CU-Boulder's International Film Series kicks off its summer session in classic style, by presenting a film connoisseur's dream come true: Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and actor Toshiro Mifune, an artistic match for the ages, will be in the spotlight on Thursday nights through mid-August, beginning tonight with one of the team's rarities. All Kurosawa fans know of such historical masterworks as Seven Samurai and Red Beard, which star Mifune as the John Wayne of the Far East (both of those films will appear in the series). But not many have boned up on such noir-ish offerings as the series-opening gangster yarn, Drunken Angel, screening tonight at 7 and 9 on campus in Muenzinger Auditorium, or High and Low, a suspenseful crime story based on an Ed McBain novel, showing August 7. In between, there'll be plenty of variety as only Kurosawa and Mifune could deal it -- from samurai flicks to Shakespearean adaptations; call 303-492-1531 or log on to www.internationalfilmseries.com for details.
Friday, June 6
First Friday rolls around this June with plenty of gallery surprises -- a nice little cultural shakeup you wouldn't expect when the weather turns hot. But we'll take it. The print studio and gallery Open Press, 40 West Bayaud Avenue, greets the summer with theSplatphenomenon2003, an exhibit of new "splats" -- represented by large solar prints and sculptures -- by Doris Laughton, opening tonight with a reception from 6 to 10 and continuing through June 28. Call 303-778-1116. Andenken Gallery, 2110 Market Street, introduces the Ladyfest Out West Art Exhibition, a juried show of works with a feminist theme, shown in anticipation of local Ladyfest activities scheduled for later this month as part of what's become an international arts movement. The show opens tonight with a reception from 6 to 10 and runs through June 27; call 303-332-5582 or log on to www.andenken.com. Not exactly a gallery show, but an arts event worth knowing about, is the Mackey Gallery Art/Furniture Sale and Show, an uppity yard-sale-like affair featuring artwork, mid-century furniture, jewelry, handcrafted handbags and more at the defunct gallery, 2900 West 25th Avenue, which now serves as a studio and storage space. The sale opens tonight from 7 to10 and continues from 11 to 4 Saturday and Sunday; call 303-783-9339 or 303-433-4806. And, at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, a series of shows exploring new avenues in portraiture got under way last night, including Suspended Reality, assemblages by Linda Foster Leonhard; Dizplayed, Dizcover, Dizclosure, prints and assemblages by Dismas Rotta; Paranirvana (self-portrait), installation by Lewis deSoto; and the group show Facing Off: Alternative Portraits, all continuing through late August. The center is at 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada; call 720-898-7200 or log on to www.arvadacenter.org.
Saturday, June 7
It's a beautiful night to hear It's a Beautiful Day, a hippie-era blast from the past headed up by super violinist David LaFlamme, with Linda LaFlamme on vocals. Best known for their soaring hit "White Bird," a song they no doubt still perform, the LaFlammes continue to produce new work with their White Bird Band, including tunes heard in such films as Contact, A Walk on the Moon and Jerry Seinfeld's Comedian; they're in town tonight at 8 at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, 71 East Yale Avenue, for old fans who'd like to catch up. Admission ranges from $15 to $21; call 303-777-1003 or log on to www.swallowhill.com.
Sunday, June 8
This year's May plant and book sale at the Denver Botanic Gardens was a bit of a bust, thanks to seemingly arctic temperatures and snow (though they did salvage the sale by extending it through the following week, when the skies got sunnier). But here's the good news: This year, the gardens debut a similar Chatfield Plant Sale at the DBG-run Chatfield Nature Preserve, 8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road, featuring the same kind of plant selection, including rare rock alpine plants, along with the usual lineup of perennials, herbs, veggies and more. Browse their selection from 9 to 4 today only; for details, call 303-973-1694 or log on to www.botanicgardens.org.
If you prefer fast cars to slow gardens, catch that Maserati fever and zoom over to the annual Exotic Sports Car Show and Concours d'Elegance, a benefit for United Cerebral Palsy of Colorado that will feature a drool-worthy collection of over 300 hot cars with even hotter engines, from cherry-red classic Jaguars to up-to-the-minute Mini Coopers. The show and competition take place from 9 to 3 today at the Arapahoe Community College campus, 5900 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton; tickets are $7 (children under twelve are admitted free). Call 303-691-9339 or 303-902-4378.
Monday, June 9
One of the contemporary literary world's very best, Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, is back with a new novel. Good Faith pokes fun at the real-estate business and its inextricable hand in the promotion of the American dream; Smiley will read a few passages and sign copies tonight at 7:30 at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 2955 East First Avenue; call 303-322-7727.
Tuesday, June 10
Music and food can make a winning combo. That's the reasoning behind Wines for the Arts, the blend of wine-tasting, food and live jazz that will benefit the South Metro Arts Center Initiative, from 6:30 to 9 tonight. Tickets to this worthy cause, $30-$35, are available by calling 303-741-2400 or visiting www.southmetroarts.org. So chill and thrill to food and get in the groove at Hudson Gardens, 6115 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton; for more info, call 303-797-8565 or log on to www.hudsongardens.org.