As they bring in the new year, Denver theaters will spend much of January highlighting masterpieces and cult classics alike. Some of these films critique the movie industry while others are only worth watching because of how delightfully terrible they are. Several documentaries will ignite discussions about the function of sports in politics and religion, human rights and the origins of hip-hop.
While Denver in January is slim on film festivals and DIY programming, audiences can take their pick of some of the larger independent theaters' excellent fare. So brave the cold, head out to the movies, and kick off your year bathing in the glow of the screen.
In 2014, Christopher Nolan'sInterstellar
sparked debate about the possibilities and pitfalls of scientific accuracy in movies. Start your new year with a film that defies the laws of physics, astronomy and quality film-making alike: Disney's 1979The Black Hole
. With themes that are too lofty for children and characters so childish they are laughable for adults, this flick warrants a watch because it is so bad. Tickets cost $10. For more information, go to theFilmCenter website
9) Los Angeles Plays Itself 2 p.m. Saturday, January 3 SIE FilmCenter Los Angeles is one of the most documented cities on the planet, largely because it functions both as a thriving metropolis and as a constant set for Hollywood movies. In 2003, CalArts professor Thom Anderson directed Los Angeles Plays Itself, an essay film built from recycled clips from L.A.-based movies, philosophical observations about the city, and landscape cinematography. The film has finally been released by Cinema Guild in 2014 and will be playing for one night only at the FilmCenter. Tickets cost $10 and are available at the FilmCenter website.
8) The Church of Cohen: Blood Simple 7 p.m. January 11 Syntax Physic Opera Cohen Brothers fans rejoice. The second Sunday of each month - through April 10, 2016 -- Syntax Physic Opera will host The Church of Cohen, a series of movies directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen. A local musician will perform songs from the films' soundtracks prior to each film. The series opens with Blood Simple, the story of a wealthy man who hires a detective to kill his wife and her paramour. Denver troubadour extraordinaire Nathaniel Rateliff will curate and perform the evening's musical selection. The series runs through April 10, 2016. For more information, go the free event's Facebook page.
Read on for the rest of the top ten January movie events.
7) United Nations Association Traveling Film Festival 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. January 11 SIE FilmCenter For the first time, The United Nations Association Film Festival will grace Denver screens with a slate of award-winning documentaries addressing a breadth of human rights, economic and environmental issues. Films include Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth about six Mayan youth resisting cultural and environmental destruction, The E-Waste Tragedy, about the environmental toll from discarded computers, electronics and appliances, and I am a Girl, about a Cambodian youth forced into the sex trade. Following each film, experts will discuss the issues. Tickets to individual films cost $10; a festival pass costs $40. For more information, go to the FilmCenter website.
6) UHF 6 p.m. Sunday, January 11 Alamo Drafthouse Before Wayne's World and Anchorman, Weird Al Yankovic's UHF satirized the corporate TV establishment with the singer's zany humor coupled with surprising pathos. This critically panned cult classic tells the story of a starry-eyed public television owner who takes his underdog network to surprising heights, raising the ire of competing networks. Tickets cost $10.75 and can be purchased at the Drafthouse website.
5) Sunset Boulevard 7 p.m. Monday January 12 Alamo Drafthouse Hollywood has a long history of parodying itself. Few films attack the glitz, glamor and emptiness of the industry with the acidity of Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard. In this classic, a struggling screenwriter takes on his final job -- serving as a personal companion to an aging silent film star, played by Gloria Swanson. Director Billy Wilder's macabre masterpiece reflects on the shift from silent to sound cinema, the broken dreams of Hollywood's hopefuls, and the vile egoism of the star system. Tickets cost $10.75 and can be purchased at the Drafthouse website.
4) Fight Church 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 16 Chautauqua Community House -- 301 Morning Glory Dr., Boulder, CO 80302 If Jesus encouraged his followers to turn the other cheek, how can Christians embrace mixed-martial arts? Academy Award winning Colorado filmmaker Daniel Junge and his co-director Bryan Storkel search for the answer to this question in their feature documentary, Fight Church, which follows a group of competitive fighters on their quest to use combat to spread the gospel. Junge will discuss the film afterwards. Tickets cost $15 and are available at the Chautauqua website.
Read on for the rest of the top ten January movie events.
3) Wild Style 7:30 p.m.Monday 1/19 Alamo Drafthouse When hip-hop exploded as a vibrant 1980s New York subculture, free-styling, graffiti, break-dancing and scratching reshaped what music, dance and art could be. Buildings, bridges, and trains replaced the canvas, turntables replaced traditional instruments, and MCs replaced stuffy poets of the past. Filmmaker Charlie Ahearn captured this moment in Wild Style, the first hip-hop movie featuring some of the art forms' pioneers: Grandmaster Flash, Fab 5 Freddy, and graffiti artist Lee Quinones, to name a few. Tickets cost $10.75. For more information, go to the Drafthouse website.
2) Red Army Opens Friday, January 23, 2015 At Area Theaters Gabe Polsky's documentary Red Army chronicles the Soviet Union's Olympic hockey team, a dynasty forged by players devoted to ceaseless practice and isolation from family and friends. The squad became a symbol of Soviet power in the Cold War era, and the players were celebrated as heroes until they challenged government and were vilified. The film is a deeply researched exploration of how the Cold War played out in the hockey rink. For more information, go to the film's website.
1) Burroughs: The Movie 2 p.m. Sunday, January 25 SIE FilmCenter Beat writer William S. Burroughs lived a life as wild as his novels, filled with raucous sex, drugs, violence, poetry and unceasing brilliance. Filmmaker Howard Brookner worked closely with Burroughs and his friends in producing the documentary Burroughs: The Movie, which has disappeared from the public eye for over a decade. The documentary chronicles Burroughs turbulent life and his creative practice. A newly restored digital print will screen one-night only. Tickets cost $10. For more information, go to the FilmCenter website.
Find me on Twitter: @kyle_a_harris
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