The Reel Deal: Stars Aplenty

Last week, the 34rd Annual Starz Denver Film Festival launched with a frenzy of red carpet roll outs. On opening night, director Drake Doremus ushered in the Denver premiere of Like Crazy, a love story for the Y Generation, depicting a heartbreaking romance across two continents.

Doremus easily won the crowd over with his film. But then, took it to a whole new level, playfully Tebowing and pondering Macaulay Caulkin’s great contribution to the world of opera (a hysterical reference to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House).

Afterwards, the SDFF opened the Denver Film Center on Colfax with a special presentation of Melancholia, Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic ode to depression. Famed documentarian Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11) made a surprise appearance. And then the festival warmed to country music star, Chely Wright, whose tearful and deeply personal story (Wish Me Away) about coming out has become an inspiration to gay youth across America.

Added Wright, “My goal all along in coming out and telling my story in the way that I have was to make it easier for young people from coast to coast, young people like me, to show that they are and will be okay. And that God loves them.”

Chely Wright (Wish Me Away)

On another magical, red carpet night, Academy Award winner, Alexander Payne’s latest film, The Descendants, screened to Denver audiences. The film stars George Clooney as a Hawaiian land baron who takes his daughters on a unique road trip after discovering that his wife is having an affair.

Alas, Clooney wasn’t in attendance, but the film’s sensational actress, Judy Greer, was on hand to receive this year’s prestigious John Cassavetes’ Award:

“I’m the first woman to win the award, so I think that’s awesome… John Cassavetes is a pioneer of American independent film, and that’s what I like to do best, so it feels like a real honor.”

Following an incredible, star-studded first week at the Starz Denver Film Festival, we thought we’d toss in a few great picks for Week 2 to help get all your stars properly aligned:

Butter – Who knew that the competitive world of butter carving could serve as a metaphor for the presidential primaries? But here, British director Jim Field Smith (She’s Out of My League) makes it work, channeling his inner Christopher Guest. In the film, Jennifer Garner plays Laura Pickler, the wife of a world champion carver, who enters the crazed competition when her husband is forced into retirement. A stellar cast joins Garner in this wickedly fun satire: Hugh Jackman, Olivia Wilde, Ashley Greene, Alicia Silverstone, Ty Burrell.

Sunday, November 13, 12:00 p.m at the King Center. 91 minutes.

Judy Greer, John Cassavetes Award Winner (Photo Courtesy DFS)

A Dangerous Method – Based on the Christopher Hampton play, “The Talking Cure,” Method explores the bitter rivalry between contemporary psychiatrists, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. And the woman who came between them. Brought to screen by David Cronenberg, an experimental director known for pushing the envelope in terms of graphic violence and sex (Dead Ringers, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises), Method is toned down ever so slightly, replaced with witty banter and the maddening antics that defined the theory of psychoanalysis. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, and Keira Knightley.

Sunday, November 13, 2:30 p.m. at the King Center. 99 minutes.

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton delivers one of the finest performances of her career in this horrifying tale of a mother (Eva) traumatized by the murderous actions of her teenage son. Tormented by guilt, regret, and sadness, Eva searches for answers, reliving Kevin’s life from the unwanted pregnancy to his obsession with archery to the unspeakable events that put him behind bars. This is one heavy handed drama, expertly delivered, that tragically explores the aftermath of every parent’s worst nightmare. Starring John C. Reilly, Tilda Swinton, and Ezra Miller.

Friday, November 11, 7:00 p.m. at L2 Arts and Culture Center. 112 minutes.

-Mark Sells, “The Reel Deal”

For tickets and more information on the 33rd Starz Denver Film Festival:

Butter – Behind the Scenes

A Dangerous Method – Trailer

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Trailer


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