Arts and Culture

The Ten Best Film Events in Denver in May

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami opens in Denver on May 18.
Kino Lorber
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami opens in Denver on May 18.
Deadpool, anyone? Solo goes Solo? Save your pennies for those costly trips to the big-screen multiplexes, but save some for the real films, too — the movies that make you think and feel and laugh without overwhelming your synapses. And support your local independent theaters, for goodness sake! We have some suggestions on what to see on the screen in metro Denver in May.

The Long Goodbye

Alamo Drafthouse Littleton, 7301 South Santa Fe Drive, Littleton
Wednesday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
Admission: $8

The late filmmaker Robert Altman didn’t play by the book when it came to storytelling; instead, he redefined classic film genres with a modern sensibility, from Westerns to noir detective yarns. The Long Goodbye is Altman’s take on the latter, with a hangdog Elliot Gould as an updated Philip Marlowe, caught in a throwback Los Angeleno web of deception, but somehow transported to the ’70s, bringing something to the screen that you’d never have experienced in a true ’40s noir: humor. Dark and sarcastic humor, to be sure, but The Long Goodbye approaches the private-eye narrative with an elegantly funny and cynical outlook. If you liked Nashville and McCabe and Mrs. Miller, you might like this lesser-remembered film, too.

Midnight Madness: Belladonna of Sadness
Landmark Esquire Theatre, 590 Downing Street
Friday and Saturday, May 4 and 5, at midnight
Admission: $9.50

The adult anime Belladonna of Sadness came out of the Mushi Productions studios of animator and manga artist Osamu Tezuka, the “father of manga” and pioneering creator of the seminal character Astro Boy. But Tezuka didn’t write or direct it, though it was part of an anime series with erotic themes he’d created. The story of a young woman who is raped on her wedding night and falls into a psychedelic cauldron of witchcraft and demons, Belladonna isn’t a typical anime. Rendered in hand-painted colors and a trippy late-’60s drawing style, it’s an oddity that’s visually mind-blowing. Definitely the stuff of cult favorites and midnight screenings.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF BMOCA
Courtesy of BMoCA
Ana María Hernando: Undomesticated
Boedecker Theater, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder
Monday, May 7, 6 and 8 p.m.
Free, limited seating, RSVP in advance to [email protected]

Boulder artist Ana María Hernando makes rich installation work informed by the traditional women’s folk art and crafts of her native Argentina, using ethnic textiles, fabric flowers and embroideries. In their new documentary Undomesticated, co-directors Amie Knox and Chad Herschberger follow Hernando through the process as she painstakingly creates an installation incorporating hand-crocheted Andean petticoats, fabrics embroidered by Carmelite nuns in Buenos Aires and numerous other materials.

Project DU F.I.L.M.
Scary Lucy
Landmark Mayan Theatre, 110 Broadway
Thursday, May 10, 6 p.m.
Free, RSVP in advance

It would be hard to live as a creature of the Internet and not have seen the awful and much-ridiculed tribute sculpture of Lucille Ball, better known as “Scary Lucy,” which was unveiled in 2009 in Ball’s childhood home of Celeron, New York. The sculpture was eventually replaced, but it’s still a good story that didn’t escape the attention of Project DU F.I.L.M. (Film Initiative Linking to Mentors), which pairs students with faculty and alumni mentors to create and promote original films — hence the Denver premiere of Scary Lucy, a short comedy inspired by the terrible statue and starring local comedians Christie Buchele and Janae Burris. Both funny ladies will be in the house to support the screening with live standup, and a talkback with faculty member Dr. Sheila E. Schroeder and members of the cast and alumni crew will close out the program. A reception follows at 7:15 p.m., down the street at the Hornet, 76 Broadway.

Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution

Gordon Gamm Theater, Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut Street, Boulder
Thursday, May 10, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Admission: $6.50 to $12

Politically, we could all use something uplifting right about now, and the documentary film Waking the Sleeping Giant, a real-time chronicle of how the conditions raised by the 2016 presidential election galvanized a new progressive movement, is tonic for your inner activist. The film’s directorial team followed five individuals on the front lines of the fight for change — Bernie Sanders on the stump, along with rural West Virginian state legislature candidate Sabrina Shrader, Black Lives Matter activist Jan Williams, and millennial political organizers Elise Whitaker and Kai Newkirk of Democracy Spring — and sought input from progressive voices like Van Jones, Amy Goodman and Robert Reich to piece together the rise of the new left and discuss where to take the movement next. Co-director and Coloradan Jacob Smith, a former mayor of Golden with grassroots activism in his blood, will answer questions after the screening. Learn more about the film online.

Great Adaptations Film Series
Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue
Sunday, May 13, 2 p.m.: The Thin Man
Wednesday, May 23, 7 p.m.: The Manchurian Candidate
Tuesday, June 5, 7 p.m.: Blade Runner Final Cut
Tuesday, June 12, 7 p.m.: IT
Free for Denver Film Society members, $5 for non-member guests, $7 for non-members

The Sie’s Great Adaptations series, which began in April with — what else? — the film Adaptation, continues through May and mid-June with four more movies based on books. And it’s a delightful mixed bag: Programs, which include discussions led by University of Colorado scholars, include everything from the Dashiell Hammett-inspired The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy, on May 13, to IT, based on Stephen King’s 1986 horror story, on June 12. Take a tour through the annals of film, with a lit lesson on the side.

Film on the Rocks 2018

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 West Alameda Parkway, Morrison
May 15 through August 13
Gates open at 6:30 p.m., bands start at 7 p.m., film at dusk
Admission: $15

Film on the Rocks, everyone’s favorite way to enjoy Red Rocks cheaply and with just as much fun, is back, pairing live music with popular second-run films (starting with The Last Jedi on May 25, and closing with Black Panther on August 13) and cult favorites (The Grand Budapest Hotel, June 11, and The Big Lebowski twentieth-anniversary screening on July 9, among others). Get there early to groove to the music and catch the Red Rocks vibe, then settle in after dark for an al fresco movie night. Find the complete schedule online at the sponsoring Denver Film Society’s website.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Denver Landmark Theatres (TBD)
May 18 through 24

Speaking of cult favorites, statuesque disco princess Grace Jones has earned a place in the pop-culture hall of fame for her androgynous cheekbones, fierce demeanor and flamboyant style. Filmmaker Sophie Fiennes (yes, she’s the sister of Ralph and all those other talented Fiennes siblings) chose not to focus on Jones’s time in the spotlight at Studio 54 and, post-disco, in the New Wave scene, but instead looks at the woman she’s become through a vérité lens. Filmed over the past decade and a half, Bloodlight and Bami draws out Jones’s authentic personality for all to see. Plus, eye candy galore!

2018 Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival
The Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street
Friday, May 18, 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 19, at 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
$20 festival pass, $10 per individual screening block

Colorado’s got women filmmakers, lots of them, and at least twenty of them will be slinging cinema this month at the Bug Theatre for the eighth annual Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival, a celebration that’s as much for the viewers as it is for the filmmakers. All genres are covered — short- and feature-length narrative films, documentaries, experimental works and animation, to name a few — and each of the fest’s four film blocks will wrap up with filmmaker talkbacks. Find the full schedule at the Colorado Independent Women of Film home page, and plot your course for the weekend.

Courtesy of Adán De La Garza
Collective Misnomer: Dizzy Spell
Buntport Theater, 717 Lipan Street
Saturday, May 26, time TBA
$10 or pay what you can (no one turned away)

Like video games? How about video games that mess with your mind? The Denver-based experimental-film showcase Collective Misnomer tries something different in May, with Dizzy Spell, which series organizer Adán De La Garza and collaborators Justin Ankenbauer and Rafael Fajardo are calling “art video games that play with the moral compass of the player.” Watch the Collective Misnomer website for additional information TBA.

Send information on upcoming film events to [email protected].