10. Tangerine Dream
Saturdays at 9:30 p.m., July 31 to August 27
One of the leading pioneers of synth music was the delightfully named Tangerine Dream, an often forgotten team whose moody sounds dominated music in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, serving as an antidote to the dancefloor-tearing sounds of disco. For many listeners, their first introduction to TD was through their local movie house as the supergroup sneaked into our ears via the soundtracks of some epic films, forever tying visuals to their music and creating an exciting alternative to the run-of-the-mill film score. All August long the Denver Film Society will pay tribute to Tangerine Dream and its luscious licks with a series of some of the great films that used its sound to maximum effect: William Friedkin’s Sorcerer, Tom Cruise's Risky Business, Michael Mann’s Thief and The Keep, and Ridley Scott’s fantastical Legend closing out the series. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
9. Experimental Shorts With Live Scores
Monday, August 1, at 7:30 p.m.
Film will never go out of style, but the mechanics of cinema are always evolving. Talkies quickly pushed silent film into the background, but the magic of live musical scores has pushed silent films back to the forefront over the last decade or so, bringing with them a new generation of musicians looking to do more than just tickle a few piano keys next to a flickering screen. So the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is presenting an Evening of Experimental Silent Film, featuring four talented artists who’ve created their own scores for such iconic masterpieces as Un Chien Andalou, Lichtspiel, Menilmontant and Borderline. And the work of Christine Palmer (Rats and People), Kate Hannington, Billy Overton (loanword) and Paul Buscarello (Fauxdephone), whose recent dabbling in scores around town helped fuel this renaissance, should all score with audiences.
“There’s a lot of freedom in these short vignettes; you can approach a new score from a central theme and one angle rather than multiple story lines and paths,” says Buscarello. “These films are not plot-driven; it’s imagery, and it’s all about mood and not about a beginning, middle or end. With silent avant-garde, it’s nice to just jam with the film and not worry about plot logistics.”
Get your tickets (a bargain at $5!) at drafthouse.com.
8. Suicide Squad
Opens Friday, August 5
Denver area theaters
Some of today's biggest films are cooked up with comic-book characters. If DC Comics provide the meat and potatoes (Batman, Superman and, soon, Wonder Woman), Suicide Squad will add the spices. The Suicide Squad comprises some of DC’s worst and tastiest villains — Deadshot (Will Smith), Boomerang (Jai Courtney) and beloved bad girl Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) lead the pack of baddies — who are collected as expendables by Viola Davis’s government official to take on a Top Secret “do-or-die” mission. Along the way they run into famed baddie The Joker (played to a new hilt by Jared Leto), who can’t decide if he wants to join the fun or just mess things up for everybody. Written and directed by action-drama pro David Ayer, the film has a lot riding on its bulky shoulders, mostly put there by many fans still dealing with all the mixed feelings they had over Batman Vs. Superman. Find theaters and tickets at fandango.com.
7. Sausage Party
Opens Friday, August 12
Denver area theaters
When the trailer for this hard R-rated animated fable accidentally ran in front of this summer’s family-friendly hit Finding Dory at one small town’s screening, it seemed like exactly what its creators — bad boys Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who brought us the adult comedies Superbad, This Is the End, Neighbors and more — had hilariously hoped would happen with their 'toon. Sausage Party is designed to look like the religious good time of Veggie Tales, whose computer-animated vegetables delivered righteous lessons. Party uses food as well to deliver its own morality tale — only with F bombs, violence and blue material as condiments — as we meet a grocery store of our favorite items that all dream of the day that humans take them home. But when a barbecue's worth of items — including hot dogs, buns and more — leave the store, their intended use becomes quickly apparent. Early reviews of the film have been loudly positive, with the promise that Party is more than just dirty jokes and animated blood; instead, it looks like a subversive, hilarious diatribe on the issues plaguing our human world, including racism, sexism and any other -ism ripe for an animated edible exploration. Find theaters and tickets at fandango.com.
6) A Weekend With Director Richard Kelly
Southland Tales screens Friday, August 12, at 7:45 p.m.
Donnie Darko screens Saturday, August 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Poor Richard Kelly. No other young filmmaker knows as well as he what it's like to be deemed the next big thing and then fall so far from those great heights. Kelly landed on Hollywood's radar in 2001 with his curious feature debut Donnie Darko, a time-traveling drama that became an immediate cult hit and branded the filmmaker a “visionary” new voice. Kelly next pitched an ambitious project, Southland Tales, a darkly comic World War III scenario in which Texas is bombed, sending the epicenter of world politics to Los Angeles, where a porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar), an unstable action star (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and a cop (Seann William Scott) come together just in time to watch the fabric of time, the world and religion start to pull apart. Investors tossed $17,000,000 at Kelly to bring his story to life — a series of prequel graphic novels and a possible film trilogy were supposed to create a Star Wars-style empire — but when the director delivered a three-hour, complicated and kooky (complete with musical numbers) cut to the Cannes Film Festival, things went downhill fast. The studio sold the film to an independent distributor, which forced a cut of 35 minutes and put the kibosh on the linking prequel story and any hope of a continuing trilogy. What remains of Kelly’s passion project isn’t terrible — it's just completely misunderstood. The film was ahead of its time predicting not only the box-office rise of The Rock but the cult of reality TV celebrity, with Gellar’s Krysta Now foreshadowing Kim Kardashian (down to the cutesy K) and so much more. Kelly barely survived the aftermath of the film's release; he managed to make one last Hollywood blip in 2009, The Box, and then vanished. Now the Alamo has invited Kelly to emerge from his hidey-hole and talk about both his career high, Donnie Darko, and that maligned low, Southland Tales, to Denver audiences. Let the healing begin! Reserve your seat now at drafthouse.com.
Keep reading for five more big film events this August.