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|May 22-28, 2008
A Four Letter Word
A Four Letter Word is a surprisingly endearing romantic comedy that explores gay relationships with low-budget verve. The film’s swishy centerpiece is Luke (Jesse Archer), a promiscuous “gay cliché” who works in a Chelsea sex shop along with his friend Zeke (Cory Grant). While Luke chases sexual oblivion, Zeke engages in social activism and a running commentary on Luke’s moral shortcomings. But when Luke falls for a less flamboyant lover named Stephen (Charlie David) and decides to cut back on the sparkles, he soon discovers that his new boyfriend is even more old-fashioned than he thought (as in “world’s oldest profession” old-fashioned!). Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
This is the first, definitive documentary on the life of the legendary jazz vocalist Anita O’Day. In Anita’s own words, we hear the tale of a musical genius who broke race barriers and lived her life boldly and unconventionally, without looking back. In candid interviews with the filmmakers, Anita gives a poignant and often funny account of her jazz oddyssey, that is now well into its seventh decade.
With her classic wry wit, Anita speaks with television icons such as Dick Cavett, Bryant Gumble, David Frost and Harry Reasoner to reveal why at 87 she is the last living singer from the Golden Age.The film showcases rare and never-before-seen vintage performances and includes interviews from vocalists Annie Ross and Margaret Whiting, jazz impresario George Wein, award-winning arrangers Bill Holman, Johnny Mandel, Russel Garcia and Buddy Bregman, writer/actor producer John Cameron Mitchell, Joe Franklin and friends from different times in Anita’s life.This fast-paced trip with Anita has pictorial elements of jazz album design and the graphic qualities of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. It includes original ads, reviews and numerous never-before-seen images. 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 and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Before the Rains
A spice grower in India has an affair with a married woman and becomes the center of tribal customs and laws. Rated PG-13. At Chez Artiste.
Bomb It is the explosive new documentary from award-winning director Jon Reiss investigating the most subversive and controversial art form currently shaping international youth culture: graffiti. Through interviews and guerilla footage of graffiti writers in action on five continents, Bomb It tells the story of graffiti from its origins in prehistoric cave paintings through its notorious explosion in New York City during the ’70s and ’80s, then follows the flames as they paint the globe. It features old-school legends and current favorites such as Taki 183, Cornbread, Stay High 149, T-Kid, Cope 2, Zephyr, Revs, Os Gemeos, KET, Chino, Shepard Fairey, Revok and Mear One. This cutting edge documentary tracks down today’s most innovative and pervasive street artists as they battle for control over the urban visual landscape. You’ll never look at public space the same way again. Bomb It was shot in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tijuana, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Hamburg, Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo and Tokyo. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
See full screen review on page 33. Rated PG. At Flatiron, Century, Twin Peaks and Colony Square.
Flight of the Red Balloon
A young boy and his baby-sitter share the same imaginary world, where they are followed around by a red balloon. Rated PG. At Chez Artiste.
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 and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
He’s back! Dr. Jones, after a few relaxed years, has returned to use his archaeologist/adventurer skills to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls, all while being wrapped up in a secret Soviet plot. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
As big-budget comic book adaptations go, this one is a lot of fun. Chief among its assets is Robert Downey Jr., who fits nicely into the role of a billionaire war profiteer who develops a conscience, an off-and-on politicized streak and a titanium alloy flying suit. Director Jon Favreau’s picture, rumored to have cost $180 million, doesn't look, feel or play like a heavy-spirited blockbuster. Rated PG-13 (some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and brief suggestive content). At Flatiron, Twin Peaks, Century, Colony Square and Backdoor Theater. — Michael Phillips
Made of Honor
Patrick Dempsey stars as a rich entrepreneur (he invented the coffee sleeve) who has it all, including a best friend (Michelle Monaghan) who understands him for what he is. But when she threatens to walk down the aisle with her newfound Scottish sweetheart (Kevin McKidd), our hero determines that he must sabotage her plans. This is one of those formula-driven romantic comedies where the audience realizes it won’t be much fun watching the main character get his way, nor will it be much fun watching him get his comeuppance. Rated PG-13 (sexual content and language). At Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
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. — Tasha Robinson
See full screen review on page 33. Rated R (strong language).
The Singing Revolution
Most people don’t think about singing when they think about revolutions. But song was the weapon of choice when, between 1987 and 1991, Estonians sought to free themselves from decades of Soviet occupation. During those years, hundreds of thousands gathered in public to sing forbidden patriotic songs and to rally for independence. James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty’s The Singing Revolution tells the moving story of how the Estonian people peacefully regained their freedom — and helped topple an empire along the way. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Son of Rambow
A bully (Will Poulter) making an amateur movie forces a sheltered schoolmate (Bill Milner) to be his stuntman, but when the naive boy is exposed to Rambo: First Blood Part II, his fertile imagination latches onto the film’s outsized wish-fulfillment fantasies, and soon, he’s running around in the woods in a makeshift bandoleer and face paint. It’s hard to resist the hall-of-mirrors cleverness of a film about how much fun it is to make and watch films. Rated PG-13 (minor violence and child peril). At Century and Esquire. — Tasha Robinson
A demon on the track but a bit of a bore in between races, the Wachowski brothers’ first project as writer-directors since their Matrix trilogy takes its absurdly vibrant color scheme and stylized blend of live action and computer animation to the brink of... something. But it does look pretty cool. At its best, it’s buoyant pop entertainment focused on three things: speed, racing and retina-splitting oceans of digitally captured color. Emile Hirsch stars as Speed. Rated PG (sequences of action, some violence and language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Standard Operating Procedure
It’s gut-grinding, to be sure. But a misjudged degree of cinematic dazzle obscures the outrages at the core of Standard Operating Procedure, director Errol Morris’ first documentary since The Fog of War, and the first Iraq documentary to focus on the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs. Director Errol Morris is so steamed about Iraq and that war and those photos, he forgot to say when as a filmmaker. Rated R (disturbing images and content involving torture and graphic nudity). At Mayan. — Michael Phillips
Then She Found Me
Helen Hunt directs and stars in this gently comic, surprisingly insightful story of an adopted 39-year-old woman trying to conceive a baby and belatedly getting to know her biological mother, an overbearing, exuberant and not always truthful daytime TV host (Bette Midler). She’s also sashaying back and forth between her estranged husband (Matthew Broderick) and her wounded, tempestuous new beau (Colin Firth). Rated R (language and some sexual content). At Mayan. — Scott Schueller
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 Starz. — Michael Phillips
A reclusive widower (Richard Jenkins) visiting New York City for an economics conference forges an unexpected friendship with a Syrian drummer (Haaz Sleiman) and his Senegalese girlfriend (Danai Gurira) in writer-director Tom McCarthy’s simple, moving story about connections and goodbyes. It’s a pleasure to see veteran character actor Jenkins step up to a leading role. Rated PG-13 (brief strong language). At Century and Chez Artiste. — Michael Phillips
An adventure-running documentary that explores one of the toughest foot races in the world — the 10,000-vertical-foot race up and down Mt. Cameroon, a live volcano. Not rated. At Boulder Theater.
What Happens in Vegas
Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher meet cute in Vegas, get hitched, win $3 mil at the slots and then wake up only to realize they’re trapped in the year’s lamest romantic comedy. Lake Bell, as Diaz’s snarky best friend, does her best to lighten a grimly formulaic load. Rated PG-13 (some sexual and crude content, and language, including a drug reference. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
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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