As part of their recent Jazz in January series, EMP presents the 1963 narrative of a young ghetto youth just tryin' ta survive the mean streets--most notable for its score featuring Dizzy Gillespie and Yusef Lateef. Not available on video. JBL, Wed at 7 pm.
Daughter from Danang
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun at 12:30, 2:40, 4:45, 7, 9:15, Mon-Thurs at 7, 9:15.
h Duck Soup
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, Fri at 6, 7:30, Sat-Sun at 4, 7:30, Tues-Thurs at 7:30.
* Hell in the Pacific
Two of the toughest mofos in the history of cinema (Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune) stand in for their respective nations in this highly allegorical, deeply pretentious, and wonderfully entertaining WWII parable by John Boorman. (SEAN NELSON) Grand Illusion, Sat-Sun at 5:30, 9, Tues-Thurs at 9.
* Mickey One
See review this issue. JBL Theatre, Wed at 9 pm.
The Round Up!
See review this issue. Little Theatre, Thurs-Sun at 7, 9.
* Sixteen Candles
"Take those ridiculous things off!" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
* The Terror
A young Jack Nicholson and an old Boris Karloff star in this faux-Poe horror schlocker shot in two days on leftover sets by the great Roger Corman. (SEAN NELSON) Rendezvous, Thurs at 7:30.
The Violent Years
An Ed Wood-penned girl gang debacle, featuring the requisite light-footed treatment of incendiary sexual innuendo and violence (apparently extending to a gender-bending rape scene) kitsch-aficionados know and love. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
Wizard of Floyd
Never again. Please god, never again. Sunset, Mon at 8 pm.
The Woman in the Moon
Fritz Lang's adequate final silent film, a visionary work that strikes an uncanny image of the future of space travel. The Paramount, Mon at 7 pm.
We spend the first half of 25th Hour trying to figure out who turned in heroin dealer Ed Norton. Is it his girlfriend? One of his two best friends? Could it be his father? Then all of a sudden we're not in that movie at all. The mystery is solved summarily, and we're left with nearly another hour to go and not a single three-dimensional character to fill it with. All in all, 25th Hour is no train wreck; it's more like the collapse of a rickety little scooter. (BARLEY BLAIR)
* 8 Mile
Directed by Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys), the movie tells the story of Jimmy Smith Jr. (Eminem), a working-class kid who begrudgingly crashes with his jobless, trailer-dwelling mom (Kim Basinger), a woman who lives off bingo and bad men, while his predominantly black posse supports him through the underground battle halls of Detroit. 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. For a change.
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)
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)
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)
Catch Me If You Can
Long stretches of Catch Me If You Can are filmed so lazily, in a manner so devoid of energy, that the entire enterprise falters, producing more of a shrug than general excitement. Add to that a script that stumbles between oversentimentality and near-cartoonishness, and the end result is a thrilling, near-unbelievable story rendered dull and even more unbelievable. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Basically, the last hour of Chicago is a mess. In addition to not trusting his material, director Rob Marshall doesn't appear to trust either of the two movie-musical solutions he picks. Nevertheless, I recommend Chicago. If you didn't get to see the Broadway revival, you should catch it. You'll have to endure Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, of course, but it's a small price to pay to watch the Fosse-inspired choreography and Catherine Zeta-Jones' star-turn as Velma Kelly. (DAN SAVAGE)
City of God
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Grand Alderwood, Metro, Woodinville 12, Factoria, Meridian 16.
Apparently the motion picture industry hasn't done enough to sully the name of every supernatural symbol of childhood fascination, as this time they've decided to drive a stake into the heart of even the most minor of icons--the Tooth Fairy.
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. 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)
* 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)
* Gangs of New York
Combining real history, richly imagined historiography, and classical melodrama, 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. Day-Lewis gives the kind of performance that makes you feel proud to be a member of the human race. (SEAN NELSON)
A Guy Thing
It's official: Guys ARE the new girls. And as if there was any doubt, It's a Guy Thing is the final proof. Jason Lee is at his best when he's angry, ranting, and spouting philosophical bullshit, not when he's a spineless, henpecked, about to be married guy who gets the thrill of his life by (via his involvement with Julia Stiles) discovering that pressing the accelerator just before reaching the top of a hilly street causes the car to leap into the air a foot or two. Whee. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
Harry Potter and 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 Hours
I was prepared to hate this movie. Script by David Hare, whose previous work I regard as self-absorbed Brit-babble, from a novel I haven't read by Michael Cunningham that won a Pulitzer, kiss of death, about a writer whose life is a lightning rod for stupidity about mental illness and feminism, and whose work has never meant much to me. Direction by Stephen Daldry, whose Billy Elliot was terrific in part because it was so self-confidently slight, here with a cast of thousands, every single one of them a Major Dramatic Star. And the nose! Nicole Kidman plays Virginia Woolf in a large, deforming nasal prosthesis; I had seen it in the previews and shuddered. Altogether, I hoped the movie was a shapeless pasticcio that would let me make cruel fun. I was so wrong. This is a really good movie. (BARLEY BLAIR)
* Jackass: The Movie
Jackass is a perfect film. (SEAN NELSON)
Ashton Kutcher is SO FUCKING SEXY. (DAN SAVAGE)
Digital kangaroo + Vern from Stand By Me + African American sidekick + bag of dough = number-one movie in America. God bless. (SEAN NELSON)
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. (SEAN NELSON)
Worst film ever? It sounds like hyperbole, until your entire weekend gets ruined by this Serpico-meets-Rush-meets-Prince of the City-meets every other Goddamned dirty cop who seems like everybody's pal but who is really the embodiment of all the inherent corruption of all cops everywhere. Ray Liotta plays that cliche, while the other cliche--the clean cop with a murky past and a loving wife and baby (and receding hairline--HA! HA!) is essayed by Jason Patric. The camera, meanwhile, shakes so much that you can only hope the cinematographer is laughing. (SEAN NELSON)
I can't be sure if the promotions department at Columbia Pictures has a really good sense of humor, but the sea of advertising for National Security (their recent film starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn) features rather prominently the image of a crazed Martin Lawrence stalking the streets of California wielding a handgun. ?!?! How quickly we forget, how quickly we forget.
Douglas McGrath's adaptation of Charles Dickens' 800-page novel is simply entertaining. This is the substance of the film: It has funny moments, dramatic moments, Victorian costumes, and convincing street scenes of bustling 19th-century London; the English is often proper and lyrical; there are jocular people, loathsome people, and loving people, and their world is filled to the brim with pleasant music. As I've never read the book (and don't intend to), I can't determine what was removed and what was preserved in this adaptation, or know how such changes affected the original content or purpose of the story. Nevertheless, at times the film does feel a bit rushed. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
One Hour Photo
Directed by Mark Romanek (who has made some amazing music videos), One Hour Photo is at best a mildly surprising thriller, and at worst a rather dull affair. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* The Pianist
Despite appearances to the contrary, this stunning film is not about the indomitable spirit of a survivor. It's about how low a human being can sink in order to live, and the depths of abasement a race is capable of withstanding in order to avoid extinction. For all the possible autobiography of the story, Polanski's latest masterpiece is most personal when it stares into the abyss of the Holocaust and finds nothing looking back. (SEAN NELSON)
A pet project of the uniquely polarizing Roberto Benigni.
Director Phillip Noyce makes all the right decisions in telling what could have been a big slab of moist, liberal liver and onions. Instead this story of the once official British-Australian policy of kidnapping and relocation of aboriginal half-breeds is a measured tale of a secret history, and of basic human desires asserting themselves in the most inspirational of ways. (SEAN NELSON)
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)
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.
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)
* 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)
Talk to Her
Talk to Her, Spain's camp bad boy Pedro Almodovar's latest film, contains no drugs or sex, and I didn't even notice until it was over. The movie unfolds with grace and still manages to shock while being funny, strange, morally complex, and moving. (NATE LIPPENS)
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. (JOSH FEIT)
Two Weeks Notice
Well, I didn't cry, but I'm still ashamed to admit that I actually liked Two Weeks Notice, mostly because there is no "rescuing" going on in the movie--just a rich guy and a dedicated lawyer trying like hell not to fall in love with each other. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
The Wild Thornberrys
Nickelodeon's marginally successful animated series: the movie!