17th Annual Olympia Film Festival, Around the Fire, Bamboozled, Bedazzled, Billy Elliott, Fifth Annual Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Following, Legend of the Drunken Master, Life is a Bed of Roses, Orfeu, Pay it Forward


Animated Worlds
The weekend-long Animation Sensation at 911 begins with this collection of works curated by the Northwest Film Center, to be followed by an Animator's Social (bring your animated VHS works to be shown after the event). Fri Oct 13. 911 Media Arts

The Beat Experience
Another nostalgic exploration of everywhiteguy's favorite literary movement, the Beats. Featuring the holy trinity of Burroughs, Ginsberg, and Kerouac, plus tangentially "Beat-influenced" artists John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Wed Oct 18. JBL Theater at EMP

*Best in Show
Another ensemble comedy from co-writers Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy (Waiting for Guffman), this time deconstructing the intricate psychology of the professional dog show. Opens Fri Oct 13; see review this issue. Broadway Market, Neptune

The Broken Hearts Club
We have it on pretty good authority that this film is totally gay. Opens Fri Oct 13; see review this issue. Harvard Exit

The Contender
Liberals have won the culture wars, and it's embarrassing. In this Hollywood version of the Lewinsky affair (with the Clinton character recast as a woman), the Democrats make all the great speeches you wish they'd made during the 104th Congress and the Republicans are as simply evil and as plainly hypocritical as you wish they were. The first hour of the movie--featuring murders, behind-the-scenes White House meetings, strong arm politicking, and secret memos--is actually a blast, but once the trite sermonizing kicks in you'll start wishing they'd just cut to more footage of the sex scandal. (It seems Senator Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen, got drunk and fucked a whole crew of boys one night in her past.) A B-movie about a B-rate episode in American history. One plus, though: Allen is fetching. (Josh Feit) Opens Fri Oct 13. Metro

Dr. T and the Women
Robert Altman's newest film is a mishmash of the most frustrating variety. There is a great intro, set in the lobby of Richard Gere's gynecological practice, and the coda at the end is amusing, but overall the picture is uneven (this is Altman, after all), and the joke--a man surrounded by the multiplicitous insanity of women--wears thin a bit too soon. It doesn't help that Gere's performance is about as plastic as his face has recently become, but Helen Hunt, ever the soldier, is brilliant as the one note of female sanity in the chorus of wails. (Jamie Hook) Opens Fri Oct 13. Metro

The Ladies Man
Poor Tim Meadows. He stuck around long after the last talented SNL cast member cashed in and went home and still finished behind latecomers Molly Shannon, Chris Kattan, and Will Ferrell in the SNL 90-minute sketch sweepstakes. Now it's his turn to expand a paper-thin premise that made four minutes seem like an hour into a feature film. Opens Fri Oct 13. Meridian, Oak Tree

Lost Souls
Right on the heels of The Exorcist's re-release comes this pale imitation of a diabolical thriller, starring Ben Chaplin as an unwitting Antichrist and Winona Ryder as the black-eyed, whispery mope who must convince him of his impending demonic possession. The few moments of suspense toward the end don't make up for the dull, plodding, wreck of a script, and it would take a superhuman suspension of disbelief to swallow the ridiculous plot lines ("SEX" spelled backwards equals 666?). You'll be wishing the devil would just hurry up and take you long before the film's "day of reckoning" arrives. (Melody Moss) Opens Fri Oct 13. Varsity

*The Man I Love
Ida Lupino was the perfect choice for Raoul Walsh's wonderful nightclub melodrama; what other actress could slap some sense into a deranged would-be gunman, then immediately follow up with a sympathetic pat on the back as he collapses with grief? As a singer struggling to help her sister through a rough spot, get her brother on the straight and narrow, avoid the advances of her boss, and get a romance going with morose pianist Bruce Bennett, Lupino shines as both hard-boiled schemer and vulnerable woman in love. The only weak link is Bennett, gloomy and stiff as a board. But that's okay; Lupino generates enough sexual chemistry for the both of them. (Bruce Reid) Thurs Oct 12. Seattle Art Museum

A new American independent film, playing as part of the Shooting Gallery film series. Opens Fri Oct 13; see review this issue. Uptown

Peter Pan
The Paramount marches on with its Silent Movie Mondays. This week the original 1924 version of the famous tale comes at you, straight outta Never-Never Land. Reportedly created at the sole request of Adolph Zukor, who wanted a movie for his children. Special attention was paid to the flying effects, to assure that they would be realistic. You be the judge. Mon Oct 16. Paramount Theatre

The Plague of the Zombies
The crooked, foot-shuffling march of the undead continues during the Grand Illusion's Zombie Month with Hammer Films' The Plague of the Zombies (1966). Young people are dying! The doctor is helpless! The professor suspects black magic! And what are all those zombies doing near the old mine!? Fri-Sat Oct 13-14. Grand Illusion

Max Cohen (Sean Gullette) is a math genius troubled by seizures. Anytime he works his brain toward a level of supernatural greatness, he has an attack and needs to counter it with pills and injections. Max's search for patterns in nature, in *, and in the stock market becomes a search for God, and Aronofsky's filmmaking shines in the light of this ambiguous, ultimately impossible quest. The closer Max gets to his goal, the crazier he seems to be to the general populace, including the film's audience. When he's on the verge of discovering the true name of God, he's become nearly incomprehensible to those around him, looking more and more like a street crazy or a paranoid schizophrenic. Math was never so exciting. (Andy Spletzer) Fri-Sat Oct 13-14. Egyptian

All we need to say about Jules Dassin's 1955 existential noir masterpiece is that it is perfect. Opens Fri Oct 13; see review this issue. Egyptian

The Robe
Shown as part of "The World of CinemaScope," a series exploring the history of the widescreen. Wed Oct 18; see Stranger Suggests. Seattle Art Museum

Spike and Mike's 2000 Classic Festival of Animation
This year's Classic Festival (not the Sick & Twisted Festival) features three 1999 Oscar nominees and, thankfully, a dozen premieres. Opens Fri Oct 13. Varsity Calendar

This story of a legendary con artist whose shady financial dealings lead to the ruination of a French government--to the entire high-rolling boom years of the '20s, in a way--proves oddly suited to Alain Resnais' icy style. Odd, because against all fears, the result proves utterly entertaining. The period trappings are elegantly realized and Stephen Sondheim's superb score is a blessing, but the real secret to this film's success is Jean-Paul Belmondo. As seductive and vital as the typical Resnais hero is distant and withered in anguish, Belmondo brings the film to life in a way none of the director's other films manage; no wonder it's the director's biggest commercial hit by a wide margin. (Bruce Reid) Sat-Sun Oct 14-15. Grand Illusion

*Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool
A rarely shown AIDS awareness collaboration between jazz and hiphop artists, including Donald Byrd with Guru, MC Solaar with Ron Carter, the Pharcyde with members of Groove Collective, and members of the Last Poets with Pharoah Sanders. With artist interviews and commentary by leading social theorist professor Cornel West. Wed Oct 18. JBL Theater at EMP

*Two Lane Blacktop
Monte Hellman's long-lost masterpiece returns in a new 35mm print. Opens Fri Oct 13; see Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion

Two Trevors Go To Washington
Two South African activists--one a political insider, the other a radical Soweto leader--and their experiences at last April's meeting of the World Bank/IMF in Washington, DC, serve to illustrate the effects of globalization and world economic policy in South African society. Sun Oct 15. Kane Hall

*Yuri Norstein
The Russian master of animation screens several of his animated films (2 and 5 pm) and leads an intensive workshop on his signature multi-plane cut-out animation technique (4 pm). Seating is limited to only 50 seats for the screening and 30 seats for the workshop; call 911 Media Arts at 682-6552 for tickets. Sat Oct 14. 911 Media Arts


Almost Famous
The truth of the matter is that this movie is nothing more and nothing less than a light and entertaining crowd-pleaser. Which is fine. Good, even. It's just that for a rock 'n' roll tour film set in 1973, the content comes across as so... clean--like R-rated content in a PG-13 package. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, 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) 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 Winona Ryder's character, Charlotte, isn't Richard Gere's character's daughter. Ewww. (Jamie Hook) Pacific Place 11

The story is this: Jamie Foxx is a petty thief who is sent to prison for stealing from a seafood warehouse. While serving time, his cell mate leaves Jamie Foxx with a coded message, which, when deciphered, will lead him to a secret stash of gold worth $42 million. Meanwhile, the government wants to do two things: (a) catch an arrogant and amoral computer hacker who is a national security threat and (b) recover the missing money. To accomplish these goals they use Jamie Foxx as bait. I refuse to say anything more about this film. (Charles Mudede) Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

Barenaked in America
Barenaked Ladies are the quirky Canadians who scored radio hits with "One Week" and "It's All Been Done"; Barenaked in America is the aimless popumentary directed by Jason Priestley that would indicate This is Spinal Tap isn't being re-released north of the border. Watch their VH1 Behind the Music instead. (Jason Pagano) Uptown

This poor homely kid is addicted to beauty pageants. Too ugly to win anything as a child, she grows up and... poof! she's Minnie Driver. Now her life goal is to become Miss America Miss, whatever that means. First-time director Sally Field has as uncanny ability to drain the blood from her characters until they flatline, and they're as dead as the plot. The movie skips by its own scenes, waving briskly at the main characters' moral poverty, sexual abuse, and jail time. Beautiful is neither dark nor funny, and Field extricates all traces of camp from a movie about beauty pageants! (Paula Gilovich) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

*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) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

The Cell
The succulent Jennifer Lopez and the ever-more dissolute Vince Vaughn disappear into the mind of serial killer Vincent D'Onofrio. The stunning visuals are lifted whole from Damien Hirst, Mathew Barney, the Bros. Quay, and others, but remain creepily potent. (Tamara Paris) 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) Admiral

Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark is a wonderful film in theory. In exposition, however, it suffers gravely from director Lars von Trier's ingrained contrarian aesthetic and growing avant-garde laziness. When the film is not wantonly sadistic, it is simply sloppy in a poorly thought-out way. While von Trier maintains his unique facility for the direction of small, crying women, his other tricks seem woefully inadequate for pulling off the feat he sets out to accomplish; and where he pulls lazily back from the challenge, substituting intellect for passion, Björk just fucking goes for it, ripping her heart right out and holding it up as sacrifice. In only five short numbers, she manages to build a complete spine for the film--a spine that von Trier himself lacks. (Jamie Hook) Harvard Exit, Seven Gables

Digimon: The Movie
Digimon was a very weird movie, at least that's what I thought because I don't know anything about Digimon. The movie was pretty boring, but there were some cool parts, like when the Digimon digevolved; the music gets louder, and the Digemon become something even cooler than what they were before. The animation was pretty cool, but not as good as I thought it would look. So people who love Digimon will probably like this movie but I don't want to see it again. (Sam Lachow, 9 years old) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Oak Tree

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, with bags like eggcups under his eyes--first-rate comic apparatus. If he had two solos instead of one, I would recommend the movie. (Barley Blair) Pacific Place 11

*The Exorcist
Though the re-release of The Exorcist is unlikely to leave the same mark it did in 1973--when audience members purportedly vomited and ran screaming from theaters across the globe--it is nevertheless a great excuse to see the film in a dark theater, with the surround-sound effects of a remastered soundtrack. (Melody Moss) Cinerama, Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Southcenter

Get Carter
Mike Hodges' 1971 thriller Get Carter may be no masterpiece, but it's a cool, ruthless little gem, as sharp and gleaming as a whetted knife blade. Stephen Kay's remake, on the other hand, is all flashing lights, showy video effects, and rapid, incoherent editing. Now, I'm all for style over substance, but if you go that route, be sure to get an actor who looks good in silk suits. Sylvester Stallone--at his most glumly immobile in the lead role of a Vegas loan shark's enforcer who comes up to Seattle to avenge his brother's death--seems comically distorted wearing designer threads. Mickey Rourke wears his muscle shirts and neon bright sunglasses with flair; maybe he should have starred. (Bruce Reid) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro

I feel more comfortable pretending that the conflict in this movie takes place--oh, let's say over a Scrabble board. Okay. Diana, played by the hunky Michelle Rodriguez, is in trouble at her high school. We see her in an impromptu crossword match, and her principal warns her that one more unwarranted word-fest and she's expelled on the spot. Later that same day, Diana's father sends her on an errand to the local Scrabble club, where her brother takes lessons. She sees a possible outlet for her aggressions. (Barley Blair) Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11

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) Admiral

Meet the Parents
Ben Stiller plays Greg, a male nurse living in an unnamed metropolis about to pop the question to Pam, his kindergarten-teacher girlfriend. But he realizes in the nick of time that he must first ask her father (played with vicious delicacy by Robert De Niro) for permission. Happily, a trip home to attend her sister's wedding presents the perfect opportunity. But wait! Complications invariably ensue, and each new catastrophic development drives a wedge ever deeper twixt Greg and his beloved. (Tamara Paris) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Guild 45th, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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. (Min Liao) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Place Vendôme
Catherine Deneuve does more than merely save Place Vendôme--she ennobles it. Jittery and exhausted, Deneuve wanders through the first half of the film seeming to expect at any moment to collapse into coma. There's a genuine fear clawing through her, as well as signs of a steely pragmatism that emerges more forcefully as the film unfolds. Too bad not much else in Place Vendôme contains such surprises. (Bruce Reid) Metro

Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans is set in the early '70s and based on real life, real people, the real America. It's a "problem film"--a movie about a black man (a football coach, in this case) who has to win the trust and love of angry, white racists. Incredible as this may sound, the movie is actually fascinating--not because it's well done or acted (nothing stands out in that regard), but because it has the manic pace of The Rock coupled with the content of Do The Right Thing. Now how in the world can you top that? (Charles Mudede) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Northgate, Pacific Place 11

First-date movies have special requirements, to which Santitos answers admirably: Colorful, light, and cheerful? Check. Sexy, but not mushy or gross? Check. Beautiful people? Check. But not only beautiful people? Something surprising? Check. A few puzzles to work out afterward? Check check check. (Barley Blair) Broadway Market

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) City Centre, Crest

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) Admiral, Grand Alderwood

I can guarantee that the second annual SUFF will have its fair share of failures. Perhaps some will even be spectacular failures; I hope few will be the flaccid, dull failures of the merely incompetent or lazy. But, by the very palpable possibility of admitted failure, I can also reasonably presume the festival will offer its share of fabulous successes. There is a huge selection in this year's festival, meaning there are that many more risks for the audience to take. I'll hazard a guess that your risks will pay off handsomely. Certainly, it's an experiment worth pursuing. (Jamie Hook) Cinema 18, Little Theatre

*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. Aurora Cinema Grill, 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) Metro

Urban Legends: Final Cut
For those who create teen-slasher flicks, it is acknowledged that effort needn't necessarily be at a premium, but it is also ackowledged that one should do as best as one can do anyway. Why? Common fucking human decency--obviously not on the agenda when this fetid offering spluttered off the mill. (Kudzai Mudede) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

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. 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. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

The Watcher
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) Aurora Cinema Grill, Meridian 16

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. (Jamie Hook) City Centre

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) Uptown

Woman on Top
Penélope Cruz is Isabella, a Brazilian chef with severe motion sickness who leaves a small fishing village in Brazil for San Francisco in order to escape her two-timing husband. She subsequently finds herself on television in her very own spicy Latin cooking show, blessed with magical chef powers and a neverending supply of Wonderbra-friendly outfits. (Rachel Kessler) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16