Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Skinny asshole makes fun of fat, bug-eyed buffoon. Featuring a shockingly comprehensive cast of classic horror talent in the form of Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Lon Chaney Jr. JBL Theatre, Thurs at 7:30 pm.

The Addams Family
"We're going to play a game... it's called 'Is There a God?'" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.

* The Bird With the Crystal Plumage
The great Dario Argento's directorial debut, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage tells the story of an American writer in Italy who witnesses a murder in an art gallery. Much Hitchcockian tomfoolery ensues. Not nearly as gory as Argento's later work, it is still a very worthwhile experience, especially for those who are just meeting the director. Grand Illusion, Fri at 6:30 pm, Sat-Sun at 4:30, 6:30 pm, Tues-Thurs at 6:30 pm.

DAMAH Spiritual Film Festival
If the quality of religious entertainment is any indication, the Spiritual Film Festival (dozens of short, spiritual films) will most likely be the most important conglomeration of faith-based film you've seen all week. Seattle Art Museum, visit for full details.

Deep Blues
Director Robert Mugge and Dave "the whitest man in music" Stewart take a trip to the Mississippi Delta to find out about the blues. They learn absolutely nothing. JBL Theatre, Wed at 7 pm.

Dr. Lamb
If there's one thing those folks over there in Hong Kong know well, it's how to hack up a beautiful woman's body with style. And if there's one thing us folks at The Stranger know well, it's racism... or is that misogyny? Anyway, the Grand Illusion screens Danny Lee and Billy Tang's Dr. Lamb, the gruesome, gruesome tale of a limb-collecting serial killer. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.

* Dracula: Pages From a Virgin's Diary
Guy Maddin's version of Bram Stoker's story returns to the Little Theatre, and all I can suggest is that you go. As soon as you can. You have never seen a take on Dracula like this one, a beautiful, haunting piece of work. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Little Theatre, Fri-Sun at 7, 9 pm.

Fellini Screenings
See Blow Up. See Movie Times for more information.

Frau Plastic Chicken Show
The conceit of this Hungarian oddity is that there is a television show called Nexxt dedicated to exploring and uncovering evil in society, hosted by a woman with the wonderful and unexplained name Frau Plastic Chicken (Dorottya Udvaros). As the show's remote crew follows a serial killer in order to capture his arrest on live TV, inside the studio her special guest is Alexander Grushkin (Zoltan Mucsi), the man who inspired the character of Alex in the novel A Clockwork Orange. In the guise of criticisms of reality TV, the filmmakers use the show as an excuse to exploit violent ideas and scenarios. There's not much more to the movie than a couple of grisly set pieces, and the host and experts are so smug as to become unlikable, which has the potentially unintended effect of making the serial killers t he only sympathetic characters. In a better movie, that would be subversive. Grand Illusion, Fri-Thurs at 8:30 pm, no shows Mon.

Girls Will Be Girls
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun at 1, 3, 5, 7:30, 9:30 pm, Mon-Thurs at 7:30, 9:30 pm. .

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
"When it comes to huge openings, a lot of people think of me." Sunset, Mon at 8 pm.

Hi/Lo Film Festival
See Blow Up. 911 Media Arts Center, Fri at 8 pm.

Independent Music Video Festival
Two days featuring 25 three-minute commercials for the likes of Bright Eyes, the Faint, the Get Up Kids, and a bunch of other whiny white kids from the Midwest. Night one with a live performance by Dorkweed, night two with SushiRobo. JBL Theatre, Sat-Sun at 7, 9:45 pm.

James and the Giant Peach
"Ew! Wouldn't want one of those nesting in your knickers." Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 2 pm.

* Michael Jackson's Thriller
You've seen it before, you should see it again, and Michael Jackson punchlines only serve to cheapen us both. Little Theatre, Thurs at 8 pm.

* North By Northwest
Hitchcock's most inspired entertainment is also considered an artistic lightweight by some of our more over-educated cineastes, who are forever arguing the greater merits of Vertigo or Strangers on a Train. Oh well... sucks to be them, 'cause North by Northwest is flat-out fantastic. (Jamie Hook) Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 7:30 pm.

Northwest Asian American Film Festival
See Blow Up. Northwest Asian American Theater, see for complete details.

* Nothing So Strange
Kicking off the film portion of the "Fraud" series at Consolidated Works, Nothing So Strange opens with Bill Gates holding a large prop check before an applauding crowd. Moments later--BANG!--the back of his head explodes and he collapses into a pile. Needless to say, this film, directed with much flare and talent by Brian Flemming, is a fake documentary. Exceptionally smart, sinisterly funny, it chronicles in obsessive detail Gates' assasination,b as well as the ensuing investigations both by the authorities (who may or may not be dirty) and conspiracy fanatics (who may or may not be crazy). The result is a shocking, twisted piece of work, ridiculously complicated and continually jettisoning off in wild and unexpected directions. This one is definitely worth seeing, especially since Flemming himself will be in attendance. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Consolidated Works, Fri-Sun at 8 pm.

"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again." Columbia City Cinema, Fri at 7:30 pm.

Based on the story that made the case for the romance of stalking for nearly a century, the final feature in the Paramount's Silent Mystery series is Lon Chaney's prosthetic-faced classic. Paramount, Monday at 7 pm.

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)

Women Make Movies
The second in a proposed monthly event, Cinema Diaspora celebrates women of creation in a screening of cinematic portraits of female creativity, including the Tracy Moffatt profile Up In the Sky, the Audre Lorde tribute The Body of a Poet, and Nobody Knows My Name. Central Cinema, Fri-Sat at 6:30 pm.


* 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)

American Wedding
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)

Beyond Borders
See review this issue. Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12

* Bubba Ho-Tep
In an East Texas convalescent home, a penis-cancer-ridden Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) are awaiting death. The two geezers are revitalized when they band together to fight a mummy who's been sucking the souls out of old people's asses. Surprise number one is that the film, while being a complete piece of trash, is actually pretty great. Aside from its crackpot intelligence, fine acting, deadpan absurdity, and startling sweetness, however, Bubba Ho-Tep is exactly what you'd expect. (SEAN NELSON)

Sundance will never shake its growing reputation as an incubator of mediocre work if it keeps throwing all its weight behind movies like Dopamine. Having gone through the Sundance Institute labs, the Sundance Film Festival, and now the Sundance theatrical-release series (before heading into a long life on the Sundance Channel), this movie has been polished down to your standard low-budget romantic comedy. (ANDY SPLETZER)

The Fighting Temptations
Cuba Gooding Jr. continues his winning streak of zany fish-out-of-water comedies (in the now-illustrious tradition of Boat Trip and Snow Dogs) with a role as a shallow chump who must successfully champion a ragtag gospel choir or risk losing his family's inheritance. And as you might well expect, Cuba's fish-out-of-water has long since begun to smell like shit. Costarring Beyoncé Knowles' abs, the paper-thin story is unimportant--functional only in its ability to daisy-chain together a series of rags-to-riches musical sequences, of which you are assured many. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

Freaky Friday
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)

Good Boy
The only thing better than a talking dog movie (in this case, talking dogs from outer space) is a talking dog movie voiced by third-tier Hollywood celebrities. The agents of Matthew Broderick, Brittany Murphy, and Carl Reiner suggest "broadened horizons," and have a good laugh at their clients in Good Boy.

House Of the Dead
The prequel to the video game series of the same name, House of th... wait, WHAT did I just say?!?!

Intolerable Cruelty
To malign Intolerable Cruelty as the worst Coen Brothers film to date is really only a testament to their decades of consistency--a legacy of quirk and pop vision that seems to only improve with age. And despite its relative visual artlessness, Cruelty boasts quality (if not altogether brilliant) performances, a decent amount of humor, and some of the Coen's lyrical delivery. Even the worst Coen Brother's movie is still a Coen Brother's movie. But with its slapdash directions--and their names deeply buried amongst the screen credits--the whole debacle comes off with the sense that they owed somebody a favor. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

* Kill Bill Vol. 1
The first half of Quentin Tarantino's opus has very little character development, only the thinnest of stories, and more severed limbs than you can count. It is, in a word, brilliant. BRADLEY STEINBACHER

* Lost In Translation
Lost in Translation is a tiny movie, as light as helium and draped upon the thinnest of plots. There is very little conflict, and even fewer twists and turns. It is as close to a miracle as you're likely to get this year. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* Luther
In Luther, which is directed by Eric Till and stars Shakespeare in Love's Joseph Fiennes as Martin Luther, the German theologian is portrayed as a radical liberal, as a man who spoke for the people and openly opposed the all-powerful Roman Catholic Church--its politics, its reading of the Bible, its shameless profiteering from the suffering and ignorance of the poor. Luther is successful because it's not really about Martin Luther at all, but about the general mood of an important period in Western history. The way the film is edited, written, photographed, and directed captures, as if from a mountaintop, a wider, larger arena of events, so that what is seen is not an individual but a whole society under great transformation. Not the will of Luther but the will of the abused German masses fuels the motor of this movie's epic narrative. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Mambo Italiano
The décor at Buca di Beppo takes more of a stab at intelligent humor about Italians than this played-out "comedy" does. The premise, as if it even matters, involves an old-world Italian couple who just "can't get used to this cuckoo American world of ours" and want their two adult children to live with them forever. Mambo Italiano is aiming for the camp side of the comedy spectrum, but the film plays out more like a bad prime-time TV show than anything that'll make you laugh--ironically or not. Worst of all, it seems only Angelo's papa, Gino (Paul Sorvino), is able to keep his accent together throughout the film--the rest of the cast seem to forget at times that they're supposed to be in a bad Italian American situation comedy and not a bad just-your-average-American one. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

* Matchstick Men
Ridley Scott has never been known for a feather touch; when given the choice during his lengthy career between beauty of image and subtlety of character, image has almost always trounced. But surprisingly, subtlety is in abundance in his new picture Matchstick Men, and the result is his best film since Thelma & Louise. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

My Life Without Me
My Life Without Me is about a poor, 23-year-old American mother who learns that she has three months to live and decides to conceal the fact from her family. Because her husband (Scott Speedman) and mother (Deborah Harry) either have little in the way of a basic education or are just plain daft, neither seems to recognize that she is dying, that cancer has speared and wasted all of her vital organs. During her demise, the young mother fucks another man, tapes birthday messages for her daughters, and sees her father, who is doing hard time for some crime. None of these elements ever rises to the condition of cinema; they are as dull, heavy, and uninspired as regular life. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Mystic River
For all the "inexorability" and "meditation" of its violence, Mystic River feels desperately contrived. Whether director Clint Eastwood has some deep understanding of the nature of violence remains unclear. What is certain is that he knows how to make a movie, even a dumb one, well worth watching. I only wish someone would send him some better books. (SEAN NELSON)

Once Upon a Time In Mexico
Forget about everything the El Mariachi "trilogy" has come to represent in the past, and see Once Upon a Time in Mexico for Johnny Depp. That is the only aspect of the film that doesn't sell the audience short. (KATHLEEN WILSON)

Out Of Time
Denzel Washington gets set up again (can't America just leave a successful, sensitive, and respectable African American man alone? I mean, can't they?!?!), this time as a respected police chief, who must cover his tracks before being pinned with a murder.

* Pieces Of April
See review this issue. Guild 45th

Combining the two most odious tools at Hollywood's disposal--celebrities portraying the mentally handicapped and Cuba Gooding Jr. --Radio is something like Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Pacific Place

* Returner
It's the year 2084 and the human race isn't doing so well. We're fighting a losing battle against a militia of alien invaders who are systematically wiping us out. The trouble all began in October of 2002, when an alien landed on Earth. If we could have killed the alien right when it landed, we probably could have stopped the invasion before it began. Luckily for humankind, our future selves have a time machine. In the heat of battle, the only soldier able to make it into the time machine is a 15-year-old girl named Milly (Ann Suzuki), who is both cute as a button and lethal. Returner is a popcorn movie, plain and simple--where ultimately story takes a backseat to the kick-ass action, and the whole thing comes together to form an entertaining jumble. (ANDY SPLETZER)

Runaway Jury
Runaway Jury is completely solid and completely unsurprising--a John Grisham adaptation in the A Time to Kill vein, which is to say this: It is watchable Hollywood tripe. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Rundown
The Rock, the guy from Dude, Where's My Car? (no, the other one), Ewen Bremner and Christopher Walken--in a cast destined for greatness--come together to fight crime or some shit in the Amazon. Most assuredly trash, but have you see the Rock's eyebrows? Hypnotizing.

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)

Scary Movie 3
Maybe the Scary Movie franchise is smarter than I thought. Maybe their consecutively devolving sequels thrust upon a deaf-earred public are in fact just an extenstion of the grander joke. Or maybe some damn fool won't quit funding this shit. Be warned: 4's already in the fucking can. No, seriously. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12, Pacific Place

* School Of Rock
Like Kindergarten Cop, the concept behind Rock is one of those near-hokey ones where "kids teach us more than we teach them," and where, in the end, everybody wins in some way because everybody loosens up a bit. What makes this movie different, though is that it tackles the parts of rock culture where people take themselves way too seriously, a subject that could use a little unwinding of its panties. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

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)

Secondhand Lions
A film about a boy who is left by his mother to spend an indefinite amount of time with his uncles, who, upon first impression, are stubborn hicks with a big barn. Through stories told by Michael Caine, the boy soon learns that his uncles are not hicks at all, but war heroes with glorious pasts. The eldest uncle, Duvall, was in his youth a man of action, a great soldier who defeated powerful sheiks and seduced a dark woman while riding a wild horse on the shores of Arabia--a man-among-men who, even in his old age, has not lost an inch of his erection. Impressed by this example of pure manhood, Osment switches his dependency on Mommy for an even more unhealthy dependency on this violent father figure. This movie just sucks. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Spellbound
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. The kids are the American dream, on stage, trying to remember how to spell "logorrhea." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* The Station Agent
Peter Dinklage plays Finbar McBride, a train aficionado who inherits an abandoned depot. The remote location suits him fine because he's not the most social of people. That doesn't stop the nearby Cuban hot dog vendor Joe (Bobby Cannavale) from talking to him, nor does it stop the woman who almost runs him over (Patricia Clarkson) from stopping by for an apologetic drink or several. They befriend him despite his better efforts to brush them off. Dinklage is positively magnetic here: what director Tom McCarthy has captured in his debut feature is a sense of happy loneliness--those times when it feels right to go for a walk and just look around and not talk to anyone. (ANDY SPLETZER)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper's classic is thoroughly disembowled by producer Michael Bay and director Marcus Nispel. Here's a question: Why, if one of the most enduring things about the original is the fact that, despite what everyone's memory of the film may be, it is not really bloody and gory at all, would the two hacks involved in the remake choose to turn it into a gorefest? Bay and Nispel are assholes. Monumental, festering assholes. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* Thirteen
That the teenage years are difficult is not news--it's something we've known for years, thanks to after-school 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)

Under The Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun is based on Frances Mayes' nonfiction bestseller and stars Diane Lane, who manages to save the film from utter formula. And it is formula--the sex talk can't disguise the fact that this film is designed to make your mother feel good. Lane is the plucky divorced heroine, who impulsively buys a crumbling villa in Tuscany and discovers that "family" need not conform to the customary model but can be anything one makes of it (this last bit is Hollywood's favorite beaten horse). There are cute Italian people, cute Polish laborers, beautiful wildflower-filled vistas, and the obligatory gay best friend--a stock role salvaged by the splendid Sandra Oh. The movie is pleasant anyway. (CLAUDE ROC)

Once again Romeo & Juliet is dusted off and given a refurbishing. This time the setting is the gloomiest of all gloomy cities, where vampires and werewolves wage a secret, exhausting war with one another. The experience: much Matrix-like action (save for the wire work), crackpot dialogue, and a PVC-clad heroine (Kate Beckinsale) who looks sexy as all get out, but can barely muster a sprint thanks to her garb. The result: a boring, uninspired hack work. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Veronica Guerin
Joel Schumacher is a costume designer turned screenwriter turned director who learned his craft in the bowels of the Hollywood machine. No matter how independent his projects appear in concept, they are always finished with a Hollywood sheen. It is that sheen that sinks Veronica Guerin. The movie is based on the true story of an Irish reporter who dared expose drug kingpins in print. Though she effected social change, she was killed for her trouble. Working closely with the family of the late Ms. Guerin, Schumacher bent over backward to show her as a saint and a martyr, and if it weren't for the talented Cate Blanchett in the title role, she would have come across strictly as a caricature instead of a character. Still, after a while you get tired of her never being wrong about anything. (ANDY SPLETZER)

Wonderland, directed by James Cox, takes as its plot the Wonderland murders of 1981, in which four people were beaten to death with a lead pipe in a Laurel Canyon apartment. One of the key characters in the Wonderland murders was John Holmes, who was entangled with both groups involved in the slaughter. At the time of the killings, Holmes (played here by Val Kilmer, though he appears to be playing Jim Morrison yet again) was on the downslope of his career, engulfed in cocaine and unable to find work. His possible involvement in the murders, either as a witness or a participant, made the Wonderland killings a media sensation. And this, as it turns out, helps make Wonderland a fairly terrible picture. Without the involvement of Holmes in the killing, nobody would have lavished much attention on the Wonderland murders, which means the film needs to have John Holmes as its centerpiece. Unfortunately, Holmes is not the centerpiece of the film, just an impotent cog--he may have much screen time, but we know very little about his life by the film's end. Wonderland is little more than a grisly affair, and the result is a vacant, rather unnecessary work. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)