Starz Denver Film Festival's wonderful closing weekend: Silver Linings Playbook and more

The Q&A that followed, featuring Vince and Valeri in conversation with Denver Post film critic Lisa Kennedy, wasn't quite as satisfying; Vince was allowed to spend a bit too much time pontificating on why he's not the goofball most of his fans think he is. But that's a minor caveat. If it took an award to get the two Vaughns to Denver, and to draw a big crowd to the Ellie Caulkins Opera House on a Saturday afternoon to watch a silver-screen exploration of a long-running battle that's already starting to fade from the consciousness of most Americans, if not folks in the U.K., then it was worth it.

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"Silver Linings Playbook."
So, too, was Silver Linings Playbook, the closing night draw at the Ellie. An even bigger throng gathered that evening -- among them Hedren and Jason Ritter, given an Indie Voice Award. And they were rewarded with a picture that will deservedly collect a slew of Oscar nominations early next year.

The film, written and directed by David O. Russell, is being touted as a drama about a recently released mental patient (Bradley Cooper) trying to get his life back on track. But while this description is accurate as far as it goes, the tale as told blends brutal sequences -- like Cooper and Robert De Niro, playing his dad, beating the hell out of each other -- with laughs that feel earned, not contrived. Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, as his love interest, spew words at each other with lightning quickness, like a bipolar variation on figures from a '30s screwball comedy, and scenes with De Niro, screen wife Jacki Weaver (so amazing in Animal Kingdom) and the other principals recall the explosively entertaining family spats captured in Russell's previous film, The Fighter. And that's not to mention a concluding dance-contest sequence that subverts convention by making minimal competence feel triumphant.

The 35th annual Starz Denver Film Festival would have been a winner without such validation. But this late score added to the victory margin even as it served as a reminder about why this event continues to thrive three and a half decades after its creation.

More from our Last Night archive: "Starz Denver Film Festival: $2.5 million gift puts Opening Night in the money."

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