Victor Moreno on Indie Films, Where to Watch a Movie in Phoenix, and His Upcoming Cult Classics Screenings
He comes from a family of lawyers, but broke tradition after graduating from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at ASU (which he paid for by designing websites for big-name bands). He met fellow Phoenix film nerd Andrea Beesley, who was programming films at the now-defuct Paper Heart in downtown Phoenix. Moreno followed Beesley to MADCAP Theaters in Tempe and then to The Royale in Mesa.
When The Royale closed in December, Beeseley-Brown took a break and Moreno took his operation back to MADCAP, and then Pollack Cinemas in Tempe where he currently heads up Cult Classics, a monthly screening of a cult film, with entertainment and limited-edition prints. This month he's screening 80s classic WEIRD SCIENCE. We checked in with him to see what he's been watching.
Right now, I'm watching a 1987 Mexican action revenge movie called "La Venganza De Los Punks" (Revenge of the Punks). It's like a Mexican version of Charles Bronson's Death Wish that stars Juan Valentin, who was a popular Mexican actor/singer in the 1980's, playing a cop whose family is murdered by a gang of satanic punk rock bikers led by a luchador named Tarzan and his girlfriend Princess Leia. He swears revenge and the movie turns into something like a cross between Predator and Die Hard. It's pretty awesome. We're cleaning it up and subtitling it for a possible Cinco De Mayo Cult Classics event along with some other cool Mexican cinema oddities.
Where do you think the best place to watch film is in town?
There's a few I'd recommend. I think Harkins Camelview 5 is probably the best place to catch a new release indie movie in Phoenix. You don't have to worry about people texting and being disrespectful to the cinema experience as much as you would at other locales in town. Not tomention, they get a lot of events there with talent, so you can meet the filmmakers and occassionally have a Q and A. The Harkins Valley Art has one of the nicest auditoriums in town as well and hands down the best old school film marquee in the state.
movie poster by Victor Moreno
For new release mainstream "tentpole" studio films, if its offered, go watch it at the Harkins IMAX at Arizona Mills. It's the only real IMAX in the state where you can see big budget films like The Dark Knight Rises or Prometheus earlier this year projected in 70mm at 76 feet by 97 feet and makes films that much more engrossing and awesome.
For the budget film fans and cinema purists out there, I'd also recommend Pollack Tempe Cinemas - you may have to wait a few weeks for a title, but pretty much every film they screen there is still played on a platter in 35mm which is a claim not a lot of cinemas in most states nowadays can make.
Who is doing something new and different in film in Phoenix?
I think Cult Classics is taking a lead in doing something different here in town. As film becomes more and more accessible, I think taking a older film and building an event around it to celebrate its influence or give fans a chance to see their all time favorite on the big screen as it was meant to be seen really does a service in creating community, like our yearly Ninja Turtle Pizza Party. It gives an opportunity for cinephiles that might not have otherwise gotten the chance to meet to hang out, meet and socialize which can be hard in Phoenix given how large and sprawled out the Valley is. We've also tried to give a spotlight to indie films that wouldn't have might not have gotten a release in Phoenix, like when we held the Arizona premiere of the Cuban zombie film Juan of the Dead alongside a screening of Shaun of the Dead and promoted it as a mini zombie film festival. In the end its about building a sustainable film community.
I also think the Phoenix Fearcon does a great service in this same vein. By building a convention around the screening of films that might not otherwise draw a crowd on their own in Phoenix or might fly under the radar like the 2012 UK horror film Inbred they promoted for their festival this year. Phoenix has a huge genre fan community and its one that is hungry to support unique or marquee level events that can pique their interest.