the greatest screen talents. I now must make this perfectly clear: Murphy is awesome in this movie. (Streaming on Netflix)

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Monday, November 4, 2019

The King

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Very Good

Part inspired by real events and the plays of William Shakespeare, Timothee Chalamet plays Hal, King Henry V of England, and it’s a barnburner of an acting turn. Chalamet has made a name for himself playing complicated, quiet characters before, but this one gives him a chance to rage on occasion, and he’s more than up to the task. Joel Edgerton (who co-wrote the screenplay) is on hand as Falstaff, Hal’s complicated right hand man, and Robert Pattinson, once again, shows that he just might be the finest actor of his generation with a brave and crazy performance as The Dauphin of France. Simply put, Pattinson’s accent in this movie is one of the greatest things I’ve witnessed in a movie this year, as is his final stunt in full armor. Director David Michod stages some fine action scenes, and Lily-Rose Depp makes a nice late film appearance as Catherine, Hal’s bride to be who will not stand for any of his toxic masculinity bullshit. Chalamet and Pattinson impress the most in a period piece film that works, a grand experiment that pays off. I want a sequel. (Streaming on Netflix)

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Staff Pick

World Flute Concert

World flute virtuosos Gary Stroutsos and Alcvin Ryuzen Ramos come together for an evening of meditative soundscapes… More

@ San Pedro Chapel Fri., Jan. 31, 7-9 p.m. 5230 E. Fort Lowell Road.

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