Not that this is anything new, but there's a lot of variety among the indie films that are showing this week. There's journalistic investigations of the modern opioid epidemic, biographical pieces on famous architects, a UC Berkeley student film about Arizona's own small town Patagonia and an obligatory Grease sing-along. None of it is to be missed!
Tucson Film and Music Festival
'Tis the season for film festivals! This one runs from Thursday, Oct. 5, to Sunday, Oct. 8, and features documentary and narrative shorts from local filmmakers. Most of the films are showing on Saturday and Sunday, and there's explorations of everything from the decision to cheat on your partner (7 Beds, showing at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8 at Century El Con 20) to making cheese (Marieke, showing at 3:04 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7 at Century El Con 20). Here are a few more to look forward to:
• Everything Beautiful is Far Away. The Hanson Film Institute hosts the Southwest premiere of this fantasy/sci-fi film at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. The film also won the U.S. Fiction Best Cinematography Award at the 2017 L.A. Film Festival. One man, one woman and one robot head make their way across an unforgiving desert planet in desperate search of a mythical basin of water that will replenish both body and spirit. It shows at the Gallagher Theatre, 1303 E. University Blvd.
• The Song of Sway Lake shows at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6. It tells the story of a young jazz record collector returning to his family's old summer home to reclaim a rare 78 record, and features an original score by instrumentalist and producer Ethan Gold. Gold will be present for a Q&A discussion on the film and music after the premiere. The film shows at Century El Con 20, 3601 E. Broadway Road.
• A Town Divided. Arizona's own tiny town of Patagonia has become fiercely divided over whether or not to support Arizona Mining Inc., a Canadian company that has taken up shop in the town. Supporters of the company are glad it will bring jobs and economic growth, but dissidents fear the environmental impact of the project. The world premiere of this film, created by Lucas Waldron of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for his thesis, is at 3:03 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Century El Con 20, 3601 E. Broadway Blvd.
• Cortez. Powerhouse Cheryl Nichols writes, directs and stars in this southwest drama-inspired film, showing 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, at The Loft. When a musician's career starts to falter, he decides to go off in search of a new lifestyle and old girlfriend. His world lights up when his ex, Anne, agrees to accompany him to the the vibrant and bohemian town of Cortez, but fades to an ember when he realizes that their story will not be so simple. The screening will be followed by live music and a Q&A with Nichols and Arron Shiver, who stars opposite her.
Check out tucsonfilmandmusicfestival.com to learn more about all the good things to come.
Cult Classic. Get ready for screams! Some scholars say The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (showing at 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, and Saturday, Oct. 7) is an examination of the relationship of the bourgeoisie to the proletariat, the effects of industrialization on the nation's psyche and an argument for vegetarianism (director Tobe Hooper did actually stop eating meat while making the film). Non-scholars still hail the film for its importance to the horror genre, and for the sheer levels of blood-soaked terror it induces in audiences.
Mondo Monday. GIMME AN S! GIMME AN A! GIMME A T-A-N! Satan is king and Lord of all men! "Hail Satan month" continues this week at the Loft with a screening of Satan's Cheerleaders on Monday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. When a creepy high school janitor (as if there's ever a non-creepy high school janitor in '70s movie) decides to help a satanic cult capture the school's cheerleading squad to make a virgin sacrifice, he finds himself face to face with one of life's most unchanging truths: there are no virgins on high school cheerleading squads. Immerse yourself in all of the cutting-edge special effects, compelling plot points and believable acting that you would expect from a 1977 movie called Satan's Cheerleaders.
Hooked. The Haven, a local organization that helps people recover from addiction, is presenting a double feature of Hooked: Tracking Heroin's Hold on Arizona and Hooked RX: From Prescription to Addiction at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8. As the number of heroin and opioid-related deaths rises, this event attempts to raise awareness of an issue that's hard to talk about. Both films were produced by students at ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; the first received the prestigious national Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will open the event, and the screenings will be followed by a panel discussion with medical workers, law-enforcement officials, journalists, recovering addicts, and Sean Logan, a former Tucson resident who was heavily involved in the creation of both films.
The Monkey Farm. Remember a few months ago when that drone footage of primates at the Mesa Monkey Farm came out, and rumors started to fly about how the place closed years ago, and no one was caring for these apes and they'd been left there with no choice but to go on a desperate, cannibalistic spree? This movie is kind of about that. In it, group of kids sets out to make a film about the horrors of animal testing, but they find themselves face to face with something even scarier at the Mesa Monkey Farm. Arizona-based filmmaker Ian Messenger shot the entire movie in southeastern Arizona, and it makes its world premiere at The Loft at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
Lina Wertmüller Film Series. The Seduction of Mimi, the next in the October series celebrating Wertmüller's work, is showing at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11. Giancarlo Giannini (who later became the stock "Mr. Macho" for her movies, but here works with the director for the first time) stars as Mimi, an Italian laborer who loses everything when he refuses to vote for the Mafia's candidate. He starts to turn his life around when he falls in love with the beautiful Fiorella, but sex, politics and all of the other stuff you should never talk about at the dinner table lead to him paying the deliciously comical price.
Happy-Go-Lucky. Watch a buoyant optimist go head to head with an army of tetchy cynics in this film by Oscar-nominated writer and director Mike Leigh, showing at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 9. When Poppy—a school teacher who is just as delightful and enamored with the world as her name would suggest—has her bike stolen, it unleashes a chain of events that has her dealing with a grumpy driving instructor, a child bully, a perturbed homeless guy and a pregnant sister. All the while, she continues with her mission to be relentlessly hopeful and positive.
Endless Poetry. The Loft closes out its monthlong tribute to filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky by showing the filmmaker's most recent film, which came out just last year, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5. Because it's Jodorowsky, it is, of course, stunning and overwhelming and at times disturbing. But this film delves into deeply personal territory by telling Jodorowsky's own story as a young poet in Santiago, Chile and his quest to discover his own meaning, and perhaps the meaning of life. In a true Jodorowskian touch, the young biographical hero, Alejandro, is played by Jodorowsky's own son Adan.
See loftcinema.org for more info.
Tucson Modernism Week
Let's get conceptual!
Speaking of movies about fathers and sons, Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, is showing at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Center for Creative Photography (1030 N. Olive Road). It chronicles the life and work of Finnish-American modern architect Eero Saarinen, who designed St. Louis' Gateway Arch, as well as buildings at JFK airport, Yale University and Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, and who died suddenly at age 51. His son, Eric, is an award-winning and commercially admired director and cinematographer, and will be a special guest at the screening.
Journalism on Screen. The New York Times, The Arizona Daily Star, The Daily Wildcat/UA TV-3, The UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the UA School of Journalism, Arizona Inn and The Loft are back at it again to remind everyone how important (and cool!) journalism is. And this week, they've partnered with Tucson Modernism Week as well! Bill Cunningham New York, a film about the New York Times fashion photographer, is screening at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8. It will be followed by an onstage discussion with Guy Trebay, NYT reporter, writer of the "On the Runway" blog and extremely fashionable man.
Tuesday Night Classics
We can all relate a little bit to Shaun from Shaun of the Dead, showing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 10. In today's dog-eat-dog world, it's difficult to find work-life balance, to remember anniversaries, to be a considerate roommate and to fight off hordes of man-eat-man zombies. Follow Shaun, Ed and Liz through their bloody and relatable saga in this award-winning film, and consider it a resource for how to keep a mere zombie uprising from escalating into a full-blown zombie apocalypse.
Check out harkinstheatres.com/tnc.aspx to learn more.
Grease Sing-A-Long. Thanks to this special subtitled version of everyone's favorite John Travolta movie (besides 2007's critically acclaimed Wild Hogs), you'll finally be able to accurately sing along with that impossible scatty part at the end when the car is flying away. And you can do it at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 6, at the Fox Theatre. The screening is presented by The Hearth Foundation, and ticket sales will benefit the organization. As the weather cools and you find yourself starting to pine away for some Summer Lovin', fill the void with a bonanza of high school dances, high-pitched voices and highly over-the-top outfits. And who knows? Maybe you'll find someone else whose tastes are so obscure that "Beauty School Dropout" is their favorite song or obnoxious Patty Simcox is their favorite character.
Visit foxtucson.com to learn more. ■