Justly, East High School alum Don Cheadle has become one of Hollywood's most talented, sought-after actors. Two years ago, he gave the world a moral wake-up call with his Oscar-nominated performance in Hotel Rwanda; in 2005, he scored again by portraying a thoughtful Los Angeles homicide detective who's having an affair with his Latina partner (Jennifer Esposito) in Paul Haggis's Best Picture winner, Crash. A disturbing meditation on race and bigotry in post-9/11 America, the film boasts an all-star cast (Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Ludacris, Brendan Fraser, Thandie Newton, et al.) that Cheadle, also one of the film's producers, was instrumental in assembling -- at bargain-basement rates.

BEST LOCAL REFERENCE IN A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE

Match Point

In Woody Allen's latest movie, Scarlett Johansson plays a sexy wannabe actress in London who initially entrances the tennis-pro protagonist (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), but eventually becomes so loathsome to him that he shotguns her to death and kills an innocent neighbor to cover his tracks. Allen doesn't explain how Johansson's character turned out the way she did, but he does offer a few clues. At one point, for instance, she announces that she's from Boulder, Colorado, and she's determined never to return. Well, Boulder doesn't want you back, either!
The 28th edition of the Starz Denver International Film Festival featured more than 200 films from two dozen countries, as well as in-person visits from such movie-world luminaries as the director, producers and writers of the surprise hit Brokeback Mountain, indie star Philip Baker Hall (Dogville, The Talented Mr. Ripley) and actor David Schwimmer. The Telluride Film Festival may have more glitz and glamour, but Denver consistently delivers the goods, with everything from The World's Fastest Indian to Manderlay, Lars Von Trier's latest, to documentaries about the terrors of boot camp and the flaws of the death penalty. The strangest 2005 event? A festival-sponsored gathering of friends and colleagues of the late Hunter S. Thompson at the Denver Press Club -- a locale the late writer often terrorized in mid-binge.
UA Denver Pavilions 15
Pre- or post-movie, grab a little loudmouth soup with a couple of olives in it over at Marlowe's, or a slab of lasagna at Maggiano's. The thing that still separates the fifteen-screen Denver Pavilions from all the other largely indistinguishable multiplexes from here to Castle Rock is the proximity to top-drawer food and drink on Denver's 16th Street Mall. That, and free underground parking (be sure to get your ticket stamped in the theater lobby). Comfortably fortified, you then slip into your padded rocker for ninety minutes of Pink Panther yuks or three hours with the Israeli commandos of Munich. As with all 'plexes, the Pavilions' theaters are clean, the high-tech sound system is good, and the projection standards are fine.
Sie FilmCenter
The Starz FilmCenter withdrew from a deal to relocate to the Lowenstein Theater on East Colfax Avenue, so the movie house will remain in its tatty old digs in the Tivoli building, where the auditoriums are cramped and the amenities minimal. But the films are glorious, the kind of New York-, Chicago- or L.A.-worthy fare you simply can't find in the suburbs. Recent offerings have included everything from a revival of Antonioni's neglected 1975 thriller The Passenger to the relentlessly spooky Japanese horror flick Pulse to a four-film retrospective honoring the late, great French director Louis Malle. If your taste tends to indies and thoughtful imports, Starz is the place.
Landmark Mayan Theatre
Care for a carafe with your Capote? Landmark's Mayan Theatre, on hip Broadway, not only has the best food in Denver moviedom (everything from fat bagel dogs to top-notch cookies from Alternative Baking), but as of January, it also features a full bar upstairs. That's right: You can now order an imported beer or the cocktail of your choice, then take it with you into the theater as you settle in to watch Mrs. Henderson Presents or Brokeback Mountain. Which, come to think of it, features a little beer-guzzling its own self. Meanwhile, the Mayan continues to dispense top-of-the-line Dazbog coffee in several flavors, gourmet Odwalla juices, and popcorn with soy sauce or Spike multi-seasoning.
A few years before the publication of 1939's landmark anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, the late author Dalton Trumbo published Eclipse, a satirical and sometimes caustic look at small-town life and politics inspired by Grand Junction, where he grew up. The book promptly went out of print, but the many G.J. locals who'd unwittingly served as models for his work didn't forget it. As a result, Grand Junction didn't officially acknowledge one of its most famous sons for well over half a century. Last year, though, an area group working in conjunction with the Trumbo family arranged to republish Eclipse as a benefit for the Mesa County Public Library District (visit www.mcpld.org to purchase a copy). With the book's arrival in December, the sun finally set on one of Colorado's most epic grudges.
Thirty years ago, Roberta Price found herself facing a true Western dilemma: Be inhospitable to the strangers at her door or serve them the THC-laced doughnuts cooling on the table. The Manhattan-raised Vassar girl chose wisely: She gave the cowboys each a doughnut and sent them on their way, deciding a light buzz was a lesser offense than poor manners. Price and her husband, David, were living in the hippie commune Libre, deep in the Huerfano Valley of Southeastern Colorado, and Huerfano is her elegantly told memoir of that experience. The Sangre de Cristo mountains were brutal taskmasters -- Price spent a winter with only roofing paper between her and fifty-below nights -- but they also provided her with an unlimited supply of amusing anecdotes. Featured prominently in those escapades are two Denver notables: photographer Larry Laszlo, who lived in the sixty-foot "Red Rocker" geodesic dome in the neighboring valley, and local theater impresario John Ashton, who lived at Libre for a spell. As the world turns...
Fred Ramey and Greg Michalson are proof positive that good novels don't have to come from Manhattan -- they can hail from a cowtown such as Denver, thanks to their publishing house, Unbridled Books. The independent book publisher only puts out ten books a year, which allows Ramey and Michalson to be choosy about whom they work with. As a result, "They're all extremely important to us; our ego is attached to every single book," Ramey says. Their focus is fiction, particularly literary fiction that concentrates on beautiful writing, strong voices, strong characters and a strong sense of place. Unbridled isn't representing any local writers at the moment, but the house does represent well for Denver's literary life.
If there's anyone who should be frontin' for Denver, it's someone who titles a book of poetry about civil-rights martyrs Murder Ballads. A person who understands that Denver readers want beautifully crafted prose, depth of storytelling and consciousness-raising ideas wrapped in one catchy package. In short, we want it all -- and Jake Adam York delivers. The Alabama native moved here just five years ago, but he's already fully immersed in his adopted home. He teaches creative writing at the University of Colorado at Denver and held a creative residency at PlatteForum last year, where he ran a poetry lab for students from North High School and P.S. 1, creating the art installation "A Map of Denver" in the process. York also edits the Copper Nickel, the national literary journal based at UCD, and organizes the Denver Mint Reading Series, which brings Pulitzer-level and up-and-coming poets and writers to town. On top of all that, he's finishing his next book -- Annumeration of Starlings -- that will be a followup to Murder Ballads. That's a great verse-case scenario.

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