This documentary by Brigitte Brault and Aine Women Filming Group follows 14 female video journalists who travel outside Kabul to explore the impact of the Taliban rule and U.S. invasion on the lives of women in their country. Consolidated Works, Tues March 8 at 7 pm.
The first major feature to treat the Filipino-American experience and aggressively court Filipino viewers, The Debut is a decent coming-of-age story with an engaging cast and a great dance sequence. The story is rather predictable: Ben, an aspiring animator, has enrolled in a fine arts college and must break the news to his father, who is certain that his son is destined for medical school. This conflict is staged and complicated at Ben's sister's 18th birthday party (the eponymous "debut"). As a director, Gene Cajayon could have pulled the reins on the excessive emoting of some of his younger actors, but his movie is serviceable enough. (ANNIE WAGNER) Allen Auditorium, UW campus, Thurs Feb 10 at 6:30 pm.
Disco Dolls in 3-D
Chick Weed owns the Disco Doll, a front for a bordello, and inspector Creatisfealer is closing in. Meanwhile, he's been having trouble "performing" with his girlfriend Jennifer, so he seeks medical help from Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Aungeblausen. Not just porn, but porn with a plot--and in 3-D! Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.
The End of Suburbia
A documentary about the depletion of world oil reserves. 911 Media Arts, Thurs March 10 at 7 pm.
The Free-Form Film Festival
A traveling festival of films by Brian Dewan, Tony Gault, Tyrone Davies, Van McElwee, and others, with a performance by the band Library Science. Rendezvous, Thurs March 3 at 6 pm.
In the Realms of the Unreal
See review this issue.
An Injury to One
In an age when any jackass with a Macintosh can make a documentary about his or her bullshit life, it's refreshing--practically stunning, really--to come across a small, handmade film that addresses something relevant to someone other than its own maker. This 55-minute documentary focuses on the legacy of union busting, murderous corporate greed in Butte, Montana--once among the wealthiest mining towns in America, now a ghost with a mammoth hole full of toxic water at its center--and the never-solved murder of IWW organizer Frank Little. Director Wilkerson sidesteps every pitfall that bedevils left-leaning documentaries. His narration is concise and reportorial, never didactic or snide. Despite obvious conviction about the history he interprets--which describes working conditions for miners that can still make you wince--he refuses to let ideology stand in for inquiry. And best of all, he understands that movies, even hour-long ones about 88-year-old labor disputes, are for watching. (SEAN NELSON) Consolidated Works, Fri-Sat at 8 pm.
SAM's Michael Powell series concludes with this controversial thriller about a voyeur (Carl Boehm) who films women as he murders them. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs March 10 at 7:30 pm.
Sacred Cinema: Yasujiro Ozu Retrospective
Ozu rarely moved his camera (especially later in his career), choosing instead to keep it static and close to the floor; his characters often look directly into the lens, causing each conversation to feel extremely intimate, as if the audience is itself involved. It is a clean, trouble-free vision, void of flair but so perfectly realized that its apparent simplicity can obscure just how beautiful the images really are. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) All films screen at Northwest FIlm Forum. Tokyo Chorus, accompanied by Karla Torgensen, Thurs March 3 at 7 pm. The Only Son, Thurs-Sat at 7 and 9 pm. End of Summer, Fri-Sun at 6:15 and 8:45 pm, Mon-Wed at 7 and 9:15 pm. The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice, Sun-Wed at 6:30 and 9 pm. I Flunked, But... , accompanied by Dan Tyack and Christine Gunn, Sun March 6 at 4:30 pm. Passing Fancy, accompanied by Lori Goldston and Elizabeth Falconer, Thurs March 10 at 7 pm. For details, see www.nwfilmforum.org/ozu.
The Small Black Room
This 1949 film by Michael Powell is about an man who specializes in bomb deactivation and hard drinking. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs March 3 at 7:30 pm.
Spawn of the Slithis
A 1978 horror flick about a nuclear accident that produces a mutant sea monster called the Slithis. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat at 11 pm.
Speak Out: I Had an Abortion
A documentary about women's abortion experinces, hosted by Aradia Women's Health Center. Capitol Hill Arts Center (Lower Level), Thurs March 10, 6-9 pm.
Through Hell and High Water
A love story about Nancy and Archie Kelly and a daring World War II rescue. Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs at 7 pm, Sun at 2 pm.
Travellers & Magicians
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun 1:40, 4:10, 7, 9:30 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9:30 pm.
A Tree of Palme
A 2002 retelling of the Pinocchio story in resplendent anime. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 6, 8:30 pm, Sat-Sun 3:30, 6, 8:30 pm.
Until the End of the World
The 1991 Wim Wenders cult classic is a unique road movie set at the end of the millenium. Introduced by author Greg Bear. EMP's JBL Theater, Fri March 4 at 7 pm.
A documentary by Melody Gilbert about physically typical people who are obsessed with amputees. 911 Media Arts, Thurs March 3 at 7 pm.
The Animation Show
While those in the mood for spring-loaded intestines certainly won't be disappointed, there's enough genuine upward-aimed art to satisfy the wary. Somewhat shockingly for a shorts program, there's nary a clunker to be found. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
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 movie exec (John Travolta) tries his hand in music and (what else?) meets a girl (Uma Thurman) along the way.
Because of Winn-Dixie
A kid named Opal finds a dog in a grocery store.
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)
A man returns home to face a childhood trauma.
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 out for a more detailed exploration. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Bride & Prejudice
I'm happy to report that adapter Paul Mayeda Berges and co-adapter/director Gurinder Chadha lose no sleep over fitting the plot of Pride and Prejudice into a Bollywood mold. The end result doesn't bear the faintest resemblance to Jane Austen, and truth be told, it doesn't cleave too closely to Bollywood conventions either. Bride & Prejudice--even the title makes me simultaneously cringe and cackle--is shorter than you'd expect, some of the colors in that big party scene look a bit washed out, and a certain character bears an unmistakable resemblance to Ali G. But who cares in the slightest? (ANNIE WAGNER)
As crackpot Catholicism goes, Constantine ain't half bad--in fact, I enjoyed it far more than I expected. Keanu Reeves may struggle mightily during some of the quiet moments (if Latin wasn't already a dead language, he'd surely kill it), but his stumbles are more than made up for by the always welcome presence of Rachel Weisz (as a detective who finds herself embroiled in Constantine's religious fury), as well as the surprising work of director Francis Lawrence behind the lens. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
A werewolf movie by Wes Craven.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Diary of a Mad Black Woman flouts critical scrutiny so flagrantly that it feels redundant to call it a bad movie. Every last scene in the film is grotesque and overstuffed; it constantly undermines its own morals. (ANNIE WAGNER)
For the most part, Hitch is dull because Smith plays a playa (a man who has all the right moves). It's only late in the film where things turn lively, as he finally wakes up and begins to do more of what he always did when he was as a teen rapper and a '90s TV star: comedy. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Unlike Spielberg's Schindler's List, Hotel Rwanda doesn't have a huge budget, which is the primary reason why it's not a great film in terms of both photography and casting (many of the extras do not look like Hutus or Tutsis). It's 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)
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)
Inside Deep Throat
It's the background of Deep Throat not as a porn landmark, but as a portrait of the cultural climate of repression and anti-obscenity laws that met it, which is the most fascinating aspect of the film. From Nixon appointing a commission on pornography and then suppressing its findings when they don't deliver the wanted political outcome, all the way up to the Meese Commission under Ronald Reagan's regime, the filmmakers give us a chilling portrait of the industry of censorship. (NATE LIPPENS)
See review this issue.
Man of the House
A movie about a sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones) who is entrusted with the lives of some vulnerable cheerleaders.
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)
Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Compared to, say, Jackie Chan's comedic underdogging, the star can't help but come off as a bit of a cold fish. Thankfully, whatever Tony Jaa may lack in charisma, he more than makes up for in utter and total bodily self-disregard; whether skittering through a coil of barbed wire at top speed or doing the splits under a moving van, he delivers a constant stream of suicidally crazy-legged stunts that would make the Jackass crew reach for their Blue Cross cards. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
See review this issue.
Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Christopher Robin once again plays with his Pooh.
The Sea Inside
The movie is admirable and unsparing, and it's a departure for Alejandro Amenábar, a director who's only ever made thrillers and ghost stories. Still, it suffers under the weight of unrelenting ruin. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
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)
Son of the Mask
This atrocity was unspeakably bad! Like, the soul-sucking kind of bad. (MEGAN SELING)
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)