The Vera Project presents a benefit screening of James Spooner's recently completed documentary focusing on the under-represented presence of African Americans in punk culture. Proceeds go to the family of Matt Davis, the late, great frontman of Ten Grand and the Vidablue, who is promenently featured in the film. Vera Project, Tues at 8 pm.
The Big Carnival
"I don't pray. Kneeling bags my nylons." Grand Illusion, Fri-Thurs at 8:30 pm.
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sat at 2:15, 4:30, 7, 9:30 pm, midnight, Sun at 2:15, 4:30, 7, 9:30 pm, Mon-Thurs at 7, 9:30 pm.
Humphrey Bogart plays a Dancing Bear in this thinly veiled adaptation of The Autobiography of P. T. Barnum. Ingrid Bergman co-stars as a trampoline. Columbia City Cinema, Fri at 7:30 pm.
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
"Look, there's two women fucking a polar bear!" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
This EXTREME! SPORTS! film might be fun if you ski--otherwise, it's probably just an endless loop of powder, poles, and dull music. The cinematography is usually exceptional, but unless you were born with that special gene that enables you to watch skiiers in slow-motion for over an hour without getting bored, you probably will. JBL Theater at EMP, Thurs Sept 18 at 7 and 9 pm.
Night of Short Films With Music
See Blow Up. Redezvous, Thurs Sept 18 at 6:15, 8:15 pm.
* One, Two, Three
"It's that damned German efficiency." Grand Illusion, Fri-Thurs at 6:15 pm, no shows Mon.
A Raisin In the Sun
The classic class struggle of Lorraine Hansberry's award-winning play takes to the silver screen in this groundbreaking 1961 production, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and young Louis Gossett Jr. Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 7:30 pm.
Seattle Neutrino Project
See Blow Up. 911 Media Arts Center, Fri at 9 pm, Sat at 7, 9 pm.
Sounds Of the Sound
See Blow Up. Rendezvous, Mon at 7 pm.
* They Live!
John Carpenter may be best known for Halloween, Escape From New York, and The Thing, but this 1988 flick is a messy classic in its own right. Starring "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as a construction worker who stumbles upon a nifty pair of sunglasses, and, via said sunglasses, a worldwide alien plot, it is a hilarious failure of a flick that includes one of the most wrong-headed fight scenes in cinema history. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
* The Trial
See Blow Up. Orson Welles' stunningly great adaptation of Kafka's stunningly great novel stars Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, and Welles himself. Rendezvous, Wed at 7:30 pm.
See Blow Up. Little Theatre, see Movie Times for details.
* 28 Days Later
How do you like your pop-apocalypse, sci-fi horror? If you like it loud, smart, and scary as all get out, you cannot miss this. This film kicks ass. (SHANNON GEE)
* American Splendor
As a comic-book movie, American Splendor is more like Crumb and Ghost World than like Spider Man or The Hulk. Along with a deadpan sense of humor, the focus is entirely on character and not at all on spectacle. There's also a tone found in underground comics that this movie perfectly captures. Smartly constructed and often surprising, American Splendor indulges in how artificial the filmmaking process is, and ends up with a heartfelt portrayal of a very real man. (ANDY SPLETZER)
If you're finishing a trilogy about boners, boning, blow jobs, motherfuckers, call girls, and gay dudes, who needs a plot? Just please promise this is the last one. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
Two words: Woody Allen. Three words: Unavailable at deadline. Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12
Bad Boys 2
Why use two rounds to disable an opponent when you can use 50? Why shoot that bad guy when you can blow him 30 feet into the air? This is Michael Bay 101, and if Bad Boys II proves anything, it's that Bay's attempt at cinematic respectability was soundly ended with the horrendous Pearl Harbor. Bad Boys II is classic, trashy, inexcusable Bay. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Bend It Like Beckham
Stuff happens and challenges are overcome, 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)
Bollywood / Hollywood
Those who found the massive crowds for My Big Fat Greek Wedding perplexing will undoubtedly be just as perplexed by Bollywood/Hollywood. Is the film bad? Yes--at least to me. Will it be a breakthrough success, residing at some theater here in town for months on end? Probably. Often grating, and only occasionally inspired, Bollywood/Hollywood attempts to celebrate India's cinematic brilliance. It fails, and you'd be better served by heading to Scarecrow and renting that brilliance for yourself. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* Cabin Fever
There is much that is right about Cabin Fever, director Eli Roth's attempt to revive the somewhat dormant gore genre. The film is suitably disgusting, suitably cheesy, and suitably stupid. The characters copulate and perish in a proper manner, and the entire endeavor is undertaken with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. But there is one thing that's not right about Cabin Fever, and that, to put it bluntly, is the finger-banging scene. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Cold Creek Manor
See review this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville 12
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.
Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star
If Saturday Night Live has taught us anything, it's that there's a fine line between "comedy" and "beating a dead horse into the ground, picking its pulp-like carcass back up, and finely filleting the remains." Wait, did I say fine line? I meant GAPING CANYON. Deeply grating SNL alum David Spade explores this expanse with his latest--a fairly self-explanatory one note, sustained for an hour and a half.
Dirty Pretty Things
I'm sad to announce that Dirty Pretty Things is a failure. True, it is a beautiful failure, as it is beautifully shot, with beautiful set designs, and beautiful actors (Amistad's Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays, with great success, a fallen but noble Nigerian doctor, and Amélie's Audrey Tautou, who plays with considerably less success a vulnerable Turkish immigrant); but in terms of its concept, plot, and general message, the movie falls apart shortly after it starts. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
The Fighting Temptations
See review this issue. Uptown
* Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo proves yet again Pixar's current chokehold on big-screen animation. The end product is a flower of a movie, exceedingly well imagined, that is more than worth the multiplex gouging. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Despite the generally amiable Jamie Lee Curtis and the overwhelming presence of feigned teen-rock-band sequences (the greatest joy that the pubescent live-action genre affords), the new Freaky Friday movie is not the old Freaky Friday movie. Absent: Jodie Foster, Barbara Harris, Boss Hogg, and (in the most unfortunate oversight) the earth-shattering car-chase/water-skiing/hang-gliding finale. Present: an univested Jamie Lee, obligatory modernizations, and (most inexplicably) something called "Asian voodoo." (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Freddy Vs. Jason
I understand that a couple of decades of speculation will let anybody down, but childhood fantasies notwithstanding, FvJ is more of a mess than you could possibly imagine. No, really. Granted, the Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th series' have long been entirely inexplicable (what with their innumerable ressurections, circular logics, and endless devices used to ensure mammarian explosion into the triple digits), but this time around one gets the feeling that director Ronny Yu left about six hours of boring ol' continuity on the cutting room floor. What for all purposes should have been merely a mediocre horror film instead shifts midstream to become a mediocre action film--leaving an even lamer shitbag of indecision. Let me save you the trouble: nobody dies... because they're ALREADY DEAD. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
* The Hulk
Ang Lee's screen version of Stan Lee's classic character is a failure, alas, but at least it's an interesting one. Much maligned, it is the most fucked-up blockbuster you'll see this year--or in any year, for that matter. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
* In This World
See review this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville 12.
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)
Jeepers Creepers 2
You'll never want to ride a school bus in a rural area again. This cheeseball horror flick is guaranteed to make you jump occasionally, but I can also guarantee that you'll laugh out loud (and disturb the other moviegoers) at the absurdity of the winged part man/part bat creature that terrorizes, chases, and tries to eat a football team and its cheerleaders. (AMY JENNIGES)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life
Originiality of plot line is hardly the reason to see this, of course. The reason is Angelina Jolie, in a parade of urban-guerrilla/rave-girl outfits. And she is rather magnificent, even when she's ridiculous. (EMILY HALL)
Le Divorce robs Merchant Ivory of their period trappings; it is set in the present day (based on Diane Johnson's novel), thus conjuring up nightmarish memories of the team's 1989 Slaves of New York. The effect is like granddad coming into the party to rap with the young folk: The tone, the timing, the touch is wrong. Kate Hudson and the vaguely haunting Naomi Watts (who may be as permanently shadowed by Mulholland Drive as Anthony Perkins was by Psycho) are sisters in Paris, but if this suggests the élan of expat adventure, forget it. They both act as though they've had the blood drained out of them; Ivory has the distinction of being the first director to dull Hudson's goldenrod glow. (CLAUDE ROC)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
A lame exercise in myth-historical revisionism in which the action is dull, the dialogue witless, the effects absurd (Mr. Hyde looks like the Hulk; Nemo's Nautilus looks like a binary code ejaculation), and the story about as lucid as Ronald Reagan. (SEAN NELSON)
* Lost In Translation
Lost in Translation is a tiny movie, as light as helium and draped upon the thinnest of plots. There is very little conflict, and even fewer twists and turns. It is as close to a miracle as you're likely to get this year. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Magdalene Sisters
Very heavy-handed and obvious, and perhaps too moralizing for a film about the dangers of moralizing. (EMILY HALL)
* Matchstick Men
Ridley Scott has never been known for a feather touch; when given the choice during his lengthy career between beauty of image and subtlety of character, image has almost always trounced. But surprisingly, subtlety is in abundance in his new picture Matchstick Men, and the result is his best film since Thelma & Louise. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Matrix: Reloaded
The Wachowski Brothers 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)
Sometimes movies that should go straight to video get a theatrical release. The Medallion is a perfect example, and not just because Julian Sands has a major role in it as the archvillain Snakehead. In it, an aging Jackie Chan plays a nice Hong Kong cop who is teamed up with a bumbling Irish Interpol agent (Lee Evans, trying desperately to capture the annoying charm of Rowan Atkinson). Basically, they're trying to foil Snakehead's plan to steal a pre-teen monk's medallion of immortality, but the nonsensical plot just gets in the way. The only reason to see this movie is for the action scenes directed by Sammo Hung, most of which use cartoonish wire work to add to the excitement. It's only too bad the plot keeps interrupting the fun. (ANDY SPLETZER)
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. (SEAN NELSON)
My Boss's Daughter
Much to my editor's shagrin, Ashton Kutcher spends another hour and a half desperately trying to fuck another trashy Hollywood blonde (in this case Tara Reid)--to little avail.
* Once Upon a Time In Mexico
Two things must immediately be said of Once Upon a Time in Mexico: Unlike Desperado, director Robert Rodriguez's 1995 big-budget introduction of Antonio Banderas as El Mariachi, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is not a love story; Salma Hayek's Carolina--who sometime between the end of Desperado and the new film became Mrs. El Mariachi, and the mother of a little girl--is dead. Hayek's screen time is less than five minutes, and most of that seems to be played by a stand-in. Forget about everything the El Mariachi "trilogy" has come to represent in the past, and see Once Upon a Time in Mexico for Johnny Depp. That is the only aspect of the film that doesn't sell the audience short. (KATHLEEN WILSON)
Part standard Western, part attempted romantic epic, Open Range starts patiently and solidly, but ends up rushing through its climax; the romance, such as it is, takes it in the teeth, and what was meant to be big and important is instead messy and clumsy. Which is too bad, because it has one of the best shootouts in years. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Vatican and ritualistic murder. You know, the usual.
The Other Side of the Bed
Even though at times it has the feel of an episode of Friends, The Other Side of the Bed moves beyond triteness by suggesting, at the end, that the right arrangement of these particular people isn't necessarily obvious. The musical numbers don't make sense, but no matter. It's absurd, it's a romp, it puts the farce back into romantic comedy, which is probably why I left the theater humming the theme from The Barber of Seville. This silly movie had made me, of all things, happy. (EMILY HALL)
* Pirates of the Caribbean
The summer's best blockbuster. And Johnny Depp gives one of the best performances of the year. Perhaps maybe Oscar will finally realize that comedy also takes acting talent? (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Starring the young Colin Farrell and the old Samuel L. Jackson, S.W.A.T. is pure nonsense. This doesn't mean it's bad (it's not too bad), but it's as far from reality than anything you could ever imagine. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Maybe I'm too cynical for Triumphant Lessons like this, but I like a little more grit under the nails of my Hollywood movies, and the manicured emotions in Seabiscuit are a bit too Hallmark for me, even if they are based on a true story. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
See review this issue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville 12
Directed by Corey Yuen, the martial arts coordinator for several of Jet Li's Hollywood films (Lethal Weapon 4, The One), So Close is Honk Kong's response to The Matrix. The Matrix appropriated Honk Kong's action choreography; So Close reappropriates The Matrix's look: its global aesthetic of corporate towers and slick information systems that are used or abused by men and women in black power suits. The film concerns a pair of assassins (Zhao Wei and Shu Qi) in the service of a ruthless software corporation. The assassins are also sisters, and their father was a brilliant scientist who developed a technology that, if it were real, would be the dream device for Homeland Security: a total visual awareness system. For reasons not made clear, this technology was to make the world a better place; for reasons that are made clear, the scientist is murdered for his invention. The dead scientist's daughters become assassins in search of revenge. The kung fu scenes involving the slim and nimble women are very entertaining, and the slow motion bullet thing (first used in 1985's Trancer, and immortalized by The Matrix) is taken to a new level. Though its tricks and motion effects are now absorbed by Hollywood, Hong Kong cinema still produces the best action films. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Jeffrey Blitz's amazing documentary Spellbound chronicles eight near-teens as they compete in the National Spelling Bee. At least, that's the film's obvious premise; the less obvious one, what the documentary really is, is a love letter to America. National pride via a national bee. The kids are the American dream, on stage, trying to remember how to spell "logorrhea." (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Spy Kids 3D
The third installment of Robert Rodriguez's kiddie franchise rests firmly in two dimensions for the bulk of its duration. With shots that stand to age as well as Jaws 3-D, the real tragedy here is that the children of America live in a world where this sort of tripe stands as a pale approximation of the majesty that was Captain EO. (ZAC PENNINGTON)
Step Into Liquid
The thing about surf movies is that they're like porn: After a few glorious frames, the money shot loses its power, and the filmmakers have to scramble to make it sexy and surprising again. You have to hand it to Dana Brown, though--he keeps Step Into Liquid sexy for longer than you would think possible. (EMILY HALL)
* The Swimming Pool
Franois Ozon's latest tribute to the sexy superiority of French women. Starring Charlotte Rampling and Ludivine Sagnier.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
After a late-'90s dance around the rim of the cinematic dustbin, Arnold Schwarzenegger is reprising his most famous role as the T-101, this time taking on the beautiful and dreaded T-X. It has been 83 years since the passing of the 19th Amendment, and now, finally, women are able to claim victory in the battle for equality. They have their own ultimate killing machine. Unfortunately, the film is not victorious in the least. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
That the teenage years are difficult is not news--it's something we've known for years, thanks to afterschool specials and blunt and terrifying movies like Kids. But stories about teens going out of control tend to inspire more polemic than art, encouraging viewers to identify the problem--the broken home, the oblivious parents, the oversexualized media--and turn the story into a message. What makes Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen more potent is that she offers no such easy outs, but rather points out the vulnerability of the whole structure (family, school, self) that keeps a teen from self-destructing. (EMILY HALL)
Romeo and Juliet the way Shakespeare intended it: with vampires and werewolves standing in for Capulets and Montagues. Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12
After seeing Uptown Girls, I am convinced that one of the funniest things in the whole entire world is watching an adorable eight-year-old girl look Brittany Murphy straight in the face and ask, "Are you on crack?" It's funny 'cause it's true; Miss Murphy has never looked more like an overdose victim in high heels than she does in this movie--during some scenes I swear her skin was blue. (MEGAN SELING)
* 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.