Saturday, April 2, was a busy day at the Phoenix Film Festival, beginning with the Arizona Showcase. Let’s not waste any time; here are the films presented, in the order they were screened.
Hung out to Dry – Kyle Hill
In case of any mild confusion, ‘Dry’ was the first film screened during the Arizona showcase in order to remind us that we are most definitely watching Arizona indie. We enter the dream world of young Lilly, an aspiring cook who fantasizes about being the top chef. Dreams are dashed when boyfriend Tony becomes a tent city tenant, forcing Lilly to work at a Laundromat owned by Tony’s drug dealing mom, Wanda (Lindsay Marlin). There’s plenty of dirty laundry from here on out, as dialogue is dripping with profanities, and clothing is soaked in gallons of blood and burned by bullets. Lighting stands out, especially in the slo-mo drug den scene. Jokes are delivered via fax machine. Somehow, the Arizona definition of ‘dark comedy’ bypassed Webster’s and came straight from Wikipedia.
Final Take – Could have been warm, but it’s a cold water wash.
Bad Time to Sell – Jaz Garewal
Nasty real estate agent Cal Smart (Tony Eckstat) won’t budge, as a beaten couple, who have been pounded by poltergeists, desperately try to unload their haunted house. A very simple offering from Tucson, Garewel skips the FX and concentrates on the cubicle, as the talented Eckstat takes this acting vehicle for a ride.
Final Take – Good time.
Roadkill – Justin Yngelmo
The rain swept Arizona highway instantly captivates as a weary traveler (Scott Cushman) runs over a coyote while asleep at the wheel. Great photography and shot composition entice as he proceeds down the highway and picks up a scary hitchhiker (Mike Postalakis). From here, we are firmly strapped in, to a cheesy Green Screen/ADR kiddie ride as the pair engage in a steady, inane-yet-oh-so-humorous banter whilst the Arizona landscape whizzes by. In case you forgot during the brief interlude, Arizona indie pride shines as blood and guts spill, splash and spurt for a full 30 seconds.
Final Take – Roadkilling me softly.
Garbage – Tom Noga
Aptly titled snore captures the conversation between 2 people who can’t decide which garbage bin to use. Seriously.
Final Take – That would be redundant.
Story Time Fables – Brendan Guy Murphy
Superb filmmaking from Tucson as Director Murphy takes us into the mind of a tormented man. As a child (Mathew Williams) he would escape the words of his abusive father by listening to the “Tales of Robin Hood” on his record player. Now, as an adult (Brian Carthey) the abuse has taken its toll, and he seeks refuge one last time in his boyhood fantasy world. Dialogue is kept to an absolute minimum as sincere narration carries us lithely through amazing scenes of Robin Hood and his Merry Men cavorting in Sherwood Forest. Using nothing but ghoul lighting for effect, we flash back to the man as he completely slips away from reality, to an incredibly heart-tugging scene of his heroes carrying him through the forest in a litter. Major props to Laurie Franklin Garcia for superb costuming.
Final Take – True and perfect storytelling.
Resuscitate – Ken Gregg
Prescott is the place for isolation and numbing depression as Director Gregg takes us on a bleak and desolate tour of the town. Stunning photography captures Kent (Jason Robbins) as he sadly meanders through eerily empty streets, to the hardware store for some shotgun shells. Before he can off himself, he needs a spell-check from the cute cart wrangler (Willa Lavinia). The young lady convinces him that life is worth living, and everything he needs is right here, in the True Value hardware store. Impassive performance by Lavinia. Excellent script by Dave Jenkins.
Final Take – Glad I stuck around for this one.