Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cinema Clips: The Beguiled

Posted By on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 9:30 AM

According to director Sofia Coppola, this is not a remake of the 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood; it’s a new adaptation of the novel both films are based on.

Nicole Kidman stars as the leader of a southern school for girls, shut off from the rest of the world during the Civil War. While out searching for mushrooms, young Amy (Oona Laurence) finds a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) and leads him back to the school. As the man heals, the young students and teachers each have interactions with the soldier and things eventually get, well, complicated.

Everybody in the movie delivers good work, especially Kidman as Miss Martha, a strict leader with risky compassion for the enemy soldier. Longtime Coppola collaborator Kirsten Dunst is on hand as a teacher who gets some extra attention from the stranger, and she’s strong in her role, as usual. Other cast members include Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice and Addison Riecke.

The film eschews the usual Coppola soundtrack exuberance for something very quiet and slowly paced. As the film works up to a boil, leading to a shocking climax, Coppola creates a true sense of claustrophobia and high tension.

This isn’t her best work, but it is good work, with excellent cinematography and art direction.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Cinema Clips: Okja

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 10:43 AM

Director Joon-ho Bong, purveyor of spectacularly wacky cinematic things (The Host, Snowpiercer) delivers, perhaps, his wackiest yet with this tale about a future world where meat is scarce so huge pigs are biogenetically engineered for slaughter.

The title character is a prized, giant animal raised in the mountains by Mija (Seo Hyun), a young girl who thinks Okja is her pet. She’s oblivious to the fact that Okja’s days are numbered, so when an envoy for a large corporation (Jake Gyllenhaal going nuts) shows up and takes Okja away, Mija flies into action and the bizarre adventure begins.

Paul Dano, one of the kings of movie weirdness, chips in as the leader of an animal rescue corps that includes Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Lily Collins. Following up her collaboration with Bong on Snowpiercer is Tilda Swinton, once again playing twins (as she did in Hail, Caesar!), two evil sisters running the corporation that produced Okja.

The movie mixes absurd laughs with mayhem, and the cast is universally great. Like films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Babe before it, this movie looks to shine a light on the cruel treatment of animals and perhaps get you to pass on the bacon the next time you are at Denny’s (Streaming on Netflix).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cinema Clips: Transformers: The Last Knight

Posted By on Fri, Jul 7, 2017 at 9:00 AM

The latest Transformers movie, Transformers: The Last Knight, gets the dubious distinction of being the worst in the series. That is some sort of major accomplishment. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to look at this collective pile of movie manure and decipher which of the five is the worst. It’s like going to a frat house the first week of a semester at Dickhead University and trying to pick out the dumbest, drunkest douche in the place. All of the qualifiers are terribly, criminally lame.

I’m giving the award of franchise worst because it’s just so clear how every participant in this enterprise, from director Michael Bay right on down to the production assistant who smeared glycerin on Mark Wahlberg’s pecs, is jaded, tired and played out. Nobody really wants to be in this thing.

The stink of “Who gives a shit … just pay me!” hits your nostrils with Wahlberg’s first line delivery. The best part of this movie is when Anthony Hopkins inexplicably goes to Stonehenge to witness a robot battle then gets blown up, leading to the silliest death scene ever. Yep, I just issued a spoiler.

Anthony Hopkins, who should be ashamed of himself for participating in this thing, dies hilariously in this movie. I hope this spoiler pisses you off so much that you don’t go to the movie. Be mad at me for the next 10 years, but I know I did you a favor.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

"Neither Wolf Nor Dog" Indie Flick Opens This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 3:00 PM

As a comic-book heroine continues her blockbuster dominance this summer, a much lesser known film has also grabbed moviegoers’ full attention. The self-distributed Native American story “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” has quietly sold out nearly every one of its appearances at multiplex theaters across the U.S. over the past two weeks. This box-office winner, with an amazing and authentic star, has touched so many hearts that theaters are extending their movie runs in cities and while expanding into new markets. Due to the overwhelmingly positive reception in Phoenix to “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” the independent film has just added Tucson to its growing list of cities for wider release—set now to premiere at Harkins Theatres Tucson Spectrum 18 on July 7 for at least one week of showings.

Based on Kent Nerburn’s critically acclaimed novel by the same name, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” tells the unforgettable Indian story of a 95-year-old Lakota elder named Dan, played perfectly by Dave Bald Eagle. Getting too old, the Native American leader wants his personal notes formally recorded for history’s sake. Tasked to compile the leader’s lifelong journey is none other than fair-minded author and white man Nerburn (Christopher Sweeney).

Modestly filmed by a crew of two over only 18 days, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is an incredible look inside the Lakota Country of South Dakota. The movie powerfully captures the culture, hardships, and obstacles that Native Americans have endured over the years. It also highlights the graciousness, humor, and pride still vibrant throughout the Lakota people.

The excellence and shear power of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is found in its main star, Dave Bald Eagle, who died post-production at the age of 97. Left for dead on D-Day in real life, Bald Eagle leads a stellar cast that’s both believable and fascinating to watch. The interaction of the characters, particularly Sweeney’s as Nerburn opposite Bald Eagle’s robust Dan, is what keeps this dialogue-heavy movie rolling and interesting.

“Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is an education for viewers throughout. It presents the beauty and tragedy of Lakota life in simple terms, right down to the cinematography and filmmaking techniques used to tell one man’s iconic journey. A historical account that goes back to the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. All events and relationships that must be remembered forever. And that’s the true importance of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog”: the deeply seeded history lesson of our nation’s past and present with the Lakota culture.

This film isn’t bringing home the box-office sales of “Wonder Woman,” but it’s selling out theaters everywhere it’s shown. “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” is a bold, rich take on Native American history that is catching fire with audiences throughout Arizona. We’re fortunate to have this unforgettable story come to Tucson this week.

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the REEL BRIEF movie blog at

Check Out All These Sweet Summertime Cinema Series!

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 9:00 AM

This week, the Tucson film community delivers a little somethin' somethin' for everyone—whether you're feeling goofy or heartfelt, we've got just the moviegoing experience for you!

The Loft

Cult Classic Series (every Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.): On Friday, July 7, and Saturday, July 8, The Loft will show Idiocracy, a science fiction comedy designed to examine the devolution of humanity. From Mike Judge, the creator of Office Space and Beavis and Butthead, this movie follows the life of the smartest man half a millennia in the future.

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, July 12, the Global Justice Center will air a free screening of Who is Dayani Cristal? This film follows the investigation into the life of an unidentified immigrant found dead in Arizona's Sonora Desert. Follow a team of forensic anthropologists as they attempt to restore the man's lost identity and retrace his incredible journey to the U.S-Mexico's deadliest border crossing.

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, July 10, enjoy Meatballs Part II, the truly bizarre sequel to Bill Murray's 1979 hit Meatballs. Behold the wild antics of a new crew of campers, a pot-smoking alien named Meathead and Paul Reubens (pre-Pee-Wee).

Outdoor Movie Party!: Though Tucson days simmer on, the nights offer cool reprieve from the intense heat. Join The Loft in their final Outdoor Movie Party! screening this Saturday, July 8 at 7:30. If you missed last week's showing of the Cat Video Fest, then fear not! This purr-fectly hilarious lineup of cat videos is yours for the watching! Proceeds benefit local cat shelters in Tucson!

First Friday Shorts (every first Friday of the month at 9 p.m.): Head on down to The Loft this Friday, July 7, to participate in the Tucson-famous First Friday Shorts Series. Enjoy a smorgasbord of local shorts, and participate in naming this month's best films!

Loft Jr.: This Saturday, July 8 at 10 a.m., enjoy a free showing of the Oscar-nominated family film Whale Rider. Hosted at the Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse, audiences are invited to participate in pre-showing activities (9:15 a.m.) hosted by Mildred & Dildred Toy Store. This movie follows a young girl's struggle to fulfill her destiny within her tribe and her journey to claim her birthright. This beautifully-photographed New Zealand film spins a tale of triumph and tribulation.

Poetry on Film: Enjoy a series of short films this Wednesday, July 12, 7:30 p.m., at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. The New York International Children's Film Festival Best Of the Festival Short Films features 13 short films, with a screening of Tucson native Timothy Reckart's Head Over Heels to boot. Hosted outdoors, these screenings are free to the public and invite audiences to immerse themselves in the artistic and talented world of children's film.

More details on all of above at

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Cinema Clips: Maudie

Posted By on Thu, Jul 6, 2017 at 8:28 AM

There isn’t a single wrong note in Maudie, an alternately heartbreaking and uplifting biofilm about the life of Canadian painter Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins).

After answering an ad for a housekeeper in Nova Scotia, Maud, stricken with arthritis since she was a child, winds up in the house of miserable bastard Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke, delivering yet another monumental performance). The two wind up married, but it’s no fairytale; Everett has some major, major issues that Maud must contend with and, when Maud finds fame with her sweet paintings, Everett becomes an even bigger jerk.

Director Aisling Walsh, working from a script by Sherry White, makes a lot of interesting choices depicting the couple; Hawkins and Hawke make them all work. Hawkins is a true Oscar contender for her work here, and while the role of Lewis requires a difficult and strenuous physical performance, the light in her voice gives Lewis an illuminating quality.

The humor always shines through, and it’s breathtaking how good she is. Hawke never gives up the ghost on his character, one of unrelenting stubbornness afflicted with a permanent scowl. He could find himself in the Oscar race, as well.

If there’s an underlying message to this movie it’s this: If you love somebody, you better damn well act like you mean it before it’s too late.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Escape the Heat with These Summer Blockbusters!

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 10:45 AM

Summer movies: Because two hours at the cinema sounds more fun than heatstroke.


Cult Classics Series (every Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.): On Friday, June 30, and Saturday, July  1, The Loft will show cult classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. This film partners two of Hollywood's iconic stars—Joan Crawford and Bette Davis—to create a timelessly comedic psychological thriller. Two sisters, both victims of stardom, enter a no-holds-barred feud that makes no promise of a happy ending.

Social Justice Summer (every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.): This series aims to pair hard-hitting social justice issues with cinema. Audiences are invited to explore important social issues through film, with community experts present after every film to hold community talkbacks. This Wednesday, July 5, the Global Justice Center, in conjunction with The Loft, will air a free showing of Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation. This documentary follows the trials and tribulations of the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team, as well as, the political and cultural significance of lacrosse in the Iroquois Nation.

Mondo Mondays (every Monday at 8 p.m.): Diving directly into the strange and unorthodox realms of Mondo movies, this series is sure to deliver your doctor-prescribed dose of weird. This Monday, July 3, The Loft will air Sleepaway Camp, a classic 80s slasher flick. Follow Angela (Felissa Rose), as she navigates the horrors of summer camp—will it be camp as usual, or is there horror afoot?

Outdoor Movie Party! (June 29 through 
 uly 8, every day at 7:30 p.m.): Though Tucson days simmer on, the nights offer cool reprieve from the intense heat. Join The Loft in their Outdoor Movie Party! screenings, where audiences are invited to enjoy numerous films. This week, on Saturday, July 1, the Loft kicks off their Outdoor Movie with the Cat Video Fest. This purr-fectly hilarious lineup of cat videos is this first in a two-part series (part two takes place Saturday, July 8) benefitting local cat shelters in Tucson! Celebrate the wonderful, kooky world of viral kitty videos, while also benefitting your favorite local shelters. On Sunday, July 2, enjoy Cry-Baby, a kitschy spoof on the 50s "teens-gone-wild" genre. On Monday, July 3, get down with the rock 'n' roll classic Monterey Pop. On Tuesday, July 4, spend your holiday enjoying the ultimate fright flick Jaws. On Wednesday, July 5, celebrate the late Jonathan Demme, in the rock concert classic Stop Making Sense. Finally, on Thursday, July 6, throwback to counterculture satire and rock musical Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.


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. On Thursday, July 6, check out a showing of the thriller classicJaws. Follow along as Amity Island's police chief attempts to hunt down a bloodthirsty great white shark in this fin-tastic summer blockbuster! In addition to the showing, audiences are invited to enjoy the cash bar and food truck on site.


Classic Film Series: This Saturday, July 1, check out Singin' in the Rain at the Fox Theatre, as part of their continuing classic films series. This iconic musical is toe-tappin' fun for the whole family! The legendary musical includes such greats as Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cinema Clips: The Bad Batch

Posted By on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Writer-director Ana Lily Amirpour follows up her notable feature debut, the authentic vampire story A Girl Walks Home at Night, with another horror story. This time out, it’s cannibals.

Suki Waterhouse plays Arlen, newly exiled to a desert landscape where she is quickly captured by cannibals and watches as her arm and leg are cut off and devoured. After escaping, she wanders around a bit, eventually stopping by a safe haven run by The Dream (Keanu Reeves). Some business involving the daughter of one of her captors, Miami Man (Jason Momoa a.k.a. Aquaman) represents the only thing that passes for a conventional subplot in this purposefully rambling, meandering affair. Amirpour gets a mixed bag result with her sophomore effort, a film that looks amazing, boasts a great soundtrack, and has a few good creepy passages in it. Still, if a cohesive story is what you seek you won’t find it here. You will, however, find Jim Carrey in a strange extended cameo as the Hermit, a dude who literally eats crow.

The movie never really comes together as a whole, but it’s worth watching if you like post-apocalyptic cannibal movies and Culture Club.

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