“Corbin Dallas Multipass”


Still looks amazing at 20!

A throwback film that feels FRESH and a current film that is full of references to the past but already feels STALE!

Today there’s a good chance you can catch a screening of The Fifth Element at your local cineplex. Fathom Events is releasing the film May 14th and 17th as the studio is getting out the press for the next Luc Besson film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

This has been a favorite film of mine for many years and I wasn’t worried that the special effects would look cheesy…I’ve seen it many times since that first awesome experience at the movie theater. I still found the story engaging, the cityscapes and costumes (Jean Paul Gautier!) fantastic and found myself on the edge of my seat at the ending with a tear in my eye. It was so fun to hear the crowd cheer at the end of the film and hear the exiting crowd exclaim at how well the movie still holds up.

In comparison, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 is a far weaker film. Yes, there are some wonderful set pieces and a few emotionally-resonant moments between the characters, but what was with that convoluted origin story? Wow, was I bored with the 70’s-themed side trip down memory lane, and any time the film stopped at Planet Ego, the story stalled. It made a gazillion dollars on Opening Weekend and will continue to gross the big bucks, but amid the flash and throwback tunes and the snappy dialogue, where was the story? Why did we care about the gold-dipped aliens and their plan for vengeance?

It felt as if they built all these cool sets and created all this cool SGI, and then added story elements to use them. How many scenes of battle till you create battle fatigue in your audience? The best moments on Guardians, were short scenes away from the action with our central characters…too brief to sustain any goodwill toward the overblown film.

Go see The Fifth Element instead. You’ll be glad you did.

Drinks Rating

Fifth Element: 4 cups of bad coffee (Corbin Dallas can’t get the coffee pot to work) out of 5

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2:  2 kiddie cups of bright-colore Kool-aid, a sugar rush but a let-down, out of 5

I Am Not Your Negro (obviously)

James Baldwin, The Last Interview.jpgUnsparing as history and enthralling as biography. It’s an evocation of a passionate soul in a tumultuous era. —Joel Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

There was something so odd, yet so fitting in watching the Oscar-nominated documentary,  I Am Not Your Negro, on a rainy weekend at the Masonic Temple. Sitting in a meeting hall on mismatched padded chairs with Masonic tapestries and a domed ceiling around us, the crowd included mostly couples, (many over 50) and one family with pre-teen boys. All of us white. Many of us, likely unfamiliar with any of James Baldwin’s writings. The screening had the feel of a town hall meeting where we’d all come together to get political.

Sadly, the sound was rather muffled in this temporary screening hall. It was hard to distinguish between James Baldwin’s voice and the narration by Samuel L Jackson. It’s a powerful film, in part because his words are still so relevant today. Sadly. Pairing his narrative about the lives and deaths of Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King Jr with contemporary video of the sad state of affairs in race relations in America today creates such a resonance that I heard members of the audience actually gasp out loud.

As the crowd quietly filed out of the hall and down the stairs, there was a shared silence and many people were glancing at strangers to see their reactions. It was a thoughtful silence and I didn’t see the usual rush to turn on cellphones. The idea of crowds of mainly white folks gathering to hear a lecture on why we need to stop thinking Black Lives Matter and start thinking how to heal our country as preached by a gay black activist that died in 1987…what a remarkable achievement.

If you’re like me, and you’ve only read James Baldwin’s poems and a few essays, you may be inspired to go pick up a few of his books. Here’s a few suggestions: Four books by James Baldwin. I’ll be headed to the library to find The Last Interview.

Rating: PG-13 for violence and a few swear words

Drinks With Films: 5 glasses of French wine out of 5 — a toast to Baldwin’s time in Paris

Release date: February 3, 2017 (USA)

ACT at Odell Brewery…or Do you want VR with your beer?


ACT Human Rights Film Festival

Awaken Connect Transform

ACT Human Rights Film Festival held a Kick-Off Screening at the SIE Film Center in Denver.

Filmmaker Beth Murphy was there for the Q & A for What Tomorrow Brings.

The festival is put on by the Communication Studies Department at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

I was there, hot toddy in hand…to support the festival!








Odell Brewing Company hosted the Schedule Release Party on Thursday, March 28th, 2017. Odell is brewing a special beer for the ACT Film Festival called Screening Sessions IPA!

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The 2nd Annual ACT Human Rights Film Festival will bring 16 films to the CSU campus and the Lincoln Center Theater in Fort Collins, many with filmmakers in attendance. Stay tuned for a Very Important Guest Appearance…to be announced Monday!

The program covers both national and international human rights issues, and includes humor and beauty to sweeten your educational experience. Topics range from the first South Indian female taxi driver (Driving with Selvi) to Tehran’s underground techno scene (Raving Iran), from solitary confinement in American prisons (Solitary) to a flamboyant drag queen in Ireland who fought for marriage equality (Queen of Ireland).

Two documentaries that I recommend are Jackson, a stirring tale of staff and patients in the only abortion clinic in Jackson, MI and What Tomorrow Brings, highlighting how education can change communities in the first all-girls school in a remote Afghan village.

The lively event at Odell brewery was packed on a rainy Spring evening. There were program listings to read through, tickets to be purchased on iPads and live music by the lead singer of The Seers, Brian Collins. There were announcements and trailers and a moving virtual reality short film.

Who Am I  was produced by Blueshoe Media — Kyle Rasmussen (CSU alumni) and Amy Hoeven. The short film immerses you into the encounters of first-generation CSU college students with immigrant high school students from Fort Morgan, CO. I was amazed to learn that there’s been Somalian refugees coming to this conservative town for a decade. It’s a bit of a sweaty (and occasionally, nauseous-inducing) experience once you’ve got the VR headset and headphones on but the VR film is both memorable and thought-provoking. Check it out during the Opening and Closing Night programs.odell-poster2.jpg

Purchase your Festival tickets now! And stay tuned for an exciting announcement on Monday, April 3, 2017! There’s an actor/singer/activist coming to Fort Collins!



If you’re going to see just 1 Oscar-nominated film…see 5!

So here we are, almost Academy Awards time…Have you seen all the films? Have you heard the scores? And what’s the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing anyway?

This is an unusual year for me as I haven’t seen all the films but if you asked me which one of the nominated films to see—what would I recommend? My answer may surprise you. I would tell you to go see the Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts!


Seeking out shorts!

This doesn’t mean that I think the Best Picture nominations aren’t deserving! I’ll give you a quick run-down of how I’d rate them another time, perhaps. What makes this collection of five films from five countries so remarkable? These gems of great storytelling will move you, inspire you, and make you cry or laugh. They represent a distillation of what makes movies amazing: the craft of storytelling at it’s most focused and assured!  So please, go seek out the Shorts Programs. Many big cities are screening the Oscar-nominated Live Action and Animated Shorts and the Documentary Shorts are also brilliant–though that is a 3-hour program.


  • Ennemis Intérieurs — my least favorite

    Sélim Azzazi

    La Femme et le TGV –what a brilliant poster!

    Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff

    Silent Nights — just brilliant and Kim Magnusson’s 6th nominated film!

    Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson

    Sing — great film for the whole family

    Kristof Deák and Anna Udvardy

    Timecode — when you gotta dance!

    Juanjo Giménez


Film Festivals: why they are more important than ever!

I’m obsessed. It’s true. There are very few people who dedicate this much time attending, working and curating film festivals; my life is is ALL about film and I love it. As I embark on the journey to help birth two new film festivals in the Front Range of Colorado, one might question why? Do we need another film festival? Aren’t Sundance, Cannes, TriBeca and SXSW covering all the bases? So few people attend local film festivals in the early years of a festival…why do I work so hard to get these events off the ground? Why bother?

Here’s the thing…Americans are insulated. We are living in a very divisive time and so many of us are surrounded by like-minded individuals. Our lives are lived in bubbles of work, family, church and community. There is little opportunity or dollars to travel if you’re working hard to stay employed.  And little time off to pursue the pleasures of the arts or hobbies or time to just BE. Politics have become an issue that raises blood pressure and angry words. There are alarming changes to government policies and threats to art, education and environment. What does this look like from the perspective of countries outside our own? Do you know? Do you care?

Rather than turn inward, or turn off—I find community in the shared experience of cinema. When there were threats to the EPA, I went to the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and listened to the cheers of nature-lovers applauding the work of environmentalists. When the ACLU seemed overwhelmed by government actions, I went to the United Nations traveling film festival where civic-minded film lovers rallied friends to march, donate and celebrate successes here and worldwide.

Not everyone is fortunate to live in a town with an art house theater. Fort Collins, CO, has a gem of an art house theater. The Lyric Cinema Cafe will soon be moving but currently there are screenings of the Oscar-nominated Shorts and on Feb 28th, short films created by local filmmakers in 48 hours! Tonight, I’m going to a screening billing itself as a film festival. I love how Wandering Reel Film Festival describes it’s mission:

“Artists have long been at the forefront of social innovation. The Wandering Reel believes in the power of film art to effect positive change, to bring people together through shared cultural experiences and to promote peace and justice around the world by inspiring conversation between individuals and communities through the common experience of cinema. By exposing under-served communities with films that are artful in their meaning and compassionate and conscious in their approach, the boundaries that divide people can be slowly stripped away, cultures can be enriched and peace grown across the globe.”

Learning about other cultures and other worlds is so important. Documentaries are so crucial to spreading knowledge and helping us learn about our world. Yes, we need to decompress and laugh at Batman, The Lego Movie but the experience just doesn’t compare to the satisfaction of seeing Hidden Figures! This fictionalised account of a true story benefits from the amazing cast but it’s the STORY; the true story that draws you in. There’s a feeling of community when you hear the applause in a crowded theater; when you know that we’ve all shared an experience and learned something together. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race written by Margot Lee Shetterley.

We can all be transported and moved by a true story compellingly told.


Yes, documentaries are more important than ever; I completely agree with Simon Kilmurry! I would argue that we also need places to see these compelling documentaries. That’s why we need film festivals. How many documentaries are screening at your local cineplex? You need to seek them out on the Nature Channel or PBS; you need to set your DVR. I’m on a mission to bring them to you, in your town, to help build community and showcase your local talented film community. I hope you’ll join me!

See you at the Boulder International Film Festival March 2-5 and at the Front Range Film Festival April 20-23! And stayed tuned for news about Lyons, Nederland and the newest film and craft festival: Boulder Beer and Film Festival in September!

Please put this important documentary on your must see list for tomorrow night! A perfect companion film to the brilliant documentary, I’m Not Your Negro about the life of James Baldwin. Because, Black Lives Matter!


Maya Angelou in 1974.
Maya Angelou in 1974. Wayne Miller/Magnum, via PBS
‘Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,’ 8 p.m., PBS (Check Local Listings)
This two-hour “American Masters” biography covers the astonishing breadth of Angelou’s work as a singer, performer, poet, author and activist, and includes footage from throughout her life as well as candid interviews.
KQED has a thorough companion archive to the documentary, which is particularly poignant because Angelou hosted a 10-part series on KQED in 1968 called “Blacks, Blues, Black!”

Moral of the story…seek out those Indies!

I love that this Indiewire post reflects the combined wisdom of 7 writers…and I agree with all of it. I wasn’t a fan of the The Lobster and I was bored with Love and Friendship, but there were some wonderful Independent films released this summer! Two of my favorites are still playing in some markets: Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Captain Fantastic–you must track them down! And treat yourself to the visual wonder of Kubo and The Two Strings!

9 Lessons Studio Films Should Take From The Indie World This Summer

It was the best of times for indies and the worst of times for blockbusters this summer. Here’s what studios need to learn.


Much has been written about just how dismal this year’s summer movies have been, but one of the silver linings in such a poor season has remarkably been indies. Where blockbusters like “The Legend Of Tarzan,” “Warcraft” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” failed, indies such as “The Lobster,” “Cafe Society” and “Love and Friendship” succeeded. And while studios were certainly rolling in cash when it came to “Suicide Squad” and “The Secret Life Of Pets,” critics weren’t exactly impressed. It was a rough season for studio films, but it won’t be a total waste if executives can learn from their mistakes and start course correcting. Below, we look towards the indie world in order to offer up the biggest lessons for studio films.

1)  World-Building Needs To Be Organic To The Story (“The Lobster”)

One of the critical and commercial indie hits of the summer movie season, “The Lobster” sends a bold message to studios that world-building works most effective (and is better embraced) when the story and the universe unfold naturally, impacting the characters in real time and not shoehorning in facts and details that bombard the viewer and take them out of the movie. Studios’ world-building obsession has created blockbusters crammed with add-on scenes and forced cameos that exist merely to say, “Hey, look! This is the world we’re creating and this is the next movie coming up.” This isn’t world-building, it’s advertising, and the results are as strained as they are awkward, removing the viewer from being invested in the story. “The Lobster” manages to create its own entire universe, complete with its own rules for the way society works and its inhabitants interact, without ever calling attention to its exposition. It’s a natural flow of information that absorbs us into the story while constantly adding revealing layers to the characters. If only blockbusters could be so smart. – Zack Sharf


2) “Ghostbusters” Failed, But Audiences Still Love Female-Led Comedies  (“Bad Moms”)

One of the most troubling narratives to emerge from the summer movie season was all the “controversy” surrounding Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” reboot, most notably how the film became a litmus test for the future of female-led comedies. “Ghostbusters” was not the box office success Sony needed, and reports say it will cost the studio at least $70 million, but that in no way means audiences aren’t hungry for more comedies with women front and center.

Just look at “Bad Moms,” which hails from up-and-comer STX Entertainment, an indie production and distribution company with its sights clearly set on the mainstream. Earning positive reviews and north of $90 million at the box office and counting, this raunchy mom comedy, starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn, is the official sleeper hit of the summer. “Bad Moms” proves that people will keep coming to the theater if your comedy delivers the laughs (regardless of gender), and it should encourage studios to keep on giving women the chance to get raunchy. – Z.S.

3) Hire Indie Directors And Don’t Compromise Their Vision (“Pete’s Dragon”)

When “Pete’s Dragon” director David Lowery spoke to our Eric Kohn about making the jump from his festival favorite “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” to a big screen — and big budget — version of the beloved Disney property “Pete’s Dragon,” he emphasized that the studio made it clear that they were making a David Lowery film. That’s sort of the dream result of an indie director like Lowery going blockbuster, a story we see time and again, and not always with the best results (Colin Trevorrow made a gajillion dollars with “Jurassic World,” but that film doesn’t really speak to much of a personal vision or brand, and Marc Webb frittered away some of his best moviemaking years trying to relaunch a Spider-Man franchise that just, well, wouldn’t).

Lowery is the outlier here, an indie filmmaker with his own vision and style who was able to translate that to a massive new feature, seemingly enabled and encouraged by the studio system that employed him. Disney’s dedication to hiring indie directors — Alex Ross Perry directing a “Winnie the Pooh” film still, admittedly, sounds sort of like a fever dream — is great, but they’re really making strides when they allow those directors to be themselves. Lowery was able to do just that this summer, and the result is one of the year’s best films, full stop. – Kate Erbland

"Love & Friendship"

4) Kate Beckinsale Is A Major Movie Star — Don’t Forget It (“Love & Friendship”)

Kate Beckinsale is one of many actresses Hollywood has forgotten what to do with, and this summer she proved why that’s a damn shame. Ever since tackling the role of Selene in 2003’s modest hit “Underworld,” Beckinsale has been kept in a purgatory mostly full of vampire sequels, middling genre fare (“Van Helsing,” “Total Recall”) and dopey horror-thrillers (“Whiteout,” the upcoming “The Disappointments Room”). She’s often the best part of these movies, but then a movie like “Love & Friendship” comes along to remind you that Beckinsale doesn’t need an arsenal of weaponry or cheap thrills to leave you speechless. With the elegance of Jane Austen and the wickedly clever cadence of Whit Stillman in her pocket, Becksinale reminded audiences just how commanding, magnetic and irresistible her talent can be. Lady Susan is no easy character to pull off — a venomous flirt who you still need to end up falling for — but Beckinsale perfected the art of being a charismatic firecracker. Hollywood would be wise to remember this kind of talent. She’s capable of so much. – Z.S.

5) People Only Want To Play Video Games, Not Watch Them (“Hardcore Henry”)

There’s still a residual hope that video games can become the can’t-miss adaptation fodder that their comic book counterparts have largely become. “Hardcore Henry” wasn’t tied to any specific preeexisting property, but its regenerative main character and first-person POV was one of the purest attempts to replicate the feeling of playing a video game while sitting in a movie theater. The $14.3 million box office draw didn’t quite rise to the fervor that met the film’s TIFF Midnight premiere last fall, sputtering in wide release with a historically dismal opening. “Assassin’s Creed” will be a helpful litmus test to see if this generation of video game movies has any domestic staying power, but after tepid critical response to “Hardcore Henry” and “Warcraft” being a misfire on multiple levels despite its talented young director, maybe it’s time to reevaluate the efficacy of translating this medium-specific experiences to the big screen, regardless of who’s at the helm and the size of its budget. – Steve Greene

6) Cast Older Actresses In Lead Roles (Sally Field, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith)

If you want to score with adult audiences, cast any number of women stars over 60 who keep pulling Baby Boomers to the multiplex. And “Florence Foster Jenkins” star Meryl Streep (age 67) isn’t the only one. Among the top indie grossers of 2016: “Eye in the Sky” (Bleecker Street, $18.7 million), Gavin Hood’s taut thriller starring Helen Mirren (71) as a British corporal fiercely chasing down terrorists with the help of American drone pilots; “Hello, My Name is Doris” (Roadside Attractions, $14.4 million), a romantic comedy starring Sally Field (69) as an older woman pursuing a younger office colleague; and “Downton Abbey” star Maggie Smith (81) in the dotty Alan Bennett role she originated decades ago, “The Lady in the Van” (Sony Pictures Classics, $10 million).

Last year, Sundance 2015 launched two $7 million hits starring Sam Elliott as the romantic interest of 72-year-old Blythe Danner (Bleecker Street’s “I’ll See You in My Dreams”) and (at one time) 76-year-old Lily Tomlin (Sony Pictures Classics’ “Grandma”). Studios would do well to remember that the core loyal demo who still has time to go out to movie theaters is older. Netflix gets it: Tomlin costars with Jane Fonda (78) in comedy “Grace and Frankie,” and the streaming service is reuniting Fonda with her frequent costar Robert Redford in the film “Our Souls at Night.” The studios deploy Mirren (“Red,” “Fast and Furious 8”) in supporting roles for the same reasons they hire her fellow-senior Morgan Freeman—she adds power and gravitas. Where’s that femme sequel to “The Expendables?” – Anne Thompson

7) Make Animation Look And Feel Exciting Again (“Kubo and The Two Strings”)

“Kubo and the Two Strings” may not have played a tune that multiplex audiences were eager to hear (the movie underperformed at the box office, raking in $92 million less than “The Secret Life of Pets” in its opening weekend), but Laika’s stop-motion masterpiece was music to my ears. In a world overrun with generic, soulless 3D animation — all round and plastic and insufferably cute — it was impossible not to be dazzled by the tactile quality of this story about a young boy on a quest for his samurai father’s armor. Kubo’s journey was as heartfelt as it was handmade, and this stunning late summer spectacle should serve as an urgent reminder that a little human touch goes a long way. – David Ehrlich

Hell or High Water

8) Patience Is A Virtue (“Hell Or High Water,” “The Childhood Of A Leader”)

Despite being drab and lifeless, many of this summer’s blockbusters trafficked in extreme violence that leveled metropolises: the mystical gods of “Suicide Squad” terrorized Midway City, Krang tried to level NYC in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” and the aliens of “Independence Day: Resurgence” sent the London Bridge falling down. But none of it resonated, given that all of these sequences boiled down to screeching CGI madness. What really succeeded were indies which valued quiet scenes over mayhem, so when violent moments broke out, they packed a true punch. Brady Corbet’s meditative “The Childhood of a Leader” took the relatively radical step of…introducing characters and letting them talk to each other. By the time a handful of stones in a child’s hand pulled the rug from under us, our voyeurism was shattered. And although David Mackenzie’s “Hell or High Water” was a bank robbery tale, gunshots burned because they upset the rest of the film’s shaggy calm. Texas never looked so lovely as the night before our central characters’ biggest heist, as they’re drinking beer, wrestling, laughing and bullshitting. By creating quiet moments between characters you root for and empathize with, these films hit so much harder than thousands of faceless citizens fleeing extraterrestrial doom. – William Earl

9) Trust Actors Who Want To Direct (“Captain Fantastic”)

Actors have been moving behind the camera to direct films since the beginning of the motion picture industry, but rarely does the end product turn out as well as actor-writer-director Matt Ross’ crowdpleaser “Captain Fantastic.” The feel-good dramedy starring Viggo Mortensen as a radical father raising six children in isolation in the woods should serve as an important reminder that actors who can communicate a distinctive vision for an emotionally powerful story should be given the opportunity to realize that vision, even on the large scale of a studio film. In the case of “Captain Fantastic,” a performance-driven film that relies on the chemistry of an ensemble cast, having a director that has been in an actor’s shoes was arguably a huge advantage. Ross has also no doubt learned from working with some of the top directors in the business, including fellow actor-director George Clooney (“Good Night and Good Luck”), Whit Stillman (“The Last Days of Disco”), Terry Gilliam (“12 Monkeys”) and Martin Scorsese (“The Aviator”). Prior to winning best director in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes for “Captain Fantastic,” Ross directed the 2012 Sundance entry “28 Hotel Rooms.” – Graham Winfrey 

“Ab Fab” really Sad, Bad


Absolutely Fabulous, Sitcom
A show brilliant in its uncensored bad behavior and satirical humor, this series features Edina and Patsy, two hard-drinking, drug-taking, completely and outrageously selfish middle-aged women. Their cruel humor focuses on the hypocrisy of today’s society, much to the chagrin of Edina’s more moral and conservative daughter, Saffron.
First episode dateNovember 12, 1992
Final episode dateJuly 23, 2012
absolutely fabulous, the movie
Directed By: Mandie Fletcher
Written By: Jennifer Saunders
A film that strives to be a bigger, bolder version of it’s 30-minute sitcom series, Ab Fab is sadly, just louder, sadder and more frenetic. Granted, I have never found inebriated women falling down a laugh riot. Watching this film felt like recovering from a hangover with vapid people shouting inane things while wearing outlandish outfits…without the benefit of a cocktail or painkillers to relieve the headache.
Even if you’re a fan of the sitcom or a fashionista, the jokes are tired and the cameos do little to liven up the action. The best moments are the fantasy sequences when Edina (Jennifer Suanders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumleyare shown as powerful, desirable women.  Yes, they are still completely selfish hedonists but they’re also a lot of fun.  And the clothes are fabulous: tacky, loud and outlandish. If you haven’t seen the sitcom, you’d be hard-pressed to understand who many of these characters are, how they’re related or why they’d even put up with this chaos. Bubbles (Jane Horrockssteals the show with her outfits and snide comments but I found I was more exasperated than Saffron (Julia Sawalhawith the broads behaving badly schtick.
There are moments of levity. Watching the two of them hoover drugs and swill champagne while trying to think of outlandish solutions to their dilemma is amusing. Once the pair abscond with Lulu (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) and more importantly, her Daddy’s credit card — the movie gets a needed boost from the beauty in Cannes. Plus there’s a sweet subplot with a marriage proposal that shows a much-needed, softer side to Patsy. A more daring approach would have been to show a genuine relationship develop there; character growth instead of just wish fulfillment.
Any genuine emotions expressed by the characters are negated by undermining the moment with a lazy reveal (it’s an empty bed, she’s really alive, she’s not a she) and a quick change of scene to more frenetic action. There’s lots of razzle dazzle and lord knows, no one is looking for substance beyond two sozzled, aging broads who genuinely seem to care for each other…but you may find yourself wishing for at least one of those champagne flutes with a topper of vodka!
Rating: one flute out of five