SAM's Michael Powell series continues with this 1941 film about a the crew of a stranded Nazi U-Boat trying to make their way across Canada to the still-neutral U.S. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs Jan 13 at 7:30 pm.
The 7th Hi/Lo Film Festival
Hi/Lo stands for "high concept, low budget," and these 14 short films fit the bill. 911 Media Arts, Thurs Jan 13 at 7 pm.
The Edge of the World
This little-seen 1937 gem by pre-Godhead Michael Powell offers yet more evidence of Powell's untarnished righteousness as a chronicler of all things Brit. In much the same way John Ford allowed the rich humanity of his simple characters provide the real meat of his pictures, Powell knew that the historical and human gravity under the melodrama were what would really make the movie go. (SEAN NELSON) Seattle Art Museum, Thurs Jan 6 at 7:30 pm.
A touring film series devoted to movies from countries not generally known for their movies. All films screen at the Northwest Film Forum. Daughter of Keltoum (Algeria), Sat 5 pm, Sun 9 pm. Kabala (Mali), Fri 9 pm, Sun 2:30 pm. What's a Human Anyway? (Turkey), Sat 9 pm, Sun 4:30 pm. Whisky (Uruguay), Fri 7 pm, Sat 3 and 7 pm, Sun-Thurs 7 pm. Uniform (China), Wed Jan 12 at 9 pm. Hollow City (Angola), Thurs Jan 13 at 9 pm.
Hey, Good Lookin'
Ralph Bakshi's animated movie about growing up in the Eisenhower era. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
My Man Godfrey
"All you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right kind of people." Rendezvous, Wednesday Jan 12 at 7:30 pm.
Anything goes, so long as it's under 10 minutes and in VHS or DVD format. 911 Media Arts, Mon Jan 10 at 7 pm.
Over the Edge
The cult classic about a kiddie revolt in the planned community of New Granada launched Matt Dillon's career. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 11:30 pm.
The movie opens in a train yard in Manchuria. The year is 1928. Cynthia (Zhang Ziyi, House of Flying Daggers) is having a near-wordless romance with Hidehiko Itami (Toru Nakamura). Behind them, as they walk around their working class neighborhood, are signs of the growing distrust of Japanese trade as well as increasingly violent anti-Japanese protests. After this prologue, the time jumps three years and the main story kicks in. Cynthia has changed her name to Ding Hui and is part of a resistance group dedicated to killing Japanese agents, one of whom is her former boyfriend. Set just before the Japanese invasion of China, Purple Butterfly is an oddly poetic historical epic. Director Lou Ye (Suzhou River) uses the political upheaval as a background for messy romantic entanglements. Even though it's often hard to follow exactly what's going on in terms of plot (secret agents and subversive groups will do that), there is a flow and consistency to the emotions that keeps drawing you in. From subtle jump cuts to large jumps in time, the movie has an unconventional underlying structure, but the beauty of the actors and the locations, combined with a sadly fatalistic view of romance in times of war, make this a film well worth seeking out. (ANDY SPLETZER) Grand Illusion, Weekdays 6:30, 8:45 pm, Sat-Sun 4:15, 6:30, 8:45 pm.
Giant ants go on a rampage in this 1954 film by Gordon Douglas. Movie Legends, Sun Jan 9 at 1 pm.
Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story
A documentary tribute to Northwest band Dead Moon. Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7:15, 9:15 pm.
It may be impossible to fully know Howard Hughes, but DiCaprio and Scorsese can only offer the broadest of paint strokes here. Scorsese attempts to cover up the lack of depth in The Aviator by focusing heavily on both Hughes' love life as well as his daring in the skies, but no matter how many romantic entanglements and spectacular crashes we see, the film itself remains superficial. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Bad Education announces itself with a rich melodramatic subject--Catholic clergy sex abuse--only to reject all predictable conflict for an emotional and thematic territory all its own. It's a brilliant maneuver, sending audiences traipsing down an initially recognizable path that soon splinters in directions they never could've dreamed. (DAVID SCHMADER)
Beyond the Sea
Some of you might be thinking about going to see Beyond the Sea, Kevin Spacey's tribute to nightclub entertainer/old-time rock 'n' roller/folk song dabbler/sometime actor Bobby Darin. I'm going to do you a favor and urge you, unequivocally, not to bother, unless, of course, you like bullshit. (SEAN NELSON)
What makes Blade: Trinity inferior is this: It's really two films instead of one--two films that are not at all complementary. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Viewed scene by scene, the unfettered, constant venom on display in this film is bracing, thrilling, and almost as much fun to watch as it must have been to perform. Taken as a whole, however, it proves to be a bit too much of a bad thing. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Fabbuh Albuhbuh isbuh abuh fubuhnny, sweebuht stobuhry forbuh kibuhds whobuh likebuh carbuhtoons. Thankbuh youbuh andbuh Ibuh abuhpologize forbuh mybuh speebuhch inbuhpedbuhment. Buhbye-buhbye. (MUSHMOUTH)
Marc Forster's third film, Monster's Ball, was complete and utter nonsense. His fourth film, Finding Neverland, is ordinary and dry nonsense. Clearly, Forster is a director of the middling order. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
The Flight of the Phoenix
An update of the 1965 film about plane-crash survivors who attempt to reconstruct a new plane from the wreckage.
See review this issue.
House of Flying Daggers
House of Flying Daggers, director Yimou Zhang's much-anticipated follow-up to Hero, is an exceptional period martial arts movie, filled to the brim with equal doses of kicks to the head and pathos, which suffers by comparison only to its older, more ambitious, brother. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
The Incredibles is done in true and beautiful Pixar style, but the action sequences are far more exhilarating than anything seen in Finding Nemo or Toy Story. Plus, the humans aren't annoyingly unattractive, and it's pretty damn funny to boot. (MEGAN SELING)
The first half of Kinsey is exciting on a micro scale the way Kinsey's work was exciting on a grand one: It demonstrates that reason can prevail over mythology. Unfortunately, because it's a movie, the second half allows mythology--the mythology of narrative--to re-intrude, and the picture grows musty. (SEAN NELSON)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
The movie is faithful to the books, mining the first three for settings, characters, and unfortunate events. Jim Carrey is perfectly cast as the evil Count Olaf, and the pair of roundups cast as the elder orphans, Jennifer Coolidge and Liam Aiken, more than hold their own against Carrey. (DAN SAVAGE)
The Life Aquatic
Unlike Wes Anderson's harshest critics, I've always been more than willing to accept both his otherworldly concoctions and his heavy lifting from Hal Ashby; this time, however, he delivers little else. Long stretches of The Life Aquatic feel malnourished, as if Anderson spent so much energy creating the film's distinct reality that he forgot to provide reasons for that reality to exist. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
I know you've probably read by now that Christian Bale lost a bunch of weight for this film, but I kid you not--NOTHING YOU'VE EVER SEEN BEFORE CAN PREPARE YOU FOR THE SHOCK OF HIS APPEARANCE IN THE MACHINIST. His body literally resembles that of a concentration camp survivor or advanced anorexia sufferer. (SEAN NELSON)
Meet the Fockers
Watching Meet the Fockers started out grating and ended up grinding my flesh off the bone. (JENNIFER MAERZ)
Million Dollar Baby
See review this issue.
The Motorcycle Diaries
This is a film that should be taken for what it is: a beautifully constructed road movie with a dash of conscience on the side. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The story is a mess, the scam is a fraud, and the performances are lazy and smug, but Ocean's 12 has one major plus: the return of Steven Soderbergh's creative pulse. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Phantom of the Opera
Even putting aside the unspeakably horrendous set design, this movie does everything wrong. Instead of exploiting the cheesy, populist songcraft of the 1986 musical, Joel Schumacher casts actors who wouldn't know melodrama if it smacked them in the face. (ANNIE WAGNER)
The Polar Express
Here and there, Polar Express hits on an image or mood worthy of the season, particularly during the early scenes of the magical title vehicle, but the thundering need to make a state-of-the-art prefab classic steamrolls over most of the cheer. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Despite a tendency to bathe in the molasses of sentimentality, Ray is a rich exponent of the biopic genre. Imposing a narrative on a life, especially one filled with so many contradictions (i.e. beloved entertainer/ abusive junkie cheapskate) may be a fool's errand, but this film is satisfying nonetheless. (SEAN NELSON)
While Sideways is a road movie, it's a lazy one; the distance traveled, both physically and emotionally, is short. Blessed with pitch-perfect performances, especially by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, Sideways is a slight film, to be sure, but it's also one of Alexander Payne's least snide efforts. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Spanglish is absolutely the worst film of the year, and much of the blame for the film's failure falls on the shoulders of poor Téa Leoni, whose performance is so grating, so irritating, that you cringe whenever she's on screen. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
A Tale of Two Sisters
This latest Japanese horror import has everything: creepy sisters, an evil stepmother, demonic girls hiding beneath the kitchen sink, a mysterious sack that may or may not be leaking blood. The end result is a genuinely unsettling film, one that refuses the easy shock and instead relies on the audience to creep itself out. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
A bruising, classical tragedy about a woman whose passionate altruism brings pain and suffering upon herself and the people whom she loves. (ANNIE WAGNER)
A Very Long Engagement
I'm not saying it isn't corny. What I'm saying is that it's a fantastic movie, and unless you're the stated enemy of life and all that makes it worth living, you'll probably fall for it. (SEAN NELSON)
A man's murdered wife speaks to him from beyond the grave.