ALLIED

From the birth of talking pictures in the late 1920s to the emergence of the European New Wave and rising counter-culture in the 60s, Hollywood studio movies dominated the American market. We now broadly define these movies as Classic Hollywood, but during their heyday they were romantic. They were pictures of beautiful people, doing beautiful things, wearing beautiful dresses and suits while speaking beautifully composed sentences. They never worried about paying rent or finding a parking space, they woke up with their make-up on and were never behind in a conversation. It was fantasy, and audiences ate it up like … Continue reading ALLIED

PETER AND THE FARM

There is always a moment in every food documentary where the documentarian visit an organic farm, gathers shots of free-range chickens, roaming pigs and happy bovine, and talks to the farmer. The farmer is almost always bearded, wearing old clothes that are free of sports teams or corporate branding and often alone. These farmers are allotted two or three sentences about how they feel connected to their farm, their animals, a better way of life and how the choice they made has resulted in hard but rewarding work. The documentary then cuts to shots of cattle factories, impossibly crowded chicken … Continue reading PETER AND THE FARM

THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

Young, energetic stories need young, energetic voices, and that is precisely what The Edge of Seventeen has going for it. Written and directed by first-timer Kelly Fremon Craig, The Edge of Seventeen is a coming-of-age/high school drama littered with clichés and familiar moments but manages to remain lively, upbeat and, most importantly, fresh. The movie centers on Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a volcano of a teen who thinks that no one else is as broken as she is. When she confronts her history teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson), with plans to commit suicide, Mr. Bruner responds with his own fabricated suicide … Continue reading THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Days 8–12

THE PULITZER AT 100 Hungarian immigrant and yellow journalist Joseph Pulitzer wanted to elevate his chosen profession by honoring the best in the business. He gave his fortune to Columbia University to start a school of journalism and on June 4, 1917, six years after his death, the first Pulitzer Prizes were awarded. Almost a century later, the Pulitzer remains the highest award to honor writing and journalism and director Kirk Simon pays tribute to the award and the those who it has graced, in the new talking heads documentary, The Pulitzer at 100. While the doc touches briefly on the history of Joseph Pulitzer, Pulitzer … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Days 8–12

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day 6 & 7

I, DANIEL BLAKE When I, Daniel Blake was announced as the winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the critical press was stunned that anything could have topped Maren Ade’s German comedy, Toni Erdmann. Granted, comedy gets no love from juries, and I, Daniel Blake’s social consciousness makes it very much a movie of the moment, but neither should detract from Ken Loach’s moving portrait of human kindness and compassion. I, Daniel Blake isn’t just a middle finger to the establishment and the absurdities of bureaucratic rigmarole; it is a plea for human decency and a celebration of the small moments that … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day 6 & 7

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day 4 & 5

ACTOR MARTINEZ If acting is reacting, what is Actor Martinez? Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction a Denver-based actor, Arthur Martinez (playing himself), hires two indie directors, Mike Ott and Nathan Silver (also playing themselves), to make a movie about his life. They oblige, and all three quickly disappear down the hall of mirrors that make up self-reflexive cinema. The audience is never quite sure if they are seeing the movie Ott and Silver are making, or if they are watching the movie Ott and Silver are making about the movie that Ott and Silver are making. It’s like Charlie Kauffman’s Synecdoche, New York with … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day 4 & 5

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day Three

CALIFORNIA TYPEWRITER California Typewriter takes its title from one of the last typewriter repair shops in America. Located in Berkeley, Cali., California Typewriter opened over 30 years ago by Herb Permillion, an IBM repairman. Apple released the personal computer one year after Permillion opened up shop, but that didn’t deter him or his longtime repairman, Ken Alexander. Both men believe in the typewriter and know that if they hold on long enough, the typewriter will come back into vogue. They might be right, but they also might lose their shirts. With passion like this, who cares if you lose it all? But Permillion and Alexander aren’t … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day Three

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day Two

DFF39 eases us into Day Two with only 11 movies, all of which are featured at the Sie Film Center of Colfax. From here on out, it gets crazy, but for today let’s all convene at Henderson’s for a drink and discussion. JACKSON Jackson is home to the last remaining abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. There were more, but that was then. Now, the religious freedom movement has forced legislator’s hands and made women’s health clinics jump through almost impossible hoops to stay open. Only one has. Jackson, from documentarian Maisie Crow, is a ground-level look at what it takes to keep that … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day Two

The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day One

The 39th Denver Film Festival gets underway tonight with opening night film, La La Land, a modern-day musical set in the City of Angels where some dreams are realized while others are crushed underfoot. The movie stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and Stone, along with writer/director Damien Chazelle, are set to attend the opening night festivities with a post-screening Q&A with Denver Post film critic emeritus, Lisa Kennedy. La La Land is currently under embargo, so I’ll leave it at this: La La Land is heart wrenching, acidic and poignant. Easily one of the best of the year and co-lead Ryan Gosling is magnificent. But … Continue reading The 39th Denver Film Festival — Day One