OPENING

AFTER LIFE--Varsity Calendar

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT--Neptune, Pacific

Place, others

EYES WIDE SHUT--Guild 45th, Pacific Place,

Oak Tree, Mountlake 9, Alderwood

THE HOLE--Grand Illusion

LAKE PLACID--Alderwood, Pacific Place,

Redmond Town Center


REPERTORY & REVIVAL

CHILDREN'S FILM SERIES--Grand Illusion

I CAN'T SLEEP--Little Theater

IMPRESSIONIST FRIDAYS--Seattle Art Museum

JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY--Little Theatre

LINDA'S SUMMER MOVIES--Linda's Tavern

PRESTON STURGES MINI-FEST--Seattle Art

Museum

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--Paramount Theatre

STAR WARS GEEKS--911 Media Arts

SUPER 8 SUPER HEROES--Rendezvous

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY--

Little Theatre


COMING SOON

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

July 30--Runaway Bride, The Dinner Game, Mystery Men, Deep Blue Sea, The Third Man, La Marie du Port


MOVIES & EVENTS

AFTER LIFE--Hirokazu Kore-eda (Maborosi) examines the possibility of an in-between place between heaven and earth--the post-death, pre-afterlife waiting room where new arrivals on the cusp of eternity must somehow select one memory from their whole lives to take with them before passing on. Reviewed this issue. Varsity Calendar

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 story should be familiar to anyone who came of age in the '80s: Four high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity before they graduate. Jim (Jason Biggs) is a chronic masturbator who must suffer through embarrassing sex education lectures from his dad (Eugene Levy); Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has been dating Vicky (Tara Reid) for a while, but hasn't had sex with her yet; Oz (Chris Klein) is a lacrosse-playing jock who's told he needs to be more sensitive, so he joins the chorus; and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a sophisticate who's not above planting a little gossip in order to improve his chances with the ladies. Basically, it's Porky's, but updated to include a pro-female orgasm message. (Andy Spletzer) 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 roommate 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

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT--A trio of film students disappear into the woods. A duffel bag full of videotapes contains the only clue as to what might have happened to them. This is the indie film event of the summer. Reviewed this issue. Neptune, Pacific Place, others

BOY WHAT A GIRL--Or rather, "Boy is a girl." This week's late-night movie at the Grand Illusion is a mistaken-identity-and-gender comedy from the '40s, featuring an all-black cast. Fri-Sat July 16-17 at 11. Grand Illusion

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 "Children's Books on Film", including The Velveteen Rabbit and Curious George (Thurs July 15 at 11 am, 1; Sun July 18 at 1, 3). After that, the less cuddly '50s sci-fi flick The Day the Earth Stood Still (Tues, Thurs July 20, 22 at 11 am, 1). $3.50 kids/$5 grown-ups. Grand Illusion

*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

*EYES WIDE SHUT--Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman star in one of the most anticipated--rumored to be the sexiest--movies of the summer. Directed by the late Stanley Kubrick. Guild 45th, Pacific Place, Oak Tree, Mountlake 9, Alderwood

THE FIRST NIGHT OF MY LIFE--On New Year's Eve, 1999, a cast of characters wander around the suburbs of Madrid looking for parties. Too many of their chance meetings strain credulity, and the whimsy is laid on way too thick, so even at a hair over 70 minutes, this feels like a nice, small idea padded well past the bursting point. Thurs July 15 at 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

*GIRL'S NIGHT OUT--It's the Revenge of the Anti-Babes this week at Fremont Outdoor Cinema: Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion and Muriel's Wedding, two satisfying, giggly, girly-girl films--minus the requisite flawless beauty with the perfect life--will be featured along with a performance by Maxx Average Corporation. Sat July 17 at 7, $5. Fremont Outdoor Cinema

THE HOLE--Tsai Ming-liang's (Vive L'Amour) pre-millennial portrayal of Taiwan examines the odd possibilities and scenarios of cramped, urban living in a disintegrating building, with the occasional musical number. Reviewed this issue. Grand Illusion

*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 Theatre

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 mini film series celebrating the colorful, spontaneous, and affectionately messy images of Impressionist art.

This week, Jean Gabin stars in Jean Renoir's French Can-Can (1955), a tribute to the lavish Moulin Rouge and its legendary Can-Can dancer girls. Fri July 16 at 7:30, $6. Series pass available; call 654-3121 for more details. Seattle Art Museum

*INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE--For short films, sometimes the simplest idea works best, like watching a mechanical hampster tool around a kitchen in one of those hampster balls, or a point-of-view film about a dog who likes to grab a rubber steak and be swung around and around and around, or a story of a sock monkey's fall into depression, drugs, and porn. The return of Independent Exposure has all that and more, including a variety of animated pieces, from South Park-inspired crude simplicity to more complex experiments. Joel Bachar's monthly venue of short films and videos has been getting stronger and stronger over the years, and is recommended not only for those who enjoy making short narrative and experimental works, but even more for anyone who even thinks they might like to watch them. Thurs July 22 at 7:30, $4. (Andy Spletzer) Speakeasy

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

JEANNE AND THE PERFECT GUY--Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's Jeanne and the Perfect Guy is a French musical (!) about sex and true love, with Virginie Ledoyen as the lovelorn Jeanne. Thurs-Sun July 22-25 at 5:30, 7:30, (Sun 9:30). Little Theatre

LAKE PLACID--Giant crocodile terrorizes a town, causing Betty White to call people "Cocksuckers!" Reviewed this issue. Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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) Broadway Market

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. This week, for your tipsy pleasure, The Killer Bats, starring the one and only Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist. Wed July 21 at dusk, FREE. Linda's Tavern

THE MATRIX--Keanu Reeves plays a cyber-Christ who promises to deliver the entire human population from a blissful dream to a nightmare reality, but the story is less important than those fabulous fight scenes. (Andy Spletzer) Uptown

MUPPETS FROM SPACE--Gonzo feels the pangs of existential angst, and starts to believe he's from a race of aliens who are trying to contact him. Reviewed this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11

*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

PRESTON STURGES MINI-FEST--SAM's six-week tribute to comic filmmaker Preston Sturges continues with The Lady Eve, with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda (July 15 at 7:30) and Sullivan's Travels (July 22 at 7:30), with Joel McCrea as a movie director who masquerades as a bum for "research." Call 625-8900 for more details. Seattle Art Museum

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK--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. Catch Harrison Ford in his archaeologist phase this Friday, in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fri July 16 at dusk, $5. Fremont Friday Outdoors

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) Metro, Uptown

*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

SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS--Don't miss the last film of the Seattle Landmark Association's silent film series! Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1922), starring John Barrymore as the internally struggling doctor, will be shown in the opulent Paramount auditorium with live organ accompaniment. Mon July 19 at 7, $10. Paramount Theatre

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 is nothing compared to the hype and nostalgia of the George Lucas marketing machine. Darth Vader as a boy, young Obi-Wan, computer generated characters, whatever. You'll see it anyway. (Jamie Hook) Cinerama, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Northgate

STAR WARS GEEKS--Get over your embarrassment and get over to the Star Wars Geeks movie screenings. With titles like Hardware Wars, Odd Star Wars Couple, and The LotBot Files, fans are sure to bond and exchange notes during this gathering of devoted filmmakers. Come in costume and get in for free! Fri July 16 at 8, $5. 911 Media Arts

*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

SUPER 8 SUPER HEROES--Powerful Pussycat Productions presents--live and in Super 8--the Amazing Wonder Hero Super Double Power Hour! A heroes 'n' villains collection of short films will be shown along with live, crime-fighting entertainment (for those who are simply not satisfied by mere "screen action"). Musical performance by the Mighty Morphined Power Rangers. Sat July 17 at 8; $4 for those in hero costume, $6 for those who aren't. Call 324-6033 for more info. Rendezvous

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

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 disintegrate 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 being 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 17-18 at 1, 3:15. Little Theatre

THE WOOD--Another coming-of-age story, but this time it's three African American men reflecting on growing up together as one of them is about to get married. Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

*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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