February must be film-festival season here in the Valley. You can't swing a dead movie geek -- though it's worth a try -- without hitting a festival. The first of at least three February fests is the New Times Flashback Film Fest, a blowout of faves, with one obscure curio, all from the three decades during which this publication has existed.
It kicks off with a gala benefiting Scottsdale's 20/30 Club -- an organization that raises dough for children's charities -- at 7 p.m. Friday, February 4, at Harkins Camelview 5, located on Goldwater Boulevard north of Camelback in Scottsdale, with a screening of Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece The Godfather to follow at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30, and are available by calling 480-424-2030.
The festival proper starts the next day, at the same venue. Tickets for all screenings other than the gala cost a measly buck, and are available at the New Times booth at Camelview. The films were selected by my colleague Dewey Webb and me, and while some of our choices proved disappointingly unavailable, we have been able to land 10 movies we think are worth seeking out on the big screen. Some interesting patterns emerged, too -- three Robert Altmans, one Spielberg, one Kubrick, one Coppola, two Coen Brothers pictures, two Jack Nicholsons. The selections include M*A*S*H, Raising Arizona, Chinatown, The Shining, Nashville, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Clueless, Fargo, and Altman's bizarre, troubling, rarely seen 3 Women.
For more information on specific dates and times, go to the website: New Times Flashback Film Fest
Opening on Sunday, February 6, and continuing through Thursday, February 10, at the AMC Esplanade 14 theater (located across from Biltmore Fashion Park on Camelback) is the fourth annual Phoenix Jewish Film Festival. Five films with Judaic themes will be screened. Tickets are $7.50, five for $35, $5 for students. For more information, call 6022741800.
Here's a run-down:
The Harmonists: (2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, February 6) This German film tells the story of the "Comedian Harmonists," the singing group who ran into trouble under the Nazis because some of its members were Jewish. Rated R. Local film maven Fred Linch leads the post-screening discussion.
The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum: (7:30 p.m. Monday, February 7) The hero of the Israeli film is told he has 92 minutes to live, and flies into a series of fantasies about how his friends and family react to his death. Unrated, the film has some nudity. Schmulik Lehar of the Phoenix Jewish Federation will discuss the film.
Max and the Kid: (2 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 8) This family film about an elderly man's quest to find his 1965 Red Ruby Mustang convertible was honored at the Palm Springs Film Festival. Writer-director-producer David Campbell will facilitate the discussion afterward.
Hannah: (2 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 9) This Austrian political thriller involves the discovery of a neo-Nazi underground in a doll-manufacturing firm. There are some adult scenes in this unrated film. The discussion is to be led by David Ira Goldstein, artistic director of the Arizona Theatre Company.
Family Secrets: (7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 10) This semi-comic tale of first love between two Israeli cousins rounds out the festival. Schmulik Lehar leads the discussion.
Festival three is the Phoenix International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, which runs from Thursday, February 10, through Sunday, February 13, at Camelview. More on that next week, or call 602-274-0994.