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|July 10-17, 2008
Beethoven Lives Upstairs
A short kids film about a young boy who learns to appreciate the music of one of the world’s greatest composers, Ludwig van Beethoven. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
A young Bangladeshi woman arrives in London in the 80’s, leaving behind her family and home. Rated PG-13. At Esquire.
Cairo, Nest of Spies
Colorful and action-packed, this jubilant film endearingly spoofs James Bond-style spy adventures from the 1960s. The setting is Egypt, 1955. Cairo is a veritable nest of spies, with everyone wary of everyone and plotting against everyone: the English, French, Soviets — even the radical Eagles of Kheops brotherhood. To bring order to this desert at the edge of chaos, the French Secret Service sends their main weapon: Hubert Bonisseur de la Bath (Jean Dujardin), a super agent and ladies man otherwise known as OSS 117. His mission: investigate the death of a friend and fellow spy, control the Suez Canal and establish peace in the Middle East! Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
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. — Michael Phillips
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
In this black and white Kubrick classic, U.S. General Jack Ripper becomes hellbent on destroying the USSR, paranoid that the communists are about to infiltrate the American people. He impulsively sends his bomber wing to take care of the problem. While meeting with advisers, Ripper is told of the Doomsday Machine, a device that will put an end to all animal and plant life. The Doomsday Machine has been implemented to be set off by the Soviets in the event that they are attacked with any sort of nuclear warfare. Only a handful of individuals, including the former Nazi genius Dr. Strangelove, can stop the bomber attack and save Earth. Rated PG. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
The Edge of Heaven
There are six principal characters in The Edge of Heaven: two mothers, two daughters, a father and a son, all arranged in more or less symmetrical pairs. In the course of this extraordinary film by the German writer-director Fatih Akin (which won the best screenplay award in Cannes last year) children are lost, lost parents are never found, and generational and geographical distances grow wider. Yet at the same time, as the lives of the characters cross and entwine, there is a sense of human connections becoming stronger and thicker, of a fragile moral order coalescing beneath the randomness and cruelty of modern life. At Starz. — A.O. Scott
Encounters at the End
Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man, Rescue Dawn) confirms his standing as poet laureate of men in extreme situations with Encounters At The End Of The World. In this visually stunning exploration, Herzog travels to the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station, headquarters of the National Science Foundation and home to eleven hundred people during the austral summer (October to February). Over the course of his journey, Herzog examines human nature and Mother Nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
If director Peter Segal’s dutiful, heavy-spirited comedy clicks with fans of the old TV series as well as with those too young to give a rip about the original — it’ll be a case of the right cast winning out over the wrong material, material that is immaterial regarding what made the show so popular in its spy-infested, James Bonded, Man From U.N.C.L.E. era. Rated PG-13 (some rude humor, action violence and language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
See full screen review on page 34. At Boulder Theater and Esquire.
See full screen review on page 34. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Hellboy and his team battle a merciless dictator and his seemingly unstoppable army. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Trevor Holden has just witnessed his boyfriend Darrell overdose on heroin — again. And as his oldest friend, Trevor feels a responsibility to help Darrell in his latest attempt at sobriety, much to the dismay of his own best friends Jake and Andie. But, when Darrell starts using again Trevor is finally ready to call it quits. And just when he does, he meets the ever so charming Ephram. As Trevor’s relationship with Ephram quickly progresses, it starts to put a strain on his friendships with Jake and Andie. Jake, the self-proclaimed sex-addict, is starting to worry a little bit about his past catching up with him, namely in the form of HIV. And Andie, who drunkenly ends her sexual dry spell with a one-night stand, realizes that Jake might have less to worry about than she does. What starts out as Trevor’s own personal existential journey, turns into a path that will lead everyone to what is most important: themselves. Holding Trevor is continually poignant, relentlessly self-deprecating, and just the type of cerebral dark comedy that can speak directly to the 20-somethings of today while letting other generations in on the joke. Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
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
Journey to the Center of the Earth
A professor and his nephew embark on an amazing journey beneath the Earth’s surface. Rated PG. At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl
American Girl fans, rejoice: the big-screen iteration of your beloved Kit Kittredge is tried and true; a wholesome dose of Americana suitable for everyone. Except maybe parents. Rated G. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square. — Jessica Reaves
Kung Fu Panda
Everything about Kung Fu Panda is a little better, a little sharper, a little funnier than the animated run of the mill. With Jack Black voicing the role of a martial arts-obsessed panda who lives his dreams of high-flying glory, the film has an air of assurance and rightness of casting from the get-go. Even with a surfeit of battle sequences riffing on live-action martial arts iconography dating back to Enter the Dragon, the energy captivates. Rated PG (sequences of martial arts action). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Tiny aliens arrive on Earth inside a spaceship shaped like an ordinary man. Rated PG. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
A grandly kitschy rendering of Genghis Khan’s early years, Mongol might as well be called Braveheart in a Yurt. Director Sergei Bodrov isn’t trying to get anyone to look at the historical figure’s tactical wiles, or the cost of all that bloodshed, in a challenging way. Mainly Mongol is out for pretty pictures and epic photogenic mythmaking. Rated R (sequences of bloody warfare). At Mayan and Century. — Michael Phillips
Murder among the rich, fabulous and screwy: I mean, why else do we go to the movies? The true story of Barbara Baekeland, ill-fated wife of the heir of the Bakelite dinnerware fortune, offers the ingredients of a juicy picture, yet Savage Grace comes up bland and seems to go nowhere in particular. Julianne Moore, starring as the doomed Baekeland, almost makes it worth seeing. No MPAA rating (parents cautioned for sex, nudity and language). At Mayan. — Michael Phillips
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 and Century. — Jessica Reaves
Up the Yangtze
Young men and women take up employment with a cruise ship at the edge of the Yangtze River, where they confront rising waters and a radically changing China. Not rated. At Mayan.
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 Chez Artiste. — Michael Phillips
A hunk of metal with binoculars for eyes — can this be the screen’s latest true hero? Yes. In Pixar’s marvelous new feature, set 700 years from now, planet Earth has become an uninhabitable garbage dump, whose last resident (besides a roach) is the title robot. How he saves the planet is the subject of director Andrew Stanton’s story, beautifully realized. Rated G. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Slick, peppy sadism, this adaptation of the far more heinously violent comic books by Mark Millar stars James McAvoy as the nudnik son of the world’s greatest assassin. Angelina Jolie (looking like she could use a good meal — can't she afford one?) is the killing machine who dragoons McAvoy into action. It’s well made, but by the end I sort of hated it. And enough with the bullet’s-eye-view effects! Rated R (strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square, Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
This mordant unofficial sequel to Grosse Point Blank reunites John Cusack with an assassin’s gun. In a future where corporations have replaced nations, Cusack is a benumbed corporate hit man dispatched by the former U.S. vice president (Dan Aykroyd) to take out a local pol whose oil pipeline stands in the way of certain business interests. So far critics are all over the map on this one, some calling it a liberal polemic with a lot of bitter laughs, others calling it... well, a liberal polemic without laughs. The truth’s in the middle. Rated R (violence, language and brief sexual material). At Century and Starz. — Michael Phillips
When Did You Last See Your Father?
This intimate look at a son (Colin Firth) grappling with his aging father (Jim Broadbent) and coming to terms with their life of conflict is achingly familiar, but director Anand Tucker slowly wins you over, delivering not another imitation, but a very persuasive drama. Broadbent and demonstrate the magic and majesty of finely etched British acting. Backed by a solid support cast, their performances are deeply felt and cagily detailed. PG-13 (sexual content, thematic material and brief strong language). At Chez Artiste. — Scott Schueller
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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