13 Conversations About One Thing, Bartleby, Cherish, Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys, The Fast Runner, Juwanna Mann, Lilo & Stitch, Minority Report, The Piano Teacher


Addicted to War
The Seattle Independent Media Center presents this documentary, which examines the perception that the juggernaut-like tenacity of the American Military Industrial Complex is akin to drug dependency, and features footage of Martin Luther King Jr., John Stockwell, Bill Moyers, and others. The screening is a benefit for the IMC, in an effort to raise $10,000 to secure $10,000 in matching funds.

* Badlands
One of my all-time favorite films. Terence Malick's 1973 masterpiece features Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen in the best roles of their careers as Holly and Kit based on 1950s serial killer Charlie Starkweather. (NATE LIPPENS) Grand Illusion

The Bourne Identity
Matt Damon is washed up... on a beach and can't remember his identity. His body is riddled with bullets and there's evidence he has had plastic surgery (his character, not Damon). The lost-identity dude-in-distress genre gets a shot in the hip right next to the implanted microfilm with the numbers to a Swiss bank account with this suspense thriller. Metro, Pacific Place

* California Split
Robert Altman's 1974 movie turns the buddy flick inside out like a starfish with this story of compulsive gamblers played by Elliot Gould and George Segal. This criminally underrated movie is still unavailable on video so catch it while you can with a new print. Grand Illusion

Dirk Shafer's film takes place in the scintillating world of the gay party circuit. John is just a sweet, lonely cop from a small town who is outed and brutalized by his fellow pigs. He heads to West Hollywood to experience life as an openly gay man, which apparently means hanging out with skeezy hustlers, Bruce Villanch, and J. Jim Bulloch. Melodrama ensues with lots of generic bare flesh. The acting is stiffer than a honeymoon pecker and the tired morality tale is cringe-worthy. Is it supposed to be a startling revelation that circuit parties are vapid? My favorite quote about the circuit parties? "It's the gay man's Super Bowl." I thought that was the Oscars. (NATE LIPPENS) Varsity

Based on a short story by macabre master H.P. Lovecraft, Dagon tells the story of a boating accident off the coast of Spain that sends a young couple to the fishing village of Imboca looking for help. As night falls, people start to disappear and things not quite human start to appear. Paul finds himself pursued by the entire town. Running for his life, he uncovers Imboca's dark secret: that they pray to Dagon, a monstrous god of the sea. And Dagon's unholy offspring are freakish half-human creatures on the loose in Imboca. Grand Illusion

* Fat City
John Huston's 1972 movie stars Stacy Keach and Jeff Bridges as boxers--one on his way up and the other on his way down--in Stockton, CA. It's a brilliantly understated mood piece that captures the feel of its location perfectly, especially the sadness of the El Dorado Hotel. Grand Illusion

Filmmaking 101
WigglyWorld hosts a lecture that walks you through the process of making a film from concept and script through post-production and distribution. WigglyWorld

The Future That Never Happened
Linda's Tavern hosts this program of films made in the 1960s about what the future would be like. Have a beer or two and laugh at how wrong they were. Linda's

The Graphic Films of Norman McLaren
The Scottish-born "poet of animation" Norman McLaren pioneered almost every kind of format he worked in. This program features his graphic animations from 1948 to 1971 with self-explanatory names like Dots, Loops, Rhythmetic, Lines Horizontal, and Mosiac. Get stoned beforehand and watch the pretty, pretty designs. Little Theatre

* Polterchrist
What could be funnier than making fun of Jesus? Making fun of Jesus by turning him into a bloodthirsty, cranky, Andrew W.K. look-alike who terrorizes a bunch of kids in a Kent, WA, bowling alley and has hallucinations about selling his wares on a home shopping network. Locally made B-movie "horrordy" flick Polterchrist is totally whacked-out humor that somehow ties together the Son of God, talking animals, glue sniffing, and Johnny Appleseed. GO SEE THIS MOVIE. (JENNIFER MAERZ) Sunset Tavern

* Polyester Prince Roadshow
The Rendezvous Jewelbox Theater presents this traveling roadshow of experimental short films with bands playing along to silent films and bingo. This year's model features films from Japan, Albania, and Germany along with domestic fare. Rendezvous

Reviewed this issue. They sexed-up Velma. That ain't right. Scooby Doo's special effects look about as appealing as Jar Jar Binks. Let's hope this film finally buries any chance of a Fat Albert movie. Let some things be sacred. Metro, Majestic Bay, Pacific Place

Searching Eye: Creative Shorts of the '60s & '70s
This program focuses on award-winning short films of live-action and animation. It includes early work by Jim Henson, Chuck Jones, and Frank Mouris. Little Theatre

* Silence!
WigglyWorld Studios presents the only Seattle show of Silence! before it heads to New York as part of a retrospective of director Gregg Lachow's films. The entire soundtrack, music, and dialogue are performed live as the film plays silently behind the performers. Little Theatre

Reviewed this issue. Director John Woo floats further out into La La Land with this latest action shitpile. Stay home and rent his earlier film The Killer instead. Metro, Pacific Place


* About a Boy
Directed by Paul and Chris Weitz (of American Pie infamy), this tale of male mid-life angst centers around Hugh Grant's Will, an idler of hilarious proportions whose life is measured out in increments of time spent performing important tasks such as shopping for high-end electronic gadgets and gourmet snacks, and going to the hair salon. Living off a fortune earned and perpetuated by his one-hit-wonder musician father, Will has no idea his life is meaningless until he meets a 12-year-old boy whose depressed mother (Toni Collette) forces Will to provide guidance, except that the kid is far more mature than his begrudging father figure. Will can't conceive that his life is unfulfilled, and whenever anyone tries to inform him of what's missing, he digs in his heels and fights to stay a bastard, making his inevitable transformation all the more authentic. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

* Amélie
A beautifully kinetic testament to human sweetness that has audiences lining up around the block and contrarians carping about its artificiality. I'm not saying you have to be an asshole not to like Amélie, but it would probably help. (SEAN NELSON)

Bad Company
At the end of the 20th century, meteorites obsessed our cinematic nightmares (see Deep Impact, Armageddon). At the start of the 21st century, these "extinction level" meteorites have been replaced by nuclear bombs. But the nukes that spook our age are not the organized arsenal of the Cold War (Dr. Strangelove to War Games), but small, user-friendly gadgets that can fit comfortably into a laptop case. Also, these nuclear bombs are not managed by big governments but bought and sold on the open market, like used cars. This is the interesting part of Bad Company: It magnifies the most popular nightmare of the day. Outside of that, the film offers nothing but deep boredom. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

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)

* The Business of Fancydancing
The Business of Fancydancing, as with Alexie poetry and fiction, is great because its paradoxes are not avoided; they collide against each other like so many angry atoms. Each paradox in the film is a complete world: There is the world of Seymour Polatkin (Evan Adams) who, like Alexie, is a successful writer. Seymour is comfortable in the white world (Seattle), he has a white boyfriend, frequents hip nightclubs, and reads at all the important literary venues. Seymour's literary success, however, is based on the raw exploitation of the lives and stories of those he abandoned on the rez. The characters and themes in The Business of Fancydancing, however, are not new; anyone acquainted with Alexie's art will recognize them. What is impressive about the movie, then, is not that we get to see these characters and their stories played out on the movie screen, but that the film is charged at every possible point by Alexie's poetry. Alexie is a great writer and the film is able to transmit that greatness through the dialogue, the long spools of poetry read by Seymour, and even title cards. Indeed, the movie is not really a movie, nor is it a documentary, but a new medium or means to redistribute Alexie's marvelous (and at times shocking) poetry. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

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. So Affleck, from atop New York's twin-towers-less skyline, attacks Jackson's financial credibility, while down on the streets below Jackson prepares an old-fashioned smackdown. Who wins? You won't care. It has to be noted that there's a declining marginal utility to disaster in the movies; way too many things just happen to go wrong in this film, and it wears upon its feasibility. (KUDZAI MUDEDE)

Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood
An insufferable Lifetime adaptation of the insufferable Oprah novel about an intergenerational cabal of insufferable quasi-Southern Gothic ladies.

* Enigma
Despite its compelling story--Enigma was a Nazi encryption machine that enabled the Germans to create unbreakable codes during WWII; unbreakable, that is, until every math and science nerd in Great Britain got to working on it--and attractive cast--Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam, Saffron Burrows--Enigma fails to generate much of the heroic suspense it aims at. This is mainly on account of two things: (1) the conventionality of the romantic sub-plot, and (2) the near-impossibility of knowing what the hell is going on at any given moment on account of the inherently intellectual business the lead characters are engaged in. For WWII code-cracking buffs, however, the movie is highly recommended. (SEAN NELSON)

Jennifer Lopez has had just about enough of her abusive husband (Bill Campbell from The Rocketeer), so she takes some self-defense classes so that she can murder him! You go, girl!

* 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. Set in an army court, it lacks sweeping shots of spectacular army helicopters, and, in the court scenes, it fails to sustain and exploit that efficient military speak ("These are the rules of engagement, sir!"). The result is a bland version of Denzel Washington's superb Courage Under Fire, which had lots of helicopters and military speak. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Ice Age
The recent boom in computer animation bodes well for the next generation, as their childhoods will hopefully not be squandered on lame-ass 2-D Disney musicals. Pleasant and funny, this movie is littered with enough sophisticated jokes to entertain the adults, but is really nothing more than a fast-paced, shimmering toy for kids. Which is just the way it should be. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Importance of Being Earnest
Rupert Everett looks terrible--his face appears to be sliding off his skull, and he's as neckless as a football player. And he should simply stop playing straight men, because he's the most unconvincing lover this side of Passions. Southerner Reese Witherspoon is far too California-girl to play an English lass, with her "I studied with the same voice coach as Gwyneth" accent. Even these quibbles aside, this new adaptation is revolting, too arch by half and with Everett and Colin Firth (who plays Jack Worthing as a kind of stuttering Hugh Grant-type) swallowing all of Oscar Wilde's best lines. You lose everything by method-acting Wilde; his charm lies in all the stagy absurdity of drawing-room social intercourse. Thank God for Judi Dench, steamrolling her way through a terrible situation. (EMILY HALL)

* Insomnia
Every once in a great while, a film comes along that breaks the "remakes-are-always-shitty" rule. Christopher Noland's Insomnia is one of those films. Not only does it match its Danish original, but in many ways it tops it--no minor feat when you take into account the fact that it stars Robin Williams as the villain. Also starring Al Pacino, Hillary Swank, and the great Martin Donovan, Noland's thriller takes its time to unfold, giving each performer ample scenery to gnaw on before arriving at a tight finale. Go see it. (Sidenote: And it's really fucking weird watching Mork fire off a shotgun.) (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

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)

Last Orders
The talents of six of the finest British actors alive are squandered by this moist little movie about a journey to deliver a dead man's ashes to the seaside. (SEAN NELSON)

* Late Marriage
What's best about director Dover's impressive debut--chronicling the collision of sex, love, and family duty in modern-day Israel--is how unsentimentally he portrays committed love, in all its forms. Whether recording a passionately ambivalent fuck between love-hungry singles or the perpetual resentment between married pairs, Late Marriage refuses to romanticize the struggles--or triumphs--of finding Love Everlasting. Plus, it's got the best sex scene I've seen in years. (DAVID SCHMADER)

* Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Director Peter Jackson's adaptation of part one of Tolkien's tale of Hobbits, Wizards, Orcs, Elves, Black Riders, and Dwarves has finally made it to the screen with real live humans, including heavyweights like Ian McKellen (Gandalf!) and Christopher Lee (Saruman!), and middleweight contenders like Elijah Wood (Frodo Baggins) and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn). The actors are all outstanding, and they have to be, because the film's real challenge (beyond making a credible Balrog; accomplished, btw) lies with its faithfulness to the subject of the book: It's an epic adventure about ambivalence. Right down to Frodo's face on the poster, Fellowship is all about rising above doubts (rather than stepping up to convictions), and all the special effects in the world can't convey that. Even though it's not perfect, this movie still kicks fucking ass. (SEAN NELSON)

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)

Murder By Numbers
Movie by numbers. Director Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune) works very hard to give 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.

The New Guy
Why is the obnoxious-dweeb-turned-obnoxious-chick-magnet plot still selling? Why, in this advanced age, are people still laughing at fat jokes and transvestites and dwarves getting beaten up? Why did the guy in the front row howl like he was giving birth for the entire duration of this movie? Also, why would a beautiful 21-year-old actress with a decent résumé willfully dress up like some big-booty ho outta Lynnwood and perform a raunchy striptease on camera? Without a shred of irony? Why is this POS all-but-guaranteed to make millions at the box office--despite the fact that its only asset is the scene where a teenage nymphet addresses Vanilla Ice as "Pukeface"? Why do people pay money for this shit? Why? Why? No. Tell me. Why? (MEG VAN HUYGEN)

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

* Re-Animator
Dude! Re-fucking-Animator! Right on!

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.

As filmed by Sam Raimi, Spider-Man trots out a predictable (and cloyingly Victorian) boy-girl story that wastes Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst) as a screaming damsel in distress, Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) as a cackling villain, and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) spouting a bunch of pre-fab platitudes. (JOSH FEIT)

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
A cartoon about magic horses. If you like magic horses, you'll LOVE this cartoon.

* Star Wars: Episode II, Attack of the Clones
Attack of the Clones delivers exactly what you should expect from a Star Wars movie. It is big. It is fun. It is an event. From the opening surge of John Williams' familiar score, to the final optical zooming out to the words "Directed by George Lucas," Episode II lives up to the Star Wars myth--a myth that has always meant "stupid fun." Don't agree? Go back and watch the first three. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* The Sum of All Fears
Despite all appearances, there are two good things about the new Tom Clancy movie with Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan. One is a bold plot twist that comes so suddenly that it reconfigures the whole experience in an instant, and almost tricks you into thinking the film is better than it is. The other good thing, almost a great thing, is the casting of Liev Schreiber in the role of John Clark, CIA spook, and all-around spy genius. Clark is the grease in the gears, the genius-hero who speaks a dozen languages and can garrote a guard while hacking into a mainframe without ever being seen or heard. Schreiber came to Seattle to discuss his role, saying that his research revealed that most CIA guys are language students who get rooked into service, but whose real ambitions lie behind desks. Asked how he felt about representing this big Hollywood action picture to the press, Schreiber said, "Well, I like it. I think they did a good job. But I have to confess that the real reason has more to do with my belief that the real story lies with Clark. I think there's a lot more to that character that could--and might--be explored in a sequel. So, yes... I may have ulterior motives." (SEAN NELSON)

* Undercover Brother
At first glance, Undercover Brother just looks like a Blacksploitation Austin Powers. Which it is. Fortunately, it happens to be funnier that Austin Powers. No, seriously. I mean it. Littered with gags, some of which fire, many of which don't, it is perfect summer fare--a grand opportunity to get baked and spend an afternoon at the movies (if you're want to do that--and I'm not condoning such behavior, mind you). The story? Does it matter? (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

"Who do you suppose the target audience is for this film?" my fella whispered in the dark. "Movie execs who wanted to make another Into the Bedroom but couldn't escape their Fatal Attraction tendencies," I murmured back. "Hmm, pretty small audience. What is that--12 maybe 20 people?" "I agree that it's empty-headed but this sort of soft-core suburban shopping porn might appeal to a larger segment," I answered. "Yeah, anybody who enjoys flipping through the Williams-Sonoma catalogue while on the toilet," he concluded with a snort and we turned back to the screen where another brand-new black SUV sped down a street freshly hosed down to produce the perfect pointless sheen while Diane Lane and Olivier Martinez made soft-lit, glossy love and Richard Gere pined commercially. (TAMARA PARIS)

* Y Tu Mamá También
As two Mexican teenagers frantically fuck, the boy, Tenoch (Diego Luna), pleads/demands that the girl not screw any Italians on her impending European trip with her best friend. Meanwhile, that best friend is having rushed pre-departure sex with her boyfriend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is also Tenoch's best friend. When the girls have left, we settle down to watch these two boys spend an aimless summer. Everything gets thrown sideways when they meet a sexy older woman (that is to say, in her 20s) named Luisa. 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)