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Stopping to smell the celluloid
The weirdly compelling Pan's Labyrinth wrapped up Beaver Creek's innovative Food & Film Series Sept. 12.

Stopping to smell the celluloid

By David O. Williams

September 15, 2007 —  Sometimes we get tunnel vision here in the high country, putting our heads down and scurrying from one function to the next, wrapped up in work and kids and the chaos of everyday life.

We forget to stop and smell the spruce trees, if you will, and take the time to appreciate and participate in all this valley has to offer. And compared to most ski towns, we have a banquet table of cultural and recreational offering that is fairly groaning under the weight of possibility.

The trick for locals is to come up for air long enough to get out and enjoy the wide array of diversions right here in our own backyard. We’re often all scrambling so hard to carve out a viable existence here that we forget how great here is.

Fall is a good time to dial things back a bit and take a look around. After Labor Day the frenetic summer festival season winds down, the leaves start to turn, the air gets cold and crisp at night and the valley truly comes to life.

Two things really underscored that for me last week when my wife and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by simply driving up the hill to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek - recently renovated and boasting the mind-blowing new Allegria Spa.

Our overnighter and couples spa treatment there, though, is a rich enough topic for a future blog. The point really is just what an astounding property and spa facility we have just a few miles up the road, and this time of year the place was eerily empty (with correspondingly low room rates).

A couple of nights later we got a sitter and returned to Beaver Creek to indulge in a little culture in the form of the Vail Symposium’s innovative Beaver Creek Food & Film series at the Vilar Center for the Arts.

If you haven’t been there, be sure to catch a show there in the near future. The state-of-the-art 500-seat venue is beneath the plaza just below the Hyatt, where in the winter ice skaters flit about on the roof, and it’s a great theater visually and acoustically.

The final film in the four-film Vail Symposium series, which paired different foreign films with different foreign foods, was “Pan’s Labyrinth” – a movie all the more powerful on the big screen of the theater named for the fallen stock picker and philanthropist who funded it, Alberto Vilar.

Our commercial movie theaters here in the valley, for obvious reasons, tend to shy away from foreign and art-house films, although the Spanish flick “Pan’s Labyrinth,” which won three Oscars in March, was mainstream enough that I believe it played here briefly.

Problem is, with the demolition of Crossroads this past summer, Vail no longer has any theaters, and won’t for several years while the new Solaris is being built, leaving us with just two multiplexes – in Edwards and Eagle – that show mostly mainstream movies.

The Vilar Center’s foray into film was a welcome one. The Spanish fairytale for adults, “Pan’s Labyrinth,” is gruesome, intense and at times quite twisted, but it is also a beautiful and thought-provoking work, and Denver film critic Walter Chaw’s pre- and post-film analysis was spot-on.

I’m hoping for a similar series this coming winter. Clearly there’s a local appetite for such fare (witness the growing success of the Vail Film Festival) and that type of diversity of cultural offerings continues to make this a great place to live … and visit.

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