Biggie and Tupac, Feardotcom, Formula 51, Gold Rush, Me Without You, One Hour Photo, Pepe Le Moko, Slap Her, She's French, Xanadu


13 Conversations About One Thing
Despite being infinitely better than like-themed yuppie redemption stories (e.g. Pay It Forward), this interweaving meditation of faith, faith, and coincidence still feels like a random series of convenient super-narrative strategies, rather than the circumstantial tapestry it means to be. (SEAN NELSON) Big Picture

The Birth of the Movies
From audience-terrifying freight trains to hypnotic ballet of layering mechanics, the Seattle Art Museum explores the monumental leaps made in the first forty years following the inception of the cinematic media. Featured are such seminal works as Lumière Films by the Lumière brothers of France, along with early surrealist works by the likes of Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, and Hans Richter. Seattle Art Museum

Childish Film Festival
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "childish" can mean either "of, belonging, or proper to childhood" or "not befitting mature age, puerile." Chalk this charming three week-long series up in Column One. The final week of the festival will see the screening of the '70s animated feature The Point (Fri-Sat), a sneak preview of an international children's film that hasn't yet been released in the U.S.(Sun), and the Childish Rock Show (also Sun), featuring covers of classic kids' movie soundtracks by The Stranger's own Sean Nelson, Skerik of Critters Buggin', and other big kids from the local music scene. (ANNIE WAGNER) Little Theater

Darkside of the Wizard
Sure, bong-huffing patchouliphiles the world over have propagated the ridiculous rumors concerning connection between Darkside of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz--swearing on their resin-coated souls that "It's totally true, bro! If you just, like, drop the needle on 'Speak to Me' right as that fuckin' Lion growls and shit, like, that shit's a fuckin' trip!" Christ--Weekend At Bernie's 2 is "a trip" if you haven't changed your bong water in six months. Instead, delve into the little explored, virtually uncanny connection between the 1980 masterpiece Xanadu, and Wham!'s Music at the Edge of Heaven. Now that shit's a fuckin' trip! Rendezvous

* Dogtown and Z-Boys
A testament to the resilience of youth in the face of urban entropy, Dogtown and Z-Boys tells the story of a group of unlikely heroes who brought skateboarding from its moribund state of flatland lameness, employing a low slung, powerful surf style that mimicked state-of-the-art waveriding. Narrated by Sean Penn. (KRIS ADAMS) Experience Music Project

Elvira's Haunted Hills
Spoofing just about anything Vincent Price ever put his hands on, Elvira's Haunted Hills is pretty much everything anyone has ever asked from the Mistress of the Dark: big boobs and plenty of boob jokes. (MEGAN SELING) Egyptian

Girl Shy
The Paramount Theatre continues its Silent Movie Mondays series with Harold Lloyd's 1924 classic, Girl Shy. Fumbling author Harold Meadows (Lloyd) falls in love with a wealthy woman while en route to a big-city publishing firm. Rejected by the publisher, our crestfallen hero abandons hope of wooing his fair love, who subsequently accepts a proposal from a secretly married man. Meadows recovers from his malaise, and soon begins one of the most famous chase scenes ever captured on celluloid. Paramount Theatre

Get it? 'Cause it's actually a horrible movie with shitty songs written in a vaguely '50s idiom but produced for maximum late-'70s disco-shadow airplay. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! I love it, too! (SEAN NELSON) Jewish Community Center

Hard Earth: Land Rights in Zimbabwe
To preface: With its nation's evacuation deadline recently come and gone, the Zimbabwean parliament faces the challenge of a largely insolent population of white farmers who refuse to give up their land to the required re-distribution program. This timely documentary traces some of the roots of the nation's difficulty, as filmed during 2000's initial farm occupations. Independent Media Center

Little Secrets
There is a sinister undercurrent running just below the surface of this limp ode to Salt Lake City suburbia, and it gives the movie's after-school special themes a certain morbid interest. Emily (Evan Rachel Wood) is a fourteen year-old Type A violinist who runs a neighborhood stand hawking "secret keeping" rather than lemonade. Kids pay to confess their minor misdeeds and receive her sage advice, while she suffers silently under the burden of a mammoth secret of her own. Half-convinced the screenwriter's penchant for melodrama would infect the wholesome kiddie crimes, I dreaded each new confession. Would bland cat-napping admissions yield to revelations of child molestation, glue-sniffing, and anorexia? Well, no. But that fact doesn't make Little Secrets any less frightening and strange. (ANNIE WAGNER) Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

Lost Film Festival
In its for the past four years the Lost Film Fest has spanned the nation providing an alternative to the so-called "independent" films whose sensibility over the last decade has grown increasingly commercial. DIY is the name of this game, and the traveling festival is making two stops in Western Washington--one at Headquarters in Georgetown, and another at the Redmond Fire House.

Master of the Guillotine
In this 1978 martial arts sequel to One-Armed Boxer, the blind Flying Guillotine Master returns to seek revenge on our handicapped protagonist (why are characters in martial arts moves always crippled?). Without his sight, however, the villain is forced to use a "process of elimination" to destroy his foe--a process that mainly consists of roaming the country murdering every one-armed man he encounters.

Mostly Martha
See review this issue. Egyptian

My Blood Runs Cold
Directed by William Conrad, this 1965 thriller stars Troy Donahue as a murderous psychopath pursuing the fortune of a wealthy heiress. Screened as part of the Rendezvous' Kitsch and Cult Films series. Rendezvous

Out of the Blue
Susan McNally's frenzied coming-of-age performance film about a "directionless young slacker" attempting to focus his life while facing the threat of military service, retail doldrums, and alien abduction. McNally, whose short films have garnered a number of regional awards, fields multiple roles in this, her premiere feature. 911 Media Center

Ram Dass: Fierce Grace
See review this issue. Varsity

Serving Sara
Chandler and Hugh Grant's girlfriend unite for a rollicking, Vicodin-fueled road adventure that has something to do with a million dollars, divorce papers, and purple cowboy hats. Another stirring Friends vehicle in the tradition of The Pallbearer and Ed. Factoria, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Meridian 16

See review this issue. Factoria, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12

The world's top heavyweight contender (Ving Rhames) relocates his training facilities to Sweetwater penitentiary after a little misunderstanding regarding that whole rape incident (oops!). Upon arrival, "Ice Man" is confronted with the ego threat of Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes), former rising boxing star and current prison champion 10 years running. Somehow Columbo gets involved, and Master P is in there somewhere--anyway, they fight, "one for his honor and one for his future, and only one will be...UNDISPUTED." Lewis & Clark, Grand Alderwood

A schizophrenic assortment of abbreviated cinematic oddities, including the requisite drug propaganda, a Bela Lugosi serial, and a Winsor McCay animated short. Rendezvous


24 Hour Party People
About a quarter of the way through Michael Winterbottom's comedic homage to the history of Manchester's seminal Factory Records, a nagging question began to tug at my easily distracted attention--who exactly is this film's target audience? For audiences not already familiar with the subject matter, there's really nothing particularly interesting to slake a viewers attention--and for those who hold the story with any level of reverence, it offers nothing but disappointment. 24 Hour Party People's single saving grace, the music (how often do you get to hear A Certain Ratio or the Happy Mondays echoing through a cavernous theater?), ultimately serves as yet another reminder that Manchester just deserves better. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

Bad Day at Black Rock
John Sturges' celebrated 1955 Western starring the great Spencer Tracy as a one-armed stranger confronting the xenophobic intolerance of a desert town. The Grand Illusion promises a new print of this grim CinemaScope classic.

Blood Work
Blood Work is a total bore. I was hoping this would be Clint Eastwood's swan song to a life of vigilantism, a retrospective of themes that have run through his work. But that's wishful thinking. The plot is thin, the characters aren't believable, the pacing and lighting are totally Matlock, and the performances are tired. Except for Anjelica Huston, who is not so much good but just never bad. As for the old firebrand himself, Eastwood acts constipated and ill tempered, like there's some annoying key grip just off-camera holding up a sign that says, "Go ahead, make my day." It's just too bad that someone talked the Great Warrior into this. (MICHAEL SHILLING)

Blue Crush
So, you're getting sick of Seattle's back-and-forth summer? Sure, the calendar says it's August, but what the hell's up with the weather? It's time for a goddamn vacation, to someplace warm and sunny. Maybe somewhere with a beach, where girls wear bikinis all day, and guys are shirtless. How about Hawaii? If you can't afford a plane ticket, you could go see Blue Crush instead. The plot's trite and cheesy--girl from Hawaii kicks ass at surfing, meets boy from the mainland, almost gives up surfing, until a crucial competition arises and he rallies behind her--but the surf scenes are awesome. Hawaii's gorgeous, as are the surfer chicks and their male counterparts. It's like a two-hour vacation, especially for the part of your brain that does the thinking. (AMY JENNIGES)

The Debut
The first major feature to treat the Filipino-American experience and aggressively court Filipino viewers, The Debut is a decent coming-of-age story with an engaging cast and a great dance sequence. The story is rather predictable: Ben, an aspiring animator, has enrolled in a fine arts college and must break the news to his father, who is certain that his son is destined for medical school. This conflict is staged and complicated at Ben's sister's 18th birthday party (the eponymous "debut"). As a director, Gene Cajayon could have pulled the reins on the excessive emoting of some of his younger actors, but his movie is serviceable enough. (ANNIE WAGNER)

* The Good Girl
When it comes to deep, dark cinematic comedy--the kind that makes you want to laugh and weep and squirm out of your skin at the same time--Miguel Arteta and Mike White have cornered the market. Following 2000's Chuck & Buck comes The Good Girl, which explores similarly perverse terrain--the soul of a woman trapped by fate and circumstance, driven to commit acts of deeply iffy morality and legality. Starring Jennifer Aniston (who, incidentally, aces the role, bringing a beautifully understated gravity to the character), doe-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal, and John C. Reilly (who scores another supporting-role home run). (DAVID SCHMADER)

The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Kid Stays in the Picture is the kind of True Hollywood Story that E! network executives have filthy dreams about. Robert Evans' enchanted rise to the top of the Hollywood food chain as an actor (sort of), and then as a maverick producer was followed by failed marriages with glamorous movie stars, and an abrupt downfall that included drug abuse and murder. This is trash that isn't afraid to be trash--trash at its most glorious and mythic. It's the kind of vicarious entertainment that stays with an audience because it's so damn smart. Inventive as hell, the documentary is a collage of old film and photographs; the unobtrusive visual play and pitch-perfect rhythm are what made me fall in love with this lucky bastard's cyclical success story. (ADAM HART)

No director in the universe (with the possible exception of John Waters) could save a bad novel like Possession, which was authored by A. S. Byatt. It's the one novel Hollywood should have left in its original condition: a bad book. Now it has a second life as a bad movie. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Road to Perdition
Sam Mendes has done the impossible: He has made a film that is even more smug, phony, and wasteful than American Beauty. Road to Perdition steals its look (including several exact images) from the Coens' Miller's Crossing, purging that superior film's sense of humor and necessary awareness and replacing it with a catchpenny moralism that wants to have everything--its violence, its sympathies, and its casting--both ways. Hanks offers no menace, which means that his hit man character is all tell; not an insurmountable problem until Mendes makes the son stare guilelessly up at him for the whole film like he's a God. The film is the ultimate example of Hollywood's lamest sleight of hand: Wipe the smile off your face, spend a lot of money, make with the metaphors and somber tones and sooner or later the audience is going to have to assume that you're smarter than you really are. (SEAN NELSON)

* Secret Ballot
A comedy exploring that which unites all great nations, including ours, in this modern age: electoral fraud. This charmer from Iran features the traditional buddy-cop teaming of female voting official and male soldier-chauffeur as they travel to a distant island in order to rock the vote. Satirical targets include elections in general, Iranian elections specifically, and attitudes toward women most of all.

Sex and Lucia
The digital cinematography in this film is remarkable, but it's largely squandered on beach sunsets and early morning sex and other pretty, vapid things. Following the plot, which involves a very serious writer and his myriad romantic entanglements (all serving as grist for the proverbial mill), is like trying to figure out a single episode of a soap opera that's been broadcast for twenty years. But the girls are adorable and the high drama is quite absorbing, so it's not a complete waste of time. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Signs would have been exceptional if not for the necessity of elaborate surprises. All the things I like about M. Night Shyamalan's movies (the X-Files-like moodiness, the theological questions, etc.) are imprisoned by the necessities of plot twists. If liberated, this film, about a troubled man who is dealing not only with his wife's death but a massive alien invasion, would have been truly scary. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Just how bad is XXX? Worse than you've imagined. Seriously. I would rather be catheterized by a Parkinson's-afflicted nurse than sit through it again. It's that bad. Don't believe me? Then go see it. Flop down the $10 at your neighborhood multiplex and slouch your way through the picture. You'll see--and afterward you'll say, "Shit, man, I wish I'd listened to that chump from The Stranger." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)