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|July 17-23, 2008
The great Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark, Mother and Son) has made a powerful anti-war film in which not a shot is fired. Russian opera legend Galina Vishnevskaya stars as an elderly woman visiting her grandson, an officer stationed among the bored, weary troops at a desolate military outpost. More myth than contemporary politics, the movie juxtaposes her womanly warmth with the hard steel of their weaponry; the value she places on their lives, with the pessimism of their mind set; her memories of family life and hopes for their future with the cynicism inherent in their mission. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
The Breakfast Club (1985)
One of the finest John Hughes/Brat Pack features, The Breakfast Club is the unlikely gathering of the mascots of a high school’s most polarizing cliques: the princess, the jock, the nerd, the weirdo and the burnout (played by Judd Nelson, who looks like he’s 30 in this film). Rated R. At Red Rocks.
A young Bangladeshi woman arrives in London in the ’80s, leaving behind her family and home. Rated PG-13. At Esquire and Century.
The Dark Knight
The latest Batman film, and Heath Ledger’s last cinematic feature, in which Batman and the Joker go head to head. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Twin Peaks and Colony Square.
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, Centur and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Narrated by Johnny Depp, this biopic lays out a history of Thompson’s work and his legacy, leaning heavily on his “gonzo” image, the hard-boozing, hard-drugging, larger-than-life persona that dominated his writing, and sometimes outshone it. The film is informative and a little titillating, but like Thompson’s work itself, it sometimes feels like a smoke screen, a colorful but distracting set of pretenses hiding as much as they reveal. Rated R (language and brief nudity). At Boulder Theater and Esquire. — Tasha Robinson
The idea sounds ripe: Will Smith, one of the screen’s most engaging stars, playing a surly wino of a superhero, making a mess of Los Angeles as he comes to the occasional aid of those in need. Enter a PR whiz (Jason Bateman), who takes on Hancock as his latest project and helps him see the value in soft, non-destructive landings and the odd kind word. Not even Smith’s charisma can mitigate the chaos that is Hancock. The violence and the general abrasiveness are a genuine drag. Rated PG-13 (some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
Harold and Maude (1971)
Harold is a death-obsessed 20-year-old who spends his spare time feigning suicide and attending funerals. At one funeral he meets Maude, a 79-year-old who loves life. The two quickly become friends. When Harold’s mother tries to marry off her son, he takes matters into his own hands. Rated PG. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I can barely keep up with the mythology put forth by the Hellboy series, but I enjoyed the first film, and I enjoyed the new one. The movie, directed by the inventive Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) is engaging, though it’s more cavalier regarding story and relentless in its action than its predecessor. Ron Perlman is great to have around as Hellboy; as before, his oaky, mellow voice belies all manner of freakish rage and loner angst. Rated PG-13 (sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
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. — Michael Phillips
Journey to the Center of the Earth
See full screen review on page 34. Rated PG. At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
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 and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
This theater hit makes it to the big screen. A bride secretly invites to her wedding three men from her mother’s past. And everyone busts out into ABBA songs at the drop of a hat. Rated PG-13. At Century, Flatiron, Twin Peaks and Colony Square.
See full screen review on page 34. 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
Note by Note
Note By Note is a documentary that follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand, #L1037 — from forest floor to concert hall. It explores the relationship between musician and instrument, chronicles the manufacturing process, and illustrates what makes each Steinway unique in this age of mass production. From the factory floor in Queens to Steinway Hall in Manhattan, each piano’s journey is complex — spanning 12 months, 12,000 parts, 450 craftsmen, and countless hours of fine-tuned labor. Filmed in key Steinway locations — the factory, Steinway’s reserved “Bank,” and private auditions — Note By Note is a loving celebration of not just craftsmanship, but of a dying breed of person who is deeply connected to working by hand. In the end, this is an ode to the most unexpected, and perhaps ironic, of unsung heroes. It reminds us how extraordinary the dialogue can be between an artist and an instrument — crafted out of human hands but borne of the materials of nature. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
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 Starz. — 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. — Jessica Reaves
A fun-loving chimpanzee becomes an astronaut and must rid a planet of its evil leader. Rated G. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Tell No One
This French thriller focuses in on Alexander, a pediatrician wrongfully accused but never prosecuted for the death of his wife, Margot. Eight years after the incident, two bodies are found near Margot’s former resting spot and the case reopens. Things get stickier when Alexander receives an e-mail, showing his wife alive and older. Not rated. At Mayan.
Time Machine (1960)
This H.G. Wells classic tells the story of a Victorian Englishman who time travels into the future. There, he finds that humanity is at war with itself, divided into two hostile sects. Rated G. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
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 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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