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Critics' choice

January 21, 2007


The gorgeous fable is called "Pan's Labyrinth." And writer-director Guillermo Del Toro's grim and glorious fairy tale about a little girl, a trickster faun and the evils of fascism set in Franco's Spain is as movie-magical as it is morally meaningful. The elegant feat of empathy is called "Letters From Iwo Jima" (in Japanese with English subtitles). But Clint Eastwood's follow-up to "Flags of Our Fathers" could have been called "Kuribayashi's Labyrinth." Ken Watanabe stars as the general who saw that Japan's best chance at the island from the U.S. onslaught was a maze of tunnels. Two acclaimed beauties grappling with warfare using astonishingly different styles means you can only go right this weekend. |Lisa Kennedy

Gospel Music

Music and architecture will merge in a benefit program titled "Angels in the Architecture." The Spirituals Project, a gospel group that explores the African-American spirituals tradition, will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday in the historic St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church, 2305 Gaylord St. The 1924 church recently was restored and renovated in part through a $100,000 grant from the State Historic Fund. Proceeds from this concert will benefit Historic Denver's Sacred Landmarks Preservation program. Tickets are $25 for the general public and $20 for Historic Denver members. For reservations call 303-534-5288, ext. 58, or send an e-mail to| Kyle MacMillan


"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," an underdog little musical about overachieving little kids, is funny as snot. And when you meet young William Barfeé, you will learn just how funny nasal mucus can be. It's an original, lovable and often laugh-out-loud-funny yarn about kids finding happiness in not always having to live up to adult expectations. The writing is witty, the ensemble impeccable and each performance is invigorated by the participation of four volunteer contestants from the audience. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday through Jan. 28 at the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis streets. $25-$65 (866-464-2626,, King Soopers stores).| John Moore


The estimable Marion Ross appears as Sally Field's mother, popping in on Nora's 60th-birthday celebration, on ABC's alluring "Brothers & Sisters," at 9 tonight on KMGH-Channel 7. The episode: "Something Ida This Way Comes."| Joanne Ostrow

Night Life

Upscale LoDo lounge 5 offers martinis, contemporary American cuisine and, now, a chance to mingle with your favorite X Games pros. The Larimer Square nightclub will help launch Aspen's extreme sports competition, which runs Jan. 25-28, by hosting many of the top athletes for a night of prepartying. Sweetening the deal is a fashion show by Octane and giveaways from Palmer Snowboards, Red Bull, Steamboat Ski Resort and the Broomfield Event Center. Wednesday, 1475 Lawrence St., Suite 150. 303-260-7505. 9 p.m. No cover.| John Wenzel

Popular Music

There's something special happening in Portland, Ore. It's not that the music coming out of the city shares a particular aesthetic, but bands as varied as The Decemberists, Norfolk & Western, The Shins, The Gossip and the Dandy Warhols are creating music whose influence has crisscrossed the country. Now Laura Gibson enters the picture. The 27-year-old is part folkie, part singer/songwriter and part indie rocker. Her recently released CD, "If You Come to Greet Me," is a lush recording that makes it obvious that her music comes straight from the heart. Gibson brings her show to the Hi-Dive on Tuesday; The Beebs, Jonathan Byerley and Hollyfelds open. Information:| Ricardo Baca

Visual Arts

Inspired by Francisco Goya's famous 19th-century series of prints, "Disasters of War," curator Simon Zalkind invited 25 regional and national artists to create updated takes on the same theme. Among the 22 who responded are Enrique Chagoya, Margaretta Gilboy, Susan Goldstein, John Hull and Bill Stockman. These new works will be on view Thursday through April 6 in the Singer Gallery at the Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 S. Dahlia St. A free opening reception is set for 6-9 p.m. Thursday. 303-316-6360 or| Kyle MacMillan


News of great documentary releases on DVD often gets lost in coverage of that week's big feature film arrivals. But as fans of "An Inconvenient Truth," "Shut Up and Sing," "Wordplay" or "Deliver Us From Evil" well know, our desire for heart-stopping drama and emotional filmmaking has been fulfilled many times over in recent years by documentary directors. Add to that list Marshall Curry's "Street Fight," released on DVD this month and well worth looking for. The 2006 Academy Award nominee for best documentary chronicles the outlandish defensive tactics of Newark, N.J., Mayor Sharpe James in trying to hang onto his job during the 2002 election. He was challenged by college football star and all-around good guy Cory Booker; the fact both of them were African-American didn't stop James from claiming Booker wasn't black enough to run the troubled city. James' henchmen kick Booker and Curry's camera out of all kinds of venues, even claiming that a public housing project is "private property" and therefore off-limits to campaigning. Curry shows how James treated all of Newark as his private property.| Michael Booth

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