Each month, the Indie Prof reviews a current film in the theater and a second film that is available on DVD or an instant-streaming service. This month’s column is a bit different, however.
November is the best month for Denver film: the Denver International Film Festival (DIFF) runs from November 6–17 this year, and it is full of wonderful offerings. Every year the Festival salutes a specific country, and this year Dutch films take center stage. There are 200 films and more than 150 industry guests in town this year, and it all adds up to a wonderful 12 days. With that many films, choosing one or more can be daunting. I’ve chosen a few that I believe will not disappoint. Enjoy!
The Great Beauty
This new film from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino was a hit at Cannes, and it will make its American debut at DIFF. It has been compared to Fellini’s La Dolce Vita; whereas Fellini’s film chronicled the idle meanderings of Italian society in the late ’50s and early ’60s, Sorrentino’s film takes a similar view of Italy during the Berlusconi era. It is beautiful, scathing, and provocative. Watch out for this film at the Oscars.
Sat., 11/16 at 1pm, Sie FilmCenter.
In Person: Director Paolo Sorrentino
The story of a middle-aged couple on vacation in Paris is wonderfully directed by Roger Michell (Hyde Park on Hudson), perfectly acted by Lindsay Duncan, Jim Broadbent and Jeff Goldblum, and beautifully shot by cinematographer Nathalie Durand. It is at once a close character study and a universal reflection of relationships. The writing is also very good, and the ending is not necessarily what you might expect.
Fri. 11/15 at 7:15pm, Pavilions
The Fifth Season
A Belgian farming town suffers through a winter that refuses to end. People talk to chickens, young lovers run through field and forest, and much of the film is in long take and static camera (some call this slow pacing). This visual feast is not for everyone, but if you like the surreal, the visual over the talkie, then this film is for you. And me.
Sat. 11/9 at 7pm, Pavilions
Sun. 11/10 at 9:15pm, Pavilions
Broken Circle Breakdown
Based on the play of the same name, it tells the heartbreaking story of an unlikely couple—Elise and Didier—who marry and have a daughter. When that daughter becomes gravely ill, the two very different personalities deal with the trauma in their own way. Watching them suffer is both difficult and exhilarating—in the very human sense of emotional identification. Elise is a tattoo artist and Didier is a bluegrass banjo player, and the pair fall in love despite their different outlooks on life. Music adds texture to the film, and the elliptical structure adds depth. Life doesn’t happen in order.
Sun. 11/10 at 7pm, Pavilions
No Fire Zone
A documentary recommendation, this shocking, brutal and relentless film chronicles the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government against their own Tamil people at the end of their 26-year civil war in 2009. While the raw footage may be difficult to watch, this is one of those films so important that it demands to be seen. The film is further evidence that documentaries have become the most effective form of investigative journalism in a world that is sadly bereft of such reporting.
See the online schedule for screening dates/times.
The Resurrection of a Bastard
This entry from Denmark is a sometimes violent, stylistic Tarantino/Scorsese-esque whirlwind of a film that follows a vile Amsterdam gangster named Ronnie through various brutalities and (sometimes chance) happenings. The film takes an elliptical structure, and is at times turn-away-disgustingly brutal and at times hypnotic. As the title suggests, there may even be some redemption. One of the subtexts here, and in many other European films I’ve seen from the last few years, is immigration and the subsequent racism/nationalism/religious persecution toward those immigrants. The current state of European transnationalism is indicted.
11/7 at 9:30pm at Pavilions
11/8 at 6:30pm at Pavilions
11/9 at 9:30pm at Pavilions
This Dutch offering is exactly the type of film such festivals live for: you may never see this on a screen near you, but it is a wonderful piece of art and will not disappoint. In fact, the same can be said for most of the films reviewed here. Treat yourself to some wonderful cinema this month and enjoy the best (film) month of the year in Denver.
For more information on DIFF, see the Film Society website: www.denverfilmfestival.org/festival.
See the display in the Sam Gary Library for all the Indie Prof films.
Vincent Piturro, PhD, teaches Cinema Studies at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow “Indie Prof” on Facebook for updates about film events and more reviews.