Your Guide to Must-See Movies at the 2018 Phoenix Film Festival

Tully is one of several must-see movies at this year's Phoenix Film Festival.
Tully is one of several must-see movies at this year's Phoenix Film Festival. Focus Features

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Izzy Gets The F*ck Across Town
Written and Directed by Christian Papiernak
7:10 p.m. Wednesday, April 11

You’re not seeing things. Mackenzie Davis stars in two films on this list. This time, the Halt and Catch Fire actress plays a punk trekking across Los Angeles to break up the engagement of her ex-boyfriend by any means necessary. Along the way, she encounters an odd cast of characters that forces her to examine the choices she's made in her life.

In an interview with the blog Cinemacy, writer and director Papierniak compares this unconventional film to Swingers. “…We need more fun indie films instead of it always being something dramatic,” he says. With a soundtrack featuring music from Corin Tucker’s first band Heavens to Betsy and a cast that includes Haley Joel-Osment and comedian Rob Huebel, Izzy sounds like it is going to be a riot.

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Won't You Be My Neighbor examines the life of Fred Rogers
Courtesy of Focus Features
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Directed by Morgan Neville
7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13

Five decades ago, Fred Rogers put on a sweater and changed children’s television forever. Generations of American children turned on PBS and were greeted by the television host every morning. Through Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, they were whisked off to a place of make-believe where they learned real-world lessons.

Documentarian Morgan Neville traces the influence that Rogers has had in America since. If you're familiar with the filmmaker’s touching Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, which explores the world of backup singers, then you know to bring plenty of Kleenex to this screening.

Final Portrait
Written and Directed by Stanley Tucci
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14

Fresh off his acclaimed performance in Call Me By Your Name, Armie Hammer plays writer James Lord. While visiting the artist Alberto Giacometti, played by Geoffrey Rush, Lord is asked to sit for a portrait painted by the world-famous artist and finds himself bearing witness to the highs and lows of creativity.

Reliable character actor Stanley Tucci has not directed a film in almost a decade. And Final Portrait, which takes a snapshot of Giacometti’s extraordinary life instead of following him from womb to tomb, is his biggest swing for the artistic fences. With Rush in front of the lens, Tucci hits it out of the ballpark. The Australian actor is channeling the twisted genius that made him such a draw in Shine over 20 years ago.

Measure of a Man
Written by David Scearce, Based on One Fat Summer by Robert Lipsyte
Directed by Jim Loach
4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 15

Measure of a Man follows the overweight Bobby Marks on his search for confidence. Which isn't the easiest task when you're constantly being bullied for your size and your parents’ marriage is failing. Luckily, Bobby befriends Wall Street executive Dr. Kahn, played by Donald Sutherland. While mowing the octogenarian's huge lawn, Bobby gets the wisdom needs to navigate this difficult time in his life.

While the film has not made the festival rounds yet, Carney gave it a shoutout on his Twitter feed. The film also features a stacked cast. In addition to Judy Greer and Sutherland, Luke Wilson and The Maze Runner’s Blake Cooper also star.

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Elsie Fisher in Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade.
Courtesy of A24
Eighth Grade
Written and Directed by Bo Burham
7 p.m. Sunday, April 15

Middle school sucks. Comedian Bo Burnham encapsulates all the pock-marked pubescent frustration that comes with being a 13-year-old in Eighth Grade.

The trailer, which had a well-timed release after the film was screened to critical acclaim at SXSW, encapsulates the roller-coaster of emotion one feels watching one of Burnham’s comedy specials. You start laughing at how ironic it is, as evidenced by star Elsie Fisher making YouTube videos as the music of Enya plays in the background. Then comes the realization that it's leading to something beautiful and profound.

Burnham's directorial debut could pull him into the mainstream. And fans should note that he'll be in attendance when the film is screened on the festival's closing night.

The Phoenix Film Festival is scheduled from Thursday, April 5, to Sunday, April 15, at Harkins Scottsdale 101, 7000 East Mayo Boulevard. There are a variety of ticket packages available, with individual screenings starting at $15. For more information, including a full screening schedule, visit the festival's website.
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Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil