See review, p. 99. Varsity, Fri-Sun 2, 4:30, 7:20, 9:45 pm, Mon-Thurs 7:20, 9:45 pm.
Age of Consent
A Michael Powell film introduced in person by Powell's wife (and accomplished film editor), Thelma Schoonmaker. 1969's Age of Consent is set in Australia and stars a lithe, young Helen Mirren alongside her paramour (James Mason), an aging painter from New York. Museum of History and Industry, Wed Feb 14 at 7:30 pm.
Bring Your Own Projector
See Stranger Suggests, p. 45. A special edition of the monthly free-for-all, featuring your exercise videos (VHS or DVD). Alibi Room, Mon Feb 12 at 8 pm.
Conan the Barbarian
The Gubernator stars in this 1982 revenge epic. Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.
Crossing Borders: Northwest Folklife Documentary Film Festival
A brand-new special-interest festival to get you revved up for the big one just down the road. Border crossings is the theme, and subjects include a Jewish exile from Cuba (Adio Kerida); drug trafficking in Sinaloa, Mexico, and L.A. (Al Otro Lado); bereaved Israeli and Palestinian parents who long for peace (Another Side of Peace); call centers and hard partying in Mumbai (Bombay Calling); mammary glands in the United States (Busting Out, by local filmmakers Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith); illegal immigration in the Southwest (Crossing Arizona); a classic 1976 film about borderland protest music (Chulas Fronteras); gay marriage, marijuana, and backlash in Canada (Escape to Canada); a Western wife in an Islamic marriage in Qatar (Linda & Ali: Two Worlds Within Four Walls); native fiddling and dancing on the U.S./Canada border (Medicine Fiddle); the Latino influx in a small Tennessee town (Morristown); the impact of emigration on Oaxaca (Sueños Binacionales); plus a shorts program (Talespinners Series). All films screen at Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center, see Movie Times, p. 105, for schedule. (Continues through Feb 18, see www.seattlefilm.org for details.)
Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee's 1989 film about race and heat and Bed-Stuy. Central Cinema, Thurs Feb 15 at 6:45, 9:30 pm. (Late show 21+, continues through Feb 18.)
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
The scariest thing about Enron's fraudulent business plan was this: The corrupt mastermind, CEO Jeff Skilling, was likely on to the future model of the American economy. With the collapse of traditional industry, it's possible that 21st-century American companies—like Enron in the late 20th century—will be trading purely in abstractions, dealing in virtual commodities and virtual profits. Enron got caught first. And this accessible, damning documentary shows us the corporate doublespeak in action. (JOSH FEIT) One Earth One Design, Thurs Feb 8 at 7 pm.
Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus
See review, p. 99. Pacific Science Center IMAX, Thurs-Mon 7 pm.
Gone to Earth
A Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger film introduced by Powell's wife, Thelma Schoonmaker. Gone to Earth, a lighthearted romp through a simple-minded, adulterous England of yore, stars Jennifer Jones as a major hottie. Museum of History and Industry, Tues Feb 13 at 7:30 pm.
Granito de Arena (Grain of Sand)
A film about Mexican public schools by the director of the WTO doc This Is What Democracy Looks Like. Keystone Church, Fri Feb 9 at 7 pm. Director Jill Friedberg in attendance.
Great Speeches from a Dying World
Linas Phillips (director of the great first-person doc Walking to Werner) presents a work-in-progress screening of his new film on the occasion of his birthday. For Great Speeches from a Dying World, Phillips asked homeless Seattleites to read speeches by Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, John Donne, and more. Homelessploitation or eye-opening recontextualization? You decide. Northwest Film Forum, Fri Feb 9 at 7 pm.
The Guatemalan Handshake
See review, p. 99. Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7, 9 pm. A veritable parade of talent accompanies screenings: Director Todd Rohal and producer Megan Griffiths will attend every screening; musician/composer David Wingo performs live after the Fri and Sun 9 pm shows; Kimya Dawson performs live after the Sat 9 pm show; a new short by David Gordon Green (George Washington, Snow Angels), entitled Will You Lather Up My Rough House? screens Mon before 7 and 9 pm shows (recommended!); The Aluminum Fowl, by the cinematographer for Gummo, screens before Tues screenings; there's a surprise short film before Wed screenings; and Todd Jones's celebrated short Knuckehead Jones precedes Thurs shows.
The Holy Mountain
Alejandro Jodorowsky's prototypical midnight movie is a follow-up to El Topo, and concerns a pilgrimage made by a Christ-like thief and his spiritual guide to the Holy Mountain. Grand Illusion, Fri 6:30, 8:45, 11 pm, Sat 4, 6:45, 8:45, 11 pm, Sun 4, 6:45, 8:45 pm, Mon-Thurs 6:45, 8:45 pm.
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth is workmanlike and clumsy at times—but it's also hugely invigorating. Tracking Al Gore's global-warming lecture as he schleps his Apple laptop across the country and to China, it's a collection of scientific facts and correlations made urgent through human drama and low-tech slide-show magic. It should be required viewing for every American citizen. And if it kicks up a storm of speculation regarding Al Gore's political prospects in 2008? So much the better. (ANNIE WAGNER) Highline Community College, Building 7, Fri Feb 9 at noon and 7 pm. (Free!)
Inherit the Wind
Leading up to Charles Darwin's birthday on February 12, Central Cinema presents a run of Inherit the Wind, in which the ignoramuses crush the good guys but there is much rousing oratory. Central Cinema, Thurs-Sun 6:45, 9:30 pm. (Late shows 21+.)
Iraq in Fragments
The Stranger gave local filmmaker James Longley the 2006 Genius Award largely on the merits of this truly astonishing film (which has now been nominated for an Academy Award). Longley's digital video (blown up into creamy 35 mm) makes the colors pop; and it's hard to count the ways Iraq in Fragments departs from the standard photojournalistic techniques for documenting a war. There are its highly psychological portraits of children, who have nothing to do with the politics of the region and little interest in the religious and ethnic divisions that are pulling the country apart. The process of shooting is hands-off, in the cinéma vérité tradition; but during editing, the footage turns in on itself, burrowing into the minds of its characters through asynchronous voiceover, provided by the subjects themselves. At the same time, the footage of blood-spattered Shiite religious observance and a vigilante attack on alcohol vendors in Nasiriyah is the stuff of traditional, daredevil war correspondence. Iraq in Fragments bears more relation to the close-range reporting of Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Shadid (whom Longley met while they were both in Iraq) than it does to any of the other documentaries about the war. (ANNIE WAGNER) Varsity, Fri-Sun 2:10, 4:40, 7:10, 9:30 pm, Mon-Thurs 7:10, 9:30 pm. Longley in attendance Fri eve, producer John Sinno in attendance Sat-Sun 7:10, 9:30 pm.
Keeping Score: Film Music Panel Discussion and Saloon
A series on film music (including screenings, beginning later this week, of films scored by undisputed greats Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, and Michel Legrand) kicks off with a discussion and social event. Panelists include Steve Fisk (Shards, Kurt Cobain: About a Son), Stephen Cavit (Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl), and David Wingo (All the Real Girls). Northwest Film Forum, Thurs Feb 8 at 8 pm.
The Lives of Others
A SIFF benefit screening, with director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in attendance. The Lives of Others, a fantastic drama about politically motivated surveillance by the Stasi secret police in the German Democratic Republic, is a contender for the foreign language Oscar (though Pan's Labyrinth has the edge). The Lives of Others opens in Seattle Feb 16. Harvard Exit, Sun Feb 11 at 7 pm. $10 for the film, $20 if you want to get there at 5:30 pm, eat hors d'oeurves, and schmooze. See www.seattlefilm.org for tickets.
On Dangerous Ground
Nicholas Ray's 1952 noir thriller is part of NWFF's Keeping Score Series; it represents the lesser-known work of famed composer Bernard Herrmann. Northwest Film Forum, Wed-Thurs 9:30 pm.
A documentary featurette about Rosa, a 9-year-old Nicaraguan girl whose name became news when she was raped and impregnated in Costa Rica. The antiabortion establishment, including both countries and the Catholic Church, tries to force Rosita to continue the pregnancy; meanwhile, her parents fight for a legally permissible "therapeutic abortion." Central Cinema, Sun Feb 11 at 4 pm.
The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe stars in Billy Wilder's 1955 sex farce about coveting your blond bombshell neighbor. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Feb 8 at 7:30 pm.
Standing on My Sisters' Shoulders
A documentary about Mississippi women in the civil rights movement. New Freeway Hall, Thurs Feb 15 at 7:30 pm.
SAAM's Satyajit Ray series continues with this 1961 diptych about a poor girl who thrives under a visiting mentor and a rowdy tomboy who rebuffs attempts to tame her. Seattle Asian Art Museum, Sun Feb 11 at 1:30 pm.
Utamaro and His Five Women
NWFF's Mizoguchi series continues with this 1946 film—the first Mizoguchi completed during the American occupation—about an 18th century printmaker (often thought to stand in for Mizoguchi himself) who recruits his models from the brothels. Northwest Film Forum, Mon-Tues 7, 9 pm.
Hitchcock's brilliant film about fear of heights and obsessive love screens as part of NWFF's Keeping Score series: the first in a pair of films scored by Bernard Herrmann. This is the acknowledged classic; Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground, playing later the same nights, is the less-famous precursor. Northwest Film Forum, Wed-Thurs 6:30 pm.
A monthly social/showcase hosted by trippy image-mixer VJ scobot. 911 Media Arts, Thurs Feb 15 at 7:30 pm.
Witness for the Prosecution
SAM@MOHAI's Billy Wilder series continues with this courtroom drama starring a monocled Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Feb 15 at 7:30 pm.
Catch and Release
I like my rom-coms to clock in around 72 minutes; Catch and Release is just shy of two hours, and is the most mixed of bags. There are no funny parts, which is an unexpected relief from Hollywood's usual misfired madcappery. It's also boring. Timothy Olyphant is magnetic. Juliette Lewis is hysterical. Everyone is constantly wearing the worst outfit ever, which is pretty much exactly like real life, so nice work there. But it's also dedicated to the notions that men don't know how to use kitchen appliances, and girls can't throw overhand, so fuck that. (LINDY WEST)
God Grew Tired of Us
Bankrolled by National Geographic and people like Brad Pitt, God Grew Tired of Us is irrepressibly hopeful. For every startling fact (the young men are required to repay the U.S. government for their initial airfare—remind anyone of indentured servitude?), there's a tearful reunion with a long-lost mother or a funny scene where a boy eats a pat of butter whole. To put it cynically: This optimistic approach is probably effective at loosening your pockets. But if the earlier documentaries are any indication, the stories recounted in God Grew Tired of Us are not necessarily representative of the 4,000 teenagers and young men who walked out of a brutal civil war and into minimum-wage jobs in isolated American suburbs. (ANNIE WAGNER)
The Hitcher is the most 1996 movie I've seen since 1997. It's spring break. Two nubile youngsters, Grace (Sophia Bush) and Jim (Zachary Knighton), speed across New Mexico, determined to join the stomach-pumpin', groin-waxin', date-rapin' hordes at Lake Havasu. The fun stops when Jim foolishly picks up a hitchhiker (Sean Bean, Boromiriffic!) at a rainy redneck mini-mart. No attempt is made to explain why the Hitcher does what he does—not so much as an "escaped convict" or a "brain eaten by spiders"—or how the human body (spoiler alert!), when pulled apart like taffy, could fatally split right through the torso (wouldn't the wrists be more plausible?). The Hitcher is Scream without the wit; it's I Know What You Did Last Summer without the Ryan Phillippe. (LINDY WEST)
David Lynch has finally and irrevocably wagon-trained deep into Lynchistan without a map, and I don't think we can expect to see him return to civilization any time soon. Inland Empire—named after the California region not because it's set there, but because Lynch simply liked the sound of it—recalls Bergman's Persona and Fellini's Juliet of the Spirits in its allusive structure and suggestions of a fracturing female psyche. But there's no trace of homage, or even traditional psychology. Laura Dern plays, in the film's clearest thread, a Hollywood-mansion-inhabiting actress with a homicidally jealous husband (Peter J. Lucas) and a new job: a role in a Southern melodrama that roughly parallels the romantic triangle that eventually forms with her costar (Justin Theroux). But Lynch twists the diegesis like a mile of taffy, until there's no there there, just dreams within dreams within movies within nightmares. (MICHAEL ATKINSON)
The Italian is a 6-year-old Russian boy, Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov), who lives in an orphanage and is tough, smart, and cute. His cuteness wins him the opportunity of a lifetime: An Italian couple falls in love with his looks and decides to adopt him. Now, those who are familiar with the short works of Isaac Babel will recall "The Sunshine of Italy," and recognize a corresponding theme between that old literary work and this new movie—Russia is cold, icy, and hopeless; Italy is hot, rich, and bright with hope. The boy is exposed to the sun of hope, but is this hope meaningful? Is it not an illusion? And what about mother Russia? While waiting for his adoption papers to go through, the boy deals with the dilemma. His decision, however, turns out to be a disappointing one, and so the film as a whole turns out to be a disappointment. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple
In emotional interviews, former adherents who escaped the infamous suicide/massacre at Jonestown, in which 909 people lost their lives, emphasize the novelty of a white pastor leading an essentially African-American church service. They describe their pride in a leader who practiced the anti-racism he preached, and the comfort they took in the extensive social services provided by the Peoples Temple. This documentary makes it easy to understand how Jones's revolutionary fervor might have looked reckless but noble in the '50s, attracted adherents in the cultural upheaval of the '60s, and derailed as Jones's barbiturate-aided paranoia slammed against the panic and decline of the '70s. Kool-Aid turns out to be an ideal delivery system for a cultural history of the United States. (ANNIE WAGNER)
For devotees of gonad cinema, there may not be a better time to be had at the movies right now than the first 20-ish minutes of Seraphim Falls, in which Pierce Brosnan's outlaw mountain man evades capture from a bounty-hunting posse led by Liam Neeson at his prickliest. Brutal, gritty, and virtually silent, this opening is the sort of thing that you can imagine Jack London and Chuck Bronson tearfully tipping a 40 to in the afterlife. The rest of the film can't match that initial frostbitten rush, opting instead for an increasingly strained faux-mysticism and some tired old saws about the duality between hunter and hunted. (They're similar, apparently.) Still, the considerable charisma of its leads—particularly Brosnan, who proves that his post-Bond charm surge in The Matador wasn't a fluke—and some inspired secondary casting choices make for a fairly compelling ride. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
The premise—mob boss puts out a million-dollar bounty on a turncoat Vegas magician (Jeremy Piven, who plays this kind of asshole maybe a bit too well), inspiring an army of killers, feds, and assorted lowlifes to declare war on his Tahoe hideout—is an absolute corker, yet the sum feels significantly less than its parts. Director Joe Carnahan may have set out to make the defining statement on the genre, but his film comes off as more like a tribute to the all-star disposable antics of The Cannonball Run. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Stomp the Yard
Stomp the Yard's previews will try to convince you that this movie is a dramatic portrayal of a heartbroken-on-the-inside-but-still-tough-as-fuck kid from the hood who's fighting one of life's ultimate battles (the death of a younger brother) while also trying to regain a sense of self after watching (and feeling responsible for) the death of said brother. But don't fall for that shit—Stomp the Yard is about motherfuckin' dancing. Not only is there a bitchin' soundtrack with the Roots, Public Enemy, and Ghostface Killah, but these Atlanta step crews with arms the size of my head have got some of the coolest fuckin' moves this side of Footloose. (MEGAN SELING)
Venus, the latest film by the estimable team of director Roger Michell and scripter Hanif Kureishi, seems to have several agendas on its plate, among them a continuation of the duo's superb earlier May-December saga The Mother; a bemused reflection on the performing life; and a much-needed corrective to those horribly twinkly movies about lovably eccentric senior citizens that seem to belch forth from the UK on a monthly basis. Mostly, though, it's about building a shrine to the greatness of Peter O'Toole, assembling a loose, shambling framework for the icon to caper, rage, charm, and otherwise do whatever pops into his head at the moment. This is hardly a bad thing. (ANDREW WRIGHT)