Seeing Starz: Drunk at the Denver Film Festival

Denver Six Shooter is a bargoing blog for the literate, urban lush. Six Shooter writers hit six Denver-area bars in one night, have a drink at each, and write a story about it.

In this week's adventure, Denver food writer and cocktail poetess Denveater--who is also the festival publications editor and fancy ladyfriend of the festival's Artistic Director--shares her sketchbook from one night of a two-week whirlwind of bars, receptions, lounges, afterparties and more bars.

2:30 p.m. Brauns Bar & Grill 1055 Auraria Pkwy. 2 Bloody Marys, $5 each

With all the free popcorn, pizza, hors d'oeuvres, tacos, shawarma, and ginger snaps at every turn, I hadn't seen a fresh green thing in days, so I wheedled Karla Sutra (pictured) and the Constant Watcher--the Director's cohorts in the programming department--into ducking across Auraria to Brauns Bar and Grill for a late lunch between film intros.

Those of you who've been to Brauns might be waiting for the punchline now, but no--the sports bar does technically serve salads under whose heaps of meat and cheese bits of lettuce actually peek through. Whether there were more vitamins in our Bloody Marys is a fair question--but whether there was more ice than juice, never mind alcohol, was a more pressing one. We guessed "yes" and ordered a second round to make up for the first.

4:30 p.m. Nallen's Irish Pub 1429 Market St. 1 glass of house red wine, $4

If you're a regular at Nallen's, you probably know a big ol' lovable bear called Paddy B., who's been a fixture there for some 15 years. If you're not a regular, you'd know him right away nonetheless (see pic). The Director and I, meanwhile, know him best as one of the veteran crackerjacks behind the bar at the Late Night Lounge--and as a blast to drink with, not least because his mouth doesn't fit in his body as he drops phrases into industry gossip like "superb publican" and "Table 8" (the VIP corner at Capital Grille where, apparently, certain NBA stars think it's cute to leave signed headshots as tips) as though he were a silver-haired chap in Armani. Which made all the scary-funnier the moment I told him about writing for Denver Six Shooter and the Director added, "You'd be great at it!"

Paddy suddenly narrowed his eyes and asked, "Are you takin' a crack at me?"

6 p.m. Filmmaker's Lounge 900 Auraria Pkwy., Tivoli Student Union 1 free glass of red wine

Speaking of newbies: for a brief, shining moment, I got to shoot my third(ish) round in the close company of Denver's own Ellie Caulkins. The scholar and gentlewoman wasn't, granted, actually in on the scenario, but what if? You never know when a cause is going to inspire a philanthropist to act, and really, doesn't "Colonel Hector Bravado and Ellie Caulkins's Denver Six Shooter" have a bit of a ring? After all, since the Filmmaker's Lounge, as the fourth and fifth floors of the Tivoli are called during the festival, is essentially a hospitality suite offering free booze and hot meals (rounded out, of course, by spontaneously growing and glowing piles of junk food, pictured), interview space and a media station to the directors, actors, producers, animators, et al. who gather between audience Q&As, deals--such as they are in the post-post-Slackers indie world--do get made here.

But as what-ifs go, full confession: if I'd embarked on my crawl 24 hours earlier, there's no question in my mind that 'fest guest George Hardy would have jumped aboard. You heard me: Alabama dentist George Hardy--onetime star of Troll 2 ("You can't piss on hospitality!"), and thus sudden, accidental star of the new doc examining its now phenomenal cult status, Best Worst Movie. This is a guy who literally never stops grinning and who asks his young patients by way of conversation whether they'd rather be seven or eight. Can you imagine the drinking games we'd have played? My bad, readers. I owe you one.

6:30 p.m. Starz FilmCenter 900 Auraria Pkwy. 1 glass of Cabernet, $6

Day in and day out, the world flings its soul-crushing, colon-flushing shit in your face, and then you go to a movie theater that serves alcohol at the concession stand. Fucked as we are overall, in small ways we are blessed. And if ever there were a film to underscore that verity, to deepen the mood that sets in when you're curled up with a glass (OK, plastic cupful) of wine in the charged darkness of a cinema--for me one of the ultimate come-what-may places where one relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life to get the feel of life--it's Trimpin: The Sound of Invention.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, it will henceforth, almost literally: Trimpin is a composer/ inventor/sculptor who finds the music in everything he touches, turning typewriters into tiny pianos, wooden clogs into percussive mobiles (pictured), and the Kronos Quartet into a merry band of toy guitarists. He's built marimbas that convert seismic data into symphonies and written scores for slide projectors. It's not a stretch to say that watching and listening to him think and create over the course of this documentary is not unlike soaking up the color of a classic cocktail bar: your senses are at every moment heightened, broadened, filled. Go on: pour yourself your own drink, check out a trailer or two here, and see if I wax exaggerated.

8:30 p.m. The Corner Office The Curtis Hotel, 1405 Curtis St. 1 split of Rotari Brut, $8 1 glass of Meritage, $8

Given the choice of seeing stars or, you know, seeing stars, most festival staffers go for the latter, growing so jaded and/or addled over the course of a few days that no amount of celebrity schmoozing can compare to quality drinking time with the little people we are. Due to its proximity to dear Ellie's own opera house, the site of every red carpet film, The Corner Office becomes our annual escape headquarters, despite or because of the cheeky 9-to-5 theme--which, after all, privileges hooky-playing and other forms of workplace indiscretion, what with its racy drone-on-secretary murals, clocks set permanently to happy hour, and bathroom graffiti on Post-Its reading, for instance, "Five words to live by: "Hey, can I have that?"

The Corner Office is hip in the classically oxymoronic sense of the word--annoying yet charming in its youth-driven conflation of sophistication with irony. I'm old enough to be annoyed by the PYT who doesn't know her Rotari Brut from her Champagne--but old enough too to be charmed by the lad who actually blushes when I tell him he can't be serious after he tries to card me. I'm too old, in short, for this place--and yet I'm not so mature that I can get over the Bong vodka, whose bottle Jason the bartender (pictured with our man Travis) told us can indeed be retrofitted once empty for alternative use.
Late p.m. or a.m. Late Night Lounge Secret Address Unlimited Free Wine

There are a lot of things I can't tell you about the LNL: where it is, when it's open, which almost famous (and, occasionally, totally famous) folks have engaged in shenanigans there. Even if I could tell you, I couldn't tell you--see "unlimited free wine." (The open bar also dispenses beer, spirits, and the occasional cocktail--e.g., this year's Yellow Snow--improvised by a guy known to drink Bloody Marys out of a vase.)

But dreamy details do float up: phrases from Don Hertzfeldt shorts screening on the walls ("My spoon is too big!" "I am a banana!"), Thriller-backed flash mobs, the time Karla Sutra swore she was staying for just one drink only to wake up on a couch the next morning surrounded by empty bottles of wine and some furniture movers from Butler Rents. Rising, she found Betsy Tallfold sitting straight up against the wall with a full glass of wine in her hand, fast asleep. Apparently there are pictures. Karla nudged her awake--which is, of course, when the wine finally ended up in her lap where it belonged.

Any filmmakers out there? You should make a doc short about D6S and submit it to the festival! Then you can join me next year.