Coming Soon

Deuces Wild, Dogme is Dead! (Long Live Dogme), Dogtown and Z-Boys, Enigma, Hollywood Ending, The Independent, Nine Queens, Spider-Man, World Traveler

New This Week

The Big Heat
See Stranger Suggests. A classic noir by Fritz Lang.

Cartoons from the 1930s
The Rendezvous is giving up the good stuff: classic cartoons of Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, and cool serial episodes.

* The Cat's Meow
Reviewed this issue. Peter Bogdanovich's new film after a long hiatus focuses on a Hollywood scandal involving a mysterious death.

The Clark Show
The irrepressible Clark Humphrey presents the aptly named The Clark Show, featuring comedy, games, readings, and strange movies.

Dead Alive
This over-the-top 1992 New Zealand flick is a gorefest extraordinaire with diseased rats and zombies.

The First Year
A documentary that follows the first year of five rookie public school teachers.

Five Years of Fly Films
Seattle International Film Festival presents a retrospective of the short films in its Fly Filmmaking program, which gives independent filmmakers seven days to shoot a 22-minute film.

Jason X
The indestructible horror staple Jason goes sci-fi as he's cryogenically frozen and thaws out in 2455.

The Seventh Annual Jewish Film Festival continues with highlights including Late Marriage, Farewell, She Came To Pick Me Up, and A Dream of Mother.

Life, or Something Like It
Reviewed this issue. Big-lipped brunette Angelina Jolie stars as a big-lipped blonde.

Sex Madness
A 1938 scare tactic movie in the company of Reefer Madness and Cocaine Fiends about a man who gets gonorrhea from a stripper.

* The Short Works of Sativa Peterson
Sativa Peterson's excellent short films are as personal as fingerprints. 911 presents this sampling of her work featuring 5 Nights 5 Steaks, The Handbook of What to Do, and The Slow Escape. Not to be missed for fans of intimate adventurous short films. (NATE LIPPENS)

* Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation
The animation celebration returns for another glorious year of sick fun and whimsical gross-out.

The Sun Demon
Jet City Improv presents Sun Demon as part of its Twisted Flicks night.

Time Out
Reviewed this issue. A disturbing French film about one man's elaborate deception and double life. (TAMARA PARIS)

* Umbrellas
Henry Corra and Grahame Weinbren's excellent and controversial documentary feature about the artist Christo's Umbrellas/Joint Project for Japan. In the course of Christo creating the environmental art project, it was struck by natural disaster and resulted in two deaths. Christo later tried to block the film, ensuring its cult status. (NATE LIPPENS)

A kayak adventure film shot in Norway, Iceland, Croatia, Canada, and the United States.

Vintage Films at Hokum Hall
The three films are Sailors, Beware, Early to Bed, and Pardon Us.

Continuing runs

A Beautiful Mind
Stories about the insane are an inherent paradox. Because for a story to be compelling, it has to have rules, and an inner logic, whereas mental illness doesn't have rules, and treats logic as just another way of seeing. John Nash (Russell Crowe) plays the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who suffered from schizophrenia. With a deft directorial touch, the paradox of Nash's world could really come to life. But that would take more of a talent than Ron Howard. (MICHAEL SHILLING)

* Behind the Sun
Broiling in the Brazilian badlands, a diminishing family carries out a generations-old blood feud to its logical extreme: extinction. This fable of violence plays itself out as the brutal landscape burns, branding its scrawled epic into the older, harsher sun and dust of land-more powerful, vast, and cruel than any human story, more ordained and encompassing than archetype. (RACHEL KESSLER)

Big Trouble
Based on "humorist" Dave Barry's novel, Big Trouble tells the story of how a mysterious suitcase brings together and changes the lives of a motley-ass group of people played by a motley-ass ensemble cast.

Black Hawk Down
As a filmmaker, Ridley Scott is an ad man forever in search of a product to sell. In Black Hawk Down, there are several competing products, including Military Hypocrisy, Uncommon Valor, and African Savagery, but in the end the bill of goods boils down to the hoariest chestnut of all: War is Hell. Like any good shill, this director can't be bothered to let messy details like politics, reason, or history overcomplicate his pitch. (SEAN NELSON)

Blade II: Bloodhunt
This sequel to the 1998 original stars Wesley Snipes as human/vampire warrior Blade, based on the Marvel Comics character. It's not the particulars or the plot that matters of course. (NATE LIPPENS)

Borstal Boy
A northern Irish boy (played by the unmistakable Yank Shawn Hatosy) gets sent to the borstal (the UK equivalent of juvie) for conspiring to bring an IRA bomb into WWII-torn London. Once inside, he dons short pants, falls for a sailor boy, and embarks on a Wildean journey of personal awakening. This adaptation of Brendan Behan's watershed memoir, while nationalistically devout (up the Republic!) and morally liberal, has a little too much dew in its eyes to do full justice to the late poet/playwright. (Sean Nelson)

Changing Lanes
Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck are involved in a fender-bender rendering Jackson immobile. Affleck speeds off, unknowingly leaving behind an extremely important document; a bitter Jackson misses an important custody hearing, and a grand old feud is born. (KUDZAI MUDEDE)

The Cherry Orchard
Ah, Chekhov! A great play, some great actors (Alan Bates, Charlotte Rampling), but a weak movie. (TAMARA PARIS)

A teenager accidentally activates a machine that enables him to make time stand still. So did the director when he picked up a camera.

An aging, unlucky-in-love school headmistress in an English village (improbably played by horsey cracker Andie MacDowell) finds comfort in the cackling company of her two similarly desperate girlfriends. Until their weekly bitchfest is complicated by the arrival of her true love in the age-inappropriate form of a 25-year-old hottie. Okay, this is a perfectly acceptable set-up for nice little comedy. So why the shocking lurch into Stella Got Her Groove Back and Then It Got Hit by a Truck more than 3/4 of the way through the movie? Whoa! What is this crap? No Weddings and the Funeral of the Lovable Male Lead? Pick a lane and stay in it, people, you're giving me a headache. (TAMARA PARIS)

Death to Smoochy
Driven by adults' universal aversion to pervy, purple, children's TV characters, Danny DeVito's dark comedy is adequately raunchy, but ultimately forgettable. (HANNAH LEVIN)

Don't Ask, Don't Tell
A wacked-out queer film set in Sodom Flats, Texas about a conspiracy to make the entire planet gay.

E.T. (20th Anniversary)
Childhood is never quite as magical when you revisit it. Case in point: the 20th anniversary re-release of E.T. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Bill Paxton hears God's voice, and it tells him to cut people up with an ax! It's nice to know I'm not alone in the Lord's kingdom.

* Gosford Park
Set in 1932, Gosford Park is a meta-mystery, meaning the setting, figures, and tropes of a murder mystery form the frame for the real concern (or concerns): class and gender rivalries; the rise of mass entertainment; and the dark history of the industrial revolution and British imperialism. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

High Crimes
This bad film is directed by the great Carl Franklin, who directed Devil in A Blue Dress. The movie (which stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd) is not horrible, just too professional and conventional. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Human Nature
The latest absurdist/nihilist comedy from the savagely funny pen of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), starring Tim Robbins, Patricia Arquette, and the great Rhys Ifans. Directed by music video avatar Michel Gondry.

This languorous, beautifully acted film about erotic and familial entanglements in a small Maine fishing town one summer builds up to three moments of utter emotional brutality so severe that the long moments in between them thrum like high tension wires. (SEAN NELSON)

* Italian for Beginners
The characters of Italian for Beginners begin in a state of despair. This being a romantic comedy, their lives begin to intersect through a series of coincidences-coincidences that could feel contrived, but due to the rough integrity of the script, performances, and direction (shaped in part by the monastic rigors of the Dogme 95 ethic), they feel like the organic waywardness of life. (BRET FETZER)

Kissing Jessica Stein
Three things are readily apparent within the first 10 minutes of Kissing Jessica Stein: Though the film ostensibly is about two straight women who decide to go lesbo and fall in love, Jessica Stein will end up with the guy she currently despises. Also, despite both women taking a freshman crack at the girl-girl thing, one is clearly more invested in the concept than the other. Finally, the too-close camera shots, the emphasis on fast, witty banter, and the overacting will be a niggling annoyance throughout the film. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

* The Last Waltz
Martin Scosese captures the final show of one of the most contradictory rock bands of the '70s; even if you don't like the band, you need to see this movie because of Neil Young's performance of "Helpless," Joni Mitchell's reading of "Coyote," and Bob Dylan's "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down." (SEAN NELSON)

Lucky Break
Another quirky British comedy in which a team of misfits overcome adversity and somehow find their better selves-in this case, a group of prisoners putting on a musical as part of a scheme to escape. (BRET FETZER)

Monsoon Wedding
At first, it seems like Mira Nair is just doing family drama. The film is stylish, brisk, witty, and beautifully filmed. But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its fluid relationship with tradition. (SEAN NELSON)

Monster's Ball
Monstrous Balls is more like it. Hank is a racist prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton, perfect), son of a retired racist prison guard (Peter Boyle, who doesn't even try an accent), and father of a young, non-racist prison guard (Heath Ledger, who tries his hardest) in a Georgia State Penitentiary death row. Hank falls into a desperate affair with Leticia (Halle Berry, semi-plausible), a black woman, after both of their sons die. (SEAN NELSON)

Murder By Numbers
Movie by numbers. Director Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) works very hard to given psychological nuance to yet another retread of the Leopold and Loeb case; in this case, it's two high-school students, a "cool" kid and a geeky "smart" kid, who kill a woman to demonstrate their existential freedom and moral superiority. Sandra Bullock tries to toughen her image by playing a messed-up homicide cop; the cop part isn't convincing, but the messed-up part is surprisingly layered and engaging. All to no avail; there's hardly a moment's suspense in the whole formulaic thing. (BRET FETZER)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
This romantic comedy is based on the one-woman show of Second City alumna Nia Vardalos, who also directs. It tells the story of 30-year-old Toula who searches for love and self-realization.

National Lampoon's Van Wilder
A zany college romp that tries to be Animal House for a new generation, this film lacks both the zaniness and the wit that made the Delta Brothers' movie so entertaining. Stay away. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

New Best Friend
Yet another film about eye-rolling, overprivileged students who spend all of their time partying, fucking, being bulimic, and vying for Daddy's love when they should be studying, and the scheming poor girl who breaks into their clique (and may have gotten herself snuffed for it). Everything about New Best Friend is as dumb and boring as that description sounds. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

* No Man's Land
War is-guess what?-hell in this story of the Bosnia-Serbia conflict, circa 1993. Surrounded by UN "peacekeepers," clumsy media vultures, and their warring rival factions, two soldiers cross into the zone between the bullets and clash about the war's origins and costs. (SEAN NELSON)

The Panic Room
The clever and tightly orchestrated twists and turns never rise above thriller formulas driven by utter clichés. (BRET FETZER)

The Rookie
In The Rookie, Dennis Quaid and Disney bring to the screen the real-life story of a baseball player-turned Texas high-school science teacher-turned baseball player. (SONIA RUIZ)

The Scorpion King
Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, brings his ham-fisted acting and perfectly sculpted eyebrows to the big screen for this adventure flick.

The Sweetest Thing
Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, together at last! Also, as my friend Michael is fond of saying: Someone get that Selma Blair a steak! The film is some kind of romantic comedy bullshit from the director of Cruel Intentions.

Guy Pearce and his cheekbones star in this update of the H.G. Wells sci-fi landmark.

The Triumph of Love
Mira Sorvino is cute as a bug playing a princess trying to return the rightful heir to her throne. But the movie doesn't make much of an effort to translate this play (by 18th-century French writer Marivaux) from the stage to the screen; the result is both stiff and flimsy. (BRET FETZER)

* Y Tu Mamá También
Y Tu Mamá También is a brilliant, incisive core sampling of life in Mexico. It's both slender and profound; the movie's greatest pleasures are often its smallest ones-even the title comes from a tossed-off bit of banter. Any individual moment could be trivial, silly, pointless, even embarrassing-but the accumulation of moments has a devastating scope. (BRET FETZER)