Support The Stranger

OPENING

NOTTING HILL--Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center, Southcenter

THE SWINDLE--Metro

THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR--Factoria,Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

THIS IS MY FATHER--Broadway Market

 

REPERTORY & REVIVAL

AMERICAN MESSIAH--911 Media Arts

BLOQUEO--Kane Hall

BRAKHAGE--Grand Illusion

BRAKHAGE: THE ELLIPSES SERIES--Grand Illusion

BRITISH DOUBLE FEATURE--Fremont Outdoor Cinema

FRENCH FILM NOIR--Seattle Art Museum

INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE--Speakeasy

LE PETOMANE--The Little Theater

MIDDLE OF THE MOMENT--The Little Theater

NOBODY--Grand Illusion

PUNK FILM FESTIVAL--2nd Ave. Pizza

ROBERT BRESSON FILM SERIES-- Grand Illusion

 

COMING SOON

JUNE 4--Limbo, Instinct, I Want You

JUNE 11--Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Get Real, Besieged, Twice Upon a Yesterday, Return With Honor

 

MOVIES & EVENTS

ALASKA: SPIRIT OF THE WILD--More of a nature documentary than a ghost story. Omnidome

AMAZON--Follow an ethnobotanist through the lush rainforests of the Andes and along the rough-and-tumble Amazon River! Learn about exotic animals, medicinal plants, and Indian shamanism! Amazon's IMAX quality and the Omnidome screen vs. a back issue of National Geographic...you decide. Omnidome

AMERICAN MESSIAH--With a shoestring budget and only four days, Northwest director Taso Lagos and his kooky Seattle film crew created a Spinal Tap-ish "behind-the-scenes" film about an ex-porn star who thinks she's the Messiah. Thurs May 27 at 8, $4. 911 Media Arts

BLACK MASK--Jet Li stars in this wacky, action romp. Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11

BLOQUEO--The Cuba Caravan presents Bloqueo, a film about the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and the resulting shortage of medical supplies available to the Cuban population. A discussion led by Peggy Valdez, Co-Coordinator of the Cuba Caravan, will follow the screening. Tues June 1 at 7, Kane Hall, rm. 110, FREE. Kane Hall

*BRAKHAGE--Jim Shedden's documentary about Stan Brakhage examines his unique style and avant-garde aesthetic. Sat-Thurs May 29-June 3 at (Sat 1, 3), 5, 7, 9. Reviewed this issue. Grand Illusion

*BRAKHAGE: THE ELLIPSES SERIES--Stranger columnist and arts/culture writer Eric Fredericksen will introduce the 7 pm screening of The Ellipses Series, a collection of recent works by visual artist/independent filmmaker Stan Brakhage. Brak-hage is the focus of this week's Grand Illusion tribute. Fri May 28 only, at 7 and 9. Grand Illusion

BRITISH DOUBLE FEATURE--The gloriously entertaining Spice World is playing with the original Austin Powers movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery under the stars in a Fremont parking lot (behind the Red Door Ale House). The band this week is The Cinematics. Sat May 29. Seating begins at 7, bands start at 8, movies start at dusk. A percentage of the $5 donation goes toward breast cancer research. Call 632-0287 for more info. Fremont Outdoor Cinema

THE CASTLE--Australian comedies can be charming (Strictly Ballroom), but most of the time they are patronizing verging on offensive. Such is the case with The Castle, an unreliably optimistic film about low-rent neighbors trying to save their houses from the ever-expanding airport. Isn't it cute that these folks love living on poisoned ground, under buzzing high-tension wires, amid airport noise pollution? Let's cheer for these simpletons as they go to court to fight for their land! On the other hand, let's wait for the remake starring Jeff Foxworthy. (Andy Spletzer) Broadway Market

COOKIE'S FORTUNE--Robert Altman has taken a slight but enjoyable story and applied his familiar techniques of oblique angles, ragged narration, and busy ensemble casts. A suicide is covered up, and a man is imprisoned because of it. Other stories play out about the small town of Holly Springs. Plot, however, is not the main concern of the film. If you want them, there are plenty of rueful themes flamesoating around the movie: idealized, hypocritical notions of the past and of honor, and the way family secrets hurt the person keeping them even more than the person who ferrets them out. (Bruce Reid) Metro, Uptown

*ELECTION--This brilliant dark comedy--about an unctuous overachiever's campaign for student council president, and the high school teacher determined to foil her--will undoubtedly be seen by many as the prosaic cousin of Rushmore. But where that film's dazzling style spoke primarily of its maker's skill and ambition, Election's style serves to plunge us completely into its characters' tiny, highly-charged world, rendering pathetic human pettiness on a nearly operatic scale. Director/co-writer Alexander Payne has infused his miniature world with enormous creativity and meticulous attention to detail: every character is unnervingly humane, the supporting cast is uniformly perfect, and you've never seen a contemporary high school so uncannily rendered. As the charmingly atrocious Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon gives an indelible performance; finally she has a role to compete with her star-making turn in the little-seen Freeway. And Matthew Broderick lays the ghost of Ferris Bueller to rest once and for all with his lovely portrayal of Tracy's beleaguered, would-be nemesis. (David Schmader) Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

ENDURANCE--In this docudrama, form has total precedence over content. Set in Ethiopia, the movie's about the life of the great long-distance runner Haile Gebrselasie, who broke a world record for 10,000 meters in the 1996 Olympics. Despite its stilted, European structure, the photography of the film manages to capture an authentic image of the African landscape; an African landscape with people, with huts, with crops, and not with hoards of animals doing that "cycle of life" thing. (Charles Mudede) Varsity

ENTRAPMENT--Sean Connery is an ass man. His "character" spends the whole movie looking at the ass of Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro). Not that there's anything better to do. Entrapment is a high-tech crime thriller chock full of double-crosses but short on thrills. Everybody's a master thief or a federal agent... or both! The information for every crime is flawless, the gadgets never fail, nothing ever goes wrong. Boring! Connery coasts through his role, as does Ving Rhames, but Zeta-Jones turns out to be a real disappointment. How can she be a master thief if she's so prone to temper tantrums and breakdowns? She does have a nice ass, though. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT ST. HELENS--The mountain blew up in 1980, and has been blowing up on film ever since. Omnidome

EVEREST--The first IMAX footage ever shot on top of the world. Pacific Science Center

*EXISTENZ--Like all the best science fiction, eXistenZ seems to be taking place about five minutes from now. Cronenberg's is a world where virtual reality games have become so commonplace that most people think nothing of drilling a "bioport" directly into their spine in order to plug in. The games run off of a flameseshy, biomechanical pod, and once a game starts, the player becomes a cast member in an artificial world where everything looks and feels "real," where some actions are preprogrammed and others are not. The biggest celebrities of the day are game designers, and none is bigger or more brilliant than the reclusive Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh), whose latest, greatest achievement, eXistenZ, has inspired somebody to put a death sentence on her head. David Cronenberg is working from his first original script since Videodrome, and what he's come up with is, in some ways, a revisitation to that movie's themes, and this is one of the wittiest, most perceptive movies about movies and how we think they affect us since Videodrome. (Bruce Reid) Pacific Place 11

FRENCH FILM NOIR--Seattle Art Museum's tribute to the French masters of ironic fatalism and atmospheric, poetic realism. The series continues with I Married a Shadow (Thurs May 27 at 7:30), Robin Davis' tale about a fateful train wreck, and Maurice Pialat's Police (Thurs June 3 at 7:30), in which macho cop Gérard Depardieu (in a Venice Film Festival award-winning performance) falls in love with seductive criminal-babe Sophie Marceau. Call 625-8900 for more info. Seattle Art Museum

GO--I don't know why movies that intertwine a number of disparate stories (Mystery Train, Pulp Fiction) so often pick three as the magic number, but here we go again. Three successive tales: a teen grocery clerk takes a stab at dealing ecstasy; a fellow clerk and his rowdy buddies head out on a road trip; and two actors agree to take part in a drug bust to clear their record. There's some funny scenes, though none of them manage to avoid either cliché, or a hip, ironic take on a cliché. Zero points for originality, then, but don't write the movie off entirely. There's a clutch of good performances (especially Sarah Polley as the would-be dealer, and William Fichtner as a cop), and a few moments do an excellent job capturing the madcap rush of adrenaline when you're young and stupid enough to think you can get away with anything. (Bruce Reid) City Center

*INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE--In celebration of Star Wars: Episode I, Joel Bachar's Independent Exposure series is showing "Hardware Wars: The Special Edition," which you may have seen on HBO 20 years ago. It's often dumb, but so enthusiastically dumb that it works, and the special edition adds a couple of pointless bits of computer animation. Most of the other works to be shown are good, too. There will be no Independent Exposure in June. Thurs May 27 at 7:30, $4. (Andy Spletzer) Speakeasy

INTO THE DEEP--An IMAX film in 3-D, putting you right into the aquarium. Pacific Science Center

THE KING OF THE MASKS--Zhu Xu stars as the title character, a street performer whose act involves rapidly removing a series of brightly colored masks. Old and childless, he's desperate to pass on the secrets of his art, and thinks he's made quite a wonderful match when he adopts a young boy. But the boy turns out to be a girl. The third act--which trots out some irrelevant child kidnappers and the police--goes on way too long; but story flaws aside, the acting of the two leads is perfect, and the side streets and mighty rivers of China are as lovely as always. (Bruce Reid) Metro

LE PETOMANE--The best reason to see this documentary about vaudeville performer Joseph Pujol and his "musical anus" is because it uses great archival footage to set the scene, including many clips from early Méliès and Lumière shorts. The narration is uniformly entertaining, while the "experts" who sound off about Pujol are hit and miss, and often badly lit. Le Petomane is amusing, but it's hard to sustain fart jokes, even academic ones, for an entire hour. Rounding out the evening is "Vaudeville Deluxe," a half-hour program of rare vaudeville acts curated by the once and future Dennis Nyback. Thurs-Sun May 27-30 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. (Andy Spletzer) The Little Theater

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL--Like any good comedian, Roberto Benigni (and his co-writer Vincenzo Cerami) knows how to plant the seed for a gag early on, let it sit, then return to it much later for the payoff. The opening, which seems so frivolous, is all groundwork for what Benigni knows will be the toughest sell of his life: comedy in the Nazi camps. Employing the understatement and flamesair for timing that comedy requires, Benigni captures detail after detail in a far more devastating way than more earnest films on the subject could manage. (Bruce Reid) Harvard Exit

THE LIVING SEA--It's alive! See fish and waves and whales and jellyfish, all in that big-screen IMAX format. Omnidome

*LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS--Set in the East End of London, it's a fast, frantic, and frequently flamesippant ride through the social strata of gangland as four wide boys send one of their number, cardsharp Eddie (heartthrob Nick Moran), to take on local crime boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty) at poker. They soon find themselves in debt, and Harry puts his debt collector Big Chris (soccer hardman Vinnie Jones) on their tails. It's a tidy movie--all the dead bodies are shot and accounted for--and it's also got a wicked, very English sense of humor. (Everett True) Varsit

THE LOVE LETTER--An anonymous love letter to an anonymous recipient electrifies a sleepy New England town. Kate Capshaw becomes determined to find the letter's author. With Tom Selleck, Ellen DeGeneres, and Gwynneth Paltrow's mom. Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

THE LOVERS OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE--This movie should win an award for its name alone. As for substance, the plot is complex in that metaphysical way, and its content is very provocative (a beautiful incestuous love affair starts one windy Spanish night and ends many years later in Scandinavia, just above the Arctic Circle, on a sempiternal summer day). The film falls short because, honestly, no film could live up to such a great name. In fact, it would be better if no film were shown and all we had was just the name across a grand marquee. Really, why show a film when the words say it all: "Lovers of the Arctic Circle." (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

*THE MATRIX--Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has been searching for the One, a cyber-Christ who will destroy the Matrix and wake people out of their preprogrammed idea of life. He thinks he has found Him in Neo (Keanu Reeves). With the knowledge that the Matrix is a computer-created dream, Morpheus and his rebels (with equally stupid names: Trinity, Cypher, Switch, Apoc, etc.) can run and jump and fight with superhuman power, but are hunted down by super-agents who want to cleanse the system. Sure, the character names are stupid, the barroom metaphysics ("Hey, what if life is just a dream?") are simplistic, and the cyber-Christ story is predictable, but the action scenes--even the ones that use that 180 degree near-freeze frame--make this otherwise boring movie worth seeing. From the directors of Bound. (Andy Spletzer) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

MIDDLE OF THE MOMENT--A document of various groups of nomads at the end of the millennium, set to a jazz score by Fred Frith. Middle of the Moment follows the Tuargin tribe of North Africa, American poet Robert Lax, and a European circus troupe as their wandering lives unfold. Thurs-Sun June 3-6. The Little Theater

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM--Apart from its small successes and larger failures, the question looming above the latest screen version of A Midsummer Night's Dream has to be: what is Stanley Tucci doing playing Puck? I like Tucci, but he's not a mischievous sprite. Actually, most of the fairies and follies of this Midsummer are strangely earthbound. Director and adapter Michael Hoffman has an intensely melancholy take on the material; his idea of whimsy is to have Tucci take a piss against a cave like some mythical barfly. The rest of the great cast deliver uneven results. Following Hoffman's lead, Kevin Kline is too somber as Bottom. Michelle Pfeiffer's Titania is fine, if a bit too grand. Calista Flockhart as Helena is, surprisingly, the only actor who consistently manages to hit the right tone (despite some McBeal-type pouts); she's as airy and just as sweetly heartstricken as the rest of this well-intended but plodding film should be. (Steve Wiecking) Grand Alderwood, Guild 45th, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

THE MUMMY--Neither a horror film or an action epic, The Mummy is actually a flat-out comedy. This latest retread of a horror icon throws itself into its period (the '30s) with gusto, derring-do, screwball comedy, and wisecracking sexual flirtation among the leads, and even cheerful sexism and racism. Except for the special effects, this movie may as well have come out in 1935. The very things that make The Mummy initially entertaining, however, begin to grate as the movie goes on. When Imhotep the mummy finally appears, he starts as a dull computer-generated corpse and becomes the even duller Arnold Vosloo. Despite the lack of a good villain, or even a good heroine, The Mummy remains a perfect matinee. Directed by Stephen Sommers, creator of the vastly underrated Deep Rising. (Bruce Reid) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

NEVER BEEN KISSED--The basic premise is this: Drew is 25, she's never been kissed (yeah, right), and she works at the Chicago Sun-Times. She needs a break, so she's sent as an undercover reporter to her old high school where... no, you must have peeked! She gets kissed! (Everett True) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

*NOBODY--Nobody is a ultra stylish film-noir set amidst the dazzling, futuristic skyscrapers of Tokyo's glamorous business district. The story begins with two groups of successful office workers sitting at separate tables at a bar. When one group insults the other for being tacky dressers, they get into a stupid dispute which, as the film progress, escalates into a full-scale gang war. Bullets fly. People are stabbed, beat up, strangled, and a femme fatale is thrown in for a tawdry sex scene in a shower. By the end of the film, the war between the office workers expands into at horror film territory and, really, there is no end to the madness; their struggle will last forever. Nobody is certainly not the type of Japanese film we have become accustomed to seeing here in the West. In fact this film has, aesthetically speaking, little to do with Japanese culture, as its look is unabashedly Western, but with healthy helpings of John Woo cool. Fri-Sat May 28-29 at 11:30. (Charles Mudede) Grand Illusion

NOTTING HILL--Julia Roberts is a spoiled American star, Hugh Grant is a doddering nobody, in this cross between Pretty Woman and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center, Southcenter

PUNK FILM FESTIVAL--Enjoy a hot slice and a free movie at 2nd Ave. Pizza, where this month's film theme involves all things punk rock. Videos to be shown include the detailed X lovefest X-The Unheard Music, Urgh: A Music War (with flashback clips of Echo and the Bunnymen, the Police, and Oingo Boingo), and the de rigueur punk flick/junkie romance Sid and Nancy. 2nd Ave. Pizza

PUSHING TIN--This is a therapy film for guys in the same way that Good Will Hunting was. John Cusack plays a married air traffic controller with the emphasis on "control." He's the best there is, at least until Billy Bob Thornton shows up. The movie has a perfect opportunity to branch into comedy, but it decides to do drama. Cusack's wandering eye and overblown expectations of self-control ultimately lead to trouble with his wife and a breakdown. You see, men need to give up control in order to find themselves. Or they just need therapy. (Andy Spletzer) City Center

*ROBERT BRESSON FILM SERIES--Bresson's 1950 film Diary of a Country Priest features Claude Laydu as a young, terminally ill priest trying (and often failing) to help those around him. Hailed by Truffaut as Bresson's best film. Another selection from the Grand Illusion's Robert Bresson film series. Sun May 30 at 12:30, 2:45. Grand Illusion

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE--Certainly the idea is appealing: one of history's immortals, shown in his still-struggling youth, with eye-catching period details and a cast uniformly professional enough to carry it off with whimsy. But the film strains too much to flatter and please the audience, setting up predictable conflicts and getting out of them through the easiest ways possible. It's clever in a very simple way, content to show its hero as a great-man- in-waiting and its heroine as so improbably perfect she could only be a muse. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Uptown

STAR WARS: EPISODE I--What does it matter what we say? You'll see it anyway. The threadbare plot involves a trade dispute between the emperor controlled "alliance" and the peaceful, enlightened Naboo people. The Jedi appear to negotiate a settlement, but alas, it won't be. And so the "drama" begins: the race to flee the planet; the crash-landing on Tattooine; the mystery-boy who joins the mission; the simmering Oedipal set-up as the Boy leaves his Mother and discovers, in her stead, Natalie Portman; and the inevitable 11th-hour solution to all problems. Lucas' obsessions with technology, with money, with salability and easy-access too often overwhelm his abilities as a director. It is as if Lucas himself has been seduced by the Dark Side of CGI effects. Indeed, the young Darth Vader is merely a surrogate for Lucas the Director: a natural with great promise somehow given to the evil, inorganic pleasures of power and money for their sake alone. (Jamie Hook) Cinerama, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Neptune, Northgate

THE SWINDLE--By this, his 50th film, Claude Chabrol has long since passed the stage of merely having brilliant set pieces; every scene in the film flows together marvelously, with never a camera move out of place. What's being filmed, though, is another matter. Isabelle Huppert and Michel Serrault star as a pair of small-time swindlers who specialize in doping up businessmen and stealing about half their cash--this discretion posing less risk since the men upon awaking don't even realize they've been taken. Their latest prey are at a dentist's convention in Switzerland, but when Serrault arrives he finds Huppert already arm-in-arm with a money courier for the mob, hard at work plotting their first big score. The movie is frothy and fun enough, but far too slight. Without any real sense of danger or passion from the leads, it's hard to care, no matter how cleverly the director stages everything. (Bruce Reid) Metro

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI--Franco Zeffirelli's autobiographical film, set in Florence on the brink of WWII, is about a little Italian boy who was born out of wedlock. A bastard. His father doesn't want him, so he ends up adopted by his father's English secretary, who shares babysitting duties with her female friends, also English. The ladies don't want to leave Florence, even after the war breaks out, thinking Mussolini won't want to hurt them. Turns out (surprise, surprise) that Mussolini doesn't care about them. Zeffirelli has never been a subtle filmmaker, but here he is so enthusiastic about stereotypes and manipulating emotions that the film is interesting until it becomes tiresome. Tea With Mussolini sentimentalizes the war years in much the same way as Life Is Beautiful did, never really acknowledging the atrocities of that--or any--war. As the wealthy American debutante, Cher sings one song. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Seven Gables

THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR--Another virtual reality techno-thriller that is more style than substance. Reviewed this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

THIS IS MY FATHER--Aidan Quinn stars as a monster of a dim-witted man, who attracts the love of a troubled young woman. Reviewed this issue. Broadway Market

THREE SEASONS--This movie interweaves four thin short stories: a flower picker who meets her leperous master; a cyclo driver and deluded prostitute; an American ex-soldier (Harvey Keitel) looking for his long-lost daughter; and the last, the meanderings of a little boy who peddles cigarettes and lighters at local night clubs for his father. Why has this film been popular at festivals? Because it is virtually content-free. There's no action, no hunks, one prostitute with a heart of gold, no sex, and above all no plot. Tony Bui's film is not about the "new" Vietnam (as is supposed), but instead glorifies Vietnam's poverty from the point of view of an American tourist. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

*TREKKIES--Everybody has an obsession. What separates the fan from the fanatic is how far you take your obsession. Trekkies looks at Star Trek followers on both sides of the fan/fanatic fence. It's all too easy to make fun of the truly hardcore fanatic, and Trekkies wisely avoids this approach. Denise Crosby (Lt. Tasha Yar on The Next Generation) interviews the film's subjects, which encourages both fans and fellow cast members to open up, knowing she won't be condescending. But let's face it, it's the wacky fans that are the most interesting. The man who had his ears surgically altered into pointy Vulcan ones. Dr. Denis Bourguignon, who transformed his dentist's office into "Starbase Dental." Barbara Adams, who made the national news for wearing her Starfleet uniform while on jury duty in the Whitewater trial. Trekkies is a fascinating look at an often bizarre phenomenon. (Gillian G. Gaar) Meridian 16

TRIPPIN'--Even within the debased realm of teen sex comedies, Trippin' is pretty weak. Its young hero, about to graduate high school, naturally spends his time hounded by his parents and teachers to apply himself and figure out what he wants to do with his life. The African American setting, of course, changes nothing from all the other bad movies like this, except the catchphrases: if just one more person at the movie's finale at the prom went on about "keeping it real," I swear I would have screamed. (Bruce Reid) Pacific Place 11

A WALK ON THE MOON--A Walk on the Moon tries desperately to draw parallels between its everyday characters and the seemingly momentous changes going on in the nation. It doesn't work, mostly because neither the characters we're watching nor the times they live in ever feel anything more than a superficial rehash of everything you've heard and seen before. (Bruce Reid) Uptown

WHALES--An up close and personal look at the largest mammals on earth. Omnidome

THE WINSLOW BOY--David Mamet adapts a play for the screen that was written long before cursing tirades were acceptable, and does an "okay" job with it. A young boy gets kicked out of military school when he's accused of stealing. We never really know if the boy, this "Winslow" boy, did it or not, but the boy maintains his innocence. The father decides to trust the boy and sue the school, causing a big public uproar in a case that nearly sinks them financially. Mamet tones down the actors' deliveries to such a point that it seems everybody is speaking in a monotone; that wouldn't be so bad if the underlying emotions were strong enough to make up for it. Ah well, it's a diverting and often dull time in the theater--kind of like seeing a play! (Andy Spletzer) Guild 45th

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