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|June 12-18, 2008
Before the Rains
The English-language debut of acclaimed Indian director Santosh Sivan (Asoka, The Terrorist) is set in 1930s southern India against the backdrop of a growing nationalist movement. Rahul Bose stars as an idealistic young Indian man who finds himself torn between his ambitions for the future and his loyalty to the past when people in his village learn of an affair between his British boss (Linus Roache) and a village woman (Nandita Das). Co-starring Jennifer Ehle and John Standing. Presented by Merchant Ivory, creators of A Room With a View, Howards End and The Remains of the Day. Rated PG-13. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Bigger, Stronger, Faster
This documentary approaches the subculture of steroid use and its relation to the American desire to win at all costs. Rated PG-13. At Mayan.
Children of Huang Shi
Very pretty but very stiffly written, this film strives for epic canvases relaying an intimate story. In following foreign correspondent George Hogg’s life and mission — to save dozens of boys left homeless by the brutal Japanese occupation of China in the late 1930s — director Roger Spottiswoode returns to the world he explored so well in Under Fire a generation ago. Here, though, the atmosphere doesn’t breathe; it suffocates. Rated R (some disturbing and violent content).At Esquire. — Michael Phillips
Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The four Pevensie children have returned to the magical Narnia, which has fallen prey to the forces of darkness. The second of a potential seven-film Narnia dynasty is roughly the same as the first, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, in terms of quality and style. It delivers without much visual dynamism, and with a determined emphasis on combat. Rated PG (epic battle action and violence). At Flatiron, Century, Twin Peaks and Colony Square.
A strange story weaving reality and imagination is told by an injured 1920s stuntman to his hospital roommate. Rated R. At Century.
A paranoid thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity. Rated R. At Century, Colony Square, Twin Peaks and Flatiron.
The Incredible Hulk
A dangerous former soldier must be stopped by the rampaging Incredible Hulk. Rated PG-13. At Century, Colony Square, Twin Peaks and Flatiron.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
This eagerly anticipated sequel, which comes 19 years after Harrison Ford last donned the Indiana Jones fedora, doesn’t know when to quit. Nor does it extract much fun from a cockamamie story involving aliens, the lost city of El Dorado, the Red Menace and the kid (Shia LaBeouf) Indy never knew he had. Director Steven Spielberg delivers the usual frenetic action scenes, but a lot of this disappointingly humorless picture veers uneasily between solemnity and slapstick and 47 different genres. Rated PG-13 (adventure violence and scary images). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
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 and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
An elderly man is found murdered in his basement flat. Inspector Erlendur and his crew don’t have much to go by in the investigation, but a photograph of a young girl’s grave gives them a lead. They discover that many years ago the victim was accused, though not convicted, of horrible crimes. Did the old man’s past come back to haunt him? As Erlendur reopens this very cold case, he follows a trail of unusual forensic evidence, uncovering secrets that are much larger than the murder of one old man — with clues knit into the genetic bloodline of an entire country. Based on the novel M-RIN by Arnaldur Indridason, winner of the Scandinavian crime writers’ Glass Key Award in 2002. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
The lives of three Tel Aviv women intersect to provide a portrait of modern Israeli life. Not rated. At Chez Artiste.
Kung Fu Panda
See full screen review on page 55. Rated PG. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
In Steve Conrad’s directorial debut, Seann William Scott plays a mid-level supermarket employee whose future as manager of a new store is threatened by the new guy from Canada (John C. Reilly), an ex-motorcycle gang rider and recovering alcoholic with an indeterminate degree of career ambition. One of the chief virtues of this modest, eccentric comedy is Conrad’s refusal to make the Canadian interloper an easily pegged antagonist. But Conrad doesn’t do enough to vary and amplify the competitive gamesmanship of the would-be managers. Rated R (language including sexual references, and some drug use). At Esquire. — Michael Phillips
Ramon De Gare
In the still of the night, three lives are about to cross — a woman abandoned, a stranger awaiting his chance and a best-selling author who imagines the thriller of the year. Deceptively layered and intriguingly misleading, this highly anticipated new feature from writer/director Claude Lelouch (Oscar winner for A Man and a Woman) stars Dominique Pinon and Fanny Ardant as an unlikely couple caught up in a game with high stakes — and deadly consequences. The thriller takes its title from the name given to pulp fictions sold in French train stations. Co-starring Audrey Dana. Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
A Norwegian drama in which two competitive friends with literary aspirations suffer through depression, love and new careers. Rated R. At Mayan.
Sex and the City
The gang’s all here for this exuberant, unexpectedly heartfelt reunion of the four friends from the HBO series. Michael Patrick King’s deftly constructed screenplay builds on the warmth and familiarity of the series (which King also wrote) while taking full advantage of the longer format, drawing the characters into a more fully realized, emotionally resonant narrative. This eagerly anticipated movie actually lives up to the hype — and then some. Rated R (strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Jessica Reaves
For a young couple, terror arrives in the middle of the night when a masked woman knocks on the door, asks for someone who doesn’t live there and disappears. She’s not gone for good and she’s not alone. Helped by convincing performances from Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler, first-time filmmaker Bryan Bertino delivers an assured, pared-down thriller that doesn’t skimp on suspense. Rated R (violence/terror and language). At Century, Flatiron and Twin Peaks. — Jessica Reaves
Director/co-writer Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Edmond) delivers a provocative, over-the-top black comedy with this tabloid-tinged thriller inspired by true events. Brandi (Mena Suvari) is a compassionate young retirement home caregiver in line for a promotion. Tom (Stephen Rea) is a victim of the downsized economy, out of work and newly homeless. Their worlds collide when Brandi, driving home from a club after too many drinks and pills, accidentally hits Tom, the impact smashing his body head-first through her car’s windshield, where he remains lodged. If discovered, this “accident” will extinguish her bright future, so instead of saving him, her plan is to let him die and dispose of the body later. Faced with this reality, Tom knows he must escape if he wants to survive. Co-starring Russell Hornsby. Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
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
Tuya, hardworking and hardheaded, is a Mongolian desert herder who refuses to be settled in a town in accordance with the new industrialization policy. She is kept busy with two kids, a disabled husband and 100 sheep to care for, but one day she hurts her back. The only way for the family to survive is for her to divorce her husband on paper and look for a new spouse who can take care of the whole family. A series of suitors lines up, but it’s not easy to find a man who fits the bill. This warm, endearing tale, featuring stunning cinematography, won the top prize at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
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. — Michael Phillips
You Don’t Mess With the Zohan
See full screen review on page 55. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Sqaure and Twin Peaks.
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 Chez Artiste. — Jessica Reaves
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