OPENING

CREMASTER 2 -- Grand Illusion

FANTASIA 2000 -- Pacific Science Center

MARCELLO MASTROIANNI: I REMEMBER -- Varsity Calendar


REPERTORY & REVIVAL

ALICE -- Little Theatre

BEST OF BRITISH FILM -- Seattle Art Museum

DR. STRANGELOVE -- Varsity Calendar

LA DOLCE VITA -- Grand Illusion

MAX OPHULS RETROSPECTIVE -- Grand Illusion

TIME CAPSULE: MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE -- Little Theatre


COMING SOON

January 7 -- Magnolia, Snow Falling on Cedars, Show Me Love, The Hurricane

January 12 -- Next Friday

January 14 -- Girl Interrupted, Topsy-Turvy,

Angela's Ashes, Holy Smoke!, 42 Up, Play It to

the Bone, Supernova


MOVIES & EVENTS

Alice
A little girl's journey through a maze of underground vaults becomes a bizarre, creepy variation of Lewis Carroll's story, as an assortment of characters (including a sock puppet with horse teeth) and surreal situations keep popping up. From cult favorite Jan Swankmajer. Thurs-Sun Jan 6-9 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30. Little Theatre

*All About My Mother
"You are more authentic the more you are closer to what you've dreamed you are," says Agrado (Antonia San Juan), a silicone-laden, trans- gendered ex-prostitute in Pedro Almodovar's new film All About My Mother. Agrado's self-description is one of several such sentiments in the movie to acknowledge the strength that lies behind dreams and their lowly, more practical sisters -- deception and artifice. With his usual command of color and urgent flamboyancy, Almodovar has created a heartbreaking work that pays tribute not only to his biological mother but to the art of cinema itself, and the maternal hand it has had in shaping the improvisations of anyone trying to make the world match the scope of their reveries. (Steve Wiecking) Egyptian

Amazon
An IMAX examination of the lush forests and exotic animals of the Amazon river basin. Omnidome

Anna and the King
This latest film version of Anna Leonowens' experiences with the monarch of a changing 19th-century Siam is thoughtful and extraordinarily lavish, though not especially vital. Director Andy Tennant and screenwriters Steve Meerson and Peter Krikes have opened up the brutal turbulence that has always lurked around the story's edges, yet can't compensate for the fact that Foster and action star Chow Yun Fat have no real sparks between them. Foster is as smart and solid as ever, but feminine propriety has never been her trademark, and even with the rethinking done in this version, it's still an obvious requirement for her role as a widowed schoolmistress and mother. Fat is interesting, and he wisely avoids a case of the cutes with his complex king; it's just that there's nothing here that knocks you in the spine the way that Kerr/Brynner waltz does in the 1956 film, The King and I. (Steve Wiecking) Cinerama, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree

Any Given Sunday
Oliver Stone takes on football, as an Old Guard coach (Al Pacino) battles a reckless maverick quarterback (Jamie Foxx) all the way to the playoffs. I don't suppose anyone will be surprised at what runneth over Stone's cup: ear-splitting music, bolts of lightning, and growling, Wagnerian, slo-mo close-ups, among other things. Not a conversation squeaks by that the movie doesn't clobber you with it; Stone and co-writer John Logan have created dialogue that sounds like Arthur Miller getting a shot of steroids from a frenzied Sophocles. Stone's ham fist even takes a few ill-advised swipes at racial and, worse, sexual politics. There's hardly a woman in sight who won't bust your balls -- you don't want to know what becomes of Cameron Diaz. The thing moves, certainly, with Pacino and, surprisingly, Foxx in good form, but you can get this kind of bunk on Monday night without the pretense. (Steve Wiecking) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro

*Being John Malkovich
Spike Jonze's feature film debut takes place in a comically surreal world where it's taken for granted that people build half-sized floors in New York skyscrapers, others dream of being famous puppeteers, and there's a small door that opens into a wet tunnel, leading into the head of John Malkovich. Being John Malkovich is better than most every other film out there right now because, beneath the crazy world it's so happy to exploit, there is an emotional vein that is so strong and so sad, if filmed as anything other than a comedy, the movie would be devastating. Not only does Being John Malkovich explore aspects of storytelling on film that more established directors would never think to try, not only does it thoughtfully explore philosophical issues like identity and desire (and eventually, immortality), and not only is it one of the most emotionally honest movies in theaters today, it's also damn funny and always entertaining. You gotta see it to believe it. (Andy Spletzer) Meridian 16, Neptune, Varsity

BEST OF BRITISH FILM
SAM's 10-week series of British comedies and dramas will feature the talents of directors David Lean, Carol Reed, John Boorman, and Nöel Coward, and will also pay tribute to dry humor and haughty expressions (okay, so we made that up). Clouds Over Europe (1939) is the series' first film, in which Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier (as a detective and test pilot) team up to battle spies trying to steal aircraft secrets. Starts Thurs Jan 6 at 7:30; $48 series pass, call 625-8900 for more info. Seattle Art Museum

Bicentennial Man
The Martins are your basic family of the near-future. Despite never being shown working or exerting themselves, they enjoy a disgracefully opulent lifestyle. To increase their sickening amount of leisure time, the man of the house (Sam Neill) purchases a robot (Robin Williams) to cook them waffles and perform various menial tasks. Then, in a completely revolutionary and unforeseeable development, the family discovers that the robot is developing a personality! Hilarity and sentimentality both fail to ensue as the audience is never persuaded to give a damn about "one robot's 200 year journey to become an ordinary man" so that he, too, can experience the same decadence everyone else seems to be enjoying, including fireside brandy, expensive sweaters, and, of course, android-human sexual relations. The performances are unspectacular, and Williams' tired schtick will have you longing for the comparatively brilliant robot/human drama of Short Circuit 2. (Jason Pagano) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Boys Don't Cry
Boys Don't Cry pushes myriad societal hot buttons. Sexuality. Gender. Masculinity. Why we even care about such labels is an indication of how frightened we are about ambiguities. The film is based on the true story of Brandon Teena, a girl who was murdered for living life as a boy. Hilary Swank, a Bellingham native, imbues Brandon with an infectious charisma, but the rest of the film could be seen as an indictment of the American psyche. This is not an easy film to watch; the rape and subsequent murder are unrelentingly harsh. Even the reason the story is "interesting" is depressing: Had Brandon been a real man killed in a senseless murder, his death wouldn't have merited one national headline. (Gillian G. Gaar) Broadway Market

The Cider House Rules
Lasse Hallstrom's understanding that our decisions are hardly ever black or white makes him a keen choice for director of his latest project, an adaptation of John Irving's The Cider House Rules. A sprawling homage to David Copperfield, the story charts the maturation of beloved orphan Homer Wells (Toby Maguire), who learns about the crushing ambiguities of living from several unique characters, foremost among them the paternal Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine), the orphanage director who doubles as the town's clandestine, caring abortionist. It's unusual for a major film release to touch on the subject of abortion, let alone with the plainspoken grace that Hallstrom and Irving (adapting his own work) bring to the material. Though Irving's adaptation has integrity, it is unable to envelop us with the dazzling juggling of years and characters that makes the book such a luminous accomplishment, and this limited scope is a weakness that mars an otherwise touching film. (Steve Wiecking) Guild 45th, Redmond Town Center, Uptown

Cradle Will Rock
Tim Robbins' Cradle Will Rock is a mess, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. Tackling the chaos surrounding the birth of the House Un-American Activities committee, specifically its attempt to close down the eponymous, politically sensitive play in 1936, Cradle Will Rock lands somewhere between Robert Altman's Nashville and Irwin Winkler's terrible 1991 film that also tackled the Red Scare, Guilty By Suspicion. As a director, Robbins has a perfect attention to detail, both in technique and performances, but as a screenwriter he needs to learn that when an audience is confused by events, that audience won't give a rat's ass about those events. Still, for the most part, the film works. (Bradley Steinbacher) Harvard Exit

*Cremaster 2
An "epic Gothic Western" from New York City performance artist Matthew Barney, which features Barney himself as a serial killer from Utah and Norman Mailer as Harry Houdini. With a lot of silliness, symbolism, and lavish visuals. (A West Coast theatrical premiere.) Sat-Thurs Jan 1-13 at 5, 7, 9. Weekend matinees at 3, except on Jan 1. Reviewed this issue. Grand Illusion

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo
The title rhymes. That's funny. It stars Rob Schneider, the "Copy Guy" from Saturday Night Live. That's not funny. Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

Dogma
Of course, the controversy surrounding Kevin Smith's new film is overblown. Sure, God is a woman (Alanis Morissette), the Christ-figure (Linda Fiorentino) works in an abortion clinic, new characters like the 13th Apostle (Chris Rock) and a muse-turned-stripper (Salma Hayek) are added characters, but it's all a way for Smith to ruminate on the importance of faith. The plot begins when two angels who have been kicked out of heaven find a loophole that'll get them back in. Other angels believe their return would prove the fallibility of God, and negate existence. I never bought this premise (besides, The Prophecy took the idea of jealous angels striving to regain God's attention to a bigger and better extreme), but even so, Dogma has some nice ideas -- particularly about the vengeance of the Old Testament God. (Andy Spletzer) City Centre, Varsity

*Dr. Strangelove
A new print of Stanley Kubrick's 1964 doom 'n' gloom classic, about a crazy general, possible nuclear destruction, and Cold War drama. With George C. Scott and Peter Sellers. Thurs Dec 30 at 12:45, 3, 5:15, 7:30, 9:45. Varsity Calendar

End of Days
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays ex-cop Jericho Cane, an unrepentant alcoholic who stopped believing in God when He killed his wife and child. The very sexy Robin Tunney plays Christine York, an innocent girl who was born with the mark of the devil on her arm. When Cane rescues her from murderous priests, he becomes involved in an epic struggle between Satan (Gabriel Byrne), his intended bride (Tunney), and the end of life as we know it. As Satan, Byrne is fantastic; the perfect antihero, always bemused by the folly of the pathetic humans. Director Peter Hyams doesn't get enough credit as a satirist, but here he does it again. The smart-aleck villain, the tortured hero, the wacky sidekick (Kevin Pollak), the sexy girl literally overcoming her demons, Rod Steiger as a crazy priest, the pope in a wheelchair, a dead guy on the ceiling -- End of Days has it all. (Andy Spletzer) Pacific Place 11

*The End of the Affair
The End of the Affair is the story of a romantic triangle. In other words, it is a story about hate. The lovers are cynical novelist Maurice Bendrix (Ralph Fiennes) and his friend's wife, Sarah Miles (Julianne Moore). Sarah's husband Henry (Stephen Rea) loves her too, but he's too gloomily practical a man to play the part of a rival suitor. That role gets filled by God. At first glance, the movie is as sedate and properly reserved as any literary adaptation (from Graham Greene) about religious faith should be. As a result, it can be slow going. But when Maurice's hunting down of Sarah becomes God's hunting down of Maurice, well, the movie perks up. While it lacks the grotesque, feverish intensity of the best Neil Jordan films, The End of the Affair shares their admirable curiosity about spikey characters caught in uncompromising situations, not to mention a fascination with fairy tales. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11, Seven Gables

The Eruption of Mount St. Helens
The mountain blew up in 1980, and has been blowing up on film ever since. Omnidome

Fantasia 2000
The latest Walt Disney sweeping-animation-and-classical-music extravaganza, this time in thrilling 3D. Bring your own mind-altering substances. Opens New Year's Day. Reviewed this issue. Pacific Science Center

*Fight Club
Based on the novel by Portland's Chuck Palahniuk (the bastard child of Kurt Vonnegut and J.G. Ballard), Fight Club is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of a book most people would consider unfilmable. And it's damn good. After Seven, David Fincher became popular as a director of dark and depressing films, and with Fight Club, he's made his best film yet. He has taken the bleak story, written in the first person with a detached sense of humor, and has matched its tone perfectly. A disenfranchised guy (Edward Norton), hooked on support groups for the terminally ill, gets a grade-school crush on a fellow support group tourist (Helana Bonham Carter), then meets a rebel (Brad Pitt) with whom he starts a masochistic fight club. That is when the story spins way over the top. The movie may be two and a half hours long, but it flies by. If you even remotely liked it, you'll want to see it again. (Andy Spletzer) Crest

Galaxy Quest
Dumb, but somewhat funny. Galaxy Quest begins as a spoof of Star Trek (both the show, and the continual Trekkie conventions), and by the end turns into a remake of The Last Starfighter. Tim Allen plays the William Shatner character who, along with his crew, is transported to a distant galaxy to save a (good) alien race from annihilation from a (bad) alien race. Every obvious joke imaginable is tossed into the screenplay, most of them misfiring, but the movie has a giddiness that almost makes it worthwhile. And Sigourney Weaver is absolutely stunning as a blonde. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

The Green Mile
Stephen King is a great writer, as seen in his ability to make the most generic stories interesting, surprising, and fun to read. But the stories themselves are usually not very good, which is why the movies based on the books are often so bad: The writing isn't there to save them. In a present day nursing home, Paul Edgecomb (Dabbs Greer) recalls the pivotal moment in his life 60 years ago when he looked like Tom Hanks and was in charge of a prison's death row and a magical prisoner was admitted who changed everybody's life. The bulk of this three-hour movie is his flashback. Yawn. Director Frank Darabont takes on big subjects like capital punishment, violence, and racism, and simplifies them to the point where you don't even have to think about 'em. Now where's the fun in that? (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*The Insider
Despite the ad campaigns, The Insider is not an indictment of big, evil tobacco. The real story is about bungled journalism and broken integrity, with a healthy dose of paranoia thrown in for good measure. As a big-budget Holly-wood drama, perhaps even as a thriller, The Insider is just about as perfect as you can get. Michael Mann is one of the best technical directors around, able to put together a glossy-looking film without it appearing like one big commercial. However, though meant to be a cautionary tale about media accountability and how easily good journalism can be corrupted, The Insider is far too slick, and comes across as typical Hollywood mayhem instead of the "based-on-actual-events" drama originally intended. (Bradley Steinbacher) Metro

Island of the Sharks
Island of the Sharks works hard to find some stunning imagery, and succeeds. One of the most breathtaking shots is beneath a large school of hammerhead sharks, a fish whose appearance is both disturbing and compelling. Don't worry if you're faint-hearted, though; the film's violence is boringly PG, mostly. (Gillian G. Gaar) Pacific Science Center

*La Dolce Vita
If you don't swoon at least once during this classic from Federico Fellini, then you'd better check yourself for a pulse. With sumptuous visuals and a handsome cast (a young Marcello Mastroianni and hottie Anita Ekberg), this tale of a tabloid writer's decadence, temptation, and self-loathing regret is sure to ignite passion and sympathy. Thurs Dec 30 at 4:30, 7:45. Grand Illusion

Liberty Heights
Liberty Heights marks Barry Levinson's fourth excursion into his native Baltimore (Diner, Tin Men, and Avalon being his first three). Set in 1954, Liberty Heights focuses on a family whose father (Joe Mantegna) runs a burlesque business and an illegal numbers racket. As he works, his two handsome sons (Adrien Brody and Ben Foster), are courting girls way outside of their social circles and community. Brody desires a WASP princess (Carolyn Murphy), an alcoholic because she can't cope with her father's homosexuality; the other (Foster) is crazy about a Negro whose father disapproves of her even thinking about dating a white boy. The very structure of this double courting forms (narrative-wise) a bold and broad attempt to map out the complex relationship that the Jewish immigrants had (and still have) with Negroes and WASPs, both of whom are the bedrock of American culture. In the end, everyone pulls a fine performance in this beautifully shot movie, which surely stands as Levinson's crowning words on American anti-Semitism. (Charles Mudede) Meridian 16

Man on the Moon
Finally, a movie about an off-putting comedian that everyone can love. For most people, this will be a great introduction to the avant-comedy of Andy Kaufman, but for those who already know a thing or two about his life and art, the movie works more like a greatest hits package, covering many of the highlights but never going any deeper. Kaufman was famous for never breaking character, for obfuscating his "true" persona so completely that nobody, not even those closest to him, knew who he "really" was. This is a barrier the movie never quite overcomes, despite some top-notch talent in front of and behind the cameras. As Kaufman, Jim Carrey is eerily amazing, and it's fun to watch him re-create some of the famous bits. But if there's a guiding principle to the film, it's to let people in on the joke behind Kaufman's art -- something he would never do himself. (Andy Spletzer) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate, Redmond Town Center

Mansfield Park
This adaptation of Jane Austen's novel tells the story of Fanny Price, a precocious girl from a poor family sent to live with wealthy relatives, who treat her special gentility as nothing more than the pretensions of a greedy beggar. Indomitable in the face of societal and familial restraints, she opens herself up to the wonders and sorrows of the world, maturing into a clever writer and gaining the devotion of her beloved Edmund. With Austen a perplexingly hot commodity for the past few years, it's a valid concern to worry what new angle anyone could possibly bring to the author's cunning romantic satires. Mansfield Park, though, has an unusual slant, highlighting class degradation and sexual frankness, and expanding the book's passing references to the slave trade as supple counterpoints to Fanny's plight. (Steve Wiecking) Grand Alderwood, Harvard Exit

Marcello Mastroianni: I Remember
A loving portrait (directed by his girlfriend, Anna Maria Tatò) of the legendary Italian icon, as he looks back on years of success, glamour, and star-studded collaborations. With rare screen-test/on-set footage. Fri-Thurs Dec 31-Jan 6 at (Fri-Sun 12), 4, 8; no show at 8 on Dec 31. Reviewed this issue. Varsity Calendar

*MAX OPHULS RETROSPECTIVE
In a departure from Ophuls' usual style, this week's film, The Exile (1948), features Douglas Fairbanks Jr. in a swashbuckler adventure as a man destined to return to the English throne as Charles II. Sat-Sun Jan 1-2 at noon. Grand Illusion

Olympic Glory
International athletes and adrenaline junkies show off their skills and defy gravity at the 1998 Winter Olympics at Nagano. Omnidome

*Princess Mononoke
As anyone who's seen a Hayao Miyazaki film will attest, the story you follow is secondary to the sights you behold. The craggy reality of his twisting tree trunks capped with windblown tufts of leaves; the weighty presence of the rocks, whether rough or slicked smooth by water; the breathtaking vividness of light when the clouds part; the crouched expectancy of animals at rest -- all of these are rendered as gorgeously as any animation I've ever seen, and in fact make a better plea for ecological sanity than the sometimes heavy-handed script. (Bruce Reid) Crest

*Ride With the Devil
The most rewarding Civil War film I have ever seen. Based on the novel Woe to Live On, two friends (Toby Maguire and Skeet Ulrich) in the border states of Kansas and Missouri join the Southern militia, where they find friends, a former slave, not to mention classism and racism, particularly near the end of the war. The movie boasts a complexity one usually associates with a novel, but which most adaptations never achieve. Ride with the Devil is not only structurally complex; Ang Lee pays such close attention to detail that one soon stops looking for anachronisms or irregularities and just sits back to watch the film with full faith in the storytelling. The cinematography by Frederick Elmes, of Blue Velvet fame, is also remarkable, with spectacular widescreen shots of big and very graphic battle scenes. Plus, Lee concludes his film with a grand shot of a black man riding off alone into the sunset, and I don't think anyone else has ever done that before. (Charles Mudede) Uptown

Sleepy Hollow
Johnny Depp plays Constable Ichabod Crane, sent to upstate New York in order to solve a rash of beheadings utilizing his newfangled "forensic science." The year is 1799, and the townsfolk believe the Headless Horseman is behind all these killings. Turns out they're right. Tim Burton's latest film is as dark as the original Grimm's fairy tales, full of witches, stormy nights, and lots and lots of beheadings. Really, it's impressive just how many heads get cut off. The horseman's vengeance is tied in with a conspiracy of the town elders, and it's up to Crane and the bewitching Katrina Van Tassel (Christina Ricci) to uncover their secrets. The deadpan politeness and mannered acting style is often amusing, but it keeps the movie from becoming rip-roaring fun. Still, I liked it. (Andy Spletzer) City Centre, Grand Alderwood

*The Straight Story
Judging by the portrait given of him in The Straight Story, the late Alvin Straight was honorable, polite, and old-fashioned in his sense of propriety, family, and privacy. All of which is to say, you'd never have heard of him if he hadn't ridden a lawnmower hundreds of miles to visit his estranged brother. The most beautiful aspect of David Lynch's wonderful movie is how clearly it finds that to be a shame. Rather than making the journey a quixotic, life-defining quest, The Straight Story is even more about an interesting but unremarkable road trip taken by a quite remarkable man. Lynch's name is so synonymous with violence and twisted sex that it's sometimes hard to remember that nearly everything he's done has been about decent people who were seduced, often literally possessed, by an evil force outside themselves. Blue Velvet wasn't great because it pissed off a bunch of moral standard-bearers, and The Straight Story isn't great because it will charm many of those same people. Both achieve greatness thanks to an endless fascination with how wondrous and mysterious each and every person can be. (Bruce Reid) Broadway Market

*Stuart Little
Stuart Little is about a mouse who has to learn how to live in a family, but he has some major problems to solve. For example, a gang of cats tries to kill him, he gets caught in a washing machine, and he almost sinks in a boat race. Only someone as little as Stuart could get caught in those kind of problems. The computer animation was fabulous! The clothes Stuart wore were great -- even my mom wanted to get the pants. Michael J. Fox was a perfect choice to be Stuart Little, because Stuart is a funny mouse and Michael J. Fox is a funny guy. In some parts it's a little scary and intense, like Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, but I still think Stuart Little is a great movie for your whole family to see. (Sam Lachow, 9 years old) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Sweet and Lowdown
Perhaps realizing that Celebrity nearly collapsed under the unbearable impersonation of himself by Kenneth Branagh, Woody Allen has created a more complex doppelgänger this time in the form of Sean Penn, who plays a fictional 1930s jazz guitarist by the name of Emmett Ray. Emmett is a genius with music but a loser in love, using his self-proclaimed status as an artist as an excuse to behave with loutish abandon. Even though Penn's peerless craft allows him to move here with the sly, remarkable balance that has previously bolstered unseemly characters, Allen doesn't completely reward you for putting up with Emmett's boorishness. He takes too long to tell us what we already know. What distinguishes Sweet and Lowdown is its plaintive insistence, the deceptively lazy melancholy that occasionally breaks through and -- in perfect pitch with the music -- suggests that Allen realizes what a glorious mess he's made of both life and art. (Steve Wiecking) Reviewed this issue. Guild 45th

The Talented Mr. Ripley
Anthony Minghella's last film, The English Patient, earned the writer/director quite a lot of praise and a shelf's worth of awards for how ingeniously he'd adapted a seemingly unfilmable novel. His latest film deserves no less, though for subtler reasons. Patricia High-smith's classic crime novel The Talented Mr. Ripley (1954) succeeds best as an unforgettably empathetic portrait of the mind and thoughts of Thomas Ripley -- forger, connoisseur, and one of the most fascinating sociopaths in literature. The movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley captures both the sparkling surface and the ominous rumblings below, which is why it surpasses an earlier, contemporaneous Ripley adaptation from 1960: Rene Clement's attractive but shallow Purple Noon. (Bruce Reid) Factoria, Neptune, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center, Southcenter

Three Kings
In its efforts to be a comedy and a drama, as well as an action movie, Three Kings actually pulls it off, despite an occasional misstep. You laugh while you're in the theater, curse the U.S. as you leave, then relax in your La-Z-Boy once you get home. (Bradley Steinbacher) Crest

Time Capsule: Message in a Bottle
Local gal Cathleen O'Connell's new documentary about the phenomena of time capsules and our attempts to capture time and culture in the form of objects. Contents of various time capsules will be shown (including loony Andy Warhol's), and after the screening, you can participate in WigglyWorld's own millennium capsule burial. Thurs-Sun Dec 30-Jan 2 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30; (NO SHOW Fri Dec 31). Reviewed this issue. Little Theatre

*Toy Story 2
In the tradition of The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, and Bride of Frankenstein, Toy Story 2 is a sequel that's even better than the original. A clear factor of the original film's success was its status as an animated film that not only appealed to the family market, but also struck a chord with adults who'd never even think of having children. As a result, the follow-up film's storyline has been tweaked toward a more adult sensibility (though it'll still be fun for any squalling brats you have as well). Because this is essentially a kids' film, the outcome's a foregone conclusion, but it's still a total blast, from its trick beginning to its all-is-well ending -- even the bad guys don't get punished in a mean way. Most ingeniously, the film manages to poke fun at mass consumerism and collector-mania while still inducing a desire to purchase at least one of the film's toys. (Gillian G. Gaar) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Tumbleweeds
Tumbleweeds is refreshingly free of Hollywood comment. That is to say it's without swelling music cues and is populated by average-looking folk whose epiphanies, if they have them, float by without "potential Oscar clip" tattooed on their backsides. Affecting moments come and go, and it doesn't take long to realize that nothing much is going to happen. It's not much longer before you decide you're really going to like this film, which thrives on the subtle wonders of its two lead performances. Janet McTeer and Kimberly J. Brown have ease and comfort between them, and their quicksilver transitions from frustration to affection give Tumbleweeds the right to call itself an original. (Steve Wiecking) Uptown

*The War Zone
After spying his father and sister taking a bath together and suspecting the worst, a young man investigates the matter and doesn't like what he finds, eventually witnessing a scene that reveals the unbounded dimensions of his father's depravity. The War Zone is the first feature by actor Tim Roth, directed in a style that recalls Andrei Tarkovsky's Sacrifice and Ingmar Bergman's Through a Glass Darkly (both brooding dramas about families in remote outposts). Preoccu-pations about what is and is not healthy or safe for a family informs every aspect of this film, which concludes with the unsettling assertion that some transgressions are unpardonable; some crimes go beyond a family's inherent capacity to forgive, and forgive again, its misguided members. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

The World Is Not Enough
Poor Pierce Brosnan. In his third Bond outing he finally gets the whole secret agent act down, even giving classic Bond Sean Connery a run for his money, only to watch it undermined by an inept director. The fact that said director is classy Brit Michael Apted only adds a dash of salt to the wound. The World Is Not Enough has some of the best bad guys Bond has seen in years -- only they're not given anything to do. Instead, the story tosses in Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist in hotpants, and the rest of the film is pure paint-by-numbers. Apted proves to be so bad at directing action that even when Brosnan and Richards are disarming a nuclear bomb aboard some sort of speeding tunnel contraption at 70 mph, I was forced to stifle a yawn. Even the flashy credit sequence is dull. After 19 films, maybe Grandpa needs to go to bed. (Bradley Steinbacher) Aurora Cinema Grill, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro

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