While late autumn has been disconcertingly light on snowfall, flurries of delight await locals eager to see movies, concerts and theatrical performances happening all over the city this weekend. Readers can shop for affordable art, compete for pinball glory, or frolic with cats in the park, all without paying more than ten dollars for admission. Read on, thrifty and adventurous Denverites; the ten best free and cheap events in Denver this week are listed below.
Friday Night Weird: Brazil
Friday, December 1, 8:45 p.m.
Boedecker Theater, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder
While most Christmas movies are little more than empty schmaltz-fests designed for the whole family to tolerate, a curious subgenre of films has emerged over the past few years to subvert the faux-festive paradigm. Programming a list of movies that adopt the setting and iconography of the Christmas season while varying wildly in tone, Friday Night Weird's "Christmas/Not-Christmas Movies" series has a whole month of counter-programming in store for cinephiles whose holiday entertainment preferences skew more toward "humbugs" than "holly jollies." The series kicks off on the first of the month with a screening of Terry Gilliam's mind-bending 1985 masterpiece, Brazil. For more details and links to buy tickets, $6.50-$12, visit the Dairy Center's box office page.
Midnight Madness: Akira
Friday, December 1, midnight
Few films have done more to popularize Japanese animation for American audiences than Katsuhiro Otomo's full-length adaptation of Akira (based on his own epic manga series); its influence extends far beyond its role as a gateway to anime. Indeed, nearly every sci-fi film from the past thirty years owes a stylistic debt to the 1988 masterpiece of dystopian cyberpunk. Groundbreaking for its record-setting budget, sophisticated dialogue-dubbing and pulsing Shoji Yamashiro score, Akira seems remarkably ahead of its time for a movie that's set two years into the future (2019). With a sizable cult following among American Otakus, it's an ideal film for the Landmark Esquire's Midnight Madness screening series. Visit the Esquire's box office page to buy tickets, $9.50, and learn more.
Outsiders: Song Cycles From the Fringe
Saturday, December 2, 2 p.m.
Washington Park Center for Music and the Arts
Pay tuneful tribute to the gypsies, hermits and wanderers who've contributed to our musical heritage at Outsiders: Song Cycles from the Fringe. Presented by the Denver Art Song Project, the program showcases works from Antonín Dvorák, Samuel Barber and Ralph Vaughn Williams, beautifully performed by Margaret Ozaki Graves, John Clayton Süßholz, Mallory Bernstei and Eapen Leubner. Admission is $5 to $10 via Brown Paper Tickets, where curious readers can also find more information.
Saturday, December 2, 4 p.m.
As far as pet-related entertainments go, cats and their owners have limited options. While Denver's streets, parks and even breweries swarm with dogs all year ’round, local felines are essentially either homebound or half feral. Loosely founded in San Francisco's Mission Dolores Park, Caturday evolved as a corrective to the city's mournful lack of public kitties. Leashed, harnessed and sociable cats — along with the humans who love them — are welcome to join this gathering of feline friends gallivanting through the park, playing and napping through the peaceful December afternoon. First Caturday is an unofficial gathering, with the herded cats entirely in charge of the proceedings. Visit the First Caturday Facebook events page to learn more.
Saturday, December 2, 7:30 p.m.
$5 suggested donation
A reigning champion of Chicago's thriving independent hip-hop scene, Pinqy Ring's considerable talents extend well beyond spitting hot fire on the mic. A writer and public speaker who's had to create many of her own opportunities, Pinqy Ring's diverse array of achievements include appearing on the cover of Hype magazine and traveling to Vietnam as a hip-hop ambassador with the U.S. State Department’s Next Level 4.0 cohort. In addition to a concert also featuring Denver's Ahjzae Dallas, Youth on Record and Girls Rock Denver are presenting a workshop at the Ross-Cherry Creek Branch Library where aspiring young musicians can benefit from Pinqy Ring's experiences and triumphs. Visit ReCreative Denver's Facebook page to discover more.
Give Art Not Socks
December 1 and 2
Open House at 12598 East Bates Circle
The gift-giving season may already be in full swing, but holiday shopping needn't be a stressful slog through crowded malls. In fact, finding the perfect gift can be as pleasurable as a stroll through a fine art gallery. Unlike those up-market boutiques, however, the Aurora Arts Group's Affordable Art Show is dedicated to showcasing finely made artwork that doesn't require an oligarch's budget to take home. Don't settle for a practical but forgettable gift this holiday season; give your loved ones something unique and handmade to treasure. Find more information on the Aurora Art Group's home page.
Curious Theatre Company Presents Black.
Sunday, December 3, 12:45 p.m.
New Hope Baptist Church
Free (registration required)
Centered around a tense, racially fraught conversation between two mothers with different perspectives on a police shooting, Lamaria Aminah's play Black. is a deeply moving exploration of how communication can break down when empathy erodes. Join local artist and activist donnie l. betts for a gripping stage reading of Aminah's play, followed by an insightful and open discussion about its themes led by betts himself. Admission is free, but guests need to register on the Curious Theatre Company events page.
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Mutiny Youth Pinball: Attack From Mars
Sunday, December 3, 2 to 4 p.m.
Mutiny Information Cafe
Evolving from bagatelle, Japanese billiards and pachinko, pinball machines were among the world's earliest arcade games. Although their relatively simple design has been updated with various bells, whistles and narrative objectives, pinball machines still offer the same whiz-bang thrill that they did in their heyday. Rediscover the joy of the game while introducing it to a new generation at Mutiny Youth Pinball. December's theme is inspired by the store's classic Attack From Mars machine, so guests can enjoy UFO-themed drinks and snacks while wearing their very own tin-foil hats. Festivities also include a free screening of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Admission is free; find out more on the Facebook events page.
CCJA Vocal Jazz Concert
Sunday, December 3, 2:30 p.m.
Celebrate the next generation of jazz musicians, along with the institution that educated them, on Sunday afternoon with a vocal jazz concert at Nocturne showcasing the talented students at the Colorado Conservatory for the Jazz Arts. Join the Sharp Five quintet and the CCJA's Jazz Arts Voices troupe for a free afternoon performance of standards and surprises directed by Camilla Vaitaitis and Brendan Schuster. Find more details on CCJA's Facebook events page.
The Ira Liss Show
Wednesday, December 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
A freewheeling variety show that celebrates the breadth and variety of Denver's creative community, the Ira Liss Show has been going strong for nearly a dozen live episodes. Working from the credo "Do what you love. Do it forever," Liss welcomes guests from nearly every artistic discipline for an improvisational evening of music, poetry and theater during which the audience is welcome to participate. December's guest is National Poetry Slam champion and Erotic Poetry Festival host Ted Vaca. Admission is $10 at the door only.
Looking for more to do? Visit Westword's calendar.