Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, Almost Famous, Bait, Urbania, Duets, Hiroshima, Time Regained, Human Resources, Benjamin Smoke, Jules & Jim
New This week
A hiphop ha-ha-ha-hootenanny! Opens Weds Sept 6; see Stranger Suggests.
Best of the Northwest
Another selection of shorts that basically defines how uninspired you can be and still manage to get your work in a festival, even win an award. Most of this stuff is junk, though there is a great short, Sophie, about a woman trying to remember her youth, and a pretty funny Doris Wishman rip-off, Lesbianage IV. Plus there's one lovely short, Portrait of Lloyd, which is beautifully shot. Most of the rest suck, especially Taming of the Shrink, Steaming Weenies, Da Da Dogs, and The Insurmountable John G. Ford. Some people shoud be denied access to cameras. (Jamie Hook) Wed Sept 13 only. Little Theatre
Everyone's favorite excuse to see Jack Nicholson's nose get split in two is back with a new print. Opens Fri Sept 8; see Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion
*Classical Brazilian Films
We can only presume this well-chosen collection of classic Brazilian cinema is screening on video, because included in the lineup are both versions of Black Orpheus, the beautiful-but-reviled-by-Brazilians 1958 version, and the new, tough, urban 1999 version. The other films are obscure, but evidence a fine pedigree. (Jamie Hook) Mon Sept 11 only; for reservations (required) call 523-6229. Tempero do Brasil
*The Devil in Miss Jones
This classic work of smut is the only pornographic film my sainted mother will admit to having seen. "Your father and I went right when it came out," she tells me. "It was playing in a pretty nice theater; it definitely wasn't a gross experience." She won't tell me if she recalls the double-penetration scene (the pioneering double-penetration scene, we should point out), nor has she ever commented on the anal scene. Anyways, bring your wife, bring your friends, and see where it all started. This was, and remains, a truly great, greatly filthy movie. (Jamie Hook) Fri-Sat Sept 8-9. Grand Illusion
*Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
When he was young, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) was saved from a group of street thugs by Louie (John Tormey), a low-level Mafioso who just happened to be passing by. In thanks, Ghost Dog pledged to serve Louie for the rest of his life, as faithful to him as any ancient samurai was to his master. Thanks to a relatively simple story, director Jim Jarmusch has room to play with some of the characters and situations, often for comedic effect, giving Ghost Dog the same deadpan humor of his earliest films. (Andy Spletzer) Fri-Sat Sept 8-9. Egyptian
The Girl Next Door
There is one moment in this documentary that is revelatory, and it is when the subject--Stacy Valentine--gets breast implants. This moment is revolting, and makes me think ANYONE who gets breast implants is seriously fucked up. I had a girlfriend with breast implants once, and she was completely fucked up! Oh, and this documentary is dull and simpleminded, by the way, though anyone who needs an excuse to ponder titillating subjects will be amused enough. (Jamie Hook) Opens Fri Sept 8. Varsity Calendar
Love and Sex
This film is just right for women between the ages of 18 and 22 who are white, middle-class, in college, and have just learned about and are fascinated with French existentialism and German expressionism. If you are such a person, then put this paper down and run to the theater now! You will love how witty this film is: Its story is witty, and the cool, artist boyfriend (that the beautiful but so down-to-earth Famke Janssen has) is witty. You will all also think Famke has the coolest job on Earth (she is a writer!), and admire how straightforward she is about sex (she shops for dildos! She knows how to give a great blowjob!), and how she does not have a racist bone in her perfect body (she lets a basketball star admire her perfect ass). This is what you want to see and be: Famke Janssen. And isn't that what watching movies is all about--to see ourselves act out our most secret dreams? (Charles Mudede)
Neil LaBute, the man who loves women to hate him, is back at his nasty little tricks in this dark comedy. Opens Fri Sept 8; see review this issue.
The Fremont Outdoor Cinema's next-to-last weekend in the nice, soft parking lot where it started the trend. This week: Trying to make a money-losing musical, Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel fail with Springtime for Hitler. Neither theater people nor Nazis have ever been as funny since. Screened with Young Frankenstein. With pre-show music by Shuggie. Sat Sept 9. Fremont Outdoor Cinema
Second Avenue Pizza's free summer miniseries continues with this homage to mental instability. Featuring the various afflictions of The Psychopath, Hitchcock's Psycho, Russ Meyer's Motorpsycho, and Psych Out. Fri-Sat Sept 8-9.
The Sorrow and The Pity
The Nazis ruin a nice French country in this heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Opens Fri Sept 8; see review this issue. Egyptian
*This is What Democracy Looks Like
The Independent Media Center waded through more than 300 hours of footage to emerge with this street-level record of last November's WTO protests. Narrated by Susan Sarandon and Spearhead's Michael Franti. Sat-Sun Sept 9-10. Seattle Art Museum
Turn it Up
This movie offers us the struggling rap artist's weltanschauung. At the center of the universe is the rapper (in this case Pras, of Fugees fame), and from that fixed point we look out at the world around him. We see how he experiences capitalism, love, crime, family, friendship, and art. According to Pras, this is order of things: (a) music is everything; (b) one must always carry two guns 'cause you never know when you'll have to bail out some "crazy nigga"; (c) never give your doll your cell phone number because that is like being put on a leash; (d) white men are fucking greedy, and so you have to be greedier. For those who are connoisseurs of hiphop cinema this will not disappoint you, but if you are just looking for a movie to watch with a black theme or lead, than miss this and watch The Art of War. (Charles Mudede)
James Spader provides more evidence for his future trial as a weirdo pervert in this serial-killer melánge. Opens Fri Sept 8.
The Way of the Gun
A nasty little work, which made our reviewer want to pray. Opens Fri Sept 8; see review this issue.
The Wild One
The sister cinema to the Fremont Outdoor Cinema, the West Seattle Walk-In screens the 1954 classic, starring Marlon Brando as the leader of a motorcycle gang terrorizing a town full of crackers. With pre-show music by Shuggie. Fri Sept 8. West Seattle Walk-In Cinema
An Affair of Love
An Affair of Love is a tidy little tale about a man and a woman. They meet cute: He answers her ad for a partner in a sexual act whose nature is never revealed. Their liaison lasts for a while. Then, for the first time, they make what they both call "normal" love, and everything changes. I can't say more, but it's straight out of The Gift of the Magi. Sentimental, pat, very enjoyable, no relationship to real life. So if it's all fantasy, why am I so testy about the sex? Movie fistfights don't piss me off like movie sex, maybe because I don't often fistfight. Make like a movie hero, punch somebody in the head with your bare knuckles, and your hand hurts for a week: one-trial learning. But 1,000 trials, 10,000 trials don't seem enough to convince men that women just aren't like this. Sorry. (Barley Blair)
The Art of War
This is a dazzling film. A dizzying film. Its structure is so baroque, so complex, so color-bright that it's totally incomprehensible. All we understand and enjoy is the fluid movements of the hero (Wesley Snipes) through underground sex clubs, rainy streets, corporate lobbies, office spaces, and cyberspace. Vertiginous, delirious, unstable, beautiful--this is the best action film you'll watch this year. You'll not, however, understand it. (Charles Mudede)
Autumn in New York
The most compelling question this movie begs is not one about the moral solvency of having sex with someone young enough to be your daughter, it's the one about the moral solvency of having sex with your daughter. You see it, and tell me Ryder's character, Charlotte, isn't Gere's character's daughter. Ewww. It's too bad the film is so, just, gross, 'cause it's a good movie otherwise. Of course, you put a camera anywhere in New York in October, stick two people in front of it kissing, and you've got a decent film. It's just so pretty there in the fall. (Jamie Hook)
Bless the Child
The Christ child has been snatched by Scientologists! Quick! Call in the hardened homicide detective who dropped out of the seminary! Hire interns to animate flying spooks! Lurk around a casting call for the next Street Fighter CD-ROM and hire anybody with a facial piercing! Rent a stage in Studio City that has spraypainted bricks so we'll know it's The Big Apple. Lure Christina Ricci into playing a junkie who gets decapitated four minutes into the movie! Hurry, there's little time left! (Tamara Paris)
Bring it On
Universal Studios' marketing goons--have not a goddamn clue what a great movie they've got on their hands. It's so sad--they keep playing it off like it's some nasty jiggle-fest (which in part it is) with no redeeming qualities (which it has plenty of). Best of all, the film is funny in a pre-post-modernist way--remember what that was like? When irony was just a brand of humor instead of a cynical philosophy? (Jamie Hook)
But I'm a Cheerleader
Shorts director Jamie Babbitt's feature debut is a disappointment--strenuous stuff that seldom rises above frail, second-rate camp. There should be a few more inspired laughs in its tale of Megan (Natasha Lyonne), a top-notch student cheerleader thought to be lesbian who's sent to a camp where homosexuality is "cured." (Ray Pride)
Cecil B. Demented
Armed with guns, a 16mm camera, and an Otto Preminger tattoo, Cecil and his crew kidnap Hollywood starlet Melanie Griffith and force her to appear in their underground opus, about the revenge unleashed upon Baltimore theaters by a ragtag group of cineastes disgruntled by the commercial failure of a Pasolini festival. The plot and locale should have keyed you that we're in John Waters territory. This is the director's most gleefully anarchic work in years--aided mightily by Griffith's smart self-caricature--and if the film's characters aren't seen with the same indulgent fondness Waters displays in his best films, it's still a suitably ridiculous delight. (Bruce Reid)
The succulent Jennifer Lopez and the ever-more dissolute Vince Vaughn disappear into the mind of serial killer Vincent D'Onofrio, who is building an interesting career exploiting his rubbery anonymity. The stunning visuals are lifted whole from Damien Hirst, Mathew Barney, The Bros. Quay, and others, but remain creepily potent. (Tamara Paris)
Chicken Run is about chickens trying to escape. It is very funny and exciting; each chicken has a great sense of humor and is weird. It all starts when Rocky the Chicken comes blasting over the fence and everybody thinks he can fly. Meanwhile, something fishy is going on--Mrs. Tweedy (the farmer's wife) has a machine that lets the chickens go in and pies come out. The chickens do whatever they can to resist becoming pies. (Sam Lachow & Maggie Brown)
You know what? Coyote Ugly is not that bad at all. I'm going to list all the great things about this latest "Jerry Bruckheimer feel-good flick": (1) Melanie Lynskey (who plays the "goofy best friend") does a fabulous New Jersey accent. (2) John Goodman is adorable as Funny Dad. (3) There is a cute cat in one of the scenes. (4) The outfits are pretty. (Min Liao)
Scorsese's Goodfellas gets skewered (but good) in this rude romp about a quartet of aging gangsters limping along in retirement in Miami, who accidentally slip back into the "life," with ridiculous complications. Watch for the cleverest "action movie" sequence ever committed to celluloid. It's well worth the price of admission! Squeak! Squeak! (Tamara Paris)
A bottle-blond exponent of God's lonely man takes a job in a private London casino and gets embroiled in some serious heist-related trouble. Mike Hodges, who directed the semi-obscure British new wave classic Get Carter, brings grace and severity to what could have just been neo-pulp. Instead, like the best pulp, Croupier becomes high lowbrow, thanks to a seasoned director's eye for detail, pneumatics, and sexy actors. (Sean Nelson)
From the beginning of time, this has been the drama of the dinosaurs: They are oppressed by the mighty and terrifying Tyrannosaurus; they are always searching for water or a green paradise; and their big eggs are always eaten or crushed just moments before they hatch. (Charles Mudede)
One square mile of the Atlantic Ocean. Ten bottlenosed dolphins. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
East is East
The great Om Puri plays a fanatical father married to a British woman (Linda Basset). They own a small chip shop and a small house, which is packed with seven rebellious kids. With the exception of one boy, all the children are headed one way (toward total assimilation of British culture), and the father the other (preservation of Pakistani values); all that's left is a big showdown in the end. But Puri saves the day by doing what he does best: deepening and extending his character's emotional and psychological range. (Charles Mudede)
The Eruption of Mount St. Helens
One volcano. Ten seismologists. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
One world's tallest mountain. Ten sherpas. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
One half-pipe. Ten guys named Lance. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
This hilarious, disturbing film is not exactly a mockumentary, but a strange new hybrid--a mocking documentary. Boasting faux solemn narration by RuPaul and a veritable Greek chorus of sock puppets, the filmmakers glibly attempt to manipulate and humiliate their subject. But as her tragically funny tale unfolds, something unexpected occurs--Tammy Faye transcends our expectations. (Tamara Paris)
The Five Senses
Writer/director Jeremy Podeswa has placed a self-conscious title on an unselfconscious film, the virtues of which far exceed the formal detail referred to in the title. True, the masseuse, the man going deaf, the baker of cakes, the man with the sensitive sniffer, and the ophthalmologist account for each physical sense, but the film isn't about senses at all; it's about sensuality beyond the senses... a delicate, lovely portrayal of the spaces between people. (Evan Sult)
Girl on the Bridge
A ravishing, breezily paced tale of amour fou, Girl on the Bridge stars Daniel Auteuil as a Svengali-like knife-thrower who meets his perfect foil in Vanessa Paradis' Adele. What makes the film great, though, is Leconte's feel for the effect of place on people: The roads are beckoning, Monte Carlo is impulsive, and Istanbul is confusion itself. Auteuil is never less than his dour self, and Paradis--a gap-toothed woman, it's worth noting--is stunning throughout. (Jamie Hook)
A stumbling mime in a kick-ass rubber monster suit battles a 65-million-year-old silver nasal inhaler. Godzilla, after a bout of anorexia and a makeover into an enormous iguana (in the unfortunate movie that need not be named) is back with a vengeance in this pitch-perfect homage. (Tamara Paris)
Gone in 60 Seconds
To protect his little brother from an injurious limey, master car thief Nicolas Cage comes out of retirement, recruiting his old friends to help him steal 50 fancy cars in one night. (Sean Nelson)
A romantic comedy for guys. John Cusack plays the cynically introspective Rob Gordon, the owner of a small record store who, for various reasons, has shit luck with women. He's a jerk, basically, but he's not altogether clueless about his jerkiness. (Kathleen Wilson)
What can be said about yet another Highlander movie? Um, nothing.
Kevin Bacon delivers another fine, nuanced performance as the megalomaniacal scientist who uses his newfound invisibility to act out his sick, twisted sexual desires. Hey, it's a Paul Verhoeven film...what did you expect? Not a good time, I hope. (Bruce Reid)
Michael Jordan to the MAX
One basketball superstar. Ten endorsement deals. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
*Mission: Impossible 2
I loved this movie. I loved the profligate back flips in the fight choreography; I loved the preposterous motorcycle chase/ joust. But most of all, I loved the giddy sense of hyperbole and spectacle that coarsed through the whole enterprise. (Sean Nelson)
Mysteries of Egypt
One sacred tomb. Ten pharoahs. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps
Eddie Murphy deserves some kind of special award for playing six characters, all of whom interact with (and even perform oral sex on) one another, but the screenwriters deserve to be banished for all the lame gross-out jokes that litter the story. (Bradley Steinbacher)
The Original Kings of Comedy
True comedic greats have an ability, much as great drummers have, to maintain a solid underlying rhythm while impetuously improvising the tempo and pace, and the fusion of the two dynamics must appear effortless at all times. The Kings, on the other hand, toil and labor for every laugh, for every moment of comedic sincerity. For the neutral looking to experience royalty, there is nothing here that HBO or Comedy Central will not readily offer, minus the price of admission. (Kudzai Mudede)
Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin, a sweet single father of seven (of course his wife is tragically dead) who refuses to enter the brewing Revolutionary War because of his troubled past. But after being shamed by son number one, who eagerly signs up, and being outraged when son number two is gunned down by a nasty Brit, you know the Gib will soon be unpacking his deadly tomahawk in the name of "FREEEEEDOOOMMMM!" (Gillian G. Gaar)
The Perfect Storm
In its favor, The Perfect Storm has two superlatives: George Clooney and some fine, boiling seas. Unfortunately, the film itself--fraught with ham-fisted drama; painfully stupid dialogue; downright insulting characterizations; and some of the worst accent coaching ever--is awful. (Jamie Hook)
Pokémon 2000 revolves around a vaguely evil scientist on an island, who's scheming to unleash the powers of various mysterious pokémon on the world. He is ultimately thwarted by that plucky pokémon master-in-training, Ash (c'mon, you knew the bad guys wouldn't win, didn't you?). (Gillian G. Gaar)
What do I think about this fucking film? It's impossible to believe that all that money went into it. Now my parents were in town from Africa last week, and they told me things are getting worse, people are hungry and starving. Well, what does this have to do with this film? Waste! That's what. Waste. Waste of time, waste of food. Waste of money. (Charles Mudede)
Rocky Horror Picture Show
The boy-meets-girl, boy-turns-into-girl, nerds-act-out-the-movie classic.
If you've seen a Cheech and Chong film, you've seen every gag here: absentminded cops oblivious to the cloud of smoke around an acquaintance's head; balding, potbellied hippies lighting up to the strains of a sitar; two sweet old ladies, inadvertently stoned and gorging themselves on candy bars. If these situations sound remotely amusing to you, you might as well go. (Bruce Reid)
Scary Movie is largely a satire of the Scream films--which are already satires (go figure). Though it certainly has some knee-slappers, most of the infantile jokes simply go on way too long. (Melody Moss)
Contrary to what the lady's bottom in the advertisement promises, this film is populated almost exclusively by melancholic old men who predictably complain about youth and argue among themselves. Wonderfully cast, well scripted, and lovingly filmed, Shower is comfort food for the cinema--bland, but soothing. (Jamie Hook)
Alongside voting and worrying about your body, one of your duties as an American is to see every Clint Eastwood film released, regardless of individual failures, hyperbole, plot holes, or any other mitigating factors whatsoever. He alone has earned that right.
Steal This Movie
The charismatic clown Abbie Hoffman, who vitalized the leftist movement in the '60s, is unfairly remembered now merely for going underground for six years to escape prosecution for a drug bust that was the culmination of nearly a decade of invasive and unconstitutional persecution by the CIA's infamous agent of Fascism, the Cointelpro. He deserves a film as funny, sexy, and controversial as his life. Though Janeanne Garofalo and Vincent D'Onofrio give it their best, this, unfortunately, is not it. (Tamara Paris)
T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous
One 100-million-year period of the Mesozoic Era. Ten Tyrannosaurs. Every moment captured on video. No outside world contact. No luxuries. Who'll outlast the others to win $500,000?
The Tao of Steve
Chunky, attitudinal Dex (an extraordinarily charming Donal Logue, a prizewinner at Sundance) teaches kindergarten. He's great with women and drifting a decade out of college when an old college friend shows up and doesn't fall for his line. Hyperarticulate and hypersexed, Dex must learn the meaning of his words and his heart. Funny stuff. (Ray Pride)
A sequel to neither Titanic nor The Chambermaid on the Titanic, Titanic Town concerns an Irish housewife compelled to get involved in the ongoing "troubles" in West Belfast. Her late entry into the political minefield places her entire family in jeopardy.
What Lies Beneath
A well-preserved pair of thoroughbred movie stars find that all is not well in their gorgeous New England home, what with the dead girl in the tub and all. The whole damn thing is ripped right out of the Hitchcock how-to manual, so of course it succeeds fantastically at its admittedly simple goal: scaring you so badly you throw your popcorn all over the people in the row behind you. (Tamara Paris)
"Amanda Peet is primed to explode!" --Rolling Stone
"Dear Lord, if it were only true!" --The Stranger
The Woman Chaser
The Woman Chaser takes a decent 1960 Charles Willeford L.A. noir novel about a 1950s wannabe film director who loses his mind and makes a spoofy hash of it. Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld's Puddy) gives it his chunky all, but it's not enough to bring life into this drearily scripted and clunkily directed item. (Ray Pride)
Were I still an active participant in the X-Family, I'd probably soil myself with delight: the action is thrilling, the effects stunning, and the story generally satisfying. In short, it's just what comic-book fans want from a comic-book film. (Jamie S. Rich)