Not Kenneth Tynan's exclamation-pointed erotic revue (which, by the way, will be released on DVD on May 30), but Louis Malle's documentary about the city. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 7 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 7 pm.
★ El Norte
Gregory Nava's epic about Guatemalan refugees. Revolution Books, Fri April 21 at 7:30 pm.
★ Girls in the Director's Chair
Videos by young women from the Seattle area. It's free if you're under 21 ($10 otherwise). Consolidated Works, Thurs April 20 at 7 pm.
A locally produced movie by Wil Long and Kevin Clarke in which a man named Harold wakes up to find himself transformed into a hamburger. No thanks to Kafka. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
★ In the Mood for Love
How long has it been since a film has remembered to look like this, breathe like this? In the Mood for Love is one of the most passionate and beautiful films I've ever seen, yet it operates entirely from a sense of frustration, of dreams deferred. The mutual attraction of its pair of cuckolded spouses, Mr. Chow (Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung)—tossed together by the coincidence of renting neighboring apartments, bonding over the slow acknowledgment that his wife and her husband are having an affair—will never catch fire, instead remaining merely the crackle of potentiality expressed by a withdrawn hand in the back seat of a taxicab, the quiet sharing of a meal as they're hiding out from the landlord and her guests. (BRUCE REID) Central Cinema, Thurs-Sat 7, 9:15 pm, Sun 9:15 pm.
★ Japanese Silents
The Aono Jikken ensemble will perform its original scores to Ozu's A Straight Forward Boy and Naruse's Flunky, Work Hard! as part of the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival. Fisch Pavilion, Seattle Center, Sat April 22 at 3:30 pm
Lair of the White Worm
A kitschy monster movie based on Bram Stoker's last novel, starring a young Hugh Grant and a big white worm. Central Cinema, Wed April 26 at 7, 9:15 pm. (Late show 21+.)
Les Bonnes Femmes
Claude Chabrol's rarely seen New Wave film from 1960, about four working girls on the dingy side of Paris. Movie Legends, Sun April 23 at 1 pm.
Meeting With a Killer: One Family's Journey
A documentary about a family confronting the man who raped and murdered their loved one. Bitter Lake Community Center, Wed April 26 at 7 pm.
Protocols of Zion
See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Wed 7, 9 pm, Thurs 7 pm
★ Place de la République
Louis Malle's cinéma vérité look at Paris and its inhabitants in 1972. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 9 pm, Sat-Sun 5, 9 pm.
Most of these comic films fall into two categories: great premises with mediocre execution or mediocre premises with better-than-expected execution. The music video by 1/2 Price—a rapper with one tiny, stunted leg who wheels around on a skateboard—is of the latter category. The Legend of Flashpants, which chronicles the rise and fall of a Midwestern strip club for straight women, is of the former. Let Me Tell You How I Killed Myself—about a violent and bizarre pre-med professor in Colorado Springs who penned Morning Exercise Routines for Elderly Patients Addicted to Methamphetamines—is the best of the bunch. It's a floaty, unresolved faux documentary in black and white, with bluesy guitar and a honking squeezebox in the background. There aren't any jokes, just the professor's mouth-breathing visage and an interview with an anthropology graduate student he crippled in a fit of passion. It's discomforting and only a little bit funny. (BRENDAN KILEY) Rendezvous, Thurs April 20 at 8 pm.
The first in a three-part series about the refugee experience, Refugee is a film about three young Cambodian-Americans from San Francisco who take a trip back to Cambodia. Capitol Hill Library, Thurs April 20 at 6 pm.
Adrien Brody stars as Chris, a would-be playwright and more successful drunk who pays bills by bartending. His co-workers at the establishment run the predictable scale—from the raucous, party-boy kitchen staff to Jeannine (Elise Neal), the sweet, sensitive African- American newcomer who wants to be a singer, and inevitably catches Chris's eye. Though some interesting possibilities come to mind from this set-up, the result is one of the most confused dispatches yet concerning America's great failure: race. When confusion passes itself off as knowledge, you get cheap sentimentality, embarrassing juxtapositions, and a hopeless, self-contradictory mess of a movie. You get Restaurant. (BRUCE REID) The Pink Door, Thurs April 20 at 7 pm.
★ Showgirls with David Schmader
Showgirls, the Paul Verhoeven/Joe Eszerhas (also known as Team T&A) debacle, has achieved a tremendous cult following among those who love camp 'n' catfights. In the wake of a special-edition DVD featuring his commentary and other glimmers of official approbation, our own David Schmader returns to give the flick his own special gloss. Triple Door, Wed April 26 at 7 pm.
Take My Eyes
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun 2, 4:30, 7, 9:20 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9:20 pm.
★ Third Annual Langston Hughes African American Film Festival
See review this issue. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Highlights include: 3 FIlms, 3 Visions, Sat April 22 at 6 pm; Boys of Baraka, Sun April 23 at 6 pm, Mon April 24 at 4 pm; Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender, Mon April 24 at 7 pm, Tues April 25 at 4 pm; The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, Tues April 25 at 7 pm; A Knockout, Wed April 26 at 7 pm. For complete schedule, see www.langstonblackfilmfest.org. Through April 29.
Touch of Evil
A raw, seedy sensibility permeates Touch of Evil, from its stunning opening tracking shot to Marlene Dietrich's world-weary kiss-off at the end. Orson Welles's last film for Hollywood is a look at the dirty dealings in a sleazy Mexican border town that makes the low-lifes in L.A. Confidential look positively sweet in comparison. (GILLIAN G. GAAR) Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.
Robert Zverina's "microdocumentaries" generally screen on SCAN TV, the local cable-access network, in nice small half-hour packages once a week. In this special screening, all 2,500 tiny films will screen one after the other for 7 1/2 hours. Anyone who sits through the whole things will get (and deserve) a prize. Rendezvous, Wed April 26 at 6 pm.
★ Who Is Bozo Texino?
This fantastic documentary by Portland filmmaker Bill Daniel is a lyrical black-and-white foray into modern hobo culture. (Originally presented as a multi-screen video installation around a crackling virtual fire, the movie is now an hour-long featurette.) Scribbled onto the side of boxcars all across the country is a minimalist line drawing of an unhappy cowboy in a wide-brimmed hat and the words "Bozo Texino." Who's responsible for the graffiti? Daniel rode the rails for 16 years to find out. Bozo Texino is preceded by Britton, South Dakota, an experimental short by Vanessa Renwick, which she constructed from found footage of children looking into a movie camera for the first time in 1938. They're really cute. (ANNIE WAGNER) Rung Theater, Fri April 21 at 9 pm. Sunset Tavern, Sat April 22 at 7 pm. Rendezvous, Mon April 24 at 8 pm.
★ Zazie in the Metro
Louis Malle's 1960 adaptation of the Raymond Queneau novel is about a crass little girl named Zazie. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs April 20 at 7:30 pm.
An American Idol spoof starring Dennis Quaid as an awfully Bush-y President and Mandy Moore as a moony show contestant.
Basic Instinct 2
This is an absolutely terrible film, but the most egregious offense is the most unexpected: There's not nearly enough sex. (HANNAH LEVIN)
★ The Benchwarmers
Not every nerd who gets bullied goes all Columbine on their assaulters; some just grow up to be adult nerds like Napoleon Dynamite and David Spade. Now that these nerds are all growed up, kids in town still flip 'em shit for their questionable hygienic habits and weird hobbies. Good thing they're friends with Deuce Bigalow, though, because with his bitchin' baseball skills, they're able to shut down the shit-talking by beating every Little League team in town. Hooray for dorks! But Deuce Bigalow has a secret, and once that gets out, his nerdlinger posse will never forgive him. Ooooh, suspense! Now if you thought Napoleon Dynamite was heeee-larious (like me), you're probably gonna love Benchwarmers' endearing geekiness. But if you're a jerk without a sense of humor, you'll quickly get bored with the innocent PG-13 rating and onslaught of hilariously lame third-grade jokes. (MEGAN SELING)
Brick is a hardboiled detective narrative retrofitted to high school, where homeroom lockers fill in for smoky offices, assistant principals (Richard Roundtree!) apply police-commissioner levels of heat, and everyone talks in a knowingly archaic, Miller's Crossing-ish rapid-fire patter. As a premise, it sounds cutesy-horrible, but the conviction and earnest wit involved carries it well past the conceptual experiment stage into a genuinely effective reinterpretation of classic noir. His film might still sputter out, were it not for the astounding central performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a bespectacled, shaggy-haired loner whose quest to find a tardy ex-girlfriend drives the plot. Whatever the genesis, his dogged, world-weary demeanor does the old-time gumshoes proud. So does this weird, glorious freak of a movie. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
The Celestine Prophecy
An adaptation of the 1990s New Age novel about the search for an ancient Peruvian scroll, this movie was rushed to production in 2004, presumably so it could ride the Da Vinci Code buzz. Hey, it worked for the Gospel of Judas...
★ The Devil and Daniel Johnston
This documentary about Daniel Johnson, a singer-songwriter whose mental illness is as legendary as his music, is both hopeful and disturbing—part celebration of Johnston's achievements, part warning to keep your delusional bipolar friends off acid. It's hard not to mourn Johnston's singing voice, which is totally shot, but it's also hard to resist the apocalyptic Casper imagery in his highly profitable new medium: the slapdash drawing. (ANNIE WAGNER)
★ Eight Below
The great thing about an action movie set in Antarctica is that very little happens there, and it's pointless to try to pretend otherwise. The residents of the National Science Foundation research station deal hands of solitaire, collect rocks, play chess, and sleep. Then there's a storm and everyone has to evacuate. Head musher Gerry must leave his beloved huskies behind. The rest of the film is a slow, weirdly enjoyable story of the dogs' feral existence, interspersed with Gerry's tormented efforts to hitch a ride back and save them. (ANNIE WAGNER)
Friends with Money
The premise is a snooze: Rich people have problems too? You can't buy your way out of a midlife crisis? Lonely Pot-Smoking Maid is an unfulfilling career choice? Yeah, that "no shit" is visible from space. But Friends with Money, Jennifer Aniston's much-touted return to the indie scene, atones for its shortcomings in the plot department by kicking unprecedented ass in the great-actress-triumvirate-of-delight department. The magical gals who save this movie, the three best actresses ever—just to get it out of the way, Aniston is not one of them, though she's okay—are Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, and Catherine Keener, who, along with Aniston, portray a quartet of Los Angeles best pals. The three tut condescendingly over Olivia (Aniston), who has achieved neither marital bliss nor financial stability, floating through her 30s in a pathetic haze—scrubbing strangers' toilets, scamming free samples at the Lancôme counter, and occasionally having sex with a detached meathead. The dialogue is sharp and the performances are flawless. But it's still a movie about the emotional pain of building an addition to one's house. (LINDY WEST)
★ Ice Age: The Meltdown
You know what rules!? Ice Age: The Meltdown rules! A bunch of famous people did the voices (Denis Leary, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Jay Leno...), and the animation is infinitely better than the first installment, with vivid colors and far more detail. Plus, that little acorn-loving squirrel guy is back. He's funny. (MEGAN SELING)
★ Inside Man
The plot has spongy spots, like the amorphous Aryan evil that both the good and bad guys ultimately have to contend with, but it's never less than fun. (ANNIE WAGNER)
Casey Affleck's character, Jim, is afflicted with chronic despair and, life-wise, he's run out of options. So he runs home to rural Indiana where he meets Anika (Liv Tyler) in a bar. She's wearing her nurse's uniform. He's wearing his Brooklyn haircut. He's sheepish about failing in Manhattan; embarrassed, he mentions he worked at an Applebee's. Without irony, she says, "I love Applebee's." They both identify as writers. The first time they have sex, it's in the hospital where Anika works. The second time, it's in Jim's bedroom, his walls covered with portraits of Hemingway, Parker, Richard Yates, Woolf, Plath—a who's who of suicidal literati. There's a side story about a drug mix-up, there's a fat guy on a motorcycle, there's a moment when Affleck starts singing along to "If You Leave Me Now," but there's nothing very daring in this movie. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
Lucky Number Slevin
This frenetic pastiche of a movie is about a pudgy-cute dude named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) who inadvertently wades into an all-out race war—excuse me, noble blood feud—between The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley). But most of the time Lucky Number Slevin looks like a feature-length advertisement for Target home décor. It's a good thing there's so much to look at—even if the style choices are baldly budget-chic—because it's hard to care much about the convoluted tease of writer Jason Smilovic's plot. (ANNIE WAGNER)
★ Match Point
Woody Allen's Match Point is a light and brutal thriller about the opposing forces of contempt and desire. Marriages are consummated, vows are broken, women are discovered to be fertile or infertile in inverse proportion to their social class, and the social order is upended. (ANNIE WAGNER)
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont
Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a not-very-good movie about old ladies: cute ones, nice ones, grumpy ones, dead ones. (LINDY WEST)
There's vampire-fighting, an attempt to forestall a world-ending prophecy, and a guy who likes to use his own spine as a broadsword. I'm not sure what the hell I saw, but I wouldn't mind watching more of it. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
On a Clear Day
Frank Redmond is a tough, well-loved, and recently laid-off shipyard boss in Glasgow. One of his sons drowned at 7 (he blames himself, of course), his other son is distant, and his wife is secretly training to become a bus driver to pay the bills. All this leaves Frank feeling idle, desperate, and ashamed. So the 55-year-old Glaswegian does what any of us would—he decides to swim the English Channel. Guess what happens? He confronts his demons, reconciles with his son, bonds with his friends, and wipes away a few manly tears. Peter Mullan is our swimming hero and he looks startlingly like George W. Bush—especially when he's brooding, which is often. Then he opens his mouth and, instead of that grating voice of oligarchic privilege, we get a blue-collar Scotsman with a conscience and sense of humor. If only life could be like the movies. (BRENDAN KILEY)
★ Scary Movie 4
Scary Movie 4 is just as entertaining as all the previous Scary Movies, and due to some lucky timing, it's actually even funnier. See, last year was full of movies and moments that practically spoof themselves, and the writers take care to touch on every single one. Jokes about homosexuals, thanks to Brokeback Mountain? Check. Self-mutilation gags thanks to Saw? Carmen Electra in a tight and busty little corset that makes boys in the audience go "Woo! Boobies!"? Amy Farina being hilarious? Check, check, and mate! (MEGAN SELING)
A disgraced former Secret Service agent (Michael Douglas) tries to save the President.
The Shaggy Dog
Tim Allen lifting his leg to pee in a urinal. Tim Allen licking a pretty lady's face. A grotesquely elongated CGI tongue lolling out of Tim Allen's mouth. The end. (ANNIE WAGNER)
She's the Man
A Twelfth Night update set on the prep-school soccer field (from the screenwriters of Ten Things I Hate About You).
See review this issue.
Written and directed by James Gunn (who also did the screenplay for 2004's Dawn of the Dead), Slither lives up to all expectations: It boasts an onslaught of blatant gore, a tentacle rape scene, and the complete understanding that it's a total joke. (MEGAN SELING)
Take the Lead
Based loosely on the life of ballroom-dancing revivalist Pierre Dulaine, Take the Lead is the familiar tale of teenage redemption via fox trot. Latin dandy Dulaine (Antonio Banderas) shows up at a New York City public school, inexplicably yearning to teach merengue to the snarling masses. The beleaguered, no-nonsense principal, after laughing in his ignorant face ("Life for these kids is like a fight to stay alive and a hustle to make ends meet, not ballroom dancing"), wearily agrees, and Dulaine's delinquents montage, montage, montage their way right into the Big Competition. Take the Lead is neither as charming nor as satisfying as its documentary predecessor, 2005's Mad Hot Ballroom. The scripted progression of professional actors and dancers can't touch the exhilaration of watching spazzy preteens master it for real, but TTL's dancing is polished and entertaining nonetheless. It's the rest of the movie—vaguely racist, enthusiastically sexist, and weirdly anticlimactic—that stinks. (LINDY WEST)
★ Thank You For Smoking
As a work of satire, Thank You for Smoking is safely and securely dated. The book it's adapted from was published in the mid-'90s, when tobacco lawsuits were flying fast and loose and the word "probe" was rampant in headlines in the Washington Post. But what the movie loses in relevance, it gains in absurd comedy. (ANNIE WAGNER)
★ The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a masterpiece, flat out. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
★ V for Vendetta
As a work of cinema, V for Vendetta is no Batman or Matrix. But its timing (it opened the day before the third anniversary of the second Iraq war) is impeccable. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
A Disney movie about escaped zoo animals.