Tucson, Arizona Film Reviews

HEAVY NOVA

September 24, 2013

HEAVY NOVA, Peter Leon's ambitious sci-fi, comedy, murder mystery offers good production values, awesome animation sequences and special effects for a low-budget production.  Audio was very good.  Acting was good; Leon's stable of actors' performances are improving since COPPER CREEK.

From a spiritual point of view, the plot had some interesting things to say about trans-humanism, i.e., replacing humans with machines.  In the future, Cerberus, a mining company, teams up with the US military for an off-planet mission along with a group of deep space miners (military-industrial-complex). It's interesting that the mining company is named Cerberus. Cerberus, from Greek mythology, was a three-headed dog that guarded Hades.  Souls could get into Hades, but could never come out.  So Cerberus, the mining company, has invited these miners to enter their world of which they may never get out alive. There is a cameo by the director acting as the company president.  He denies the requests to abort the mission in spite of the rash of unexplained deaths (or murders?). Corporations are constantly trying to buy our souls; and those that get bought have a hard time coming back to a state of self-empowerment. (That's just my interpretation.) 

As far as the joke writing goes, I am not the best person to review this kind of comedy.  It is rare that a comedy makes me laugh unless it is a certain kind of dark comedy or something that breaks my boundaries. The jokes in HEAVY NOVA were the kind of jokes I might have laughed at when I was 14 years old.  Penis, Gay sex and misogynistic jokes abound and kept me distracted from sinking into the plot.  If these jokes were more about furthering the plot or deepening the character and had more space between them, I think they would have been more effective for me.

But I did thoroughly enjoy some of the commercials and episodes shown by the prop TV on the space ship.  I liked "Spoiled Little Sh#ts" and the "Bark to Voice" commercial.

DVD EXTRAS: There are plenty to enjoy.  The "Making-of" featurette did not shy away from the hardships of independent filmmaking.  In spite of these difficulties, it appeared that there was a light-hearted, fun-loving atmosphere on set.  There were also personal moments shared, for example, when a couple of young boys interrupted Leon's interview on a playground.  I was impressed with the director's kind and diplomatic interaction with them.  But I was taken aback by some of the critical comments made by crew members regarding explicitly named film vendors.  (Careful not to accidentally burn your film industry bridges while publicly making comments that may seem funny at the time, but would be better said in private.)

The "Special Effects Comparison" featurette was especially interesting in terms of seeing the effectiveness of the green screen effects.

I think Leon has enough chops now to direct some great writing with seasoned actors.  But for those who like 14-year-old humor, you will get your fill with HEAVY NOVA.  For more info, a trailer, and to purchase a DVD, visit the HEAVY NOVA website: http://peterleon.22slides.com/heavy-nova
 

ZHON: THE ALIEN INTERVIEWS

June 11, 2012

Zhon: The Alien Interviews is a webisode about an alien from another planet named Zhon, played by Robert Linden, who shows up at a US Secret Service office hoping to be interviewed by Amanda Bella, played by Alida Holguin Gunn, a beautiful host of a spiritual TV talk show.  As a result he's kept in custody by Secret Service Agents, among them, Agent Killjoy, played by Eric Schumacher  The agents are trying to determine if he really is an alien.  They do allow Amanda Bella to interview him and...
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FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS: “THE GOLDEN GONGS” MAY 2012

May 20, 2012

MAY 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS (FFS) - GOLDEN GONGS YEAR-END SHOWDOWN.

I was afraid I wouldn’t get a seat at the First Friday Shorts’ (FFS) annual contest, so I arrived at 8:45pm.  The parking lot was almost full.  I met up with my Canadian friends, Ross and Carol, who were my buddies at the 2012 Arizona International Film Festival.  We were all honored as “super-fans” because we saw almost every single film at the fest.  My reviews will be coming ...


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APRIL 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS

April 27, 2012

APRIL 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS (FFS)

I arrived soon after 9pm and quickly got my hand stamped (once you pay for your ticket to the FFS, you get a stamp on your hand like in a bar or a rock show) and looked around for Max to ask him about entering our Cowtown Gypsy Cinema sketches to FFS; hence my delay in getting my seat.  The theater was almost completely full (about 5/6th’s)....


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AZ 100 INDIE FILM

March 31, 2012

AZ 100 INDIE FILM is a celebration of the Arizona Centennial showing the best of 100 short films made in Tucson.  It was hosted by the Screening Room and featured entries from past years at the Arizona International Film Festival.

METAMORA by Keisha Richardson is playful stop-motion animation showing the 2-D journey of a star over various simple landscapes.  Great background musi...


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AUTHENTIC PRODUCTIONS BEST OF 2011 FILM SCREENING

March 19, 2012

On March 16, 2012, Authentic Productions, a local film production company, which I would call a real film collective, presented themselves to the Tucson community by holding a screening of some of their works at the Crossroads Cinema.  Their event included a red carpet photo shoot complete with professional photographers and a meet-and-greet with the cast and crew of the featured sh...


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FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS MARCH 2012

March 12, 2012

MARCH 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS (FFS)

I arrived at 8:48pm.  It was cold outside.  The theater looked three-fourths to 5/8 full.

A mass of Loft previews were shown: Membership commercial, Rocky Horror, Solaris (original), Police Women, Finding Joe (just incase there were some introspective people in the audience?), Intruder (I’ve got to see this one with Sam Raimi and Bruce Ca...


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FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS - FEBRUARY 2012

March 4, 2012

FEBRUARY 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS (FFS)

All the trailers for the Loft films must have been shown before the show started.  I got there just on time.  The theater looked 3/4 to 5/8 full.

Due to some technical difficulties, the audience was asked to sing the Ma Na Ma Na song until the sound system was fixed.

For Valentine’s day, the FFS annual special event was played out ...


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FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS - JANUARY 2012

January 22, 2012

JANUARY 2012 FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS (FFS)

The Loft Theater was packed and so was the parking lot.  I had to find parking on the street.  Michael Sterner was “UNWELL” as Max Cannon put it.  He also introduced the New Year as the “Beginning of Oblivion.”  Now I see where he goes on the internet.  Personally, I think it’s going to be a great year for people who are awake enough...


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WHAT’S UP DOCZ? 2011

January 3, 2012

I love a good documentary and I was excited to see 17 student documentary shorts from the U of A Junior Class of 2013 at the Loft Cinema.  I was really impressed and learned ALOT!  The choice of topics documented were awesome and many of them showcased hidden gems in Tucson.  There's incredible work coming from the class of 2013.  The U of A  School of Theater, Film and Television is producing a race of super filmmakers.  Many of them have won awards at the First Friday Shorts.

A Way With Wo...


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