* Absolute XTC
Are you a fanatical admirer of seminal '80s art rock band XTC? Maybe you'd like to know what all the fuss is about an eccentric Eno-influenced quartet whose agoraphobic singer/guitarist Andy Partridge announced just after their brilliant single "Senses Working Overtime" became a hit in 1982, that they'd never tour again. Though the band (Partridge and singer/bassist Colin Moulding) continues to record, videos and concert footage are rare, but tonight the AV Club has compiled an impressive collection-including TV appearances and puppet shows. (I'm especially looking forward to "No Thugs in Our House," a song which was the indirect cause of a car crash I was in 15 years ago. Stopped at a traffic light, the driver obsessively rewound the song as we sat a couple seconds too long after the light turned green and a car, barreling up from behind, smashed us through the intersection.) Subpoenaed Lemur will perform some XTC covers, as well as original songs. (KATHLEEN WILSON) Rendezvous, Mon at 7pm.
The final package (get it?) in ConWorks' Sex On Screen series, an evening of "complicated" sex films by women. Everything's got to be so difficult with those ones. Consolidated Works, Fri-Sun at 8 pm.
Dennis Nyback Silent Film Festival
Film archivist Nyback presents two weeks of movies without words--beginning this week with Friday's screening of F.W. Murnau's Faust, and following daily thereafter with The Son of the Sheik, Grandma's Boy, Battleship Potemkin, The Man With The Movie Camera, and The Navigator. Swansea Expresso, Daily at 8 pm.
Duck, You Sucker!
The final installment of the Grand Illusion's Spaghetti Western festival, this Sergio Leone film is probably his least known. Starring James Coburn and Rod Steiger!
The Good Old Naughty Days
Time heals all wounds and turns pornography into high art. This painstakingly restored compilation of French silent porn movies (girl-on-girl, boy-on-girl, dog-on-girl) made between 1905 and 1930 will make you wish they never invented video--and maybe that wah-wah soundtrack. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
The second film in Fellini's trilogy of loneliness, Il Bidone (or, The Swindlers), is a tale of redemption, unconditional love, and other reasons for getting the shit beat out of you. Rendezvous, Wed at 7 pm.
Le Cercle Rouge
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun at 1:30, 4:45, 8 pm, Mon-Thurs at 4:45, 8 pm.
See Blow Up. Little Theatre, see Movie Times for details.
Musicians of Sublime Latitude
An evening of "ethnographic films," hodgepodging visions of Asia and Northern Africa with "sound frequencies" indigenous to the regions. Rendezvous, Sun at 7 pm.
For some people, Scrabble is a game to be played in living rooms, coffee shops, and bars. For others it is a way of life. This documentary is structured around the 2001 World Scrabble Championships in Las Vegas. Along the way it gives a history of the game, the list of 20 "q" words that don't need a "u," and portraits of some of the top players in the world. To remain competitive many of them study Scrabble words upwards of four hours a day, and those are the more "normal" ones. With a traditional sports movie structure, everything builds to the dramatic championship game for the title of #1 in the world. Who knew watching people play Scrabble could be so entertaining? (ANDY SPLETZER) 911 Media Arts Center, Fri at 8 pm.
Signed, Stamped, Dated: The Story of the Typing Explosion
Finally seeing it's debut in Seattle, the Gina Mainwal-directed Signed, Stamped, Dated is a portrait of our city's own poetic panhandlers, from their genesis to the global, um, explosion, that followed their cover story in USA Today. Little Theatre, Sun at 9 pm.
* Waiting for Guffman
"Eight months? Seven? I don't know, somethin' like that. It's fun. Just do the cones... make sundaes, make Blizzards, 'n... put stuff on 'em, 'n... see a lot of people come in, a lot of people come to the D.Q.... burgers... ice cream... anything, you know? Cokes... just drive in and get a Coke, if you're thirsty." Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
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)
Alex and Emma
Opening. Goldie Hawn's daughter and the other Wilson star in another unfortunate offering by director Rob "Meat Head" Reiner. Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
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. (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." (JENNIFER MAERZ)
Capturing the Friedmans
Opening. See Stranger Suggests. Harvard Exit
Daddy Day Care
The once--great Eddie Murphy 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)
Fresh from SIFF, this Thai/Hong Kong horror flick centers around a young woman who, blind since she was wee, regains her sight thanks to a cornea operation. Things ain't all good, however, as a mysterious, gloomy figure keeps catching her peripheral vision. Scary crap ensues.
* Finding Nemo
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. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
From Justin to Kelly
Opening. I..., I... I just don't know what to say. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro, Woodinville 12
Based on the popular children's book by Louis Sachar, Holes is a family drama (starring Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, and Jon Voight) about kids in the chain gang.
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)
Opening. See review this issue. Cinerama, Factoria, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
Albert Brooks slums along with Michael Douglas in this wickedly unnecessary remake of the classic 1979 Alan Arkin-Peter Falk kvetch-a-thon. SEAN NELSON)
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)
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 uber-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.
Directed by Lucky McKee, May is a horror film about a youngish and unattractive woman who lives a sad and lonely life in an equally unattractive apartment building. As anyone who makes it to the last quarter of this unfortunate film (poorly photographed, acted, edited, and directed) might expect, the worst starts to happen. Besieged by loneliness, deceit, and humiliation, May's mind begins to collapse: She kills a cat, then a transient punk, then the ones she loves and hates. And that is basically the whole film. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
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)
Opening. An internally combusting family struggles to cope with its free-spirited mother (the frequently unclad Valeria Golino, who radiates an aura of irresistibly damaged goods) and her effect on their rumor-starved fishing village. A disarming combination of lower-class grit (the kids are unvarnished little bastards) and narcotic underwater lyricism, based on Sicilian myth. Warning: contains a potentially upsetting scene of off-screen mass Old Yeller carnage. (Andrew Wright) Seven Gables
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)
With his usual unobtrusive camera, Ken Loach has spackled together an intimate portrait of poverty and family in Sweet Sixteen. The interiors and exteriors of Glasgow, where the film is set, are one big blemish, coated in grime and yet surprisingly comfortable-much like many families-and the film's inhabitants, from Liam on down, freely drape themselves about the area. Their lives are bleak, but it is all they know and they have made the most of it. Liam, however, wants something more. The pain in Sweet Sixteen comes from knowing that he doesn't realize that he can't really have it. His life is what it is, no matter his scheme. (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
Opening. 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) Neptune, Uptown
The Winged Migration
Opening. See review this issue. Egyptian
Deliverance, with breast implants.
* 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)