Anarcho Country Cinema
See Blow Up. Aftermath, Sun at 9 pm.

An evening of short works by director Doug Aitkens, as presented by Exploding Cinema. JBL Theater, Fri at 8, 10 pm.

* Bedazzled
"P.S.: I leave you my collection of moths." Seattle Art Museum, Thurs at 7:30 pm.

* The Bicycle Thief
"Vivere e soffrire." Rendezvous, Wed at 7 pm.

Blood and Sand: the Westerns of Sergio Leone
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, see Movie Times for specifics.

Journey to the West
A documentary on Eastern medicine's all-points assault on Western civilization, told through rare glimpses into Chinese medical practices and interviews with modern practitioners in America.

Featuring the best selections from their portfolio of experimental and flash films, the folks at Exploding Cinema Online present the little dots made big dots--all of which having something or other to do with music, right EMP? Sky Church, Sat at 10 am, 5 pm, Sun at 10 am, 6 pm.

Music Video Asia
See SIFF Picks. JBL Theatre, Sun at 8, 10 pm.

Nortec Collective
See Stranger Suggests. Showbox, Sat at 9 pm.

* Our Nation: A Korean Punk Rock Community
See Blow Up. Screens with Beyond the Screams, a film produced by Los Crudos/Limpwrist vocalist Martin Sorrondeguy. Independent Media Center, Fri at 7 pm.

Save Our Sex
According to the folks at Consolidated Works, America is on the rapid track of desexualization--and I for one am all for it. The last thing this country needs is more of that filthy, sticky nonsense--don't you people have better things to do? Apparently not, it seems, as Conworks launches Save Our Sex, a film program that looks like little more than an excuse to screen porn--in particular, Becky Goldberg's Hot and Bothered, and Micaela O'Herlihy's Thunder Perfect Mind. I hope they bought some fucking Lysol. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

Shaft's Big Score
See Blow Up. Linda's Tavern, Wed at TK.

Shit From Shynola
London-based filmmakers collective Shynola, best known for its promotional works for the likes of Radiohead, Blur, Stephen Malkmus, and UNKLE, presents a retrospective of their illustriously brief career. JBL Theater, Sat at 8, 10 pm.

* The Thing
See Blow Up. "Why don't we just... ait here for a little while... see what happens." Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm, Saturday's screening with live performance by Teen Cthulhu!!!NOW PLAYING

2 Fast 2 Furious
Opening. See review this issue. Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12

Anger Management
It's unofficially recommended that one wear a helmet when viewing the Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson comedy Anger Management, so as not to cause damage to the right frontal lobe due to repeated self-administered head slapping. However, the movie is so bad you--ll want to die before it's over. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

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
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)

Bruce Almighty
Just when you thought there was nothing worse than an earnest Jim Carrey comedy, it hits you like a sack of shit in the kisser--there is something worse, and that's an earnest Jim Carrey comedy that casts the overacting, overarching comedian as God. If I wanted religion and the importance of prayer shoved down my throat like a giant morality tampon sucking up every last bit of patience until I'm suffocating on it, I'd be on my knees in a pew already. But there's no reason for me--or anyone else--to sit through crap with lines like, "Miracles are single mothers of two who take their kids to soccer practice." Are you fucking kidding me? Is this a joke? No, it's not. It's the inane story of Jim Carrey as Bruce Nolan, a loser who takes the Lord's (Morgan Freeman) name in vain until He gives ol' Bruce His job so Bruce can see the importance of prayer beads and learn why God doesn't help people win the lottery and stupid stuff like that. It's also yet another example of how Jim Carrey has failed to be significantly funny since In Living Color hit reruns (and I don't even know if he was funny on that show anymore). (JENNIFER MAERZ)

Bulletproof Monk
Finally, after all these years, Chow Yun-Fat has successfully translated his Hong Kong charm into the language of popular American cinema. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Chicago
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)

Daddy Day Care
Is Eddie Murphy just too busy counting his money to read scripts? Or perhaps they're all just printed on hundred dollar bills. The once-great man hits us with yet another piece of middling excrement in the form of a Mr. Mom knock-off.

The Dancer Upstairs
As it slowly unfolds (key word: slowly), The Dancer Upstairs clearly paints itself as the kind of movie you want to like because of its high ambition. But unfortunately, after all the buildup, the loose ends are tied too quickly, and its hero's final sacrifice is too massive to be reconciled with the plot leading up to it. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

Down With Love
With its retro setting and references, Down with Love not only manages to pay direct tribute to the kind of sex comedy Doris Day and Rock Hudson made memorable with Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, but proves to be the most satisfying romantic comedy I've seen in--well, decades. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

* Finding Nemo
A ridiculously gorgeous film, Finding Nemo proves yet again Pixar's current chokehold on big-screen animation. From the facial expressions of the fish and background shots of gently swaying sea grass, to expansive harbor shots of Sydney and the continual mist of plankton wisping by, every frame has been so detailed and obsessed over that the film stuns. Add in Pixar's gift for scripting, a gift that always makes their films tolerable for adults, and the end product is a flower of a movie, exceedingly well-imagined, that is more than worth the multiplex gouging. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* 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)

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. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

When a film is as close to Psycho as Identity is, you hope it will bring something new to the table. Ah, well. Identity won't go down in history as the clever spin on Norman Bates it wants to be, but because it borrows so heavily from Hitchcock, it's not without some taut suspense. Some will enjoy the thrill-kill ride. Others will easily dodge the plot twists. No one, however, will escape the shrieking music cues. (SHANNON GEE)

The In-Laws
Albert Brooks slums along with Michael Douglas in this wickedly unnecessary remake of the classic 1979 Alan Arkin-Peter Falk kvetch-a-thon. The thing, however, is that I watched the original a week ago with an eye toward explaining why the remake is practically sacrilegious, and was dismayed to discover that it has aged about as well as mayonnaise on a countertop. Aside from Arkin's unstoppable brilliance and Falk's natural ease, there's little to recommend the film, which now feels slow, blocky, and obvious.

The Italian Job
Pompous jackass (Edward Norton) and inflection-handicapped pretty boy (Mark Wahlberg) team up in The Italian Job, a remake of the 1969 heist comedy starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward, and somehow, shockingly, the result is not completely fucked--a sturdy, if unsurprising, summer fluff piece. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

L'Auberge Espanole
The question that is deftly asked by the film's rather sitcom-style (but also frequently charming) result is one of identity and youth--how hard do you hold on to either of them?--and proves that a sweet movie can also have little pockets of depth. (EMILY HALL)

The Lizzie McGuire Movie
Disney's impeccable live-action legacy continues with a big-screen version of the impossibly saccharine children's television series. It's sort of like watching television--but you know, real big. AND you get to pay for it!

* 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)

Malibu's Most Wanted
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. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

Man On the Train
The French are a great people, with a great cinema; but when they stink, they really stink. This film is an utter waste of your time and mine. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Matrix: Reloaded
The Wachowski Brothers--two über-geeks, evidently, who surely concocted the entire Matrix universe whilst scheming in their parents' basement--have veered the series' storyline sharply this time around, as what appeared to be true in the elder sibling is not necessarily true in the younger, but even if the story is still massively underwhelming (at least to me--the Matrix obsessives will undoubtedly wet themselves, and God bless them for it), the sheer audacity the Wachowskis bring to the screen for Reloaded can only be described as brilliance. Like I stated before, you will see cool shit like you wouldn't believe--cool shit that makes the original Matrix look like The Ice Pirates--and whether you buy into the Wachowskis' massive tale or not, any film that shows you something you've never seen before--indeed, never dreamed possible, really--is worth the effort. There is art that moves you, and art that awes you. The Matrix Reloaded, despite its flaws, is the latter. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

A Mighty Wind
As with Christopher Guests' other films, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, the results of A Mighty Wind are alternately hilarious and flat. So much of what makes these movies enjoyable rests on the rhythm of the improv, which is why the increasingly rigid formula is both troublesome and necessary: It's the skeleton that allows these world-class performers to let loose (Fred Willard once again steals the show). The problem is that it's become so familiar that, taken together, the three films feel like one long, predictable sketch. (SEAN NELSON)

My Little Eye
Opening. Oh, to be a Hollywood pitch man. "Okay, so get this: it's like Survivor meets The Ring--wait, no. It's like The Real World meets The Blair Witch Project. Man, the kids are gonna love this!"

* 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)

Old School
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)

Owning Mahony
An overwhelmingly Canadian portrait of one sweaty bank manager's gambling addiction, and the enormous fraud he perpetrates to sustain it, places the compulsively watchable Philip Seymour Hoffman at the center of a story that grows less plausible with each frame; that it's supposed to be true doesn't help--the film is portentous and humorless, and neither John Hurt as a greedy small-time casino manager, nor Minnie Driver as the frumpy, bewigged girlfriend, can elevate the proceedings. Hoffman is a great actor, but the more he appears in ugly garbage like this, the closer he comes to phoning it in. The only crucial difference between this performance and other recent ones (e.g., Love Liza) seems to be the mustache on his lip. (SEAN NELSON)

* 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.

* Pistol Opera
Tall and dangerous, "Stray Cat" is a professional killer blasting her way into the hearts of those she meets along her journey to the top of the assassin food chain. This visually intoxicating thrill-ride will not disappoint fans of Suzuki's 1967 debut, Branded to Kill.

* 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)

Raising Victor Vargas
Victor lives on the Lower East Side and has no worldly ambitions; all he has to speak of is a crush on Juicy Judy, who wears hoop earrings and too much makeup and thinks all guys are "dogs." Neither one of them has a phone at home, which suggests a rather improbable courtship, though they manage to run into each other enough times on neighborhood rooftops and at public swimming pools, and to the surprise of no one in the audience it all works out--each character (even among the overbearing and richly caricatured families) comes to a sensitive, deeper understanding of one another's longings and insecurities, which is a clean, comforting way to end a movie, but it's never how things turn out in life. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

The Sea
Opening. Baltasar Kormakur, the director of 101 Reykjavik, trades slacker dysfunction for a full-on family meltdown. An aging father in a depressed Icelandic fishing village gathers his three children to tell them what's left of the family fortune. Opening with a bloody guy pouring gasoline in the fish-processing factory and burning it down, along with other scenes of mayhem and collapse, the movie flashes back a mere couple of days to show how things fell apart so completely. (ANDY SPLETZER) Metro

* Together
Opening. See review this issue. Harvard Exit

* Wattstax: 2003 Special Edition
Opening. Perhaps we will look back at a Woodstock '99 film and feel it had some political significance or was a source of cultural pride, but I have my doubts. This film captures the 1972 concert in Los Angeles commemorating the anniversary of the Watts riots seven years prior. Performances from the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, and Isaac Hayes are interspersed with lively commentary from Richard Pryor and the citizens of Watts (including Ted Lange) about being black in America. Varsity

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."

Wrong Turn
So an averagely attractive guy takes a wrong turn and literally runs into a group of equally averagely attractive young people. With their vehicles immobile, they're now stranded in the middle of the woods (oooh, creepy!). The group of twenty-somethings pack up their big boobs and set out to search for help. But instead of finding help, they find that they're being hunted by a trio of "cannibalistic mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding." (Yikes!) Eighty-three minutes later, the quintet is down to two (them inbreds must've gotten hungry), and the status of the mountain men is questionable. It's a dumb and boring movie, and I apologize ahead of time for this very obvious and very cheesy line, but if you're going to see this flick, the only wrong turn would be the one you'd take into the theater. (MEGAN SELING)

* X2: X-Men United
The screenplay, by Michael Dougherty and Daniel Harris, is great; it would have been disastrous for the filmmakers not to rely on it. Forgoing excessive sweaty violence for richly imaginative narrative, X2's world is brought to life even more spectacularly than the first X-Men film, with very human elements of persecution, morality, and acceptance. (JULIANNE SHEPHERD)