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As a self-described tough grader of films, I’m often asked what judging criteria I use to affix letter grades to movies?.There is no easy answer to this question. The best way to describe how I rate movies is to say that I measure how much a film emotionally connects with me from the time I …

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Want to know what early life in Oro Valley was like? Jim Williams’ new book, “Claiming the Desert: Settlers, Homesteaders, and Ranchers in Oro Valley, Arizona 1865-1965,” paints a detailed picture of the desolate area and the first people who chose to settle down there. 

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The Gaslight Theatre has found a way to keep the vampire trope alive with its newest show, just in time to kick off the Halloween season. Aptly named “The Vampire,” this longtime fan-favorite has flown back to the stage, and is a re-imagined tale of the world’s most famous blood sucker, Coun…

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This year’s benchmark for exciting, suspenseful action thrillers is easily “Mission: Impossible: Fallout.” With a star-studded cast of affable big-screen achievers, the Tom Cruise drama ducks and punches all the right movie moves—blistering action sequences and a fast-paced narrative that ke…

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In one of the most surprising films of the year comes a true story of three families, all unbelievably connected by horrific events dating back as far as the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. 

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Coming next month to Naranja Park, the Oro Valley Music Festival has added Cassadee Pope to it’s exciting lineup. The first female singer of The Voice is riding high on her hit song, “Wasting Away All These Tears,” and joins Chris Young, Danielle Bradbery, High Valley and Matt Farris in the …

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Andrew W.K. might be the most interesting man in American rock-and-roll music, bringing more than a decade’s worth of hedonistic hits with an underlying theme of positivity. 

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When I watched the red band trailer for “The Happytime Murders” a few months ago with a live audience, many of us placed this puppet movie on our “must-see” summer hit list. The preview for the dark comedy pushed the edges of what seemed to be a risqué and grotesque movie of sideshow humor—p…

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If you think fall means leaves turning to reds and golds, a gentle nip in the air and the rotation in your closet from shorts to sweaters, Tucson is not the place for you. However, if you love the performing arts—theater, symphonies and such—fall in Tucson is the perfect place to be. That’s …

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To label “Crazy Rich Asians” merely a chick flick oversimplifies the film’s affluent international appeal and robust, always expanding subplots. An all-Asian cast flawlessly captures a heartwarming love story amidst gossiping family circles and a plush Singaporean skyline. This film is a rom…

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Controversial filmmaker Spike Lee once again fuels dialogue on race relations with his newest endeavor chronicling a true story from Colorado Springs set in 1972. Based on the 2014 memoir “Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth, Lee’s film depicts the small town’s first hiring of an African-Ameri…

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For mature audiences only. It’s a label that often keeps kids and teenagers—however mature they may be—from accessing content they’re interested in, or sometimes even content that’s about their own experiences. The idea, of course, is to keep young people safe, to stave off the world’s less …

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For the third time in just four years, the adolescent social challenges of grade school are fully examined on the big-screen. In 2014, Richard Linklater’s 12-year journey “Boyhood” was nominated for six Academy Awards, earning Patricia Arquette the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Last yea…

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In one of the best action thrillers ever produced, Tom Cruise reprises his Impossible Missions Force spy character Ethan Hunt once again, giving moviegoers the surprise film of 2018. The sixth chapter in the successful “Mission: Impossible” collection, “Fallout” brilliantly combines a stella…

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Fans of Denzel Washington and action movies will find both elements in this satisfying sequel to 2014’s “The Equalizer.” Once again taking off from its original 1980s television series brand, “The Equalizer 2” presents Washington as a former CIA spook still settling scores. Believed by the c…

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In the highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s wildly successful and eye-opening suspense story “Sicario” is a bland, much less exciting look inside the deadly drug cartels located just across the southern U.S. border. Taking full advantage of today’s toxic political chatter on threats posed by …

editor's pickspotlighttop story
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While the summer might still be scorching, the recently revealed lineup for the 2018 Oro Valley Music Festival is sweet enough to make us want to get outside and listen to some live music. 

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This summer, members of the SaddleBrooke SilverBelles Performance Dance Team individually took some time off for travel to foreign lands, help grandchildren  celebrate various milestones at high school and college graduations, attend marriages and plenty more. The group’s choreographer even …

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From the same director that brought us a gripping crime story in 2012 with “The Imposter” comes another nail-biting thriller for moviegoers to endure. Written and directed by Bart Layton, “American Animals” chronicles the true story of four Kentucky college-aged boys and their attempt to ste…

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Sweeping out of the desert, the University of Arizona and the City of Tucson all at once is a new band with as many genres as local influences. Mike Moynihan’s Purple Spectre proves that experimentation needn’t be grating.  

editor's pickspotlighttop story
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If you find yourself out and about in Tucson this week with a hankering for a good meal, check out these options.

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I was I was born practically on the banks of Darby Creek, in a hospital up slope from the stream, and it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that its meandering waters drew the map of my suburban Philadelphia childhood.

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Four-time Academy Award nominee Ethan Hawke delivers another sensational performance in this complicated and dark story set in a small town in upstate New York. Hawkes’ latest screen gem, however, isn’t spectacular enough to overcome a slow, depressing journey that tries too hard to do too m…

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a rock star in possession of a successful career must maintain a diet of only cigarettes, bourbon and drugs. But Tucson local and music biographer Mark Bego challenges this notion in his new book, Eat Like a Rock Star. 

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Anyone looking for a bizarre and funny true story this summer will find “Tag” hiding quietly between the highly anticipated “Incredibles 2” and the John Travolta mobster movie “Gotti”. 

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Generally, when you try to combine science fiction, a Western, a spy thriller and a holiday classic, you get a complete mess. But in the hands of the Gaslight Theatre, you get their recently unveiled 2019 Season. Next year’s show calendar contains some long-awaited returns, as well as some s…

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Perhaps my definition of scary movies is different than most. I enjoy suspenseful music to describe approaching danger on-screen. I prefer characters placed in harm’s way either by choice or completely unaware of their surroundings and pending peril. Together, a gripping armchair thriller un…

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Tucson takes its Mexican food seriously. Whether it’s from a sprawling restaurant or a taco truck tucked alongside the street, Mexican food is part of the region’s identity. This Saturday, locals and visitors alike can experience an event entirely devoted to Tucson’s most famous food.

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June has arrived in Oro Valley! Aside from the intense heat, no school, and anticipation for upcoming summer vacation plans, what else is there to look forward to in the month of June? How about spending quality time with dad and the entire family right in your own backyard? Just because Fat…

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Tucson takes its Mexican food seriously. Whether it’s from a sprawling restaurant or a taco truck tucked alongside the street, Mexican food is part of the region’s identity. Next Saturday, locals and visitors alike can experience an event entirely devoted to Tucson’s most famous food.

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Pronouncements of this new movie release as “The film ‘Cast Away’ on a sailboat” is perhaps too simplistic and unfair to the 2000 saga starring Tom Hanks. Yes, both survival dramas take place in the Pacific Ocean after a catastrophic accident at the hands of Mother Nature. But Hanks’ bromanc…

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Set in the trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, “Hearts Beat Loud” brings us the heart-warming story of a widowed husband raising his teenage daughter about to head off to college in southern California. The father, Frank, once a band member in his younger days who now owns a record sto…

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As the summer sun looms down from overhead with heat that can only be described as oppressive, Tucsonans will begin scurrying for the shadows and wishing they were somewhere far, far away. What better way to be transported to another world than to sit down and watch a great movie? Luckily fo…

editor's pickspotlighttop story
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Jacob Acosta has lived in the desert for as long as he’s made music. He was born here, and he’s embraced it. The same goes for songwriting. After releasing over ten albums, Acosta is putting the finishing touches on his most ambitious project yet: Desert Sounds. 

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Leave it to a young, aspiring Chinese director to bring us one of the most compassionate rodeo circuit films in recent memory. Beijing native Chloe Zhao, a product of western film influences inside the communist country following the mid-1980s, wrote, produced and directed this cowboy story …

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Parents escaping their offspring for a Date Night of dinner and a movie will find “Tully” a realistic portrayal of raising children in today’s frantic world. The film provides a gritty yet funny look at the miracle of birth and the challenges motherhood poses to the mother, and the child and…

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There’s a scene in the Arizona Theatre Company’s production of The Diary of Anne Frank in which one of Anne’s housemates, Mr. Van Daan, asks her what a 13-year-old girl could have to write about all the time that could possibly be so important. Anne’s sister, Margot, usually the picture of n…