OPENING

AMERICAN PIE--Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis

& Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

ARLINGTON ROAD--Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond

Town Center

THE FIRST NIGHT OF MY LIFE--Grand Illusion

XIU XIU: THE SENT DOWN GIRL--Broadway Market


REPERTORY & REVIVAL

CHILDREN'S FILM SERIES--Grand Illusion

DEFYING GRAVITY--Varsity Calendar

I CAN'T SLEEP--Little Theater

IMPRESSIONIST FRIDAYS--Seattle Art Museum

JET LI FESTIVAL--Varsity Calendar

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES--Grand Illusion

LINDA'S SUMMER MOVIES--Linda's Tavern

OPEN SCREENING--911 Media Arts

PRESTON STURGES MINI-FEST--Seattle Art

Museum

THE SEATTLE RAINIERS: A DOCUMENTARY--

The Museum of History and Industry

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--Paramount Theater

SIX IN PARIS--Little Theater

TAYLOR'S CAMPAIGN--911 Media Arts

THE WALL/TAMAS AND JULI--Grand Illusion

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY--

Little Theater


COMING SOON

July 16--Eyes Wide Shut, After Life, Blair Witch Project, Lake Placid, The Wood, The Hole

July 23--Inspector Gadget, My Life So Far, The Haunting, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Autumn Tale


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

AMERICAN PIE--The movie for everybody who's feeling nostalgic for Porky's. Reviewed this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

ARLINGTON ROAD--Arlington Road imagines a new horror--that of the amoral, indistinguishably suburban menace to American civilization--in a fierce, winner-take-all game of intelligence between an academic (Jeff Bridges, who is passionate and super-paranoid) and an architect (Tim Robbins, who is Satan with a smile). It all begins when the paranoiac suspects that his neighbor in a bland suburb with green lawns and soccer moms happens to be Satan. The paranoiac also suspects that Satan has an elaborate plan to blow up a government building. And guess what? He's right. But nobody believes him (indeed the very condition and definition of being paranoid). Visually, the film is at times stunning and on the "cutting edge" (especially the opening of the movie); but dramatically, the leads are severely mismatched: One can appreciate Tim Robbins as morally bankrupt nice guy, but no one will ever believe that he is Satan. (Charles Mudede) Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

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 plays Sonny Koufax, a smart guy with a dumb life, who finds himself very attached to the five-year-old son of his roomate Kevin (Jon Stewart), who doesn't believe the kid is his. When Kevin goes on an extended business trip to China, Sonny basically adopts the kid, while everybody around him thinks he should give him up to a foster family. After many pee jokes, puke gags, and the ever-popular "bachelor using the kid to pick up women" ploy, the movie rolls to its predictable ending. While no one expects Big Daddy to be anything remotely resembling Citizen Kane, the film feels like about two minutes of preparation went into it. Of course, no matter what flaws the movie may have, I still love Adam Sandler. (Kathleen Wilson) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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

*CHILDREN'S FILM SERIES--The Grand Illusion's Children's Summer Film Series continues with four familiar classics from Dr. Seuss: The Lorax, Dr. Seuss on the Loose, Green Eggs and Ham, and Hooberbloob. Thurs July 8 at 11 am, 1; Sun July 11 at 1, 3. Next up, children's books like Velveteen Rabbit and Curious George that were made into movies. Tues, Thurs July 13, 15 at 11 am, 1. Grand Illusion

DEFYING GRAVITY--In his 1997 film Defying Gravity, director John Keitel makes a cinematic connection that is often only hinted or snickered at--homosexuality in the collegiate frat house--when Griff and Pete come out and fall in love. Sigh. Fri-Tues July 9-13 at (Sat-Sun 1, 3), 5, 7, 9. Reviewed this issue. Varsity Calendar

*ELECTION--A brilliant dark comedy about an unctuous overachiever's campaign for student council president, and the high school teacher determined to foil her. 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

THE FIRST NIGHT OF MY LIFE--The Grand Illusion's "2000 Seen By" screenings continue apace with this entry from Spanish director Miguel Albaladejo. On New Year's Eve, 1999, a cast of characters--a young social worker and his pregnant wife (which explains the title), her hard-nosed businessman father, a pair of car thieves, some cops, two gas station employees, a trio of traveling Germans, and a guy dressed up as a rabbit--wander around the suburbs of Madrid looking for parties, all getting lost to one degree or another by the winding, unfinished roads. I'm not saying that the turn of the millennium can't be treated as an excuse for a light comedy, but too many of these characters' chance meetings strain credulity, and the whimsy is laid on way too thick. Even at a hair over 70 minutes, this feels like a nice, small idea that's been padded well past the bursting point. Fri-Thurs July 9-15 at (Sat 1:45, 3:30), 5:30, 7:15, 9. (Bruce Reid) Grand Illusion

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

I CAN'T SLEEP--French director Claire Denis (Nenette et Boni, Chocolat) strings together summertime tales about an unemployed Lithuanian actress, a moody drag queen, and a serial killer in I Can't Sleep (1995). Thurs-Sun July 15-18 at 5, 7:15, 9:30. Little Theater

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

IMPRESSIONIST FRIDAYS--SAM's new European Impressionists exhibit has spawned a three-week film series, celebrating the colorful, spontaneous, and affectionately messy images of Impressionist art. The first film, Vincente Minnelli's Lust for Life (1956, in 35mm CinemaScope), chronicles the passionate and troubled times of Vincent van Gogh (Kirk Douglas)--making sure to include the good (paintings) and the bad (women, friends, everyday emotions). With Anthony Quinn as Paul Gaugin. Fri July 9 at 7:30, $6. Series pass available; call 654-3121 for more details. Seattle Art Museum

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

JET LI FESTIVAL--Hong Kong kung-fu action flicks starring Chinese martial arts master (and heir to the Bruce Lee throne) Jet Li, who plays everything from folk heroes to modern gangsters. First, Hitman and Dr. Wai and "The Scripture with No Words" on Thurs July 8; then a Chinese "Robin Hood" in The Last Hero in China and a drink-addled warrior in the gender-bending costume fantasy Swordsman II Wed-Thurs July 14-15. Varsity Calendar

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES--Much more hysterical than its American cousin The Birdcage, La Cage follows the desperate attempt of a gay couple to pass themselves off as husband and wife. Fri-Sat July 9-10 at 11. Grand Illusion

LIMBO--John Sayles has always been concerned primarily with the depiction of place in his films. 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. The story of ill-fated lovers on a ham-fisted backwoods adventure seems poorly extrapolated from Jack London's wastebasket, not to mention overworked and plodding. Moreover, this film is just too damn 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. Reefer Madness, a 1936 FBI-financed "public awareness" film about the evils of marijuana, will be shown for laughs this week, as well as the 1967 "educational film" Mary Jane, with Sonny Bono (of all people) warning teens about the dangers of pot. Wed July 14 at dusk, FREE. Linda's Tavern

*THE LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE--The latest by Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) is one of the few films to capture the feel of a dream, and does so without relying on devices such as blurry vision and weird music. the movie operates with a dream logic of its own, as its protagonist, Nic (Julian Sands), looks back on different episodes of his life, each of which relates to the titular theme (also underscored by scenes of the archegtypal tale of loss: Adam and Eve). (Gillian G. Gaar) 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

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. Despite the lack of a good villain, or even a good heroine, The Mummy remains a perfect matinee. (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

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) Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

OPEN SCREENING--Aspiring film and videomakers show their stuff (VHS tapes, no longer than 10 minutes) and receive feedback from their peers in an "open mic" environment. Mon July 12 at 8, $1; entries are accepted between 7:30 and 8. 911 Media Arts

PRESTON STURGES MINI-FEST--SAM's six-week tribute to comic filmmaker Preston Sturges kicks off on July 8 with Christmas in July, starring Dick Powell and Alexander Carr. The quirky series continues on the 15th with The Lady Eve, featuring Barbara Stanwyck as a con artist who has set her sights on wealthy heir Henry Fonda. 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

THE SEATTLE RAINIERS: A DOCUMENTARY--Local company Perpetual Motion Pictures presents The Seattle Rainiers, a documentary about our local baseball history, namely the fabled Rainiers, and baseball fans over the years. Sat-Sun July 10- 11 at 2, 4. Call 324-1126 for more info. Museum of History and Industry

SHILOH 2--Roger Ebert put the first Shiloh in his "Underappreciated Films" Film Festival, and now the sequel has come out. This movie also got "two thumbs up" on his TV review show. Uptown

THE SHINING--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. This Friday, prepare to be thoroughly freaked out by The Shining a nightmare-inducing horror flick starring Jack Nicholson. Fri July 9 at dusk, $5. Fremont Friday Outdoors

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--The Seattle Landmark Association's "Silent Movie Mondays" features a collection of comedies, mysteries, and adventures. Enjoy classic silent films, live organ accompaniment, and the gilded elegance of the Paramount. Douglas Fairbanks' swashbuckling, full-length, Technicolor Black Pirate (1926) is this week's feature. Mon July 12 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 city-scapes) 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. Reviewed this issue. Little Theater

SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, UNCUT--When four sweet little tykes sneak into an R-rated movie, they are so enthralled by the dirty language that they can't or won't stop repeating it, even in front of shocked school authorities or parents. This eventually leads to a war with Canada. A brilliant premise, for sure, which allows South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to vent against the MPAA in their continued struggles against the NC-17 rating, while managing a deft end-run around critics who might complain about the cartoon's effect on children. But the same frat-boy short attention span that allows for some genuinely outrageous belly laughs also gets the better of them, and their few good ideas get buried amid much silliness and nasty sideswipes--not to mention too many dumb songs (though the absurd, jaunty, "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" seems tailor-made for a long shelf life on Dr. Demento). And where's Jesus, that short-tempered, underachieving deity who's one of the TV show's brightest spots? (Bruce Reid) 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's latest is not at all about a mad killer who terrorizes New York City in the summer of 1977. Instead, it is about a marriage that collapses during that very turbulent New York summer. In a climate of fear and paranoia, a husband named Vinny (John Leguizamo) sleeps around. He does things with other women that he could never do with his wife, Donna (Mira Sorvino), whom he treats as angelic, virgin-like, a mother worthy of only missionary sex in the dark. Needless to say, their marriage disintigrates. Meanwhile, Vinny's buddy Richie (Adrian Brody) has returned to the neighborhood, and he's also got urges of his own that he's busy not dealing with or talking about--namely, dancing in a male strip club. Spike Lee's art is most interesting when dealing with sex rather than race, which is why Summer of Sam is right up there with Girl 6 as one of his best. (Charles Mudede) City Center, Metro, Redmond Town Center

SUNSET BOULEVARD--Like the cute l'il Energizer Bunny, the Fremont Outdoor Film Festival plows ahead. This week: Sunset Boulevard, with Gloria Swanson in all her theatrical glory (and ready for her close up), accompanied by a performance of "La Diva Illusionary Cabaret," a live drag queen revue. Sat July 10 at 7, $5. Fremont Outdoor Cinema

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

TAYLOR'S CAMPAIGN--Richard Cohen's documentary about accidental advocate Ron Taylor, a homeless ex-trucker who runs for a seat on the Santa Monica City Council after "city lawn proposals" threaten the existence of the city's "cardboard box community." Narrated by Martin Sheen. This is a benefit screening for Real Change, Puget Sound's homeless newspaper. Fri July 9 at 8, $4. 911 Media Arts

THE WALL/TAMAS AND JULI--Part of the "2000 Seen By" series funded by the French, these are two short films made about the millennium, one by the guy who made Ma Vie en Rose and the other by the maker of My 20th Century. Thurs July 8 at 4:30, 7, 9:30. Grand Illusion

THE WILD WILD WEST--Funny, but the same thing everybody seems bored or offended by is the same thing I liked about this movie: Namely, the way they deal with 1868 racism by way of 1999. Racism exists everywhere in the film, but the black cowboy James West (Will Smith) always stands up to it. Set just after the Civil War, President Grant is teaming up the action-packed West with inventor Artemis Gordon (Kevin Kline) to stop the mad inventor Dr. Loveless (an entertainingly hammy Kenneth Branagh). You see, Loveless is bitter that the South gave up so easily in the war, and he wants to disintigrate the "United" States. Once his giant mechanical spider is introduced the movie goes downhill, but it's too late to spoil the goodwill the first half has built up. This movie is not even close to as bad as everybody says it is, so if you go in with lowered expectations, you may just enjoy yourself. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

*WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY-- It's your standard story: Boy meets Chocolate Baron, Boy offends Chocolate Baron, Boy inherits Chocolate Factory. The Little Theatre's "Children's Day Out" feature is the classic Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. All this and Ommpah-Loompahs too! Sat-Sun July 10-11 at 1, 3:15. Little Theater

*XIU XIU: THE SENT DOWN GIRL--Set during the last days of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Xiu Xiu is about an intelligent, 16-year-old city girl who is banished to a rural outpost in order to learn the ways of simple folk. Her teacher is a rough, tough, and impotent herdsman (as legend has it, he lost his manhood to an enemy's sharp knife). Xiu Xiu (played superbly by newcomer Lu Lu) so badly wants to return to civilization that she begins to sleep with whoever promises that they can organize her return. It soon becomes clear to her and the impotent herdsman (who falls in love with her, but can do nothing to ease her suffering and growing humiliation), that she is stuck in this bleak world forever. This movie is exceptional, with a sense of beauty matched only by the immortal poems written by the exiled poets of the Tang Dynasty. Director Joan Chen (famous for her roles in Twin Peaks and The Last Emperor) has not one single sentimental bone for the ways of country folk, which helps make this one of the most lyrical and melancholy films to come out of China. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

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