The big event this week is the kickoff of the Arizona Underground Film Festival down on Sixth Avenue, where a cinematic feast of moving documentaries, grisly horror films and classic exploitation flicks will be playing. The Hanson Film Institute is also hosting double feature of Denzel Washington Films for Denzel Washington fans, also known as "all humans." As always, The Loft is showing about a thousand movies this week, and I wish I could see them all.
Arizona Underground Film Festival
One of the biggest underground film festival in the country kicks off this weekend, and bringing with it movies from the Narrative, Horror, Documentary, Experimental, Animation and Exploitation Categories. Tickets for individual screenings are $7, or go for the $45 all-access pass (if there's any left–only 50 are being sold) for admission to all screenings, a sweet sticker, and other rewards, like front-of-the-line privileges. The festival is at the Brink/KY Building on 1100 S. Sixth Ave. Some highlights:
Don't Break Down: A Film about Jawbreaker. This documentary about the American punk band makes its Arizona premiere on Friday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m. Watch former bandmates Blake Schwarzenbach, Chris Bauermeister, and Adam Pfahler reconnect to listen to their old albums, talk about the band's beginnings and evolution and even put together one last performance.
The Underground Shorts Block. Seven films, ranging from six to 21 minutes, will show at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16. In Emporium (dir. Trevor Smith), human trafficking has become legalized and beautiful women are the earth's most valuable commodity. In White Face (dir. and starring Mtume Gant), a black actor who hates the color of his skin decides to change his appearance and redefine who he is in order to end the racial hardships he's faced his whole life.
The Honor Farm. Head back to high school, into the woods and into a terrifying abandoned prison work farm in this thriller showing Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. When a teen's prom night falls apart, she tries to salvage the night with a psychedelic party in the woods, and, considering she's a teenager in a scary movie, things do not go as planned. The film was an official selection for SXSW and the Fantasia Film Festival.
Love and Saucers. "When I was 17 I lost my virginity to a female extraterrestrial," says 72-year old David Huggins in the trailer for this documentary, directed by Brad Abrahams. The documentary subject is Huggins, who tells his phenomenal story of having been in touch with extraterrestrial, otherworldly beings for his whole life. He chronicles the encounters in a series of surreal paintings. Are they the result of hallucinations? Dreams? Or real events? Whatever the answer, Huggins' tale is a compelling one. The film shows at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18.
See http://azuff.org/ for more information.
Neo Noir with Denzel Washington. The UA Hanson Film Institute and The Fox Tucson Theatre present this double feature celebrating the work of critically acclaimed national treasure Denzel Washington. The Saturday, Sept. 16 screening begins at 4 p.m. with 1989's The Mighty Quinn. Follow Washington's character Xavier Quinn, police chief on a small Caribbean island, as he works to solve a murder case, clear his best friend's name and (perhaps most pressing and difficult of all) fulfill his duties as a husband and father.
1995's Devil in a Blue Dress, based on the 1990 novel of the same name, shows at 7:30. Washington stars as Easy Rawlins, who is laid off from his job at Champion Aircraft and turns to private investigating to pay the mortgage. As it turns out, tracking down missing persons by following a breadcrumb trail of murder, deception and conspiracies is more complicated than it sounds.
Vietnam War Documentary Preview. The Pima Air and Space Museum is hosting an extended sneak peek at PBS’ new Ken Burns doc The Vietnam War, along with select clips from the museum production Arizona & The Vietnam War. The 6:30 p.m. screening on Thursday, Sept. 14 will also include a panel discussion with museum filmmaker Tom Kleespie and Vietnam experts. Audience members are also invited to share their own Vietnam stories in a video story booth that will open one hour before the event. The videos may be included online or on television. The screening is free, but RSVP is required.
Oro Valley Drive-In Movie on the Driving Range. Finding Dory is showing outdoors at 7:15 at the Oro Valley Community Center on Saturday, Sept. 16. This isn’t the first time this movie has shown in the Tucson area this summer, so I know I’ve already told you about the scene where sea creatures literally drive a semi-truck down the highway. But I might not have mentioned the fun array of voice actors, including Ellen Degeneres as Dory (duh), Kaitlin Olson (Dee from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as a whale shark, Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy as Dory’s parents and Idris Elba as a cockney sea lion. It’s a treat in so many ways. See orovalleyaz.gov for more info.
It's the Loft's "time of the month" again as The Rocky Horror Picture Show returns at midnight on Saturday, Sept. 16. The theater is also partnering with Tohono O'odham Nation Cultural Center & Museum and the Sells Recreation Center (at the Sells Recreation Center, Main St., Sells AZ) for a showing of The Sandlot on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m. or sundown.
New. Walk With Me, a documentary about the Zen Buddhist community led by Thich Nhat Hanh, begins showing on Friday, Sept. 15. Benedict Cumberbatch narrates this story that about what it means to mindful, and how this group of monastics pursues it. Rounded out with beautiful cinematography, examinations of everyday monastic life and insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s journals, the film washes over viewers with its look into another world.
New/Member Screening. Columbus, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year, begins showing with a member screening at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15. It follows the story of Jin, an American who translates literature in Korea, and Casey, a woman with a love of architecture who cares for her mother and works at a library. When the two meet in Columbus, Indiana, against a backdrop of lush landscapes and modern architecture, they look first to one another, and then inside themselves, for the balance between fostering dreams and fulfilling responsibilities.
One Night Only. Birthright: A War Story is playing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14. The documentary takes a look at the public health crisis that aims to take away women's reproductive rights, leaving women imprisoned, violated and sometimes even at risk of dying. It's billed as "the real-life Handmaid's Tale," which is both compelling and terrifying. As women struggle to regain control over their own bodies, this documentary chronicles both their tribulations and their resistance.
Mondo Monday. It's well known among cinephiles that each sequel to an original film is exponentially better than the last. So the title alone of Killjoy 3: Killjoy's Revenge, showing 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18, should be enough to make anyone want to see the film, but throw in three henchmen clowns named Punchy, Freakish and Batty Boop, and I'm thinking about camping out overnight at The Loft to make sure I get a seat. Killjoy (an evil clown, in honor of Mondo Monday's Psycho Circus Month) traps three college students in a freaky alternate universe where salt, umbilical cords and enormous mallets become frightening weapons.
Alejandro Jodorowsky Film Series: Santa Sangre. Jodorowsky's son stars as Fenix, a man in a mental asylum who recounts the story of his childhood in the circus. Like any Jodorowsky film, it's hard to describe, but the cinematography—equal parts terrifying, cult-like, phallic and gorgeous—is, as always, incredible, and the nostalgic and psychedelic air about the story-within-a-story lend the film a captivating narrative element.
The Loft Cinema at the JCC. The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography is showing Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. Elsa Dorfman has photographed everyone from Joni Mitchell to Jorge Luis Borges to ordinary families, artists and academics. Her enormous Polaroid Land 20"x24" camera was by her side through the entirety of her 35-year career, and its discontinued film led her to retirement a little earlier than she might have liked. In this film, she looks back on her career and her photographs, including photos rejected by her subjects that she calls "B-sides."
Cult Classic. Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the Dark Horse comic book character Hellboy is showing at 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 15, and Saturday, Sept. 16. Part war movie, part redemption story, and all supernatural action film, it chronicles the story of a creature brought up from Hades during World War II to be used as a weapon by the Axis powers. When he is captured by American forces, he finds himself with empathy and a desire to fight for what is good.
Grease Sing-a-long. If you live in the United States, then you've probably been singing along to the Grease hits, like the nasally "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," the smooth title track or the equal parts catchy and rapey "Summer Loving" for years. But now, at this subtitled event at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, you can finally keep up with that scatty, rama lama whatever part in the big finale. Get your hair greased, get your poodle skirt pressed and drive your T-bird over to the screening, where there will be goodie bags, a costume contest and a few extra special surprises.
Journalism on Screen. The New York Times, The Arizona Daily Star and The Daily Wildcat/UATV-3 are presenting 2003's Shattered Glass on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. The movie has practically become required viewing in many journalism programs to teach aspiring writers about the importance of journalistic integrity and accuracy. It tells the true story of Stephen Glass, a hotshot young journalist in the '90s who fabricated many of the stories he wrote for the New Republic, making up contact information, people and even entire companies and events in order to turn in interesting stories. An actual instance of fake news, it shook the journalism community, and The New Republic's image has never quite been the same.
Essential Cinema. There's nothing like the excitement and the satisfaction of young love, except perhaps the excitement and satisfaction of a successful bank robbery. Watch Bonnie and Clyde combine the two at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty star, and at one point take Gene Wilder hostage. It's gory, it's sexy, it's been showered in accolades, and it's based on the true story of the 1930s criminals.