CU DENVER ALUMNUS ‘PRELUDE’ TO INDEPENDENT MOVIES

The 1960s were a time of unparalleled social and political revolution, and thus, a revolution in cinema was unavoidable. BBS Productions was largely responsible for this shift in American films. To pay homage to the independent production company’s impact on the movie industry, Littleton’s Alamo Drafthouse plans to mix music with cinema, screening BBS films every Monday evening throughout the month of February.

Creative Director at the Alamo Drafthouse Steve Bessette is the mind who brought BBS films to the theater. “This series of films produced before, during, and at the end of the BBS Productions era from the late 1960s to the early 1970s are extremely important in culture, film history, and even filmmaking craft,” Bessette said.

BBS Productions was founded by Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner at a time when cinema sales were down and young audiences needed fresh material to bring them into the theater. More importantly, they needed a film culture that accurately reflected the changing times.

“The films are mind-blowing and freeing,” Bessette said. These words certainly exemplify the Alamo’s first showing in the series, the 1969 film Easy Rider. Directed by Dennis Hopper, this pioneering film documents the counterculture movement and all of the freedom, drugs, music, and conflict that came along with it.

The film is known for its groundbreaking soundtrack, so it is fitting that the Alamo welcomed denim-clad local rock band Jobless to the stage to play a few tracks before the screening. Jobless’ set included, of course, the featured track “Ballad Of Easy Rider,” which they played with purposeful guitar riffs and impassioned vocals.

The following Monday featured the film Five Easy Pieces. In it, Jack Nicholson plays a former pianist who rejects his upperclass upbringing for a life of transience and trailer parks. CU Denver newspaper alumnus and pianist Billy Overton played a lilting, moving set before this screening, including Chopin’s “Prelude,” a pivotal piece to the movie’s plot.

While the series is almost over, there remains a great deal of entertainment to be had. Feb. 15 will feature Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show, a film that critic Roger Ebert described as “above all an evocation of mood. It is about a town with no reason to exist, and people with no reason to live there. The only hope is in transgression.”

In Feb. 22’s showing, Bob Rafelson continues to explore the dark, stagnant aspects of American culture in The King Of Marvin Gardens. The series ends Feb. 29 with Hearts And Minds, a film that Bessette describes as “one of the most brutal documentaries about Vietnam ever made.”

There is no shortage of inspiration in the BBS series, even to audiences of 2016. Rich with existential confusion, cultural evolution, and deep emotional adversity, these films remind their audiences how simply unsimple life is. Endings are rarely happy and always complex, main characters lie, and life goes on whether or not a person is ready for it. Such is life, and such is the BBS film series.

Alamo Drafthouse

7301 S. Santa Fe Drive Unit 850

Littleton, CO

(720) 5884107

Website

 

—Mariah Taylor

Above: Music mixes with media at the Alamo Drafthouse

photo: Nicole Elizabeth • CU Denver Sentry

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