Coming soon

Blood Work, Jackass: the Movie, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Notorious C.H.O., Spy Kids 2, The Chateau, XXX

New this week

* Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets
A trio of glue-sniffing urchins scramble through urban rubble, wheeling, dealing, and stealing in order to give their fallen comrade the burial of a prince. This film is at turns grim, sentimental, and funny, much like the little boys themselves, whose harsh and horrifying existence has failed to extinguish their stubborn spirits. The director's unflinching gaze, and the astoundingly nuanced performances by these child actors lift this tale into the realm of poetry. (Tamara Paris) Varsity

Bent Fest 2001
A digital video account of last fall's Bent Fest--Seattle's very first celebration of Queer rock. Though of average quality, the live footage captured of such West Coast basement luminaries as the Gossip, the Chromatics, and the incomparable Erase Errata makes the $5 door charge (which, as it happens, is merely a donation) for this all-too-brief documentary fairly easy to stomach. Pound Gallery

Bombay Eunuch
As matriarch of a family of hijras (Indians who have undergone voluntary castration), Meena relies upon an abundance of charisma to guide her daughters through the treacherous streets of Bombay. The film is in many ways a traditional ethnographic documentary--replete with talking heads from Western academia and illustrative clips from Bollywood movies--but the attendant sensation of distance rarely feels dishonest. Instead, we follow Meena in her attempt to understand herself and her family better as she travels eighteen hours by train to attend a conference--and then faces the threat of excommunication by hijra elders for bringing us (that is, the film crew) along. (ANNIE WAGNER) Little Theatre

Border Incident
The first in the Grand Illusion's four-part tribute to director Anthony Mann ("Hollywood's Mann of the West"), 1949's Border Incident is a brutal tale of intrigue within Mexican American slave trade. This film is not available on video. Grand Illusion

Cartoons of the 1930s
The Rendezvous is giving up the good stuff: classic cartoons of Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, and cool serial episodes. Rendezvous

Easy Living
One of the pinnacle screw-ball comedies of the 1930s, the Preston Sturges-penned Easy Living escalates a basic mistaken identity plotline into an absurd spiral of glorious confusion. Jean Arthur stars. Seattle Art Museum

Eye Candy
Looped shorts serving as white noise for drunken conversation. Rendezvous

FBI's War on Black America
The "Freedom Socialist Party" (I'm not making this up) presents an informative documentary that proports to expose the federal government's secret Cointelpro agenda, a United States government program conducted as a means to silence black leaders (including Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, and Martin Luther King Jr.) in the 1960s. The FSP promises the availability of popcorn and "scrumptious" desserts for purchase. New Freeway Hall

Full Frontal
Reviewed this issue. "Improvised, in the worst sense." Guild 45th (ANDY SPLETZER)

That's a big twankie. Egyptian

Happy Times
In Zhang Yimou's newest, an aging bachelor meets a fine young thing but can't front the money for their wedding. In order to raise the funds, he rents out an old school bus to lustful couples--only the old man is such a prude he won't let them shut the door. Looks like someone chose the wrong color parachute! Seven Gables

Insufferable Sitcom Night!
Featuring a series of really horrible situation comedies from the '60s and '70s (including the likes of Family Affair and Mary Tyler Moore), aired with era-accurate commercial spots. It's like Nick at Nite. But with your pants on. Wed Aug 7 at dusk. Linda's

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter
Northwest Harvest, Wing-It Productions, and Jet City Improv brings us another "Twisted Flick"--this time, the target is the 1966 sci-fi/horror/Western in which... oh, nevermind. Fremont Outdoor Movies

Know the Score: Hugs & Kisses
Warren Etheredge gets down and dirty with this further screening of film clips designed to teach the public how to score. The power of positive scoring will be illustrated with the help of clips from such classics as Casablanca, Love Story, and Basic Instinct. Benaroya Hall

Les Destinees
Epic French period piece by Olivier Assayas. Also very long. And did I mention French? Metro

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat
Daaaamn GEENA! I'm making up words again! An' they gave me another concert movie! They so CRA-ZYY! You know I ain't making no MONEY without wavin' a gun or wearin' a big ol' prosthetic ASS! WHEN will they learn?!?! Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

Master of Disguise
I know you won't believe me, but I swear there was a time when Dana Carvey could make all of America wet themselves with laughter. Even you, cynical Stranger reader. That whole Jimmy Stewart bit? Man! Milk shot from every nose in the land! And I defy you to convince me that Wayne's World is as bad as you say it is. It seems, however, that every true comic voice eventually falls out of sync with popular trends, and such is the case with the unfortunate Mister Carvey. So, for the sake of your no-doubt fond memory of Dana, I suggest you steer clear of this Nickelodeon-sponsored affair, and instead take a trip down memory lane with god's gift to the catch phrase, a man by the name of Mr. Garth Algar. Meridian 16, Lewis & Clark, Grand Alderwood, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Varsity

Reign of Terror
The Grand Illusion's Anthony Mann festival continues with 1949's camp-tinged Reign of Terror (a.k.a. The Black Boot), a film noir thriller masquerading as a French Revolutionary epic. This film is not available on video. Grand Illusion

Reviewed this issue. Mel Gibson stars in this scary movie about scary crop circles. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, the man behind The Sixth Sense (scary) and Unbreakable (scary). Dig? Neptune, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Oak Tree

Continuing runs

AFEST 2002: Through the Lens
Northwest Asian American Theatre presents this "festival of Asian filmmakers." The annual festival celebrates new work by APA filmmakers here in Seattle, and beyond. Films playing over the twleve day festival include Rabbit in the Moon, Diwali, Revolutionary Love, Calling Tokyo, Yah Yah, and Vision Test. For ticket information or reservations, call 340-1049.

Austin Powers in Goldmember
Spoiler alert: The best character name in the film is Dixie Normous. There are chuckles here and there, but the prevailing wing is cynical, which my dictionary defines as "selfishly or callously calculating" and "skeptical of the motives of others." If there's a better way to describe Goldmember, I'd be happy to hear it. (SEAN NELSON)

Cinema Paradiso
This evergreen Italian moisture factory receives a re-release that allegedly incorporates 48 minutes of new material, which, if nothing else, will make Giuseppe Tornatore's rank (and yes, okay, effective) sentimentality last even longer, thus requiring surplus Kleenex for all the weepers. (SEAN NELSON)

The Country Bears
Disney's flawless live-action legacy continues, in this moving adaptation of everyone's favorite former Disneyland animatronic attraction. (I'm still holding out for a theatrical release of Captain Eo). Featuring Christopher Walken, Toby Huss, and the voice of "I see dead people."

Eight-Legged Freaks
Not as bad as you'd think, not as good as it should've been, Eight-Legged Freaks is 90-minutes of trés stupid fun--a B-grade flick given an A-grade release during the business' busiest season. With a "pedigree" that includes the dunderheaded David Arquette, former MTV-babe Kari Wuhrer, and comedian Doug E. Doug, the story (such as it is) involves giant mutant spiders running amok over a small Arizona town. Hilarity and rampant gunfire ensues. Said hilarity reaches its climax near the end with one of the most inspired sight gags I've ever witnessed. Without giving it away: It involves a massive queen spider and a bottle of perfume, and you'll laugh, trust me. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Hey Arnold! the Movie
A cartoon movie about a cartoon TV show. It's about time, too! I'm guessing Arnold is a nerd who outsmarts some greedy capitalists.

The Importance of Being Earnest
Rupert Everett looks terrible--his face appears to be sliding off his skull, and he's as neckless as a football player. And he should simply stop playing straight men, because he's the most unconvincing lover this side of Passions. Quibbles aside, this new adaptation is revolting. Thank God for Judi Dench, steamrolling her way through a terrible situation. (EMILY HALL)

K-19: The Widowmaker
This workable Cold War intrigue plot--a Soviet nuke-sub commander is forced to risk the lives of his men (and the fate of the planet) rather than seek help from Americans--is long to begin with, but the moral tensions of the story might have been enough to carry it through... if the film weren't completely submarined by the casting of Harrison Ford in the lead role. I mean, Liam Neeson as a Russian is bad enough. We've all seen Schindler's List. We all know Neeson can't do accents. But Ford's pitiful patois makes Neeson look like Meryl Streep. It's embarrassing on a Kevin Costner scale; on a Sofia Coppola in Godfather III scale. I mean, what the fuck? Did he think we wouldn't notice? Jesus, what a botch. (SEAN NELSON)

Lilo & Stitch
Most people will be going to see this film because (a) it's Disney, (b) it's faux-vintage Disney, replete with hand-painted watercolor backgrounds, or (c) because he or she is five years old. You, however, will go to see this film because the protagonist, a little orphan child named Lilo, sits around her bedroom listening to rock and roll and commanding her big sister to "Leave me alone to die!" The plot is ripped from Frankenstein, and then tweaked to make the mutant adorable and intent on reform. Not too shabby, for a Disney flick--Lilo is the studio's best since Aladdin, and it's a tad less racist, too. (ANNIE WAGNER)

* Lovely & Amazing
This follow-up to the similarly graceful Walking and Talking is a shrewdly respectful character study of a fractured family of women trying to ride herd on their raging neuroses. Fantastic acting and sensitive writing underscore the simple DV directorial approach. (SEAN NELSON)

Men in Black II
Aside from a few signs of life, this film is an exercise in the going through of motions. Smith does his ingratiating narcissism shtick, Jones shows up after half an hour and does his stony hound dog routine, and digital spaceships crash in clouds of digital dust. All the humor is self-aware, and self-directed. It's like the whole joke is that the movie was even made. I call that crass. (SEAN NELSON)

Modesty Blaise
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shlocked Me.

Mr. Deeds
The fundamental structure that this production preserves from Capra's original--and perhaps the only plausible grounds for that film's selection in the first place--is a roller coaster of sentimentality. Sandler's take on the sentimental is a world apart from Gary Cooper's; more sly than earnest, the requisite sappy ending functions to reassure rather than stir the viewer. (ANNIE WAGNER)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
This romantic comedy is based on the one-woman show of Second City alumna Nia Vardalos, who also directs. It tells the story of 30-year-old Toula who searches for love and self-realization.

* My Wife is an Actress
Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a married actress who has a fling with Terence Stamp. Need I say more? I mean, how French do you want it? Guild 45th

Read My Lips
No, it's not the braille porno you've been waiting for, but a dark French thriller psychologique (btw, in France, they pronounce the "p"). Lips is about a hearing impaired office worker who compensates for her nagging sense of being underused by hiring a strapping young trainee to liven things up at work. The upside: he's handsome and virlie (played by the excellent Vincent Cassel). The down: he's an ex-con with no skills... except for violence.

Road to Perdition
Road to Perdition steals from the Coens' Miller's Crossing, purging that superior film's sense of humor and necessary awareness and replacing it with a catchpenny moralism that wants to have everything--its violence, its sympathies, and its casting--both ways. Tom Hanks offers no menace, which means that his hit man character is all tell; not an insurmountable problem until director Sam Mendes makes the son stare guilelessly up at him for the whole film like he's a God. Oh, I know the son is supposed to think he is, but shouldn't the audience get to feel it a little? All the film's father-son vectors feel over-willed, under dramatized, and the gangster genre undergoes no significant transformation. Road to Perdition is the ultimate example of Hollywood's lamest sleight of hand: Wipe the smile off your face, spend a lot of money, make with the metaphors and somber tones and sooner or later the audience is going to have to assume that you're smarter than you really are. (SEAN NELSON)

It's a goddamned shame is what it is. (MEG VAN HUYGEN)

Stuart Little 2
Stuart Little is a cute little cartoon mouse with Parkinson's... wait, didn't we use that joke already? Anyway, cats and CGI mice channel the voices of Nathan Lane, Michael J. Fox, and Steve Zahn in this further bastardization of classic childhood literature.

The Sum of All Fears
Despite all appearances, there are two good things about the new Tom Clancy movie with Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan. One is a bold plot twist that comes so suddenly that it reconfigures the whole experience in an instant, and almost tricks you into thinking the film is better than it is. The other good thing, almost a great thing, is the casting of Liev Scrheiber in the role of John Clark, CIA spook, and all-around spy genius. (SEAN NELSON)

Sunshine State
A cinematic soap opera of familial and neighborly drama centers around a small stretch of Florida coastline. Employing writer/director John Sayles' benchmark standards for dialogue and acting--the cast includes Edie Falco, Mary Steenburgen, Timothy Hutton, and Alan King--the film uses a tug of war over prime resort real estate to showcase both natural history and human frailty.

See review this issue.

* Y Tu Mamá También
As two Mexican teenagers frantically fuck, the boy, Tenoch (Diego Luna), pleads/demands that the girl not screw any Italians on her impending European trip with her best friend. Meanwhile, that best friend is having rushed pre-departure sex with her boyfriend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is also Tenoch's best friend. When the girls have left, we settle down to watch these two boys spend an aimless summer. Everything gets thrown sideways when they meet a sexy older woman (that is to say, in her 20s) named Luisa. Y Tu Mamá También is a brilliant, incisive core sampling of life in Mexico. It's both slender and profound; the movie's greatest pleasures are often its smallest ones-even the title comes from a tossed-off bit of banter. Any individual moment could be trivial, silly, pointless, even embarrassing--but the accumulation of moments has a devastating scope. (BRET FETZER)

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