Anarchy in Spain
Viva la Revolution? With no doubt family-funded trips to Spain, those zany Oregonian anarchists document that country's revolutionary movement. Independent Media Center, Fri at 7 pm.
The Bitch Ain't Right
The wrath of god in the form of a bad roommate. I have no idea what this is about. Rendezvous, Mon at 8 pm.
Detroit Punk Movies
See Stranger Suggests. Sunset, Mon at 8 pm.
Kazuki Akane's epilepsy-inducing anime fest. Now with more smug audience members! Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
"Oh, Myrtle, don't be didactic. It's not becoming in a young girl. Besides, men loathe it." Grand Illusion, Fri-Sun at 4, 6:30, 9 pm, Tues-Thurs at 6:30, 9 pm.
* The Rose Tattoo
This 1955 film is an adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play. It focuses on an upheaval in an Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana where a truck driver is killed by police for smuggling. Burt Lancaster delivers a great performance matched and exceeded by Anna Magnani's Oscar-winning powerhouse display. Ah, Anna Magnani! Rendezvous, Wed at 7 pm.
See review this issue. See Movie Times for specific venues and showtimes.
Silver Rockets/Kool Things: 20 Years
of Sonic Youth
If distilling 20 years of history of America's most self-consciously important rock band into a one-hour special seems like an impossible feat, that's because it is--and this German documentary on the topic is pretty bland, even considering the limitations. Relying heavily on promotional videos and the band's own film 1991: The Year Punk Broke for its footage, the sparse, sweeping overview offers little in the way of insight or artistry--and comes off feeling like little more than a poorly orchestrated VH1 special. Fortunately for those devotees, the film shows with live footage of a late-'90s "Piano Piece #13" performance, in which the whole spoiled band meticulously hammers the shit out of the poor instrument. (ZAC PENNINGTON) JBL Theater, Wed at 7 pm.
Tillies Punctured Romance
Charlie Chaplin stars in the first feature-length comedy of all time--a tale, like so many, of romance and double cross, set to live musical accompaniment by the Wurlitzer organ of Hokum Hall. Hokum Hall, Fri at 7, 9 pm, Sat at 2 pm.
"I like the spatulas so much, I bought the company." Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
Waco: A New Revelation
911 Media Arts remembers a tragedy 10 years later with an anniversary screening of Waco: A New Revelation, the controversial documentary that reportedly spawned new investigations in both houses of Congress. 911 Media Arts, Fri at 8 pm.
A ship with 50,000 cases of whisky on board runs aground on an island full of Scotsmen during WWII. I'll give you two guesses. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs at 7:30 pm.
An exhausted Jack Nicholson stars in this 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)
Agent Cody Banks
"When it comes to girls, I suck." That's the central conflict in Agent Cody Banks, a dumb movie about a smart teenager who leads a double life: He's both a regular kid and a top-secret CIA agent. Oh sure, there are some other conflicts here too, like saving the world from little ice cubes of nanorobots, hidden away in a snow cave run by faggoty, big-lipped, vaguely French bad guys. And sure, Banks gets to operate all kinds of high-tech gadgetry (X-ray sunglasses, a turbo-powered snowboard) and shimmy through ventilation shafts and hang off helicopters without ever having to contend with anything so typical as a pimple--but when it comes to bagging the girl at the end of the movie, no amount of training can prevent him from fumbling the most vital instrument he possesses. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
Opening. See review this issue.
Remember when the prospect of Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta co-starring in a movie was exciting? Yeah, me neither.
Bend It Like Beckham
Essentially a traditional coming-of-age story, though with a spicy ethnic twist: A hot Anglo-Indian teenage girl in outer London pursues her dream of professional soccer stardom against the wishes of her traditional Sikh parents--immigrants who, still steeped in Indian culture, are only concerned with her educational and marriage prospects, and consequently just don't get it. Stuff happens and challenges are overcome, and Mummy and Papa come around in the end, as we know they will, but the predictable conventionality of the plot structure is expertly obscured by the pleasures of the journey. It is all charming fluff and captivating if improbable lightness, of course, but for a feel-good comedy, there is no higher praise. (SANDEEP KAUSHIK)
Better Luck Tomorrow
Opening. Evidently, this first-time film from Justin Lin caused quite a stir at Sundance, though after watching it I find whatever controversy it created a little perplexing. The story of a pack of overachieving Asian high school students turning to crime for kicks in suburbia, the film is little more than Goodfellas and Boyz 'N' the Hood spackled together with an Asian cast, directed with overly hyper flare by Lin, and purchased by MTV films for release to teens and tweens nationwide. Does swapping out Italians for Asians make for enough originality to create a buzz? I guess so, though it doesn't really make for a memorable picture. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Uptown, Varsity
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)
Bringing Down the House
Bringing Down the House is the latest example of a burgeoning genre of American cinema--Socratic comedies, films that make a show of pretending to be dumber than they are. For the majority of its journey across the screen, it is as expert as fluff gets. Queen Latifah and Steve Martin navigate the deeply familiar plot with enough wit and flair to keep the audience howling with glee, stumbling only in the final quarter with--I wish I were kidding--the bumbling kidnap of a wealthy dowager. Still, it is the model of a film that aims low and triumphs, and you should go see it. (DAVID SCHMADER)
Opening. See review this issue.
Catch Me If You Can
Long stretches of Catch Me If You Can are filmed so lazily that the entire enterprise falters, producing more of a shrug than general excitement. The end result is a thrilling, near-unbelievable story rendered dull and even more unbelievable. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Okay, so get this: Some dumb schmuck is engaged to three women in three different cities, right? All right, so then, like, all of a sudden, they're all in the same city, okay? What happens next? Local television affiliate syndication. For all of eternity.
Basically, the last hour of Chicago is a mess. Nevertheless, I recommend it. 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)
* The Core
The Core is not as bad as you have undoubtedly assumed. Seriously. Is it smart? Not really. Scientifically sound? Absolutely not. But what The Core does offer is a perfect example of mindless, escapist entertainment--the thrill of a summer blockbuster released in the spring. And for that, the film is worthwhile (if not at full price, at least as a matinee). Filled with entertaining, unnecessary complications, along with surprisingly well-formed characters, the film somehow works--if not on an intelligent level, at least on a popcorn one. It is tight and entertaining and completely absurd, and a near-perfect way to squander 120 minutes, especially if you need a break from CNN and whatever real-life disaster is currently occurring. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Based on a popular Cartoon Network series of the same name, Cowboy Bebop is a beautifully drawn, brightly colored, candy-coated piece of shit. It's an R-rated action-adventure cartoon that somehow manages to be appallingly weak on action (it drags on with boring, pensive scenes in which the literally two-dimensional cartoon characters say boring, pensive things like, "Of the days I've lived, only the ones spent with you seem real") and completely absent of unquestionably the best thing about every R-rated movie ever made: sex. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
First some good news: Just two months until Ang Lee's The Hulk arrives. Now the bad news: Daredevil is stunningly bad. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Why is it that every movie I get sent to review is such a piece of shit? The "evil bad creature" in Dreamcatcher, a new giant waste of time based on a Stephen King novel, hinges on alien ass-worms that shoot out like a bad case of the scoots. I remember when Stephen King used to have an imagination. When I read Skeleton Crew and Night Shift and all those other 400-page paperbacks, I'd be afraid to sleep with the lights off for weeks. This King-inspired outing is just stupid. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
This is no Richard Wright success story--the story of a black boy who is born with a big brain, learns to read and love books on his own, and becomes a world-famous author read and studied by graduate students. There is none of that in Eddie Griffin's story. According to this documentary, he was dumb when he was born; dumb when he was a teen, living with his dumb family. He was dumb as a young man; and, finally, he is dumb as a Hollywood movie star (Undercover Brother). The only thing he might have to his credit is that he looks kind of funny, with his beady eyes, small nose, funky head. But that is all there is: a funny face. And for this mug he gets a whole fucking documentary! Made in America.
Frida is yet another artist's story that has been stripped of nuance and turned into a paean to something indiscriminately called "living," here with requisite Latin heat and groaning tables of erotically charged food. (EMILY HALL)
* Gangs of New York
Combining real history, richly imagined historiography, and classical melodrama, Gangs of New York tells the story of Amsterdam Vallon, a young Irish immigrant (Leonardo DiCaprio) in mid-19th-century New York City seeking to avenge the murder of his father by a rival gang leader (Daniel Day-Lewis) who has since grown into a powerful crime boss. Scorsese invests the picture with increasingly biblical gravity in 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)
* The Good Thief
The Good Thief is based on the 1955 French classic Bob le Flambeur by Jean-Pierre Melville, whose assured direction and cash-poor location filmmaking are widely considered precursors to the French New Wave. Neil Jordan directs the remake as a sort of tribute to the stylings associated with later New Wave films, with effects like freeze-frame cuts that make you aware that you're watching a movie and a cast of actors for whom English is not the primary language, so the dialogue is also awkward and self-aware. Jordan is commenting on Melville's film as much as remaking it, so if you can see the original first, do so--but either way you should have a good time. (ANDY SPLETZER)
Head of State
Chris Rock stars in a film about a Washington D.C. city councilman (who yells a lot) turned unexpected presidential hopeful (who yells a lot). Scripted in part by Rock, the film is assured some semblance of humor--in spite of its trailer's hint at some rather unfortunate rappin'-granny potential.
Based on the popular children's book by Louis Sachar, a family drama (starring Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, and Jon Voight) about kids in the chain gang. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro, Woodinville 12
* The Hours
I was prepared to hate this movie. Script by David Hare, whose previous work I regard as 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. Direction by Stephen Daldry, whose Billy Elliot was terrific in part because it was so self-confidently slight, here with a cast of thousands, every single one of them a Major Dramatic Star. And the nose! Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf in a large, deforming nasal prosthesis; I had seen it in the previews and shuddered. Altogether, I hoped the movie was a shapeless pasticcio that would let me make cruel fun. I was so wrong. This is a really good movie. (BARLEY BLAIR)
House of a Thousand Corpses
The Rob Zombie movie. No, really.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
The film is touching in those brief minutes when Kate Hudson and Matthew McConnaughey realize they might have feelings for each other, so long as the idiot soundtrack doesn't swell in and ruin the mood.
In The Hunted, a problematic soldier played by Benicio Del Toro is trained to be a killing machine for some elite army unit. The uneven story fails to properly explain why and how the once-brave soldier Del Toro went insane and started killing deer hunters in the woods, or why Tommy Lee Jones, who is an excellent killer and hunter, is also a pacifist who worries about the hunting of wild animals, refuses to use a gun, and has never killed a person. The movie, in a word, lacks everything that would make it a reasonable film. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
The Jungle Book 2
AKA Clear Cut!
If there's one thing that I love more than talking animals in sunglasses, it'd have to be Christopher Walken.
* Laurel Canyon
In Laurel Canyon, thoroughly modern young lovers Sam and Alex (Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale) are stranded at the home of Sam's mother, Jane, a famous record producer, played by Frances McDormand. During the course of the film, the couple's uptight romance is threatened by Jane's swinging lifestyle, which includes liberal pot-smoking and the free-ish love of her musician boyfriend Ian (Alessandro Nivola). Alex is tempted by both Ian and Jane, while Sam, still angry about his mother's loose parenting style, seethes. Though this description might lead one to believe Laurel Canyon is a bedroom farce between hippies and yuppies, the film is in fact a smart, emotionally insightful exploration of the multigenerational consequences of the quest to live free. (SEAN NELSON)
This small, quiet film, with beautifully frigid cinematography by Roger Deakins, may not be remarkable, but it can affect you nonetheless. None of the characters in Levity achieve complete closure, and probably none of them will ever find true happiness. In the end, however, all they can hope is for the burden of their violent pasts to be lifted from their shoulders. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* 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.
Malibu's Most Wanted
Opening. The wigga son of a wealthy politician is introduced to C.O.M.P.T.O.N. by Juilliard-trained street thugs. Sensitive treatment of complicated racial stereotypes follows. Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
A Man Apart
A Man Apart, which stars beefy Vin Diesel as a streetwise DEA agent who rolls with real niggaz, is to Traffic what crack is to cocaine--instead of matching or going beyond Traffic it soon dispenses with its noble concept, kicks into reverse, and returns to the old opera of cowboy vs. the others. America, the consumer, is ultimately Good; Mexico, the producer, is ultimately Bad. And to prevent the total corruption of what is at heart Good, the Good must relentlessly pursue and gun down the Bad. The Bad in this film is even called El Diablo. I rest my case. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
A Mighty Wind
See review this issue.
* Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa follows a rich Jewish family that leaves Germany in 1938 and moves to Africa. There they can avoid the Nazis, but have to deal with some other issues like, oh, the lack of water. Naturally, the characters all experience guilt (you just can't have a Holocaust movie without guilt), but there are also things here you never see in any movie, such as the scene in which a swarm of locusts plunder a field of maize. The hazards of humanity and the hazards of nature are not dissimilar, this movie argues, though (at two and a half hours long) not very succinctly. Thankfully, the actor Merab Ninidze, who's very sexy, is in almost every scene. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
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. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
I swear I'm just as shocked by this as you are, but dig this: Phone Booth, the new film by Joel Schumacher--yes, that Joel Schumacher--is pretty damn good. Somehow--Grace of God? Shadow director?--the man who ruined Batman, the chump behind Bad Company and Flatliners, has managed to make a film worth seeing. A gimmick gone wild, it breezes past in 80 quick minutes, starting from a sprint and only stumbling somewhat at the very end. And Schumacher, notorious for soaking his films in style, keeps matters relatively grounded, apparently realizing (perhaps for the first time in his career) that tension does not need flash. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* 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)
Piglet's Big Movie
From the fever dreams of Christopher Robin comes another exploration of the Jungian neuroses of Hundred Acre Wood's most unbearably anxious citizens.
* 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)
Rivers and Tides
Andy Goldsworthy, the subject of this documentary, makes things out of nature--icicles, shards of stone, leaf, thorn, tufts of sheep's wool--and lets nature take them apart. There is something both arrogant and humble at work here: the very Western wrestling of order out of chaos; the kind of acceptance of entropy associated with Zen. This is probably what makes Goldsworthy such a popular artist among the well-meaning; a glossy book of photographs of his work graces the coffee table of every super-liberal environmentalist you know. For the most part, director Thomas Riedelsheimer gives this wit room to breathe, although the New Agey plinka plinka music is truly awful. Silence, I think, would have been more respectful, more surprising, more Goldsworthian. (EMILY HALL)
Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted
Festival of Animation
I am not an 18-year-old boy, nor do I smoke copious volumes of marijuana--so there were already two strikes against me when considering whether or not I would enjoy this year's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation. But I watched the video of collected shorts with an open mind, thinking maybe there'd be some funny shit in there. There wasn't. It was just sick and twisted (duh). Venereal disease, incest, death, farts, burps, vomit, murder, blood... is there still an audience for this shit?
The latest take on addicts, Spun, chooses neither to pass judgment on narcotics nor make you care about the people who devour them, instead turning 96 minutes about crystal meth addicts into a harmless collage of rootless characters. Spun was directed by Swede Jonas Akerlund, a man better known for making music videos (Madonna, Prodigy, U2) than feature films, as a visually entertaining buzz that wears off the minute you leave the theater. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
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 his patient were awake and responsive. The movie unfolds with grace and still manages to shock while being funny, strange, morally complex, and moving. (NATE LIPPENS)
Tears of the Sun
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Tears of the Sun takes the United States' 1994 blunder in Rwanda and transfers it to Nigeria, where the president and his family have been assassinated in a military upheaval, and armed militias are marching through the country slaughtering civilians. In an attempt to rescue an American doctor (Monica Bellucci) working as a missionary, a group of Navy SEALs, led by Lieutenant Waters (Bruce Willis), is sent in for an evacuation. Unfortunately, the film itself exists in a Hollywood foreign-policy pipe dream, as our indefensible policy of only interceding in atrocity when American interests are at stake is abandoned, and the American military does right by humanity for a change--a plot decision that may make for smooth consumption by the American public, but which, in reality, is completely dishonest. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Till Human Voices Wake Us
Opening. See review this issue. Metro
A View From the Top
Playing out like something of a saccharine, low-rent version of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, A View from the Top is pure ocular Wonder Bread--featureless, familiar, and entirely inoffensive. Characters appear and disappear without relevance or explanation, the plot plods along with heartwarming comic relief, and the whole slapdash mess ends almost painlessly. Almost. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
What a Girl Wants
Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, and Kelly Preston star in Girls Gone Wild: London Edition, in a film filed somewhere between "Coming of Age," "Fish Out of Water," and "Product Placement Opportunity."