Amnesty International Film Festival
A series of documentaries about human rights, both here and abroad. All films screen on the UW campus. Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, about a civil rights leader whose sexuality caused him to be marginalized within the movement, Denny Hall Room 216, Thurs April 21 at 5:30 pm. Two Towns of Jasper, about a racially motivated murder in the town of Jasper, Texas, Denny Hall Room 216, Thurs April 21 at 7:15 pm. Thirst, a documentary about the privatization of world water resources, Thomson Hall Room 101, Fri April 22 at 5:30 pm. One Night in Bhopal, a BBC doc about a poison gas spill at an Indian pesticide plant, Thomson Hall Room 101, Fri April 22 at 7:15 pm.
Artist Trust's Reel Big Deal
A showcase of features and shorts by local filmmakers. All events take place on Sun April 24 at Northwest Film Forum. Shorts program, including work by Dave Hanagan and Wes Kim, 2 pm. Wave Babies, a feature by Lisa Knox Nervig about a 40-year-old ex-surfer named Val, 3:30 pm. Buffalo Bill's Defunct, a feature by Matt Wilkins, 5 pm. Borrowing Time, a mostly- animated experimental feature by Web Crowell, 8 pm.
Big City Dick
It would have been far too easy for the creators of Big City Dick: Richard Peterson's First Movie to do a disservice to their subject. Street musician and Johnny Mathis/Sea Hunt obsessor Richard Peterson is, like all obsessives, readily mockable. But Big City Dick isn't interested in mocking, and the end result is one of the most endearing documentaries you'll ever encounter. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Rendezvous, Wed at 7 pm. Continues through May 1.
Children of Nature
A 1991 film about budding romance in a Reykjavik old folks' home. Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs April 28 at 7 pm.
Class of 1984
The cult favorite about a new teacher and a thug student who face off in an '80s high school. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
The Fearless Freaks
See Stranger Suggests. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 7, 9 pm, Mon 7, 9 pm, Wed 7, 9 pm.
The Girl From Monday
See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7, 9 pm.
Hard Goodbyes: My Father
A 2002 Greek film set in 1969, Hard Goodbyes is about a boy named Elia who is excited about the moon landing and sad about his father's death. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 6:30, 8:45 pm, Sat-Sun 4:15, 6:30, 8:45 pm.
It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
The 1963 film about a car crash and madcap treasure hunt, with a cast of comic greats. Movie Legends, Sun April 24 at 1 pm.
See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun 1, 4, 7, 9:45 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9:45 pm.
My Life as a Dog
A 1985 film by Lasse Halstrom about a little boy named Ingemar who goes away to stay with relatives for the summer. Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs April 21 at 7 pm.
In this charming 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) Egyptian, Fri-Sat at midnight.
Inamura Shohei's 1966 film about a destitute family man who also makes adult films. Savery Hall Room 239, UW campus, Thurs April 21 at 7:30 pm.
Quai Des Orfèvres
Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is going places, or so she thinks, and plays fast and loose with the come-ons of other men in full view of her husband Maurice, who simmers with impotent jealousy. She's a chorus girl, dancer, and model, with boundless aspirations, but Maurice, she swears, is the only fella for her. One night, her ambitions and flirtations collide in the apartment of Brignon (Charles Dullin, exquisitely sleazy), an impresario whose taste for ladies runs to just this side of porn; next thing you know, Brignon is dead, Maurice is under suspicion, and Jenny has to decide just how much to confess, and to whom. All this detail really only scratches the surface of a film that's near-delirious with its own energy. Made just three years after France's liberation, Orfèvres is funny, kinky, tough, and cynical, but it swells with love for both cinema and mankind. (SEAN NELSON) Seattle Art Museum, Thurs April 21 at 7:30 pm.
This package of six short films about free climber Timmy O'Neill is on a tour of the Western states. Neptune, Tues April 26 at 7 pm.
Seattle Polish Film Festival
The 13th local festival of Polish films, all screening at the Seattle Art Museum. Highlights include the Academy Award nominee The Children of Leningradsky and an appearance by Magdalena Piekorz, the director of the child-abuse melodrama The Welts. Sat April 23: The Secret of Fern Flower at 1 pm, Symmetry at 3 pm, Angel in Love at 7:30 pm. Sun April 24: Bloody Nose at 2 pm, (the disturbingly titled) Let's Make a Grandson at 4 pm, Zhoorek at 6 pm, The Welts at 8 pm. Festival continues through May 1, see www.polishfilms.org for details.
Tasveer: Traveling Film South Asia
A festival of South Asian documentaries. All screenings take place at 911 Media Arts. The Unconscious, about "kothi," or men who identify as women, plays with Made in India, about the commodification of national symbols of India, and Swara: A Bridge Over Troubled Water, about the Pakhtun practice of giving minor girls in marriage as a means of reparation for serious crimes committed by their male relatives, Fri April 22 at 7 pm. Hunting Down Water, about the water shortage in India, plays with The Battle For Blue Gold, about the fight against Coca-Cola in an indiginous community in Kerala, India, Tues April 26 at 7 pm. Development Flows From the Barrel of the Gun, about the forced development of tribal populations in India, Tues April 26 at 9 pm. Resilient Rhythms, about the Indian caste system, Wed April 27 at 7 pm. The 18th Elephant: Three Monologues, about the interaction between humans and elephants, Wed April 27 at 9 pm. Series continues through April 29, see www.tasveer.org for details.
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi
The aging-gangster story is not extraordinary, true, but it's the style of the film that make it so wonderful. For example, there is a scene in which Jean Gabin--who has just figured out that a young usurper is after his loot--is preparing to talk with his dumb partner about the difficulties they now face as a result of his imprudence. But before he gets down to business, Gabin lays out on the coffee table a spread of hard bread, pâté, and a bottle of wine. Only after serving the food and eating does he address the matter at hand. The scene's only purpose is to enhance the style of the film and the cool of its leading actor, the great Jean Gabin. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Seattle Art Museum, Thurs April 28 at 7:30 pm.
A 1982 film by Gary Sherman about a murderous pimp named Ramrod. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.
The Videos of Neil Goldberg
See Stranger Suggests. Northwest Film Forum, Tues April 26 at 7 pm.
Japanese punk rockers save the world! This movie has it all--alien zombies, a superhero band, a drug-gulping club owner, a leggy gun runner, and transvestite love. The film's message is captured when Guitar Wolf (YAY! GUITAR WOLF!) jumps off the top of a building screaming "rock 'n' roll!" only to land on two feet, re-tune his guitar, and stroke a chord. (AARON ZUEGE) Savery Hall Room 239, UW campus, Thurs April 28 at 7:30 pm.
The Amityville Horror
Based on a true story: house for a song, dark past, black gunk on the walls, something in the cellar, flies on the priest, yadda yadda yadda, "Get Out!" and so on. The screaming demon from the original may have toned it down decibel-wise, but that's really the only subtle thing about this Michael Bay-produced remake of one of the least fondly remembered '70s horror flicks, which tries to justify its existence by swapping out the old tired horror clichés for weary new ones (stringy-haired she-ghosts, rapid-fire CGI). Not a complete waste--there's one genuinely tense bit on the roof, Ryan Reynolds has some cool facial hair, and a sequence involving a sexpot babysitter trapped in the closet favorably recalls the grisly grindhouse days--but nothing worth justifying anything above matinee price. I just pray they leave The Entity alone. (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 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, 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)
The premise of Dear Frankie, the 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. Romance blossoms, life lessons are learned, shaky family ties are strengthened, etc. While it certainly sounds precious enough, it is to the film's credit that things never quite develop in the way expected, and with a mildly bittersweet resolution unusual to the genre. (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. Because the characters are Nazis, their panic and its subsequent rash of suicides and murders are deeply satisfying. Because it's a movie, however, you're left with the unpleasant prospect of watching a bunch of rats slowly drowning for two and a half hours. There are better ways to go. (SEAN NELSON)
The bummer is that Fever Pitch isn't as funny as other Farrelly classics. It still has that "cute as fuck" spin to it that is utterly unhateable (even if you usually don't like the whole romantic comedy thing), but no nuts will be busted this time around. (MEGAN SELING)
Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher star in this movie about a grumpy in-law-to-be and the white boy his daughter wants to marry.
Disney's latest stupid "believe in yourself" after-school special. (MEGAN SELING)
Anthony Anderson plays Malcom King, a businessman who arranges his own kidnapping for fun and profit.
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 schmaltzy and 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)
Look At Me
Amid the unceasing slew of soft-focus, easily multiplexed foreign fare, director Agnes Jaoui's 2000 debut The Taste of Others was a welcome blast of unpredictable air, a razor-sharp farce that gloried in the complex nature of its characters. Jaoui's follow-up, the occasionally plodding yet mostly wonderful Look At Me, revels in a series of similarly hard-to-guess Lockhorn pairings, the most intriguing of which involves a monstrously egotistical writer (co-writer Jean-Pierre Bachri) and his fiercely body-conscious daughter. While the potentially hoary themes of self-worth and family foibles will no doubt have the remake police licking their chops, the breezy, hyper-literate vibe, which feels like it could peel out into pathos or screwball comedy at any moment, should prove much less replicable. Jauoi is quickly proving herself as one to keep an eye on, and possibly even more; any filmmaker who can successfully quickdraw between lilting chorals and House of Pain on the soundtrack is potentially one for the vaults. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Melinda and Melinda
Some people will reflexively and devotedly hail Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda 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
As sappy and Lifetime-y as the plot sounds, Clint Eastwood's skill with the performers keeps Million Dollar Baby afloat. 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)
Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Man, this movie sucks. (MEGAN SELING)
OFF THE MAP
The man, the myth, the mustache: Frankly, it takes a lot for me to not recommend a movie starring Sam Elliott. Sadly, Off the Map, a good-looking yet overly stagy character piece in the wilds of New Mexico, fits the bill. Despite an often-stunning sense of time and place, it can't escape some fatally stage-bound dialogue. Joan Ackermann's script (adapted from her play) is awash in irritating, twinkly magical realism. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
The Ring Two
A followup to the 1998 film The Ring, again starring Naomi Watts.
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)
Thankfully, only the barest plot and character elements are held over from Clive Cussler's virtually unreadable doorstop of a novel, which is the kind of tech-heavy, mondo-macho potboiler that stewardesses must get tired of sweeping up after every flight. What still remains: Matthew McConaughey is the wonderfully named Dirk Pitt, a ludicrously rad underwater explorer/rare-car enthusiast/secret agent/master of languages/all-around stud who, along with faithful companion/hetero life partner Steve Zahn, gets caught up in a sinister desert plot involving Civil War battleships, ocean-killing water pollution, toxic waste, slithery French industrialists, feuding generals, and Lord knows what else. McConaughey's THC-saturated, lounge-lizardy persona may be far from the standard Man of Action template, but it adds a wobbly nonchalance to his various acts of over the top derring-do. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
In purely aesthetic terms, Sin City is without a doubt the ultimate comic-book movie. 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)
Turtles Can Fly
Even the most jaded CNN junkies may find their limits tested by Turtles Can Fly, a devastating new movie by Bahman Ghobadi that focuses on children caught in the middle of Operation Enduring Freedom. At times it truly feels like the end of the world. (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)
Voices in Wartime
A feature-length documentary about the poetry written during and about times of war.
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
On paper, this documentary about the five-year relationship between a gentle, sporadically homeless hippie with no visible means of support and an unruly flock of birds sounds like a recipe for instant tooth decay. Darned if it doesn't work, though. (ANDREW WRIGHT)