Monday, November 30, 2009

It'll Come to Us Special Feature: Our Honeymoon Pictures

With every column that I write each week, there is so much extra information that winds up on the cutting room floor. After recently plowing through Bill Simmons 700 page Book of Basketball, I loved his use of footnotes and a light bulb went off over my head that I could implement that same kind of tool here at So from now on, a new column will be posted on Mondays at that will include a link to this site for additional footnotes, pictures, and other special features (it will be like a fully enhanced DVD!).

To kick this concept off, here are some pictures of my Wife in Orlando last week (with more to come in the next few days).


Here is our beautiful resort in Orlando:

Here I am in front of NBA City at Universal's City Walk:

Me with the dolorean they used in the Back to the Future movies at Universal Studios (one of the happiest moments in my life):

Grabbing a slushie at The Simpsons' Kwik-E-Mart:

My Wife and I about to venture into Jurassic Park:

Me and my boy Curious George (I have no idea what he is doing here):

Us at Epcot (with the giant golf ball behind us):

I was NOT amused in the Morocco village at Epcot:

It'll Come to Us

Ok. I’m going to be upfront with you now. This one probably isn’t going to be the usual laugh-riot that you’re used to from me on Mondays; but just hear me out before you go running for Drew’s or Ed’s newest cartoon.

I just got back from my honeymoon at Disney World in Florida, and I had 18 different column ideas about the trip. I was going to rant and rave about how much I hate flying, the long lines we experienced every day at the theme parks, and how bad the humidity was in Orlando in November; but none of it felt quite right.

I try to keep these columns light and (hopefully) somewhat humorous to start your week off with a smile. But more important than trying to be funny, at the end of the day I’m just writing about the nuances of this life that we’re all living.

I couldn’t escape one of those nuances this past week.

Last Tuesday my parents (who live in Virginia) drove to my Wife’s parents (who live in Atlanta) and they all drove to Orlando on Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving Day with my Wife and I on Thursday (got that?).

I know it might sound crazy that we invited our parents down for part of our honeymoon, but there were some external factors at play in this particular situation. (1) We got married in August. If we had gotten married last weekend, I don’t think we would have wanted to see anyone this past week, but three months in, we’re already marriage pros so it wasn’t as big of a deal. (2) Now that we live in Denver, we only get to see our families a few times a year, so we’re going to try to make it work whenever it’s humanly possible.

Besides, it would have felt bizarre to be alone on Thanksgiving Day (it was already strange enough that I was wearing shorts the whole week).

It was that second point that has really hit home for me over the past few days. I love my parents. I miss them dearly but for some reason, I knew I had to leave Virginia when I did last January.

Being around my folks for a quick 24 hours stirred some new thoughts around in my old noggin and (in typical Josh fashion) I had to over analyze them to death. I told my wife on Saturday morning that I feel guilty for how happy I am that we live in Denver because it has come at the price of creating a sizable distance (both literally and figuratively) between some of our most important relationships.

But here’s the catch: despite those close relationships, I know I’d be miserable within a week if we moved back to Virginia tomorrow.

Sure there’d be a happy reunion but then we would all go about our lives and eventually ease back into taking each other for granted (unintentionally of course) because you can’t miss what you already have.

I miss home because I’m not there.

I can’t help but thinking about Michael Jordan in all of this (stay with me!). The media and basketball fans were outraged when completely obliterated everyone he could think of in his Hall of Fame induction speech this past summer. I didn’t blink an eye though because that’s who Jordan was and is and will always be.

We’ve all heard the legendary stories about his hyper-competitiveness during his playing career, why did anyone think he was going to slow down after retirement? We love that he is the greatest ever but we still expect him to be cordial and gracious? That’s an impossible double standard because he had to be that way to be the dominant player he was. He couldn't just leave that mentality on the court, it had to consume him.

Basically, he understood that he had to sacrifice human relationships to be the best. That's why there will never be another one like him

Not that I’m comparing myself to Jordan in any walk of life, but I had to make certain sacrifices to live in a city like this where I could write a column like this for a credible website like this.

I get that concept now.

I knew it was a mistake the minute I did it, but the afternoon we got back home after the honeymoon, I threw Meet Joe Black into the DVD player (because a story about death is always a good idea). That movie is a Top 10 All Time Favorite for me (maybe Top 5… maybe even Top 3) and I thought it might help me find some perspective.

I really wasn’t that sad about saying goodbye to my parents on Friday morning when they left Orlando until we hugged and I said, “It won’t be that long. We’ll see you again in… (gulp)… May?”

That’s when reality hit. Depending on how long we stay in Denver, I may only see my folks once or twice a year for the foreseeable future.

I hadn’t quite thought that one through up until that moment.

It helps that my parents genuinely support how much I love living here (they were only ones from their respective families to leave the area in which they grew up, so they get my gypsy spirit that I obviously got from them), but it doesn’t make it any easier.

That’s why I needed to go to Joe Black. Even though I’ve seen the movie a kazillion times before, the very end of the film stood out this time like never before (and I don’t care if I’m spoiling the ending to anyone who’s never seen the movie. It came out in 1998. You had plenty of time).

Susan is understandably crushed about losing her father, but the life she has been looking for – and here’s my point: more importantly, it was the life her father wanted for her regardless of him being around or not – comes walking over the bridge in the form of the man she met at the coffee shop at the beginning of the movie.

That’s where my Wife and I are now. We have no clue what we’re doing out here most of the time, but we are creating a life together in a town that feels like home with a network of love and support from friends and family that are always there for us even if they aren’t always here.

Susan: What do we do now?

Man from the Coffee Shop: It’ll come to us.

Works for me.

*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at

Monday, November 23, 2009

He's Making a List...

My Wife and I finally got to take our honeymoon this week, so I dug into the archives for one of my all time favorites (from December 2006) to help kick off the holiday season. I know it's a little early for a Christmas column and I even have a strict rule that any Christmas festivities (i.e. music, movies, decorations, etc.) cannot start until the day after Thanksgiving – despite what many department stores will try to tell you – but I really wanted to get this one posted this year as well as spend some quality time with my new bride (I'm sure you can understand). I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving this week and I’ll be back next Monday, rested and refreshed, with a brand new column.

I love "To Do lists.

Seriously, there is nothing more thrilling to me than getting up in the morning, pulling out a sheet of paper and listing all of the things I have to get done that day.

I don't get out much.

It wasn't until recently that I started making daily To Do lists. It just started getting to the point where I was forgetting to do "borderline-important" to "legitimately-important" things so I figured I needed some help. And I've gotten so into it, that I now write things down that there is no way I would actually ever forget to do just to make the list look longer and fuller; stuff like, "Shower" or "Put on clothes" or "Drive to store".

Apparently I'm in serious jeopardy of one day wandering out of my house dirty, unclothed, and trying to walk to the store because I forgot to remind myself to do those things.

I probably need something of the medicinal variety more than I need a list.

But what is even more exciting than making the list is actually getting to cross something off when I get it done.

Goosebump City, baby!

With the holiday season here and all the extra running and events and parties that come with it, my lists have gotten bigger and bigger and that much more exciting to navigate through.

Like I said, I don't get out much.

One of the things on my list recently has been "Christmas Shopping" and I'm proud to say that this year was the earliest I have ever been done with my shopping in my life.

It came at a price though.

I have to preface this entire story with the fact that I pride myself on always being aware of my surroundings because I hate feeling disoriented or lost. When I walk into a new store, I do a quick scan of the entire place so that I know where everything is and where to go get it. I'm also very aware of my general social behavior, as I hate to be an inconvenience to anyone else around me or look like I don't know what I'm doing.

Unfortunately I’m beginning to realize that most Americans don’t seem to be trying as hard as I am and appear very content in their ignorance.

They say it's bliss!

Recently I was in a local one-stop shopping store to get my dad a DVD he wanted (the very last gift on my list!) and went right to the department that had the item I was looking for. And I, knowing that there was a check-out stand in that particular department, even took the time to pick up a few other items along the way to avoid back-tracking.

I got my other stuff, got dad’s DVD and turned to get in the check-out line when this random woman (probably in her 50's) came out of nowhere and stood right in front of me. The only thing was that I couldn't really tell if she was in line or not because she kept teetering back and forth with a bewildered look on her face.

I was just about to ask her if she was actually in line when she called out for "Tim".

Just then, a disheveled, overweight man in his mid-to-late 30's, appeared with an even more bewildered look on his face.

"Do they have the movie, Braveheart here?" the woman asked.

"The movie, Braveheart?" Tim replied dully.

"Yeah, the movie, Braveheart," she responded just as dully.

"I don't know." Tim answered.

"Well, go look for the movie, Braveheart," the woman ordered.

Two things really jumped out about this little one-act that was unraveling in front of me: (1) the use of the phrase, "the movie, Braveheart" was surprisingly high and on the rise and, (2) since I knew where the DVDs were located, it irritated me beyond my functioning capabilities that Tim was now heading into the OPPOSITE direction on his quest.

As Tim meandered aimlessly into the televisions and DVD players, the woman decided to enlist the help of the young woman who was working the check-out stand.

"Excuse me, do you carry the movie, Braveheart?" the woman asked.

"The movie, Braveheart?" the cashier responded.

"Yeah, the movie, Braveheart," she answered.


"Hmm… let me check," the cashier said. "Lateisha!" she called out, "Do we carry the movie, Braveheart?"

After a few seconds the smaller cashier, Lateisha, came waddling out of one of the aisles and stood there thinking for a moment.

"The movie, Braveheart?" she asked.

"Yeah, the movie, Braveheart," the first cashier responded.

At this point I cannot tell you how hard I began praying for a Texas-sized meteor to hit the store just to put us all out of our collective misery.

I was finally able to check-out and exit the store with what was left of my sanity. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this particular store does not carry the movie, Braveheart.

But that was it, picking up that present for my dad was the last thing to do on my list and it felt really good to cross it off and just go home to my own personal universe that already has all the excitement I can handle.

Wait, that wasn't the last thing on my list… I just remembered one more:

"Wish everyone a happy Christmas season!"


Ahhh… What a feeling.

*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

32nd Annual Denver Film Festival Recap

As I said a couple of weeks ago, covering this year’s Starz Denver Film Festival was a huge honor; I just didn’t realize how cool it would actually be. I saw a lot of interesting films that I normally wouldn’t have, met a lot of new people (both from the festival and from the local media) and – as a bonus byproduct – explored Denver a little more.

Here are a few highlights:


Before the festival got started, a lot of the filmmakers walked the red (it was actually blue) carpet out in front of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and answered questions from the media. Two things instantly jumped out to me:

1. I don’t care who is walking, the red carpet walk will always be way cool. You could the most famous person on the planet or some average schmo whom no one has ever heard of and it would be a sweet experience to witness. I now want to walk a red carpet before I get to work every morning or when I get back home at night. I’m legitimately regretting not having a red carpet before my wedding this past August because it just makes any event feel bigger.

2. I’m sure movie stars like Brad Pitt or Scarlett Jo get tired of red carpets, but the directors and producers who walked here seemed genuinely stoked to be there. From what I saw, they were all very gracious and answered the same questions over and over and over again and never lost the excitement. I’m sure there’s nothing better than THAT moment if you’ve never gotten to do it, and a lot of them seemed to actually have the presence of mind to soak it all in.


The one film that stood out above the rest for me personally was Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire (I’m sure you’ve heard of it, even if the title doesn’t sound familiar). It’s even getting a lot of Academy Award buzz, and I would have to say deservedly so. Don’t get me wrong, it was brutal to watch. I’m a comedy guy and really only like a dramatic piece when it has some redeeming quality to it. I can’t say that Precious doesn’t have that quality, but you are exhausted by the time you get there. Every time Precious’ mom was on the screen (portrayed brilliantly by comedian Mo’Nique), I was mortified. She was like Heath Ledger’s Joker in a way because she wasn’t a villain in the traditional sense. A great villain is one who acts and reacts based on previous life experiences (not greed as in a silly action movie). The truly scary thing about Mo’Nique’s performance is that she always somehow topped the vilest thing I thought she could do in any given moment. She still makes me shudder. Precious is one of those movies that I’m glad I saw but never want to see again (it should be mandatory for every silver spoon, preppy rich kid to be forced to watch this movie before he or she graduates from college, however). There is a short list of movies I’ve seen that force me to think about their meaning from time to time; Precious is already one of them.


On the first Friday night of the festival, I battled the snow to attend the Ed Harris event at the King Center on the Auraria Campus (most people know Harris from Pollock, The Hours, or his turn as John Glenn in The Right Stuff – I will always remember him as the main bad guy from The Rock, which starred Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery). At this event, Harris was presented with the festival’s 2009 Mayor’s Career Achievement Award. The festival showed a highlight reel of his incredible career, and then Harris sat on stage and answered questions from host (and Harris’ friend) Robert Knott and from the audience. Going into it, I was thinking it was going to be like one of those Inside the Actor’s Studio things, but Harris was so relaxed that the atmosphere quickly turned comfortably casual, and after a while it was like conversing with an old friend. Being the nerd that I am, I went home and looked Harris up on his page. What an impressive career. He reminds me of NBA journeyman Robert Horry in that (other than Pollock) he never did too much on his own but he makes your team so much better. Harris makes every movie he’s in 12 percent better and more credible – and yes, that includes The Rock.

Did you get to see any films or attend any of the festival events? If so, which ones stuck out for you? Feel free to comment below as I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. Seeing how this was my first time covering the festival, I can’t tell you if it was better or worse than past years, but all I know is that I hope I get the opportunity to do it again.

*This recap can also be found at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jesse Gray's "Star Trek" DVD Review

As a prequel, Star Trek manages to do in one film what the three latest Star Wars movies could not: create a solid connection between the past and future, and flesh out its main characters in a way that makes you want to find out what happens to them later on.

To be fair, Star Wars did have some disadvantages from the get-go. The lead characters first meet in Episode IV, so there’s no way to show them interacting before then, and the action is scattered across a galaxy. In Star Trek, the adventures pretty much focus on the crew of a single starship, so it’s easier to bring more familiar faces together in a recognizable setting. There is also the fact that Star Wars is more linear in its storytelling while Star Trek is more episodic; it’s easier to make a prequel when there are fewer plot parameters to work with.

Those setbacks aside, Star Trek just goes to greater lengths to be a story in its own right, while also being a believable prelude to the stories that follow. Some of the elements are subtle production-oriented details, such as choosing to forsake the digital craze and shoot the movie on film. The Star Wars prequels were shot digital in HD and then transferred to film, whereas Star Trek was shot in the classical way. Also, the original Star Trek used tangible models and locations, and Abrams tried his best to use real props and settings as often as he could when making the prequel. The Star Wars prequels were made when CGI was all the rage (and overused), and so digitizing as many things as possible was the way to go. There is a difference between using a green screen and having the real thing, and Star Trek does a better job of melding the technological differences from a production standpoint.

The bulk of the improvements aren’t as subtle. First, Star Trek introduces its main characters at the right time; Kirk is in his twenties and on the brink of becoming who and what we all know him to be. In Star Wars, the main character, Anakin, is a child, and doesn’t become remotely interesting until the third film. Because of this awkward starting point, the audience has to be introduced to a slew of new characters so that the story can be moved along with any kind of effect.

Another difference between the prequels is the fact that Kirk and the crew also grow noticeably as people through the story, changing because of the actions they choose. Whereas in Star Wars, Anakin and the Jedi are stagnant; time passes and action moves the story along, but the characters don’t seem to be affected by it. Anakin is rebellious and whiny, the Jedi council is aloof and removed, and Obi-Wan seems to be the only one trying to get anything done.

Star Trek also seems to handle the technological gap better than Star Wars. The Enterprise is modified inside and out, as are the uniforms, but the changes don’t jar you from the story. In Star Wars, the ships and equipment look far newer and more advanced in the prequels than in the films that are supposed to follow. There is a hazy point where the technology of the real world has to parallel the technology of the film, and Star Trek just seems to find that balance better.

Ironically enough, Abrams mentioned how he wanted his film to mimic the original Star Wars movies in terms of the plot and pacing; he knew that the classic Star Trek style might fail to reach a new audience if he didn’t modify its presentation.

Apparently Abrams also learned what not to mimic by watching the Star Wars prequels, and so was able to create a fitting preamble to a successful franchise.


Your Cup O’ Tea:
If you enjoyed Star Trek the series, you’ll probably find this an enjoyable romp. It’s relatively clean in terms of language and sexual content; it doesn’t boldly go where no other Trek film has gone before in terms of an escalation in violence, gore, nudity or vulgarity. Not a bad pick for youngsters; if they could handle the new Star Wars films, they could handle this. It’s not terribly complex in terms of plot, and the story is relatively straight-forward. It’s an easy watch with a suitable amount of action to keep you engaged.

Steer Clear:
If you didn’t enjoy Star Trek in any of its earlier forms (tv shows and movies), or if you like more of the horror-ish flicks in the Sci-Fi genre like Alien, Predator, Event Horizon, etc..,

Nothing New Under the Sun:
It’s very much akin to it’s Star Trek ancestors, and it has time-travel elements similar to Back to the Future, Time Machine, etc.., The movie doesn’t revolve around time-travel, but its premise is based around it. Think of an amalgam of all the Star Trek shows but with higher production values and faster pacing.

Buy or Rent:
RENT. There just aren’t enough bonus features to necessitate a purchase; you can enjoy all the material (commentary included) in under three hours. The Blu-ray version would be worth buying, but for those interested in the standard definition version, you can get everything you want in a rental. The features are good, but there’s not nearly enough volume. Unless you want to own the movie because of the film itself, save some money and visit a RedBox.


-Scene Selection

-Language Selection

-Commentary with JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, and Robert Orci (Director, Producer, Writers, Executive Producers)

-A New Vision:
Approx 19.5 minutes. This feature examines the overall vision and filmmaking philosophy of the film rather than getting into detail about casting, plot, etc.., The characters and story aren’t touched on at all, but there is a lot of discussion about the project itself and what elements were important in bringing a new Trek film to the screen. Abrams’ approach to special effects seems to be similar to that of Peter Jackson’s (Lord of the Rings), and there is some sleight of hand that went into creating some of the shots that hails back to the pre-computerized days of cinema. While this feature seems to graze the surface of what was clearly a well-thought-out piece of work, it is a solid piece of behind-the-scenes exploration with very little time spent on the obligatory praise of the personnel involved.
DUH! FACTOR: 1 out of 10

-Gag Reel:
Approx 6 minutes. It’s rare to find a serious Sci-Fi movie that’s willing to show a comical side, but Trek actually makes a production out of it. The feature starts off with full-blown picture credits (complete with the original Star Trek theme), and maintains a level of quality that almost seems wasted on a gag reel. Different segments are accompanied by different musical backdrops that enhance the humor, and the types of bloopers are the classic missed lines and physical screw-ups reminiscent of “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes”. There’s even a short cut of a scene where Chris Pine (Kirk) and Zachary Quinto (Spock) run their lines with a Scottish brogue.

Transformers 2, GI Joe, Fringe (TV series), Star Trek D-A-C (video game)

-Woulda Been Nice:
If the copious amount of features on the Blu-ray release were available on the standard DVD. The two-disc version has no extra bonus features—it only adds a digital-copy-disc. It’s always nice to have more of a good thing.

- Jesse Gray

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mahler's Monday's: I'm Leaving on that Evening Light Rail to Denver

Ever since I can remember, I've always loved trains.

I can't really explain the appeal but I'm pretty sure I inherited the passion from my dad, a train fanatic. As a kid I always wanted to have a job where I had to ride a train into the city. You know, like Don Draper, only without the chain smoking and infidelities. Unfortunately for me, interstate developments have made my current job too convenient to access by car even if Denver had a train running from the city to the suburbs.

But recently I discovered the full potential of the city's transportation system's hidden gem: the light rail.

Last week, I had to get from my office in the Tech Center to downtown to cover the 32nd Annual Starz Denver Film Festival. I got off work at 5:00 p.m. and had to be at the festival’s opening event by six. Previous efforts to travel downtown during that time of rush hour concerned me and I was expressing my apprehensions when a couple of co-workers suggested catching the light rail at the station right next to our office building.

I looked online and sure enough, there was a train leaving right after five that would put me downtown right before six. I wouldn't have to hassle with traffic or parking (and the cost of the train ticket was comparable, if not cheaper, than most parking options in the city).

I guess to be fair, the light rail isn't technically a train. But it is a group of connected cars that run on a track - like a train, so that's enough for me. And I loved the whole experience. I was a fedora and a trench coat away from meeting Don and Roger for drinks at The Oak Bar. I grew up with the subway systems of Washington, D.C. and New York City, but I like the Denver light rail better. I like being above ground where you can see the city as you approach.

Like a train.

The only oddity about the light rail to me is the ticket situation. On most transportation systems I've been on, you typically buy a ticket and either hand it to someone or stick it into a machine or gate to validate and gain access to get through.

That's not the case on the light rail.

You buy your ticket at the station and then... just get on the train. No one or no thing is there to stop you or check your ticket; which I'm taking to mean that you don't necessarily need a ticket to ride. Occasionally there will be uniformed train cops on the cars that will walk by and ask to see your ticket, just like an old train conductor, but they're not always present. If they are and you don't have a light rail ticket, they will write you an actual ticket on the spot (not sure how much those run, but I can't imagine it's cheap).

This whole set-up is amazing to me. I have to give the Denver transportation department a ton of credit on this one. They've instituted an honor system that's basically the travel game edition of Russian Roulette. Do you pay the light rail ticket price upfront or risk getting caught?

With how ridged and regulated the world has become these days, I'm stoked that something like this still exists.

Now don't think for a minute that I would ever try to take that chance. I'm so much of a goody-goody that I get nervous around those train cops even when I have a ticket. I'm always afraid that there will be something wrong with the ticket I bought and I'll get a real ticket.

Even when I do the something right, I get stressed that I'm doing something wrong.

Welcome to my brain.

There were no train cops on my ride downtown that night (whew!) and there was a stop right on top of the venue I was going to for the festival. It couldn't have worked out any better.

Until I tried going home later that evening.

The light rail has five different lines that run from the city to various parts of the Denver suburbs (Lines C through H, but skipping G for some reason). I had rode the F Line from the Tech Center to downtown but as I was checking the schedule at the station, I could not find an F Line car running back to my office past 9:09 p.m.

It was now after 10 o'clock.

If I’m the type of person that gets anxious about getting into trouble even when I’m playing by the rules, take a guess at how quickly I hit the panic button when something’s actually going wrong.

(Since most of you Denver natives know how this turns out, feel free to start openly mocking me now.)

Thankfully, I was smart enough to just get on a train on another line and ride it to farthest station I could until it veered away from where I was headed. My heart started to race as we were blowing by other stops along the way. What was I going to do? Was I going to have to get a cab? Was my Wife going to have to come get me?

I felt like Keanu Reeves in “Speed”, only this time it was a runaway train.

Despite my freak out, I had the presence of mind to call my Wife and get her online to figure out where I was going to need a taxi, or where she was going to have to come get me, or where I would be stuck for the rest of my natural life (yes, my thoughts get that drastic). She, being more level-headed and calm than me, looked up all the times for all of the lines and noticed that the correct line picked back up at the station I was already headed towards.

Well. That was easy enough.

The next night went much smoother as I was an old pro by then. Now I want to ride the light rail as much as possible. I even looked up how much it would cost to get a monthly pass then I mapped out my plan to try and justify to my Wife why I need to leave the house earlier every morning, drive out of my way, and pay more.

I’m still working on that one.

*Check out a new column every Monday morning here and at

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just Added to the Mahler Must List

If you're bored at work, or school, or just boring in general, here is a great new site to check out that will help pass the time away. Hilarious!

Starz Denver Film Festival Information

The 32nd Annual Starz Denver Film Festival kicks off tonight and yours truly cannot wait for the festivities to begin.

Below is some key info and details about the Festival, including times, locations, cost, etc. Keep in mind that the films I've listed below are just the big events or special presentations - there will be plenty of other films showing (in additional to multiple panel discussions and other events) over the next 10 days, so be sure to check out the links at the bottom for complete listings

Feel free to reply to me here or contact me via e-mail at for any other questions. Hope to see you out there!


Opening Night
– Thursday November 12, 7:30 p.m.
Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
(Followed by the Opening Night Party at Suite Two Hundred 1427 Larimer Square)

Big Night – Saturday November 14, 7:30 p.m.
The Last Station
Film Premiere: $35 General Public/$30 DFS members

Closing Night – Saturday November 21, 7:30 p.m.
The Young Victoria
Film Premiere Only: $35 General Public/$30 DFS members
Film Premiere and Party: $55 General Public/$50 DFS members

All are at the King Center and are $13 for the General Public/$11 DFS members

- An Evening with Ed Harris
Friday November 13, 7:00 p.m.

- Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Friday, November 13, 9:30 p.m.

- PoliWood
Saturday, November 14, 2:00 p.m.

- Convention
Saturday, November 14, 4:30 p.m.

- Solitary Man
Saturday, November 14, 8:00 p.m.

- Happy Tears
Sunday, November 15, 12:30 p.m.

- Two Spirits
Saturday, November 21, 13:30 p.m.
Film Premiere and Party: $20 General Public/$15 DFS members

- American Faust: From Condi to Neo-Condi
Saturday, November 21, 4:00 p.m.

- Youth in Revolt
Sunday, November 22, 12:30 p.m.

-The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
Sunday, November 22, 7:00 p.m.


Denver Film Society members $10
General Public $12
Auraria Campus students/faculty $11
Groups of 10-20 $11
Groups of 20 or more $10

Special Presentations
General Public $13
Denver Film Society Members $11

Weekday Matinees
(Showtimes before 5:30 p.m.)
General Public $10
Auraria Campus students/faculty $10
Denver Film Society members $8



In person: Starz FilmCenter
Tuesday – Friday, 3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 2:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.


- Click here for all other FILMS

- Click here for all other PANEL and EVENT information

- Click here for VENUE listing

- Click here for PARKING information

- Click here for info on how to TRAVEL GREEN

- Click here for FESTIVAL POLICIES

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mahler's Mondays: Kicking Off the Starz Denver Film Festival

I've only been writing for INDenverTimes for a month now and my life is already 36% cooler. I have the weekly column that I've always dreamed about, I get to write about fantasy football on Fridays, and starting in December, I will be writing more about the ins-and-outs of what's going on in the television industry (believe me, I was doing all of this already. Now I just get to do it for a real website).

That's not to mention that after my Denim Dilemma column a few weeks ago, Lee Jeans contacted me and asked if I would try out their jeans if they sent me a few pairs... for free!

(So basically get ready for a string of new columns about other products I'm having "problems" with in the near future.)

But the coolest thing that has happened so far was an opportunity that presented itself the very first day I was posted on this site. I received an e-mail from a representative with the upcoming 32nd Annual Denver Film Festival asking if I, or anyone from the site, would be interested in the covering the event for INDenverTimes.

Since this was my first day and all, I immediately thought that the site would have someone that was better equipped for this kind of undertaking, so I forwarded the e-mail along to my editor. He responded saying the job was mine if I wanted it and I didn't think twice.

(For the rest of time, I will never know why the Film Festival representative contacted ME. In that first post, the only movie I mentioned was a quick Back to the Future: Part II reference and then proceeded to blab about cell phones and laptops. There wasn't anything in particular that was screaming, "I'm your guy!", but hey, I'll take it.)

Now in this moment, I felt like Big Shot Bob (three quick points: (1) sorry, but I'm still completely engrossed in Bill Simmons' Book of Basketball right now so expect a bunch of historical NBA references for the next few weeks. (2) Why NOT pay tribute to Robert Horry whenever possible? (3) As we move into the 2010s, can't we all just agree to replace "Mr. Big Shot" with "Big Shot Bob"? They both mean the exact same thing and giving Mr. Big Shot an actual name - "Bob" - just feels more 2010ish. Thoughts?). I started texting and calling all of my friends and family and in that moment, I felt totally justified for packing up the Camel back in January and moving to a brand new city with no real connections or a clue of what I was going to do once I got here.

But then a wave of terror crashed over me as I went to the Film Festival's website. I suddenly realized the magnitude of just how legit this festival is (I'm from a small town in Virginia, remember?) and more importantly, I had no earthly idea how to cover ANY film festival, let alone a prestigious one being held in one of the nation's top 25 largest cities.


I'm not going to lie, there was a little sweat, some dry heaves, and I may or may not have blacked out for a while (I honestly don't remember). But then I pulled it together and reminded myself that this is exactly why my Wife and I moved out here and this was the type of opportunity I've been chasing for the past few years.

Last week, I went to a Film Festival media-only event downtown to hopefully get some more information about the event and get a better idea of what I was getting myself into. I noticed a couple of obvious facts instantly. First of all, this Festival is going to be pretty cool and will feature some quality films that are getting some big-time buzz across the country (more on that tomorrow). Second, the local media seems to love this event, love covering this event, and love getting together to talk about this event.

Everyone was way friendly and one conversation really stood out to me. I was talking with Gil Whiteley from the Denver Daily News and Mile High Sports 1510AM and he said something I can honestly say I will never forget. He ended a particular thought with the statement, "films teach us how to act."

There are so many movies that are just used to entertain or escape, but every now and then you watch one that makes you feel like you actually learned something from it and are a better person because of the experience.

And that's what a good film can do.

You can learn something about yourself, your place in this world, or even the world around you. Obviously it would be ridiculous to base every life decision based on a movie, but it's not absurd to notice certain life lessons from a film here and there and put them into practice.

So that's what I want to do. I'm going to channel my best William Miller and figure out how to cover something a little bit bigger than me for all of you; and find the movies and the moments that teach us how to act.

We've all read event coverage before but I want to do something a little different. I'm going to tell you the stories that I experience but let me know what you want to know.

There are some big time movies playing at the Festival this year that will be released nationally in the next few months. Do you want to get the inside scoop on those if you are unable to attend the Festival? Do you want to know about the smaller independent films?

In the immortal words of Jerry Maguire, help me help you.

I'll be back tomorrow with more logistical info on the Festival (dates, times, places, etc.). The festivities kick off this Thursday (the 12th) and run through Sunday, November 22nd.

Feel free to post your thoughts and suggestions below or you can email me at Can't wait to hear from you and let's get this thing started...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"The League" Review

Since Paulie is out of town this weekend, I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you all in on a pleasant little surprise I’ve found recently. Combining two of my favorite things on the planet, television and fantasy football, the geniuses at the FX network have created a television show about fantasy football.

I heard about the idea for “The League” back in July (because I am a TV nerd and that's what I do during the summer) and thought it was just a concept to be hopefully developed later; so I have to give them credit for getting it together so quickly.

If you haven’t heard about or seen it yet, basically the show follows the lives of five friends who stay connected through fantasy football. They show does a solid job showcasing the different fantasy personalities that you always see in every fantasy league (more on that next week) but it is still trying to develop some well-rounded television characters (an absolute must on any new series).

The highlights from the pilot episode, “The Draft”, included the guys determining the order of their league draft by betting on kids in a sack race at a children’s party and two of the owners (who are also opposing lawyers) negotiating a fantasy-related trade by including a convict’s prison term as part of the deal – with the convict watching the entire process! The over-the-top, way too obsessive dynasty league I've been for the past six years suddenly felt tame in comparison. We've only ever had a threat of physical violence between owners.

The only negatives that I can find so far (beyond the somewhat disturbing sexual scene) are as follows:

(1) fantasy football changes so much during the course of the season that it can be difficult for a show to keep up since it has to adhere to a production schedule that is probably planned months in advance. Some of the fantasy references can feel a little forced – or even generic, and there’s really nothing they can do about that.

(2) Speaking of scheduling issues: FX is running “The League” right after one of their anchor shows, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” on Thursday nights at 10:30 p.m. Part of the reason I’ve always struggled to get into “Philadelphia” is that it is on the one TV night where I’m booked to the beginning to end of primetime. After I plow through the NBC comedy lineup, my wife takes over and watches “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” on DVR. I guess I could go watch it on our little TV in the bedroom, but the glory of HD has ruined me forever. I’d rather read a book than have to follow a show on the little TV (I’m a spoiled jerk, I know).

Other than, I could really get into this show. I do have a policy about not falling too hard to fast for a new series because I’m always afraid of it getting cancelled (I finally breathed a sigh of relief when “Community” got a full season pick-up order and I lived in fear the entire three year run of “Arrested Development”.

I have written countless times that men need something in common to maintain friendships. For some guys it’s cars, for others it’s computers. For me and my friends, it’s always been sports and now that I live 2,000 miles away from them, sports (and fantasy sports in particular) are keeping those bonds strong. Maybe it’s just a “right place, right time” kind of thing, but it’s cool to see a TV show tap into that.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Good Day and The Bad Day: Part II

(To read Part I, click here)

Ah, The Bad Day.

What makes The Bad Day so bad is the level of expectation. You typically expect things to break one way but The Bad Day takes you someplace worse. And it typically comes right on the heels of The Good Day, so you’re still riding that high and have farther to fall. Here’s the secret to The Bad Day: recognize it early, accept it, hold on for dear life and ride it out.

I knew it was The Bad Day the moment I woke up and glanced at my cell phone.

Even though, it was already assumed, I was expecting the official “You don’t have to come to work” text from my boss.

Key word there: “expecting”.

There was indeed a text from my boss, but it was not the one I was looking for. We had to be in work by 11:00 a.m and this development caused me to absolutely lose my mind. You see I have this problem were I keep wanting to use logic and reason in my everyday life and it gets me into trouble more often than not.

I just could not understand why we were sent home early on the non-bad weather day (Wednesday) if we had to come in at all on the scary-bad weather day (Thursday). My brain is still smoking from trying to figure this one out. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to work the full day on Wednesday than to come in at all on Thursday?

There I go again, trying to make sense of something.

My bad.

As I said yesterday, my Wife and I love the snow and partly came to Denver to see more of it. We just didn’t realize that we were expected to be out in it.

It legitimately took me a half hour just to dig my car out of the snow fortress that had been built around it. Oh, and I want to send special thanks out to the snow plow guy that came down our street to clear the road but shoveled more snow around my car.

I can’t use your clear road if I can’t get to my car, buddy.

There was more snow on the ground that morning than I have seen probably in the last 10 years combined. And since we don’t have a shovel yet (now at the top of our “To Get” list) I was literally using my hands and feet to throw and kick the snow off and around my car.

Once I had exhausted myself liberating my vehicle from its frozen cocoon, it was time for the real fun to begin.


Here’s a quick recap of the convo that took place between me and The Camel that morning:

Camel: Whatcha doin’?

Me: C’mon, we have to go to work?

Camel: Oh, so I’m taking you to the local bus station or something?

Me: No, we’re both going to the office?

Camel: What is the “we” business all of a sudden?

Me: It won’t be that bad, let’s go.

Camel: WON’T BE THAT BAD?! Open your eyes man! It’s like we’ve been hit by a frozen apocalypse. We have a better chance finding the rebel base on Hoth than we do of getting to your work. We’re gonna be eaten alive by that friggin’ snow monster from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer before we…

As I’m sure you can imagine, this went on for a while and most of it got to be unprintable.

Beyond the Camel’s apprehensions, I knew we were immediately in trouble by the color of the roads. Most roads in most of America are a dark grayish color right? Oh, what I would have given for dark grayish that morning.

Everything was white.

I felt like we had hoped into Doc Brown’s Delorean and had gone back to the prairie days of my neighborhood before there were roads.

Only this time, where we were going we did need roads.

I held on to my steering wheel for dear life as SUVs blew by me on what felt like an iced down Autobahn. When someone from my office told me I need to get an SUV if I’m going to stay in Colorado, it was all I could do to mention I’d be happy to as soon as our company supplied us with one or paid me more to get one; because other than going to work, there would never been another reason for me to need that type of vehicle.

I can’t complain too much, because our office decided to close down early again – this time at 4:00 p.m. So, tell me again why we had to…

Oh wait, I’m getting lightheaded.

After riding the I-25 slip and slide all the way back home, I limped back into our apartment just in time to see my beloved ball team get waxed in Game 2 of the World Series (I knew that was going to happen the moment I woke up. The karma had been irrevocably altered).

Like I said yesterday, The Good Day and The Bad Day usually happen close together to maintain the overall balance of life. If you ever find yourself in The Good Day, enjoy it for all it’s worth but brace for yourself for what lurks around the corner. Once you get stuck in The Bad Day, recognize it, accept it and know that it can’t get much worse.

I woke up last Friday, had a decent day at work, hung out with some new friends that night and kicked off a pretty decent weekend. It wasn't a great day or even The Good Day, it was just a good day. I’ve never been happier to see a six in my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Good Day and The Bad Day: Part I

If you asked the people around you to rank their day to day lives on a scale of one-to-10, my guess is that most would fall into the Jim Halpert four-to-six range. If you’re a few minutes late to work in the morning and everything backs up from there, it’s a four. If you hit that string of green lights and you’re favorite song comes on the radio, it’s a six.

That’s where most of us live our lives: in the middle.

Occasionally something really good will happen and your day will spike up to an eight or disaster will strike and you drop to a two (note: weddings, births, deaths, job loss, etc. are extremes that run off the chart – we’re talking about normal day-to-day operations, here).

But every so often, you’ll wander into that Michael Scott bizarro world and you’ll hit a ten or – heaven forbid – you’ll plummet to a zero. Like a Shareef appearance, they are extremely rare and you never know when they’re coming. The only conclusive fact that we’ve been able to determine is that those types of days usually happen close together as to maintain the overall balance of life.

Everyone has good days and everyone has bad days, but the ten and the zero deserve grander monikers. They are, respectively, The Good Day and The Bad Day.

And last week, I lived through both.

Ah, The Good Day.

What makes The Good Day so good is the lack of expectation. Too many times, we look forward to a day and it never seems to quite live up to the way we pictured it in our brains. Again, it's not about certain events you had planned going well, it's about things breaking for you in a way that you couldn't have imagined. That’s the secret of The Good Day: just let it come to you.

The start of last Wednesday felt like the start of any other day. I knew it had the potential to be a good one, but I was smart enough to temper my hopes early on. That Wednesday was the 10 year anniversary of the coolest thing I’ve ever done, I had tickets to the Nuggets season opener against Utah, and it was – most importantly – Game 1 of the World Series; featuring my favorite team of all time playing against the one sports franchise I despise most of all.

A pretty solid lineup to say the least, but I had to figure out a few things before I could start running around anointing it as The Good Day.

First, I had to get through work; which sometimes can be a breeze and other times can bring choppy waters. Then I had to figure out my viewing of the World Series in relation to the Nuggets game. The baseball game was slated to start at 6:00 p.m. (I love Mountain Standard Time) and the basketball game was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. My original plan was to head downtown after work to watch the Series at one of the sports bars right next to the Pepsi Center and then walk into the game if and when I felt comfortable with what was happening in the Bronx.

But then The Good Day gods smiled upon me and added a little bonus: snow. Growing up by the beach, I haven’t seen a whole lot of it in my lifetime. It’s actually another part of the reason why my Wife and I chose to move out here. We love snow.

The snow started accumulating so quickly on Wednesday, my office graciously let us go home early at 1:00 p.m. (and get paid for the rest of the day!). But now I had an interesting little dilemma: how was I going to kill five hours before the World Series/Nuggets night downtown. In a moment of inspiration, I e-mailed my Nuggets ticket agent and found out the team offers redemption nights if you can’t make it to one of the games that you have in your ticket plan. It just so happens that one of those redemption nights is going to be when the Nuggets play the Oklahoma City Kevin Durants and one of my favorite players in the association, Kevin Durant.

Done deal.

I hated missing opening night, but now I got to (A) go home and enjoy the snow, (B) watch the entire World Series game without feeling any pressure to miss any of it and (C) now I get to go see the Nugs play one of my favorite basketball players on the planet… for free!

I could feel The Good Day momentum mounting.

Later that night, my Wife almost had to administer life saving measures to me as my brain and body could not handle the euphoria of witnessing my favorite athlete in the universe, Chase Utley, hit not one but TWO home runs in Game 1 of the World Series. This then led to a successful negotiation process with my Wife to guarantee the right to name a future potential son Chase Mahler.

As I flipped back and forth between Cliff Lee put the finishing touches on an all-time World Series masterpiece and the Melo and the Nuggets taking it to the Jazz, I stretched out on my recliner and just basked in the glory of The Good Day.

We were supposed to get another foot or so of snow, so since we had been sent home early that day, I knew there was no chance of going to work on Thursday. As I got into bed, I didn’t even set an alarm. I peacefully drifted off to blissful slumber; having no comprehension of what lied in store for me just on the other side of the night:

The dreaded Bad Day...

(Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow!)

*Check out a new column every Monday morning, here and at