Antique Smut, Burlesk King, Hannibal, Head Over Heels, Madcat Film Festival, Ratcatcher


Before Night Falls
See review this issue. Tubby New York painter makes film about gay Cuban poet. Opens Fri. Broadway Market

*The Captain's Paradise
Captain's Paradise is more than a bit grotesque in its depiction of the world of women as the playing field for the sport of men, and we could all do without the sickly late-period British colonialism that underpins the characters. But then again, what better world for the light, dapper formality of Alec Guinness, who stars as Captain St. James, a Benthamite English hedonist with a woman on either side of the straits of Gibraltar--one dowdy and domestic and British, the other energetic and voluptuous and Latin. Of course, only the English could pull off a comedy of errors with such a vicious conceit at its heart. Stay focused on Guinness' elegant, restrained performance, and you will enjoy the film the way it was meant to be enjoyed. He's a bit of a pig, but doesn't his white suit and wonderfully English interpretation of flamenco more than make up for it? (Jamie Hook) Thurs Feb 1 only. Seattle Art Museum

See review this issue. The ads proclaim this a "Korean Gone With the Wind!" What part of that is supposed to be appealing, actually? Opens Fri. Egyptian

*Cinema Rocks
A collection of shorts organized around, uh, I'm not sure really. Something to do with energy, fun, rock 'n' roll. The longest work of the night, Harry McCoy's Gas Huffin' Bad Gals, looks like an excruciating pastiche of noir-parody and hamfisted, Russ Meyeresque camp, but things pick up from there. Matt McCormick's The Vyrotonin Decision could have used some focus--it feels too much like flipping through the TV dial--but the visuals are arresting, as they at least are in Giulia Frati's barely coherent Sadisinfectenz; while clever one-jokers Election Collectibles (Bryan Boyce) and Jean Jacket are brief and well made enough to not quite wear out their welcome. Live music will be provided by Aveo, whom I've never heard, but people tell me they're pretty good. (Bruce Reid) Fri only. 911 Media Arts

Grigory Konzintsev's 1964 Shakespearean adaptation doesn't have quite the critical cachet of his legendary King Lear, but those who've seen it still speak breathlessly of its brilliance. Sat-Sun only. Grand Illusion

*Heavy Metal Parking Lot
See interview this issue. Jeff Krulik's classic documentary study of Judas Priest fans is teamed up with only a few of the innumerable homages, semi-sequels, and rip-offs it has spawned. Sun Feb 7 only. JBL Theater at EMP

Invisible Circus
Fired up by the political radicalism of '60s San Francisco, Cameron Diaz flies off to Europe with boyfriend Christopher Eccleston and starts hanging out with the wrong crowd before killing herself in Portugal. This story is told in flashback from the six-years-later perspective of younger sibling Jordana Brewster, in Europe herself to sort out the enigma of her idolized and idealized late sister. One underrated element of complete incompetence is that it makes merely dull what, by all rights, should be outrageously offensive; just so here, where Eccleston's bedding of both sisters is kept from stomach-churning repulsiveness only because the inept camerawork, silly dialogue, and atrocious acting have long since removed any sense of reality by then. (Bruce Reid) Opens Fri. Meridian 16

Moonlight Whispers
See review this issue. A comic portrait of two teens and their sadomasochistic sexual games; did we mention it comes from Japan? Opens Fri. Grand Illusion

*Paris, Texas
Wim Wenders' mythopoeic evocation of America--well, Sam Shepard's America--remains every bit as lovely, moving, and, yes, pretentious as the day it was released. The weightily elliptical narrative of Harry Dean Stanton wandering in from the desert and reuniting with the son he'd abandoned years before has always felt insufficient to carry all the themes with which it's burdened, and the lugubrious pacing is trying as often as it is hypnotic. But the casting of Stanton remains one of the masterstrokes of '80s filmmaking; his gaunt frame and haunted eyes (testifying as much to the hunger of an overlooked actor getting his first juicy lead role as to the character confronting his past) are real enough to burn away the film's excess artiness. (Bruce Reid) Fri only. Seattle Art Museum

Rebels With a Cause
Helen Garvy's documentary portrait of the Students for a Democratic Society movement was obviously made on the cheap, both of budget and imagination; beyond some archival photos and a collection of old political buttons and posters, the only imagery consists of two-dozen talking heads reminiscing about their activist years. By shifting focus away from the era covered to the people involved, however, that visual monotony actually helps the film--for as much as it proclaims its subject to be the civil rights and antiwar protests of the '60s, it's actually about the personal satisfaction that comes from finding you belong to something larger than yourself. As testimonial after testimonial is given about the exhilaration these former college students felt, even their conflicts and hypocrisies come to seem laudable, merely the price to pay for such heady times. (Bruce Reid) Opens Fri. Varsity Calendar

A Single Girl
See Stranger Suggests. Knocked-up maid contemplates leaving boyfriend. And we weren't kidding about the Dean Martin's Celebrity Roasts. Reply to Thurs-Sun only. Little Theatre

So Dear to My Heart
If there is one universal rule in American cinema, it is that nothing matures a child quicker than caring for an animal, especially under the stern but loving instruction of an elder. In this case, the child is the kid from Treasure Island, the animal are sheep, and the elder is Burl Ives. Sat only. Stimson Auditorium

Kidnapped by aliens at the tender age of four and reprogrammed as a killing machine, Spaceman becomes marooned on his home planet Earth after an unseen but presumably cataclysmic crash. What's a trained killer with a work ethic to do? Take a job at a grocery store, of course. After years of helming The Onion, director Scott Dikkers understands that absurd material is best approached with utmost seriousness. It looks and sounds like Saturday-afternoon Japanese schlock, but turns its laserbeam wit on modern villains like security guards and assistant managers instead of the slightly more benign rubber monsters. And somehow, spotting the exposed wires that make its fantastic flight possible only adds to the fun. (Tamara Paris) Fri-Sat only. Grand Illusion

The most forgotten little holiday finally gets a serial killer movie of its very own. Opens Fri. Meridian 16, Oak Tree

*A Zed & Two Noughts
One of Peter Greenaway's more gleefully perverse efforts, A Zed & Two Noughts fixes death, decay, zoology, amputation, and, of course, sex in a tastefully baroque frame. Following the accidental death of his wife in a collision with a swan, doctor Oliver Deuce grows increasingly obsessed with death. Together with his twin brother Oswald, he begins a morbid ménage à trois with the amputee driver of his wife's ill-fated car, and, as you might expect, things go from bad to worse. The plot is maddening and the puns come thick as the London fog. But it must be said: This film contains some of the best, most disturbing time-lapse imagery of decomposition ever gratuitously included in a high-minded art film. The maggots crawling over the swan's wings will make you wince. Nice and gross. (Jamie Hook) Fri-Sat only. Egyptian


Cast Away
Cast Away takes lurid delight in cataloging the various losses that accrue upon once-wealthy FedEx international systems supervisor Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) after a freak Christmas Eve plane crash strands him somewhere in the South Pacific. The stupid simplicity with which Hanks is shown crafting his world so utterly subverts any but the most priapic observations that one comes away from the film feeling a trifle molested, or just bored. (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate

The film critic in me has control over my emotions; it can and will repress my wolflike desire to fill this page with hungry words that praise (in greater and greater detail) the celestial beauty of Juliette Binoche. My straightforward review will open with a detailed plot summary ("The movie is about a French village whose serenity is shattered by a mysterious woman who moves into town with her illegitimate daughter and opens a sexy chocolate store."), and then state the truth ("The movie is unremarkable!"). Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the job of a film critic. (Charles Mudede) Guild 45th, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Legendary warrior Chow Yun Fat can never declare his love for fellow martial-arts expert Michelle Yeoh. Instead, he entrusts her with Green Destiny, his nearly magical sword. It's an attempt to wed emotionally reticent drama with the exhilarating freedom of Hong Kong-genre filmmaking, but director Ang Lee can't quite pull off the combination; for too long a time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's shifting gears only jam. The film finds its rhythm and earns the accolades it has received once it leaves the stars behind and gives its heart over to the young and engaging Zhang Ziyi. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Neptune, Uptown

Double Take
This road and buddy movie was based on a story by Graham Greene called "Across the Bridge." But this small piece of information is entirely irrelevant. Indeed, the fact that Greene's literary estate is receiving royalties from this film must strike one as nothing more or less than a bizarre oddity. What is relevant to this film is Orlando Jones, who is supposed to be Hollywood's next big comic. Is he hot or not? The answer is no. Why? Because he is not intrinsically funny. Eddie Griffin, his partner in this film, is naturally funny, but not the future star Orlando Jones. I agree, Orlando has a funny face, and even talks kind of funny, but he is not, at heart, a funny person. As for the film, it's not too bad. (Charles Mudede) Pacific Place 11

Dracula 2000
From the high-tech theft of Dracula's body out of Van Helsing's antiques shop (buried beneath so much security, they understandably thought it was treasure) to an explanation of Dracula's origins that brilliantly flashes back to Biblical times in order to explain his aversion to silver and crosses, there are some great ideas floating around Dracula 2000. The execution of these ideas is where it all falls apart. (Andy Spletzer) City Center

Finding Forrester
A kid from the Bronx excels at both basketball and composition, befriends a hermit writer, undergoes a crisis from which the writer must extract him, thereby helping the writer overcome his own reclusive blah blah blah. (Barley Blair) Factoria, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

The Gift
Set passively in a Georgia swamp--the very landscape of horror--The Gift is about a woman, Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), who has a special and unusual gift: She's psychic. She uses this gift to help the community. Then! She starts seeing bad stuff. A murder occurs. She uses her gift to solve the murder. Nothing remains here of horror director Sam Raimi's insane ambition to make films of terror and slapstick so exciting they would significantly alter the entire genre each time he passed through. Ever since Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness, Raimi has been assimilated as a working Joe in the moviemaking factory. His candle has gone out in the Hollywood wind. (Paula Gilovich) Metro, Pacific Place 11

House of Mirth
British director Terence Davies' The House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and Dan Aykroyd, adapts Edith Wharton's 1905 novel about New York high society--the tragic story of a beautiful young woman looking to marry a rich husband and finding herself torn between her need for financial security and her desire for personal integrity. Davies' film brings his trademark style (mannered performances, stately tracking shots, symmetrical compositions, and exquisite cinematography) to Wharton's novel, and the result is, on the one hand, singular and moving; on the other, stiff and narratively confusing. If one is able to get over the initial discomfort due to the overly mannered acting style, one may, by the end, find oneself authentically moved by the film's tragic denouement. (Caveh Zahedi) Seven Gables

An art-house Porky's set in Sicily during World War II. Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro) starts hanging out with the older kids who ogle Malena (Monica Bellucci), a beautiful woman whose husband is off at war. Pretty cinematography and a pretty girl do not make up for the ugly, voyeuristic core of this film. (Andy Spletzer) Metro

Miss Congeniality
Sandra Bullock plays Gracie, a tomboyish FBI agent who goes undercover--beauty pageant-style--in order to capture a terrorist preying on contestants.Yeah it's simple, but who expects complication when Sandra Bullock is the star? (Kathleen Wilson) Factoria, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Set in Depression-era Mississippi, George Clooney stars as Everett Ulysses McGill, a suave and well-groomed petty criminal doing hard time on a chain gang. Shackled to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), he convinces them to join him in escaping by promising to split a fortune in buried treasure with them. The inspiration for the movie is the music. T-Bone Burnett has collected all sorts of music from the era and from the region, and it's a joy to hear so much bluegrass in a major motion picture. The buoyant music and ham-handed performances are enough to lift anyone's spirits. (Andy Spletzer) Egyptian, Factoria, Harvard Exit, Redmond Town Center

The Pledge
An aging, chain-smoking, and lonesome Jack Nicholson plays a retired Reno police detective who, during his last investigation, promises the parents of a brutally raped and murdered 8-year-old girl that he will, upon his eternal salvation, apprehend the culprit. Almost immediately, they find a mentally deficient Benicio Del Toro instead. Through an odd interrogation, Del Toro confesses the crime to Aaron Eckhart (the best part of the flick, incidentally), but Jack doesn't buy it. In fact, he becomes obsessed with finding the real monster at the cost of his potential happiness and sanity. Of course Jack is decent (although reserved), and Robin Wright Penn is bearable. But Sean Penn's direction here is kind of smug, kind of condescending--not bad, just really not that good. Neither is the movie. Opens Fri. (Chris Dougherty) Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Southcenter

Quills seeks to rehabilitate the Marquis de Sade's image into that of Brave Soldier in the Noble Battle against Hypocrisy. Which not only flattens and dulls the film's subject, it also makes for one hell of a hypocritical movie in its own right. (Bruce Reid) Varsity

Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance is a hip-hoppin' drama about a rhythmically challenged white girl from the Midwest who sets out to endear herself to the spatially gifted, yet morally shaky, young brothers and sisters of a black, inner city Chicago high school. And how responsibly does this movie handle the potential conflagration of bad racial stereotypes it presents? I ask you all to picture matches, dynamite, and a very drunk monkey. Sure it's a bit early to be claiming something as the worst movie of the year, but I'll stick my neck out and call this dark horse a keeper come December. (Kudzai Mudede) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree

*Shadow of the Vampire
E. Elias Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire revisits the set of film director F. W. Murnau's 1922 horror classic Nosferatu to tell an imagined story of Murnau (John Malkovich) and his obscure star Max Schreck (played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe). Murnau casts an actual vampire, offering--in exchange for Schreck's willingness to "play himself"--to sacrifice his unsuspecting leading lady in the final scene of the film. The unavoidable need to please the producers has created a work that must, out of necessity, clothe its more radical ideas in the less threatening guise of allegory. Even so, it is a wholly entertaining and engaging film, full of charm and whimsy; one that walks a subtle tightrope between creepiness and hilarity. (Caveh Zahedi) Grand Alderwood, Guild 45th, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

I remember reading that after he saw a screening of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels in London, Tom Cruise leapt to his feet and screamed, "This movie rocks!" I'm sure he'll probably scream the same thing about Snatch. I thought it was funny and well made, if kind of rambling and pointless and smart ass, and the people at the screening seemed to like it. So, there you go. If you liked Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, you're gonna like Snatch. If you didn't, well, Brad Pitt is pretty funny (and let's not forget hunky!), so maybe it's worth a matinee or something. I dunno. But it was directed by that Guy Ritchie guy, the one who knocked up Madonna and then married her, forever labeling her first daughter a bastard. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

*State and Main
A Hollywood film crew descend on a small Vermont town to make a movie, bringing their sophisticated mores with them. David Mamet has said that he was thinking of Preston Sturges when he put this film together, and it's a worthy successor to the Master. (Barley Blair) Aurora Cinema Grill, Metro, Pacific Place 11

Sugar & Spice
I guess I went into the situation a bit too naïve. I didn't expect Golden Globes, but I certainly didn't expect... this! Lincoln High's cheer squad captain meets the love of her life and, like any statistical high school love affair, gets knocked up. She and her dopey all-American fiancée get ditched by their parents and are left to fend for their stupid selves. Slowly growing broke, she and her menstrually-synched cheer squad sisters know the only way to quick cash is turning tricks or robbing banks. Of course this pretty gang of giggles has enough self-respect to ditch the tricks and attempt the latter to save their captain from becoming "just another fat ass in Chic jeans." About an hour and 20 minutes later, and after a disgustingly happy ending, Sugar & Spice just left me bitter, a reminder that the pretty girl always wins and I'll always be stuck on the "B squad." Opens Fri. (Megan Seling) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

Thirteen Days
Taking its title from Robert Kennedy's book but its worldview from hagiography, Thirteen Days portrays the Cuban missile crisis as an episode in the life of St. Jack Kennedy. You may enjoy this movie, and that's okay, but I want you to hate it too. While Bruce Greenwood as Bobby Kennedy shows some extraordinary examples of body acting and Kevin Costner gives a performance of madcap ripeness as the Kennedy henchman Kenny O'Donnell, that's pretty much it for the enjoyment. And why should you hate such an innocuous piece of fluff? You should hate anything--any work of art, any literature, any fiction, any history--that pretends there is an obvious answer to any serious question. (Barley Blair) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

The big message in Traffic is perfectly laid-out by its tagline: "Nobody gets away clean." Read the poster and you've saved $8.50. Drugs lead to bad things, that is the moral, and I believe I learned it in ninth-grade health class. All the flashy directorial touches and sterling performances in the world can't cover the fact that Traffic is just another example of Hollywood tackling a complex problem with the simplest and most conservative of solutions. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Varsity

The Wedding Planner
The Wedding Planner is a harmless, sweethearted example of what I call the "Sandra Bullockization" of the romantic comedy. Every leading lady, from Julia Roberts in the upcoming The Mexican to Jennifer Lopez here, seems to be playing the character of Sandra Bullock--down to the squinchy cute face and the whiny comedic asides. This means if you're a Bullock fan, you're in for a good year. And this is your kind of movie. Lopez, playing Maria, the titular Planner, manages to be successful, self-deprecating, beautiful, and devoid of love. She is rescued from death by dumpster by Matthew McConaughey, hunky blond pediatrician and Perfect Catch, but discovers that he is engaged to one of her customers. Predictable hilarity ensues. With the narrative arc of an hour-and-a-half-long sitcom, The Wedding Planner is mildly successful entertainment. (Traci Vogel) Factoria, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

What Women Want
Mel Gibson, playing high-level advertising exec Nick Marshall, gets tripped up in his slick 'n' chauvinistic act when, instead of being handed the promotion he expects, a woman (Helen Hunt as Darcy McGuire) is hired in his place. Rolling his eyes, Nick heads woefully home, gets drunk, falls in the tub and electrocutes himself. And suddenly Nick is in the best position to know what women want--he can hear their very thoughts! A flat, stale, and extremely profitable Hollywood film. (Traci Vogel) Factoria, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

*Yi Yi
Yi Yi opens at a wedding and closes at a funeral, and in between lies a remarkably observant summation of the ups and downs of a middle-class family in Taipei. A computer engineer and his wife, Min-Min are pulled away from his brother-in-law's wedding when Min-Min's mother suffers a stroke and goes into a coma. They eventually bring her home and are encouraged to talk to her in a game attempt to bring her back to consciousness. These one-sided conversations with the comatose woman allow the family members a forum to work out their individual concerns. Do not miss this opportunity to see this wonderful film that will draw you in and make you forget about time and space. (Andy Spletzer) Harvard Exit

*You Can Count on Me
In Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me, "adult" and "sadness" and "American" become a knot of synonyms as the story focuses on the pure inability a brother and sister have with one another now that they're adults. It is as though being an adult, and a member of a grownup American family, is the path of loneliness and sadness. Without any trendy embitterment, the sad path of the story is inspired, beautiful, and desirable. And the case is made for loneliness as the Great American Pursuit. (Paula Gilovich) Broadway Market