All About My Mother, Beauty and the Beast, Death Line, Intacto, Jazz Soundies, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pianist, The Pillow Book, Straight, No Chaser, What to Do in Case of Fire


* Beatles Double Feature
The EMP presents a film retrospective of the early years of the world's most dangerous band, with A Hard Day's Night and a rare screening of the Maysles brother's (Gimmie Shelter) What's Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A., an underseen documentary charting the long-hair's first American tour. JBL Theater, Tues at 7 pm.

* Doomed Planet
Digital-cinema impresario Alex Mayer screens his underground film as part of the Little Theatre's "New Cult Cinema Weekend." Mayer will be in attendance at the screening. Little Theatre, Thurs at 7 pm.

An Evening of Experimental Films By Jon Behrens
Seattle Underground Film Festival co-founder (and longtime Linda's Outdoor Summer Films program director) Jon Behrens presents a series of his award-winning works. Rendezvous, Sun at 8 pm.

* The Garbage Pail Kids Movie
Pulled from theaters after only five days of its initial release in 1987, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (the poorly conceived live action adaptation of the popular Topps trading card series) traces the exploits of a bunch of horrifying midgets dressed up with prosthetics as they wade through a sea of bodily-function jokes. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.

Hell Hole High
Three students sent to Hell Hole High battle manic parents, abusive teachers, video surveillance, and a slow, clunky script in this locally produced feature. Native American shaman, lesbian seductresses, drug addicts, and S&M punishers crowd a little color into this campy comedy, which mixes forced dialogue and crappy computer animation with a bumbling plot about a bunch of young, stubborn misfits who attempt to triumph over an evil system and end up finding love in unusual places. Little Theatre, Thurs at 9 pm (JENNIFER MAERZ)

His Secret Life
See review this issue. Opens Fri Dec 27 at the Varsity, see Movie Times for showtimes.

See review this issue. Grand Illusion, Thurs-Wed at 5:30 and 8:15 pm, Sat-Sun matinees at 2:45 pm.

Further exploration of the Little Theatre's New Cult Cinema Weekend, an update of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein finds our familiar monster in the form of a murderous jail-break victim. As produced by the father-and-son team of Garrett and Duke White. Little Theatre, Sat at 7 pm.

Revenge and Miller High Life populate this troublingly named, locally produced picture, in which a film student seeks to humiliate his high-school tormentors by way of celluloid. Little Theatre, Sun at 9 pm.

Necropolis Awakened
The White Family's ambitious, Evil Dead-inspired horror epic tracing the exploits of Bob, our alcoholic hero on a quest for vengeance against the Neo-Genentrix corporation, an undead conglomerate that has taken over his peaceful hometown. Filmmakers in attendance. Little Theatre, Sat at 9 pm.

Off Your Rocker
WigglyWorld contributor Duncam McDougal's exploration of the perilous world of geriatric extreme sports. Little Theatre, Sun at 7 pm.

* Polterchrist
A cult-classic in the making, Polterchrist combines blasphemous humor, raunchy bathroom scenes, and low-grade special effects to make for one excellently creepy "horrordy" film. The local B-movie production follows Jesus' cranky, bloodthirsty return to earth, drawing you into his unholy massacre of teenagers in a Kent, Washington, bowling alley. While the main storyline is pure bloodsploitation, it's the constant segues into the dreams, hallucinations, and fantasies of Jesus, the glue sniffer, and Johnny Appleseed (he fits in here, too, somehow) that make this movie so goddamn funny. And the Polterchrist soundtrack--which ranges from metal to post rock to country songs about turds--isn't bad either. (JENNIFER MAERZ) Little Theatre, Fri at 7 pm.

See review this issue. Little Theatre, Fri at 9 pm.

The Sound of Music
There's nothing on this earth that brings a song to my heart like those zany Nazis. Sing-A-Long Sound of Music, the gayest way to spend the holidays. 5th Avenue Theatre, Fri at 7 pm, Sat-Sun at 1 pm.

* Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
"Schnozzberry? Who ever heard of a schnozzberry?" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.


Catch Me if You Can
See review this issue. See Movie Times for theaters.

See review this issue. See Movie Times for theaters.


* 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)

* About Schmidt
About Schmidt stars an exhausted Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt, an Omaha actuary facing the nothingness of retirement. At the end of his last day at the insurance agency, all of Schmidt's lifework is packed into blank boxes, the office is empty, and he has nowhere to go. When he awakes the following morning next to his wife, who bores him immensely, he finds himself at the top of the slope of slow time that leads down to an ordinary death. Overall, an entertaining film, whose comedy alone sustains the entire picture. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

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!"

* Adaptation
Crafting a follow-up to Being John Malkovich, 1999's head-tripping deconstruction of identity, desire, and fame, would be difficult job for anyone. For Charlie Kaufman--writer of Malkovich, co-writer and lead character of Adaptation--it's a virtual impossibility. Thankfully, Kaufman and Spike Jonze have created a rich entertainment out of this impossibility, stuffing it with enough meta-plot twists to fuel half a dozen lesser movies, and bringing it to the screen with brilliant performances by Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep. Still, not even Kaufman and Jonze can overcome the unfortunate fact that listening to a writer whine about how hard it is to write is always annoying. (DAVID SCHMADER)

Analyze That
Ten seconds after this film is over, it will disappear completely from your memory. Even though it was much funnier than you hoped it would be, you'll only remember how hard you laughed when Billy Crystal drooled sushi all over the table. Weighty subjects (grief, redemption) occasionally distract from humor mainstays (kicks in the balls, sushi), but at least the writers didn't stick a love interest in the way of the gags. Lower your expectations with a couple of beers and you've got an enjoyable evening of middlebrow fun. (MATT FONTAINE)

Antwone Fisher
Antwone Fisher was a security guard at Sony Pictures when a big-shot producer, impressed with Fisher's life story, decided to have him write a screenplay about it. Although not a great movie, it is actually refreshingly restrained. Denzel Washington directs with the same dignity and craft that he brings to his work as an actor. The performances are realistic but not self-consciously so, the filmmakers avoid drowning the film in syrupy music, and the production design gives us deep, dramatic settings without stealing focus. These are all small miracles, considering the genre. (MATT FONTAINE)

* Baran
Majid Majidi's Baran is set on a construction site near what appears to be the very edge of Tehran. It's hard to tell what exactly is taking place on the construction site, which seems of little importance to the director, whose roving camera does not so much explain the labor than capture its poetry. Baran is also a love story that's set against the shimmering city, the politics and economics of that city, and, more specifically, the plight of Afghanistan refugees--who in this movie work illegally on the construction site--in this developing, Second World metropolis. Baran is a marvelous work of 21st-century cinema. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

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 workman-like 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. Likable Pierce Brosnan has long since outlived his inevitability in the lead role, and takes a turn for the Roger Moore with this film. His heroics, his sexual bravado, his body hair--they all seem to indicate an epic disjunction between the supersmooth ultraspy we keep hearing about and the vaguely handsome tool we see onscreen playing him. Predictably, this film's only real recommendation lies in the stuffing of Halle Berry's wild bikini, but frankly, you can get to that more easily by doing a Google search. (SEAN NELSON)

Rarely do freshmen make the drumline, but thanks to his phat chops, my man Devon makes the cut. Of course we all know that you can take the boy out of the 'hood, but you can't take the 'hood out of the boy. What this film presupposes is, maybe you can? Does this ruff 'n' tumble protagonist have heart enough to overcome the obstacles? Will he and the band take top honors at the BET Big Southern Classic, or will he let his dreams and the girl slide through his fingers? I probably needn't tell you that Drumline is so predictable that it's over before you even walk into the theater, but if for some reason you make it that far, I won't say that it's unwatchable. (JONATHAN MAHALAK)

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)

A long-winded suspense-film setup gets neatly tied up in 20 minutes of a "we waited so long for this?" ending. What the preview promised: Tough Latino drug dealer from the South Bronx, Victor Rosa (John Leguizamo), gets fucked over by white Wall Street boy named Jack (Peter Sarsgaard) when Vic tries to go legit. What the movie delivers: Trite drug-dealer shootouts and karaoke-video-quality shots of romance and heartache.

Okay, you'll want to begin with a Fahrenheit 451 stock, so take that book and boil it long and hard, until the meat of its anti-censorship screed is good and blanched, but still basically recognizable. Next, you'll be wanting to season, and though some say less is more, the makers of Equilibrium clearly disagree--so empty your spice racks of all visual and literary elements that may apply (The Matrix, Triumph of the Will, Minority Report, Ridley Scott's TV commercials, Orwell's 1984, Huxley's Brave New World--don't worry about mixing metaphors by combining these last two, the point is to touch all bases--et al.). Now add some attractive actors (Christian Bale, Emily Watson, Sean Bean, Taye Diggs), an ominous cinematographic monochrome, some portentous dialogue, and simmer until the audience is either giggling or snoring. (SEAN NELSON)

The story of an Irish father (Pierce Brosnan) who in 1954 got his children back from church custody through a little lawyering and a whole lot of angel rays. Alan Bates does an Irish turn. Obligatory nuns, obligatory singing in pubs, obligatory bookie with a heart of gold. Evelyn, the daughter, whose freckled cheek you will long to slap, testifies in court. Eventually it ends. How will you survive? As you sit suffering, compile a list of anachronisms, dialect faults, and other impossibilities in the film; it will be a long list. (BARLEY BLAIR)

* 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)

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
It's impossible for me to ask this without sounding entirely prudish, but, for god's sake, is nothing sacred? (ZAC PENNINGTON)

* The Gangs of New York
Combining real history, richly imagined historiography, and classical melodrama, The Gangs of New York tells the story of Amsterdam Vallon, a young Irish immigrant (Leonardo DiCaprio) in mid-19th-century New York City seeking to avenge the murder of his father by a rival gang leader (Daniel Day-Lewis) who has since grown into a powerful crime boss. Scorsese invests the picture with increasingly biblical gravity in an attempt to portray the birth of a nation as a violent, ritualistic collision between two men. Then the government steps in and the film achieves glory. Day-Lewis gives the kind of performance that makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race. (SEAN NELSON)

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)

The Hot Chick
Now I understand why other cultures want to bomb us. (TAMARA PARIS)

Almost proof that chemistry can trump originality. Almost. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* 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.

Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers
The Two Towers becomes a deeply rousing tribute to the spirit of resistance in the face of certain defeat. The film resonates so deeply, despite its potentially embarrassing fantasy trappings, because the filmmaker recognizes that violence and sacrifice are unavoidable aspects of the survival of civilizations. What separates The Two Towers is its faith in the possibility of heroes, and its admission, as one of those heroes plainly states, that "good is worth fighting for." (SEAN NELSON)

Maid in Manhattan
While pretending to tell the truth about class distinctions, Maid depends too hard on the pretty American fiction that such distinctions are only a matter of money--which of course we have to humanistically believe, otherwise we'd be, uh, British. That said, it's not nearly as bad as I thought it would be; Lopez and Fiennes have almost no chemistry at all, but they're pretty graceful about it, and the presence of Bob Hoskins, Chris Eigeman, Amy Sedaris, and Stanley Tucci has got to count for something. Doesn't it? (EMILY HALL)

* 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. Until this past weekend, that is, when a girl I really admire admitted that she not only saw, but really enjoyed it. I think that's terrific. The Stranger vows to review this film if and when it earns $300 million. That's a promise. (SEAN NELSON)

* Personal Velocity
The three short films that compose Personal Velocity are each devoted to catching women at crucial points of surrender that follow triumphant moments of success. Aside from the truly stellar acting and maddeningly perceptive writing, what distinguishes this picture is the filmmaker's refusal to connect the stories with any but the slimmest of narrative threads. As a result, each woman comes off as individually necessary--the one quality each one secretly desires above all else. (SEAN NELSON)

A pet project of the uniquely polarizing Roberto Benigni (Italy's idiot son acts as writer, director, and star), the live action version of Italy's most beloved fairytale about engorging apendages.

Punch-Drunk Love
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)

Rabbit-Proof Fence
Phillip Noyce's (The Bone Collector, The Quiet American) latest, an adaptation of author Doris Pilkington Garimara's nonfiction portrayal of Australia's dark past, tracing the lives of three aboriginal girls taken from their families by white settlers.

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)

The Ring
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 Santa Clause 2
The most unnecessary sequel since Silent Night, Deadly Night 4.

* Secretary
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)

Spirited Away
In spite of its conspicuous cute deficiency, Spirited Away is by all means a striking visual composition--just make sure you're not drowsy going in. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

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)

* Star Trek: Nemesis
This action-heavy sequel's narrative is cleaner and more efficient than most of its predecessors'. While this bodes well for the movie--it's rather good--it doesn't, necessarily, for the future of the series. This is rumored to be the last cinematic voyage not only of this crew, but the entire Star Trek franchise. To be honest, Picard's crew appears to have exhausted its usefulness. (KUDZAI MUDEDE)

Sweet Home Alabama
A lesson that's already been taught in one hackneyed comedy after another--namely, that poor white Southern folk are fat, dumb, and wear Jaclyn Smith, but the boys are hot and they ain't as stupid as city folk think, 'cause they have heart. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

Talk to Her
See review this issue. Egyptian

Treasure Planet
Updating Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate classic for the space-age is a fun conceit. Unfortunately, this kid's movie, which keeps the the "aye-matie" setting in-tact while beautifully working in computer wizardry, high-tech skate boarding, space ships, and dimensional portals, is far too wholesome to thrill. Wholesome might be good for kids, but kids simply aren't going to pay attention to this well-intentioned, but truly square rendition of Stevenson's bawdy novel. (JOSH FEIT)

* The Trials of Henry Kissinger
This documentary, based on the writing of Christopher Hitchens, indicts the most famous diplomat of the late-20th century as a war criminal, and makes the demand that statesmen be held to an even higher moral standard than the rest of us, because they are supposed to be acting on behalf of the rest of us. As the evidence mounts, you can feel the creeping awareness of justice on the verge; of a political manipulator about to be called to answer for his power games. Whether or not this actually happens remains to be seen. But just the thought of it, and the measured, intellectual fervor--as opposed to stock liberal passion--with which the prosecution proceeds, lends a sense of hope to those of us who have been conditioned to expect the worst from our leaders, and to assume they will always get away with it. (SEAN NELSON)

Two Weeks Notice
Hugh Grant falls asleep in the only character he seems to fully realize (charmingly shallow, privileged, self-absorbed), is propped up next to Sandra Bullock's perennial heroine (smart, funny, self-effacing), and wheeled along the romantic-comedy conveyor belt.

* 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)

The Wild Thornberrys
Nickelodeon's marginally successful animated series The Wild Thornberrys earns itself further franchise with a 78-minute episode on the big screen.

Please note: Movie Times can be found on pg. 103.