OPENING

MY SON THE FANATIC--Broadway Market

SUMMER OF SAM--City Center, Factoria, Metro,

Redmond Town Center


REPERTORY & REVIVAL

BREATHLESS--Little Theater

LATE-NIGHT SEX & RELIGION--Grand Illusion

LINDA'S SUMMER MOVIES--Linda's Tavern

THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE--Varsity

MILLENNIAL DOUBLE FEATURE--Grand Illusion

PLANET STIFF--Showbox

PRESTON STURGES FILM SERIES--Seattle Art

Museum

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--Paramount Theater

SIX IN PARIS--Little Theater


COMING SOON

July 9--American Pie, Arlington Road, Defying

Gravity, Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl

July 16--Eyes Wide Shut, After Life, Blair Witch

Project, Lake Placid, The Wood, The Hole


MOVIES & EVENTS

ALASKA: SPIRIT OF THE WILD--More of a nature documentary than a ghost story. Omnidome

AMAZON--Follow an ethnobotanist through the lush rainforests of the Andes and along the rough- and-tumble Amazon River! Learn about exotic animals, medicinal plants, and Indian shamanism! Amazon's IMAX quality and the Omnidome screen vs. a back issue of National Geographic... you decide. Omnidome

AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME--I have to admit, this movie cracked me up. A big, sloppy comedy chock full of nonsense jokes, sexual innuendo, and scatological humor, The Spy Who Shagged Me was obviously edited to keep in the favorite bits of Mike Myers and director Jay Roach. The story? Dr. Evil and his feral, midget clone, "Mini-Me," go back in time to steal Austin's libidinous power source, his mojo. A mojo-less Austin also goes back in time, where he meets American CIA agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham, in a performance more sexy than inspired). Meanwhile, Scott Evil continues to search for approval from a father who doesn't believe he's evil enough. Plot is not the point, however--surreal comedy is. Biggest surprise: Rob Lowe, as the young Number Two, does a great Robert Wagner impersonation. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

BIG DADDY--Adam Sandler adopts a kid, in an attempt to move from adolescent humor to post-adolescent humor. Reviewed this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

THE BOOK OF LIFE--For the smart, indie, art film lover/hipster in all of us: Hal Hartley's The Book of Life features sexy-scary PJ Harvey (who also provides music for the soundtrack), Martin Donovan, and a Mac Powerbook (as "the Book of Life") in an "experimentally created digital video" film about Jesus, the Devil, a potential apocalypse, and double-clicking on a laptop. Thurs July 1 at 5:30, 7:15, 9. Grand Illusion

*BREATHLESS--If you've already seen your share of Scorsese's graphic mobster movies, check out the new 35mm print of Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless (1959), a tribute to the American gangster flick, in which a small-time French gangster (Jean Paul Belmondo in his debut role) falls in love with an American journalist. Until Sat July 3 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. Little Theater

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB--While scoring Wim Wenders' 1997 film The End of Violence, Ry Cooder gave him a copy of a tape he made with the Cuban "super-group," the Buena Vista Social Club. Wenders was instantly won over. When Cooder returned to produce another album, Wenders came with him, and brought a film crew along for the ride. With no script to follow, the story unfolds naturally. The camera leisurely cruises the streets of Havana, picking up bits and pieces. Compay Segundo, the 92-year-old patriarch of the group, strolls the streets pleasantly chatting with passers-by. The other distinguished members are equally charming. A story develops that mirrors the let's-put-on-a-show scenario of the Mickey Rooney/ Judy Garland films, with a triumphant climax at Carnegie Hall. Winner of this year's Golden Space Needle for Best Documentary. (Gillian G. Gaar) Broadway Market

COOKIE'S FORTUNE--Robert Altman has taken a slight but enjoyable story and applied his familiar techniques of oblique angles, ragged narration, and busy ensemble casts. A suicide is covered up, and a man is imprisoned because of it. Other stories play out about the small town of Holly Springs. Plot, however, is not the main concern of the film. If you want them, there are plenty of rueful themes flamesoating around the movie: idealized, hypocritical notions of the past and of honor, and the way family secrets hurt the person keeping them even more than the person who ferrets them out. (Bruce Reid) Crest

*ELECTION--A brilliant dark comedy about an unctuous overachiever's campaign for student council president, and the high school teacher determined to foil her. Election's style serves to plunge us completely into its characters' tiny, highly charged world, rendering pathetic human pettiness on a nearly operatic scale. Director/co-writer Alexander Payne has infused his miniature world with enormous creativity and meticulous attention to detail: every character is unnervingly humane, the supporting cast is uniformly perfect, and you've never seen a contemporary high school so uncannily rendered. As the charmingly atrocious Tracy Flick, Reese Witherspoon gives an indelible performance; finally she has a role to compete with her star-making turn in the little-seen Freeway. And Matthew Broderick lays the ghost of Ferris Bueller to rest once and for all with his lovely portrayal of Tracy's beleaguered, would-be nemesis. (David Schmader) Uptown

THE ERUPTION OF MOUNT ST. HELENS--The mountain blew up in 1980, and has been blowing up on film ever since. Omnidome

EVEREST--The first IMAX footage ever shot on top of the world. Pacific Science Center

FIELD OF DREAMS--Fremont's second al fresco cinema series takes place in the Adobe parking lot, underneath the Aurora Bridge. All films will be presented with digital projection and sound. Field of Dreams--an early Kevin Costner Sports Movie--will be this week's inspiring, incredulous feature. Fri July 2 at 7, $5. Fremont Friday Outdoors

THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER--Simon "Con Air" West's new "thriller" pretends to be about the importance of women to the armed forces. It features the graphic rape of a female captain, a brutal, fetishistic murder, and the idea that anything outside the missionary position can only be the result of emotional scarring. John Travolta spends his time questioning the kind of suspects who spill the beans after five minutes of scrutiny, and Madeleine Stowe is around to assure us that Travolta is heterosexual. James Woods, one of the only signs of life in this mire, plays a homosexual colonel, which is supposedly a surprise, but we quickly discern that he's a homosexual because he's slightly oily, enjoys classical music, and knows how to prepare a casserole. Travolta proves once again that he can carry a film, but why he's chosen to cart this offensive stinker around is the film's most compelling mystery. (Steve Wiecking) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Southcenter

GET REAL--When two boys playfully wrestle in a gay film, you know it's not long before they both realize there's something else they'd rather be doing. In Get Real, warmly directed by Simon Shore, a heartfelt geek (Ben Silverstone) pursues the gorgeous class jock (Brad Gorton) and gains his self-respect. As a queer coming of age movie, this sweet British import doesn't really offer much of anything new, aside from fine acting (and respect for teenage girls, though they inevitably get lost in the dust). The film lacks momentum, and its stage origins are evident: Every conversation is layered and thoughtful to a fault; scenes lack the spontaneity of film dialogue, and suffer from a stillness that doesn't seem cinematic. Somehow, though, the same considerations that weigh everything down also contribute to a welcome gentleness. Unlike the trumpetings of its American counterparts, Get Real is smartly tender in conveying the idea that everybody is worthy of being loved. By the end, the film wins you over with that painful, universal longing that lies just beneath the surface of every slow dance. (Steve Wiecking) Broadway Market

AN IDEAL HUSBAND--Just what we needed, another British period piece dealing with class issues. Yawn. Sir Robert Chiltern (Jeremy Northam) is an upstanding politician being blackmailed by Mrs. Cheveley (Julianne Moore). Meanwhile, a comedy of matchmaking is going on between secondary characters played by Minnie Driver and Rupert Everett. Everyone in the movie seems like they're play-acting at being high society folks. I'm sure that's fun for them, but it's no fun to watch. Poor Minnie Driver seems like she doesn't belong in a period piece--like she's trying to break out from the stiffness of the role--which makes for an unnatural performance. On the other hand, Julianne Moore is once again the best thing about an otherwise mediocre but well-meaning film. Maybe the second half of An Ideal Husband turned into an action-adventure yarn, but I didn't stick around to find out. (Andy Spletzer) Grand Alderwood, Harvard Exit, Seven Gables

INSTINCT--A celebrated anthropologist (Sir Anthony Hopkins) studying a family of gorillas in a remote jungle in Rwanda decides to abandon civilization and enter the world of the apes: following them, eating with them, sitting in the heat and rain, absorbing their mysterious ways and grunts. All of this comes to a sudden end when, in defense of his adopted family, he brutally murders two park rangers and is returned to civilization (Miami, to be exact) to pay his debt to society. In Miami, he refuses to talk with anyone. It's up to a brilliant young psychologist (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) to restore not only his voice but his humanity. Despite the evident chemistry between Gooding and Hopkins, the film feels unreal, not because of the incredible premise (in fact, I accepted the whole idea of a man joining a family of apes), but because of the absence of a realistic race context within the structure of the plot; as with Gooding's lack of reaction to the irony of a white man telling him, a black man, that he is too civilized to understand Africa. Strange. (Charles Mudede) Pacific Place 11

INTO THE DEEP--An IMAX film in 3-D, putting you right into the aquarium. Pacific Science Center

JET LI DOUBLE FEATURE--Jet Li (Black Mask) stars in two action-packed Hong Kong adventure movies that are bursting with hit men, mystical powers, suspense, and ass-kickings. Hitman plays at 7:00; Dr. Wai and "The Scripture With No Words" plays at 5:10, 9:15. Wed-Thurs July 7-8. Varsity

LATE-NIGHT 2000 MOVIES--This mini-marathon of "futuristic" cinema shows us different possible scenarios from the year 2000, as envisioned by filmmakers from the past. The Electric House (1922), Psycho-Phonic Nurse (1953), Wierd World of Robots (1958), and Television Madness (1937) will be shown. Fri-Sat July 2-3 at 11:45. Grand Illusion

LATE-NIGHT SEX & RELIGION--Dennis Nyback's final night of the summer, showing off his wonderful collection of short, weird films. Thurs July 1 at 11. Call 523-3935 for more details. Grand Illusion

LIMBO--John Sayles has always been concerned primarily with the depiction of place in his films. In the best instances, his films seem to grow directly from the soil in which they take place, novelistic and natural, like a very old tree. Limbo, by comparison, seems transplanted and sickly, like an idea cast upon a barren field that has failed to take root. Sayles' place here is the last physical and emotional outpost of the American spirit: Alaska. Luminous cinematography by Haskell Wexler renders the land as a gilded promise, with golden light glancing in at acute angles, but the characterizations and heavy-handed plot fail to live up to this promise. This is the blunt and obvious Alaska of losers, dreamers, and schemers, peppered with a few de-facto modern appliances, like ex-Seattle lesbians and California tourism tycoons. The plot, which concerns ill-fated lovers on a ham-fisted backwoods adventure poorly extrapolated from Jack London's wastebasket, feels overworked and plodding. Moreover, this film is just too goddamn written: every word seems delivered in the death-throes of acting, like salmon at the end of their run. (Jamie Hook) Guild 45th, Pacific Place 11

LINDA'S SUMMER MOVIES--The perfect summer evening activity: beer and a silly movie. Linda's Tavern will be hosting (FREE) back patio screenings every Wednesday night, featuring titles that are retro, campy, or just plain bizarre--with a few cult classics thrown in for good measure. Fire Ball 500 (1967), the exhaustively chipper race car/bikini movie starring Frankie 'n' Annette, will be shown this week. Wed July 7 at dusk, FREE. Linda's Tavern

LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS--Set in the East End of London, it's a fast, frantic, and frequently flamesippant ride through the social strata of gangland as four wide boys send one of their number, cardsharp Eddie (heartthrob Nick Moran), to take on local crime boss Hatchet Harry (P. H. Moriarty) at poker. They soon find themselves in debt, and Harry puts his debt collector Big Chris (soccer hardman Vinnie Jones) on their tails. It's a tidy movie--all the dead bodies are shot and accounted for--and it's also got a wicked, very English sense of humor. (Everett True) Crest

THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE--Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) directs this rumination of innocence and sex which will frustrate some and linger with others. Until Tues July 6 at (Sat-Mon 2:20), 4:40, 7, 9:20. Reviewed this issue. Varsity

THE MATRIX--Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has been searching for the One, a cyber-Christ who will destroy the Matrix and wake people out of their preprogrammed idea of life. He thinks he has found Him in Neo (Keanu Reeves). With the knowledge that the Matrix is a computer-created dream, Morpheus and his rebels (with equally stupid names: Trinity, Cypher, Switch, Apoc, etc.) can run and jump and fight with superhuman power, but are hunted down by super-agents who want to cleanse the system. Sure, the character names are stupid, the barroom metaphysics ("Hey, what if life is just a dream?") are simplistic, and the cyber-Christ story is predictable, but the action scenes--even the ones that use that 180 degree near-freeze frame--make this otherwise boring movie worth seeing. From the directors of Bound. (Andy Spletzer) Uptown, Varsity

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM--Director and adapter Michael Hoffman has an intensely melancholy take on the material; his idea of whimsy is to have Puck take a piss against a cave like some mythical barfly. The rest of the great cast deliver uneven results. Following Hoffman's lead, Kevin Kline is too somber as Bottom. Michelle Pfeiffer's Titania is fine, if a bit too grand. Calista Flockhart as Helena is, surprisingly, the only actor who consistently manages to hit the right tone (despite some McBeal-type pouts); she's as airy and just as sweetly heartstricken as the rest of this well-intended but plodding film should be. (Steve Wiecking) Pacific Place 11

MILLENNIAL DOUBLE FEATURE--Alain Berliner's The Wall and Ildiko Enyedi's Tamas and Juli will show together in one program. Both films have seemingly vastly different themes and locations--one in Brussels, one in Hungary, one about love, one about politics--but they both share the same time: December 31, 1999. The characters in both films seem to be on the cusp of something huge as the next century dawns. Fri-Sat July 2-3 at (Sat 12, 2), 4:30, 7, 9:30; NO SHOW Sun July 4; Mon-Thurs July 5-8 at 4:30, 7, 9:30. Grand Illusion

THE MUMMY--Neither a horror film nor action epic, The Mummy is actually a flat-out comedy. This latest retread of a horror icon throws itself into its period (the '30s) with gusto, derring-do, screwball comedy, and wisecracking sexual flirtation among the leads, and even cheerful sexism and racism. Except for the special effects, this movie may as well have come out in 1935. The very things that make The Mummy initially entertaining, however, begin to grate as the movie goes on. When Imhotep the mummy finally appears, he starts as a dull computer-generated corpse and becomes the even duller Arnold Vosloo. Despite the lack of a good villain, or even a good heroine, The Mummy remains a perfect matinee. Directed by Stephen Sommers, creator of the vastly underrated Deep Rising. (Bruce Reid) Uptown

*MY SON THE FANATIC--Perhaps the biggest surprise is that, as the title suggests, the main character in the movie is the dad, not the son. This is not an exploration of the culture clash between father and son as much as a portrait of a man who's taken his life for granted, never realizing how far he's been drifting from his wife and son. Parvez (Om Puri) is a mild-mannered Pakistani taxi driver who's lived in England for 25 years. His main clients are the town's prostitutes and the travelers who use them. He has a particular fondness for Bettina (Hilary and Jackie's Rachel Griffiths), and as the movie begins he recommends her to a new visiting client (Stellan Skarsgård). Meanwhile, his wife rightfully feels neglected by him, and his son rejects his godless hedonism by converting to Islam, which gives us the title. Of course, "work" and family life come into conflict, and the movie turns out to be one of the most interesting character studies since Affliction. (Andy Spletzer) Broadway Market

NEVER BEEN KISSED--The basic premise is this: Drew is 25, she's never been kissed (yeah, right), and she works at the Chicago Sun-Times. She needs a break, so she's sent as an undercover reporter to her old high school where... no, you must have peeked! She gets kissed! (Everett True) Admiral

NOTTING HILL--Chemistry this film has in spades: Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant can't appear onscreen together without firing off sparks of mutual attraction, despite the rumors of onset coldness to the contrary. What fails entirely here is any convincing reason for them to team up in the first place. He's a shy, burned-in-the-past seller of travel books; she's a universally acclaimed and desired actress. One brave scene even has him asking what on earth she sees in him, and her confessing utter confusion. I was confused the entire time on this score. As too often happens in modern day romantic comedies, the men have been thought out to the last detail, but on the female side motivations are left hanging. Add in two or three too many sentimental music-video interludes, and a propensity of obvious jokes, and the film ends up a disappointing mess, despite some sharply observed moments (especially about the movie business itself) and the aforementioned appeal of the stars. (Bruce Reid) Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*PLANET STIFF--The third annual multi-media extravaganza Planet STIFF promises to thrill and impress audiences with short films and live performances. Local production companies (WigglyWorld, Flava Fest, and 3 Dollar Bill, among others) will provide the screenings, while video technicians and installation artists, dancers, spoken word artists, and local bands will provide the live entertainment. Fri July 2 at 8. Showbox

PRESTON STURGES FILM SERIES--SAM's six-week tribute to comic filmmaker Preston Sturges focuses on his satirical style, featuring a handful of '40s films that commented wryly on and poked fun at American ethics, wholesome values, and treasured institutions. The quirky series begins this week with the consumer-crazy Christmas in July (1940), starring Dick Powell and Alexander Carr. Thurs July 8 at 7:30. Series tickets $30. Call 625-8900 for more details. Seattle Art Museum

THE RED VIOLIN--For their follow-up to the marvelous Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, director François Girard and his co-writer Don McKellar have fashioned another loosely structured ode to music, this time following a legendary violin as it passes through various (well, three or four) owners before it winds up in auction. Unfortunately, the stories shown (a miraculous prodigy, a fiery virtuoso's love woes, and a crackdown on western music during China's cultural revolution) aren't particularly interesting, and if you know any violin lore already you'll wish they'd included variations on some of the instrument's wilder histories. The same willingness to accept less than admirable behavior from their protagonists that distinguished Glenn Gould pops up here (especially in Samuel L. Jackson's arrogant violin expert), and John Corigliano has contributed a wonderful score, but the movie's so unromantic and prosaic, you'd think it was about a coronet. (Bruce Reid) Guild 45th, Pacific Place 11

*RUN LOLA RUN--A young Berlin hipster named Lola has 20 minutes to find enough money to stop her boyfriend from being killed. As a friend once wrote, "This could only be a movie." Here, that's exactly the point. The young German filmmaker Tom Tykwer is so keenly aware that this is a movie, he tells the story three times, each with different but equally incredible twists, surprises, tangents, and endings--which is exactly what makes this movie fun to watch: It's a celebration of the "grand illusion" that is cinema. The playful and frivolous approach dilutes any serious content, which is fine when fluff can be this fun. (Charles Mudede) Harvard Exit

SANTA CLAUSE CONQUERS THE MARTIANS--Uncle Blammo the Clown will provide live entertainment and amusement, while a G-rated movie lineup (Little Red Riding Hood and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, with Pia Zadora) will be sure to bring out the (latent) kid in everyone. Sat July 3 at 7, $5. Fremont Outdoor Cinema

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE--Certainly the idea is appealing: one of history's immortals, shown in his still-struggling youth, with eye-catching period details and a cast uniformly professional enough to carry it off with whimsy. But the film strains too much to flatter and please the audience, setting up predictable conflicts and getting out of them through the easiest ways possible. It's clever in a very simple way, content to show its hero as a great-man-in-waiting and its heroine as so improbably perfect she could only be a muse. (Bruce Reid) Admiral, Crest

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--The Seattle Landmark Association's "Silent Movie Mondays" returns this summer with a collection of comedies, mysteries, and adventures. Enjoy classic silent films, live organ accompaniment, and the gilded elegance of the Paramount. Roland West's The Bat (1926)--the original inspiration for the modern Batman character--will be this week's feature. A good dose of crime, action, and sinister drama--the old- fashioned way. Mon July 5 at 7, $10. Paramount Theatre

SIX IN PARIS--Half a dozen French film directors, each known for his unique style, contribute to producer Barbet Shroeder's collection of short films. Mostly shot with a hand-held 16 mm camera, each short (shot in various neighborhoods and cityscapes) captures the essence of Paris before the '68 riots, which changed the city forever. Thurs-Sun July 8-11 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. Little Theater

SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, UNCUT--There was more sex than violence--though the violence was shocking when it happened--and the characters used "the F-word" like it was going out of style, but the movie was smart and stylish and well worth seeing. I am, of course, talking about Summer of Sam. I couldn't get into the first preview screening of South Park, and the second was up against Spike Lee's new film. Even though we already had a review of Summer of Sam in the paper, I did want to see it more than South Park, so I did. I'm sure I'll catch up to South Park in the next week or two (friends who saw it tell me it was funny), but until then, allow me to recommend Spike Lee's new joint, Summer of Sam. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Varsity

STAR WARS: EPISODE I--What does it matter what we say? You'll see it anyway. The threadbare plot involves a trade dispute between the emperor-controlled "alliance" and the peaceful, enlightened Naboo people. The Jedi appear to negotiate a settlement, but alas, it won't be. And so the "drama" begins: the race to flee the planet; the crash-landing on Tattooine; the mystery-boy who joins the mission; the simmering Oedipal set-up as the Boy leaves his Mother and discovers, in her stead, Natalie Portman; and the inevitable 11th-hour solution to all problems. Lucas' obsessions with technology, with money, with salability and easy-access, too often overwhelm his abilities as a director. It is as if Lucas himself has been seduced by the Dark Side of CGI effects. Indeed, the young Darth Vader is merely a surrogate for Lucas the Director: a natural with great promise somehow given to the evil, inorganic pleasures of power and money for their sake alone. (Jamie Hook) Cinerama, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Neptune, Northgate

SUMMER OF SAM--Spike Lee observes a marriage in trouble, in the hot 1977 summer when a killer was loose on the streets of New York. Reviewed this issue. City Center, Factoria, Metro, Redmond Town Center

TARZAN--Oddly enough, there's never been a cartoon feature film about the Lord of the Apes. Leave it to Disney to fill the gap. Initially, the film has an awkward start. Young Tarzan's friends are the usual too-cutesy comic sidekicks, and the father/son conflict is a bit too obvious--and trite. The adult Tarzan is another matter entirely. Tarzan's flights through the trees are an astonishing display of state-of-the-art animation; he doesn't so much swing through as surf the forest. When other humans enter the story, there's further emotional depth, and rather than bogging the whole thing down with numerous musical numbers, the characters hardly sing at all. The songs are largely performed by an off-screen narrator, Phil Collins. (Gillian G. Gaar) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

TEA WITH MUSSOLINI--Franco Zeffirelli's autobiographical film, set in Florence on the brink of WWII, is about a little Italian boy who was born out of wedlock. A bastard. His father doesn't want him, so he ends up adopted by his father's English secretary, who shares babysitting duties with her female friends, also English. The ladies don't want to leave Florence, even after the war breaks out, thinking Mussolini won't want to hurt them. Turns out (surprise, surprise) that Mussolini doesn't care about them. Zeffirelli has never been a subtle filmmaker, but here he is so enthusiastic about stereotypes and manipulating emotions that the film eventually becomes tiresome. Tea with Mussolini sentimentalizes the war years in much the same way as Life Is Beautiful did, never really acknowledging the atrocities of that--or any--war. As the wealthy American debutante, Cher sings one song. (Andy Spletzer) Pacific Place 11

THE WILD WILD WEST--I don't know how or why they went with the big mechanical spider as the hook to sell this movie to the masses, because that is the least interesting part of it. Set just after the Civil War, Will Smith is James West, a U.S. Army Captain who shoots first and shoots later, and Kevin Kline is Artemis Gordon, a U.S. Marshall who's an inventor and a master of disguise. President Grant, on his way to Utah to plant the final spike in the transatlantic railroad, teams them up to stop a massive threat facing the reunited United States. The threat comes from Dr. Loveless (an entertainingly hammy Kenneth Branagh), the mad inventor who's bitter that the South gave up so easily in the war. The best thing about this movie is that it deals with the racism of 1868 society in an interesting way: It exists all over the place, but Smith always stands up to it. Once the giant spider is introduced the movie goes downhill a little, but it's too late to spoil the goodwill the first half has built up. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

Support The Stranger