By now everyone is aware of the storm of controversy surrounding this years Cave Creek Festival of the Arts. “Sex and Violence” directed by Charles Petersen was banned from the festival after being deemed in violation of the rules governing use of the facility it was to be shown in; the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center on the grounds of the Cave Creek public school. “Sex and Violence” was to be screened with 11 other films, but was singled out for “language that is offensive or inappropriate.” I have scoured every back alley in Phoenix for a copy, eventually obtaining one from director, I mean controversial director Charles Petersen himself.
Sex and Violence – Charles Petersen (not shown)
If there ever was a film that needed to be banned from a film festival, “Sex and Violence” is by no means the one. High production values are consistent throughout “Sex and Violence,” as the film begins with the most convincing and masterfully executed intro I’ve seen in ages. A newsman reports live from a grisly murder/suicide on a Phoenix street. Music, lighting and photography sensually combine in a serene, erotic canvas as Donald (Patrick Adam) and his wife Cassandra (Carrie Rapp) become sexually aroused while they survey the crime scene from beyond the police barricade. Violent, gory images are the only source of the couple’s arousal and soon it becomes an insatiable addiction.
Although the film is modeled in the image of David Cronenberg’s extremely controversial film “Crash” (1996), “Sex and Violence” has only mastered the controversy part. After the couple leaves the crime scene, the rest of the film takes place in their bedroom, as their relationship falls apart and they constantly argue. The sex scenes are laughable, and the coarse language only helps to weaken the rapidly stagnating story. With “Sex and Violence,” director Petersen has earned the most coveted award every filmmaker dreams of: a DVD cover with bold red letters across it shouting “Banned in Arizona!”
Final Take – Powerful indie in a plain brown wrapper.
Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival – Sunday, July 11, 2010
Boulders – Jake Cibik
The first film presented in the ‘Youth’ portion of the festival, Cibik already shows the makings of a true filmmaker by taking an amazing location (Boulder House in north Scottsdale) and presenting it with the eye of an artist. “Boulders” begins with the adolescent Darren reading his own suicide note, and awaking in a strange, cavernous dwelling with boulders jutting out of walls and ceilings. Cibik elegantly captures a dark, sepia world of nightmares and regrets, as Darren re-lives moments in his life while drifting in and out of the mysterious Boulder House. Life is suspended as nature surrounds and suffocates.
Final Take – Boulders rocks!
The Rider Of the West – Bethany Brown and Haley Phelps
Brown and Phelps take us back to our early filmmaking roots as they deftly animate legos in “The Rider of the West.” Working in the lost art of ‘lego-mation,’ the duo painstakingly creates a black and white tale of bank robbery and justice…lego-style!
Final Take – Lego-mation is a snap.
The Last Day – Tanner Hall
“The Last Day” follows an apathetic youth as he lazily wastes his life one Saturday, and experiences a last minute epiphany that arrives tragically late. Color and sound are quite good, but the presentation of “The Last Day” comes off more as a PSA than a short film.
Final Take – ‘Tis but the tragedy technology hath wrought.
Spanish Dancer – Christina Jo’leigh and Vincent Pascoe
Masterful lensman Pascoe confidently treads in familiar waters as he and Jo’leigh present a music video featuring flamenco guitarist Ricardo Griego. Pascoe and Jo’leigh deliver a dexterous video, bursting with technique and attention. Sound is crisp and precise as the duo makes use of every lighting technique in their arsenal. Jo’leigh and Pascoe are able to skillfully capture the quintessence of what draws filmmakers to Arizona, as a crimson sunset atop Black Mountain in Cave Creek becomes a beautiful backdrop to this colorful collaboration.
Final Take – Grab the gear…it’s golden hour!
The Fabulous Flag Duo – Chris Gunn
Filmmaker Gunn takes us on a playful romp through Flagstaff as we search for the elusive cross-country skiing duo of Burt and Bob. Along the way we meet a cornucopia of Flagstaff citizenry as they relate their encounters with the pair. The Fabulous Flag Duo is less a documentary and more a lovingly created tribute to fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
Final Take – Ski you later.
The Sandwich Movie – Sean Christensen
Christensen has spent considerable time animating this montage about a sandwich his sister made for him to take on his month long trip to France. No stranger to animation, Christensen has defined his own unique style of presenting the most excruciatingly mundane topic, and delivering it in a sophisticated yet captivating way.
Final Take – Sandwich is still yummy.
Pattern: Response – Stephen Krystek (previously reviewed)
Dirty Love – Justin Humbert and Scott Chaffee
Superb acting and great photography highlight this humorous tale of mild sexual dysfunction and clever manipulation. When amorous boyfriend asks his all-too-willing girlfriend to dress up like a French maid, only one thought crosses his mind, and their adventurous role-playing goes awry. “Dirty Love” switches from playful comedy to chauvinistic antipathy in an instant, when disparaging remarks are unnecessarily quipped.
Final Take – Down and dirty.
Face Fear – Angel Ruiz (previously reviewed)
Shave – Sean Christensen
Christensen returns in a rare film festival double header with “Shave”. By far his darkest montage to date, “Shave” is Christensen’s tribute to his father. While portraying the need for identity and association, the film is oddly disturbing and darkly morose. A story of death without death. Of murky color and suburban nightmares. Blue clear pools glistening in the Arizona sun that turn dark and dead in an instant. Dreams of life and future expired as the video tape ends and the slide projector fades. “Shave” is a rare gem that manages to joyfully uplift and deeply sadden at the same time.
Final Take – Cuts clean and smooth on a razors edge.
Penny Man – Harrod Blank
“Penny Man” celebrates the crazies that surround us in Arizona as it profiles Tucson numismatic Steve Baker, better known as the ‘Penny Man.’ Baker wears clothes made of pennies, drives a van covered in pennies and wears jewelry made of pennies. What can I say, the guy luuvs pennies. You can’t help but like Baker as he radiates with penny power and goes cuckoo for copper. One of the best local documentary films I have seen, “Penny Man” is well researched and professionally assembled. A documentary in the original tradition of documentaries. Directors cut better include the half million pennies covering the offices of the Tucson Weekly and of course, the penny bikini.
Final Take – Penny shines.