The Denver International Film Festival has never been as important as, say, Telluride or Toronto. Nevertheless, it’s gaining prestige, and this year there are more important, impressive films and guests than ever.
For the first time, Movie Habit brings you extensive coverage of the DIFF. Bookmark this page as your starting point. Here you will find capsule reviews and interview summaries, which will be linked to longer pieces as they are completed.. You’ll also find links to schedule and ticket information.
We’ll be covering a dozen of the festival’s films, along with half a dozen of the attendees and VIP guests. Below are an overview of what we’ll cover, followed by capsule reviews and interview summaries. Look for full reviews and interviews to appear as the festival moves on.
|Bowling for Columbine||Other People’s Life||Austin Chick, director, XX/XY|
||Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, directors, Lost in La Mancha|
|The Emperor’s Club
||The Quiet American
||Cole Hauser, actor, White Oleander
||Rabbit Proof Fence
||Michael Hoffman, director, The Emperor’s Club|
|Lost in La Mancha||White Oleander
||Phillip Noyce, director, Rabbit Proof Fence and The Quiet American|
Bowling for Columbine
Michael Moore does it again. Ostensibly about the problem of guns in America, Columbine tries to find an answer as to why America has so many gun deaths. Moore interviews many Coloradans, including filmmaker Matt Stone, an executive from Lockheed Martin in Littleton, and two Columbine survivors. He also tracks down NRA head Charlton Heston in his Beverly Hills home.
Michael Moore, director, Bowling for Columbine: I’ll be asking Moore about Canadian gun ownership, congratulating him on winning a moral victory at KMart, and seeing if he ever found an answer to why so many Americans kill each other with guns.
This 70-minute long 35mm film by Bill Morrison is a visually stunning collection of found footage that captures the beauty of older, black and white, decaying film as it contorts, explodes, smears, and transmogrifies the original image into something altogether different. Anyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of a film that accidentally burns in the projector’s gate will be able to identify the visual splendor of decay found herein. — Pablo Kjolseth
The Emperor’s Club
Kevin Kline teaches Greek and Roman history at a boys’ prep school in the mid-1970s. The film follows Kline and the scholastic careers of a group of young friends, including the troubled son of a West Virginia senator. The last third of the film jumps to the present day to see what effect he had on his students. The film is rightfully compared to Dead Poets Society and Mr. Holland’s Opus, and although many critics dismiss it as cliched, I find its moral and philosophical questions satisfying.
Michael Hoffman, director, The Emperor’s Club. I’ll be asking Hoffman about Kevin Kline’s accent and about similarities to its other films.
The feature debut by Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is a supernatural thriller that evokes the secret-society themes behind many of David Cronenberg’s films. But this story of people endowed with preternatural luck, who can also rob others of their fortune, eschews visceral horror in favor of a visual polish that and hop-frogs from one setup to another with élan (one great scene has blindfolded contestants seeing who is luckiest by running full tilt through a tree-crowded forest — the winner being the last person standing who didn’t smash into a tree trunk). — PK
Lost in La Mancha 1/2
Sold as the first "Un-making-of" documentary, La Mancha shows the disastrous first week of production on director Terry Gilliam’s The Man who Killed Don Quixote. The production was eventually cancelled, and directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe were there to document Fate’s conspiracy against Gilliam.
Other People’s Life
This independent Italian film interweaves two stories, one about a retired mob boss who is unable to cut the last remaining ties to the mob, the other about a volcanologist studying the awakening volcano Vesuvius that dominates the setting for the film’s events.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest effort is the best film I’ve seen in the last six months. Adam Sandler plays the same type of character he always plays, only this time the role is much more serious and dramatic. He’s an introverted man-child dealing with a new girlfriend and a predatory pack of thugs trying to extort money from him. The surrealist moments in the film are hilarious, and the vivid cartoon colors are great.
The Quiet American
Graham Green wrote this prescient novel in the 1950s, a decade before the U.S. got heavily involved in Vietnam. Michael Caine is a British journalist in love with the country and the girl who comes to symbolize it for him. With the title character, an American aid worker, Caine uncovers the first tendrils of CIA involvement.
Read the interview with Phillip Noyce.
Rabbit Proof Fence
Noyce’s second film at this year’s DIFF is the kind of movie that can’t fail because its subject matter is so interesting. Three aboriginal girls are abducted and placed in a re-education camp where they will be taught English and raised as servants for rich white Australians. The film follows their eventful escape from one such camp, and their journey home along a continent-wide fence, ironically erected to protect native species from invasive European mammals.
Read the interview with Phillip Noyce.
White Oleander 1/2
Read the full review.
Read the interview with Cole Hauser.
Mark Ruffalo is one of the best new actors I’ve seen. He has yet to catch the public’s attention, but it’s only a matter of time. He heads the cast of XX/XY, a story about three friends and lovers. Sex, love, and jealousy color their lives far more than they anticipated.
Austin Chick, director, XX/XY. I’ll be asking Chick about his working with Mark Ruffalo, about the animations used in the movie, and about what it takes to make a first feature.