The Bank
A brilliant rogue mathematician (David Wenham) in search of a theory that can predict stock market crashes falls into the clutches of the oily and villainous CEO of Centabank (Anthony LaPaglia) who hatches an insider trading scheme that promises to lure our altruistic young hero to the dark side. Meanwhile, an attractive young woman (Sibylla Budd) who has taken up residence in Wenham's bed may or may not be a noir-ish femme fatale spying on his most intimate moves. Toss in a blue-collar couple (Steven Rodgers and Mandy McElhinney in a pair of performances that put the rest of the cast to shame) determined to wreak revenge on Centabank for the loss of their business and the death of their son and you pretty much have all the components of a workmanlike "thriller" lined up and ready to go. (TAMARA PARIS) Varsity, Fri-Sun at 2:10, 4:30, 7, 9:20 pm, Mon-Thurs at 7, 9:20 pm.

Carnival of Souls
"Thank you for the coffee. It was unsanitary but delicious." Rendezvous, Rendezvous, Thurs at 7:30 pm.

Cartoons of the 1930s
The Rendezvous is giving up the good stuff: classic cartoons of Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, and cool serial episodes. Rendezvous, Sat at 3 pm.

The Darkside of the Wizard
Sure, bong-huffing patchouliphiles the world over have propagated the ridiculous rumors concerning a 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, I'd like to implore you to 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! (ZACHARY PENNINGTON) Rendezvous, Fri-Sat at 7:30 pm.

The Farm: Angola, USA
A documentary that examines the hell of life on death row in one of America's most notoriously labor-intensive prisons, where the inmates have an annual rodeo (!). Little Theatre, Thurs-Sun at 7 pm.

* Fight to the Max
See review this issue. Little Theatre, Thurs-Sun at 9 pm.

International Sweethearts of Rhythm
They just have to put ovaries in everything these days, don't they? This acclaimed 1988 documentary charts the course of a 1940s all-female jazz band. Plays with Maxine Sullivan: Love To Be in Love. JBL Theater, Wed at 7, 9 pm.

* La Jetée
The surrealist short that inspired Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys lacks Bruce Willis, but boasts a visual poetry and narrative ingenuity that puts most science fiction (and a good deal of fiction fiction) to shame. (SEAN NELSON) Grand Illusion, Fri-Sun at 3:30, 6, 8:30 pm, Tues-Thurs at 6, 8:30 pm.

* The Royal Tenenbaums
"Friscalating dusklight." Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.

Armed with the the most offensive band name of all time, audio self-polluters the (gulp) String Cheese Incident in a tour film that promises to be as riveting as their live performance. A film by Warren Miller. Rainbow, Sat at 8 pm.

The Warriors
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.


* 8 Mile
Directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys), the movie tells the story of Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), a working-class kid who begrudgingly crashes with his jobless, trailer-dwelling mom (Kim Basinger), a woman who lives off bingo and bad men, while his predominantly black posse supports him. It's the Marshall Mathers version of underdog-done-good, a concept presented in various films over the years, from The Karate Kid to Hoop Dreams. But 8 Mile works because you believe the story behind it. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

* About Schmidt
About Schmidt stars an exhausted Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt, an Omaha actuary facing the nothingness of retirement. At the end of his last day at the insurance agency, all of Schmidt's lifework is packed into blank boxes, the office is empty, and he has nowhere to go. Overall, an entertaining film, whose comedy alone sustains the entire picture. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights
Adam Sandler plays a twentysomething loser with a bad temper who causes trouble, makes cracks about bodily functions, and finds redemption. Sound familiar?

* Adaptation

Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze have created a rich entertainment. Still, not even Kaufman and Jonze can overcome the unfortunate fact that listening to a writer whine about how hard it is to write is annoying. (DAVID SCHMADER)

Analyze That
Ten seconds after this film is over, it will disappear completely from your memory. (MATT FONTAINE)

Antwone Fisher
Antwone Fisher was a security guard at Sony Pictures when a producer, impressed with Fisher's life story, asked him write a screenplay about it. Although not a great movie, it is actually refreshingly restrained. Denzel Washington directs with the same dignity that he brings to his work as an actor. (MATT FONTAINE)

Bowling For Columbine
For a while, Moore seems on to something--a culture of fear endemic to our country--but in the end, he shortchanges the psychological complexity in favor of cheap shots. He wants to say something great, but ultimately doesn't. Can't, maybe. Because he isn't really a social critic, he's a demagogue. (SEAN NELSON)

Catch Me if You Can
Catch Me If You Can, Steven "Poet of Suburbia" Spielburg's latest opus, is the safest of ventures--so much so that even Spielberg himself seems bored. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* Chicago
Basically, the last hour of Chicago is a mess. Nevertheless, I recommend Chicago. You'll have to endure Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, of course, but it's a small price to pay to watch the Fosse-inspired choreography and Catherine Zeta-Jones' star-turn as Velma Kelly. (DAN SAVAGE)

Die Another Day
Two hours of workmanlike action and suspense, and a battery of sexual innuendo about as subtle and charming as a herpes sore. (SEAN NELSON)

I probably needn't tell you that Drumline is so predictable that it's over before you even walk into the theater, but if for some reason you make it that far, I won't say that it's unwatchable. (JONATHAN MAHALAK)

El Crimen del Padre Amaro
Stylish photography with just enough overexposure to suggest blinding sun; excellent character acting from half the beautiful people in Mexico; a fun soundtrack. But the script? It's a soap opera. (BARLEY BLAIR)

* The Emperor's Club
Though the first third of The Emperor's Club plays like Dead Poets Society redux--genius teacher inspires emotionally undernourished trustafarians to excellence--the picture's trajectory is far subtler, and more troubling. (SEAN NELSON)

A long-winded suspense-film setup gets neatly tied up in 20 minutes of a "we waited so long for this?" ending.

The story of an Irish father (Pierce Brosnan) who in 1954 got his children back from church custody through a little lawyering and a whole lot of angel rays. Eventually it ends. (BARLEY BLAIR)

* Far From Heaven
In both style and substance, Far from Heaven pays homage to Douglas Sirk's classic 1956 melodrama All That Heaven Allows. But Todd Haynes' pitch-perfect inclusion of sexual confusion and racial bigotry into Sirk's original mix gives him the power to transcend his source material and create a melodramatic masterpiece all his own. (DAVID SCHMADER)

Frida is yet another artist's story that has been stripped of nuance and turned into a paean to something indiscriminately called "living." (EMILY HALL)

The Friday After Next
The third installment of Ice Cube's ghetto-comic empire, is a sort of Home Alone-flavored seasoning of the original Friday formula, complete with a sea of belly laughs by way of domestic violence, homophobia, racial intolerance, rape, and of course the requisite hilarity of drug abuse. (ZACHARY PENNINGTON)

* Gangs of New York
Combining real history, richly imagined historiography, and classical melodrama, Gangs of New York is an attempt to portray the birth of a nation as a violent, ritualistic collision between two men. Daniel Day-Lewis gives the kind of performance that makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race. (SEAN NELSON)

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Only a kid could stand this, but no kid worth a damn is going to want to sit through a 161-minute movie in which nothing exciting or funny happens. (SEAN NELSON)

The Hot Chick
Now I understand why other cultures want to bomb us. (TAMARA PARIS)

I'm not sure whether Intacto was enigmatic or just confusing, but the film is shot with such panache that I didn't care a whit. The story follows Tomás (Leonardo Sbaraglia), the sole survivor of an airplane crash. He learns from the mysterious Federico (Eusebio Poncela) that he has "the gift"--and is impervious to the laws of probability. (MATT FONTAINE)

* Jackass: The Movie
Jackass is a perfect film. (SEAN NELSON)

The Lion King
"Slimy... yet satisfying."

* Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers
The film resonates so deeply, despite its potentially embarrassing fantasy trappings, because the filmmaker recognizes that violence and sacrifice are unavoidable aspects of the survival of civilizations. (SEAN NELSON)

Maid in Manhattan
While pretending to tell the truth about class distinctions, Maid depends too hard on the pretty American fiction that such distinctions are only a matter of money. (EMILY HALL)

* My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I love how this movie has been playing for like 25 years and has made 200 grillion dollars and no one I know has seen or even heard of it. (SEAN NELSON)

This cop drama, which depicts the investigation of a murdered undercover narcotics officer, succeeds thanks to the absolutely brilliant pace of its story. Nick (Jason Patric) is a suspended cop called back into duty to assist in the case and hold the leash on veteran loose cannon, Henry Oak, played by a marvelous Ray Liotta, with ash-colored hair and an extra 30 pounds. As the two drive around town sharing their lives and beating up druggies for information, you start to think Narc will play out the standard formula about solving the case. But there are deeper forces at work, as we get to see the toil the narc job inflicts and how police develop their own moral code when it comes to enforcing the law. (SEAN REID) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Varsity, Woodinville 12

* Nicholas Nickleby
Douglas McGrath's adaptation of Charles Dickens' 800-page novel is simply entertaining. It has funny moments, dramatic moments, Victorian costumes, and convincing street scenes of bustling 19th-century London. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Personal Velocity
The three short films that comprise Personal Velocity are each devoted to catching women at crucial points of surrender that follow triumphant moments of success. Aside from the truly stellar acting and maddeningly perceptive writing, what distinguishes this picture is the filmmaker's refusal to connect the stories with any but the slimmest of narrative threads. (SEAN NELSON)

* The Pianist
See Stranger suggests.

A pet project of the uniquely polarizing Roberto Benigni.

Punch-Drunk Love
Punch-Drunk Love is a confused story--not confusing to the audience, but confused within itself. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Rabbit-Proof Fence
Phillip Noyce's latest, an adaptation of author Doris Pilkington Garimara's nonfiction portrayal of Australia's dark past, tracing the lives of three aboriginal girls taken from their families by white settlers.

Real Women Have Curves
A simplistic and thought-provokeless tale about one spirited teenage member of the underclass' struggle to individuate her young self in the context of her traditional, stifling, almost-poverty-stricken family. (MICHAEL SHILLING)

The Ring
There are a few jumps here and there, but for the most part The Ring just sorta trudges along, rarely surprising, often befuddling. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Santa Clause 2
The most unnecessary sequel since Silent Night, Deadly Night 4.

Spirited Away
In spite of its conspicuous cute deficiency, Spirited Away is by all means a striking visual composition--just make sure you're not drowsy going in. (ZACHARY PENNINGTON)

Standing in the Shadows of Motown
A functional if not exactly riveting documentary about the session musicians who composed the backbone of the Motown sound but whom no one has ever heard of. (SEAN NELSON)

Star Trek: Nemesis
This is rumored to be the last cinematic voyage not only of this crew, but the entire Star Trek franchise. To be honest, Picard's crew appears to have exhausted its usefulness. (KUDZAI MUDEDE)

* Talk to Her
Actions and craziness often overshadow feelings in his earlier films--but with Talk to Her, Almodovar gives us the most mature and deeply felt of his movies. The story of two comatose women (one a female bullfighter and the other a ballerina), the two men who care for them and the friendships that grow between them. The movie unfolds with grace and still manages to shock while being funny, strange, morally complex, and moving. (NATE LIPPENS)

Treasure Planet
Updating Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate classic for the space-age is a fun conceit. Unfortunately, kids simply aren't going to pay attention. (JOSH FEIT)

Two Weeks Notice
Well, I didn't cry, but I'm still ashamed to admit that I actually liked Two Weeks Notice, mostly because there is no "rescuing" going on in the movie--just a rich guy and a dedicated lawyer trying like hell not to fall in love with each other. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

The Wild Thornberrys
Nickelodeon's marginally successful animated series--the movie!