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All About Lily Chou-Chou
Maybe this rambling, interminably long digital-video exercise is about Yuichi (Hayato Ichihara), a pretty, sullen teenage boy who's obsessed with a pop singer we never see named Lily Chou-Chou. When he's not being beaten to within an inch of his life by his peers, he's mooning about Lily and "the ether" in an online chat room--which we see on the screen as typed titles. At least, I think that's what it's about. I must confess that the glacial pace, the headache inducing "shaky cam" and the gleeful disregard for anything resembling a narrative through-line drove me from the theater after the longest hour and forty minutes of my recent life. But what do I know? Grand Illusion (TAMARA PARIS)

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

Cheerleader Ninjas
No one believes this movie can be good, and they're all correct. However, just lately I've been feeling nostalgic for the cable TV of my youth, where this film, replete with corny jokes, lusty dudes, and T&A that would be gratuitous if it weren't completely necessary to make the thing watchable, would have been a perfect fit. Rendezvous (RANDY OCTOGENARIAN)

* The Cruise
"I would say that it is an unintentional meditation and an elongated journey into our own forest." Little Theatre

Feardotcom
From the director of House on Haunted Hill comes what promises to be another unbelivably thrilling horror film about computers. Four people end up dead within 48 hours of logging on to a website, and "brash young police detective" Mike Reilly (played by the insufferable Stephen Dorff) is assigned to investigate. To solve the case, of course, our young detective must himself log-on to the site (DUNT-dunt-DUN!)... if he dares. Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Grand Alderwood

Freeze Me
Japanese director Takashi Ishii's 2000 revenge fantasy concerning a victim of gang rape who exacts a violent reprisal on one of her attackers--storing the remains Dahmer-style in her household freezer. Grand Illusion

Me Without You
Me Without You details the immemorial drama of the "best friends." Best friends must ultimately become "worst of enemies." But at the very moment the worst of enemies are about to kill each other, something (a bar of soap, a word, a song) interrupts their raging violence and they realize that they were once best friends. They then hug each other, kiss, hold hands, and promise never to be worst of enemies again. Metro (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Nijinsky
As if to answer the eternal question "what about dance?" the NWFF presents Australian Paul Innocence Cox's adaptation of the diaries of the nimblest of all Poles, in which our Vaslav dishes on Diaghilev and cops to having a few 'roos loose in the top paddock. Narration by Derek Jacobi. Little Theatre

One Hour Photo
Reviewed this issue. Mork portraying a lonely lab attendant at a (get this) one hour photo booth. After years of surveying the significant moments of a particular local family's life, Mork begins to develop an obsessive kinship with the household. And then, presumably, goes all Exodor on they ass. Guild 45th

P:p: Le Moko
A beautiful socialite named Gaby (Mireille Balin) chances upon the infamous criminal Pepe le Moko (Jean Gabin) during a police raid on the labyrinthine Casbah district of Algiers. In one fabulous, deservedly renowned scene, Pepe idly seduces the poised Gaby by pretending exclusive interest in her elaborate jewelry. This brilliant and feisty 1937 movie represents the sort of guilty pleasure that could only become a classic in the medium of film--the shame of France's colonial past is inseparable from the pleasure we take in watching these suave gangsters revel in their exotic surroundings. The newly restored print isn't perfect, but the experience of seeing this kind of grand fatalism on the big screen is priceless. Varsity (ANNIE WAGNER)

* Rollerball
"Do you know what executives do, Moon Pie? They dream of being a great Rollerballer: smashing heads!" Rendezvous

Tarantula
Bad scientist gives bad spider superfood. Bad spider grows into big, bad spider. Gluttony ensues. Add to the mix all new dialogue improvised by Jet City Improv, and you got yourself... well, you got yourself a big fucking mess, really. Paradox Theater

The Wizard of Oz
Technicolor before color movies became boring, nostalgic innocence before it became corrupted, Judy Garland before the drugs. The Wizard of Oz makes Kansas look so sepia drab that the first shot of the Yellow Brick Road can still take your breath away after all these years. Back-to-back in an exhaustive double-feature with The Darkside of Oz, yet another Pink Floyd/Wizard Screening. Fremont Outdoor Theater (Bruce Reid)

* Xanadu
Quite simply the most important film of all time. Period. "You have to believe we are magic!" Egyptian


CONTINUING RUNS

24 Hour Party People
Reviewed this issue

The Adventures of Pluto Nash
The tragic collapse of Eddie Murphy's career appears to be trudging new humiliating lows with his latest--an action adventure disaster that finds our man Gumby in the role of futuristic nightclub owner (on the moon!) defending his claim against futuristic gangsters (on the moon!).

Austin Powers in Goldmember
There are chuckles here and there, but the prevailing wind 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)

Blood Work
Blood Work is a total bore. I was hoping this would be Clint Eastwood's swan song to a life of vigilantism, a retrospective of themes that have run through his work. But that's wishful thinking. The plot is thin, the characters aren't believable, the pacing and lighting are totally Matlock, and the performances are tired. Except for Anjelica Huston, who is not so much good but just never bad. As for the old firebrand himself, Eastwood acts constipated and ill tempered, like there's some annoying key grip just off-camera holding up a sign that says, "Go ahead, make my day." It's just too bad that someone talked the Great Warrior into this. (MICHAEL SHILLING)

Blue Crush
The plot's trite and cheesy--girl from Hawaii kicks ass at surfing, meets boy from the mainland, almost gives up surfing, until a crucial competition arises and he rallies behind her--but the surf scenes are awesome. Hawaii's gorgeous, as are the surfer chicks and their male counterparts. It's like a two hour vacation, especially for the part of your brain that does the thinking. (AMY JENNIGES)

The Debut
The first major feature to treat the Filipino-American experience and aggressively court Filipino viewers, The Debut is a decent coming-of-age story with an engaging cast and a great dance sequence. The story is rather predictable: Ben, an aspiring animator, has enrolled in a fine arts college and must break the news to his father, who is certain that his son is destined for medical school. This conflict is staged and complicated at Ben's sister's 18th birthday party (the eponymous "debut"). As a director, Gene Cajayon could have pulled the reins on the excessive emoting of some of his younger actors, but his movie is serviceable enough. (ANNIE WAGNER)

* The Good Girl
When it comes to deep, dark cinematic comedy--the kind that makes you want to laugh and weep and squirm out of your skin at the same time--Miguel Arteta and Mike White have cornered the market. Following 2000's Chuck & Buck comes The Good Girl, which explores similarly perverse terrain--the soul of a woman trapped by fate and circumstance, driven to commit acts of deeply iffy morality and legality. Starring Jennifer Aniston (who, incidentally, aces the role, bringing a beautifully understated gravity to the character), doe-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal, and John C. Reilly (who scores another supporting-role home run). (DAVID SCHMADER)

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. (SEAN NELSON)

Little Secrets
Emily (Evan Rachel Wood) is a fourteen year-old Type A violinist who runs a neighborhood stand hawking "secret keeping" rather than lemonade. Kids pay to confess their minor misdeeds and receive her sage advice, while she suffers silently under the burden of a mammoth secret of her own. There is a sinister undercurrent running just below the surface of this limp ode to Salt Lake City suburbia, and it gives the movie's after-school special themes a certain morbid interest. (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)

Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat
Martin Lawrence attacks the "bullshit" (as he calls it) sensationalist media in this bullshit (as I call it) stand-up ego-a-thon. As Lawrence waxes philosophical, existential, and mental, offering "his side" to the weapons-and-drugs run-ins he's faced of late, his disingenuousness and palpable self-love become increasingly oppressive. Best to avoid Runteldat like you'd avoid jamming your fingers in a car door--at least until the self-destructive Mr. Lawrence winds up in an asylum, at which time the value of this movie's insights will have doubled. For now, it's just tragically unfunny. (KUDZAI MUDEDE)

Master of Disguise
There is a running gag that dictates that whenever the villain tries to cackle, he farts. And to top it all off, somebody had the brilliant idea of putting a pedophilia joke in a kid's movie. I can't believe this didn't go straight to video. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Mostly Martha
American audiences are hot for foreign films about food--there's something about food, apparently, that makes us want to project our weakness for sensuality clear across the Atlantic. Sandra Nettelbeck's Mostly Martha, a German production, is compatible with this American fantasy--but the result feels much less crude than the escapist "foreign" fantasies American audiences have become accustomed to. It's a refreshing break from routine, though it's never quite gourmet cinema. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Possession
No director in the universe (with the possible exception of John Waters) could save a bad novel like Possession, which was authored by A. S. Byatt. It's the one novel Hollywood should have left in its original condition: a bad book. Now it has a second life as a bad movie. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Road to Perdition
Sam Mendes has done the impossible: He has made a film that is even more smug, phony, and wasteful than American Beauty. Road to Perdition steals its look (including several exact images) 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. (SEAN NELSON)

Serving Sara
Sucks. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Sex and Lucia
The digital cinematography in this film is remarkable, but it's largely squandered on beach sunsets and early morning sex and other pretty, vapid things. Following the plot, which involves a very serious writer and his myriad romantic entanglements (all serving as grist for the proverbial mill), is like trying to figure out a single episode of a soap opera that's been broadcast for twenty years. But the girls are adorable and the high drama is quite absorbing, so it's not a complete waste of time. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Signs
Signs would have been exceptional if not for the necessity of elaborate surprises. All the things I like about M. Night Shyamalan's movies (the X-Files-like moodiness, the theological questions, etc.) are imprisoned by the necessities of plot twists. If liberated, this film, about a troubled man who is dealing not only with his wife's death but a massive alien invasion, would have been truly scary. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Simone
A film director loses his lead actress halfway through production and, desperate to finish his "masterwork," decides to create his own actress via computer. This is the plot to Andrew Niccol's Simone--a bland, unfortunate Hollywood satire that aims to skewer the cult of celebrity, but instead manages to shoot itself in the foot. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Spy Kids 2
Spy Kids 2 isn't a bad movie. Really, it isn't. And if you're an eight-year-old who dreams of being a spy--something I always wanted to be when I was eight--then it's the perfect movie for you. There are some mildly funny parts (involving nose picking or camel poop) and it's a highly predictable kids movie (which means zero brain energy needed). At least I didn't hate myself for going. And that's always a good thing. (MEGAN SELING)

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.

* Tadpole
A witty, intelligent, and unsentimental coming-of-age comedy in which the a precocious preppie teen's lustful projections (onto his stepmom, whoa!) are part of a much larger picture, and the lusty boy is a too-smart-for-his-own-good kid who learns a lesson about snobbery and poseurdom. (SEAN NELSON)

* Undisputed
Undisputed is great because Ving Rhames is great. He plays a world heavyweight champion who, like Mike Tyson, is convicted for raping a woman. Unlike Mike Tyson, but much like Muhammad Ali, Ving Rhames is articulate. He is not just a slugging machine but someone who understands his situation (his limits, his value) and is able to express it with a deep and convincing voice. While in the maximum security prison, Rhames is confronted by the boxing champ of the underworld, Wesley Snipes. Prisoners from all over America have tried and failed to claim a victory from Snipes, a convicted murderer. So now the king of the overworld must battle the king of the underworld, and whoever wins is the master the universe--a title Rhames already holds. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

XXX
Just how bad is XXX? Worse than you've imagined. Seriously. I would rather be catheterized by a Parkinson's-afflicted nurse than sit through it again. It's that bad. Don't believe me? Then go see it. Flop down the $10 at your neighborhood multiplex and slouch your way through the picture. You'll see--and afterward you'll say, "Shit, man, I wish I'd listened to that chump from The Stranger." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

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