As the summer heat rises, remember that a movie theater is your air-conditioned best friend. To celebrate the sunshine — and good air-conditioning — we've rounded up ten of the best film events in Denver in June, presented in chronological order.
10. Welcome to the Dahl House
Saturdays beginning June 4
Looking for something to keep your kids occupied, or just feeling like a kid yourself? This summer, the Denver Film Society and Tattered Cover Book Store are joining forces to bring the works of author Roald Dahl to the big screen with the Welcome to the Dahl House series.
The Sie FilmCenter will celebrate the famed author — weeks ahead of the July 1 opening of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Dahl’s The BFG — by showing the great canon of films based on his works, beginning with the 1971 classic Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The film’s fun theme will carry over through the series, with all film-goers entered to win a golden-ticket prize that will award one lucky person and three friends or family members a magical behind-the-scenes tour of the Sie. They’ll learn about film projection, popcorn making and ticket sales, and even get to show a film of their choosing.
Tickets for each of the seven films — which include Matilda, the 1989 animated version of The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James and the Giant Peach — are $5 (children six and under get in free) and include a pre-film, all-you-can-eat cereal bar beginning at 10 a.m. During the series, neighbor and partner the Tattered Cover will offer prizes, redeemable at the Sie, to any kids reading Dahl novels this summer. Get tickets for the whole gang at denverfilm.org.
9. The Beat Goes On: The Films of Takeshi Kitano
Begins June 8
Although Takeshi “Beat” Kitano is known first in Japan as a comedian, the latter part of his career has been filled with his incredible crime dramas — which have just a sprinkling of dark humor, of course. Given that most are about yakuza and other assorted gangsters generally experiencing humanistic guilt and other problems that tend to plague men of that caliber, Kitano's films hit harder than most works of that ilk, and that’s even without his understated use of violence on screen. From the filmmaker's first directorial effort, 1989’s Violent Cop, to other shiny bullets in his canon, such as Boiling Point, Sonatine, Fireworks and his masterful remake The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi , the Alamo is serving up a crash course in all things Kitano. Because, you know, he’s a badass whom you’ve probably never heard of. Find showtimes and tickets at drafthouse.com.
8. Purple Rain/Rain The Color Blue With A Little Red In It
June 11/Opens June 17
On what would have been the late, great Prince's birthday weekend, his classic film Purple Rain will screen at the Sie, followed, naturally, by a Prince dance party in the lobby. But the real present comes later: The Sie is opening Rain the Colour Blue With a Little Red In It, a unique tribute to the artist and his seminal work. The Nigerian film uses the framework of Purple Rain to introduce the world to musician Mdou Moctar, a Tuareg guitar master who rides his motorcycle through the desert. Moctar is a misunderstood artist whose best music is right around the corner. Though seemingly a remake, the film infuses so much of its own distinct culture that it comes across as a beautiful homage to Prince and the power that his music, magic and mystery had on us all. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
7. La Cage Aux Folles/The Birdcage
June 14, starting at 4:30 p.m.
In June we celebrate gay pride, and in Denver we blow it all out with PrideFest, a two-day celebration of the freedoms that the GLBTQ community now enjoys, as well as a nod to all of those in history who worked hard to move the needle of change. No better way to see how acceptance came about through popular culture than with a double feature of 1978’s La Cage Aux Folles and its American remake, 1996’s The Birdcage. Both tell the tale of a happy gay couple whose life turns upside down when one of their kids announces an engagement. The couple has to hide their lifestyle (and the ownership of a gay club under their home) in order to meet their future in-laws. La Cage was an art-house hit in its original release, and Birdcage’s casting of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane as the romantic duo made it a hit all its own. The double feature will kick off PrideFest (June 18 and 19 in Civic Center Park) and get audiences ready for the films of the Cinema Q Film Festival, which rolls out in July. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
6. Film on the Rocks: Citizen Kane
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
In 1941, two huge entities were about to come to life. Over in Hollywood, actor/director Orson Welles unleashed Citizen Kane on audiences, while in Colorado, Red Rocks opened as the world’s first geologically formed open-air amphitheater. On June 15, both of these powerhouses come together to celebrate their 75th anniversaries. Film on the Rocks will present the tale of Charles Foster Kane, a newspaper magnate whose pursuit of power comes at the cost of the mystery behind his final word, “Rosebud," while our jewel of a venue gets rededicated as a National Historic Landmark. Experience Welles’s masterpiece in the world’s most perfect outdoor setting, with music by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Snag your tickets at denverfilm.org.
Keep reading for five more film events.
5. J’Adore Film Festival
In an effort to leave plenty of choice Francophile cuts for the big Denver International Film Fest this November, the Denver Film Society’s annual French Film Festival will feature just six cinematic entries. Among other subjects, the fest will take a look at French troops in Afghanistan (Neither Heaven Nor Earth), a young man striving toward his future (The Last Hammer Blow), and a woman who remembers a tumultuous love story after a skiing accident (Mon Roi). Grab your tickets at denverfilm.org.
4. De Palma
Opens June 17
Landmark Chez Artiste
Of the many filmmakers who have thrilled audiences over the past fifty years, Brian De Palma has perhaps stirred the most conversation amid film critics and viewers alike. Still, he's managed to remain as mysterious as the dark psychosexual dramas that he loves to entice and tease us with, like Sisters, Phantom of the Paradise and recent puzzlers Femme Fatale and Passion. De Palma, a documentary about the filmmaker, talks to the man himself about his vast career and the fears and foibles that brought his magnificent obsessions to the big screen for us all to enjoy. The film touches on many parts of his life, from rising with a cinematic class that also brought us Stone, Scorsese and Spielberg to working within the bounds of a Hollywood that always scratched back at him. De Palma promises to be the juiciest peach of cinematic examination to come along in years. Get tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
3. Finding Dory
Opens June 17 at theaters everywhere
Finding Nemo was a pearl in animation house Pixar’s oyster. The story of a single-dad clownfish who loses his son and sets out across the sea to find him, the film had many masterful strokes. But it was the casting of comedian Ellen DeGeneres that was Nemo’s real sunken treasure. As Dory, a bluefish with short-term memory loss, DeGeneres shot her way into the hearts of children and adults everywhere with her charm and basic life lesson of “Just keep swimming!” But while Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and (groan) even Cars enjoyed sequels, Nemo seemed stuck in a trench. Lo and behold, Pixar woke up and smelled the slam dunk, and now has not only revisited Nemo, but has made Dory the star of the show. Thirteen years later, Finding Dory finds the forgetful bluefish remembering something about her long-lost family and setting out on an oceanic voyage to find them and, more important, herself. These tickets will practically print themselves; find yours, along with showtimes, at fandango.com.
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June 22 through June 26
Opening night at Red Rocks/Series at Sie FilmCenter
The sophomore incarnation of SeriesFest brings back what worked last year with television pilots screening for the first time for audiences and jurors (this year's star-studded roster boasts the likes of Kim Cattrall, Jason Ritter and Pablo Schreiber) and a host of panels discussing the state of the industry and the way in which telling tales is changing and evolving. The whole shebang kicks off at Red Rocks with a screening of the new nature series The Hunt (from the minds behind Planet Earth) and a very special hour-long performance piece from singer-songwriter Sia, who is planning something unique that fits in with SeriesFest’s mission. Get your tickets at seriesfest.com.
1. The Neon Demon
Opens June 24 at theaters everywhere
From his acclaimed and ultra-violent films like Pusher, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive, and Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn has lured movie-goers into his delicate web of tantalizing visuals, sumptuous soundtracks and muted but focused actors like Tom Hardy and Ryan Gosling. This month, Refn looks ready to best his previous works with The Neon Demon, positioning the captivating Elle Fanning as an aspiring model who takes the L.A. scene by storm. With the film's fluorescent color scheme lighting up the already dark world of high fashion, early word on Refn’s latest is that it delivers everything his fans have grown to love about his work, complete with plenty of jarring violence in painting his portrait of a beauty who may also be a beast. Find theaters and showtimes at fandango.com.