Judith Helfand got cancer and she's making sure that everyone knows it. When her parents installed blue vinyl siding on their house, Helfand assumed that it was toxic and cancer-causing, then went on a three-year tour of PVC production plants to prove that... hey, it really is. Blue Vinyl documents her travels from Long Island to Louisiana to Venice to San Francisco, as she pesters corporate CEOS and interviews PVC workers who developed angiosarcoma from exposure. Helfand can get a little self-indulgent at times, given the topic, but she's a pretty good filmmaker, and as long as she's not talking about herself, Blue Vinyl makes for an engaging and edifying production. (MEG VAN HUYGEN) Ballard Community Center, Thurs at 7, 9 pm.
* Brother Outsider
See Stranger Suggests. Seattle Asian Art Museum, Sat at 12:45 pm.
By Hook or By Crook
Little Theatre's The New Gay series continues with the Seattle premiere of the DV butch road movie By Hook or By Crook, screening alongside Todd Downing's latest short Estranged, starring New York drag artist Flloyd. Little Theatre, Fri-Sun at 7, 9 pm.
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, Tues at 7:30 pm.
"OOOOOOH! NAVY SEALS!" JBL Theater, Mon at 8, 10 pm.
Dennis Nyback Silent Film Festival
See Blow Up. Swansea Expresso, daily at 8 pm.
Evil Alien Conquerors
See Blow Up. Seattle Art Museum, Tues at 7:30 pm.
" I hate Ralph Garci! I must remember this feeling and use it in my acting!" Sunset, Mon at 8 pm.
See Stranger Suggests. Grand Illusion, Fri at 5, 7, 9 pm; Sat-Sun at 3, 5, 7, 9 pm; Tues-Thurs at 7, 9 pm.
See Blow Up. Seattle Art Museum, Fri at 7 pm.
Lock Up Your Sons and Daughters
Currator Bill Taylor understands the perversity of the homosexual agenda, and for one night only, shares a wealth of celluloid proof with 40 years of films addressing this growing problem. Little Theatre, Thurs at 8 pm.
After six years of success in the Bay Area as the Camera Cinema Club, this film preview series returns as SNEAK in Seattle. For more information check out the website www.sneakfilms.com. Pacific Place, Sun at 10 pm.
Twisted Flicks: Westworld
Michael Crichton's tech paranoia debacle of the '70s gets the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment from Jet City Improv. Historic University Theater, Thurs-Sat at 8 pm.
Scripted and produced by the great Hark Tsui, and directed by fairly unknown (at least to me) Wellson Chin, Vampire Hunters is a horror/kung-fu movie set in 17th-century China. I have no idea what the movie is about, which is not surprising, as Tsui's films (from Chinese Ghost Story to his baroque action film Time and Tide) rarely make any sense to me. They move too fast for me to connect parts. But comprehension is not needed to enjoy Tsui's films--they simply entertain the eye with movement and mood. This is my impression of Vampire Hunters: There are some hideous-looking vampires who can fly across the air, and they don't actually bite their victims (as is common with Western vampires), but vacuum the life out of their faces. There is also a very skilled and heartless kung-fu master who, with a swift kick, can turn an ordinary chair into a cannon ball. There's lots of flying commodities, broken furniture, and clashing swords. However, there are not enough fights on moonlit roofs, which is always the best thing about kung-fu films. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
2 Fast 2 Furious
John Singleton directs 2 Fast 2 Furious on autopilot. Maybe he's just auditioning to make videos for the musicians he cast (Tyrese, Ludacris). Gone is the sense that anyone here has an offscreen life, that anything you see could actually happen, that anything surprising or interesting will take place in the computer-generated plot. I guess we're supposed to root for Paul Walker, but only because he was the star of the last movie. Everything is surface and nothing has substance. Hell, most hiphop videos have better plots and stronger female characters than this movie, which makes for one boring road trip. (ANDY SPLETZER)
* 28 Days Later
Opening. See review this issue. Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
Alex and Emma
Throughout the screening of Alex and Emma, I repeatedly pulled on the small hairs of my companion's leg. He later reported this more pleasant than the movie. (EMILY HALL)
It's unofficially recommended that one wear a helmet when viewing the Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson comedy Anger Management, so as not to cause damage to the right frontal lobe due to repeated self-administered head slapping. However, the movie is so bad you'll want to die before it's over. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
Bend It Like Beckham
Essentially a traditional coming-of-age story, though with a spicy ethnic twist: A hot Anglo-Indian teenage girl in outer London pursues her dream of professional soccer stardom against the wishes of her traditional Sikh parents--immigrants who, still steeped in Indian culture, are only concerned with her educational and marriage prospects, and consequently just don't get it. Stuff happens and challenges are overcome, and Mummy and Papa come around in the end, as we know they will, but the predictable conventionality of the plot structure is expertly obscured by the pleasures of the journey. It is all charming fluff and captivating if improbable lightness, of course, but for a feel-good comedy, there is no higher praise. (SANDEEP KAUSHIK)
Just when you thought there was nothing worse than an earnest Jim Carrey comedy, it hits you like a sack of shit in the kisser--there is something worse, and that's an earnest Jim Carrey comedy that casts the overacting, overarching comedian as God. If I wanted religion and the importance of prayer shoved down my throat like a giant morality tampon sucking up every last bit of patience until I'm suffocating on it, I'd be on my knees in a pew already. But there's no reason for me--or anyone else--to sit through crap with lines like, "Miracles are single mothers of two who take their kids to soccer practice." Are you fucking kidding me? (JENNIFER MAERZ)
* Capturing the Friedmans
To watch the Friedman family fall apart after the father and youngest brother are accused of molesting kids in the family basement is like watching a Greek tragedy unfold, five people inexorably pulled down by their flaws, by personality, fate, and human failing--the angry elder brother, the bitter mother, the passive, tired father. This doesn't mean that Capturing the Friedmans is simple; you'll spend hours afterward arguing what really happened, and who behaved, in the end, the worst. Those arguments might surprise you. (EMILY HALL)
Charlies' Angels: Full Throttle
Opening. Word is, even Crispin Glover got collagen injections for this one. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12
Basically, the last hour of Chicago is a mess. Nevertheless, I recommend 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)
Daddy Day Care
Is Eddie Murphy just too busy counting his money to read scripts? Or perhaps they're all just printed on hundred dollar bills. The once-great man hits us with yet another piece of middling excrement in the form of a Mr. Mom knock-off.
Down With Love
With its retro setting and references, Down with Love not only manages to pay direct tribute to the kind of sex comedy Doris Day and Rock Hudson made memorable with Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, but proves to be the most satisfying romantic comedy I've seen in--well, decades. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
Dumb and Dumberer
This movie is stupid. You'd only expect as much considering this film is about how Dumb and Dumber stars Harry and Lloyd came to be best friends during their high-school years. Its saving grace is that it's the kind of stupid that the majority of Americans like--every joke is about farting, poo, special education students, and short buses. And if not that, it's making some sort of sexual innuendo that would make any 15-year-old boy piss his pants with laughter. And if that's not enough to get you to crack a smile (you know, because maybe your over the age of 17), you get to hear Bob Saget yell "shit" over and over again. Who's not gonna laugh at that? (MEGAN SELING)
Fresh from SIFF, this Thai/Hong Kong horror flick centers around a young woman who, blind since she was wee, regains her sight thanks to a cornea operation. Things ain't all good, however, as a mysterious, gloomy figure keeps catching her peripheral vision. Scary crap ensues.
* Finding Nemo
A ridiculously gorgeous film, Finding Nemo proves yet again Pixar's current chokehold on big-screen animation. From the facial expressions of the fish and background shots of gently swaying sea grass, to expansive harbor shots of Sydney and the continual mist of plankton wisping by, every frame has been so detailed and obsessed over that the film stuns. Add in Pixar's gift for scripting, a gift that always makes their films tolerable for adults, and the end product is a flower of a movie, exceedingly well imagined, that is more than worth the multiplex gouging. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
From Justin to Kelly
This is where we make the joke about the clap.
The Hard Word
Opening. See review this issue. Metro
Based on the popular children's book by Louis Sachar, Holes is a family drama (starring Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette, and Jon Voight) about kids in the chain gang.
Gawdawful. Seriously. Watching Hollywood Homicide, two questions flared up: 1) What has happened to Indiana Jones? and 2) Why have so many critics--Roger Ebert and Slate's David Edelstein, among them--found this insipid, unfunny, clumsily constructed "buddy cop movie" worthwhile? (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* The Hulk
Whether or not you buy the beast onscreen is dependent upon just how far you yourself are willing to leap--but the old tale has been given a modern overhaul by Ang Lee and writers James Schamus, John Turman, and Michael France for The Hulk. It may in fact be the most grown-up--and most emotionally fucked-up--comic-book movie ever assembled. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Albert Brooks slums along with Michael Douglas in this wickedly unnecessary remake of the classic 1979 Alan Arkin-Peter Falk kvetch-a-thon. The thing, however, is that I watched the original a week ago with an eye toward explaining why the remake is practically sacrilegious, and was dismayed to discover that it has aged about as well as mayonnaise on a countertop. Aside from Arkin's unstoppable brilliance and Falk's natural ease, there's little to recommend the film, which now feels slow, blocky, and obvious. (SEAN NELSON)
The Italian Job
Pompous jackass (Edward Norton) and inflection-handicapped pretty boy (Mark Wahlberg) team up in The Italian Job, a remake of the 1969 heist comedy starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward, and somehow, shockingly, the result is not completely fucked--a sturdy, if unsurprising, summer fluff piece. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* Jet Lag
Opening. See review this issue. Guild 45th
The question that is deftly asked by the film's rather sitcom-style (but also frequently charming) result is one of identity and youth--how hard do you hold on to either of them?--and proves that a sweet movie can also have little pockets of depth. (EMILY HALL)
The Legend of Suriyothai
Opening. See review this issue. Seven Gables
* Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
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. (SEAN NELSON)
Man On the Train
The French are a great people, with a great cinema; but when they stink, they really stink. This film is an utter waste of your time and mine. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
The Wachowski Brothers--two über-geeks, evidently, who surely concocted the entire Matrix universe whilst scheming in their parents' basement--have veered the series'/storyline sharply this time around, as what appeared to be true in the elder sibling is not necessarily true in the younger, but even if the story is still massively underwhelming (at least to me--the Matrix obsessives will undoubtedly wet themselves, and God bless them for it), the sheer audacity the Wachowskis bring to the screen for Reloaded can only be described as brilliant. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Matrix: Reloaded at IMAX
Okay, so an already bloated movie is about to gain mucho weight, which means über-geeks will get a chance to see Trinity's PVC-clad heart-shaped ass in three-story-tall glory. This is an enhancement, to be sure, but much like Attack of the Clones' stint at IMAX, The Matrix: Reloaded's transition from big screen to really fucking big screen seems completely unnecessary.
A Mighty Wind
As with Christopher Guests' other films, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show, the results of A Mighty Wind are alternately hilarious and flat. So much of what makes these movies enjoyable rests on the rhythm of the improv, which is why the increasingly rigid formula is both troublesome and necessary: It's the skeleton that allows these world-class performers to let loose (Fred Willard once again steals the show). The problem is that it's become so familiar that, taken together, the three films feel like one long, predictable sketch. (SEAN NELSON)
* Rabbit-Proof Fence
Director Phillip Noyce makes all the right decisions in telling what could have (justifiably) been a big slab of moist, liberal liver and onions; a tale of indomitable metaphor and sackcloth villainy. Instead it is a measured tale of a secret history, and of basic human desires asserting themselves in the most inspirational of ways. (SEAN NELSON)
An internally combusting family struggles to cope with its free-spirited mother (the frequently unclad Valeria Golino, who radiates an aura of irresistibly damaged goods) and her effect on their rumor-starved fishing village. A disarming combination of lower-class grit (the kids are unvarnished little bastards) and narcotic underwater lyricism, based on Sicilian myth. Warning: contains a potentially upsetting scene of off-screen mass Old Yeller carnage. (Andrew Wright)
Rugrats Go Wild
Why does it feel like they're not even trying anymore? Why do all American animated features have to be musicals? Why is this film's biggest selling point that it marks Bruce Willis' triumphant return to voice-over? Why indeed, my friend. Why indeed. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Opening. See review this issue. Varsity
The conflicts at play in Chen Kaige's Together are less overtly historical and political than his past films (The Emperor and the Assassin, Yellow Earth), but like his most well-known film in the U.S., Farewell My Concubine, Together puts a talented artist--here a violin prodigy rather than a Chinese opera star--at the center of a changing world. Instead of civil war or the Cultural Revolution, however, the battle this time is growing up in modern China. (SHANNON GEE)
* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. I like it because it captures traditional Maori ceremonies and songs on film while also showing that New Zealand is not just a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Shannon Gee)
The Winged Migration
Following geese, cranes, swans, puffins, penguins, pelicans, and gulls, the makers of the insect documentary Microcosmos spent four years capturing impossible images of birds, via a bevy of methods and a gaggle of cinematographers, for Winged Migration, a documentary that is as much about the wonders of flight as the migration of birds.
Deliverance, with breast implants.
* X2: X-Men United
The screenplay, by Michael Dougherty and Daniel Harris, is great; it would have been disastrous for the filmmakers not to rely on it. Forgoing excessive sweaty violence for richly imaginative narrative, X2's world is brought to life even more spectacularly than the first X-Men film, with very human elements of persecution, morality, and acceptance. (JULIANNE SHEPHERD)