A Jihad for Love
In a time when Islam is under tremendous attack from within and without, A Jihad for Love is a daring documentary filmed in 12 countries and nine languages. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma has gone where the silence is loudest, filming with great risk in nations where government permission to make this film was not an option. A Jihad for Love is the world’s first feature documentary to explore the complex global intersections between Islam and homosexuality. Parvez enters the many worlds of Islam by illuminating multiple stories as diverse as Islam itself. The film travels a wide geographic arc presenting us lives from India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and France. Always filming in secret and as a Muslim, Parvez makes the film from within the faith, depicting Islam with the same respect that the film’s characters show for it. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film SocietyThe Animation Show 4
The Animation Show is back with an all new collection of incredible independent animation! This year, Mike Judge has gathered together over two dozen of his favorite funny short films from around the world. It’s a ground breaking program of eye-popping adult animation from tomorrow’s next great animators. This isn’t a dirty “adults only” animation show, but the program does skew towards a mature audience with some explicit language and adult subject matter. This year the Animation Show has gone out to four incredible artists for some truly amazing new commissioned work. Kicking things off is the über talented Joel Trussell with an epic viking Animation Show intro. We highly recommend you head over to YouTube to catch Joel’s sensational video “War Photographer” for a little background on our guitar thrashing plunderers. Australian animator Dave Carter debuts three new commissioned shorts with the hilarious “Psychotown.” Dave continues his collaboration with the comedy team “The Nice Guys” here for a blend of cut out and stop-motion animation. Also featured is the stop-motion superstar PES who has been an Animation Show regular the last two tours and returns this year with the instructional cooking treat “Western Spaghetti.” This is PES’s most complex film to date and an instant classic! Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film SocietyBrick Lane
A young Bangladeshi woman arrives in London in the ’80s, leaving behind her family and home. Rated PG-13. At Century.
In some scenes, Laurence Olivier took more time sipping his tea in the 1981 British TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited than it takes to watch all of this brisk, disheveled film version of the Evelyn Waugh novel. Matthew Goode plays Charles Ryder, religious skeptic and Oxford student. He befriends Sebastian (Ben Whishaw), disreputable son of the aristocratic Marchmain household. The film heightens the relationship between Charles and Sebastian’s younger sister (Hayley Atwell). It also positions the fearsome Lady Marchmain (Emma Thompson) front and center. Rated PG-13 (some sexual content). At Esquire. — Michael PhillipsChris & Don: A Love Story
A deep love story unfolds between a British author and an American portrait artist. Not rated. At Chez Artiste.
The Dark Knight
Sensational, grandly sinister and not for the kids, The Dark Knight elevates pulp to a very high level. Heath Ledger’s Joker takes it higher still, and the actor’s death earlier this year of an accidental overdose lends the film an air of a funeral and a rollicking, out-of-control wake mixed together. The film, which improves upon the solemn authority director Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne brought to Batman Begins, has an atmospheric shimmer all its own. It’s a brooding crime saga with some spectacular action sequences. Rated PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and some menace). At Flatiron, Century, Twin Peaks and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
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 SocietyGet Smart
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 Colony Square. — Michael PhillipsGonzo: 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 Esquire. — Tasha RobinsonHancock
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
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 and Century. — Michael PhillipsIndiana 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 PhillipsJourney to the Center of the Earth
This reassuringly cheesy and wholly enjoyable new version of the Jules Verne tale features Brendan Fraser and a lot of stuff aimed directly at your head. Fraser, his nephew (Josh Hutcherson) and another companion (Anita Briem) make their way down an Icelandic volcano, and soon they fall down, down, down, intrepidly braving one new green-screen and soundstage challenge after another, The new Journey moves along, and it has a fairly lighthearted spirit, considering all the flying fishy carnivores and the T. rex attack. Rated PG (intense adventure action and some scary moments). At Century, Flatiron and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
It’s funny what you buy completely onstage and resist on-screen. Case in point: Mamma Mia! — the ABBA-fueled stage phenomenon that is now a movie. Meryl Streep handles the ABBA tunes with aplomb, but it’s disappointing to see the film version turn out this way — not lousy, but pushy. Free spirit Donna (Streep) lives with her daughter Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) on a Greek island. Sophie, about to marry, learns her father, whom she never knew, is one of three possible candidates (Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard), and all are coming to the wedding. Rated PG-13 (some sex-related comments). At Century, Flatiron, Twin Peaks and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
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 Starz. — Michael PhillipsMoulin Rouge! (2001)
A courtesan and a poet fall in love in a bright musical with songs drawn from 20th-century artists. Rated PG-13. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and family battle an ancient Chinese emperor bent on world conquest. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. Space Chimps
Space Chimps sucks a lot of talented people into a wormhole of lousy. The film either needed to be a lot wittier to make up for the way it looks, or a lot better-looking to compensate for the funny it isn’t. Three chimps (voiced by Patrick Warburton, Cheryl Hines and Andy Samberg) are on a rescue mission to recover a lost space probe. The planet they visit is ruled by Zartog (Jeff Daniels), while the script is ruled by many, many permutations of the word “chimp” — “We’ll just have to chimprovise,” etc. — which is amusing in theory and deadly in practice. Rated G. At Flatiron, Century and Twin Peaks. Step Brothers
See full screen review on page 52. Rated R. At Century, Flatiron, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. Swing Vote
An election’s outcome rests in the beer-slinging hands of a lovable loser. Rated PG-13. 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. The Unknown Woman
In director Giuseppe Tornatore’s (Cinema Paradiso) haunting story of mystery and love, a Russian woman named Irena (Xenia Rappoport) calculatedly insinuates herself into the lives of a young, affluent Italian family. Stopping at nothing to become the couple’s trusted maid and the beloved nanny to their fragile young daughter (Clara Dossena), Irena risks everything in her quest to uncover the truth about the family. Like an intricately constructed jigsaw puzzle, The Unknown Woman reveals piece by piece the enigma of Irena’s past. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film SocietyUp 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 Chez Artiste. The Visitor
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 PhillipsWaiting for Guffman (1996)
Another brilliant mockumentary from Christopher Guest in which a former NYC theater buff teaches the small town of Blaine, Missouri to act. Rated R. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
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 and Colony Square. — Michael PhillipsThe X-Files: I Want to Believe
See full screen review on page 52. Rated PG-13. At Century, Flatiron and Colony Square.