2003 Fly Films
See Blow Up. Rendezvous, Fri at 7:30 pm.

The Animation Show
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun at 2:20, 4:40, 7, 9:20 pm, Mon-Thurs at 7, 9:20 pm.

Edward Scissorhands
"Hello? Avon calling!" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.

* First Person Cinema
See review this issue. Little Theatre, see Movie Times for more details.

* The Magnificent Seven
"We deal in lead, my friend." Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 7:30 pm.

* The Man Who Knew Too Much
"Don't you realize that Americans dislike having their children stolen?" Rendezvous, Wed at 7:30 pm.

Playing With Poison
See Blow Up. 911 Media Arts Center, Fri at 8 pm.

* Psycho
"I'll lick the stamps." JBL Theater, Thurs Oct 2 at 7:30 pm.

* Seven Samurai
"Find hungry samurai." Columbia City Cinema, Sat at 7:30 pm.

* Some Like it Hot
"That's just like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!" Grand Illusion, Fri at 6, 8:30 pm, Sat-Sun at 3:30, 6, 8:30 pm, Tues-Thurs at 6, 8:30 pm.

See Blow Up. Independent Media Center, Tues at 7:30 pm.

* Transformers: The Movie
The cast includes Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack, and Scatman Crothers. The story involves Autobots battling the evil Decepticons. The soundtrack includes the song "The Touch," which was covered--and subsequently immortalized--by Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights. The film, in a word, is amazing. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.

Twisted Flicks: The Black Castle
Featuring the noted talents of Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff, 1952 horror flick The Black Castle gets the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment from Jet City Improv. Historic University Theater, Thurs-Sat at 8 pm.


* 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)

American Wedding
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)

Anything Else
Woody Allen's films used to radiate a luxurious nostalgia for a New York gone by; now they're just nostalgic for old Woody Allen films. Jason Biggs, as a mini-Woody, is both excruciating and interesting--excruciating when he apes Allen, down to the syntax and adenoidal whine; interesting when he gives the character a darker edge, like there's an impatient brute inside him, waiting to punch his way out. But Christina Ricci is no Diane Keaton--in fact, you come out of Anything Else with renewed appreciation for Keaton's performance in Annie Hall as an infuriating woman the hero can't stay away from. Ricci, on the other hand, is just irritating. Allen, in a meta-career role, plays a teacher and writer who tries to wean Biggs off all the things--analysis, difficult women, New York--that made Woody Allen Woody Allen. Maybe he can't take the competition. (EMILY HALL) Grand Illusion, Meridian 16, Metro, 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 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)

* Bubba Ho-Tep
In an East Texas convalescent home, a penis- cancer-ridden Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) are awaiting death. The two geezers are revitalized when they band together to fight a mummy who's been sucking the souls out of old people's asses. Surprise number one is that the film, while being a complete piece of trash, is actually pretty great. Aside from its crackpot intelligence, fine acting, deadpan absurdity, and startling sweetness, however, Bubba Ho-Tep is exactly what you'd expect. (SEAN NELSON)

* 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 is not right about Cabin Fever, and that thing, to put it bluntly, is the finger-banging scene. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Cold Creek Manor
Big-time New York snotty-snots (Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone) decide they need a change of pace after "tragedies" shake up their lives. So what do they do? They pack up their spoiled daughter and dumb-as-dirt son and move into Cold Creek Manor, a huge house in the middle of nowhere that the bank recently took from a family of crazy people who used to bash in the heads of sheep for a living. The surviving son of the family that used to own the place (who's a homicidal maniac to boot!) gets out of prison just in time to welcome the new family to town. And he wants his frickin' house back! Seeing as how he's nuts, he tries to chase them out of "his" house. But Quaid ain't goin' nowhere! So they have a falling-out, try to bash in each other's skulls, and someone ends up at the bottom of "Devil's Throat." In a word: yawn. (MEGAN SELING)

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.

Ben Stiller stars in another of his desperately middling marriages of Hollywood sub-royalty (Drew Barrymore) and cookie-cut plot in yet another Danny DeVito-directed film (in the tradition of Throw Mama From the Train, War Of the Roses, and Death To Smoochy) about a murder for convenience--this time for the sake of a rent-controlled apartment. Grand Illusion, Metro, Pacific Place, Woodinville 12.

The Fighting Temptations
Cuba Gooding Jr. continues his winning streak of zany fish-out-of-water comedies (in the now-illustrious tradition of Boat Trip and Snow Dogs) with a role as a shallow chump who must successfully champion a ragtag gospel choir or risk losing his family's inheritance. And as you might well expect, Cuba's fish-out-of-water has long since begun to smell like shit. Costarring Beyoncé Knowles' abs, the paper-thin story is unimportant--functional only in its ability to daisy-chain together a series of rags-to-riches musical sequences, of which you are assured many. (ZAC PENNINGTON)

* 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)

Freaky Friday
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 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 mid-stream 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)

* In This World
Harrowing, I guess, would be the right word for this story of two Afghan boys making the dangerous overland journey from a refugee camp in Pakistan to London. Every stop could be the end of the road; at every turn it seems about as likely that they will be enslaved or killed as anything else. Jamal and Enayat are sent by their families on this journey with only a dim sense of what will happen when (if) they arrive, and an even dimmer sense of the consequences of such a dangerous trip. Winterbottom used nonactors for the two lead roles, and allowed the story to be shaped by their evolving relationship so that the film's natural documentary feeling is earned beyond the rather nauseating handheld jitters. (EMILY HALL)

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)

This lightweight Spanish farce pretends to be about romance and destiny, but it's really about sex and money. Ah, but I'm making it sound better than it really is. Seven couples agree to meet face-to-face for the first time at Kilometer Zero, the central square of Madrid, and things go hilariously awry when the wrong people connect. Just to give you some idea: The young director goes to meet the actress, but instead heads off with the prostitute who was there to meet the businessman, who hooks up with a gay guardian angel. Halfway through, the movie threatens to become interesting when a woman cheats on her husband with a gigolo who might just be her long lost son. Then things get all dumb again. I cannot recommend this movie. (ANDY SPLETZER) Harvard Exit.

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
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)

See review this issue. Guild 45th, Meridian 16.

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)

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)

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)

Open Range
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 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)

The Rundown
The Rock, the guy from Dude, Where's My Car? (no, the other one), Ewen Bremner and Christopher Walken--in a cast destined for greatness--come together to fight crime or some shit in the Amazon. Most assuredly trash, but have you see the Rock's eyebrows? Hypnotizing. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Woodinville 12.

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)

Secondhand Lions
A film about a boy who is left by his mother to spend an indefinite amount of time with his uncles, who, upon first impression, are stubborn hicks with a big barn. Through stories told by Michael Caine, the boy soon learns that his uncles are not hicks at all, but war heroes with glorious pasts. The eldest uncle, Duvall, was in his youth a man of action, a great soldier who defeated powerful sheiks and seduced a dark woman while riding a wild horse on the shores of Arabia--a man-among-men who, even in his old age, has not lost an inch of his erection. Impressed by this example of pure manhood, Osment switches his dependency on Mommy for an even more unhealthy dependency on this violent father figure. This movie just sucks. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Spellbound
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
François 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)

* Thirteen
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)

Under The Tuscan Sun
See review this issue. Factoria, Guild 45th, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Redmond Town Center, Woodinville 12.

Once again Romeo & Juliet is dusted off and given a refurbishing. This time the setting is the gloomiest of all gloomy cities, where vampires and werewolves wage a secret, exhausting war with one another. The experience: much Matrix-like action (save for the wire work), crackpot dialogue, and a PVC-clad heroine (Kate Beckinsale) who looks sexy as all get out, but can barely muster a sprint thanks to her garb. The result: A boring, uninspired hack work. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Uptown Girls
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 bacackdrop 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.

Support The Stranger