Tucson, Arizona Film Reviews


May 21, 2011

I DREAM IN WIDESCREEN – BFA Thesis Films from the U of A School of Theatre, Film & Television at the Fox Theater, Tucson, AZ   I have not found any of these shorts online yet.  Alex Italics, prolific local filmmaker, helped with many of the films.The University of Arizona Filmmaking program is getting a lot of recognition out in the real world as evidenced by FotoKem offering The FotoKem New Filmmaker Award of $5,000 in goods and services (at a student rate) to the director of the best short at this event.

TRUE LOVE’S KISS by Jesse Klein is a comedy about a guy planning to propose to his girlfriend.  They both are in the same play.  He has a minor role and she has the lead as a princess opposite a slimy handsome actor, playing the prince.  Obstacles and misunderstandings abound in this genuinely funny story.  Great cinematography, well-edited, well-acted and great costumes!

HOUSEWARMING by Lara Erman is the story of a teenage girl who reluctantly moves to a new home with her parents.  She misses her friends.  A visiting teenage boy reveals to her a secret which makes her feel more at ease about her move.  Nice shots, good acting.  

DARK EYES by Mischa Cantu is an artistic Russian short made in Tucson.  By that I mean, it looked like a Russian short.  The soundtrack sounded Russian.  The set locations were very industrial and gloomy, but cleverly filmed in Tucson.  The lighting and cinematography were nicely atmospheric and gave a surreal feel to this dreamy, artsy story of a young man venturing forth into the world to become a cosmonaut.  He meets a lot of dangerous and creepy characters on the way.  I would like to see this again.  Nicely done, even though I had a hard time following the plot.
I found the first 35 seconds of the short here.  I think I found Mischa’s YouTube page here. 

STUFF: INSIDE THE WORLD OF STORAGE UNIT AUCTIONS by Rachel Eisenberg, produced by Cesar Huitron is a short documentary about the world of Storage Unit Auctions in Tucson.  I learned a lot from this film.  The contents of 100,000 storage units are auctioned off every month.  If you attend an auction, you are not allowed to go into the unit to look. You may only see the contents of the unit a few feet from the door.  And you are bidding on all the contents of the unit as one purchase, so you never know what you're going to get.  This documentary was nicely filmed and very well edited.  Some of the edits were quite clever and cute.  Hope to be able to see this short again sometime.  

HOT and COLD by Susan Tan is the story of a Chinese-American teenage boy who is failing at school and reluctant to show his grades to his strict, traditional Chinese father.  A cute and touching story with Chinese subtitles.  Nice cinematography and lighting.  Good acting.  I found a nicely filmed and edited behind-the-scenes video of the production here. 

HI-FI ALIBI directed by Everett Forbes and written by Alex Italics is a film noir/horror story that takes place in the days of 45rpm records (circa 1960’s).  A DJ suspects his wife of having an affair with the mailman.  Clever story, moody lighting, great fantasy sequences, great editing and acting, make this a thoroughly engaging film.

TOM by Dan Reeves won the $5,000.00 FotoKem Award which is a new feature of the I Dream in Widescreen event.  He really deserved it.  This short was my favorite.  This artistic comedy tells the story of Tom who works in a left-brain office, but would like to start working in the right-brain office which is really the Imagination Room.  He finally gets into the Imagination room with the help of a friend.  In that room, there is absolutely nothing but whiteness.  There you can imagine anything and it manifests.  Want a sandwich, there it is.  Want a soda, there it is.  It turns out that Tom is just an aspect of a bigger Tom and enables him to wildly express his creativity.   A great metaphor for those artists who have yet to unleash their creativity.  Excellently filmed, edited and acted.  Nice special effects with the imagination room and split screen work showing a handful of Toms in the same room.  Highly recommended. 

THE BREAKS by James Kilbridge is the tragic story of a gifted graffiti artist who gets accepted to art school.  Nice acting, lots of great shots of urban art and urban landscapes. 

NINE TO FIRE by Tom Smith   I loved seeing this fun, wildly creative animation short the second time.  I first saw it at the Golden Gong Awards 2011 where it won the regular prize for May.  See my review here.  (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the review.)

CHILES Y MAIZ by Paloma Jacqueline, produced by Cesar Huitron is the story of a young woman struggling to accept morning the death of her mother in the Day of the Dead Ceremony.  A quiet story that also could be a travel log, featuring Tucson’s Day of the Dead Parade.  Nice cinematography, great make-up and costumes.

PERCHANCE by Estevan Quintero is a romantic comedy about a foul-mouthed, insensitive-sounding guy who tries to pick up an artist whose work he just insulted at an art gallery showing.  Really good production values, nice cinematography and excellent acting.

VOYAGER by Jared Potter is a science fiction short about an earthling commander who battles aliens from outer space.  Great cinematography, computer generated animation, and great acting.  See trailer here.  Congratulations on being accepted to the LA Short Films fest for 2011!



May 21, 2011

Tucson, know your new neighbors!

Fatuma by Kirsten Boele is a documentary that follows a woman named Fatuma in her first 90-days in Tucson, as a refugee from Sudan .  She had been living in a refugee camp with three of her six children.  She was separated from her oldest three children and her husband. At the time of her arrival in Tucson she didn't know where they were.  After a long trip, Fatuma, six-months pregnant, landed in Tucson with her three young children, a daughter and two sons, . ...
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May 15, 2011

MAGIC HOUR was the University of AZ BFA class of 2012’s student short films screening event hosted by the Loft Cinema.  The shorts had very high production values, including great lighting, cinematography and color-correction which made for easy viewing.  At this time, I’ve only been able to find one of the shorts online.

CHECKING OUT by Damon Mosier, Director & Darious Britt, Director of Photography.  This is a dark comedy short about two thugs who accidently kill their hostage and...

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May 10, 2011


I usually don't like these year-end First Friday Shorts (FFS) awards because in the past, the audience has had such bad taste in picking winners.  But I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of most of the films.

When I arrived on time at 9:00pm, the placed was absolutely packed.  I think there may have been one or two seats left in the large ground-floor screening room.  I also had to park across the street.  ...
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INDIEYOUTH: Films by Kids from the 2011 AIFF

April 4, 2011

Check out the shorts in the 2011 Arizona Int'l Film Fest by High School students - many of them from Tucson.  They are amazing!  In my review, very single short is reviewed with links.  See most of them online!

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SO CLOSE TO PERFECT - A Hilarious Rom-Com

April 4, 2011

Check out my review of Jon Proudstar's latest feature-length romantic comedy, "So Close To Perfect" at Tucson Filmmaker online magazine.

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Double Pre-Review of Devil's Toy and What You Need

March 22, 2011
Here is a link to a double review of two shorts that are on the film festival circuit as of 3/22/11.

The Devil's Toy and What You Need

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FIRST FRIDAY SHORTS - March 2011 Edition

March 13, 2011

Check out my review of this event at Tucson Filmmaker Magazine Online

Every local short is reviewed plus my favorite filler shorts shown in March'11.
The winner of the March'11 First Friday shorts is below:

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