5. Selena Sing-Along
April 16 Alamo Drafthouse
It’s still hard to believe that 21 years ago, beloved Tejano singer Selena, dubbed by many fans as the next Madonna, was killed by her fan club's president on the eve of her highly anticipated American pop crossover. Her story was effectively captured in Gregory Nava’s 1997 biopic Selena, in which the bubbly and songstress was played by a fresh-faced Jennifer Lopez to near perfection. Rather than focus on sad details, the Alamo Drafthouse has decided to give the film its patented sing-along treatment (complete with props) on Selena’s birthday, so that every musical cue in the film — from “Como la Flor” to “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” to the devastating finale of “Dreaming of You” — can be sung with gusto by the audience and every lyric can reach the heights of wherever Ms. Quintanilla may be performing in heaven. Grab a ticket, and a tissue, at drafthouse.com. 4. Versus: Round Two
Begin Saturday, April 16 Alamo Drafthouse
Last month, the Alamo anticipated the release of Batman v Superman with a monthlong program highlighting some of the best character battles in movie history. The series was such a hit that the theater revamped it for a second go-round of head-to-head battles. The epic fights captured in Akira, Big Trouble in Little China and They Live will all unreel; there will also be Ash vs. the Evil Dead in the epic Army of Darkness Quote-Along. You can get double the explosions with a special thirtieth-anniversary Alien/Aliens double feature (a second added show is almost sold out). And even the Alamo’s dance party will get in on the action with a Justin v Justin battle — that would be Timberlake v Bieber — that just might implode and pop a hole in the universe. Watch out! Pick your battles in April at drafthouse.com. 3. Deviant Animation
Saturdays at 10 p.m. beginning April 16 Sie FilmCenter
Next month we’ll be highlighting the restored re-release of the legendary “lost” Japanese film Belladonna of Sadness, which used gorgeous animation to tell a very sexual and violent tale that was definitely not for the kiddies. That 1973 film was one of the first major features to utilize the cartoon system to give adults some variety in mature entertainment and explore wild worlds — sexual, violent, often political — that only animation can take a viewer to. Curated and hosted by Andrew Novick, someone who knows a thing or two about having fun as a grownup, this new series will prepare us for Belladonna’s release by drawing us into the unique views of Ralph Bakshi’s drug- and sex-fueled Fritz the Cat and the urban-decay tale Heavy Traffic, as well as René Laloux’s disturbingly psychedelic Fantastic Planet, and alternative-magazine-brought-to-life Heavy Metal. Leave the kids at home and your sensibilities at the door; get your tickets at denverfilm.org. 2. Tale of Tales
Opens Friday, April 29 Sie FilmCenter
Matteo Garrone’s 2008 foreign-film hit Gomorrah shocked audiences with an intense, violent peek behind the scenes of Italy’s modern Mob syndicate, while his 2012 film Reality explored our obsession with reality TV through the eyes of a man desperate to have his own show. But while those films rooted us in the reality of modern times, his new film (and English-language debut), Tale of Tales, spirals back to the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile and weaves their stories through a surreal and Gothic fantasy. From the tale of a queen (Salma Hayek) who must eat the heart of a dragon in order to have a child to the story of a rival king (Toby Jones) obsessed with a giant flea to the heartbreak of his sensitive daughter, this will offer a dozen memorable trips through a twisted and stunning imagination. Get your tickets at denverfilm.org. 1. Green Room
Opens Friday, April 29
Various Denver theaters
Jeremy Saulnier’s 2013 indie hit Blue Ruin was a perfect balance of dark humor and unrelenting suspense, as it slowly unfolded the story of a drifter heading to his home town for a revenge plot that doesn’t go at all as he planned. The film placed the filmmaker in cinema’s crosshairs — but rather than succumb to those courting him for a superhero film or franchise sequel, Saulnier stuck to his guns and just delivered a film that may best Ruin in its nail-biting tension. In Green Room, we meet a punk-rock band (fronted by Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots and Anton Yelchin) that's packing up after a lowly gig — only to stumble onto a murder at the hands of a group of terrifying skinheads (led by the always reliable Patrick Stewart). Suddenly the usual load-out turns into a bloody fight for survival. Saulnier fills every inch of the frame with dread, but still offers balancing levity to keep the audience from passing out from stress. Here’s hoping that this cinematic mastermind sticks to his guns (and knives, and baseball bats) and delivers a sweet three-peat. Find theaters and showtimes for the film at fandango.com.
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Keith Garcia is a filmmaker, writer and secret agent looking for love and the perfect slice of pizza. If he looks familiar, it's probably because he introduced a film you watched in Denver sometime between 1996 and 2014.