And the skies broke and the sun emerged, as if to tell us all, "It's June! And these summer movies aren't going to watch themselves!" Whether you're planning on camping out at the multiplex for the finest Hollywood fare or squeezing as many classic, arthouse and foreign films into your busy schedule as you can, we've got the cream of June's crop all scooped out for you in a sugary cone. Take a bite:
10) The Connection
Opens May 29 at Landmark’s Chez Artiste
One of the most eagerly awaited foreign films of the year, first time filmmaker Cédric Jimenez’s electric crime drama is the French flip side to William Friedkin’s 1971 classic The French Connection, which first brought to life the real events surrounding one of the most infamous heroin-smuggling rings in the world. The Connection introduces us to real-life magistrate Pierre Michel, played with smoky fierceness by Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist, OSS:177), whose relentless efforts to take down the French Connection make him a moving target for greasy kingpin Gatean Zampa (Mesrine and Point Blank’s Gilles Lellouche), who's always one step ahead of Michel’s elite task force. But when fate puts both parties in the tightest vicinity, only one side can end up on top…alive. Forty-four years after Friedkin’s story took audiences by surprise, Jimenez’s film promises just as wild of a ride.
9) Alamo Kids Camp
Begins June 1, Mondays through Fridays at 10 a.m., at Alamo Drafthouse
Last year, Littleton's Alamo Drafthouse began charging $1 for showings of the classic family fare that it normally offers for free during summer vacation; the money was then donated to local nonprofit charities. The program was a success, and now all of the Alamo locations in the country are making their Alamo Kids Camp a fundraising tool. This summer’s Denver edition will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver, and you can choose a $1, $2 or $3 donation and teach your kids about the joys of philanthropy while they take in true family greats like The Land Before Time (June 1-5), Night at the Museum (June 8-12) and Mary Poppins (June 15-19). For future summer selections, check out the calendar at drafthouse.com.
8) Chautauqua Silent Film Series
Begins June 3 at Chautauqua Auditorium
This beloved series celebrates its thirtieth anniversary in 2015, and it will kick off a weekly, twelve-film program tonight with a talkie, De Sica’s The Bicycle Thief. The June entries include Chicago (June 10), The Lodger (June 17), Snow White & The Seven Dwarves (June 24) and Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. (June 30). The series ends in August with another talkie, Chaplin's The Great Dictator. As he has for the past three decades, pianist Hank Troy will lovingly accompany some of these films; others will benefit from the sounds of the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, or guitarist Steve Mullins and the Silent Cinema Trio. For more, go to chautauqua.com.
7) The 37th Chamber: Angry Ranger
June 3 at Alamo Drafthouse (replaces Dirty Ho)
The 37th Chamber remains one of the Alamo Drafthouse's most essential monthly film programs, simply for its curation by film nerd/martial arts enthusiast/Romeo Elijah Taylor. But the Alamo is also able to track down the old-school kung-fu/martial arts greats on 35mm film — subtitled, of course — to show viewers how stunts and action used to really define a good time at the movies. Tonight’s selection comes from the massive catalogue of Golden Harvest, a movie house that really knew how to bring fighters, directors and twisty plots together in a fury of fists and storytelling. Get tickets at drafthouse.com.
6) The Nightmare
Opens June 5 at Sie FilmCenter
If you treasure your sleep, you may want to avoid Rodney Ascher’s (Room 237) terrifying documentary about people who suffer from sleep paralysis, an unexplained condition where you wake up in between dreams and reality, unable to move and —according to the film’s varied and fascinating subjects – visited upon by a group of shadow figures and entities that verge on demonic. Seems hard to believe, but the interviewees from different parts of the country and globe all seem to describe the same thing. To add dread to an already terrifying subject Ascher cuts their re-tellings with vivid, color saturated reenactments of the dreams that these poor people regularly experience. Ascher began the film after his own sleep paralysis and began to notice that hundreds of people report the same experience. That said, he keeps the exploration of this phenomenon slight with no discussion with sleep doctors or professionals; rather, he lets the people do their own talking. Could the monsters in these visions be the actual proverbial boogeyman that has plagued sleepers for centuries? At a recent screening of the movie at the Stanley Film Festival, Ascher asked the audience of 200 how many had experienced what they saw in the film and half of the room raised their hands. Is it the power of persuasion or is something really going on in the other world of our sleep? Sweet dreams. Get more info and tickets for the film at denverfilm.org.
5) An Evening With Allison Anders & Illeana Douglas
June 10 at Alamo Drafthouse
Two powerhouses of the American independent film movement of the 1990s are making their way to Denver to present their cinematic work and have a conversation about their paths from there to now. Filmmaker Allison Anders used indie film’s open platformmand gender blindness to make a name for herself with her films Gas Food Lodging and Mi Vida Loca, creating unique roles for women and an oasis for them within the burgeoning subgenre. Illeana Douglas, granddaughter of screen legend Melvyn Douglas (Ninotchka), made her way from the stage to the eyes of Martin Scorsese, who cast her in New York Stories, Goodfellas and Cape Fear. That allowed her star to rise but just enough to let her work in both Hollywood productions and indie hits and become one of the most unique and recognizable faces in cinema. Both women came together to make the film Grace Of My Heart, a musician’s odyssey that is essentially the Carole King story; it tells the tale of of an aspiring singer (Douglas) who sacrifices her own career to write music for others. Anders and Douglas will be in-person at the Alamo to present Grace, on a rare 35mm print from the George Eastman House. Earlier in the evening, they will also present the classic film Hud, starring Paul Newman and Illeana’s granddad, who the actress will discuss after the screening. Douglas will also talk about her forthcoming autobiography I Blame Dennis Hopper. Get tickets and more at drafthouse.com.
4) Jurassic World
Opens June 12 at a theater near you
Hold on to your butts. This summer’s most anticipated sequel has a built-in audience that has been waiting 22 years since the end credits of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park promised the extended exploration of an even bigger theme park that was hinted at in Michael Crichton’s original novel. Jurassic Park II & III failed to deliver on expectations for fans so the release of Colin Trevorrow’s (Safety Not Guaranteed) entry comes with a lot of pressure. But ever since the first trailer was released months ago — and the sight of Chris Pratt’s confident park ranger riding his motorcycle alongside Velociraptors hit — everyone seems to be on board. World explores an extended version of the original park with even more dinosaurs and the added danger of genetic modification that goes wickedly awry. Will it finally appease the carnivorous appetites of audiences hungry for another epic dino-venture or will we all discover that these bones have been picked clean? You’ll have to buy a ticket and see for yourself. For theaters, tickets and showtimes for Jurassic World at Fandango.com.
3) J’Adore! Focus on French Language Cinema
June 25 – 28 at Sie FilmCenter
One of the tighter mini-festivals produced by the Denver Film Society, J’Adore’s four-day focus presents ten fresh films from France, Quebec, Canada, Switzerland, and Belgium to put a few extra stamps in your cinematic passport. The festivities kick off with In The Courtyard, the story of musician looking for a new lease on life who tends to a crumbling apartment building where he meets a woman, played by Catherine Deneuve, who is prone to panic and distress but desperately in need of a friend. The frolic through French film continues with new titles from Mélanie Laurent and Sandrine Kiberlain, all building to the closing night film — sure to be a crowd pleaser — The Passion Of Augustine. For the full schedule, tickets and more, check out denverfilm.org.
2) Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Festival Of Animation
June 26 at Sie FilmCenter
Returning to the FilmCenter is the legendary show of rebellious cartoons, Spike & Mike! Celebrating 25 years as a home for the animated works considered too “adult” for the standard viewer, Spike & Mike is where Beavis & Butthead and the South Park began, shocking the status quo. This year’s touring program was culled from over 500 submissions and includes twenty irreverent pieces from seven countries. Put your morals and judgement aside and go watch some cartoons WITHOUT the kids! For tickets and more go to denverfilm.org.
1) The Apu Trilogy
Opens Friday, June 26 at Landmark’s Chez Artiste
Twenty years ago, the majesty of Satyajit Ray’s spellbinding trilogy of Indian cinema was dealt a crushing blow when it was reported that the film’s original negatives were lost in a fire. Yet, like the Phoenix which rose from the ashes, this important artifact — which put India on the map as one stop on the journey of international art-house film – has been meticulously restored by the good people of Janus Films. Shot over the course of five years (from 1955 – 1959), the beloved trilogy follows one single character, the titular Apu – as he matures from a child in rural Bengal to an adolescent student and finally, an adult. The three essential titles – Pather Panchali (Song Of The Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (The World Of Apu) will be presented separately over one week at the Chez Artiste so to line up showtimes and tickets go to landmarktheatres.com.
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