LIMITED RUN

Beserk!

Joan Crawford plays the ringmaster of a traveling circus in this cheesy 1968 slasher movie. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

The Flower of Evil

This recent film by Nouvelle Vague progenitor Claude Chabrol is not an adaptation of Baudelaire's masterwork (those flowers are plural), but a story about a politician and her family's checkered past. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs June 9 at 7:30 pm.

recommended Kodachrome Memories

Just in time for Kodak's recent announcement that they'd like to stop manufacturing the titular Super-8 film format comes this screening of Kodachrome Memoirs, a live film performance using 11 field recordings and hundreds of slides gathered from an abandoned apartment building. S.S. Marie Antoinette, Fri June 3 at 8 pm.

La Rupture (The Breakup)

A 1970 Claude Chabrol film about a wife who is wrongly blamed for her son's injury. Seattle Art Museum, Thurs June 2 at 7:30 pm.

Mondovino

See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Fri 7 pm (opening night w/ reception), Sat-Tues 7, 9:30 pm, Wed 9:30 pm.

Pulgasari!

Former North Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung kidnapped South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok and forced him to make this movie, a pro-Communist Godzilla ripoff. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

Rio Bravo

Grand Illusion fills in the gaps in its recent Howard Hawks retrospective with this 1959 western. Rio Bravo stars John Wayne as a sheriff who enlists the town's lowliest citizens in his quest to lock up the bad guy. Grand Illusion, Fri 6, 8:30 pm, Sat-Sun 3:30, 6, 8:30 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9:30 pm.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

A factory worker played by Arthur Finney rages against the world in this 1960 British film by Karel Reisz. Movie Legends, Sun June 5 at 1 pm.

Seattle True Independence Film Festival

A festival of local shorts, with screenings at Rendezvous, Seattle Art Museum, and Northwest Actors Studio, Fri-Sun. For schedule and ticket information, please see www.seattletrueindependence.com.

recommended We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen

For many in the punk world, the Minutemen were something of a legend. The San Pedro trio only lasted five years in the early '80s, but their chemistry, odd rhythms, clipped song lengths, and political/humorous lyrics influenced musicians for years to come. We Jam Econo is a love letter to the band-Mike Watt, D. Boon, and George Hurley, all of whom are interviewed in this film. (Boon was killed in a car crash in 1985, but there is vintage footage of the guitarist from the band's early days). Director Irwin didn't leave the perspective on the Minutemen entirely on the band, however, including interview footage from members of the Dead Kennedys, X, Wilco, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wire, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr., among others. The hardcore Minutemen appreciation society will most likely appreciate the little details that come out of the film's extensive scope-like how Boon and Watt met as kids when Boon fell out of a tree, or how Watt went into a music store not knowing what a bass was (somehow) after already starting to play the instrument. (JENNIFER MAERZ) Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7, 9 pm.

NOW PLAYING

recommended 3-Iron

The story involves a wanderer named Tae-suk (Jae Hee) who spends his evenings sneaking into homes while their owners are on vacation. Tae-suk isn't interested in theft, however-he'd much rather tidy up, giving the family a clean home to return to. On one break-in, Tae-suk stumbles across a former model named Sun-hwa (Lee Seung-yeon) who lives in a posh pad with her abusive husband. While the two have an immediate attraction to each other, the early rounds of their relationship are timid; never speaking to each other, they easily move into the comforts of familiarity that every good relationship provides. Unfortunately, Sun-hwa's husband comes home and Tae-suk takes to the abusive louse with a handy 3-iron. The silent couple now find themselves on the run. For romantic types, those who believe, or like to believe, that love is like a fever that springs without warning, 3-Iron may very well bring you to the brink of tears. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

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)

Crash

Crash, the directing debut of Million Dollar Baby screenwriter Paul Haggis, certainly doesn't want for hubris, but ultimately stands as a case of laudable ambition overwhelming still-developing narrative abilities. Although his would-be epic of race relations in Los Angeles sports a handful of genuinely searing moments, it's hard to shake the sense of someone constantly rearranging three-by-five cards behind the scenes for maximum impact. The cast, led by Don Cheadle's tragically clear-eyed central homicide cop, almost makes it fly, though, with special mention going to Ludacris (as a carjacker hilariously obsessed with the Man), and, especially, Sandra Bullock's admirably against-type portrayal of an upper-class housewife with a major chip on her shoulder. Together, they can't quite make Haggis' preachy puppet show feel entirely organic, but they certainly take some of the glare off of the strings. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Downfall

Support The Stranger

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)

recommended Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

The scariest thing about Enron's fraudulent business plan was this: The corrupt mastermind, CEO Jeff Skilling, was likely onto the future model of the American economy. With the collapse of traditional industry, it's possible that 21st-century American companies-like Enron in the late 20th century-will be trading purely in abstractions, dealing in virtual commodities and virtual profits. Enron got caught first. And this accessible, damning documentary shows us the corporate double-speak in action. Problem is, while it's certainly a pleasure to listen in on a conference call shortly before the gig was up-where a skeptical analyst demands that Skilling cough up a balance sheet (Skilling calls the guy an asshole)-I can't help but think that Enron's subterfuge was a prescient version of our future economy. (JOSH FEIT)

recommended The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

I am not a Hitchhiker's Guide nerd, but even I know that Ford Prefect is no American rapper, sir. Mos Def isn't the only grossly miscast actor in this adaptation of Douglas Adams' beloved novels; even the great Sam Rockwell is too much to take. The film suffers from the same problem as planet Earth: too many Americans. Still, whenever there are at least two British actors on-screen-especially Martin Freeman, AKA Tim from The Office, or the film-stealing Bill Nighy-the movie version mines big, warm, absurd laughs alongside its hyper-imaginative graphics, and quasi-mystical pop metaphysicality. How ironic that this, of all movies, would suffer from not being British enough. SEAN NELSON

The Interpreter

The Interpreter turns what could have been a smart and twisty political thriller-with heavy emphasis on political-into a bogged-down and bland mulling over of wounded souls and suppressed sexual attraction. It's hard to care about the characters played by Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, since the actors seems to care very little about the characters themselves (she hides beneath a weak accent; he is in full-blown Penn mumbling mode), and with their brooding relationship (kept chaste, thankfully) routinely burying the intricacies of the plot, interest easily wanes. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Kicking & Screaming

Kicking & Screaming stars Will Ferrell as Phil Weston, a grown man cowering in the shadow of his competitive father, Buck (Robert Duvall). Everything Phil does, Buck has to do one better; when Phil has his first child, Buck becomes a dad again the same day. But Phil gets backed into a corner when his dad coaches the local 10-year-olds' soccer team, and with father and son's kids on the same team, it's Phil's boy who stays a benchwarmer. So Phil decides to coach the opposing team (with his kid on it) and slap-your-forehead humor and Mike Ditka cameos ensue. Although some of the jokes are subtle enough to elicit snickering (i.e., Phil's fumbling for words with the hot lesbian soccer moms), Kicking is really a kids' movie with nothing for adults but the hope that Ferrell moves back into R country soon. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

recommended Kingdom of Heaven

The spiritual tunnels Ridley Scott mines are not terribly deep, but Kingdom of Heaven's refusal to take sides-condemning neither Christians nor Muslims-gives the film a startling strength. Some may call this decision a cop-out, or even cowardly, and it may indeed be both. But it's hard to argue that for an epic crafted around the spectacle of violence, the amount of attention Scott has given to the meaning of God (and, in the case of the film's hero, the question of God), is surprising in these polemic times. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

recommended Kontroll

Broad low comedy is alive and well in Eastern Europe. This might not sound like big news, given that broad low comedy is as Eastern European as adulterous bedroom farce is French. The better news is that this Hungarian film, which follows a ragtag group of ticket takers on the Istanbul subway, combines its broad low comedy index with a modern-world-weary surrealism, yielding a glorious goulash of the all-in-one-night exhilaration of films like After Hours and Miracle Mile, the high-lowbrow paranoid wit of Kafka, and the bawdy humor of '80s teen comedies. There's a murder mystery along the way, and all the antics you might expect from such an ensemble dark comedy-challenges of authority, friendships made and tested, sudden death-but plot is obviously just a way to help the filmmakers stay down in the subway station as long as they possibly can, the better to amuse themselves (and us) with grim behavioral observations. Kontroll all but literally spills over with bodily fluids, crude jokes, and a morbid humor that, however obliquely, reveals the film's core truth: We are trapped in life, and there's no sense pretending there's anything better to expect once we leave it. Again, how much more Eastern European could you ever want to be? (SEAN NELSON)

recommended Kung Fu Hustle

Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle, in which snazzy ax-wielding mobsters find themselves thwarted by a slum in which virtually every single senior citizen possesses mad fighting skills, is a loving send-up of seemingly every martial arts convention in the book. If you're in the mood for this sort of thing, the first 40 minutes or so are close to dead-solid perfect, culminating in an extended sight gag involving snakes and misthrown butcher knives which belongs in the physical comedy Parthenon. The second half, in which Chow's sad sack gangster wannabe takes a backseat to colossal bouts of CGI combat, suffers somewhat, but only in the sense that the inspired gags slow down to one or two per frame. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Ladies in Lavender

In this assemblage of implausible vignettes , Maggie Smith is the proper sister Janet, concerned with privacy and appearances. Judi Dench plays Ursula, a fragile little biddy stuck in a permanent state of childish desperation because-this is actually in the script-she's never been properly fucked. They like to garden and knit, and the camera likes to follow gulls as they soar majestically over the beach. Then, a hot teen boy (Daniel Brühl) washes up on the shore. Ursula goes crazy; Janet huffs and acts a little weird herself (her husband died long ago). The kid doesn't speak a word of English, and there's a brief moment when someone suspects he might be a German spy, but then that tangent trails off, and he's actually a Polish violin prodigy. Luckily, the sexy Franco-Russian girl next door has a famous maestro for a brother, and the movie ends with a rousing concert, which (like everything else in this film) is flimsy and unintentionally sad. (ANNIE WAGNER)

The Longest Yard

This remake has Adam Sandler playing the role that Burt Reynolds, who is also in the film, played in the original. Reynolds is now the mentor of Sandler, who has fallen from the comfortable world of a former football quarterback to the very bottom of society, prison. Sandler is never funny, Chris Rock (as another convict) is sometimes funny, Nelly (the rapper) is very funny (not intentionally, however), and Burt Reynolds is always sad. You can tell he doesn't want to be in this picture, that he has better things to do with what remains of his life (he'll soon turn 70)-but there he is, on the sidelines of this remake, watching the stupid game, and watching what amounts to a mockery of the powerfully handsome man he was 30 years ago. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

recommended 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. 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, wonderful as a cackling bastard) 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 th-e soundtrack is potentially one for the vaults. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Mad Hot Ballroom

In terms of scope, the first-time director and writer may have bitten off a bit more than they can comfortably chew, as the scenes of the kids' ballroom dancing contest come off as alternately long-winded and confusing. The ability to fashion anything even remotely comprehensible out of hundreds of hours of footage is admirable, but a slightly heavier hand in the editing bay could have worked wonders. Where their efforts ultimately soar, however, is in the rare moments between dances, as the camera is plunked into the corner and made privy to the unscripted and remarkably unselfconscious conversations between the students at home. Crammed around foosball tables and slouching off couches, these kids give off a sense of real life that transcends the mere feel-good. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Millions

Danny Boyle has crafted a kid-friendly fable with enough sly modern-day relevance to keep adults from checking their watches.Teamed again with his 28 Days cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, every blade of grass is a nuclear Jolly Rancher green, bad guys block out the sun, tract houses quick assemble around the oblivious tenants, and landscapes stretch out for eons. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Monster-in-Law

The beginning of this movie is so horrible, so bland, so curdled, so... well, typical, as romantic comedies go, that once the prospective mother-in-law (Jane Fonda) digs her claws into the bride-to-be (Jennifer Lopez), you can't help cheering wildly. It's like watching a bad movie eat itself. I'm not claiming the second half of Monster-in-Law will keep you from feeling ashamed of yourself. For example, there are not one but two walking-stereotype sidekicks: a sass-talking black assistant, played by Wanda Sykes, and a compliment-doling gay best friend, played by Adam Scott. But the thing is, it's extremely satisfying to watch someone try to poison J. Lo.

recommended Sahara

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 as 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. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Sin City

To call the film an adaptation is a massive understatement; this isn't a translation, it's a cut-and-paste job, bringing Miller's twisted vision directly to the screen in all its unfiltered glory. 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)

recommended Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Episode III will, indeed, be impossible to resist. Like it or not, the Force is with all of us, and I for one am more than happy to have seen the series through. There are haunting moments in Revenge of the Sith (when Anakin switches on his light saber in the Jedi Academy I defy you not to get chills), and even though the film also has its truly embarrassing elements-romance, as always, remains an elusive creature to Lucas, and in the end the evil Sith lord's scheme to turn Anakin over to the dark side is hysterically obvious (who knew Darth Vader was such an easily manipulated dolt?)-at this point there's doesn't seem to be much of a reason to quibble. The epic many of us grew up with has reached its end; a moment of silence, please, for both what was and what could have been. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Unleashed

Jet Li plays an uneducated slave who knows only how to fight. But then his master dies, and he comes to appreciate classical music.

recommended 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. Damned if it doesn't work, though. Despite a few unfortunately syrupy music cues and an occasional drift into the land of the overly cutes, director/photographer Judy Irving's film is a refreshingly nonjudgmental, beautifully shot look at a genuine original, and the San Franciscan community that affectionately supports his decidedly unusual drumbeat. Mild tonal sputtering aside, this word-of-mouth art house phenom is the rare movie that honestly earns its sentimentality, with a Zapruderish photographic reveal in the final act that's seriously the most affecting thing I've seen all year. Stock up on Kleenex and take the folks. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

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