recommended After Innocence
An alternately probing and fly-on-the-wall camera reveals the plight of convicts (many serving lengthy sentences for rape and murder) proven innocent by newly admitted DNA evidence. Aided by a nonprofit legal organization formed by once notorious O.J.-crony Barry Scheck, they attempt to reintegrate into society. Originally produced for cable, this enraging, Oscar-nominated documentary proves more than worthy of a big-screen showing. (ANDREW WRIGHT) Varsity, benefit screening w/ exoneree Wilton Dedge and director Jessica Sanders Thurs Feb 9 at 7 pm. Regular weeklong run starts Fri Feb 10.

"I haven't felt this awful since I saw that Ronald Reagan film." Sunset Cinema, Mon Feb 6 at 7 pm.

recommended Amélie
A beautifully kinetic testament to human sweetness that has audiences lining up around the block and contrarians carping about its artificiality. I'm not saying you have to be an asshole not to like Amélie, but it would probably help... When director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was in Seattle, I asked him if the criticism of the film's fairy-tale aesthetic bothered him. "In France," he laughed, "sometimes if you have too much style, they crucify you. They prefer films about men and women fighting in ugly kitchens. They think if you have style, if the film is lit well, or is poetic, then you are not making something true. The reverse is true. The style is important. I love to play with everything. I can't avoid it. You need the style to get to the emotion. It's actually more realistic, dans un certain sense. When you do a film, it's for you. Very egoist. But you can please people if you are sincere." (SEAN NELSON) Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

recommended Children's Film Festival
Because there is so much going on in this year's Cinema K: Children's Film Festival (47 shorts in total), I shall focus on two that made the biggest impression on me, The Elevator and Binta and the Great Idea. The first, The Elevator, is part of the Animated Genius: The Films of Koji Yamamura series, and concerns a boy who enters an elevator in his apartment building and is magically transported to a weird world where little people are conducting cruel experiments on forest birds. As with most of Yamamura's shorts, the narrative in The Elevator twists and turns like a dream in the head of a sleeping child. Binta and the Great Idea, which plays as part of the Reel Kids Around the Globe series, is realistic and political. Set in Senegal, the story is about a girl whose desire to attend school is repressed by her sexist father. But the village youth will have none of it: They put on an outdoor play that exposes the father's ignorance. The short is beautifully shot and its story, though simple, has a sound humanistic foundation. In general, the festival is made up of shorts that communicate real family values, rather than the phony ones that are disseminated in Sunday schools all across America. (CHARLES MUDEDE) All films screen at Northwest Film Forum. Reel Kids Around the Globe, Thurs 10 am, Fri 11 am; Ravens, Frogs, Dogs, and More, Fri 11 am, Sat at 1 pm; Wheels on the Bus: A Program for the Tiniest Cinephiles, Fri 1 pm, Sat 11 am; Scary Stuff, Fri 1 pm; Gettin' Grown, Fri 5 pm. For details, see

Foreign Correspondent
SAM@MOHAI's Hitchcock series continues with this 1940 film about an American reporter assigned to cover Europe during the runup to World War II. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Feb 2 at 7:30 pm.

recommended In Cold Blood
See Stranger Suggests. Richard Brooks's 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote's groundbreaking true-crime novel, in a restored 35 mm print. Shot on (grisly) location. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Thurs 6:30, 9 pm.

recommended Late Chrysanthemums
This wonderfully subtle Mikio Naruse film follows four retired geisha as they borrow money from one another, reminisce, complain, and gossip. Kin, a hard-faced lady who is universally envied and resented because she's the only one to have landed a lucrative second career, has a rich backstory: When she was young, she was coerced into a suicide pact with her lover. Though she escaped, the experience left her haunted and bitter. Kin's late reunion with another, more cherished former lover provides the narrative's melancholic climax and elegant denouement. (ANNIE WAGNER) Northwest Film Forum, Thurs Feb 2 at 7 pm.

A late-night screening of the concert film documenting the two-day New-No-Now-Wave Festival in Minneapolis in 1979. Northwest Film Forum, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

Here's something curious: A freelance cameraman films a man committing suicide in a Tokyo subway station. Then the cameraman plunges to the depths of the subway system, where he's haunted by a ghost and discovers a secret ruins possibly not built by human hands. He also finds a beautiful woman, chained naked to a rock formation. Then things get really weird. A horror outing not above being nauseating, Marebito offers intrigue to spare. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite hang together. Once the naked woman turns out to be a vampire—at least, I think she's a vampire—too many unexplained twists cause the movie to capsize. Horror films need to keep their audiences engaged to be effective. Marebito works hard to keep you at arm's length. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Grand Illusion, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm, Mon-Thurs 7, 9 pm.

recommended Mighty Peking Man
Made in 1977 by Hong Kong's prolific Shaw Brothers, Mighty Peking Man was inspired by Dino de Laurentiis's massive remake of King Kong, and is also the touching story of a giant ape and his human girlfriend. The movie has all the low-budget charm of Roger Corman's drive-in horror cheapies from the '50s: the tanks look like toys, the giant ape looks like nothing more than a man in an ape suit, and the effects combining the actors with the destructive events taking place could not look less convincing. It's great. What makes this movie a true camp classic is the fact that, even though the filmmakers obviously knew how cheap the movie was going to look, they never acknowledge it. Everybody is sincere. (ANDY SPLETZER) Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

recommended Mobile Exposure
A special edition of the Independent Exposure screening series, focused on the art of the tiny screen. Movies made on cell phones, Game Boy cameras, etc. Central Cinema, Wed Feb 8 at 7 and 9 pm.

recommended Repast
Northwest Film Forum's Mikio Naruse series continues with this new 35 mm print of a film about a housewife who yearns to exchange her provincial existence for the attractions of big-city Tokyo. Northwest Film Forum, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 5, 7, 9 pm.

recommended Reservoir
Dance cinema by local choreographer/filmmaker Jesse Smith (with Ellie Sandstrom!) plus live perforances from Smith and Tamin Totzke. Consolidated Works, Fri-Sat 8 pm.

recommended Saboteur
Not to be confused with Hitchcock's earlier film Sabotage, this 1942 film is Hitchock's first foray into pro-American giddiness. (Dorothy Parker helped write the script.) Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Feb 9 at 7:30 pm.

recommended The Scar of Shame
A 1926 silent film about a black concert pianist who feels stifled in his marriage with a lower-class woman. PLUS: A conversation with legendary blaxploitation director Martin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song). Paramount, Mon Feb 6 at 7 pm.

Sol de Otona
An Argentine movie about a middle-aged Jewish woman who fakes a longstanding relationship with a nice Jewish man for the benefit of her brother. Temple Beth Am, Sun Feb 5 at 7 pm.

recommended The Syrian Bride
Hours before permanently crossing the Syrian border to take an arranged husband, a young Israeli Druze woman prepares to say goodbye to her perpetually bickering family, the ranks of which include a liberated older sister (Paradise Now's Hiam Abbass), bootlegging younger brother, paroled political activist of a father, and exiled older brother. The caterer also has problems. Co-writer/director Eran Riklis's determination to feature a moment in the dramatic sun for what feels like every single member of the wedding party is admirable (and undeniably conveys the chaos of such a high-stakes shindig), but his narrative ambition ends up diluting the impact of a potentially compelling central storyline. Copious clutter aside, this remains a largely charming, perceptive look at an underexplored culture, albeit one with more location changes than your average Bond film. (ANDREW WRIGHT) Varsity, Fri-Sun 2, 4:15, 7, 9:15 pm, Mon-Tues 7, 9:15 pm, Wed 9:15 pm, Thurs 7, 9:15 pm.

recommended Tales of the Future: Science Fiction Shorts Fest 2006
In Jonathan Joffe's 10-minute film Cost of Living, which is one of the 20 shorts in the first annual Sci Fi Shorts Festival, William B. Davis, who is famous for playing the Cigarette-Smoking Man in The X-Files, the TV series that defined the '90s, is a dying man in desperate need of a new body from a firm called American Robotics. There's only one problem: The old man has no money, and his credit rating sucks. All that the salesman, Andrew Krivanek, can offer him is a "creative financing solution." "[You] can purchase an entry level body and repay the company by employment at the company," explains the salesman. "You work 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, for [100 years] in a Malaysian factory." Meaning, the old man must choose between death and debt, between nothingness and slavery. As with all great science fiction in books and on the screen, Cost of Living is not about the future but the present condition. (CHARLES MUDEDE)


Call it An Officer and a Gentleman Jim: A small-town welder with a major chip on his shoulder makes it into the exclusive Naval Academy of the title, clashes with a tough but fair instructor, becomes a man in the boxing ring. Now is probably a ticklish time to release any sort of rah rah military agitprop, but this resolutely square film is further hamstrung by a lead performance by James Franco that's too broodily Method to inspire much empathy. Director Justin Lim (Better Luck Tomorrow) proves that he can handle his faux-Bruckheimer corn, but the film's bland big-league polish comes at the cost of any personality. Save for a brief cameo by '70s Russ Meyer-mainstay Chuck Napier as the school's top brass, there's precious little here to snag the eye, or noggin. Oh, and that rad exploding battleship featured in all of the commercials? Not in the movie. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Big Momma's House 2
Did you know that fat people are huge and fat? And that also they will sometimes wear a bathing suit, or even do a dance? Oooooooooooooooooooo!!! Big Momma's House 2! (LINDY WEST)

recommended Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain achieves an elegant hybrid between the "masculine" genre of the Western and the "feminine" genre of melodrama. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Caché
The Austrian director Michael Haneke, best known for the shock-masochism of his 2001 film, The Piano Teacher, now gives audiences the far subtler and more politically engaged Caché (which won him the Best Director prize at Cannes). Unnerving surveillance videotapes keep showing up at the home of a Paris couple and the road leading back to the culprit is cluttered with bloody chicken heads, imperialist xenophobia, and red herrings—if you've heard that the final scene solves the mystery, you've been misinformed. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Capote
Despite its limited scope—it addresses only the years that Truman Capote was writing his groundbreaking In Cold Blood—you want to call the film, after the fashion of ambitious biographies, "A Life." Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Truman Capote, and his is an enveloping performance, in which every flighty affectation seems an invention of the man rather than the impersonator. His pursed lips and bons mots and the ravishing twirls of his overcoat become more and more infrequent until all that's left is alcohol and a horrible will to power. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is decent entertainment—epic and scary and icily pretty. If only it were safe enough to send your freethinking children to. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Glory Road
Within the sports movie genre, Glory Road couldn't be more typical. It's Hoosiers with a Marcus Garvey book inserted here, a Martha and the Vandellas song tossed in there, and a historically accurate starting lineup in the final game. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Good Night, and Good Luck.
Documenting the Red Scare clash between Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and Joseph McCarthy, George Clooney's second trip behind the lens is a largely terrific picture: a scathing social document submerged within a deeply pleasurable entertainment. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Kids may have learned from video games how to tolerate multiple simultaneous perspectives (or so say the press notes) but I doubt they've learned to tolerate a boring story told four times over. Besides, the 3-D animation is worthless. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Support The Stranger

A trio of moronic, partying backpackers are lured to a hostel in Slovakia, which is said to be stocked with nubile women. Before the trio meets its fate, there's a smidgen of humor that recalls Roth's far-superior debut splatter flick, Cabin Fever. But these are fleeting moments, and soon the hoses of blood are turned on full blast. (ADAM BREGMAN)

Jarhead follows a third-generation marine (Jake Gyllenhaal) on his downward slide toward would-be killing machine. Once he arrives in the desert, boredom quickly sets in, as he and his fellow roughnecks find themselves wandering around looking for something to shoot at. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended King Kong
As genuinely touching as the final New York scenes are, the true heart of the film lies in the insanely sustained second act, in which Kong, his gal, and her supposed rescuers come into contact with an army of dinosaurs, angry villagers, and seemingly every creepy thing ever to walk the earth. Throughout, Peter Jackson manages to simultaneously convey the sense of a filmmaker at the absolute top of his technical game, and a kid deliriously hopped up on Pop Rocks, going nuts with his favorite action figures. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Last Holiday
Georgia (Queen Latifah) has only three weeks to live. She quits her job and heads to Prague for some pampering, strutting, and extreme sporting. The only funny part of this movie is, surprisingly, Gerard Depardieu. (LINDY WEST)

The Matador
Sporting a gold chain, a sleazy moustache, and an unfortunate haircut, Pierce Brosnan is amusingly weird as professional assassin Julian Noble. But all the eccentricities in the world can't save this preposterous pseudo-comedy. (ADAM BREGMAN)

Match Point
Woody Allen's Match Point is a light and brutal thriller about the opposing forces of contempt and desire. Marriages are consummated, vows are broken, women are discovered to be fertile or infertile in inverse proportion to their social class, and the social order is upended. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Steven Spielberg has discovered a damning parable about America's post-9/11 strategy. He just hasn't turned it into a good movie. (JOSH FEIT)

Nanny McPhee
There is nothing to recommend this Emma Thompson vehicle (she stars and wrote the screenplay) except for the bit when an old biddy gets hit in the face with a chunk of wedding cake. (BRENDAN KILEY)

recommended The New World
Q'orianka Kilcher, a 14-year-old beauty who looks far older than—though exactly as naive as—her age would suggest, plays Pocahontas as a child attracted to John Smith (Colin Farrell) through a chaste but insatiable curiosity. Farrell is more opaque. It's hard to tell whether he's transfixed by this persistent girl or merely bewildered. And when he freaks out and leaves Jamestown, your sympathy for Pocahontas feels more like pity for an abandoned child than identification with an adult woman. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Pride & Prejudice
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy aren't so much in love as they are erotically enthralled. Their famous clash of wits isn't the cause of their affection; it's sublimation at its most sublime. In other words, forget stuffy: This Pride & Prejudice is totally hot. (ANNIE WAGNER)

The Ringer
Johnny Knoxville already behaves like a developmentally disabled athlete—and pairing him with the Farrelly Brothers seems like a sound choice. Unfortunately, any shred of entertainment begins and ends with that promising foundation and even fans of Knoxville's fearless self-flagellation will be sorely disappointed. (HANNAH LEVIN)

Something New
See review.

Syriana wades deep into the muck of the worldwide oil industry. The usual suspects will no doubt squawk about anti-Bush bias and the Blame America First syndrome, but anyone willing to look past the pundit noise will find a beautifully constructed and patient thriller. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Felicity Huffman clearly aced her homework, and her exceptional performance as a transsexual woman is the reason to see Transamerica. Huffman deftly shows us the stress that results from constantly working to conceal the past. (KALEY DAVIS)

Underworld Evolution
All Underworld Evolution has to offer is hairy folks in tight vinyl, squeaking and vogueing through the outskirts of Prague. Only those who habitually spell vampire with a y need apply. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Walk the Line
Joaquin Phoenix is a damn fine Man in Black. The interplay between Cash and June Carter is fiery, and watching their tenderness grow through time and tribulation makes for a powerful story, even if its main subject feels larger than any one film could ever encapsulate. (JENNIFER MAERZ)

recommended Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The humor is just as funny as the classic Looney Tunes (which were funny!) but even smarter. (MEGAN SELING)

The White Countess
All smoke and velvet and jewel tones, The White Countess is as pretty as a painting, and about as dynamic. (LINDY WEST)