Dog Soldiers, Drumline, The Hot Chick, If I Should Fall from Grace: The Shane MacGowan Story, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Maid in Manhattan, Quitting, Roman Holiday, Star Trek: Nemesis, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Big Lebowski
"That's your name, Dude." Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
* Day of the Beast
Almodovar protégé Alex de la Iglesia creates a dark comedy about a priest in search of the Antichrist. He believes he must "act evil" in hopes of drawing the devil to him so he can be destroyed, so the priest embarks on a series of criminal escapades. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
* Hidden Wars of Desert Storm
This shocking documentary distinguishes itself from similarly themed bretheren by casting a light on the bad (verging on atrocious) behavior of the U.S. military during the first Gulf War not only against its Iraqi client/enemies, but against its own soldiers, many tens of thousands of whom have died or been debilitated by their exposure to depleted uranium in their own armaments. This video, narrated by John Hurt, should be required viewing for all hawks who believe that another incursion into Iraq is (A) the best thing for everyone, and (B) the logical next step in the war against theocratic fascism. The question is not whether the despot Saddam Hussein must be removed (obviously, he must), but whether the U.S. military industrial complex can do the job without decimating Iraq's land and citizenry--to say nothing of its own cavalry--in the process. (SEAN NELSON) Rendezvous, 911 Media Arts Center, Capitol Hill Arts Cooperative, Independent Media Center, see Movie Times for specific information.
* Music Video Spotlight: The Director's Bureau
A short collection of vids from a few of the finest artists working in the most innovative sub-medium the cinema currently has to offer. Directors Mike Mills (no, not that Mike Mills, the other Mike Mills) and Roman Coppola working with bands from Air to Mansun prove that the video form is as elastic as the director's imagination. (SEAN NELSON) JBL Theater, Wed at 7 pm.
Ride with Zeke
Punk rock at its most belligerent, and the most genuinely imposing band to come out of Seattle in as long as I can remember, captured live and loud. Sunset Tavern, Mon at 8 pm.
The Trials of Henry Kissinger
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sat at 12:30 pm, 2:40, 4:45, 7, 9:15, Sun-Thurs at 7 pm, 9:15.
See Stranger Suggests. Capitalism totally blows. Seriously. See The Ad and the Ego, and The Media Pranks and Hoaxes of Negativland for more info. Little Theatre, see Movie Times for specific information.
Virgin of Lust
Deep Crimson director Arturo Ripstein maps the sordid tale of a Mexican prostitute, her pornography-obsessed would-be suitor, and the attempted assassination of Francisco Franco in 1940s Mexico. Director in attendance! Grand Illusion, Thurs at 6 pm, 9 pm.
* The Way Home
It's no surprise that this sentimental gem is the first feature film from Korea chosen for major distribution. It's a wonderfully gentle, humorous, and respectful tearjerker about an angry boy (Seung-Ho Yoo) from the big city left in the care of his mute grandmother (78-year-old newcomer Eul-Boon Kim). Will he learn to toss aside his Nintendo Game Boy and help this stooped crone carry water up the hill? In a castle somewhere in Hollywood, Steven Spielberg is wringing his hands and tossing his personal assistants into the moat because director Jeong-Hyang Lee somehow got her hands on his mojo. (TAMARA PARIS) Uptown, daily at 12:30pm, 12:45pm, 5pm, 7:15pm, 9:30pm.
new this week
Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro are at it again in... whatever. Somebody gets whacked. You get the joke. I'd now like to take this opportunity to make use of my limited position of power with a simple salute to the word "whack." Whack! Whack! Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
See review this issue. Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16
See review this issue. Pacific Place
See review this issue. Metro, Uptown
* 8 Mile
It's the Marshall Mathers version of the underdog-done-good idea, a concept presented in various films over the years, from The Karate Kid to Hoop Dreams. But 8 Mile works because you believe the story behind it. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
Adam Sandler's 8 Crazy Nights
Adam Sandler plays a twentysomething loser with a bad temper who causes trouble, makes cracks about bodily functions, and finds redemption. Sound familiar? But wait! This time his performance will have no choice but to be animated! "Look, I'm Crazy Cartoonhead!"
* Alias Betty
The ever-shifting narrative positively relies on the audience not knowing what comes next (whereas most film narratives just lean on it); to reveal much of anything would be a violation. What I can say (other than "Trust me") is that Alias Betty is a film about the constant environmental and human dangers that threaten the safety of young children, and the unforeseeable ways that parents can (often simultaneously) both embody and combat those dangers. The only other thing I feel comfortable revealing is that Miller's film is the nearest thing to a response to the captivating, candy-colored whimsy of Amélie the French cinema has created yet. (SEAN NELSON)
With Ararat, Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) attempts to address not just the 1915 genocide of Armenia and its lingering effects on the identity of Armenians and Turks but also the very meanings of denial, memory, and fractured modern family life. With roughly three plots and even a film within a film tossed into the mix, the rickety construction threatens to collapse in upon itself at several points, which serves only to distract from the powerful truths at its foundation. (TAMARA PARIS)
Bowling For Columbine
For a while, Moore seems on to something--a culture of fear endemic to our country--but in the end, he shortchanges the psychological complexity in favor of cheap shots. He wants to say something great, but ultimately doesn't. Can't, maybe. Because he isn't really a social critic, he's a demagogue. (SEAN NELSON)
Die Another Day
After about two hours of workmanlike action and suspense, and a battery of sexual innuendo about as subtle and charming as a herpes sore, the 20th James Bond film finally surrenders to its own muddled identity. (SEAN NELSON)
El Crimen del Padre Amaro
Stylish photography with just enough overexposure to suggest blinding sun; excellent character acting from half the beautiful people in Mexico; a fun soundtrack. But the script? The script is taken from a melodramatic Portuguese novel written in 1875. It had little to do with the actual Church of 1875, let alone today; it's a soap opera. Are you trying to tell me the Catholic Church has no sense of humor? (BARLEY BLAIR)
* The Emperor's Club
Though the first third of The Emperor's Club plays like Dead Poets Society redux--genius teacher inspires emotionally undernourished trustafarians to excellence--the picture's trajectory is far subtler, and more troubling. Where one film was a crowd-pleasing paean to personal freedom, the other is an elegy to the passing of intellectual and moral rigor as a way of life. Where one was a character study, the other is a study of Character. (SEAN NELSON)
It's a dumb movie, and I knew that going into the theatre, but I had no idea it was going to be THIS BAD. A couple of goofballs are shooting a commercial (think "Do the Dew"), so the goofballs recruit some totally killer extreme sports enthusiasts to do crazy shit like outski an avalanche ('cause, dude, wouldn't that be so wicked?!). Some snowboarders and a prissy downhill skiing gold medalist end up on the top of a mountain in an abandoned resort, where a big bad terrorist man just happens to be hiding out after faking his death. Now the big bad terrorist man wants the snowboarding dudes dead since they know his secret. In the midst of it all, some girls kiss, a guy gets naked, and still the movie struggles to be even remotely interesting. It's bad news, brah. Bad, bad news. (MEGAN SELING)
* Far From Heaven
In both style and substance, Far from Heaven pays homage to Douglas Sirk's classic 1956 melodrama All That Heaven Allows, upping the ante by introducing intricate new threats to his heroine's true love--threats that would've landed Sirk's film in the studio censor's blender. But Todd Haynes' pitch-perfect inclusion of sexual confusion and racial bigotry into Sirk's original mix gives him the power to transcend his source material and create a melodramatic masterpiece all his own. (DAVID SCHMADER)
* The Fast Runner
Although the filmmakers have lovingly reconstructed every detail of prehistoric Inuit culture--this being the first feature-length film entirely in the Inuktitut language--by recording life on the infinite tundra with digital-video intimacy, they keep the characters palpably real. (MATT FONTAINE)
Frida is yet another artist's story that has been stripped of nuance and turned into a paean to something indiscriminately called "living," here with requisite Latin heat and groaning tables of erotically charged food. (EMILY HALL)
The Friday After Next
"Xmas in the 'hood," the third installment of Ice Cube's ghetto-comic empire, is a sort of Home Alone-flavored seasoning of the original Friday formula, complete with a sea of belly laughs by way of domestic violence, homophobia, racial intolerance, rape, and of course the requisite hilarity of drug abuse ("Santa's a crackheaded thief--now that shit is funny"). It's impossible for me to ask this without sounding entirely prudish, but, for god's sake, is nothing sacred? (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a thunderous bore. The plot is some garbage about destiny and magic and spiders and snakes--if you're planning on seeing it, you either already know the plot or won't want to. Only a kid could stand it, but no kid worth a damn is going to want to sit through a 161-minute movie in which nothing exciting or funny happens, and in which our hero is never truly jeopardized. Harry is just a charmed little guy who gets everything he wants and always saves the day. (SEAN NELSON)
Almost proof that chemistry can trump originality. Almost. An update of the '60s TV show, I-Spy slaps the brilliance of Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson together and places them in a creaky, fairly inane plot. There are explosions, fights, and an invisible military jet (no, really), but what makes the flick tolerable is the humor of its stars. Murphy and Wilson's talents are wasted here, to be sure, but what little breathing room is given proves superduper entertaining. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Interview With the Assassin
It's always a lot of fun when a fake documentary fools you into wondering whether it's real or not. Alas, this dopey, sub-X-Files conspiracy pseudothriller, concerning a man who claims to have really pulled the trigger on JFK, never hooks you, even for a second. There are tense moments, and lead actor Raymond J. Barry turns in a fine performance, but the whole conceit (Mr. Grassy Knoll hires an unemployed TV cameraman to tell his story) just reeks like an ashtray in Oliver Stone's dorm. (SEAN NELSON)
* Jackass: The Movie
Jackass is a perfect film. (SEAN NELSON)
Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie
The computer-animated version of the pamphlets you find at bus stops.
* My Big Fat Greek Wedding
I love how this movie has been playing for like 25 years and has made 200 grillion dollars and no one I know has seen or even heard of it. (SEAN NELSON)
Starring Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Punch-Drunk Love is a confused story--not confusing to the audience, but confused within itself. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Real Women Have Curves
A simplistic and thought-provokeless tale about one spirited teenage member of the underclass' struggle to individuate her young self in the context of her traditional, stifling, almost-poverty-stricken family. Every major scene devolves into sloganeering, a champagne socialist's daydream of life in the po' house. Real Women is a lowest-common-denominator piece of silky propaganda. (MICHAEL SHILLING)
Clunky and breathtakingly unoriginal, Brett Ratner's film is an absolute paint-by-numbers affair. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
There are a few jumps here and there, along with one startling image near the end involving a TV, but for the most part The Ring just sorta trudges along, rarely surprising, often befuddling. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The title character in Roger Dodger (Campbell Scott) is everything you imagine religious Maxim readers to be--which is to say, an über-masculine asshole. Directed by first-timer Dylan Kidd, Roger Dodger is all shaky handheld blundering, but Scott keeps the film afloat, paddling furiously through his lines and the marginally fleshed-out storyline. His efforts alone make the flick a worthwhile endeavor. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Santa Clause 2
The most unnecessary sequel since Silent Night, Deadly Night 4.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Lee Holloway, a slightly retarded nymphet secretary just released from a loony house, who develops a subversive relationship with her employer, played by James Spader. Part of Secretary's singular quality is that the heroine's problem is never resolved. She entrenches herself deeper and deeper in her "sick" dependency, and ultimately, it becomes her virtue. (MEG VAN HUYGEN)
Like all Steven Soderbergh films, Solaris is well crafted and acted. The photography and editing, which were done by the director, are terrific. George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, and Jeremy Davies fulfill their roles. The futuristic sets and costumes are convincing. And Soderbergh successfully integrates the necessary high-tech equipment--the flat, iridescent TV screens and computer monitors, the slick black telephones, and so on--into a believable future world. But is this what Solaris is about? Soderbergh's cinematic skills? If that were the case, why didn't he go overboard and make a film that was purely cinematic? Solaris, even at 95 minutes, is slow, and there is nothing technically or artistically exceptional about it. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Standing in the Shadows of Motown
A functional if not exactly riveting documentary about the session musicians who composed the backbone of the Motown sound but whom no one has ever heard of. The Funk Brothers (a mixed-race collective of amazing players) can be heard on every Detroit-era Motown hit, but because of the way the star singers were marketed, they very often didn't even receive credit. The movie does them justice by telling the story, but slips into miscalculation by having the fellas play the old hits live, accompanied by some of today's least impressive stars (Joan Osborne, Me'Shell Ndegéocello, Levert). The performances just reinforce the star power of the original Motown stable. (SEAN NELSON)
Sweet Home Alabama
More like Suck Home Alasucka. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
When a horror film goes wrong, the result can be deadly (from an audience's point of view). In this undercooked and dreadfully boring example, some folks who were haunted by "the thing under the bed" when they were kids come to discover that the thing was real, and for some reason it's come back to get them. Why? Probably because they are clichéd characters who were born to die. It's difficult to identify with any of them, especially the cute but frighteningly skinny lead girl, which makes it hard to care if any of them live. This, of course, drains the film of any suspense. Unfortunately, the force of evil is even less developed than the main characters, which leaves you absolutely no one to root for. All you can do is chart the plot holes as they pass by. (ANDY SPLETZER)
That tired old Robert Louis Stevenson "classic" Treasure Island gets a much-needed facelift in Disney's most recent stroke of genius. Now with more lasers!
* The Truth About Charlie
A remake of Stanley Donen's Charade, a communion-wafer-thin '60s comedy. The film, like its predecessor, is a smart kind of dumb; a romp with a love of movies, faces, and all things Francophile at the center. (SEAN NELSON)