Out with the creeps and crawlies of October: November opens the floodgates to all those movies you'll see advertised as "The Best Film of the Year!" To counter all those new, end-of-the-year releases from the studios, our favorite repertory houses have come up with some great programming of classics and genre films. Here, in chronological order, are your ten best film bets for Denver in November.
10) 38th Denver Film Festival
November 4 through November 15
Sie FilmCenter, Ellie Caulkins Opera House and UA Denver Pavilions
What’s your favorite type of movie? Make a wish and then check the schedule for the twelve-day film fest headed our way — chances are one of the almost 200 titles will be calling your name. Yelling at the top of their lungs are four recently announced red-carpet-event films, including opening night's Anomalisa, a breathtaking, stop-motion oddity from Charlie Kaufman, whose wild brain brought us Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Michael Moore’s latest doc, Where to Invade Next, acts as the festival’s centerpiece film. Todd Hayne’s stunning Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, holds the red-carpet matinee honor, while a debut feature from James Sadwith, Coming Through the Rye, closes out the festival. And these four films barely hint at the great bounty that the Denver Film Society, which has put on the festival for 38 years, is about to spread before you. The full schedule and tickets, which range from $12 to $55, are available at denverfilm.org.
9) The 37th Chamber: Shaolin Vs. Wu-Tang
7:30 p.m. November 4
Denver’s only home for bringing martial arts classics back to the big screen is using its Novemer slot to expose children not only to one of the finest kung-fu masterpieces, but show the very film that inspired the up-and-coming members of hip-hop stalwarts, the Wu-Tang Clan, to say, “Yes, THIS film, this is what represents our hearts, souls and music best. And screw those Shaolin punks. Wu-Tang4Eva.”** This 1983 great from Chia-Hui Liu, who starred in dozens of chop-socky bests and also directed some, is being presented on grand 35mm film, and 37th Chamber host Elijah Taylor will be on hand to be the dummy in a pre-show martial arts demonstration. For even more deliciousness, a giant Wu-Tang symbol pizza will be available for ordering from the Alamo kitchen for just a few dolla dolla bills, y’all. Tickets at drafthouse.com. **I’d like to think that’s what they said.
Opens November 5
At a Denver theater near you
As the title of Sam Smith’s new opening theme song will croon over this latest entry in the James Bond superspy canon, “The Writing’s on the Wall” — and, according to recent reports, the man who has held 007’s image for the last four films, Daniel Craig, is hanging up his tux after the credits roll on this, the 24th tale. But before the usual “Who will be the next Bond?” question begins to flood message boards and break the Internet, let’s sit back and simmer with Craig one last time as his rebooted Bond meets Spectre, the evil organization that grew to spawn villainy for the entire series like a dank, evil ivy. Naomie Harris’s Moneypenny returns, as does cutie Ben Whishaw’s Q, and after Judy Dench’s departure, Ralph Fiennes is again Bond’s new M, for better or worse. Death-defying stunts, gunplay and those famous Bond girls will be back, too, because they just never go out of style. Find theaters and showtimes at fandango.com.
7) After Hours
7:30 p.m. November 9
Martin Scorsese often gets accused of concentrating only on dark, depressing, violent stories that never give anyone anything to smile about, and those accusations are correct — except for that one time when he directed the awesome dark comedy After Hours and made an underrated gem. Written by Joseph Minion (Vampire’s Kiss), Hours follows Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne), a lowly computer programmer who meets NYC hipster Marcy (Rosanna Arquette). She leads him through Soho and a series of events that turn Paul’s next twelve hours into some of the worst a man could ever experience. Scorsese paints the Big Apple as only he can and, despite not featuring Robert DeNiro, his cast cruises through zany antics that zip along like a runaway subway train. Word on the street is that Scorsese jumped on the film to drown his sorrows after the debacle of The Last Temptation of Christ, but had to wrestle it from the hands of a young Tim Burton, who had been eyeing the script for his feature filmmaking debut. Scorsese performs magic with the movie, but you can only imagine what it would have been with Burton’s own tweak (and what would’ve happened to Pee Wee Herman?). After Hours screens on 35mm for its thirtieth anniversary; you can get tickets at drafthouse.com.
6) Process Reversal presents: Frenkel Defects III
Program I, 7 p.m. November 10
Scapetreader Mate, 3331 Larimer St.
Program II, 7:30 p.m. November 11
The Colorado-based experimental film non-profit Process Reversal has a mission: to “advocate and ensure the viability of film for all." It definitely pushes its cause with this latest collection in the Frankel Defects series, which focuses on filmmakers who still continue to use photochemical film, and how they shoot and play with what ends up on each frame that makes it onto the screen. The program this year is split into two 75-minute chunks, each screening separately, encompassing eight different films that will bend your boundary of moving, visual art — and, if you’re not used to film of an experimental nature, just might blow your mind a little. Take a chance and dive into the deep end of film-watching: The water's just fine. Tickets are donation based prices, but you can get more information on the screenings at processreversal.org.
5) Ghost World With Illeana Douglas in Person
7 p.m. November 14
Actress Illeana Douglas returns to the Alamo Drafthouse with the debut of her new memoir, I Blame Dennis Hopper, which documents her wide-eyed entree into Hollywood via actor/grandfather Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka) and then follows her own wild navigation of her decades long career. That career includes such greats as Cape Fear, To Die For and Grace Of My Heart, and along the way she somehow wrapped Martin Scorsese around her talented little finger. Douglas will discuss all of this and her fun turn in Terry Zwigoff’s hilarious 2001 comedy Ghost World after the film screens for her adoring fans. Grab tickets, with an option to grab the book too, at drafthouse.com.
4) The Godfather Double Feature Feast
Noon November 15
Combining delicious food and mouth-watering cinema greats, the Alamo Drafthouse is about to give you an offer that you can’t refuse. What better way to enjoy Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterpieces, The Godfather Parts I & II, than with a sumptuous six-course meal, complete with wine pairings, spread across the six-and-a-half-hour running time? From a caprese panzanella salad to antipasto, lasagna, a palate-clearing granita, pasta Bolognese and finally an orange mascarpone-filled canolli to wrap it all up, fougeddaboutit! Still debating if you’ll be distracted watching these cinematic aces and dining at the same time? Heed the famous advice of hitman Peter Clemenza and “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Grab your seat at drafthouse.com.
3) The Mayan Theatre’s 85th Anniversary with Sunset Boulevard
2 p.m. and 7 p.m. November 19
The Miracle Mile’s old girl is turning 85 years young this year, and what better way to celebrate all of the Mayan’s many colorful years of showing films — including a brief stint screening porno — than with Billy Wilder’s twisted 1950 tale Sunset Boulevard. Beginning famously with the narration of the lead character dead on screen, Sunset is the story of Joel Gillis (William Holden), whose new career as a Hollywood screenwriter leads him into the clutches of aging, former silent-star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), whose plan to get back in front of the cameras requires sucking the life out of the desperate scribe. The film is a cautionary, classic cinema staple and the perfect way to celebrate the history of our own Hollywood jewel. Tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
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2) Tab Hunter Confidential with Tab Hunter in Person
7 p.m. November 21
This new documentary, which plays a week-long engagement starting November 20, reintroduces us to fabled screen idol Tab Hunter (aka Arthur Gelien), whose handsome, American good looks sold his face, acting and vocal talents (including his #1 hit song “Young Love”) to screaming teens in the 1950s. Had the public known that Hunter was living his life as a closeted homosexual, and carrying on an affair with the likes of Anthony Perkins, things might have gone differently. While struggling to get out the closet, Hunter wrestled out of Hollywood’s good graces but managed to squeeze back in, albeit years later, as a cult figure working with filmmakers like John Waters, owning his truth as an out gay man with a great story to tell. See the film and hear Tab tell us all about it when he comes to the Sie to share even more wild tales from life in the celluloid closet. Tickets available at denverfilm.org.
Opens November 25
The blood-soaked and notorious story of Ronald and Reggie Kray has already been brought to the movies via 1990’s The Krays, which cast similar-looking real brothers to play the hot identical twin crime lords who ruled London’s East End during the ‘60s. Flash forward to this year and the much-buzzed-about Legend, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, who penned crime tales L.A. Confidential, Mystic River and Man on Fire for the big screen, but stars solitary heavy Tom Hardy (Dark Knight Rises, Bronson, Mad Max: Fury Road) as the twins. The story of the Krays is fascinating, and with a double dose of Hardy bringing life to the brothers — one of whom was recently outed, while the other may have been battling with his own sexuality during their rise to infamy — this should be a sexy, broody powerhourse. Perhaps it will lead to double Oscar noms for Hardy? Stranger things have happened. Get tickets at landmarktheaters.com.