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Vail Film begins; see a few trailers

Ted AlvarezVail, CO Colorado
Special to the Daily
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Ah, the Vail Film Festival: There will be parties. There will be celebrities. There will be music. But most importantly, there will be movies – over 60 in all. But not even the most heroic film buff can attend them all, so we’ve provided a handy-dandy cheat sheet for all the must-sees this weekend. Get your popcorn, put on some comfortable pants and get ready for some serious film-watching.Best gross-out comedy with heart”Knocked Up”Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl and Paul Rudddir. Judd ApatowApatow helped create the underappreciated “Freaks and Geeks,” but the world finally recognized his talent with the huge hit “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Apatow returns with “Knocked Up,” which promises to be another R-rated comedy full of both juvenile body-fluid gags and insightful, adult-oriented banter. The roly-poly Rogen makes for a bold choice for leading man, especially when paired with the beautiful starlet Heigl, but early footage has been hilarious – hopefully, we can expect the same out of the rest of the film.Best guilty pleasure”Sinner”Nick Chinlund, Georgina Cates and Michael E. Rodgersdir. Marc BenardoutThough the film begins with a semi-preposterous setup (morally ambiguous priest shelters hooker on the lam from the cops after his subordinate priest beats her), “Sinner” has a starkly dark, eerie vibe and go-for-broke performances by the principal players. Georgina Cates is way over the top as a ragged hustler who preys on priests, but Nick Chinlund (who usually plays thugs onscreen) dials it down a notch to play a priest with a secret. Michael E. Rodgers follows suit with an ominous turn as a young fundamentalist priest who might harbor a dangerous streak.Best excuse to watch hipsters die”Murder Party”Chris Sharp, Stacy Rock and William Lacey

dir. Jeremy SaulnierIf Peter Jackson had grown up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn instead of suburban New Zealand, he might’ve crafted this funny slaughterfest as part of his early work. A bunch of self-involved members of an artists’ collective dream up a plan to murder a hapless victim in pursuit of a grant, but their plan backfires in a most splatter-filled way. The movie loses a bit of steam when it leans towards horror over comedy, but Chris Sharp carries the film through the rough parts in a mostly silent part as the dorky but resourceful victim. Most of “Murder Party”‘s jokes hit their mark, and anyone who’s ridden the L or the G train on Halloween (or any other night) will recognize how close these hipster parodies are to their real-life counterparts – now that’s scary.Best reason to fear wool”Black Sheep”dir. Jonathan KingSpeaking of Peter Jackson, Jonathan King might be the heir to the throne. Jackson famously got his start helming zombie films on the cheap in his native New Zealand, and King followed suit with a Kiwi-specific twist. “Black Sheep” features man-eating, zombie sheep tearing across the countryside in hilarious and horrifying style. In a country where sheep outnumber people 12 to one, this is a frightening prospect indeed. Baaaa!Best rock porn”First Ascent” (“Black Canyon” segment)dir. Peter MortimerPeter Mortimer follows several climbers as they attempt first ascents up Colorado’s stunning and intimidating Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Climbers brave rotten bands of pegmatite rock, loose holds and ticks to tackle rough, committing routes that shame Yosemite. Included is an interesting segment on how climbers and rangers team up to save a life during a climbing accident in the Black Canyon.Best short but sweet”IAS: A Search For Hope”dir. Paul BartholomewIn this hilarious short, Paul Bartholomew plays Peter O’Neil, a respected theater actor who moves to Los Angeles only to become afflicted with IAS: Idiot Actor’s Syndrome. The short follows O’Neil’s therapy at the Actors Institute for Quality Control, where he’s put through a barrage of comic shock treatments to regain his true acting self. “The Office”‘s Rainn Wilson drops by for a funny one-scene cameo.Best crazy Coloradan”Free Lisl”

dir. Wayne EwingDuring the last years of Hunter S. Thompson’s life, he dedicated himself to freeing Lisl Auman from a life sentence in prison. He wrote articles for Vanity Fair and even staged a rally on the Capitol steps in Denver. The film chronicles Thompson’s fight on behalf of Auman, culminating in her release two weeks after his suicide. The late, great Warren Zevon makes a standout appearance, performing “Lawyers, Guns & Money” during the Denver rally.Most harrowing wartime documentaries”No Unwounded Soldiers” and “When Adnan Comes Home”dirs. Rebecca L. Abbott and Andrew BerensTwo films analyze the psychological and physical damage of war through wildly divergent perspectives. “Soldiers” examines the terrors that linger with war veterans through a veteran’s theater group, where war vets gain relief by acting out scenes that touch on the psychological scars they deal with every day. It’s fascinating to watch these untrained veterans out-act any Hollywood thespian by drawing on life-and-death combat experiences. “Adnan” examines the life of 16-year-old Adnan Ghazi, an Iraqi arrested under occupation for stealing two meters of electric cable. After being beaten and then imprisoned for two months, Adnan was severely burned in a botched prison escape attempt by other inmates. The film follows Adnan’s desperate road to recovery and reconcilliation with his family. While not for the weak of heart, “Adnan” is ultimately a withering but hopeful portrayal of a family trying to make sense of itself when their world is turned upside down by war.Best good performance in a sea of bad”The Fifth”dir. Ryan Levin”Scrubs”‘ Sam Lloyd plays the fifth member of a poker game who just happens to be a serial killer. All the other members of the poker game are high-school production broad and way cheesy, but Lloyd injects his bumbling everyman humor and charm into the paradoxically sadistic and mild-mannered Ken.==========The Ladies’ sayHerewith, the ladies of the A&E department provide their take on their favorite films”The Third Monday in October”dir. Vanessa RothWho would of thought reliving those middle school days could be so much fun?”The Third Monday in October,” a documentary by Vanessa Roth, follows eighth-grade students from four different schools, economic classes and parts of the country as they vie to lead student council as president. It’s all examined – the campaign, the speeches and final day when the winner is announced – in the midst of the 2004 presidential election.

The real hook of the film isn’t its political commentary, but its intimate portrait of classes and races in America. And after watching the film, it’s obvious how the two are intertwined. Your heart sinks for the candidates attending an inner-city school in San Francisco: A young son of Filipino immigrants knows nothing about running for president, giving a speech or making a poster, and the only person around to help him is a stressed out, mousy teacher. Yet still he gives the election his all, driven by the belief that America is a land of opportunity, and he tries hard not to cry when his campaign sign is ripped from the school walls.Cut to the middle school election in Marin County, Calif., one of the wealthiest counties in America: Here the kids feverishly debate the real presidential election, mimicking their parents’ dinner table political arguments. There’s a girl who admits she’ll receive votes because she’s pretty, and a class clown who earns laughs by making fun of the crossing guard in his speech. And like the nation’s election, Marin County’s outcome seems to be predetermined – Sam, the most popular kid, has it in the bag. There are also the kids that defy race and politics and who function in the film as just pure catty adolescents, like the cheerleaders in Atlanta who are all running against each other. That variety makes the film so enjoyable; anyone can relate to at least one of the stories being told. There’s even a glimmer of hope for liberals watching the film: an Austin, Texas, charter school clearly produces some bright and defiant young politicians right in the heart of Bush country. Ironically, it wasn’t the brightest kid who won this election, but the boy who marketed himself as “the average guy.”Sounds like a campaign I’ve heard before.- Cassie Pence”The Entrepreneur”dir. Jonathan BricklinThis movie portrait of Malcolm Bricklin – the eccentric entrepreneur that started Subaru of America 40 years ago – follows his wild plan to bring Chinese cars to the American market. The 60-something fights for his dream as if he knows it might be his last hurrah, but don’t underestimate his abilities: He managed to make Yugo successful for the first few years of its run, before ridicule and falling standards tore it down. Bricklin’s son, Jonathan, was granted exclusive access to super-private meetings with Chinese automobile execs and investors as Bricklin strove to put together the biggest business venture of his career. This film serves as both a crash course in capitalism and a look at an old-fashioned entrepreneur whose theatrical antics are sometimes tantamount to that of a snake-oil salesman. At one point, he starts shedding his clothes in an attempt to “show the real” Malcolm Bricklin to a cadre of unsmiling, uptight Chinese execs. The intimate details of multi-million-dollar business deals might seem more snooze-worthy than film-festival-must-see, but this film sucks you in by the sheer force of Bricklin’s firecracker charisma and drive. As he lays it all on the line for his dream, you’ll find yourself reluctantly rooting for the crazy car man that could.- Caramie Schnell==========Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

ThursdayCascade Theater (35 mm and digital)7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. – “Snow Cake”Crossroads Theater (digital)8 p.m. – “The Third Monday in October”FridayCascade Theater (35 mm and digital)11:15 a.m. – “Private Property”1:45 p.m. – “Free Lisl” 80 minutes Q&A4:05 p.m. – “Snow Cake”6:50 p.m. – “Knocked Up9:30 p.m. – “Knocked Up”Cascade Theater (digital)11:30 a.m. – Student Films: “Red Baloon,” “Rad Racers,” “Spirit Child,” “Death Sandwich” and Q&A session1 p.m. – Shorts: “Vartan LLP,” “Snow Cake” “Tell-Tale” “Oscar Wilde Can Keep His Quotes” and “The Night Before Christmas”2:55 p.m. – “Military Intelligence & You”5:15 p.m. – “Crime Fiction”7:40 p.m. – “Murder Party”Crossroads Theater (digital 1)11 a.m. – Oscar shorts: “The Savior,” “The Little Matchgirl,” “Recycled Life” and Q&A session12:45 p.m. – Oscar shorts: “Eramos Pocos,” Binta and the Grand Idea” and “West Bank Story.”2:20 p.m. – “Sinner” Q&A4:30 p.m. – “No Unwounded Solders”6:40 p.m. – “Daydreamer”8:45 p.m. “Two Tickets to Paradise”Crossroads Theater (digital 2)10 a.m. – Short Screenplay Reading “Shylock 35” and Q&A11:30 a.m. – “Ashley Judd and Youth AIDS”1:15 p.m. – Shorts: “The Run,” “Kemo Sabe,” “Palooka,” “Repetition (in Variation),” “Scarlett Letters” and Q&A3 p.m. – “Pipe Dream”6:55 p.m. “The Third Monday in October”9:05 p.m. “Do It For Johnny”The Club3 p.m. – Student Films: “Save Me,” “Somewhere in the City,” “Just,” and “Thomas in Bloom”4:15 p.m. – Shorts: “Tommy the Kid,” “Greeting from Earth,” “Alive and Well,” and “Transgressions.”SaturdayCascade Theater (35 mm)11 a.m. – Shorts: “Snips and Snails,” “The Frank Andersen,” “The knife Grinder’s Tale,” “The Fifth,” “Why Not,” “Past Imperfect” and Q&A session1:05 p.m. – “Black Sheep”3 p.m. – “Private Property”5:15 p.m. – Oscar shorts: “The Savior,” “The Little Matchgirl” and “Reclyled Life” and Q&A session7 p.m. – “Red Road” and Awards Ceremony10 p.m. – “Red Road”Cascade Theater (digital)11:30 a.m. – Student Films: “Save Me,” “Somewhere in the City,” “Just,” and “Thomas in Bloom”1:30 p.m. – Shorts: “Tommy the Kid,” “Greeting from Earth,” “Alive and Well,” and “Transgressions.”3:30 p.m. – Shorts: “Forward,” “The Wine Bar,” “Bird Fan,” “AWOL,” “IAS” and Q&A session5:30 p.m. – “Murder Party” and Q&A session7:50 p.m. – “Free Lisi”10:15 p.m. – “Them”Crossroads Theater (digital 1)11:30 a.m. – “First Ascent” and Q&A session1:50 p.m. “No Unwounded Soldiers” and Q&A session4:10 p.m. – “The Entrepreneur” and Q&A session6:40 p.m. – “The Third Monday in October”9:15 p.m. – “Do It For Johnny”Crossroads Theater (digital 2)10 a.m. – Feature screenplay reading: “With Kind Regards from Kindergarten”11:15 a.m. – “Everything’s Cool”1:15 p.m. – Oscar shorts: “Eramos Pocos,” “Binata and the Grand Idea,” and “West Bank Story”2:45 p.m. – “Daydreamer” and Q&A session5 p.m. – “Two Tickets to Paradise” and Q&A session7:15 p.m. – “Crunch,” “Hoot in the Hole” and Q&A session9:30 p.m. – “Shelter From the Storm” and Q&A sessionThe Club3 p.m. – Student Films: “Red Baloon,” “Rad Racers,” “Spirit Child,” “Death Sandwich”4 p.m. – Shorts: “The Run,” “Kemo Sabe,” “Palooka,” “Repetition (in Variation),” “Scarlett Letters”SundayCascade Theater (35 mm and digital)10:45 a.m. – “Military Intelligence and You”12:35 p.m. – “Sinner”2:45 p.m. – “Crime Fiction”4:40 p.m. – “Red Road”7 p.m. – “First Ascent”Cascade Theater (digital)11 a.m. – Shorts: “Vartan LLP,” “Snow Cake” “Tell-Tale” “Oscar Wilde Can Keep His Quotes” and “The Night Before Christmas”12:35 p.m. – Shorts: “Snips and Snails,” “The Frank Andersen,” “The knife Grinder’s Tale,” “The Fifth,” “Why Not,” “Past Imperfect”2:15 p.m. – Shorts: “Tommy the Kid,” “Greeting from Earth,” “Alive and Well,” and “Transgressions.”3:50 p.m. – Shorts: “Forward,” “The Wine Bar,” “Bird Fan,” “AWOL”5:30 p.m. – “Black Sheep”Crossroads Theater (digital 1)11:15 a.m. – TBA: Best Studen Film Award Winner12:45 p.m. – TBA: Best Documentary Film Award Winner2:45 p.m. – TBA: Best Short Film Award Winner4:20 p.m. TBA: Best Feature Film Award Winner6:20 ;.m. – TBACrossroads Theater (digital 2)11 a.m. – Shorts: “The Run,” “Kemo Sabe,” “Palooka,” “Repetition (in Variation),” “Scarlett Letters”1 p.m. – “Shelter from the Storm”3 p.m. – “Crunch” and “Hoot in the Hole”4:50 p.m. – “When Adnan Comes Home”6:50 p.m. – “The Entrepreneur”The Club3 p.m. – “Pipe Dream”4:10 p.m. – Shorts: “Vartan LLP,” “Snow Cake” “Tell-Tale” “Oscar Wilde Can Keep His Quotes” and “The Night Before Christmas”


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