Reel to Reel | Week of Oct. 8, 2009


BW Movie Trivia! Sponsored by the International Film Series

Unmistaken Child

The central character Zopa, is instructed by whom to find the reincarnation of his mentor in this film?

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9 This animated feature throws viewers headlong into a post-apocalyptic universe where life has come down to the vicious combat between machines resembling metallic dinosaurs and a tiny band of survivors. Director Shane Acker’s fantasy comes from his superb 2004 short subject. The feature-length expansion does not feel artistically compromised or interested in pandering to a young audience. But while Acker’s craftsmanship is impressive, it’s undermined by a misjudged degree of grinding peril. Still, the film cannot be dismissed. Rated PG-13 (violence and scary images). At Century. Michael Phillips

12 Angry Men (1957) What appears as an open-and-shut murder case is sent into a spiral when one member of a jury votes “not guilty” and makes the others realize things are not as cut and dry as they thought. Stars Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman and E.G. Marshall. Not Rated. Free showing at Starz. Denver Film Society

Afghan Star It would have been easy for U.K. journalist and TV producer Havana Marking to turn her feature documentary debut Afghan Star into a weepy, patronizing view of a Third World nation’s people rising above their travails by means of song. But Marking’s surprisingly astringent film resists such temptations even while following four heartbreakingly brave finalists in the hugely popular American Idol-like talent show the film takes its name from, a melodramatic arc if there ever was one. Not Rated. At International Film Series. IFS

The Beaches of Agns The cinema, social theorist and sometime filmmaker Edgar Morin argued, is the model for our “mental commerce” with the world. Even awake and in the street, Morin wrote, we walk in solitary daydreams, “surrounded by a cloud of images… The substance of the imaginary is mixed up with our life of the soul.” Filmmaker Agns Varda agrees, and since her 1990 documentary-cum-staged-portrait of her critically ill husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, Morin’s idea of “semi-imaginary reality” has been Agnes Varda’s subject. The Beaches of Agns documents Varda’s artistic growth, along with her life, as she evolves from bustling scene-maker to self-conscious autobiographer.

Not Rated. At International Film Series. Denver Film Society

Blume in Love (1973) While walking the streets of Venice, Italy where he had once spent his honeymoon, a Southern California divorce lawyer recounts the actions that have left him newly single and still in love with his wife. Director Paul Mazursky, who has made a career skewering the foibles of adult relationships, was at the top of his game as was Segal who was never more charming while Kristofferson nearly steals the show as his ex-wife’s live-in boyfriend. Not Rated. At the Boulder Public Library. BPL Film Program

The Boys Are Back Clive Owen plays a sports columnist in Australia whose life is upended when his wife (Laura Fraser) dies and he must juggle a return to work with a 6-year-old (Nicholas McAnulty) who doesn’t grasp Mom’s death. His laissez-faire approach to parenting shocks relatives, but the consequences of it don’t fully manifest themselves until a son from an earlier marriage (George MacKay) shows up. Owen is pleasant enough, but you expect more tears and more of a moral to the story than this film delivers. Rated PG-13 (some sexual language and thematic elements). At Esquire. Roger Moore

Bright Star Jane Campion’s first feature since In the Cut six years ago is a scrupulously well-crafted film about the relationship between poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and quick-witted Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). In a way Campion’s film is a thing of beauty, reveling in both romantic love and the allure of the romantic poets, yet it fails to fully engage. Cornish is very good here, but the relationship between Keats and Brawne comes alive only in flashes. Rated PG (thematic elements, some sensuality, brief language and incidental smoking). At Esquire. Michael Phillips.

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