An Outright Pretentious Assessment of the 30th (Insert Premiere Sponsor Here) Denver International Film Festival
A casual observer of Festival activities could presume that all types of international festivals are reserved solely for the modern aristocracy; and in the case of the 30th Starz Denver International Film Festival, they would be right.
Throughout the entire ten days of this event, I felt the world I was in- from the volunteers to film producers – was finally resting on the same intellectual common ground as myself. It was relaxing not having to continually repeat myself, constantly explain the definition of ‘motif’ and speak slowly. Instead, I was free to discuss mise-en-scéne, the iconography of the image, gesturality in performance styles, and the voyeuristic function of the gaze.
Here are the items of the festival I’ve chosen to share.
Dressed in a suit that would make Cary Grant feel as if he just walked from a coal mine, I arrived at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House for the premiere of “The Savages.” The film was hardly of caliber to share the same stage as Verdi’s “La Traviata.” The film may have fit nicely into Executive Producer Alexander Payne’s sub-genre bourgeoi-core, but the humor of everyday life was beyond stale at best.
Intriguing conversation with Steven Bach after “The Parallax View” of how the film lost 25 million due to one change by Warren Beatty and one change by Alan J. Pakula; neither change was related to casting the future voice KITT.
Jack Ketchum’s “The Girl Next Door” is an example of what smart torture porn looks like.
This was the day I dedicated to Ellen Page, the young actor who’ll have an Academy Award before she’ll be able to buy a drink.
The day began with the truly fragmented “The Tracy Fragments.” Bruce McDonald used every inch of film he shot in this movie. The funny thing is the film was finished in early 2004, but it took until this year to finish rendering the film. Oh, by the way; a little band you might have heard of did the soundtrack: Broken Social Scene.
After a trip the luxurious filmmaker’s lounges to drink Stella Artois, I returned to the Ellie to watch the film that has since become required viewing for all involved with Donnybrook: Juno.
Director Jason Reitman followed the Dancing Elk Track team, pictured to the right in 28 Deep’s photo here, down the red carpet; then he ate some orange tic-tacs and prematurely revealed he’s reuniting with screenwriter Diablo Cody for a horror film set in Minnesota.
Saw the doc “The Cool School,” which is surprisingly not about The Donnybrook Writing Academy, but instead about the avant-garde art movement in Los Angeles in the fifties and through late sixties.
I get a reminder of how to make a suit look so good women beg to come home with you in “Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills,” and then swore off sex for the rest of my life after seeing “Teeth,” the coming of age story of a young girl with a vengeful vagina.
Bored to sleep by the politically-charged melodrama “Under the Same Moon.” The mother is in East L.A., the son is in Mexico, and although I used the time to take an intellectual cat-nap, I’m willing to bet the two were reunited in the end. The film won the audience award, which makes me wonder if they pumped something through the air conditioning unit and stole everyone’s ballots while they slept.
To regain my senses, I returned filmmakers lounge to partake in some Diddy-endorsed Cîroc Snap Frost Vodka. The evening wrapped up nicely as I chanced upon a group of Donnybrookers at a local non-participating cinematheque where I was readying a screening of a project affiliated with the Fritz Godard name.
I was given a guided exploration through the world of Division Three basketball in “Quantum Hoops.” The film looks at the world through the eyes of student athletes at Cal-Tech, who happen to be the smartest and the least completive basketball players in the world. The school has the highest ratio of students-to-Nobel Prize winners, but hasn’t won a conference game in twenty-one years and more than 240 tries. However, they did have a winning season in the fifties, which is how they were able to get David Duchovny to narrate.
The evening was filled with an un-pretentious gathering at the Mayan Theater where one and all was welcomed to view the world premiere of the Broken Science Production of “Bury ‘em Deep.”
I ended the evening at the well-deserved tribute to Stephen Goldblatt. “Closer” is a film mainstream American audiences have balked at due to the level attention required to understand the emotionally-driven subject matter. Goldblatt said it best when he said, “This film really should have been a French film with English subtitles.”
For those who are wondering: three plus “Charlie Wilson’s War” references and zero “Joe Versus the Volcano” references. If only early Tom Hanks had as much credibility as late Tom Hanks.
The Eve of the Last Day:
Lynch doc lives up to the anticipation, and “Continental: A Film Without Guns” surpasses the expectations.
Once again, return to the Ellie for the closing night film “August Rush.” The far-fetched fairytale only could have earned the spot as the closing night film on a drunken bet. Robin Williams wears a cowboy hat and a soul patch, an example of how the film overwhelmed itself.
The evening wasn’t a complete waste of time since there was the announcement of the winning films.
The Last Day:
Hubble Palmer, screenwriter of “American Fork,” verifies my suspicion that he isn’t part of the Writer’s Guild, which justifies my return to writing.
The festival may be over, but check back later this week for the Fritz Godard Awards, the lesser-known-possibly-more-prestigious awards for the festival.