A 2000 movie about a domestic worker who returns from Hong Kong to try to reconnect with her kids. Allen Auditorium, Thurs Feb 10 at 6:30 pm.
Annette Bening throws herself into each dizzying emotion with abandon, but the histrionics are so grossly out of proportion with the charm or threat posed by her schoolboy lover that the emotional center of the film is hollowed out. The end is smashingly entertaining, but I'm not so sure it makes the tedious, feature-length setup worthwhile. (ANNIE WAGNER)
Best of the Brooklyn Underground Film Festival
Movies about Katie Couric, Lithuanian children crushing cockroaches, and more. 911 Media Arts, Thurs Feb 10 at 7 pm.
Born Into Brothels
Rare is the documentary that feels too short, but this wrenching, multiple award-winning look at kids growing up within the squalid red-light sector of India begs for a more detailed exploration. Filmed in an arresting mix of handheld video and Kodachrome stills, the film follows the efforts of co-director/photographer Zana Briski to save the children of Calcutta's sex workers, initially by encouraging their photographic skills (attracting worldwide attention, and with ongoing results viewable at www.kids-with-cameras.org), and then navigating through unbelievable levels of bureaucratic quicksand in an attempt to get them out of the slums and into boarding schools. Briski's struggle is worthy of sainthood, but her resulting document, after an absolutely engrossing first reel, follows a slightly frustrating route. Unintentionally or not, as she concentrates increasingly on getting passports and HIV tests processed, the focus shifts to a more conventional individual vs. the system story, and away from the fairly miraculous day-to-day existence of the kids, where it feels like it belongs. As it stands, the glimpses we see of them and their all-too-knowing interactions with their hellish surroundings are somehow both too much, and not nearly enough. (ANDREW WRIGHT) Varsity, see Movie Times, page 79, for details.
The Brother from Another Planet
John Sayles' 1984 movie about an alien who looks black but acts whack. EMP's JBL Theater, Fri Feb 4 at 7 pm.
I Know Where I'm Going!
Michael Powell's 1945 Celtic romance features Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs Feb 3 at 7:30 pm.
The Kids Are Alright
Though The Who (who are the subjects of this movie) may not have objected to the title given to their film, I must point out that "alright" is not a word, but a gross almalgamation of two words. All right? The Kids Are (shudder) Alright is mostly a concert film, with some interviews, and this is a brand-new print. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
The Late Show
A film-based variety show at Northwest Film Forum, Sat Feb 5 at 11 pm.
A Matter of Life and Death
A Michael Powell movie about a wartime aviator who cheats death and must stand trial in a heavenly court. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs Feb 10 at 7:30 pm.
A 1997 film by Alexander Røsler about a Jewish family that survives the Holocaust and settles in Norway after the war. Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs Feb 10 at 7 pm.
The Only Way
A Jewish family attempts to escape from Denmark ahead of the German occupation. Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs Feb 3 at 7 pm.
Orwell Rolls in His Grave
When it comes to American mainstream media, do politics and money dictate content? Did George Bush manipulate his way into power? Does a bear wipe his own ass on a tree stump? Keystone Church, Fri Feb 4 at 7 pm.
Robert Horton and Kathleen Murphy
Film critics Robert Horton and Kathleen Murphy show clips and discuss cinematic representations of skin and flesh in the work of Bernardo Bertolucci, Catherine Breillat, Luis Buñuel, David Cronenberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Josef von Sternberg. This is the first event in the Magic Lantern Talks at the Frye. Frye Art Museum, Sun Feb 6 at 2 pm.
"I don't give a shit about barracudas. Fuck it. I'm building it anyway!" Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
Sacred Cinema: Yasujiro Ozu Retrospective
See review this issue. All films screen at Northwest FIlm Forum. I Was Born, But... (with original score by Lori Goldston and Elizabeth Falconer): Thurs Feb 3 at 7 pm. Family screening of I Was Born, But... , with subtitles read by actors: Sat Feb 5 at 11 am. Tokyo Story: Fri-Sun 5:30, 8:15 pm, Mon-Wed 6, 8:45 pm. There Was a Father: Fri-Sat 7, 9 pm. Record of a Tenement Gentleman: Sun-Wed 7:15, 9 pm. Tokyo Twilight: Sun Feb 6 at 11 am, 2:30 pm. Woman of Tokyo (with original score by Wayne Horvitz): Thurs Feb 10 at 7, 8:30 pm. Series continues through March 10, see www.nwfilmforum.org/ozu for details.
A drifter with a mysterious past shows up in a town where cattle ranchers and settlers just can't get along. Movie Legends, Sun Feb 6 at 1 pm.
F.W. Murnau's 1927 film Sunrise is a story of a cheater with murder in his heart. Also, it routinely lands on the top of best-of-the-20th-century lists. Mon Feb 7 at 7 pm.
Illicit love, scheming, and manipulation in repressive Cho-sun Korea. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 6:30, 8:45 pm, Sat-Sun 4:15, 6:30, 8:45 pm.
We Found It in the Basement
A collection of smut, action, and scenes in poor taste discovered in the basement of the Grand Illusion during a recent renovation. This is where scenes censored by Mormons with scissors end up. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
Alone in the Dark
Christian Slater's a trench coat- and tank top-wearing psychic investigator, and he's being chased by big invisible monsters that live in gold mines and can only be killed by sunlight bullets, and then there are some tiny critters that live in the spinal columns of zombie orphans and ... hell, I don't know. Uwe Boll, the man behind the infamous House of the Dead, tackles another video game adaptation, with results that are honestly close to impossible to adequately discuss without coughing up a lung in laughter. From the solid three minutes of spoken word prologue, to Tara Reid as a museum curator unable to pronounce "anthropology," to the dueling foreheads of Slater and baddie Stephen Dorff, this film attains a level of awe-inspiring Velveeta dunderheadedness. That faint sound you hear is Ed Wood doing donuts in his crypt in admiration. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Are We There Yet?
Ice Cube stars as a player/babysitter. Aw.
Assault on Precinct 13
It seems like the scenario--bad guys try to infiltrate an understaffed precinct house during a New Year's Eve snowstorm--is going to yield some good confined-action results, despite the slightly lazy treatment of the villains, who never seem terribly threatening, which makes the heroes never seem terribly heroic, which, in turn, makes the stakes never seem terribly high. Still and all, as genre exercises go, Assault on Precinct 13 redux has a lot going for it. (SEAN NELSON)
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)
A man returns home to face a childhood trauma.
The thing to know about the grossly sentimental French film The Chorus is that you should not, under any circumstances, see it after watching Bad Education. If you do, you'll see incipient pedophilia in every cold bathroom stall and deserted classroom in the movie--and according to The Chorus, there were plenty of vulnerable boys running around reform schools in the 1940s. (ANNIE WAGNER)
The heavily hyped Coach Carter tackles a worthy, deservedly inspirational story, about a tough-love basketball coach who turned his dead-ender squad into academic winners, but treats its subject in such a neutered, worshipful fashion that it ultimately does the actual accomplishment a disservice. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
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)
Hide and Seek
So this little girl gets a bit crazy after seeing her mom laying dead in a pool of blood in the bathtub. What does Daddy do? He moves her out to the middle of fucking nowhere! She's exceedingly depressed, she barely talks, she has no friends except her dumb, ratty doll, and so her dad provides her with even more solitude by dragging her out into some creepy fucking woods in upstate New York where the closest neighbors are also pretty messed up?! That's his solution?! Anyways, soon after moving, things get weird due to Little Miss Fanning's new imaginary friend Charlie. Then there are twists and turns and Elizabeth Shue's boobs, and a good movie goes bad-but because it gets all "SURPRISE TWIST ENDING" on our asses, I can't divulge those aggravating aspects because if I did, it'd give everything away and people would write in saying shit like, "You ruined the movie! %#*$!" Well no, dumbass, I didn't ruin the movie; cheesy thriller movie clichés actually ruined the movie. (MEGAN SELING)
Hotel Rwanda is a film held up entirely by Don Cheadle, whose portrayal of an African is, for a black American, second only to Canada Lee's in the 1951 adaptation of Cry, the Beloved Country. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
In Good Company
In Good Company is a happily inoffensive, warmly predictable, wholly inconsequential comedy/drama from American Pie and About a Boy director Paul Weitz. (ERIK HENRIKSEN)
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)
The Life Aquatic
Long stretches of The Life Aquatic feel malnourished, as if Wes Anderson spent so much energy creating the film's distinct reality that he forgot to provide reasons for that reality to exist. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
The Merchant of Venice
You can sleep through the rest of the watery Venetian canal scenes, but Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons are fascinating. These aren't definitive performances by any means--Pacino's Shylock is so infinitely burdened he almost buckles, and that's before his daughter leaves him--but they are acute, stubbornly personal, and a joy to watch. (ANNIE WAGNER)
Million Dollar Baby
As sappy and Lifetime-y as the plot sounds, Clint Eastwood's skill with the performers keeps Million Dollar Baby afloat. Both Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman deliver graceful turns that mesh perfectly with Eastwood's grave brooding, and by the time the film takes a brutally tragic turn you can't help but find yourself yanked along emotionally. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
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 Sea Inside
See review this issue.
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)
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.