The Carol Chapman International Film Festival
I can't tell you what movies are playing, or even who Carol Chapman is really, but I can say that they all of the films have some nebulous affiliation with the titular stranger. Oh, and there's a musical guest too--but, um, they're a secret too. Fancy, Thurs at 10.
The Cremaster Cycle
See Visual Arts preview. Varsity, see Movie Times for details.
* Dancing Outlaw
Though I probably hate white-trash chic more than anyone you've ever met, that doesn't mean I can't love Jesse White, the multiple-personality-havin', booze-guzzlin', vapor-huffin', mountain-dancing shitbird cracker from the hills of West Virginny. This titanic 1991 documentary, produced for WV public TV, spawned a thousand late-night "dude, you've GOT to see this" sessions, and for good reason. Jesse White, AKA Jesco, AKA Elvis, is an American original, and so is his family. The chance to watch him work should never be passed up. (SEAN NELSON) Little Theatre, Fri-Sun at 9 pm.
See Blow Up. Because the world has nothing more pressing to worry about than the socio-political ramifications of carrots, 911 shares the "summer indie-media fun!" of Fed Up! a documentary about genetically modified foods. 911 Media Arts Center, Sat at 8 pm.
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
See Blow Up. "I'd take good food over bad food any day of the week." Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
See Blow Up. From the makers of Winged Migration, Microcosmos is 80 minutes of unadulterated terror in the form of close-up after skin-crawling close-up of bugs, bugs, and more bugs. This may be the only time in our paper's history that we recommend not getting really high before viewing a film. Be warned. Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
My Man Godfrey
"All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people." Seattle Art Museum, Thurs at 7:30 pm.
Bradley Beesley's award-winning documentary about a fishing method so obscure (noodling is the practice of hand-catching giant catfish that's typically accomplished by wiggling one's fingers in front of underwater nesting holes and seizing the fish about the gills when it becomes fatally attracted to the live human bait) as to become freakishly fascinating. Just to make things more surreal the Flaming Lips composed the instrumental score. (HANNAH LEVIN) Little Theatre, Fri-Sun at 7 pm.
* Open Screening
This monthly screening series at 911 is one of the most hit-or-miss events in town: no curators here, merely willing hosts to whoever submits a film. For only $1, however, it's also one of the best deals. (BRUCE REID) 911 Media Arts, Mon at 8 pm.
Jean Cocteau's masterpiece of 1949 loosely based on the Greek legend, Orpheus concerns a poet's love affair with the Angel of Death. Rendezvous, Wed at 7:30 pm.
* Raising Arizona
"Whaddaya think? He was wearin' his damn jammies! They had Yodas 'n' shit on 'em!" Fremont Outdoor Movies, Sat at dusk.
Ratt Chali Hai Jhoom Ke
See Blow Up. The second film in Seattle Art Museum's South Asian Reels series, Ratt Chali Hai Jhoom Ke (or The Long Night) is Pakistani director Hasan Zaidi's digital debut about an MIT graduate on a lovelorn path East. Seattle Art Museum, Fri at 7 pm.
Southern Gothic Series
Northwest Film Forum exploits the Yankee fear of our Southern brethren with two weeks of Kentucky-fried celluloid in the Southern Gothic film series. This week's offerings: Robert Mitchum as Brother Love in what is arguably his greatest role--the endlessly cited Night of the Hunter along with Tomorrow, a William Faulkner adaptation starring Robert Duvall. Grand Illusion, see Movie Times for details.
* Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
"Schnozzberry? Who ever heard of a schnozzberry?" Renton Outdoor Cinema, Sat at dusk.
2 Fast 2 Furious
John Singleton directs 2 Fast 2 Furious on autopilot. Maybe he's just auditioning to make videos for the musicians he cast (Tyrese, Ludacris). Gone is the sense that anyone here has an offscreen life, that anything you see could actually happen, that anything surprising or interesting will take place in the computer-generated plot. I guess we're supposed to root for Paul Walker, but only because he was the star of the last movie. Everything is surface and nothing has substance. Hell, most hiphop videos have better plots and stronger female characters than this movie, which makes for one boring road trip. (ANDY SPLETZER)
* 28 Days Later
How do you like your pop-apocalypse, sci-fi horror? If you like it loud, smart, and scary as all get out, you cannot miss this. Animal activists accidentally release a rage virus on London that turns the population into cannibalistic predators who could outrun a zombie anytime, anywhere. The unaffected few band together and end up in a military compound where the soldiers are as bad as the infected. Yes. This film kicks ass. (SHANNON GEE)
Alex and Emma
Throughout the screening of Alex and Emma, I repeatedly pulled on the small hairs of my companion's leg. He later reported this more pleasant than the movie. (EMILY HALL)
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)
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? (JENNIFER MAERZ)
* Capturing the Friedmans
To watch the Friedman family fall apart after the father and youngest brother are accused of molesting kids in the family basement is like watching a Greek tragedy unfold, five people inexorably pulled down by their flaws, by personality, fate, and human failing--the angry elder brother, the bitter mother, the passive, tired father. This doesn't mean that Capturing the Friedmans is simple; you'll spend hours afterward arguing what really happened, and who behaved, in the end, the worst. Those arguments might surprise you. (EMILY HALL)
Charlies' Angels: Full Throttle
What I wanted to see was a parable about the power of an older, wiser woman striking back at the young, naive, and pert-breasted. And Demi Moore looks amazing, it is true. But it isn't possible to read anything into this movie: If you try to apply your brain to it, it snaps back like a rubber band. Reality is just a construct anyway, subject to flat, shimmering moments of CGI. The more improbable the situation, the funnier it is (from the falling getaway truck that miraculously provides a getaway helicopter, to the big book on opera on the table in Charlie's office); Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore can barely keep their faces straight as they deliver their lines--even Lucy Liu's deadpan shows signs of cracking. Full Throttle is not so much a movie as a string of inside jokes, action sequences, costume changes, and shots of Diaz' ass, but that's the point, right? There's a story in here somewhere about the witness protection plan, an ex-Angel, and some orphans, but really it's a wet dream for both genders: Never underestimate the pure pleasure of seeing a gal throw a man through a jukebox. (EMILY HALL)
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.
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)
Dumb and Dumberer
This movie is stupid. You'd only expect as much considering this film is about how Dumb and Dumber stars Harry and Lloyd came to be best friends during their high-school years. Its saving grace is that it's the kind of stupid that the majority of Americans like--every joke is about farting, poo, special education students, and short buses. And if not that, it's making some sort of sexual innuendo that would make any 15-year-old boy piss his pants with laughter. And if that's not enough to get you to crack a smile (you know, because maybe your over the age of 17), you get to hear Bob Saget yell "shit" over and over again. Who's not gonna laugh at that? (MEGAN SELING)
* 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 Hard Word
The eternally greasy-do'd Guy Pearce leads a band of saucy, sassy robbers in The Hard Word, an Australian caper film whose dirty eccentricities are the only things that set it apart from its other caper-heist ilk. Between the rapid-fire patter and the money-grubbing schemes, there's a reasonable bit of character development--and it's all done in wicked, kick-to-the-groinage fun. By the time the boys get to their last heist, The Hard Word starts to peter out--and no amount of ensuing gun violence helps jazz it up. But don't worry--the "bad" guys get their comeuppance and the crew walks off into the sunset, making The Hard Word ultimately a soft one. (SHANNON GEE)
The Heart of Me
See review this issue. Metro
Gawdawful. Seriously. Watching Hollywood Homicide, two questions flared up: 1) What has happened to Indiana Jones? and 2) Why have so many critics--Roger Ebert and Slate's David Edelstein, among them--found this insipid, unfunny, clumsily constructed "buddy cop movie" worthwhile? (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* The Hulk
Whether or not you buy the beast onscreen is dependent upon just how far you yourself are willing to leap--but the old tale has been given a modern overhaul by Ang Lee and writers James Schamus, John Turman, and Michael France for The Hulk. It may in fact be the most grown-up--and most emotionally fucked-up--comic-book movie ever assembled. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
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)
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)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
See review this issue. Varsity
Legally Blonde 2
More than any other actress, 27-year-old Southerner Reese Witherspoon embodies American ideals at their most... idealistic, representing the beauty, altruistic savvy, and awesomely fine-tuned dental hygiene we so admire in our finest citizens. A former cheerleader/debutante with a Stanford education, Witherspoon is the vision of moral upstandingness--the perfect fusion of Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly. She has even birthed a child and kept her figure. That's why we believe she can and will change the world through animal rights in Legally Blonde 2, in which Witherspoon reprises her amazing role as Elle Woods, whose desire for truth, justice, and the American way equalizes her unapologetic materialism. (JULIANNE SHEPHERD)
The Legend of Suriyothai
Originally conceived as an eight-hour miniseries in Thailand before being trimmed down to a three-hour theatrical film and then, with the help of Francis Ford Coppola, to an American-release cut that was under two and a half hours. A huge hit in Thailand, it doesn't quite translate to our shores. Too many important events happen offscreen and the acting comes across as flat, though there are some impressively choreographed battle scenes and plenty of beheadings. (Andy Spletzer)
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)
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 brilliant. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Matrix: Reloaded at IMAX
Okay, so an already bloated movie is about to gain mucho weight, which means über-geeks will get a chance to see Trinity's PVC-clad heart-shaped ass in three-story-tall glory. This is an enhancement, to be sure, but much like Attack of the Clones' stint at IMAX, The Matrix: Reloaded's transition from big screen to really fucking big screen seems completely unnecessary.
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)
Pirates of the Caribbean
See review this issue. Cinerama, Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place
Rugrats Go Wild
Why does it feel like they're not even trying anymore? Why do all American animated features have to be musicals? Why is this film's biggest selling point that it marks Bruce Willis' triumphant return to voice-over? Why indeed, my friend. Why indeed. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas
Tyler Durden, some gay ass prince, and the chick from the T-Mobil commercials with the speech impediment run into big birds and big fish and big goddesses and after a whole lot of swinging and flying through the air, all ends well. In conclusion: it's dumb. No one over 10 years old ever needs to see a DreamWorks animated film. Pixar is totally cooler. And Bradley Steinbacher can suck it for sending me to this film. (MEGAN SELING)
Jeffrey Blitz's amazing documentary Spellbound chronicles eight near-teens as they compete in the National Spelling Bee. At least, that's the film's obvious premise; the less obvious one, what the documentary really is, is a love letter to America. National pride via a national bee. And there is much pride to be found. The film's subjects come from a happy homes, and each is driven to take the national title; their love of words, and an eagerness to succeed, fuels the long hours of rote memorization they endure. Their parents may have money, or not, but one thing is readily apparent: The kids are bound for successful careers and lives. They are the American dream, on stage, trying to remember how to spell "logorrhea." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Swimming Pool
François Ozon's latest tribute to the sexy superiority of French women. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier. Harvard Exit
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
After a late-'90s dance around the rim of the cinematic dustbin, Arnold Schwarzenegger is reprising his most famous role as the T-101, this time taking on the beautiful and dreaded T-X. It has been 83 years since the passing of the 19th Amendment, and now, finally, women are able to claim victory in the battle for equality. They have their own ultimate killing machine. Unfortunately, the film is not victorious in the least. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The conflicts at play in Chen Kaige's Together are less overtly historical and political than his past films (The Emperor and the Assassin, Yellow Earth), but like his most well-known film in the U.S., Farewell My Concubine, Together puts a talented artist--here a violin prodigy rather than a Chinese opera star--at the center of a changing world. Instead of civil war or the Cultural Revolution, however, the battle this time is growing up in modern China. (SHANNON GEE)
* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. I like it because it captures traditional Maori ceremonies and songs on film while also showing that New Zealand is not just a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Shannon Gee)
The Winged Migration
Following geese, cranes, swans, puffins, penguins, pelicans, and gulls, the makers of the insect documentary Microcosmos spent four years capturing impossible images of birds, via a bevy of methods and a gaggle of cinematographers, for Winged Migration, a documentary that is as much about the wonders of flight as the migration of birds.
* 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)