Indiana Jones, War Horse and Alpha Dog: Defending movies critics hate

Categories: Film and TV

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On this week's Voice Film Club podcast, film critics Alan Scherstuhl, Amy Nicholson and Stephanie Zacharek defend movies that most critics hate, namely Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, War Horse and Alpha Dog. We also recommend a few new films, including Blue Ruin, Fading Gigolo and Next Goal Wins.

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Stanley Film Fest programming director's picks for the fest

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R100 will kick you in your face.
Tonight at the world-famous Stanley Hotel, the Stanley Film Festival will kick off its second year with Alexandre O. Philippe's look at zombie culture, Doc of the Dead. [Disclosure: I appear in Doc of the Dead.] Sunday, the fest closes with the horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows, starring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords. In between, more than two dozen films will show, far more than you can reasonably cram in, especially if you also make time for the audio play, the immersive horror game and the myriad other activities filling the weekend. Some of those films are from big-name horror directors -- Takashi Miike, Ti West and Nacho Vigalondo, to name a few. Some are well-loved classics. Choosing between those is a simple matter of priorities.

But with the rest, there are some hard decisions to be made -- with not much info to go on. To ease this process, we asked Landon Zakheim, the festival's programming director, for his picks for under-the-radar films for every taste, from experimental horror to horror comedy. Here, in his words, are the films to look out for -- and why you should make time for them.

See also: Local filmmakers unleash zombie doc Doc of the Dead at SXSW

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Stripped tells the history of comic strips through creators and characters

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Bill Watterson's "Calvin and Hobbes."
Through conversations with friend and filmmaker Frederick Schroeder, comic artist and comic historian Dave Kellet realized that he needed to make a documentary on the life and art of the comic strip. Two successful Kickstarter campaigns later, Stripped was born. It's a deep and thoughtful look at the world of comic-strip art, as told by the creators of such iconic print strips as "Cathy," "Calvin and Hobbes," "Zippy the Pinhead" and "Beetle Bailey," as well as the new school of web comics like "Penny Arcade" and "Hark! A Vagrant."

In advance of Stripped's one-night-only showing at the Sie FilmCenter on April 23, Kellet spoke with Westword about why he chose to make the documentary and how he secured interviews with more than seventy comic artists.

See also: Denver Drink & Draw meets Kickstarter goal to fund Comix Brew, a free comics newspaper

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Gasland Part II: Free screening at Denver Public Library tonight

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Gasland, the documentary written and directed by Josh Fox that focuses on natural gas drilling and slickwater fracking -- has caused a lot of discussion around the country. And tonight his second film on the subject, Gasland Part II, will be shown for free at the Denver Public Library.

See also:
Fracking fight coming to Loveland?

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Mistaken For Strangers: The rock documentary that became Tom Berninger's personal journey

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The National's Matt Berninger and his brother, roadie Tom Berninger, in Mistaken For Strangers.
The Berningers are a talented family: Tom Berninger is a filmmaker, and when his brother Matt, a member of the Brooklyn-based band The National, asked him to go on tour as a roadie, he obliged. Tom needed a job and some direction, and his brother's request inadvertently offered both. Tom was fired eight months in, but he'd been filming the band and crew the whole time. The result was 2013's Mistaken For Strangers, a documentary about The National -- but also a look at Tom's own personal struggle for success.

In advance of the film's opening this Friday, April 18 at the Sie FilmCenter -- where Tom Berninger will be a guest for both evening showings -- Westword spoke with him about his relationship with his brother and the things that make a good rock documentary.

See also: Album sales are in the Crapper, but The National is doing just fine

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Andy Haynes on Midnight Run, 9/11 jokes and getting heckled during his own comedy special

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Andy Haynes is a veteran of several standup scenes, moving from Washington, D.C., to Seattle, then from New York to Los Angeles, cultivating his sharp joke-telling style and putting in strong appearances on Conan and the Comedy Central Half Hour. Haynes is also known for his Midnight Run comedy showcase, which gets comedians unreasonably stoned and then lets them sort through the weirdness onstage. A natural fit for the Sexpot Comedy brand, Haynes is in town this week to bring his Midnight Run showcase to an appreciative and equally stoned Denver audience. In advance of the April 17 date, Westword talked with Haynes about Midnight Run, 9/11 jokes and getting heckled.

See also: Chris Fairbanks on Sexpot Comedy, suicidal civil engineers and the Tosh controversy

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Davy Rothbart on basketball, the Midwest and Medora

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Medora tells the story of the Medora Hornets, a basketball team struggling for just one win.
As editor of Found Magazine and a contributor to This American Life, Davy Rothbart has devoted himself to mining humor and pathos from the lives of strangers. When he learned about the Medora Hornets, a high school basketball team suffering through a nasty losing streak in a factory-gutted Heartland community, he knew he had tell their story. He spent the next year-and-a-half embedded in Medora, Indiana, chronicling the lives of these young basketball players at home and on the court. Rothbart will be at a screening of Medora at the SIE FilmCenter on Tuesday, April 15. In advance of his trip to Denver, Westword spoke with him about his newest feature documentary.

See also: Justin Hocking on surfing, trauma and The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld

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Remembering Ludlow: A roundup of commemorative events

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The Ludlow Memorial.
A century ago this week, a long-simmering conflict between miners on strike in the southern Colorado coalfields and troops of the Colorado National Guard erupted into the deadliest labor war in American history. A raging gun battle on April 20, 1914, resulted in the destruction of the strikers' Ludlow tent colony and the deaths of nearly two dozen people -- most of them women and children who'd sought refuge from the shooting in a small cellar under one of the tents. The Ludlow Massacre, as it became known, is one of the darkest yet most neglected chapters of state history -- but a slew of commemorative events planned to mark its hundredth anniversary could help change that.

See also:
Best History Book 2009 -- Killing for Coal: America's Deadliest Labor War

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Watch Game of Thrones in the company of your fellow geeks every Sunday

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Enjoy the adventures of Arya and the Hound every Sunday at the Armoury.
Now that HBO's magnificent Game of Thrones is back, Sunday nights just became appointment viewing again. That's great news unless your free HBO just expired, or your ex-roommate finally changed his HBO Go password or you're not sure you can stand watching alone knowing that the show is probably just waiting to break your heart by killing your favorite character. Or hell, maybe you just like making an event of watching one of the best shows on television. Whatever the case, get thee to the Armoury this Sunday, and every Sunday when there's a new episode, and all of those Game of Thrones-related problems will be solved.

See also: The ten best geek events in Denver in April

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Andrew Elijah Edwards on his new stereoscopic installation, The Deep Novelty Harvest Colony

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Courtesy of Andrew Elijah Edwards
Ineffable is a dirty word for a writer. It means something like, "A concept you just can't put into words." Discussing The Deep Novelty Harvest Colony -- a stereoscopic art installation that makes its debut tonight at Hinterland Gallery -- with artist Andrew Elijah Edwards, you enter a philosophical wrestling match with the ineffable nature of his art. After all, his images are trying to create a visceral experience that he believes cannot be captured in language. In advance of the show's opening, Westword spoke with Edwards about the ideas behind his work.

See also: Christina Battle and Adán De La Garza on video art and the quasi-imperialistic nature of sound

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