* 28 Days Later
A film that succeeds in defining the very condition of its moment is nothing less than a major event. Suddenly the truth is not revealed to a privileged few (as is the case with the lesser arts), but to the masses. In this case, 28 Days Later gets to the heart of SARS. True, SARS came about after 28 Days Later was made (2002), but the environment that made the disease all the rage for the better part of the first half of 2003 is the very same environment that makes 28 Days Later the best horror film of this, our time. (SHANNON GEE) Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

Arsenic and Old Lace
"I'm not a cab driver. I'm a coffeepot!" Seattle Art Museum, Thurs July 29 at 7:30 pm.

Beyond the Door
Marcello Mastroianni stars as a sleazy jailhouse librarian in this 1982 Italian film. Linda's, Wed July 28 at dusk.

Blue Collar
Richard Pryor stars in this story of three automobile plant workers who decide to swindle their union. Part of the Richard Pryor: Millenium Brother! series at the Grand Illusion, Weekdays 6:30, 8:45 pm, Sat-Sun 2, 4:15, 6:30, 8:45 pm.

Car Wash
Employees at an L.A. car wash get all manner of strange clientele. Part of the Richard Pryor: Millenium Brother! series at the Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

A bucolic canoeing trip turns nasty in this 1972 film by John Boorman. Fremont Outdoor Movies #1, Fri July 23 at dusk.

H...xan: Witchcraft Through the Ages
A creepy 1922 silent film by Benjamin Christensen. Rendezvous, Wed July 28 at 7:30 pm.

Isan: Folk and Pop Music of Northeast Thailand
A Sublime Frequencies picture about the unique cultural crosswinds at play in the tropics of northeast Thailand. Rendezvous, Thurs July 22 at 7:30 pm.

* Mulholland Drive
This work from David Lynch is confounding and bizarre (for a change). Originally conceived as a network TV pilot, Drive takes a long time establishing its characters--an aspiring actress, a glamorous amnesiac, a luckless Hollywood producer, and a mysterious gang of Mafiosi who are dead set on making sure a certain woman gets a certain part. Like all of Lynch's post-Wild at Heart work, Drive is more concerned with atmosphere and suggestion than linear meaning. But like all Lynch, period, it's beautifully constructed, bizarre, and funny. It's just impossible to say definitively whether this is good or not. (SEAN NELSON) U District Outdoor Cinema, Sat July 24 at dusk.

The Muppet Movie
"Good grief, it's a running gag." Fremont Outdoor Movies #2, Sat July 24 at dusk.

The Philadelphia Story
George Cukor's 1940 film features a zany love triangle made up of Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Sidewalk Cinema, Fri July 23 at dusk.

The Talk of the Town
There has always been a tendency to consider The Talk of the Town one of the spry, enjoyable entertainments George Stevens made before his films became bloated and ridiculous, but in fact it's as overlong and smugly tendentious as his worst work. (The exasperating breathless frenzy of Jean Arthur doesn't help things either.) As the decent worker framed for arson and murder, Cary Grant carries himself with an agreeable cocksureness; but he's inexplicably kept in hinding behind Arthur and Ronald Colman, who's as urbane and understated as ever, and still the poor man's Grant for all that. (BRUCE REID) Seattle Art Museum, Thurs July 22 at 7:30 pm.

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
The Sydney Pollack film about a Depression-era dance marathon. Movie Legends, Wed July 28 at dusk.

* The Twilight Samurai
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun 1:25, 4:10, 7, 9:40 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9:45 pm.


Anchorman (Con)
Why does it always have to end this way? The idea sounds so amusing at first--making fun of a '70s news anchorman (Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy) who takes advice from his dog and drinks and smokes on the set. Add in funny guy cameos from Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, and Ben Stiller as rival television personalities, and you already have the pretense for a blockbuster comedy. But whenever there's a Saturday Night Live staffer (or ex-staffer) involved, there's always the chance for the jokes to be extra sluggish, sappy, or flat out stupid, and Anchorman unfortunately chokes on all three. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

* Anchorman (Pro)
I beg to differ. Anchorman is one of the most inspired pieces of comedic surrealism ever to be released in the guise of a mainstream summer movie. Will Ferrell, unmoored from the mediocrity of SNL, has been let loose to create a film whose absurdity extends far beyond the zany '70s fashions you see on the posters. Talking dogs? Extended four-part harmony? Jazz flute? Gang warfare among rival TV journalists? Yes on all counts. And though Ferrell is characteristically hilarious, it's Daily Show regular Steve Coryell who steals the show as the retarded weatherman. (SEAN NELSON)

* Before Sunset
The best romances force you to care unreasonably about their characters, and watching Jesse and Celine reunited, I couldn't help but feel a bittersweet twinge; I was 21 when Before Sunrise was released--just as dreamy and dewy as I could be--and now, nearly a decade later, their return feels like the arrival of beloved, yet somehow forgotten, friends. I fell in love with them then and, as I found out, I'm still in love with them. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Bourne Supremacy
Matt Damon and Franka Potente are roused from their sleepy seaside slumber to battle their enemies in this sequel to The Bourne Identity.

Halle Berry has claws.

A Cinderella Story
So this girl and this boy meet online. They "chat" every night, text message all day, and while they know they go to the same high school, they're never really sure about who they're talking to. After doing this for quite some time, the stupid jerks are convinced they're falling in love with their computer companions but they never bother to ask who the fuck it really is?! Bullshit! I've been to high school, ain't nothing a secret in that place! Someone always knows someone else's business, so if Lizzy McGuire really wanted to know who her Prince Charming was, all she'd have to do is ask around and someone would put two and two together! Problem solved, movie over. Seriously. (MEGAN SELING)

The Clearing
If the movie were about the flawless crime, then the kidnapper would have been the main character. Instead this is an art-house film where the kidnapping triggers different ruminations on how hard it is to keep a marriage fresh, and therefore the kidnapee is the central character. It's revealed that his marriage went through some serious rough patches; their children don't think he would have had the balls to leave her, but by saying that they also know how unhappy they sense the marriage to be. It's all very depressing. What a waste of a slick, well-executed kidnapping. (ANDY SPLETZER)

* Control Room
Like the recent documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Control Room offers us a look from the inside of the other side. Al Jazeera has 40 million viewers in the Arab world, and it shows its part of the world things that the American networks don't show their part of the world. The future may very well recognize Al Jazeera as the first genuinely global institution of the 21st century. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

The Corporation
Basically, the movie looks down upon the masses of people who thoughtlessly consume products made by corrupt corporations. But you know what? I identify more with the masses than I do with the filmmakers; if I want to spend 145 minutes being told I'm an idiot, I'd rather spend that time in the singles bars. (ANDY SPLETZER)

* The Day After Tomorrow
German director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, Godzilla) has saved the disaster film. The Day After Tomorrow returns the spectacle back to we the people. For the first time since 2001, the spectacle of mass destruction is the source of pleasure rather than terror. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* De-Lovely
De-Lovely is perfumed with preciousness, and ultimately suffers from the self-consciousness of its Hollywood gloss, as well as the difficult-to-swallow progressiveness of its characters. (Oddly enough, the sub rosa insinuation of Cole Porter's homosexuality in the 1946 biopic Night and Day rings much truer to the life one imagines a gay man leading in the '20s and '30s.) Still, the fine performances of Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd diminish the film's more troublesome liberties. (SEAN NELSON)

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
In this upstanding comedy, a group of friends enters a dodgeball tournament in order to defend their local gym from being turned into a corporate health club. What happened to the good old days, when dodgeball was about throwing a ball at someone's head?

* Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut
Having studied the film carefully a few times, I still can't tell if the plot's weird calculus--what actually happens, to whom, and where, and when--actually adds up to anything more than a semi-random sequence of related but unconnected events. What I can say, however, is that the film resonates with a uniquely American kind of sadness. (SEAN NELSON)

The Door in the Floor
There is a kind of quiet, airy, boring horror in the big houses and windy fields of Long Island. It's a fittingly indulgent (if obvious) setting for this indulgent, obvious movie, The Door in the Floor, a punishing family drama about childhood death and marital disintegration. There is emotional potential here, but everything in The Door in the Floor is so slick-surfaced and impassively executed that you can't bear to keep your eyes on the screen. The movie pretends to be fraught with crippling questions about the distorting nature of love and divorce and desire--Kim Basinger's teenage lover says, "I want to know more about you," and she replies, with a grand emptiness, "You know too much already"--but in tone and visual texture the movie is a lot like an extended instant-coffee commercial. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Whereas the last Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, Human Nature, eventually crumbled under its own quirkiness, Eternal Sunshine finds director and scribe fitting perfectly together. This is a film that travels far beyond most of our imaginations. It is also one of the most beautifully assembled romances you will ever see. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* Facing Windows
Throughout the film, Ferzan Ozpetek's golden light conveys romance and elegy at once, and several times he brings striking images of great beauty and depth to the screen. The film's opening sequence depicts a bloody handprint fading over time as dawn light illuminates the wall that carries it, moving the narrative forward by 50 years. The handprint faded from the wall but replayed in my mind long after the film's screening. (MIKE WHYBARK)

* Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore is a propagandist, taking the fight to the opposition on their terms, and winning. Because of his motives and his audience, this propagandist is the most important filmmaker we have, and Fahrenheit 9/11 is the best film he's ever made. (SEAN NELSON)

Garfield: The Movie
Bill Murray once starred in Stripes, Meatballs, Rushmore, and numerous other funny-as-shit classics. For those movies, we will always love him. But the next generation, the generation that is currently young and dumb enough to be easily entertained by a fat, computerized cat, what are they going to know Bill Murray as? The fuckin' voice of Garfield in Garfield: The Movie! I don't really understand why this movie had to be made. Obviously nothing interesting happens. It isn't funny. At the screening I attended, a part that drew a good amount of laughs was Garfield asking "Got milk?" after drinking some milk. I mean, is that funny? What? No. Stop it. (MEGAN SELING)

* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Alfonso Cuarón, who has taken the directing reigns from Chris Columbus this time around, has not turned the Potterheads' god into bullshit. Early word on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was that it was the best of the series, and for once early word was correct; for the first time in the franchise's existence, a film has achieved the level of art. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Hunting of the President
See review this issue.

I, Robot
Will Smith's seventh summer blockbuster is set in Chicago, which in the year 2035 has quadrupled its number of skyscrapers to become that same gigantic city that has been around since Fritz Lang's Metropolis. In this future world, robots have replaced software and the Internet as the commodity that produces the earth's richest man. In the first part of the movie, Will Smith is basically a blade runner in a society that doesn't want blade runners; in the next half of the film, he is blade runner in a society that desperately needs a blade runner--a talented robot killer. The movie is not bad or good; it is what it is--a big summer movie with lots of special effects. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
All the acting in this virtual remake of Get Carter is solid, though Malcom McDowell coasts on the gleefully amoral bad-guy shtick. The problem is with the writing, starting with that overly generic title, and with the flat direction. (ANDY SPLETZER)

Kill Bill Vol. 2
As a whole piece (as it was originally intended), Kill Bill would've toppled over, eventually landing with a thud upon its inevitable anti-climax. There are some surprising fits to be found in Vol. 2 (including the Uma Thurman squaring off with Elle Driver, a romp that owes much to the Coen Brothers' Raising Arizona), but the final tally fails to shatter the earth--a shame, since Vol. 1 built hopes up so high. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

King Arthur
Though the film is basically crap, it's tremendously entertaining and engaging crap: beautifully photographed, edited with masterful precision, and peopled by actors (Clive Owen, Ray Winstone, Stellan Skarsg'rd) whom I would walk a mile to see stuffing envelopes. (SEAN NELSON)

* Napoleon Dynamite
In this charming new film, 24-year-old writer/ director Jared Hess mines the nebulous area between popular chic and weirdo freak, where outcast attributes are both quality, subtle comedy, and a charmingly dark part of our collective high-school unconscious. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

The Notebook
The Notebook, which was directed by Nick Cassavetes (talentless son of supremely talented John Cassavetes), is based on a Nicholas Sparks tome, and it bears the mark of all his work. That mark is complete and utter bullshit, and the end result is a bullshit film--a weepy, obvious, and painfully unromantic romance. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

* Riding Giants
This fascinating exploration of the culture of big-wave surfing by the director of the skateboarding documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys is distinguished first by the quality of its footage. I have no idea how Stacy Peralta and his crew managed to get on top of the water the way they do, but the actual surfing in this movie is heroic. Your heart rises and your breath leaves you as the surfers take on waves of 20, 30, 80 feet, waves that could easily kill them, then go back for more, then go back again. I promise that you have never seen anything like Laird Hamilton's climactic ride in this film. You have also never seen anything like the respect that is afforded the surfers in Riding Giants. Instead of the usual stereotype of dumb, quasi-mystical hunks, Peralta offers his subjects up as athletes and innovators. At times, he fails to obscure their dumb, quasi-mystical tendencies (Jeff Clarke calls the ocean his "saltwater church"), but then you see them ride and have no choice but to bow down. (SEAN NELSON)

Sacred Planet
No one who has graduated from the fifth grade ever goes to see IMAX movies. So I can't imagine that it's worth my time to tell you about the latest IMAX addition, Sacred Planet, because what do you care? You don't want to go see a beautifully filmed educational movie showing some of the most breathtaking areas of the world (like Namibia, Thailand, and Borneo). (MEGAN SELING)

* Saved!
This film knows exactly what it is--a teen flick with a humanist agenda--and Brian Dannelly picks his battles to suit his aims. Even with its too-pat ending (complete with syrupy underscoring--a duet of Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows" sung by Mandy Moore and Michael Stipe, one of the film's producers), Saved! closes with a tableau that will leave unreformed fundamentalists gaping in horror. Score one for the good guys. (DAVID SCHMADER)

Shrek 2
Shrek 2 can best be described with a shrug. As in: It's fine, no big deal, just what you would expect. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Graduating eighth-grade girls are BOY CRAZY! They also HATE EACH OTHER! And that's what this movie is about.

Spiderman 2
Going into a Spider-Man film we surely expect the spectacular, but even the spectacular has limits. All films, even fantasy ones, need to at least touch upon reality. It can be the lightest of touches, but there must be substance there for us to grab onto--otherwise, why should we bother watching? In Sam Raimi's vision of Spider-Man, however, his normally manic camera joins with CGI to create a work that is often completely fraudulent. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

The Stepford Wives
The original, 1975 version of The Stepford Wives was a dark, brilliantly creepy psychological thriller focusing on a small town's conspiracy against the wives of its inhabitants. Like The Shining without all the blood, the madness is subtle, edging into the plot with subtle clues but holding on to the story's gripping twist until the end. The bright and shiny new millennium edition not only completely changes the ending, it's also too campy, two-dimensional, and sanitized for what was a very chilling portrait of domination and control in a sci-fi war of the sexes. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

The Story of the Weeping Camel
Set in modern Mongolia, The Story of the Weeping Camel has two plots: one concerns humans, the other camels. The human side is about a nomadic family that, one day, happens to be in need of something from the city (batteries, I think). The family elders decide to send two boys to the city to buy this needed thing. The boys travel on camels, arrive in the city, and while looking for this thing (maybe it's not batteries, but a violin), they discover the pleasures of television. The human plot ends with the boys erecting a satellite dish next to their family's yurt. Considerably less interesting than the human plot, the camel plot concerns a mother camel who rejects her baby camel. The baby wants mommy to feed her but mommy refuses to open her legs and feed the starving baby. If the mother were not a camel then one would understand why she wouldn't want that ugly little creature sucking on her breasts. But she is a camel, and all camels are ugly--her rejection of her baby makes no sense at all. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

* Super Size Me
It is uncannily hard to watch the preparatory stages of Morgan Spurlock's diet experiment in Super Size Me, the stage during which he visits doctors and nutritionists who calibrate, in every thinkable way, the ways in which he is perfectly healthy. Watching this man--all happy, puppyish energy and handlebar mustache--prepare to throw himself under the wheels of the fast-food juggernaut has the eerie air of readying for sacrifice. Why would a person do such a thing? Don't we all know that fast food is bad for us? Well, apparently we don't know, or didn't know, precisely the horrifying extent. And lest you think that this film is only for Fast Food Nation types, that it's aimed only at those who already have the information, remember that Spurlock put his own body on the line to get your attention. That's why he did it. He did it for you. (EMILY HALL)

The Terminal
If an army of critics line up to heap praise upon Steven Spielberg's The Terminal, as early Internet firings hint that they will, then something has gone terribly wrong in the world. This is easily the worst film of Spielberg's career, surpassing even blemishes like Always, Hook, and A.I. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Bland, but pretty--a fairly solid description of Troy on the whole. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Two Brothers
Jean-Jacques Annaud's great trick is to turn the essential, undeniable, heart-exploding adorability of the cubs into the stuff of proper drama. Annaud handily pulls off that feat by making Sungha and Kumal distinct characters--one is timid and sweet, the other ferocious--and by suffusing their plight with emotions you can only call human. (SEAN NELSON)

What the #$*! Do We Know?!
I never got around to figuring out what a quantum leap is, but now I think I know: It's when you make a short jump from quantum mechanics to New Age self-help kookiness. That's what happens in this ungainly, inane film, which purports to be about quantum physics but is really about the power of positive thinking, with a midlife-crisis plot (starring Marlee Matlin) and some childish cartoon figures and a series of talking heads who can't stop using the word "paradigm." (EMILY HALL)

White Chicks
The Wayans brothers protect the hotel-heiress Hilton--err, Wilson--sisters from a heinous kidnapping plot.

Word Wars
I'd say I'm fairly obsessed with Scrabble--I own an Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, I play it in bars, I use words like xi and ixia and ae and hm and qat (all legal)--but the four Scrabble players profiled on their way to U.S. Nationals in Eric Chaikin and Julian Patrillo's Word Wars are sinus-infected, jobless slaves to the game. Take the friendless college dropout "G.I." Joel Sherman, so nicknamed for a gastro-intestinal disorder that causes him to spit up into cups during tournaments. (He scrapes together an income based on betting over his wins.) Or Matt Graham, whose idea of a fun afternoon is to challenge someone to a best-out-of-50-games match. What's clear is that you don't have to even care about words to be good at Scrabble, but it's advisable to spend several years memorizing the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. (Though if you try to memorize the definitions as well as the words, one champ says, "It will slowly drive you insane.") It's a shame that the narrative of this documentary is so frequently disrupted by shoddy computer graphics and unfunny jokes by the directors, because the subject (and these four subjects in particular) is fascinating. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

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