Laws of Deception, a short film made on a shoestring by Valley writer/director Charles Peterson, is a compact thriller with a twisted ending that Peterson sets up nicely. It's a "Hit man meets girl, hit man seduces girl, hit man kills girl?" kinda flick starring Hispanic Schwarzenegger-alike Jose Rosette as burned-out contract killer James "The Spade," and Amy Searcy as The Spade's latest "assignment." In a mere 17 minutes, Peterson manages to pay homage to Psycho, Double Indemnity, and even The Terminator. His direction is simple but effective, and the cinematography by Scottsdale's W.C. Peters is often excellent, as is the moody score by Phoenix's Igor Dymkov. The short was shot on location in Tempe, with "catering provided by Little Caesars Pizza, Jack in the Box, and Panda Express." Hilarious. The unrated film features some nudity and simulated sex, and is not appropriate for younger audiences. It premières at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 8, at Pollack Tempe Cinemas, 1825 East Elliot Road. A Q&A session with the director, cast and crew follows. Peterson's previous short, Creep, will then be screened at 8:30, with a second showing of Laws at 9. Admission is free. Call 480-345-6461 or visit www.coolwavepictures.com/lawsofdeception.
The CopperCon 25 Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention celebrates its silver anniversary Friday, September 9, through Sunday, September 11, with a little something for anyone interested in sci-fi and fantasy -- from guest appearances by renowned genre authors Robert J. Sawyer and Greg Keyes to a panel moderated by members of the United Federation of Phoenix (i.e., the local Star Trek fan club). There's also an Anime Room, tons of gaming opportunities, a sci-fi masquerade ball, and a special remembrance of "ghost of honor" G. Harry Stone, the late "father of model rocketry." Grab your rubber Spock ears and beam down to the Embassy Suites Phoenix North, 2577 West Greenway Road. Call 602-375-1777 or visit www.coppercon.org for hours, admission prices and other information.
Symphony Hall, the grande dame of the Phoenix arts, reopens after a stylish makeover on Saturday, September 10. The Symphony Hall Reopening Gala features a season-opening performance by the Phoenix Symphony and its new conductor, Virginia G. Piper Music Director Michael Christie. The program includes Copland's Old American Songs, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite. The evening also features a complimentary champagne toast for the entire audience during intermission. Tickets are incredibly reasonable for such a red-carpet affair, ranging from $20 to $60 (the top-tier $70 seats are sold out). The music starts at 8 p.m. Symphony Hall is located at 225 East Adams Street. Call 602-495-1999 or visit www.phoenixsymphony.org.
John Heffron is the Energizer Bunny of the comedy world. The Detroit native was the Last Comic Standing in the NBC series of the same name, and he plays the lead role in the VH1 sitcom Smash (created by Heffron's musical idol, Gene Simmons of KISS). As if that weren't enough, he co-created the popular card game "That Guy!" in his spare time (check it out at www.thatguygame.com). Heffron's lengthy résumé also includes a stint as former on-air partner of Motor City DJ Danny Bonaduce (of Partridge Family and police-lineup fame). Somehow, Heffron has crammed a seven-month standup tour into his busy schedule, and he wraps up his local run at the Tempe Improv, 930 East University Drive, with a show at 8 p.m. Sunday, September 11. Tickets range from $17 to $20. Call 480-921-9877 or visit www.tempeimprov.com.
"I am not a monster, but I'll eat your heart," croaks Matthew Houck in his trampled trombone of a voice on "Not a Heel," the first song on the new album by Phosphorescent. Houck is the vocalist/songwriter for the Athens, Georgia, band, and "Not a Heel" offers a prelude to the eerie, weary things to come on the new disc, Aw Come Aw Wry. The album lurches along like one of those funeral parades honoring a soul that's passed to glory. In fact, "funereal soul" would be a good way to describe Phosphorescent's music, which takes some initial attitude adjustment for anyone who's not psychotic or suicidal, but then grows on you like a slowly creeping fungus. Houck has been favorably compared to the likes of Tom Waits, Neil Young, and even Daniel Johnston, but he's really more like a composite sketch of the above with his own (strangled) voice. Think of a cross-stitching of glum-rocker Will Oldham and the wheezing-organ intro to the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and you'll come close to capturing the essence of Phosphorescent. The Shaving Party is also on the bill. Showtime is 8:30 p.m. Monday, September 12, at Modified Arts, 407 East Roosevelt Street. Admission is $7. Call 602-462-5516 or visit www.modified.org.
The Full Monty started life as a fun little movie from England, but it's morphed into a big fun house of a touring musical. Unless you've been hiding under a Druid stone, you know the story: Six out-of-shape/out-of-work steelworkers transform themselves into male strippers to earn some quick cash, succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. Four-time Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally wrote the musical's book; the score and lyrics were penned by 2001 Drama Desk Award winner David Yazbek. The run starts with a show at 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 13, and continues through Sunday, September 18, at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 West Washington Street. Tickets range from $39.50 to $45.50. Call 602-262-7272 or visit www.theaterleague.com.