This city’s biggest celebration of film is nearly upon us, but there are plenty of other cinematic events to keep you busy long after the Denver Film Festival is gone. Here are the best film events in Denver this November, listed in chronological order.
1. 39th Denver Film Festival
Sie FilmCenter, UA Denver Pavilions, Ellie Caulkins Opera House
Twelve days. Over 200 films. Over 130 guests. The Denver Film Festival is a cinematic feast even bigger than Thanksgiving. This year's slate of movies is eclectic, with at least a couple of films perfect for any film-goer, and offers a taste of what filmmakers around the world are into. Hollywood darling Emma Stone is coming to kick off the festival and bringing along her new film, La La Land, a modern musical about the ups and downs of creativity and show business. Get festival tickets and peruse the movie schedule at denverfilm.org.
2. A Film for All Seasons: Art House Essentials
Wednesdays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. beginning November 2
Landmark Chez Artiste
During Landmark’s monthly classic-film event, expect a black-and-white bouquet of Hollywoodland comedy staples from some of filmdom's biggest directors (Cukor! Capra! Sturges! Lubitsch!) and some of the most charismatic stars to ever light up the screen (Holliday! Gable! Colbert! Cooper! Stanwyck!). This month's Film for All Seasons features Born Yesterday, It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve and Design for Living. Get tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
Opens November 4
Landmark Mayan Theatre
During the recent snafu over Nate Parker and his Birth of a Nation, Parker said a number of negative comments about his past rape allegations and the narrative he spun out of it for his own film. Critics balked, but Parker didn't stop there. He went on to defend comments he made in 2014 about vowing to “never play a gay character” in order to “preserve the black man.”
We should be thankful that Barry Jenkins made no such promise and created Moonlight, a soothing balm to Parker's self-inflicted damaging comments. Jenkins's film is an amazing story of vast human emotion and depth, the many shades of masculinity and sexuality, and a vivid vision from a black filmmaker that shines with creativity and leaves the drama for the big screen. It packs all of the wallop of Brokeback Mountain but with a voice all its own – a voice that's often lost amid the din of LGBTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement but speaks volumes in Jenkins's capable hands. Get your tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
4. The Handmaiden
Opens November 4
Landmark Esquire and Alamo Drafthouse
South Korea’s Park Chan-wook has carved out a unique voice for himself with a series of dark, original tales that mix comedy and sex into robust cinematic experiences. After Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lady Vengeance and Thirst, he moved to American cinema with Stoker, a delicious tale starring Nicole Kidman. Now the director returns with The Handmaiden, the tale of a wealthy woman whose new handmaiden tries to dupe her out of her fortune. As this is Chan-wook territory, the film is sure to feature salacious secrets, lies and a whole lot of sexual tension. Critics are already calling this film the best of the director’s career. Get your tickets at drafthouse.com or landmarktheaters.com.
Opens November 11
Like Chan-wook, French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has worked his way into the American mainstream, via a set of thrillers ripe with original twists. The director’s previous works – Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario – proved major stepping stones leading to his gig directing the highly anticipated Blade Runner sequel (now filming). But many think it was his new film, Arrival, that really sealed the deal. The film stars Colorado sweetheart Amy Adams as a linguist called by the military to assist in communicating with aliens that have parked their massive ship on Earth. Find theaters and tickets at fandango.com.
6. Midnight Madness: John Wick
November 11 and 12 at midnight
Landmark Esquire Theatre
Keanu Reeves has had a cult following practically his entire career, and his role in 2014's John Wick only further convinced his fans of his serious acting chops. Director Chad Stahelski, a former stuntman with over seventy films to his name, led Reeves through the action film, in which he pulls off being an ex-hit man who takes down an army of gangsters responsible for taking everything – including his puppy – from him. Wick is played with such razor-sharp perfection that it makes you wonder if Reeves is so good because he has actually killed a few people in his lifetime. The film's highly anticipated sequel, John Wick: Chapter Two, arrives in February. See the first chapter on the big screen and get tickets at landmarktheaters.com.
7. King Cobra
Opens November 18
It was a true story just waiting for a film adaptation. In 2007, Bryan Kocis, the head of gay-porn company Cobra Video, was found murdered in his home, allegedly at the hands of two male escorts. One said escort, Brent Corrigan (given name Sean Paul Lockhart), was a barely legal performer whom Kocis helped turn into a star – and catnip to a wannabe pair of producers who wanted to steal Corrigan to make a “million-dollar porn film” and reap the rewards of his name and body. Now some great talent is helping bring this sordid tale to the big screen. Christian Slater stars as a version of Kocis, James Franco as the jealous producer. The film picked up major buzz at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival for its acting. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
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8. Afternoon Tea: The Age of Innocence
Sunday, November 20, at 2 p.m.
During the Alamo’s Afternoon Tea program, period-piece classics are paired with a three-course meal of teas and nibbles. This month, the program's featured film is one of Martin Scorsese’s most underrated greats, 1993’s The Age of Innocence, his adaptation of Edith Wharton’s devastating novel. Scorsese's love of violence shows, but this time it's the hearts of the characters that get beaten to death. Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder are in a love triangle that's doomed from the start. Age rarely screens in theaters, so being able to catch it in one is a rare treat. Reserve your seat now at drafthouse.com.
9. 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows
Opens November 25
Small they may be, but never underestimate the power of the animated short film. These tiny tales often pack quite the punch, and sometimes leaves their feature-length peers in the dust when it comes to emotion, message and style. This seasoned collection of the cream of the crop returns to Denver with sixteen selection from all over the world that exemplify animation’s graduation from mere cartoons to art that covers issues like racism and gay rights. Get tickets at denverfilm.org.
10. Cinema Contra: Super 8 Turns 51!
Sunday, November 27, at 8p.m.
Pon Pon Bar
Happy birthday, Super 8 film! You don’t look a day over… okay, yeah, you look pretty old (but we mean that in the best way). Super 8 film has helped families capture birthday parties, weddings and graduations for five decades. It's captured historic moments, like protests, and classic experimental films. Tonight, Cinema Contra is celebrating one of Kodak's finer inventions by playing a collection of orphaned Super 8 gems discovered by Contra founder Anthony Buchanan, who has invited DJs and musicians to perform live sets during the films. A donation of your choosing will pay for your admission at the door the night of the show at Pon Pon.