M.V. Moorhead, Author at PHOENIX magazine

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While the big story on Oscar night was, of course, The Slap, among the minor stories was the winner for Best Picture: Sian Heder’s comedy-drama CODA. As with Mesa native Troy Kotsur’s award for Best Supporting Actor for that same film, the win has a local angle here in the Valley: CODA was the Opening Night selection in last year’s Phoenix Film Festival. As PFF Executive Director Jason Carney crowed on Facebook after the win:...

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On the short list of unambiguously beloved sports heroes here in the Valley, along with Larry Fitzgerald, Shane Doan, Luis Gonzalez and a few others, there’s only one – so far – that has had a big-time Hollywood biopic made about him. Quarterback Kurt Warner, who in 2009 led the Arizona Cardinals to their only Super Bowl to date, is the title character of American Underdog, last year’s saga of the struggles and triumphs of Warner...

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Seth Landau, maker and star of the YouTube series Cards Brah, has reached out beyond the persona of fanatical Cardinals geek into full-blown cinematic auteur. The writer-producer-director-actor has two independent movies releasing this spring. One, the comedy Take Out, is now available on Tubi; the other, the cult-themed shocker Bryan Loves You, comes out on Blu-ray on March 22. What’s intriguing is that both of these low-budget indies were shot well over 10 years ago....

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For unfortunate reasons, solo theatre has had a renaissance these last two years. A show with a lone actor onstage is relatively inexpensive to produce, doesn’t require constant COVID testing to rehearse, and can be performed online quite effectively. It may be that even when/if our society returns to comparative “normality,” this form will remain a staple. Friday and Saturday night, Arizona Actors Academy serves up the second of the two weekends of its Solo...

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Among the week’s various disheartening tidings came the news that FilmBar, Phoenix’s hip repertory cinema and watering hole, was closing its doors permanently. It’s truly a loss to the Valley’s arts and social scene; during its nearly eleven-year run Downtown, the place expertly programmed a mix of cool non-mainstream screen fare – foreign flicks, weird indies, documentaries, neglected classics. Many of us will remember FilmBar fondly as the place to see marginal but fascinating stuff...

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Slated for March but pushed back by you-know-what, the 2021 Phoenix Film Festival is now scheduled to open this coming Thursday, August 12 and run through Sunday, August 22. It’s a slightly less extravagant affair this year; fewer screenings, fewer special guests, no party tent, and all Harkins COVID protections will be observed. But the focus, we’re assured, is on quality more than quantity, with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Cases in point: This...

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Playing this Tuesday morning and Friday afternoon at Sedona International Film Festival is In a Different Key, a wide-ranging yet intimate documentary about autism.   Directed by Caren Zucker and John Donvan, based on their book of the same title, the film – much of which was shot here in the Valley – throws a wide net. There are sections attempting to define what autism is, and isn’t; the painful, often horrific early treatments of these patients; the social, racial and economic implications of the diagnosis; the differing perceptions of...

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If you haven’t ventured out to the multiplexes since the shutdown, you could do worse – if you’re fully vaccinated, that is – than to re-christen yourself as a moviegoer with Saturday’s double feature at Harkins Scottsdale 101. First up is the 1941 Orson Welles masterpiece Citizen Kane at 3:30 p.m., followed by 2020’s Mank at 6 p.m. Directed, produced, co-written by (though to what extent is debated) and starring Welles in his feature debut,...

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If you weren’t among the Python fanatics who got to see John Cleese and his daughter Camilla perform together last Monday at House of Comedy, don’t despair. The pair have been held over for a second evening of “Comedy With the Cleeses” at the same venue at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 6. “Camilla gets me most of my work these days,” notes the elder Cleese. “More than my agents do, certainly.” The current case in...

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It isn’t every day that a member of the noble Monty Python clan visits us here in the Valley. About two decades ago, Eric Idle passed through the Orpheum with his jolly music-hall style show, and in 2016 Idle returned, this time appearing in Mesa along with his old crony John Cleese. Now Cleese is back, this time with a new performing partner: His daughter Camilla Cleese. The two take the stage Monday evening at...

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Year in and year out for the past quarter century, the Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival has been one of the more interesting flick fests around the Valley. This year, however, it’s almost as interesting for the way in which it’s delivered to audiences as for the diverse and fascinating selection of films. This year GPJFF, as with almost everything else in society, has been affected by COVID-19 precautions, and is therefore an entirely virtual...

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Among the ugly, squalid growth of political signage that had sprung up along the street corners in my part of town in the lead-up to last month’s primary election, one sign in particular caught my eye. Near some of the standard signs for incumbent Moon Valley Justice of the Peace Andrew Hettinger… …were these signs, depicting Hettinger as a wolf in… …well, not as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but as a “Republican in Democrat...

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At West Wind Glendale Drive-In: Sonic the Hedgehog—At this writing, it is still possible to go out to the movies here in the Valley, if you really want it; the West Wind Drive-In on 55th Avenue in Glendale is still open for business. Even though some of the fonder memories of my childhood and youth involve seeing stuff like The Valley of Gwangi and Food of the Gods and The Giant Spider Invasion and Horror Hospital and The Concrete Jungle at drive-ins back in my beloved...

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On VOD: Emma—This adaptation of the Jane Austen classic was released to the multiplexes in mid-February, and then to on-demand services when the theaters were closed in response to the current pandemic. It’s an idyllic deadpan comedy that might pass two hours of “shelter in place” quite agreeably. Austen’s “handsome, clever and rich” title heroine fancies herself a superb matchmaker, and amuses herself with meddling in the engagements of others. Most recklessly, she encourages her...

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