8 Women, Das Experiment, Dead Ringer, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, Intervista, Kill, Baby, Kill, Old School, Quitting, Secretary, Sex With Strangers, Skins, Sweet Home Alabama, The Tuxedo, Waking Life, The Wedding Banquet, When Two Won't Do
Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever
Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas star as super spies vying to obtain a super secret killing device or some shit. It's got guns, martial arts, and explosions and will be reviewed next week. This film was produced by Andrew The Bastard Stevens. Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Pacific Place
The Banger Sisters
After her daughter's eye-catching turn as a young groupie in Almost Famous, Goldie Hawn plays an aging one in this cloying, aggravating piece of false, middlebrow claptrap. One thing in Hawn's favor is the accuracy of her portrayal: her Suzette is a skanky, surgically enhanced, sub-hippie with no redeeming qualities except, in most circumstances, the willingness to fuck strangers. After being fired from her bartending job (for drinking on the job! Whatta buncha fascists!) she road trips to Phoenix, where her former partner in fashionably random sex with musicians Lavinia (Susan Sarandon, squandered), has sold out to become a rich, anal-retentive soccer mom. Along the way, Suzette encounters an obsessive-compulsive plot contrivance named Harry (Geoffrey Rush), who falls in love with her untamed spirit (and her handjobs). Soon, Suzette and Vinnie are reliving their youth by smoking 20-year-old joints, wearing tight pants, and otherwise "living out loud" the way only movie women can. Not all of this movie sucks, just 2/3 or so. The main problem is the script's rank substitution of groupiedom for actual liberation, which makes any potential insights about friendship, growing old, or even sexual freedom, pale next to the unshakable image of writer/director Bob Dolman jerking off as he wrote. (SEAN NELSON) Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Grand Alderwood
T.V.'s Banyon and that guy with the facial hair from the New Kids on the Block team up as traveling jewelry salesmen and, presumably, find themselves in a whole heap of trouble. Varsity
The second adaptation of the A.E.W. Mason novel about the glory of Her Majesty's Empire is a good deal more skeptical than its 1939 predecessor. War is clearly hell, here, and imperialism is hardly left unexamined. But while director Shekhar (Elizabeth) Kapur's revisionist eyes find some chilling contrasts, the overall effect is that of a pre-built battleship being crammed into a whiskey bottle. Heath Ledger is Harry, a general's son who deserts his regiment of posh comrades on the eve of war in the Sudan because he's afraid. When his pals (Wes Bentley et al.), father, and fiancée (Kate Hudson) call him a coward, he resolves to help the cause the best way he knows how: by posing as an arab and carrying the soldiers' luggage. Despite some poor casting choices (were no British actors available?), and a painfully obvious editorial hatchet job by the studio (I'd wager that at least 60 minutes have been trimmed from the real version of this film), Feathers remains a noble, if misguided, effort at political filmmaking. Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Factoria (SEAN NELSON)
* Igby Goes Down
Reviewed this issue. Metro, Uptown
The Last Kiss
This movie stars a lot of beautiful Italian people you've never heard of, and it's set in Italy, where everyone cheats on each other and it's always raining. The story is a corny, complicated soap opera that I can't really explain because I was too busy gawking at the beautiful people to get it quite straight, but it involves a lot of screaming and anguish and swollen violins. Somewhere in between all of the schmaltz, though, is a curious little portrait of the psychology behind adultery and what it'll do to you. Secretly, I want to see it again. (MEG VAN HUYGEN) Seven Gables
One of the last remaining directors of animation to truly capture the strange, subtly contented spirit of childhood (and, for that matter, one of the only directors of animation with any sense of singular recognition), Princess Mononoke director Hayao Miyazaki (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service) follows his 1997 masterpiece with his latest--an Alice in Wonderland-inspired fable about a little girl whose parents are transformed into pigs. Neptune
The re-release of 2000's Swimming holds the distinct aroma of those shoddily packaged public domain features nationally congesting the racks of swap meet vendors and dollar stores; an unremarkable independent film starring an unremarkable assortment of unremarkable actors, with a single (then floundering) familiar face prominently displayed as solitary selling point. Starring Lauren Ambrose (just prior to her breakthrough as a star of the HBO series Six Feet Under) as a directionless delicate flower blossoming in the tourist town of Myrtle Beach, Swimming is a stumblingly acted, gracelessly written, and altogether average exercise in the trite motions of coming-of-age storytelling. (ZAC PENNINGTON) Varsity
The screening of this kidnapping drama, starring Charlize Theron, Kevin Bacon, and Courtney Love, was yanked at the last minute. Draw your own conclusions on that one. Meridian 16, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Grand Alderwood
* The Baron of Arizona
Vincent Price stars in this, his personal pet role, based on the true story of 19th century con artist James Addison Reavis--who, by means of some crafty falsified documents, managed to become the brief tyrannical ruler of the Arizona territory. Rendezvous, Sat at 7 pm.
* Black Sabbath
The Grand Illusion continues its tribute to Italian baroque horror master Mario Bava with a screening of his 1963 anthology, Black Sabbath (originally titled Three Faces of Fear). A collection of three short films, Black Sabbath features the incomparable Boris Karloff in the film Bava himself considered his greatest creation, The Wurdulak. Restored to the director's original vision, in Italian with English subtitles. Grand Illusion, Fri-Thurs at 9 pm, with no show on Mon.
* Black Sunday
With his first official film in the director's chair, Italian Gothic auteur Mario Bava established the benchmark for European horror--a thick, rich collection of clouded visuals who's primary concern is with sensual, rather than intellectual stimulus. While Bava certainly made many, many worthy successors (Danger: Diabolik leaps to mind), he never truly outdid the atmospheric creepiness of this classic, which stars the unutterably lovely Barbara Steele. Restored print dubbed in English. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 7 pm and 11 pm, Sun-Thurs at 7 pm, no show on Mon. (SEAN NELSON)
* Depth of Focus
This monthly screening series of short films with free food and a pay-as-you-exit policy, curated by the Puget Sound Cinema Society, celebrates its first anniversary. This month's theme: Local Yokels. Featuring locally produced films by the likes of Kellen Blair, Lynn Shelton, Serge Gregory, Washington Board of Labor and Industries, Marc Rodriguez, dzgafilmsyndicate, and Jon Behrens, among others. For more info: www.scn.org/pscs. University Heights Center, Fri at 8 pm.
* Donnie Darko
Donnie, a brilliant, disturbed teenager languishing in a Reagan-era suburb, is lured from slumber by the malevolent whispers of Frank, a giant, horrifically deformed bunny rabbit who informs him that the world will come to an end in 28 days. Moments later, an airplane engine crashes into his bedroom. And from there things get really spooky. Donnie Darko has either gone mad or come unstuck in time in this frightening, funny, and darkly imaginative film. Though it's definitely flawed (what is Drew Barrymore DOING?), I am tempted to call this one a must-see. (Tamara Paris) Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
The Earth Will Swallow You
A feature-length celebration of body odor, 20 minute masturbatory guitar solos, and balding men with shaggy beards... hey everybody, it's Widespread Panic--the movie! Tractor Tavern, Sun at 9:30 pm.
Edgar Allen Poe Movies
The latest Shining Moment Films presentation is a celebration of cinematic adaptations of everyone's favorite bubble-headed Bostonian. Tonight's screening features the brief, experimental 1928 take on Poe's Fall of the House of Usher, one of the earliest examples of U.S. experimental filmaking, and visually reminiscent of such German Expressionist films as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Rendezvous, Wed at 7 pm.
Fela In Concert
The originator and nearly sole proprietor of a distinct political dance-music form known as "afro-beat" (a term he coined), Nigerian radical Fela Anikulapo-Kuti began combining horn-driven West African dance-music trends (known as highlife) and American funk and jazz with his radical politics in the early '60s. Regularly confronted by Nigerian officials for, among other things, his lax view of polygamy (maritally bound at one time to at least 27 women), Fela was sentenced to10 years in prison in 1983. Fela In Concert presents an hour-long performance recorded in Paris in 1981 by the rabble-rouser, consisting of four epic-length jams. JBL Theater at EMP, Wed at 7 pm and 9 pm.
* First Person Cinema
Year two in the film series that risks subjective indulgence in an attempt to yield objective truth. Week two features the following two films.
Lucia Small's My Father, The Genius: "An impressive, fascinating little documentary by Lucia Smalls on her father, a once-promising architect name Greg Smalls. Under the guise of creating a testament to her father's genius, Smalls has crafted a highly personal piece of work, as she struggles to finally understand and connect with her absent father. Footage of Greg Smalls tearing down architectural god Frank Gehry while introducing him at a conference is worth the price of admission alone." Fri-Sun at 7 pm and 9 pm.
Marlo Poras' Mai's America: This "sweet documentary chronicles the journey of young high school senior named Mai as she travels from Hanoi, Vietnam to Mississippi as part of a student exchange program. Briskly told, Mai's America offers a glimpse of American culture we rarely notice--just how our country is seen by the rest of the world, and how Hollywood often shapes perceptions by foreigners as to what real American life is like. Needless to say, in buttfuck Mississippi, Mai receives an awakening." Thurs at 7 pm and 9 pm. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Little Theatre.
Matchstick Ski Movie III
This EXTREME! SPORTS! film might be fun if you ski--otherwise, it's probably just an endless loop of powder, poles, and dull music. The cinematography is usually exceptional, but unless you were born with some gene that enables you to watch skiiers in slow-motion for over an hour without getting bored, you probably will. Then again, the press release says it's "non-stop, pulse-pounding, lose-your-breath kind of action," so what the fuck do I know? JBL Theater at EMP, Sat at 6 pm and 9 pm.
Revenge and Miller High Life populate this troublingly named, locally produced picture, in which a film student seeks to humiliate his high-school tormentors by way of celluloid. Little Theatre, Mon at 7 pm.
With a handful of noteworthy exceptions, the works that comprise Smartoons (a feature-length amalgam of short-length animated films screening twice this week at CoCA--one kid-safe, and another adults) have no business identifying themselves as "cartoons"--a title that suggests a playful humor, a sense of indulgent absurdity that demands a level of juvenile appreciation for a lighthearted yarn and well-placed sight gag. No, the bulk of this collection would be more accurately accounted as that of staunch animation. The cartoon's academic cousin, while at times beautiful or moving or whatever, ignores the medium's inherent joy in favor of pretentious self-reflection. And I call bullshit. There are a handful of shorts included that do understand this relationship however, particularly in the evening program, including Don Hertzfeldt's "Rejected," J.J. Sedelmier's "Hete Roy," and Eric Fensler's hilarious take on G.I. Joe PSA's, "And Knowing Was Half the Battle," which is worth the price of admission alone. CoCA, children's program Sun at 2 pm, evening program Tues at 8:30 pm. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
We all know Keaton and we all know Chaplin, but we don't all know Harold Lloyd, which is a pity (let's not even talk about Harry Ritz). Luckily, it can be rectified at this screening of a quaint, quintessentially Lloydian comedy about a nerdy, but indomitable New Yorker who gets fired, meets Babe Ruth, and organizes an anti-big-industry protest all in a single day. Live music by the Alloy Orchestra will accompany the picture. Egyptian, Thurs at 7 pm and 9:15 pm. (SEAN NELSON)
The Strong man
Most notable for its place as Frank Capra's feature-length directorial debut, 1926's The Strong Man stars silent comedian Harry Langdon (in what is often regarded as his definitive role) as a WWI vet on the hunt for a mysterious female pen pal while touring the country accompanying an army acquaintance, a circus strong man. This screening marks the final film of the Paramount's silent comedy series. Paramount, Mon at 7 pm.
Super-8 Open Screening
This monthly, theme-based screening series at the Little Theatre is open to anyone with a reel. Just drop your film off at the theater 48 hours prior to the screening, and boom: you're in the show. Little Theatre, Wed at 8 pm.
* Urban Warrior
A surprisingly rational and even-handed examination of the evolution of the modern police force from a protectionist to a military model. One expects an inquiry like this to be didactic and full of foregone conclusions (not to mention shaky DV camerawork), but the inetrviews maintain enough distance to sidestep the "pigs vs. kids" ghetto and engage in an interesting, enlightening discussion about contemporary city life. 911 Media Arts Center, Mon Sept 23 at 7 pm; Independent Media Center, Wed at 7:30 pm. (SEAN NELSON)
* What Are You Going To Do For Toilet Paper?
See Stranger Suggests. 911 Media Arts, Fri at 8 pm.
Starring two popular rappers, Ice Cube and Eve, Barbershop is about a young man (Ice Cube) who reluctantly runs a barbershop he inherited from his recently departed father. He has big ambitions and so does not recognize the social importance of the small business. The best parts of the movie take place in the barbershop--the locus of laughter and general idiocy. Cedric the Entertainer, who plays the patriarch of the barbershop, is the primary generator of this humor, which is often mixed with comments on the state of things in black America. None of his assessments of past or current events are thought through clearly; in fact, the most complete or sophisticated argument in the movie concerns the scientific difference between good booty and bad booty. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
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)
So, you're getting sick of Seattle's back-and-forth summer? 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)
I'm not sure what to say about The Chteau. The premise is certainly retarded: Two brothers, one white and one black, inherit a chteau, then fly to France to sell it and try to fuck the maid. Still, it has a few strange merits. Paul Rudd and Romany Malco lend expert performances to the hideous plot, and the Super-8 cutaways add a documentary flavor that kind-of excuses its inanity. A lot of the little translation jokes are reasonably clever, and it contains a priceless cameo by Donal Logue as a candy raver. Not to confuse you--this is a terrible movie, undoubtedly--but it's benign enough to let you forget the terrible parts. I guess. (MEG VAN HUYGEN)
City By the Sea
De Niro faxes in a performance as--what else?--a world-weary cop coming to terms with his own homicidal history while searching the picturesquely derelict town of Long Beach for a murderer who turns out to be his own son (James Franco, doing his methody best to obscure his insanely good looks) in this dull and labored film soon to be clogging video-store shelves everywhere. (TAMARA PARIS)
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 Fast Runner
Although the filmmakers have lovingly reconstructed every detail of prehistoric Inuit culture--this being the first feature-length film entirely in the Inuktitut language--by recording life on the infinite tundra with digital-video intimacy, they keep the characters palpably real. Inside glowing igloos and behind roiling teams of sled dogs, the viewer sees a legend sprout from the very ice. I can't wait to go to sleep so I can dream that I am there again. Do not miss this extraordinary film. (MATT FONTAINE)
* 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)
* I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Aside from sporting one of the best titles of any film ever, this film about Wilco's battle to record and release its Yankee Hotel Foxtrot LP joins Don't Look Back and Cocksucker Blues in the ranks of music documentaries that validate (and possibly transcend) the musicians they document. Shot in grainy, beautiful black and white, the film catches the band at the peak of its powers and the height of its corporate hassles. It's also loaded with tunes, but don't let that scare you; if you're not a fan going in, chances are you will be coming out. (SEAN NELSON)
K-19: The Widowmaker
This workable Cold War intrigue plot--a Soviet nuke-sub commander is forced to risk the lives of his men (and the fate of the planet) rather than seek help from Americans--is long to begin with, but the moral tensions of the story might have been enough to carry it through... if the film weren't completely submarined by the casting of Harrison Ford in the lead role. (SEAN NELSON)
* Lovely & Amazing
This follow-up to the similarly graceful Walking and Talking is a shrewdly respectful character study of a fractured family of women trying to ride herd on their raging neuroses. Fantastic acting and sensitive writing underscore the simple DV directorial approach. (SEAN NELSON)
* Minority Report
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up for this well-made futuristic thriller, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and featuring several special effects that are identical to ones used in Attack of the Clones. Report works best when Tom Cruise is actually running--he's a future-crimes cop being set up to commit murder--and when the maddeningly glorious Samantha Morton is actually freaking out. Complex in good ways, simple in others, the film marks Spielberg's second attempt at allegorical Kubrick paean (check the allusions to A Clockwork Orange) that ends with a cop-out. Still, a worthy effort, and much more intriguing than most sci-fi. (SEAN NELSON)
American audiences are hot for foreign films about food--there's something about food, apparently, that makes us want to project our weakness for sensuality clear across the Atlantic. Sandra Nettelbeck's Mostly Martha, a German production, is compatible with this American fantasy--but the result feels much less crude than the escapist "foreign" fantasies American audiences have become accustomed to. It's a refreshing break from routine, though it's never quite gourmet cinema. (ANNIE WAGNER)
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.
One Hour Photo
Why is Mork acting so mean? Directed by Mark Romanek (who has made some amazing music videos in his career), One Hour Photo is at best a mildly surprising thriller, and at worst a rather dull affair. Tedious and more than a little flaccid, it passes before your eyes in the shape of a shrug, easily forgotten once the lights come on. Romanek knows where to point a camera (as all video directors do), but items that breathe life into a feature-length film--characters you care about, transitions, pacing--are not yet in his inventory. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
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)
Satin Rouge is an easy film to like. It celebrates something that's always worth celebrating: the sexual liberation of women. Satin Rouge is about the modernization of the widow: her progress from tradition to liberation. What is fascinating is that such a traditional form--belly dancing, rather than something Western--facilitates this modernization. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Sucks. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
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)
Completely unnecessary. The plot: Usually funny Jason Lee, and perpetually unfunny Tom Green, turn to criminal endeavors in an attempt to send Lee's niece to Harvard. Hilarity is nowhere near this debacle, which is a shocking achievement considering Kids in the Hall alum Bruce McCullough is behind the lens. I'd try harder to convince you to stay away, but chances are this flick won't be in theaters long enough for you to see it. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Fatal Attraction in a speedo.
Undisputed is great because Ving Rhames is great. He plays a world heavyweight champion who, like Mike Tyson, is convicted for raping a woman. Unlike Mike Tyson, but much like Muhammad Ali, Ving Rhames is articulate. He is not just a slugging machine but someone who understands his situation (his limits, his value) and able to express it with a deep and convincing voice. While in the maximum security prison, Rhames is confronted by the boxing champ of the underworld, Wesley Snipes. Prisoners from all over America have tried and failed to claim a victory from Snipes, a convicted murderer. So now the king of the overworld must battle the king of the underworld, and whoever wins is the master the universe--a title Rhames already holds. (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)