Pedro Almodóvar's latest feature, Julieta, hits Denver screens just in time for awards season.Sony Pictures Classics
Major film studios treat January like a dumping ground for bad movies, while audiences look forward to the last few best films of 2016 finally hitting the big screen. Art-house theaters unroll special programming, offsetting the end-of-year muck with carefully curated gold. Let this chronological list lead you to avoid this month’s iffy cinematic offerings and start this new year of movie-going the right way. 1. Silence
Opens January 6
Multiple Denver theaters
In 1988, director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Age of Innocence, The Wolf of Wall Street) met an archbishop during test screenings for his derided and controversial film The Last Temptation of Christ. The two tussled over questions of faith. Afterward, the archbishop gave Scorsese a copy of Japanese author Shusaku Endo’s 1966 historical novel Silence. The book shook the filmmaker with its tale of two missionaries in seventeenth-century Japan searching for their mentor, whom they fear has lost his religion at the hands of a violently anti-Christian regime. Scorsese sat down after releasing The Last Temptation to adapt Silence to film, but at the time failed to find the words in the wake of his clashes with Christians. Now, 28 years later, Silence is finally hitting theaters after Scorsese's long, patient, creative journey penning the script. The film boasts high-caliber actors including Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson. Did nearly three decades of filmmaking give Scorsese newfound faith and perspective on how to approach the story? Find out when Silence hits Denver screens. Find theaters, showtimes and tickets at fandango.com. 2. Classics in Context: The Great Dictator
January 8 at 1 p.m. Sie FilmCenter
The Sie’s new monthly program, Classics in Context, screens cinematic masterpieces with a fresh spin: The movies are repackaged with newsreels, commercials and reprints of articles and media from the time the film debuted to give contemporary viewers a window into how audiences originally experienced these classics. This month’s selection — Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator — will take viewers back to 1940, smack dab in the middle of the Holocaust. Chaplin’s biting satire takes aim at Adolf Hitler, with the star doing double duty as a Jewish barber and the dictator who persecutes him. Today's audiences will have an opportunity to reflect on how the history of Hitler's rise to power relates to Donald Trump's incoming administration and the role of satire as a form of political criticism. Tickets are available at denverfilm.org. 3. Buddhism in Film
Tuesdays in January, at 7 p.m., starting January 10 Sie FilmCenter
Understanding the various paths of Buddhism isn't easy. For thousands of years, artists have tried to figure out what the religion is all about. The Denver Film Society has partnered with the Iliff School of Theology to showcase four recent films attempting to answer that question. From two thoughtful Korean films, Kim Ki Duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… And Spring and Day Young-Kyun’s Why Has Bodhi Dharma Left for the East?, to two Hollywood favorites, Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), guest speakers will discuss how film can illuminate Buddhism for everyone. Get your tickets for the whole series at denverfilm.org. 4. Nasty Woman: The Films of Director Ida Lupino
January 11, 18, 26 and February 6, at 7:30 p.m. Alamo Drafthouse
British-born Ida Lupino built a career as one of Hollywood’s most talented and headstrong actresses, holding her own against male heavyweights like Humphrey Bogart and Ronald Reagan. But it was her time spent behind the camera that film enthusiasts too often forget. In a year when recognizing women filmmakers is paramount, the Alamo Drafthouse has curated a program of her greatest hits as a filmmaker and Hollywood star to boot. Nasty Woman: The Films of Director Ida Lupino will spotlight her High Sierra, On Dangerous Ground, The Hitch-Hiker and The Bigamist over four weeks and bring long-needed attention to one of the only female stars in Hollywood history to not just shine as a star, but to direct movies as well. Get ready to watch Lupino take down the patriarchy; reserve your seats at drafthouse.com. 5. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Opens January 13 Sie FilmCenter
Independent filmmakers turned 2016 into a banner year for horror movies. Among the best is André Øvredal's Autopsy. The film stars Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox as father and son coroners pulled into a hellish mystery, in which they try to identify the body of a young woman, who seemingly died without cause and whose corpse holds a series of sinister clues within. Atmospheric, moody and bone-chillingly cold, Autopsy is a must see for horror fans. Grab a ticket at denverfilm.org.
Read on for the rest of January's best movie events.
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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.