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|September 11-17, 2008
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Air Guitar Nation
Air Guitar Nation is the feature documentary about the year that air guitar swept America from New York to Los Angeles and then all the way to nothern Finland. The film chronicles the birth of the U.S. Air Guitar Championships and the personal journeys of those talented contestants who are vying to become the first World Air Guitar Champion from the United States. Full of triumph and disappointment, patriotic spirit and political tension — and, of course, invisible guitars — this tension-filled competition quickly turns very real as the contest becomes fierce. At Lefthand Brewery. — Denver Film Society
The Axe in the Attic
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, two filmmakers, drawn together by outrage, take a 60-day road trip from New England to New Orleans. Along the way they meet evacuees and witness the loss, dignity, perseverance and humor of people who have become exiles in their own country. The breakdown of trust between a government and its citizens, the influence of race, class, and gender — as well as the ethics of documentary filmmaking itself — form the backdrop for this universal story of the search for home. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
A mercenary learns that the woman in his charge is carrying a synthetic virus. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Beauty and the Beast (1947)
A haunting adaptation of Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s 1757 fairy tale, rich in visual imagery and lyric expression. Set in 18th-century France, a merchant’s beautiful daughter saves her father’s life by agreeing to visit the Beast. She faints in horror upon their first meeting, but grows to love him, finding the soul that exists beneath his gruesome exterior. In French with subtitles. Not rated. At Boulder Public Library. — Boulder Public Library Film Program
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Hey, all you Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, it’s time to strap on your bowling shoes and mix some Caucasians. This Coen brothers cult classic did for stoners what The Rocky Horror Picture Show did for transsexual goths: it gave them the opportunity to dress up and get wasted. When you show up at the Boulder Theater, be prepared to meet The Dude, Walter Sobchak, Donny or even the quintessential messianic pedophile himself, Jesus Quintana. “It’s good to know he’s out there, The Dude, takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners.” Rated R. At Boulder Theater and Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
A retelling of the famous “Judgment of Paris,” a blind wine tasting in which early California wine makers pitted their products against French vineyards. The results took the wine world by storm, and this film is stirring up controversy of its own with claims of skewed portrayals. Rated PG-13. At Century and Mayan.
A powerful coming-of-age drama that raises difficult questions about the morals of our times. Andrew Garfield (Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle theatre awards winner) stars as Jack. His involvement in a disturbing crime means Jack, at 24, has spent most of his young life in juvenile prisons. Released from prison into an unrecognizable adult world, Jack is given a new name, new job, new home; a new life. But anonymity is both a blessing and a curse as Jack has to contend with not being able to tell the people he gets to know, and love, of his true past. Co-starring acclaimed actor and director Peter Mullan as Terry, Jack’s case worker and the only person he can really trust. Based on the award-winning novel by Jonathan Trigell, adapted for the screen by writer Mark O’Rowe. Directed by John Crowley (Intermission). Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
Burn After Reading
The latest from film masterminds the Coen brothers, Burn After Reading chronicles an ousted CIA official’s memoir that accidentally falls into the wrong hands. Rated R. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square, Twin Peaks and Esquire.
Oren Jacoby’s documentary adapts author and former Catholic priest James Carroll’s book examining the dark side of Christianity. In Carroll’s quest to comprehend religious intolerance, he considers the history of anti-semitic violence, investigates religious influence in U.S. foreign policy and considers his own personal role in fomenting intolerance. Not rated. At IFS. — International Film Series
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 and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
Another spoof flick with an attractive cast that must dodge catastrophic events. Rated PG-13. At Twin Peaks.
Don Quixote (1957)
An elderly Spanish nobleman is so inspired by reading books of heraldry that he resolves to become a knight-errant himself to defend the honor of his lady Dulcinea del Toboso. He is assisted by his peasant squire Sancho Panza. This film is based on Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s 1605 book Don Quixote de la Mancha and its 1615 sequel, and stars the U.S.S.R.’s best known actor Cherkassov, who had been working on-screen since 1927. In Russian with subtitles. Not rated. At Boulder Public Library. — Boulder Public Library Film Program
In this careful, tasteful adaptation of the Philip Roth novella The Dying Animal, a Columbia University professor and cultural gadabout (Ben Kingsley) embarks on an affair with an ex-student. Penelope Cruz plays Consuela, who turns the decades-older prof into a puddle of jealous confusion. The film, sincere and well-acted, saps some of the unruly, politically incorrect life from the sexual dynamic. Rated R (sexuality, nudity and language). Rated R. At Esquire. — Michael Phillips
Two single mothers — one Mohawk and one white — are drawn into the world of border smuggling in upstate New York. Rated R. At Mayan.
From dynamic duo directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez comes a one-two combination film experience. If you recall, Tarantino and Rodriguez also teamed up on From Dusk Till Dawn, which went from dust to yawn. Hopefully this movie will redeem the tandem. Rated R. At Boulder Outdoor Cinema.
The Grocer’s Son
It is summer, and 30-year-old Antoine is forced to leave the city to return to his family in Provence. His father is sick, so he must assume the lifestyle he thought he had shed — driving the family grocery cart from hamlet to hamlet, delivering supplies to the few remaining inhabitants. Accompanied by Claire, a friend from Paris whom he has a secret crush on, Antoine gradually warms up to his experience in the country and his encounters with the villagers, who initially seem stubborn and gruff, but ultimately prove to be funny and endearing. Ultimately, this surprise French box-office hit is about the coming-of-age of a man re-discovering life and love in the countryside. Not rated. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
See full screen review on page 59. Rated R (language including sexual references, brief nudity, and some drug content). At Century and Colony Square.
The House Bunny
A Playboy bunny, kicked out of the mansion, turns to a sorority for solace. With her fellow clueless sisters, she must fight to keep their house using blonde-girl catch-phrases and a horrifying amount of perkiness — enough to make any feminist’s stomach churn. Could this be the worst plot of the year? We think so. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century and Twin Peaks.
Kookaburra Kountry (1973)
Oldest of all the continents, Australia has a unique flora and fauna. Fran Hall filmed throughout Australia in the early 1970s, seeing wombats, koala bears, kangaroos, parrots, spiny anteaters, wallabies, great rays, penguins and the world’s second-largest bird, the emu. In his long and vivid life, Hall has lectured with his nature films for the National Audubon Society and helped the Disney Studios make nature films. Not rated. At Boulder Public Library. — Boulder Public Library Film Program
See full screen review on page 59. Rated PG (some thematic elements, mild language and brief rude humor).
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 Flatiron and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
Man on Wire
A documentary that follows Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire routine performed between the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City. The act was hailed as the “artistic crime of the century.” Rated PG-13. At Chez Artiste.
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
French secret agent OSS 117 stumbles into international espionage and exotic romance in this hit spy-film parody by French director Michel Hazanavicius. This witty homage to the early James Bond series begins with the disappearance of a government adent and a Russian cargo ship in Cairo in 1955, and ultra-suave agent OSS 117 is sent to investigate. Upon his discovery of an elaborate plot involving factions of Egyptians, French, Russians, neo-Nazis and a Belgian, much hilarity ensues. Not rated. At IFS. — International Film Series
The Pineapple Express
A dope dealer (James Franco) and his steady customer (Seth Rogen) go on the run after the latter witnesses a drug-related murder and drops a precious joint at the scene of the crime. Few recent comedies have started so well and ended so poorly. At its sharpest, the script by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who co-wrote Superbad, recalls what made Superbad worth seeing: the sidewinding conversational riffs, the why-am-I-laughing? wordplay. Then, around the midpoint, the film falls apart, the violence overshadowing the laughs. Rated R (pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence). At Century and Flatiron. — Michael Phillips
Red Heroine (1929)
Made at the height of Shanghai’s martial-arts craze, Red Heroine is the story of a maiden who is kidnapped by outlaws, rescued by a mysterious hermit, and re-emerges as a warrior who avenges her grandmother’s death. This screening will be accompanied with a live performance by the Devil Music Ensemble. Not rated. At IFS. — International Film Series
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro play two NYC detectives who try to make the connection between a recent murder and one they solved years ago. They learn they may have put the wrong man behind bars, leaving a serial killer to roam the streets. Rated R. At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
This animated feature was executive-produced by George Lucas, who may be feeling a tad sheepish about the results. A mechanical overture to the forthcoming Clone Wars TV series, the movie is one long, grinding battle scene, and the visual style is genuinely ugly. It’s coming soon, free, to a TV near you, so save your money, younglings. Rated PG (sci-fi action violence throughout, brief language and momentary smoking). At Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
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.
How much moral ambiguity and narrative intricacy will an audience handle in the realm of a terrorism-themed contemporary thriller? This one tells a good, snakelike story, slithering in some unpredictable directions. Don Cheadle, who plays the mysterious operative creating and running an espionage maze of his own design, reaffirms his excellence. He is an honest, responsive actor, and as a rogue ex-U.S. Special Operations officer and highly conflicted Muslim, Cheadle keeps it simple and puts the story needs ahead of his own. Rated PG-13 (intense violent sequences, thematic material and brief language). At Flatiron, Century, Colony Square and Twin Peaks. — Michael Phillips
A crime thriller in which an American couple encounter mysterious characters on a Transsiberian train from China to Moscow. Rated R. At Century and Chez Artiste.
Ben Stiller’s big-budget comedy is about the runaway production of a Vietnam War epic. Robert Downey Jr., playing an Oscar-winning actor who undergoes a skin treatment to portray an African-American platoon sergeant, is by far the best thing in Tropic, which has taken heat for its “retard” references, anti-Semitic stereotyping and Downey’s risky impersonation of Russell Crowe doing Fred Williamson. While the film is funny, its size and scale inform the joke half of the time and compete with it the other half. Rated R (pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug material). At Flatiron, Century and Colony Square. — Michael Phillips
Taking its title from a line in a Wendell Berry poem, The Unforeseen springboards from Berry’s description of the wilderness as “a sort of blessing, by the face of its unexpectedness.” When West Texas farm boy-turned-real estate tycoon Gary Bradley attempts to trade that blessing for profit from the suburban subdivision he’s planning, an environmental battle ensues among Austin residents, who step up to protect their pristine hill country from development — particularly Barton Springs, a fragile limestone aquifer that has served as a local swimming hole for generations. Sharing his own memories of the springs with director Laura Dunn, Robert Redford (who, along with Terrence Malick, serves as executive producer) articulates the film’s main point: that Austin is actually a microcosm of America itself, representing every community that aims to preserve its natural resources in the face of seemingly unstoppable growth. Dunn also talks, in one of the political icon’s last interviews, with late Texas governor Ann Richards about the related debate over private property rights that paved the path to power for Richards’ nemesis, George W. Bush. Yet Dunn is no propagandist, but a meticulous documentarian, and The Unforeseen doesn’t hesitate to tell both sides of the story. Rather than vilifying Bradley, Dunn traces both his dramatic rise from poverty to wealth and his poignant fall amid bad press and the failure of many of his get-rich-quick schemes. Not rated. At IFS. — Denver Film Society
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Woody Allen’s liveliest feature in years. Two Americans (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) spend a summer in Spain, where their romantic fortunes intertwine with those of a sensually forthright painter (Javier Bardem) and, later, his violently jealous ex-wife and muse (Penelope Cruz). It’s modest but satisfying, and Hall is a major screen actress in the making. Rated PG-13 (mature thematic material involving sexuality, and smoking). At Flatiron, Colony Square and Century. — 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. — Michael Phillips
What We Do is Secret
Writer/director Rodger Grossman chronicles the short, tumultuous life of notorious Germs lead singer Darby Crash (Shane West, ER) and the birth of punk rock in the United States. In Los Angeles in 1975, a teenaged Jan Paul Beahm shares his five-year plan to become a legend with best friend George Ruthenberg. The first step is forming a band, despite the fact they don’t know how to play instruments. They recruit band members and play a gig and virtually overnight the group earns a reputation as a force of chaos. Paul reinvents the band, adopting the name Darby Crash. George becomes Pat Smear, and bassist Terry Ryan becomes Lorna Doom. They call themselves The Germs, because, according to Darby “everything starts with a germ,” and, as we learn, the Germs would eventually start everything. The Germs’ shows routinely provoked riots until, eventually, they were banned from every club in Los Angeles. Rated R. At Starz. — Denver Film Society
A remake of a 1939, The Women is about — get this — women. They bond when one leaves her cheating husband. Rated PG-13. At Flatiron, Century and Colony Square.