Cinema

Friday, June 16, 2017

Check Out All These Great Indie Movies This Week

Posted By on Fri, Jun 16, 2017 at 2:57 PM

As temperatures climb in the Old Pueblo, local summer film series are also heating up. This week, and in the weeks to follow, Tucson will play host to a myriad of continuing cinematic celebrations that are sure to spice up your summer.

The Loft Cinema:

Cult Classic Series (every Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.): On Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, The Loft shows Shaun of the Dead. Audiences are invited to enjoy the bloody hijinks of Shaun (co-writer Simon Pegg) and his buddy Ed (Nick Frost) in the wake of a zombie invasion in London.
MIRAMAX
  • Miramax

4th Friday Films at MOCA (every fourth Friday of the month at 8 p.m.): This summer, the Loft and MOCA are teaming up to offer free screenings of films that celebrate the arts and artists. Guests are invited to bring their own picnic foods, or to stop by the food truck Bella Gelato for a refreshing summer treat. Friday, June 23, MOCA will host a free outdoor screening of Frida on the Cox Plaza.

Social Justice Summer (every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.): This series aims to pair hard-hitting social justice issues with cinema, as audiences are invited to explore important issues through film. Leading community experts will be present after every showing to hold community talkbacks. This Wednesday, June 21, the Global Justice Center will air a free screening of Mala Mala, which delves into the social climate of the trans community in Puerto Rico.

Rolling Reels: Rolling Reels is designed to provide cinematic experiences to underserved and rural communities in Southern Arizona. This month, the series will feature the flick Junior Bonner, a western classic, on Saturday, June 24 in Dragoon at the Amerind Museum. Admission to this series is free.

Mondo Mondays (every Monday at 8 p.m.): Diving directly into the strange, wonderful and unorthodox realms of mondo movies, this series is sure to deliver a weekly dose of weird. This Monday, June 19, enjoy the cinematic rollercoaster that is Super Fuzz; behold as a rookie cop (Terence Hill) haphazardly attempts to fight crime with his newfound superpowers.

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Break away from daily routine and treat yourself to one of The Loft's locally-renowned live showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. This Saturday, June 17, at midnight, unleash your wild side and enjoy the show with shadow cast "Heavy Petting."

More details on all of above at loftcinema.org.

Cactus Drive-In Theatre

Cactus Drive-In Summer Showings (every Thursday in June at 8 p.m.): Indulge in the iconic drive-in experience at the Tanque Verde Swap Meet this Thursday, June 22. The Cactus Drive-In Theatre Foundation welcomes children of all ages to this week's showing of MoanaDevelopments under construction include the Sanctuary at Silverhawke and Viewpointe I at Vistoso Trails. There are three other notable developments that are set to begin construction soon, Disney's latest film about an adventurous young woman (Auli'i Cravalho) on a journey to save her people. More info at cactusdriveintheatre.com.
COLUMBIA PICTURES
  • Columbia Pictures

Cinema La Placita

Cinema La Placita Summer Series (every Thursday at 7:30 p.m.): Take a trip downtown and enjoy the Cinema La Placita's continuing outdoor summer film series. Learn to stop worrying and love this week's showing of Dr. Strangelove on Thursday, June 22. This suspenseful parody examines the comedy of errors that incur when an insane general triggers a path to a nuclear holocaust. In addition to the showing, audiences are invited to enjoy the cash bar and food truck on site. cinemalaplacita.com

The Temple of Music and Arts Film Series

Summer Classic Films at the Temple: The Arizona Theatre Company kicks off another great week of film classics at the Temple of Music and Arts in their summer film series (June 2-Aug. 6). Designed to attract audiences of all ages, this week offers a variety of classic silver screen gems. On 7 p.m. Friday, June 16, watch The Misfits, a western drama featuring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe. If you can't make it this Friday then fear not! On 2 p.m. Sunday, June 18 enjoy a showing of Auntie Mame, a comedy/drama staring Lucille Ball. Finally, at 7 p.m. next Friday, June 23 at 7 p.m., enjoy a screening of Giant, a drama featuring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. arizonatheatre.org

The Fox

Film Noir Series: At 7:30 this Saturday, June 17, head on down to the Fox Theatre and view the latest flick in their continuing Film Noir Series: Murder My Sweet, staring Dick Powell, Mike Mazurki and Claire Trevor, features a brooding detective, a femme fatale and an unsolved mystery. foxtucson.com

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cinema Clips: The Survivalist

Posted By on Tue, Jun 6, 2017 at 2:23 PM


Martin McCann plays a character simply listed as Survivalist in the credits, a man living on a small piece of land in a post-apocalyptic world where food has grown scarce. It’s a lonely existence, but he has a crop to get by, and it’s all for him. That is, until a mysterious woman (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Mia Goth) show up looking to barter for food. After he refuses their offer of pumpkin seeds, Survivalist accepts the offer of sleeping with the daughter, and then things get a little complicated.

Writer-director Stephen Fingleton has made a film that is relentlessly dark, and his film has next to nothing good to say about human beings (Hey, the human race needs a good smackdown sometimes, am I right?).

McCann is highly memorable as a nervous man who yearns for companionship but trusts no one. Fouere is the right touch of nasty as somebody who has been hardened by the apocalypse. Goth plays the film’s most sympathetic character, yet even she is a schemer with nefarious intentions. The darkness of this movie plays out until the bitter end.

This is a film that aims to bum you out, and succeeds. I say this as a compliment (Available for download on iTunes and Amazon.com during limited theatrical release).

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Cinema Clips: War Machine

Posted By on Thu, Jun 1, 2017 at 10:00 AM


This movie is all screwy. Brad Pitt plays General Stanley McChrystal (based very clearly on real-life General Stanley McChrystal), put in charge of the War in Afghanistan during the Obama administration.

As depicted by Pitt, McMahon is just his Inglorious Basterds character without a mustache, but this time, Pitt never feels relaxed in the part. He seems lost in a movie that doesn’t really know where it’s going. It’s a military satire, then it’s a serious depiction of men at war, then it’s a straight up comedy, then it’s a political intrigue movie, and so on.

Director David Michod tries to wrangle this mess with the ultimate movie sin, the voiceover, provided by a character based on the late journalist who wrote the article. Michael Hastings (depicted here by a character called Sean Cullen and played by Scoot McNairy) wrote that Rolling Stone article which eventually inspired the book, The Operators. It also brought down McChrystal, depicted here as a bit of a nut, but a lovely, friendly nut who cared about his men, but wanted to win, win, win. In trying to win, he basically leaked classified info, messed with the President, and essentially called him out on 60 Minutes. The film also tries to be a condemnation of American activity overseas, with a not-so-nice depiction of Obama, played here by a mediocre Obama impersonator.

A strong cast including Anthony Michael Hall, Will Poulter, Alan Ruck and Meg Tilly can’t save this schizoid film. Now streaming on Netflix.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

In Defense of the Summer Blockbuster

Posted By on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 2:50 PM

Is the latest Pirates film great cinema? No. But that doesn't mean you won't enjoy watching it. - WALT DISNEY COMPANY
  • Walt Disney Company
  • Is the latest Pirates film great cinema? No. But that doesn't mean you won't enjoy watching it.

What is there to say about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales that has not already been said? New York Times critic A. O. Scott called the flick “the perfect opposite of entertainment.” Ouch.

The movie is, technically, awful. The plot is—most definitely—garbage. And yet I found myself enjoying the film, despite the ridiculously over-long runtime of two-and-a-half hours.

To counter the opinion of Scott (or Mr. Scott in the style of the Times), I would contend movies in the vein of Pirates are meant to be enjoyed much like their theme park inspirations: with bells and whistles and in the company of family and friends.

Let me explain.

I attended a showing of Pirates on Memorial Day with my mom and her friend in Chandler, Arizona. Since I was visiting from out-of-town, my mother suggested we visit a new theater, Alamo Drafthouse.

It’s similar, I’m told, to RoadHouse Cinemas here in town.

Alamo is known for pioneering the “fork and screen” style cinema experience, where patrons can order a brew and some food to help with enjoying a rom-com or summer blockbuster.

The seats also recline, making for a viewing experience more akin to your home den than Harkins 10. Just like rides at Disneyland are similar-but-totally-superior to rides at the Pima County Fair, a movie at Alamo has the distinct feel of first class versus coach.

So maybe it was the good food. Maybe it was the three beers (more likely). But even after reading every legitimate movie critic skewer this Johnny Depp-paycheck machine, I came away thoroughly entertained.

This isn’t to say that Pirates or any other movie can’t be enjoyed at the local megaplex or the small-town cinema. There is definitely more to the equation than decent chicken wings.

After all, recliners and booze can only go so far. It wasn’t until a few hours later, after my buzz wore off, that I thought about why I enjoyed the experience so much. Admittedly, big, dumb blockbusters with no depth are not my idea of a good time.

Yet, I still laughed with my mom at all the dumb “horologist” jokes in the movie. We still marveled at the impressive action sequences.

I probably wouldn’t have done that had I attended by my lonesome. Sure the beer assisted in the enjoyment, but being with family brought out even more of my silly side.

What’s often lost by movie reviewers, who attend most screenings by themselves or with other critics, is the ability of movies to bring families and friends together for fun.

Who really cares if Depp mailed a performance in if you’re enjoying the experience with those whose company you value?

Far from being the opposite of entertainment, Pirates and movies like it offer the opportunity for families and friends to create real, lasting memories. That’s why as bad as it’s a small world is as a ride, you can’t stop talking about it.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Cinema Clips: Snatched

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 12:00 PM


Fifteen years after her last movie (the terrible The Banger Sisters), Goldie Hawn has been coaxed back onto the big screen opposite Amy Schumer.

While it’s great to have her back, it would’ve been super great had the movie been totally worth her time. Hawn and Schumer play Linda and Emily, mother and daughter, in what amounts to some decent dirty jokes, some dumb dirty jokes, and a lot of flat jokes powered by a plot with no real sense of purpose.

The comic duo work hard to make it all a bit of fun, but they are ultimately taken down by a film that aspires to mediocrity. When Emily is dumped by her rocker boyfriend (the always funny Randall Park), she has no traveling partner for her upcoming, non-refundable trip to Ecuador. In steps Linda, a crazy cat lady mom who barely ever leaves the house. Just like that, the two wind up sleeping in a king bed in a lavish resort, with Emily constantly taking selfies to impress her Facebook friends, and Linda covered up with scarves by the pool.

After Emily meets a hot British guy (Tom Bateman), she ultimately winds up on a sightseeing trip with mom along for the ride. Mom and daughter wind up kidnapped and held for ransom, with nobody but their nerd son/brother (Ike Barinholtz) to save their asses. Director Jonathan Levine (50/50) isn’t afraid to take things to mighty dark places—Emily’s attempts to free her and mom from their captors has a body count—and the film earns its R-rating with raunchy humor (Schumer’s specialty).

Some of the gags are good, including a bit involving a scorpion, an ill-fated attempt to swing on a vine, and a tongueless former special ops soldier (Joan Cusack) flipping through the air like Spider-Man. Hawn and Schumer make for a convincing mommy-daughter combo, and Snatched has its worth for putting the two in a movie together. They rise above the material often enough to make the film somewhat forgivable, especially if you are a fan of both. (And, really, why wouldn’t you be?).

Despite the star power, the movie never really goes anywhere, and winds up being somewhat forgettable and unoriginal.

Alien: Covenant Isn't the Worst Alien Movie

Posted By on Tue, May 30, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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Ridley Scott’s third Alien film is an entertaining mashup of the “overreaching but cool” sensibilities from Prometheus and the old-school dread and “Ick!” factor that marked the original Alien as one of the best horror AND science fiction films of the 20th Century.

Alien: Covenant continues the ruminations about the origins of man birthed in Prometheus while injecting a few more Xenomorphs into the mix. It will please those fans of the first two films of the franchise who want the shit scared out of them, while also appeasing those who enjoyed the brainy (if somewhat confusing and slightly inconsistent) ways of Prometheus.

While Scott has leaned harder on the horror elements for this one, his budget is over $30 million less than the one he had for Prometheus. That film constituted one of cinema’s all-time great usages of 3D technology, with flawless special effects. Covenant totally abandons 3D (money saved), and features some CGI in the opening minutes that look befitting of a low budget SyFy channel offering.

The film more than makes up for some shoddy computer work once the crew members of the Covenant, a stricken colony ship in danger of not reaching their destination, sets down to scout out a new planet as an alternate, closer option. The expedition is led by a new commander (Billy Crudup) after the original captain passes away in an eyebrow raising cameo.

Things look encouraging at first; fresh water, breathable air, and even wheat fields get checked off on the pro side. After a quick search for a transmission they received drawing them to the planet, they discover the horseshoe ship piloted by Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and David the android (Michael Fassbender) at the end of Prometheus. After this discovery, the con side accumulates a lot of check marks.

They are on the Engineer planet, the origin of Earth’s creation, and the place where they created the bio weapon meant to destroy us. David has been surviving on the planet for over a decade, but where’s Elizabeth? Where are the Engineers? Only David knows, and David, as you might remember from Prometheus, is a bit dick-ish.

Continue reading »

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.

Staff Pick

Frida

The life and career of one of Mexico’s most prominent, iconoclastic painters comes to the screen under… More

@ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Tucson Fri., June 23, 8-10 p.m. 265 S. Church Ave

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