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|May 1-7, 2008
A visual poem of incomparable beauty, this masterpiece from writer/director Nacer Khemir begins with the story of a blind dervish named Bab’Aziz (Parviz Shahinkhou) and his spirited granddaughter, Ishtar (Maryam Hamid). Together they wander the desert in search of a great reunion of dervishes that takes place just once every 30 years. To keep Ishtar entertained, Bab’Aziz relays the ancient tale of a prince who relinquished his realm in order to remain next to a small pool in the desert, staring into its depths while contemplating his soul. As the tale of the prince unfolds, the two encounter other travelers with stories of their own. Filled with breathtaking images and wonderful music, Khemir has created a fairytale-like story of longing and belonging, filmed in the enchanting and ever-shifting sandscapes of Tunisia and Iran. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Unable to conceive on her own, Kate (Tina Fey) scores a “baby mama” (Amy Poehler) who is pure white trash and has an ill-defined New Age streak. The prospect of a comedy built around Saturday Night Live-trained comic actresses Fey and Poehler sounds tasty enough, but every moment of this project feels beat-driven, focus-grouped and designed to package Fey as a viable movie star. Rated PG-13 (crude and sexual humor, language and a drug reference). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
A romantic comedy in which five Lebanese women living in Beirut explore the facets of their varying love lives. Rated PG. At Chez Artiste.
This film is based on the true story of the largest counterfeit operation in recorded history. In 1936, a skilled counterfeiter in Berlin, Saloman Sorowitsch, is thrown into the Nazi concentration camps. While in the camps, his amazing counterfeiting capabilities are discovered by guards, and he is put to work for the government’s Operation Berhard, a fake currency program. Sorowitsch faces moral dilemmas as his actions might ultimately prolong the war and damage the lives of his fellow prisoners. Rated R. At Chez Artiste and Colony Square.
Ewan McGregor plays a socially maladroit auditor who becomes friends with a flashy corporate lawyer (Hugh Jackman) and gets introduced to the chic attractions of a super-secret sex club. As far as thriller storytelling, Deception cannot get enough of the obvious. Each major story revelation is so flagrantly telegraphed that when the revelations arrive, they’re more like fax confirmation sheets of what already came through. Rated R (sexual content, language, brief violence and some drug use). At Flatiron, Century and Colony Sqaure. — Michael Phillips
A dork squad (Tory Gentile, Nate Hartley, David Dorfman) anticipates a year of torment by a school bully (Alex Frost), but then a homeless Army deserter with a sunny attitude (Owen Wilson) comes to the rescue. This movie drags us back to harshly delineated cliques and fierce, hollow calculation, reminiscent of the well-liked 1980s John Hughes films. But something about the nerds-versus-bully premise is off from the beginning. Rated PG-13 (crude sexual references throughout, strong bullying, language, drug references and partial nudity). At Flatiron. — Michael Phillips
The preposterous 88 Minutes is a serial-killer movie starring Al Pacino as a forensic psychiatrist chasing a copycat psycho around Seattle, as one blood-drenched female victim after another is discovered hanging upside down from some sort of pulley contraption, like a Cirque du Soleil act gone awry. The movie throws so much awkward back story at you, so late in the game, it’s as if it’s out to kill you with exposition. Rated R (disturbing violent content, brief nudity and language). At Flatiron. — Michael Phillips
First Saturday in May
This riveting documentary chronicles the journey of six diverse, hard-working trainers as they jockey for a position along the 2006 Kentucky Derby trail. Known as “the greatest two minutes in sports,” the Kentucky Derby is racing’s Holy Grail and every horseman’s ultimate goal. From Hot Springs, Ark., to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, directors Brad and John Hennegan traveled more than 150,000 miles during a 16-month period to document every major horse race on the road to the 2006 Kentucky Derby. In addition to providing an intimate inside look at the amazing people who dedicate their lives to the sport of horse racing, the film features never-before-seen footage of a young Barbaro — the thoroughbred who captured the fascination of the world, first as he made history on the racetrack with a 6.5-length romp in Kentucky Derby 132, and then as he bravely battled complications from a catastrophic leg injury and laminitis. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
This film marks Jet Li and Jackie Chan’s long-anticipated first onscreen pairing, which unfortunately comes late in their careers. Once the film finally puts these justly revered figures in their element, with Li and Chan battling for supremacy in a crumbling shrine, the film becomes magical. Unfortunately, it’s a long, eye-rolling haul to get there, hampered by lurching exposition and hammy setup. Rated PG-13 (martial-arts violence). At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Tasha Robinson
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
This funny raunchmantic comedy written by and starring Jason Segel (of the film Knocked Up and TV’s How I Met Your Mother) is a post-breakup chronicle of woe and, ultimately, happiness. Segel plays a pathetic whiner who travels to Oahu for a vacation only to run smack into his ex (Kristen Bell). First-time director Nicholas Stoller’s film, produced by Judd Apatow, is full of sharp laughs and has a heart to go with its comic nerve. Rated R (sexual content, language and some graphic nudity). At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Harold and Kumar: Escape From Guantanamo Bay
See full screen review on page 55. Rated R. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Horton Hears A Who
This moderately pleasant animated feature, taken from a 1954 Dr. Seuss book, features Jim Carrey as the voice of Horton the elephant and Steve Carell as the mayor of Who-ville. The film is easier to take than recent live-action Seuss clunkers (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat), but when will Hollywood make a Seuss feature that’s even half as nifty as the source material? Rated G. At Flatiron and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
A manic-depressive hit man (Colin Farrell) and his older, calmer partner (Brendan Gleeson) are sent by their boss (Ralph Fiennes) to Bruges, Belgium, for an enforced vacation after a job goes horribly wrong. Writer-director Martin McDonagh writes sharp dialogue and lets his killers go on, amusingly, as the banter is very much the thing here. Rated R (strong bloody violence, pervasive language, and some drug use). At Starz. — Michael Phillips
Robert Downey Jr. stars in a big screen version of the comic book. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Twin Peaks, Century and Colony Sqaure.
In this film set in 1925, George Clooney (who also directs) plays Dodge Connolly, ringleader of the scrappy, financially challenged Duluth Bulldogs football team. John Krasinski (The Office) plays a college football star recruited to legitimize the flailing franchise. It’s a promising setup, and for a while Leatherheads coasts on atmosphere and Clooney’s artful mugging, but Clooney’s third directorial effort is ultimately sidelined by a script that plays like an imitation of another era’s artifacts. PG-13 (brief strong language). At Flatiron. — Michael Phillips
The Life Before Her Eyes
A beautifully photographed, perplexing, ultimately disappointing film about a Columbine-like incident and its effects on one student (portrayed by Uma Thurman as an adult and Evan Rachel Wood as a teen). The story is told mixing flashbacks and the present. The movie’s gimmicky storytelling and overabundance of hot-button issues prove wearisome. Rated R (violent and disturbing content, language and brief drug use). At Chez Artiste. — Scott Schueller
Made of Honor
A man tries to win the heart of an engaged woman who asks him to be her maid of honor. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
This film is structured like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, but the positive comparisons to Hitchcock films end there. The year is 1949, and Harry (Chris Cooper) tells Richard (Pierce Brosnan) that he’s leaving his wife for his mistress, but he decides that murder would be less upsetting to his spouse than the truth. This film seems carefully calibrated to shock viewers out of a familiar frame of reference, but its pleasures are all coldly intellectual. Rated PG-13 (suggested sexuality and adult themes). At Mayan. — Tasha Robinson
Dissatisfied with his job and cheating wife, a man decides to mentor a rebellious teenager. Rated R. At Esquire.
My Blueberry Nights
The first English-language film from Hong Kong auteur Wong Kar-Wai features singer and not-quite-actress Norah Jones as a lovelorn New York woman traveling west. The director’s neon-drenched imagery is suffocatingly lovely; unfortunately, this fable refuses to coalesce. With Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz. Rated PG-13 (mature thematic material including violence, drinking and smoking). At Mayan. — Michael Phillips
Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) plays Nim, an independent 11-year-old living with her microbiologist dad on an uncharted island. When dad is lost at sea, Nim looks to her favorite Indiana Jones-type adventure writer for help, only to find an agoraphobic author (Jodie Foster). It’s a fun story with a playful, creative sense of the relationship between fiction and reality. But clunky, overwrought performances make the film’s “real world” less compelling than its fantasy side. Rated PG (mild adventure action and language). At Flatiron, Twin Peaks, Colony Square and Century. — Tasha Robinson
Breakdancing didn’t die in the ’80s, or at least that’s what Planet B-Boy is out to prove. This documentary takes a look at the b-boy culture which, along with emcees and graffiti, helped define America’s hip-hop culture. Not rated. At Starz.
A high-school senior’s prom night turns into chaos as a former stalker hunts her down. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron and Twin Peaks.
Forced to give up his dreams of art school, working class Zach (Trevor Wright) spends his days at a dead-end cooking job and helping his needy sister (Tina Holmes) care for her son. In his free time he likes to surf, draw and hang out with his best friend Gabe (Ross Thomas), who lives on the wealthy side of town. When Gabe’s older brother Shaun (Brad Rowe, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss) returns home, he is drawn to Zach’s selflessness and talent. As Zach falls in love with Shaun, he struggles to reconcile his own desires with the needs of his family. Writer/director Jonah Markowitz’s compassionate, romantic drama is winner of 13 international film festival awards. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Shine A Light
Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Stones concert picture does not capture a historic farewell as did The Last Waltz, his great 1978 tribute to The Band. And while Scorsese’s latest certainly does not aspire to anything comprehensive or risky, Shine a Light is akin to paying for a very good seat at a Stones concert. Rated PG-13 (brief strong language, drug references and smoking). At Century. — Michael Phillips
Dennis Quaid is a widower professor whose book cannot find a willing publisher. His daughter (Ellen Page of Juno) is threatened by her father’s romance with one of his old students (Sarah Jessica Parker). Director Noam Burro segments everything into neat little seriocomic passages, letting an emotionally over-explanatory soundtrack do the heavy lifting. This is an effortful attempt at the sort of trenchant comedy a film such as Sideways managed without breaking a sweat. Rated R (language, brief teen drug and alcohol use, and for some sexuality). Rated R. At Flatiron and Century. — Michael Phillips
Yet another spoof parody flick, this time focusing on the action superhero movies from Batman Begins to the Fantastic Four. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron.
Jim Sturgess plays a working-class MIT student lured into a blackjack card-counting ring run by a professor played by Kevin Spacey. Sturgess is good, and so is Spacey, who optioned the nonfiction best-seller Bringing Down the House upon which the film is based. So is Laurence Fishburne, playing a Las Vegas security expert who smells rats when the blackjack phenoms start winning big. Everything else, not so good. In trying to whip up a melodramatic morality tale, the film becomes an increasingly flabby slog. Rated PG-13 (some violence and sexual content including partial nudity). At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Under the Same Moon
A woman (Kate del Castillo) travels from Mexico to America to find work and leaves her 9-year-old son (Adrian Alonso) with his grandmother. When the grandmother dies, the boy heads north to find his mother. This film does a lot of little things on the cheap, emotionally speaking, but it does one big thing right: Through the eyes of its hardy 9-year-old protagonist, it relays an immigration story heightening the experience of countless subterranean immigration stories written each year in America. Rated PG-13 (some mature thematic elements). At Mayan. — Michael Phillips
This movie treats the specter of presidential assassination as a mechanical puzzle to be solved, one piece at a time. The information sorting and gathering required by the screenplay feels like night school as opposed to a great night out at the movies. Leading up to a climactic car chase (nothing revolutionary but exciting nonetheless), the film fusses around with so many flashbacks that you yearn for some literal forward motion. With Dennis Quaid, Forest Whitaker, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver. Rated PG-13 (sequences of intense violence and action, some disturbing images and brief strong language). At Flatiron. — Michael Phillips
See full screen review on page 55.
Where in the World is Osama bin Laden?
This second documentary feature from Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) feels self-congratulatory and smug. Spurlock travels to “the world’s most dangerous places” in search of Public Enemy No. 1: Osama bin Laden. Nothing about this sloppily conceived, paper-thin vanity project merits either congratulations or smugness. Rated PG-13 (some strong language). At Mayan. — Jessica Reaves
Young @ Heart
Wry, hilarious and heartbreaking, this resolutely unsentimental portrait of a group of singing seniors is an invaluable reminder that while youth is fleeting, friendship and music are forever. And you haven’t lived until you’ve seen octogenarians belt out Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia.” Rated PG (some mild language and thematic elements). At Esquire and Century. — Jessica Reaves
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