The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
"Your reality, sir, is filled with lies and balderdash, and I'm delighted to say I have no grasp of it whatsoever." Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
"That's my mother you're pissing on." Grand Illusion, Sat at 11 pm.
* Dignity II
A follow-up to last year's thoughtful documentary about a women-only group home, Dignity II examines what happens when the home merges with a similar home for men. Little Theatre, Thurs at 8 pm, Fri-Sun at 7, 9 pm.
* If I Should Fall From Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story
See Stranger Suggests. Little Theatre, Fri-Sun at 7, 9 pm.
* It Came From Outer Space
The sci-fi classic (in three-fucking-D!), with live score by one of those seminal art punk bands you tell people you've heard: Pere Ubu. JBL, Wed at 8 pm.
A victim of Nazi scientist Josef "Angel of Death" Mengele, Perla is the subject of this powerful documentary of contentment and forgiveness. University of Washington Kane Hall, Thurs at 6 pm.
Light, Darkness and Colours
Something of a peculiar screening choice, ConWorks invites you to relive your stifled, acne-soaked days of note-passing in science class with this brief documentary on Goethe's revolutionary proposals for light theory. Consolidated Works, Fri-Sun at 8 pm.
The final film in SAM's Max Ophuls tibute, Lola Montes tells the story of the titular circus performer and her prolific love affairs with many of the crowned heads of Europe. Seattle Art Museum, Fri at 7 pm.
* Mala Noche
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sun at 5:15, 9:15 pm.
* My Own Private Idaho
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, Fri at 7 pm, Sat-Sun at 2:45, 7 pm, Tues-Thurs at 7 pm.
Northwest Festival of African Cinema
See review this issue. See Movie Times for specific locations and times.
* Quai Des Orfevres
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun at 2:10, 4:30, 7, 9:20 pm.
* Rabbit in the Moon
Of the many documentaries I have seen on the subject of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, this one stands out as the best. It seems to say more about the true humiliation of the internment, and doesn't hold back or have the silence and reservations of the other documentaries. It would appear that people are now more willing to express their thoughts, and director Chizu Omori was there to put it on film. (Charles Mudede) Cornish College of the Arts, Thurs at 8 pm.
"Reel" Cinema Film Festival
The "Cinerama experience," a motion picture format that dates back to the early 1950s, combines the reels of three separate cameras that, when projected simultaneously, creates a sprawling, curved image placing its audience directly in the depths of the action. The format was short-lived, but maintains cult status. The Cinerama will show four of the seven Cinerama films: How the West Was One, Search For Paradise, Windjammer, and This Is Cinerama. Cinerama, see Movie Times for specific dates and times.
The Silent Picture Show
See Stranger Suggests. Uptown, Thurs-Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2, 8 pm.
The UnderSkatement film festival is back for its second year, touring the nation while showcasing a variety of short films created by or about skateboarders. Already this premise sounds either really great or really terrible to you. So if you just rolled your eyes and you think of skateboarders as careless assholes who rip up your city, then skip this. But if you yourself like to rip shit up on your board (or watch as others do), then this'll be worth the 90+ minutes of your evening because there's actually some pretty good stuff mixed up in the 25 short films. (MEGAN SELING) 911 Media Arts, Fri at 8 pm.
Overall, an entertaining film, whose comedy alone sustains the entire picture. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze have created a rich entertainment out of this impossibility, stuffing it with enough meta-plot twists to fuel half a dozen lesser movies, and bringing it to the screen with brilliant performances by Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep. (DAVID SCHMADER)
A shit-eating redux of that golden cinematic nugget known as The Fast & the Furious.
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
Long stretches of Catch Me If You Can are filmed so lazily, in a manner so devoid of energy, that the entire enterprise falters. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Basically, the last hour of Chicago is a mess. Nevertheless, I recommend it.You'll have to endure Richard Gere of course, but it's a small price to pay for Catherine Zeta-Jones. (DAN SAVAGE)
City of God
This film draws its style entirely from Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. Though great to watch, it fails to comment on why most of the people who live and die in the ghetto are brown and black. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
* Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is audacious and ridiculous and completely fucked, both on the page and on celluloid, and for that its subject Chuck Barris should be recognized for what has long been ignored: his undeniable genius. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Cradle 2 the Grave
The hiphop/martial arts marriage continues with groundbreaking accomplishment in the field of both artistic and grammatical endeavor. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12
First some good news: Just four months until Ang Lee's The Hulk arrives. Now the bad news: Daredevil is stunningly bad.(BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Dark Blue bolts from the gate as a gritty, energetic hybrid of the great L.A. Confidential and the lesser Training Day, given a potentially killer historical spin. Unfortunately, director Ron Shelton goes for the mainstream jugular with a jarring mix of gritty crime and hyperactive action, laced with perfunctory nods to deeper issues; the few times the car chases stop to make way for character development, the resulting revelations are so baldly soliloquized, the attending characters should be given magazines. (DAVID SCHMADER)
The premise: A ghost is haunting the town of Darkness Falls. And how does she exact revenge? By killing children who have lost their baby teeth. Zzzz. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Deliver Us From Eva
A tragic loss of parents left oldest sibling Eva the boss of her sisters, and now that they've grown up, the men in the sister's romantic scope want Eva to get her own guy so she'll butt out. Enter LL Cool J, or just ignore him and enjoy the film for what it is, another chick flick where the bonding is done at the beauty salon. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
* Divine Intervention
In the face of increasing misery, one can always count on Arabs and Jews to laugh fatalistically. This laughter, an embrace of the inherent absurdity of life on Earth, is the chief element of Divine Intervention, a film told in seemingly random, nearly silent vignettes of Middle Eastern bizarreness. (SEAN NELSON)
* Far From Heaven
Todd Haynes' pitch-perfect inclusion of sexual confusion and racial bigotry into Douglas Sirk's original mix gives him the power to transcend his source material and create a melodramatic masterpiece all his own. (DAVID SCHMADER)
Final Destination 2
No, Final Destination 2 does not have good acting, nor a compelling plot. It does not blur the lines of reality or explore the dark reaches of the director's mind. All it has to offer you is awesome killing. It's great. (KATIE SHIMER)
Frida is yet another artist's story that has been stripped of nuance. (EMILY HALL)
* Gangs of New York
Daniel Day-Lewis gives the kind of performance that makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race. (SEAN NELSON)
Gods and Generals
I walked out a little more than an hour into what may very well be the most vacuous, poorly acted, and pathetic depiction of the War of Northern Aggression ever committed to celluloid. Did I mention it's four hours long? (SEAN NELSON)
Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
A thunderous bore. (SEAN NELSON)
* The Hours
I was prepared to hate this movie. Script by David Hare, whose previous work is self-absorbed Brit-babble, from a novel I haven't read by Michael Cunningham that won a Pulitzer (kiss of death) about a writer whose life is a lightning rod for stupidity about mental illness and feminism, and whose work has never meant much to me. Altogether, I hoped for a shapeless pasticcio that would let me make cruel fun. I was so wrong. This is a really good movie. (BARLEY BLAIR)
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Kate Hudson plays a magazine columnist who pitches a how-to piece in which she will snag a guy and then lose him in 10 days--by freaking him out. Nearby Matthew McConaughey's adman character is betting his advertising firm boss he can sell diamonds to women by making them fall in love, and he'll randomly choose a woman and make her fall in love with him to prove it. What a coinkidink! The film is touching in those brief minutes when the two realize they might have feelings for each other, so long as the idiot soundtrack doesn't swell in and ruin the mood. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
The Jungle Book 2
AKA Clear Cut!
Ashton Kutcher is SO FUCKING SEXY. (DAN SAVAGE)
If there's one thing that I love more than talking animals in sunglasses, it'd have to be Christopher Walken. Well I'll be damned! Two great tastes....
The Life of David Gale
With lead-balloon pacing and embarrassingly slack-jawed cinematography--not to mention another impossibly smug Kevin Spacey performance--David Gale has all the subtle artistry of a Twinkie. Without all the suspense. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
The Lion King
"Slimy... yet satisfying."
* Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Two Towers resonates, despite its potentially embarrassing fantasy trappings, because the filmmaker recognizes that violence and sacrifice are unavoidable aspects of the survival of civilizations. (SEAN NELSON)
* Lost in La Mancha
This behind the scenes look at a movie left unfinished is worthy of wider interest because the happy endingnever comes. The whole creative process winds up feeling not like the noble endeavor we imagine art to be, but rather an exercise in futility. (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. I tried to watch it the other night, and guess what: it isn't charming or funny in any of the guilty ways romantic comedies often are. The wife put it described it thus: "The script was shit! A steaming pile of dung!" (SEAN NELSON)
Douglas McGrath's adaptation of Charles Dickens' 800-page novel is simply entertaining. This is the substance of the film: It has funny moments, dramatic moments, Victorian costumes, and convincing street scenes of bustling 19th-century London; the English is often proper and lyrical; there are jocular people, loathsome people, and loving people, and their world is filled to the brim with pleasant music. As I've never read the book (and don't intend to), I can't determine what was removed and what was preserved in this adaptation, or know how such changes affected the original content or purpose of the story. Nevertheless, at times the film does feel a bit rushed. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Here's a film that relies on a whole list of old clichés (marriage is a ball and chain; the school losers vs. the campus suits) to deliver comedy that's actually really funny in a dumb kind of way. Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn play a trio of buddies who gave up partying too soon, and who attempt to get back to their wild roots by starting a frat house on a college campus--never mind that they're all way past college age. The story line is completely irrelevant from there, made from the same mush as a freshman's brain on a Friday night. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
* The Pianist
Despite appearances to the contrary, the film is not about the indomitable spirit of a survivor. It's about how low a human being can sink in order to live, and the depths of abasement a race is capable of withstanding in order to avoid extinction. There's no heroism in the picture, and all redemption is tempered by the knowledge of what's coming next. It's here, in the deeply Eastern European black comedy of this knowledge, that the film and its maker mark their territory most boldly. (Reassuring the Poles that "the Russians will be here soon" is a classic Polanski irony.) For all the possible autobiography of the story, The Pianist is most personal when it stares into the abyss of the Holocaust and finds nothing looking back. (SEAN NELSON)
The Quiet American
Michael Caine deserves all the praise he's received for his role as Fowler, while Brendan Fraser slightly overplays the wide-eyed idealism that inspired America's misguided involvement in Vietnam. The metaphor of the love triangle doesn't work here nearly as well as the more overt politics, but the movie is worth seeing if only because it shows how America can do the wrong thing with the best of intentions. (ANDY SPLETZER)
* Rabbit-Proof Fence
Director Phillip Noyce makes all the right decisions in telling what could have (justifiably) been a big slab of moist, liberal liver and onions; a tale of indomitable metaphor and sackcloth villainy. Instead it is a measured tale of a secret history, and of basic human desires asserting themselves in the most inspirational of ways. (SEAN NELSON)
A perfect example of no-risk filmmaking. Recent M.I.T. grad Colin Farrell is recruited by CIA agent Al Pacino. Why does Farrell spurn possible millions with Dell computers to become a spook? The disappearance of his father, who may have been an agent himself--oh, and the really hot CIA trainee he has his eye on might also have something to do with it. Predictably, everything is not what it seems, and predictably The Recruit, though solidly made, doesn't really add up to much. Pacino naps his way through his role, and the director, Roger Donaldson, shows close to zero imagination. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
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. (SEAN NELSON)
* Russian Ark
For all its technical marvels, Russian Ark is essentially a monologue of Eastern European cynicism fleshed out with visual aids from history. The film's insufferable theatrical conventions--mainly a function of the actors--can be forgiven because of the scope of the production; but when you peel away the technical novelty, you're basically watching a bunch of old paint.
Here's a stupid idea: Take Owen Wilson, one of the funniest people on the planet, and completely dehumorize him. This seems to be the prevailing thought running through the minds of Shanghai Knights' filmmakers during production. A sequel to the fairly entertaining Shanghai Noon, the 2.0 version re-teams Wilson and Jackie Chan (who is still brilliant, if a lot slower than he used to be) and, through some plot device involving a sacred seal (or something), sends them to London. Hilarity does not ensue, but a couple of cool fights do. That's about it. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Star Trek: Nemesis
This action-heavy sequel's narrative is cleaner and more efficient than most of its predecessors'. While this bodes well for the movie it doesn't, necessarily, for the future of the series. 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
Talk to Her, Spain's camp bad boy Pedro Almodovar's latest film, contains no drugs or sex, and I didn't even notice until it was over. That's because Almodovar has always trafficked in extreme emotions and the actions that spring from them. 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 (Benigno, a male nurse, and Marco, a writer), and the friendships that grow between them. The two men deal differently with their sleeping beauties: Marco retreats into silence and Benigno, who cared for his mother before becoming a nurse, talks and carries on as if Alicia were awake and responsive. The movie unfolds with grace and still manages to shock while being funny, strange, morally complex, and moving. (NATE LIPPENS)
The Wild Thornberrys
Nickelodeon's marginally successful animated series--the movie!