2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick's classic stoner epic is given its perfect timeslot: midnight. Chances are you've already seen it (and if you haven't, then your life is miserably incomplete), but when was the last time you took in its wonderful, pretentious spectacle on a big screen? Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
Part of the Grand Illusion's ode to the late, great Billy Wilder, this Academy Award winning 1960 classic stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray, and is a must for any right-thinking person who claims to enjoy film. Grand Illusion, Thurs-Fri at 6, 8 pm, Sat-Sun at 3:30, 6, 8:30 pm.
If there is a bottom to American culture, then this has to be it: backyard wrestling. There is nothing more stupid, more bankrupt than this form of entertainment, which makes even professional wrestlers like Rob Van Dam seem lettered and cultivated. Backyard wrestling is basically poor white youth imitating, in the most brutal way, their heroes in the WWF. But for some reason, homemade wrestling is more bloody and destructive than anything you might see on Pay-Per-View: the teens hit each either with light bulbs, fall on rat traps, fight with barbed wire, and dive towards their prone opponents from bone-breaking heights. Backyard wrestlers are American savages. After learning from the Internet of thousands of backyard "federations" across America, the director, Paul Hough, a limey, decided to document it on digital video. He met and filmed young adults with ridiculous names (The Lizard, Scar, the Retard, and so on) who wrestle from one backyard to another in the insane hope of finally arriving at fame and fortune. The director even takes a side trip to his home country and films British morons smashing each other with a variety of household goods. Ultimately the documentary is a safari: It transports us city people from the balcony into the pit, from our safe and enlightened order down into the heart of American darkness. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Little Theatre, Fri-Thurs at 7 pm.
Films of Caveh Zahedi
The second installment of a two-weekend series, in which 911 shows four of Zahedi's features. This week features his debut, A Little Stiff, the most conventional of his films, and a winning study of a love story that doesn't quite click. 1994's I Don't Hate Las Vegas Anymore is the director's masterpiece, a road trip with a berating father and a sullen younger brother who hunts down happiness, drug addiction, the family, and the existence of God. (ANDY SPLETZER) 911 Media Arts Center, see Movie Times for details.
The Man With the Golden Arm
Old Blue Eyes slamdances with Mr. Brownstone in this 1955's thin-veined classic directed by Otto Preminger. Along with The Manchurian Candidate, one of Sinatra's best films. Rendezvous, Wed at 7:30.
The Pink Panther
Starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, this flick proves that Blake Edwards was once a decent director. What happened to his talent? Someone should ask his colleague Sidney Lumet, for maybe their gifts went into hiding together. JBL Theater, Mon at 10 pm.
The Princess Bride
A special screening at which audience members overheard repeating the phrase "Inconceivable!" or "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..." will be assessed a $5 surcharge. Directed quite well, perplexingly, by Rob "Meathead" Reiner. Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 7:30 pm.
After six years of success in the Bay Area as the Camera Cinema Club, this film preview series returns as SNEAK in Seattle. For more information check out the website www.sneakfilms.com. Pacific Place, Sun at 10 pm.
Some Like it Hot
One of the greatest comedies ever filmed. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play two Chicago jazz players who stumble across a gang shooting and end up fleeing for their lives. Disguising themselves as women, they join a touring all-girl band and head to Florida. Also starring Marilyn Monroe, and directed by Billy Wilder. Columbia City Cinema, Fri at 7:30 pm.
A Tribute To Blassie
See Stranger Suggests. Little Theatre, Fri at 9 pm.
Women Make Movies
The first in a proposed monthly event, Cinema Diaspora celebrate women of color in a screening of films about female body image, including the films The Body Beautiful, Black Women On, Warrior Marks, and Perfect Image. Central Cinema, Fri-Sat at 6:30 pm.
* Wrestling Rarities
See Stranger Suggest. Kicking off their Wrestlezania series, a spandex-clad tribute to America's favorite soap opera, the Little Theatre presents a rotating window of limited screenings featuring rare wrestling features. This week's program includes a Fred Blassie tribute (with Breakfast With Blassie and Blassie Goes To Washington screening), the Bowery Boys' No Holds Barred, a 1949 film featuring Gorgeous George, and Gaea Girls. Little Theatre, see Movie Times for details.
* 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. This film kicks ass. (SHANNON GEE)
* American Splendor
As a comic-book movie, American Splendor is more like Crumb and Ghost World than like Spider Man or The Hulk. Along with a deadpan sense of humor, the focus is entirely on character and not at all on spectacle. There's also a tone found in underground comics that this movie perfectly captures. Smartly constructed and often surprising, American Splendor indulges in how artificial the filmmaking process is, and ends up with a heartfelt portrayal of a very real man. (ANDY SPLETZER)
If you're finishing a trilogy about boners, boning, blow jobs, motherfuckers, call girls, and gay dudes, who needs a plot? Just please promise this is the last one. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
And Now... Ladies and Gentlemen
During the first 60 minutes of this two-hour film, one is under the impression that if it cut the last mooring holding it down, it would float up and out into new territory. The film's conditions are favorable: There is a charming jewel thief (Jeremy Irons), the somber city of Paris, and a beautiful jazz singer (Patricia Kaas) who is competing with another beautiful jazz singer for the love of a gorgeous trumpeter. But And Now Ladies & Gentlemen, which is directed by Claude Lelouch, just doesn't go far enough. It only reaches the brink of brilliance before giving up and descending into the ridiculous. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Bad Boys 2
Why use two rounds to disable an opponent when you can use 50? Why shoot that bad guy when you can blow him 30 feet into the air? This is Michael Bay 101, and if Bad Boys II proves anything, it's that Bay's attempt at cinematic respectability was soundly ended with the horrendous Pearl Harbor. Bad Boys II is classic, trashy, inexcusable Bay. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Battle Of Shaker Heights
Those beer-swilling hacks at Project Greenlight exploit another young filmmaker in The Battle Of Shaker Heights, a movie about a 17-year-old boy obsessed with re-enacting WWII battles who exploits his passion to combat a school bully or some shit.
Bend It Like Beckham
Stuff happens and challenges are overcome, 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)
Bollywood / Hollywood
Those who found the massive crowds for My Big Fat Greek Wedding perplexing will undoubtedly be just as perplexed by Bollywood/Hollywood. Is the film bad? Yes--at least to me. Will it be a breakthrough success, residing at some theater here in town for months on end? Probably. Often grating, and only occasionally inspired, Bollywood/Hollywood attempts to celebrate India's cinematic brilliance. It fails, and you'd be better served by heading to Scarecrow and renting that brilliance for yourself. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
See review this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Varsity, Woodinville 12
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.
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
If Saturday Night Live has taught us anything, it's that there's a fine line between "comedy" and "beating a dead horse into the ground, picking its pulp-like carcass back up, and finely filleting the remains." Wait, did I say fine line? I meant GAPING CANYON. Deeply grating SNL alum David Spade explores this expanse with his latest--a fairly self-explanatory one note, sustained for an hour and a half.
Dirty Pretty Things
I'm sad to announce that Dirty Pretty Things is a failure. True, it is a beautiful failure, as it is beautifully shot, with beautiful set designs, and beautiful actors (Amistad's Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays, with great success, a fallen but still noble Nigerian doctor, and Amélie's Audrey Tautou, who plays with considerably less success a vulnerable Turkish immigrant); but in terms of its concept, plot, and general message, the movie falls apart shortly after it starts. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
* Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo proves yet again Pixar's current chokehold on big-screen animation. The end product is a flower of a movie, exceedingly well imagined, that is more than worth the multiplex gouging. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Despite the generally amiable Jamie Lee Curtis and the overwhelming presence of feigned teen rock band sequences (the greatest joy that the pubescent live-action genre affords), the new Freaky Friday movie is not the old Freaky Friday movie. Absent: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, Boss Hogg, and (in the most unfortunate oversight) the earth-shattering car-chase/water-skiing/hang-gliding finale. Present: an univested Jamie Lee, obligatory modernizations, and (most inexplicably) something called "Asian voodoo." (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Freddy Vs. Jason
I understand that a couple of decades of speculation will let anybody down, but childhood fantasies notwithstanding, FvJ is more of mess than you could possibly imagine. No, really. Granted, the Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th series' have long been entirely inexplicable (what with their innumerable ressurections, circular logics, and endless devices used to ensure mammarian explosion into the triple digits), but this time around one gets the feeling that director Ronny Yu left about six hours of boring ol' continuity on the cutting room floor. What for all purposes should have been merely a mediocre horror film instead shifts mid-stream to become a mediocre action film--leaving an even lamer shitbag of indecision. Let me save you the trouble: nobody dies... because they're ALREADY DEAD. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
* Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)
Gigantic chronicles They Might Be Giants' 20-year journey from a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn to that same one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, only now they're famous and have a Grammy on the wall. In between, we learn, by way of funny interviews with Flansburgh and Linnell, alongside talking-head testimony from devotees like Sarah Vowell, Dave Eggers, Ira Glass, Frank Black, and Syd Straw, and abundant archival footage, that their response to the attention they receive is amused resignation. Whether you like the band or not, it's hard not to be inspired by their indefatigable, self-contained idiosyncrasy. (SEAN NELSON)
See review this issue. Metro
* The Hulk
Ang Lee's screen version of Stan Lee's classic character is a failure, alas, but at least it's an interesting one. Much maligned, it is the most fucked up blockbuster you'll see this year--or in any year, for that matter. (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)
Jeepers Creepers 2
You'll never want to ride a school bus in a rural area again. This cheeseball horror flick is guaranteed to make you jump occasionally, but I can also guarantee that you'll laugh out loud (and disturb the other moviegoers) at the absurdity of the winged part man/part bat creature that terrorizes, chases, and tries to eat a football team and its cheerleaders. (AMY JENNIGES)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life
Originiality of plot line is hardly the reason to see this, of course. The reason is Angelina Jolie, in a parade of urban-guerrilla/rave-girl outfits. And she is rather magnificent, even when she's ridiculous. (EMILY HALL)
Le Divorce robs Merchant Ivory of their period trappings; it is set in the present day (based on Diane Johnson's novel), thus conjuring up nightmarish memories of the team's 1989 Slaves of New York. The effect is like granddad coming into the party to rap with the young folk: The tone, the timing, the touch is wrong. Kate Hudson and the vaguely haunting Naomi Watts (who may be as permanently shadowed by Mulholland Drive as Anthony Perkins was by Psycho) are sisters in Paris, but if this suggests the élan of expat adventure, forget it. They both act as though they've had the blood drained out of them; Ivory has the distinction of being the first director to dull Hudson's goldenrod glow. (CLAUDE ROC)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
A lame exercise in myth-historical revisionism in which the action is dull, the dialogue witless, the effects absurd (Mr. Hyde looks like the Hulk; Nemo's Nautilus looks like a binary code ejaculation), and the story about as lucid as Ronald Reagan. (SEAN NELSON)
* Lost In Translation
There is a lengthy review of this film elsewhere in this issue, but in case you've skipped it, here's a brief rundown of just why you should rush out and see Sophia Coppola's flick as soon as you can: It's the movie of the year, and it will break your heart. Seriously. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Meridian 16, Seven Gables
The Magdalene Sisters
Very heavy-handed and obvious, and perhaps too moralizing for a film about the dangers of moralizing. (EMILY HALL)
See review this issue. Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
* The Matrix: Reloaded
The Wachowski Brothers have veered the series' story- line 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.
Sometimes movies that should go straight to video get a theatrical release. The Medallion is a perfect example, and not just because Julian Sands has a major role in it as the archvillain Snakehead. In it, an aging Jackie Chan plays a nice Hong Kong cop who is teamed up with a bumbling Irish Interpol agent (Lee Evans, trying desperately to capture the annoying charm of Rowan Atkinson). Basically, they're trying to foil Snakehead's plan to steal a pre-teen monk's medallion of immortality, but the nonsensical plot just gets in the way. The only reason to see this movie is for the action scenes directed by Sammo Hung, most of which use cartoonish wire work to add to the excitement. It's only too bad the plot keeps interrupting the fun. (ANDY SPLETZER)
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. (SEAN NELSON)
My Boss's Daughter
Much to my editor's shagrin, Ashton Kutcher spends another hour and a half desperately trying to fuck another trashy Hollywood blonde (in this case Tara Reid)--to little avail.
Once Upon a Time In Mexico
See review this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12
Part standard Western, part attempted romantic epic, Open Range starts patiently and solidly, but ends up rushing through its climax; the romance, such as it is, takes it in the teeth, and what was meant to be big and important is instead messy and clumsy. Which is too bad, because it has one of the best shootouts in years. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Vatican and ritualistic murder. You know, the usual.
The Other Side of the Bed
Even though at times it has the feel of an episode of Friends, The Other Side of the Bed moves beyond triteness by suggesting, at the end, that the right arrangement of these particular people isn't necessarily obvious. The musical numbers don't make sense, but no matter. It's absurd, it's a romp, it puts the farce back into romantic comedy, which is probably why I left the theater humming the theme from The Barber of Seville. This silly movie had made me, of all things, happy. (EMILY HALL)
This is the tripiest tripe in Tripetown. (EMILY HALL)
* Pirates of the Caribbean
The summer's best blockbuster. And Johnny Depp gives one of the best performances of the year. Perhaps maybe Oscar will finally realize that comedy also takes acting talent? (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Starring the young Colin Farrell and the old Samuel L. Jackson, S.W.A.T. is pure nonsense. This doesn't mean it's bad (it's not too bad), but it's as far from reality than anything you could ever imagine. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Maybe I'm too cynical for Triumphant Lessons like this, but I like a little more grit under the nails of my Hollywood movies, and the manicured emotions in Seabiscuit are a bit too Hallmark for me, even if they are based on a true story. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
Jeffrey Blitz's amazing documentary 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. The kids are the American dream, on stage, trying to remember how to spell "logorrhea." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Spy Kids 3D
The third installment of Robert Rodriguez's kiddie franchise rests firmly in two dimensions for the bulk of its duration. With shots that stand to age as well as Jaws 3-D, the real tragedy here is that the children of America live in a world where this sort of tripe stands as a pale approximation of the majesty that was Captain EO. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Step Into Liquid
The thing about surf movies is that they're like porn: After a few glorious frames, the money shot loses its power, and the filmmakers have to scramble to make it sexy and surprising again. You have to hand it to Dana Brown, though--he keeps Step Into Liquid sexy for longer than you would think possible. (EMILY HALL)
The Swimming Pool
Franÿois Ozon's latest tribute to the sexy superiority of French women. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier.
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)
That the teenage years are difficult is not news--it's something we've known for years, thanks to afterschool specials and blunt and terrifying movies like Kids. But stories about teens going out of control tend to inspire more polemic than art, encouraging viewers to identify the problem--the broken home, the oblivious parents, the oversexualized media--and turn the story into a message. What makes Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen more potent is that she offers no such easy outs, but rather points out the vulnerability of the whole structure (family, school, self) that keeps a teen from self-destructing. (EMILY HALL)
After seeing Uptown Girls, I am convinced that one of the funniest things in the whole entire world is watching an adorable eight-year-old girl look Brittany Murphy straight in the face and ask, "Are you on crack?" It's funny 'cause it's true; Miss Murphy has never looked more like an overdose victim in high heels than she does in this movie--during some scenes I swear her skin was blue. (MEGAN SELING)
* 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.