COMING SOON

Barenaked in America, Billy Elliot, Chain of Fools, Dark Days, Gimme Shelter, Girlfight, The New Eve, Remember the Titans, Ring of Fire


NEW THIS WEEK

*Buster Keaton Films
Steamboat Bill, Jr. and The Electric House, with live musical accompaniment. Fri-Sat Sept 22-23; see Stranger Suggests. Hokum Hall

*Dream of Light
The Seattle premiere of director Victor Erice's 1990 portrait of the life and art of the Spanish painter Antonio Lopez Garcia. Opens Fri Sept 22; see review this issue. Grand Illusion

Eve
The script is absent-minded, but don't think, just watch. This is '60s noir at its lushest and most velvety. (They slightly underexpose the negative and then print high-contrast.) Jeanne Moreau looks like a gamefish--a dory, to be exact--whose mouth has been bruised by repeated hooking; Stanley Baker looks like a big Welsh cat. Natural enemies. They circle each other saying wild things and causing pain. They throw things. She cuts him to the quick. There are stars, stars who can act, and rarest of all, stars who can play stars. Moreau convinces us that no one could resist her. (Barley Blair) Little Theatre

The Exorcist
Load up on green pea soup and watch everybody's favorite "child possessed by the Devil" movie, re-released with 11 minutes of new footage. Opens Fri Sept 22; see review this issue. Metro

Films About Antarctica
The Strange and Terrible Fate of Sir Robert Scott is an 18-minute tribute to the "great icons of polar adventure" shot on the same perilous ice cube that its subjects set out to conquer. Thurs Sept 21. Second Avenue Pizza

*The Filth & the Fury
Julien Temple (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle) compiled this portrait of the infamous Sex Pistols, with exclusive interviews with Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and of course Sid Vicious. Includes boatloads of unseen live footage, and an amazing capacity to energize even the most cynical viewer. Odds are that if you have preconceptions about the band, they'll at least be tested, especially once you've seen the images of Johnny Rotten serving up slices of cake to needy working-class kids on Christmas Day, 1977, or crying over the death of his mate, Sid. (Sean Nelson) Fri-Sat Sept 22-23. Egyptian

From the Edge of the City
Eager nipples and hairless torsos of some awfully nice Greek boys make this film a shoo-in for the "Best Gratuitous Homoerotic Footage" Oscar come January. Opens Fri Sept 22; see review this issue. Varsity Calendar

Goya in Bordeaux
A dull, laughably pretentious attempt to portray the painter's twilight reminiscences, Goya in Bordeaux marks a definite nadir in Carlos Saura's career. The elder, barrel-bellied Goya smugly pontificates to his daughter about the tragedies and obligations of being an artist; his younger self mulls over the compromises inherent in being a court painter and the agonies of loving a notorious mistress. Neither appears smart enough to paint a bathroom wall, let alone the masterpieces that are liberally scattered throughout the film. I do love Pierre-Louis Thèvenet's shoebox sets with their marvelously fake, see-through walls; if only Saura had come up with anything interesting to do with them, or understood that the best artist films convey something of the joy of painting, not just its attendant miseries. (Bruce Reid) Opens Fri Sept 22. Egyptian

*Passing Through
A jazz saxophonist struggles against the oppressive recording industry. Wed Sept 27; see Stranger Suggests. JBL Theater at EMP

Solomon and Gaenor
Wales has long been a cinematic parasite on Britain--until this film. Set randomly in 1911, this atmospheric tale of Welsh anti-Semitism shines a light on the long neglected history of racism in a country otherwise known for its strange cuisine and prodigious output of challenging, mixed-verse poetry. Opens Fri Sept 22. Seven Gables

Urban Legends: Final Cut
My friends Ted and Phil, who just got back from Hollywood, told me about this film they saw there that was so bad, the filmmakers were actually forced by the studio that funded it (I think it was Sony) to watch it 'round the clock for seven whole days, with their eyes propped open just like Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, until the filmmakers went completely insane. I think this might have been that film. (Jamie Hook) Opens Fri Sept 22. Metro

Urbania
Midway through Urbania things finally get better. The hero (Dan Futterman) leaves his apartment and starts cruising the streets for flesh. During this night journey, he has an erotically charged conversation with a heterosexual bartender; he then, on the advice of the bartender, follows a handsome man to his home and has a nasty little scene with him; later, he meets the man he wants, and the two drunkenly descend into the underworld of human desire. But just as you're about to forgive the director for the slow start and raise the grade of his effort from an E- to a C+, the horrible ending arrives and ruins everything. In a million lifetimes, I could never imagine a worse ending. Really, it's that bad. (Charles Mudede) Opens Fri Sept 22. Broadway Market

Woman on Top
Spoiler alert! In one scene, Penélope Cruz captivates a man with her exotic good looks, distracting him to some lighthearted comedic end. Opens Fri Sept 22; see review this issue. Guild 45th


CONTINUING RUNS

Almost Famous
Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire) directs this autobiographical tale about a young boy getting insulted by rock critic Lester Bangs. Guild 45th, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

*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) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

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. (Jamie Hook) Pacific Place 11

Backstage
Backstage exposes and celebrates the cash-saturated lifestyle of the big-time rap star, who, when not on stage boasting about his riches, is staying in posh hotel rooms drinking champagne, smoking weed, getting teenage girls to strip, flying in private jets, and cruising glittering strips in stretch limos. You must watch this film to see what unfettered capitalism does to normal people, the mass madness it induces. Indeed, it's a world where, as Marx once said, "everything solid melts into air." (Charles Mudede) City Centre

Bait
Jamie Foxx stars as another black man under surveillance by White America. See related article this issue. Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

*The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack
The story of Ramblin' Jack serves only as a canvas upon which to explore a more complex, more compelling fable: that of his largely forsaken daughter Aiyana Elliott, the film's director. Classically neglected from almost the moment of her birth, Aiyana needs only to show us a telegraphing shot of an answering machine playing her father's five-days-too-late birthday message for us to get the point. And then, in a graceful transcendence, she forgives, abandoning her dogged, self-centered pursuit to turn her camera on him as he delivers a stunning rendition of "If I Were a Carpenter." It is a beautiful moment, delicate and fragile, with a spontaneous grace that comes as a gift. Don't miss it. (Jamie Hook) Crest

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) Pacific Place 11

*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-postmodernist way--remember what that was like? When irony was just a brand of humor instead of a cynical philosophy? It was (and is) funny! (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

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 topnotch student cheerleader thought to be lesbian who's sent to a camp where homosexuality is "cured." RuPaul and Cathy Moriarty are the grotesques who face her down, but it's the emergence of trust-fund tomboy Clea DuVall that gets her going. What's she going to be? Not much fun for the rest of us, that's what. (Ray Pride) Broadway Market

*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) Varsity

The Cell
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) Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Coyote Ugly
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's a cute cat in one of the scenes. (4) The outfits are pretty. (Min Liao) Pacific Place 11

Crime and Punishment in Suburbia
I was in college when I read Crime and Punishment, but I could have sworn it had something to do with sin and redemption and Stinking Lizetta, the pawnbroker's sweet natured half-wit sister getting an axe in the face. I must have been drunk! It's actually all about a cheerleader getting fucked by her stepfather before goring him with an electric carving knife. I also thought the book was written before movies were invented--but this Dostoyevsky guy must have watched American Beauty and Election before writing this script. Plus, I didn't know that Ellen Barkin's career was officially over. See? I really learned a lot from watching this movie. (Tamara Paris) Meridian 16

*Croupier
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) Metro

*The Devil in Miss Jones
This classic work of smut is the only pornographic film my sainted mother will admit to having seen. 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. Bring your wife, bring your friends, and see where it all started. This was, and remains, a truly great, greatly filthy movie. (Jamie Hook) Grand Illusion

Duets
Why see this mishmash of cheesy product placements and a dozen contradictory genres? Not for Gwyneth as a skinny showgirl doing karaoke--see what I mean about contradictions? For Paul Giamatti. You may have forgotten his name, but his head and jowls make a figure eight, bags like eggcups under his eyes--first-rate comic apparatus. The script gives him nothing, the camera is either up his nose or jerking off in some awkward middle distance, and still he made me laugh out loud singing "Hello, It's Me." If he had two solos instead of one, I would recommend the movie. (Barley Blair) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11

*The Eyes of Tammy Faye
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) Crest

The Five Senses
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) Metro

Godzilla 2000
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 is back with a vengeance in this pitch-perfect homage. (Tamara Paris) Pacific Place 11

Highlander: Endgame
The fourth installment of the highly popular Highlander series pits immortals Connor Macleod (Adrian Paul, from the television series) and Duncan Macleod (Highlander stalwart Christopher Lambert) against the suitably pestilent Kell, an immortal who, in his younger years, looked uncannily like a Gaelic messiah. It all culminates in a movie that isn't good, but isn't particularly offensive--the result of some supreme effort, when one considers how inextricably entrenched in mediocrity this franchise is. (Kudzai Mudede) Pacific Place 11, Southcenter

Hollow Man
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) Pacific Place 11

Human Resources
Director Laurent Cantent (The Sanguinaires) evidently made this passable film for French television, judging by the numerous fades to black that remove us from the story every 15 minutes. The film would be a real treat on TV: Telling the simple tale of an eager young idealist trying to reform management at a small-town factory while his working-class family and upbringing crumble around him, Human Resources is well acted and admirably realistic. But the film is lost on the big screen--too humble, too simple, visually uninspired. Why it was chosen over other, finer fare for the Shooting Gallery's prestigious film series is beyond me. Then again, so is most of American pop culture. (Jamie Hook) Uptown

Love and Sex
Breiman's lighthearted, witty little cupcake of Californication takes on the lowlights of one young woman's sexual experiences--getting past her unlucky thirteen and hoping Mr. Fourteen is a step above the past. Famke Janssen and Jon Favreau are uncommonly charming in this multiplex tryout. After she's made a second feature with a stronger writer, let's look forward to Breiman's third movie. (Ray Pride) Metro

Lovers Lane
This awful, thoroughly unenjoyable, locally made horror film sets the genre back another decade or so, with its pitiful machine-made plot about an escaped serial killer, its horrendous writing, and its tepid acting. The tittie shots, gratuitously stuck in to assure a domestic cable release, are the most compelling evidence Seattle has yet produced in the building case against capitalism. Worst of all, the whole films comes limping in on the crutch of Local Filmmaking, proving yet again that when it comes to making movies, Seattle is still sucking its thumb and wetting its pants... doing the Hula Hula dance. (Jamie Hook) Regal Issaquah

Nurse Betty
Betty, a diner waitress, settles comfortably into a thick confusion after accidentally witnessing her sleazy husband's murder. She instantly blocks out reality, and decides to drive from Fair Oaks, Kansas to Los Angeles in pursuit of her favorite soap-opera character, "Dr. David Ravell," whom she believes is her long-lost true love. On paper, this all sounds so great--interesting, silly, action-packed, dramatic, full of potential. But what director Neil LaBute produces onscreen is surprisingly disappointing. What wrecks Nurse Betty is how smug and emphatically self-aware it is, how painstakingly, annoyingly, way-too-deliberately quirky it becomes. (Min Liao) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Neptune, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

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. With Janet Jackson as "something pretty to look at." (Bradley Steinbacher) Pacific Place 11

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) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

The Replacements
What do I think about this fucking film? It's impossible to believe all that money went into it. Now, my parents were in town from Africa last month, 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) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11

Saving Grace
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) Aurora Cinema Grill, City Centre, Metro

Scary Movie
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) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Uptown

Shower
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 amongst themselves. Shower is comfort food for the cinema--bland, but soothing. (Jamie Hook) Metro

*Space Cowboys
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 misdeeds whatsoever. He alone has earned that right. Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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) Harvard Exit

This is Spinal Tap
Smell the glove once again with David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls, in a new 35mm print. Metro

*Time Regained
Time Regained is Chilean director Raúl Ruiz's brillliant adaptation of the final volume of Proust's In Search of Time Lost, and arguably the best adaptation of Proust to date. Egyptian, Harvard Exit

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. 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, then miss this and watch The Art of War. (Charles Mudede) City Centre, Lewis & Clark

The Watcher
It's refreshing to see Keanu Reeves in a movie that is so beleaguered by its own faults that it can hardly blame the mercurial acting talents of the slow-motion-bullet-dodger for its own miserable shortcomings. Make no mistake: Reeves' performance as quite possibly (and quite unintentionally) the most disinterested big screen serial killer in recent memory is predictably laughable. However, I believe that the makers of this movie, sensing the impending threat of Mr. Reeves' disagreeable offerings, spared no expense upon damage limitation. Hence, The Watcher is a frightfully unimaginative, by-the-numbers thriller with no plot twists, no clever bits, horrendous slow-motion dance sequences, few thrills, and anemic character development, successfully leaving Reeves well within his depth. (Kudzai Mudede) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Northgate

The Way of the Gun
Christopher McQuarrie's The Way of the Gun is an evil film, though not for the self-conscious reasons it would have you accept. Rather, it is evil because secretly it does not know what it is, because it is adrift in a world that is too opiated to confront its soulless convictions, because it comes from a place that has confused the fantastical and the realistic, because it has no higher god to which it would supplicate, only a simple-minded belief in the false sanctity of Hollywood filmmaking--which, from Birth of a Nation onward, has always gladly accommodated well-intentioned shame, provided it presents itself with sufficient flair. (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

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) Aurora Cinema Grill, Uptown

Whipped
"Amanda Peet is primed to explode!" --Rolling Stone "We can only hope it's true!" --The Stranger Pacific Place 11