The Butter Effect
A "highly anticipated wakeboarding video" shot in 16 mm. Premier, Sat April 9 at 7:30 pm.
SAM's French film noir series kicks off with this 1952 film by Jacques Becker (Touchez Pas au Grisbi). Seattle Art Museum, Thurs April 7 at 7:30pm.
City Slivers and Fresh Kills: The Films of Gordon Matta-Clark
Films from the 1970s by the self-styled "anarchitect" Gordon Matta-Clark. Seattle architect Jerry Garcia will introduce the screening. Northwest FIlm Forum, Sat April 9 at 7 pm.
The success of this comedy in its native country, Norway, offers conclusive evidence that the closer one gets to the Arctic Circle the stranger the sense of humor becomes. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs April 7 at 7 pm.
See review this issue. Varsity, see Movie Times for details.
An Evening of New Digital Music and Video
The UW's Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media presents an evening of video by Mari Kirmura, Frances White, and Richard Karpen, accompanied by Mari Kimura on violin. Meany Hall, UW campus, Tues April 12 at 8 pm.
Every Mother's Son
A documentary about the mothers of Amadou Diallo, Anthony Baez, and Gary Busch. University Heights Center, Room 106, Fri April 8 at 7 pm.
See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Fri at 7 pm, Sat-Thurs at 7:15 and 9 pm. Friday screening followed by a party, see www.nwfilmforum.org for details.
Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence
The battle sequences are impressively complex, but the long sections of philosophizing are laughably simple. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Savery Hall Room 239, UW campus, Thurs April 7 at 7:30 pm.
Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!
A 1933 musical starring Al Jolson as the self-proclaimed "Mayor of Central Park." Movie Legends, Sun April 10 at 1 pm.
Langston Hughes African-American FIlm Festival
A film festival showcasing classic and contemporary films by African Americans. All films screen at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Lip, Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People, and Au Pair Chocolat, Fri April 8 at 7 pm. Storme: The Lady of the Jewel Box, Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story, and The Edge of Each Other's Battles: The Vision of Audrey Lourde, Sat April 9 at noon. My Grandmother Worked, The Kitchen Blues, and Bringin' in the Spirit: Honoring the Accomplishments of African-American Midwives, Sat April 9 at 3:30 pm. Afropunk: The Rock 'N Roll Nigger Experience, with post-show discussion with filmmaker James Spooner, Sat April 9 at 7 pm. Black Panther and Three Day Pass (La Permission), Sun April 10 at 1:30 pm. Chisolm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, Sun April 10 at 5:30 pm. Cuban Roots/Bronx Stories, Sun April 10 at 7:30 pm.
Lenbach - Ophuls - Fassbinder
Film critic Robert Horton and visual artist Joseph Park discuss the films of Max Ophuls and Rainer Werner Fassbinder in relation to the exbition of portraits by Franz von Lenbach currently on at the Frye. Frye Art Museum, Sun April 10 at 2 pm.
Pepe Le Moko
A beautiful socialite named Gaby (Mireille Balin) chances upon the infamous criminal Pepe le Moko (Jean Gabin) during a police raid on the labyrinthine Casbah district of Algiers. In one fabulous, deservedly renowned scene, Pepe idly seduces the poised Gaby by pretending exclusive interest in her elaborate jewelry. This brilliant and feisty 1937 movie represents the sort of guilty pleasure that could only become a classic in the medium of film--the shame of France's colonial past is inseparable from the pleasure we take in watching these suave gangsters revel in their exotic surroundings. The newly restored print isn't perfect, but the experience of seeing this kind of grand fatalism on the big screen is priceless. (ANNIE WAGNER) Seattle Art Museum, Thurs April 14 at 7:30 pm.
See Stranger Suggests, page 21. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm.
Rabbit in the Moon
Of the many documentaries I have seen on the subject of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, this one stands out as the best. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Central Library, Sun April 10 at 2 pm.
Rubin & Ed
Crispin Glover stars as (what else?) a loner who's looking for the perfect resting place for his deceased feline. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm. (And tickets are only a buck!)
Gulshat Omarova's first feature is a tough and tender coming-of-age film rife with moral predicaments. Schizo centers on the slow-witted fifteen-year-old Mustafa (Olzhas Nusuppaev), known as "Schizo," who gets tangled up in illegal bare-knuckle boxing matches supervised by a local gangster. The story is set in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, where the harsh, austere landscape of yellowish grass, piles of coal slag, and deserted buildings lends the conventional story a layer of barren grace and desolation. Desperate men risk their lives in the boxing ring, a doctor accepts bribes in the form of pickles and sour cream from poor patients, and Schizo's drunken uncle makes a living stripping wires from utility poles. Omarova is an observant, self-confident filmmaker with a deft ability to blend the slower rhythms of bleak character study with the verve of a gritty crime story. But the development of an improbable romance detracts from--and eventually upends--the darker and more fascinating portrait of these characters' survival. (NATE LIPPENS) Varsity, see Movie Times for details.
Tasveer: Traveling Film South Asia
A festival of South Asian documentaries. All screenings take place at 911 Media Arts. Final Solution, a 2004 documentary by Rakesh Sharma about the atmosphere of religious tension that gave rise to and then exploded in the wake of the Gujarat rioting, Thurs April 7 at 7 pm. Sand and Water, a documentary about the volatile middle section of the Jamuna River, and the people who live on its banks, Tues April 12 at 7 pm. Series continues through April 29, see www.tasveer.org for details.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose
Wrtier/director Rebecca Miller deals her cards large, and with a perversely admirable shamelessness; pretentious as it may be, you've just got to respect a filmmaker with the chutzpah to juxtapose a young girl's deflowering with a snake being set loose in the house. The performances may ultimately not be able to conquer the overpowering artiness of Miller's approach, but they do manage to render it somewhat less airless. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
I had no idea Kevin Bacon was in this movie and then--POOF!--there he was, acting all pompous and French and sporting the worst hairdo he's ever had in the history of all Kevin Bacon hairdos. It was quite exciting. The rest of the movie, though, was a lot like Barbershop except all the roles are reversed. (MEGAN SELING)
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)
This latest lightly accented and life-affirming import from the good folks at Miramax is enough to make the wary reach for the insulin: a stalled-in-neutral woman with a mysterious past (Emily Mortimer) hires a strong and silent sailor (Gerard Butler) to impersonate her deaf son's long-absent father for a weekend. While it certainly sounds precious enough, it is to the film's credit that things never quite develop in the way expected. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
There are a lot of sentimental war moments in Downfall, and the conceit that we are watching through the eyes of Hitler's sheltered and therefore ignorant (and therefore blameless) secretary, is flimsy on many levels. (SEAN NELSON)
Dust to Glory
An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) documentary from director Dana Brown (Step Into Liquid), Dust to Glory chronicles the Tecate Score Baja 1000 race, where lunatics onboard motorcycles, cars, and even motor homes spend 32 hours blazing through 1000 miles of Baja peninsula, rolling over, crashing, and sometimes dying. Shot with over 50 cameras, the film is a definite thrill to watch, masterfully edited and littered with interesting characters. And even though the music occasionally hammers home the heroics to an absurd degree, there's no denying the ridiculous bravery--or is it psychotic lack of self-preservation?--that drives the racers, a bravery Brown manages to let himself, and his film, get caught up in. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
In 2003, The Stranger named then-17-year-old Jesse Harris as a recipient of one of the Genius Awards "Ones to Watch" for raiding his college to direct his first feature film. Now that film, Living Life, has been completed, and even though the final product can't be called genius, the label "one to watch" certainly remains. The story: Likeable kid Jason (played bravely by Benjamin Garman), who has just graduated from high school, is diagnosed with a freak form of cancer. While undergoing treatment his bonds with his friends are tested, estranged family members are forgiven, and magic occurs--both between individuals and in the halls and wards of the hospital. All of which sounds very afterschool special--like (which it is), but Harris' surprising skill with a camera, along with the sheer charm of his precociousness, helps keep the film from becoming an overbearingly preachy slog. As first efforts go, we've all seen a lot worse from adults. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Melinda and Melinda
Woody Allen's fans will reflexively and devotedly hail this as a return to form. It's actually a return to two forms: the tragic and comic strands of marital fidelity that the auteur has tirelessly (and often tiresomely) been threading over the course of his once-brilliant, ever-increasingly meaningless oeuvre. (NATE LIPPENS)
Million Dollar Baby
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)
Danny Boyle has crafted a kid-friendly fable with enough sly modern-day relevance to keep adults from checking their watches. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
A school in rural Tennessee collects millions of paper clips and installs them in a concentration-camp cattle car as school project and Holocaust memorial. In defiance of the flatfooted, unreflectively pious documentary video work, the project's glorious improbability held my attention. (MIKE WHYBARK)
Robots may seem like a heartwarming children's flick that relies on dazzling animation to cover up a predictable storyline and not-as-funny-as-it-should-be dialogue, but really it's the most PUNK ROCK MOVIE ON EARTH. (MEGAN SELING)
Schultze Gets the Blues
Much of the film centers on the encroachment of Western ideas onto traditional European modes of living, so it's refreshing that director Michael Schorr allows his pilgrim's progress to unfold with ambivalence. There are no screeds here, just some very pointed, poignant observations about the slow death of the old way, already in progress. (SEAN NELSON)
In purely aesthetic terms, Sin City is without a doubt the ultimate comic-book movie. Dialogue, sets, costumes, even framing--each has been thoroughly copped from the pages of Miller's comics, almost to the point of absurdity. The result is one of the most daring and beautifully made films you'll ever see--too bad, then, that it's as thin as the pages the comic was printed on. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)
Steamboy, Katsuhiro Otomo's monstrously anticipated comeback, ditches his familiar Neo-Tokyo stomping grounds for an equally insanely rendered 19th century London. Unfortunately, although the copious technology built on acres of shuddering cogs and gears is unquestionably neat, the sheer flabbergasting level of detail, and over-reliance on third act super-sized explosions, eventually proves exhausting. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
The Upside of Anger
The Upside of Anger makes an all-too-blatant grab for the award-friendly glory road well plowed by the likes of American Beauty and Terms of Endearment, yet is nearly redeemed by a cast that wrings out every last bit of potential from the formula. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Walk on Water
What lingers past the clutter of seemingly disparate topics the film touches on (nationalism, socio-political posturing, sexual identity, and a smattering of romantic comedy) are the number of unexpected character moments. For a film to tackle such a crazy quilt of ideas is perhaps certifiable. That it almost pulls it off is borderline miraculous. (ANDREW WRIGHT)