LIMITED RUN

The African Film Festival
A touring festival originating in New York. Ethnic Cultural Center, Niiwam (about urban migration) and Everybody's Problem (about teens in a Guinean refugee camp), Fri March 3 at 7 pm and Sat March 4 at 3 pm; Dôlé (about teens who plan to rob a lottery stand) and Safi, la petite mère (about an orphan girl who flees her village with her little brother), Sat March 4 at 7 pm and Sun March 5 at 3 pm. See http://depts.washington.edu/ecct/aff for more information.

American Beauty
Entertaining fluff. Take your typical suburban satire (midlife crisis, bitchy wife, disaffected youth), throw in some admittedly excellent performances, and what you get is an Oscar-winning film, for better or worse. (ANDY SPLETZER) Central Cinema, Thurs-Sat 6:45, 9:30 pm. Late shows 21+ only.

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recommended The Boys of Baraka
To get the most of the documentary The Boys of Baraka, one should watch it with The Lost Boys of Sudan. In the former, 24 black American 12-year-old boys leave inner-city Baltimore for a boarding school in rural Kenya; in the latter, a group of black African teenagers leave war-torn Sudan for a new life in a big American city (Houston, Texas). As expected, both African and American boys experience difficulties adjusting to their new social/geographic environment; also as expected, the experience is good for some, so-so for others, and bad for none. The Boys of Baraka, however, are never fully immersed in the African world; they attend classes, which are taught by white Americans, and do things that white Americans like to do in Africa—hike and camp. But this documentary is not about poor black Americans going to the motherland to learn about their roots; instead, it's about how black American ghetto youth have been totally abandoned by the richest government and the richest society on the face of the earth. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Varsity, Fri-Sun 1:15, 4, 6:45, 9:30, Mon-Thurs 6:45, 9:30.

recommended Darwin's Nightmare
The decimation of hundreds of cichlid species unique to Central Africa's enormous Lake Victoria is, by now, a relatively well-known story. But what truly cements the Nile perch's oily reign is not natural selection, but the economic and social interests binding the region's people. This fantastic, Oscar-nominated documentary paints a detailed and gruesome picture of the people—both local and foreign—who live and die by the Tanzanian fish trade. (ANNIE WAGNER) Northwest Film Forum, Sat-Sun noon, 4:30 pm.

Dead Alive
"That's my mother you're pissing on." Sunset Cinema, Wed March 8 at 7 pm.

recommended Duma
See Stranger Suggests, p. 19. Northwest Film Forum, Fri 6:30, 8:30 pm, Sat-Sun 2, 6:30, 8:30 pm, Mon-Thurs 6:30, 8:30 pm.

recommended Fateless
The solid lineup for this year's Jewish Film Festival kicks off with Fateless, a somber movie about a Hungarian Jewish boy (Marcell Nagy) who is sent to Buchenwald. The film starts out in sepia and, as the nightmare trains roll into camp, turns gray as dust. Adapted from his own novel by Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertész, Fateless has no hooks: no nice Nazis, no genially conspiring prisoners, no color. It's all sadness. The most remarkable scenes come when the boy is freed. Despite his insistence that "the camps are real," he seems unable to comprehend what has truly happened to him and, conversely, that it has not happened to others. His body pulls through, but his psyche is not unscathed. (ANNIE WAGNER) Pacific Place, Sun March 5 at 2 pm. See www.brownpapertickets.com for tickets.

recommended Independent Exposure
This edition of the curated independent film series inlcudes a short about dudes, an experimental film that sounds like it's about weed but is actually about dance, and an adaptation of an early Kafka short story. Central Cinema, Wed March 8 at 7, 9 pm.

Invaders from Mars/I Married a Monster from Outer Space
Two cult sci-fi classics from the 1950s. Movie Legends, Sun March 5 at 1 pm.

recommended The Rural Route Film Festival
A selection of short films shot on the back roads of America, including movies about misfit girls and human flight, plus a music video for Bonnie "Prince" Billy's "Agnes, Queen of Sorrow," and Lawn, an experimental short by the superbly talented director of Hybrid. Grand Illusion, Sat-Sun 3, 7 pm.

recommended Shaolin Soccer
When "Golden Leg" Fung blew the championship soccer game for his team by missing the winning goal, the angered Hung hired some big and tough mobsters to break the loser's leg. So they did, and in doing so ruined his soccer career. Miserable and alone, Fung meets Sing, who is a master at the art of Shaolin. Together, they set out to recruit a soccer team that can harness the power of the martial art to defeat Hung's new team. Shaolin Soccer probably sounds like a sappy, "anything can happen if you only believe" love-fest, but it's actually quite funny. At least, it is if you're into obvious and cheesy jokes (which I totally am). (MEGAN SELING) Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

recommended Spring Night, Summer Night
A little-seen landmark of the American independent film movement, this 1968 film about incest and poverty in Appalachian Ohio originally screened at MoMA and a scattering of drive-in theaters in the South (under the title Miss Jessica Is Pregnant). Jessica (Larue Hall) has a fling with Carl (Ted Heim), a man who may be her half-brother, and has to deal with the consequences. Grand Illusion, Weekdays 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 5:15, 9:15 pm.

recommended Stage Fright
A 1950 film by Alfred HItchcock about murder in the London theater scene. Starring Jane Wyman, Richard Todd, and Marlene Dietrich. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs March 2 at 7:30 pm.

recommended Strangers on a Train
Who needs Strangers on a Train when you could have Snakes on a Plane? Actually, Snakes on a Plane doesn't come out until August, so tennis and homoeroticism will have to suffice. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs March 9 at 7:30 pm.

The Time Machine
Guy Pearce and his cheekbones star in this update of the H.G. Wells sci-fi landmark. Critic Tom Keogh hosts. Experience Music Project, Sun March 5 at 4 pm.

recommended Videos by Shirin Neshat
Two video works by the exquisite Iranian artist Shirin Neshat. Tooba is currently installed at the gallery; the University of Washington's Firoozeh Papan-Matin will introduce the complementary works Makhdokht and Zarin. Seattle Asian Art Museum, Thurs March 9 at 7 pm.

Who Gets to Call It Art?
Standing at the center of the hothouse '60s art scene—when abstract expressionism gave way to pop art, contemporary art became a subject of popular culture and paintings at the Whitney Annual could be bought for a thousand bucks—was Henry Geldzahler. The chubby gay curator rewarded the modern artists who let him into their studios by unlocking for them the biggest and stodgiest of American museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Director Peter Rosen sets out to tell this tale in the documentary Who Gets to Call it Art?, but instead Geldzahler merely serves as the vehicle for an entertaining if unsurprising ride through a groovy period of art history.

Rosen doesn't scratch the surface of how Geldzahler greased the creaky wheels of the Met, a process that culminated in the breakthrough show New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940–1970. The movie doesn't pry into his relationships with artists behind closed doors, aside from shots in which he confers with his "best friend" Andy Warhol or rides in a plastic boat as part of a Claes Oldenburg happening.

Instead, Rosen gets the real stars—the artists—to talk, while a slide show and a punchy soundtrack spin by. Artists Frank Stella, John Chamberlain, James Rosenquist, David Hockney, and Mark di Suvero wax nostalgic about their glorified period in American art. There's some great archival footage here, too: a clip of Mike Wallace broadcasting from MoMA; Rauschenberg's pronouncement that to be an abstract expressionist, "you have to have the time to feel sorry for yourself"; an ad for Braniff International Airport that has Warhol speaking in his affected monotone across from a glaring Sonny Liston; and an interview with imperious critic Clement Greenberg, who so calmly dismisses pop that he betrays his abject fear of being made obsolete by it (which he was). The movie is an 80-minute gloss, in keeping with what critic Calvin Tomkins describes as the pop impulse—to pick things up easily, and just as easily put them down again. (JEN GRAVES) Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7, 9:15 pm.

Without Warning
Frisbee monsters, alien predators, and David Caruso, oh my! Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

NOW PLAYING

16 Blocks
See www.thestranger.com for review.

2005 Academy Award–Nominated Short Films
Two programs of the year's best (or at least "Academy Award–nominated") shorts—one for live action, the other for animation.

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, about a Kansas robbery turned quadruple murder—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)

Date Movie
The problem with Date Movie, besides the fact it's really not that funny at all, is that its writers are completely confused at to their target. Are they taking aim at corny romantic comedies (When Harry Met Sally, Meet the Fockers)? Or maybe those overhyped blockbusters that exist as a backdrop for awkward teen make-out sessions (King Kong)? There's a difference between a date movie and a romantic comedy, you know, and in their uncertainly about where to fire, the writers just decide to take potshots at a whole slew of flicks. (MEGAN SELING)

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Dave Chappelle's Block Party
See www.thestranger.com for review.

Doogal
When, exactly, did every single animated character turn into Bugs Bunny? Doogal, a British CGI fairytale given wiseass U.S. vocal retrofit (the replacement cast includes Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart as an evil spring with a porn moustache, and Kevin Smith as a farting moose) continues the post-Shrek slide into a self-congratulatory pop culture morass, where references to C.S.I. and Disney execs trump piddling things like story development and moral lessons. Updating the '60s BBC cult fave The Magic Roundabout, the plot finds the shaggy dog of the title on a quest to save the world from a magical Ice Age. It's difficult to tell if the original version would have been anything great, frankly (the stylized animation falls just on the wrong side of creepy), but this too-hip revamp is just sad. What ultimately irks is the sense that, for all their technical savvy, today's animators seem unable to grasp the fact that free-flowing cinematic anarchy really only works if you have something square to tee it off against. Mr. Fudd, sir, you are needed. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Eight Below
The great thing about an action movie set in Antarctica is that very little happens there, and it's pointless to try to pretend otherwise. The residents of the National Science Foundation research station deal hands of solitaire, collect rocks, play chess, and sleep. Then there's a storm and everyone has to evacuate. Head musher Gerry must leave his beloved huskies behind. The rest of the film is a slow, weirdly enjoyable story of the dogs' feral existence, interspersed with Gerry's tormented efforts to hitch a ride back and save them. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Firewall
Harrison Ford's umpteenth entry into the white-collar family-values action film, smushes together two of the traditionally more wit-intensive suspense genres—the heist picture and home invasion thriller—to shockingly little effect. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Freedomland
Richard Price writes Books—big, chewy New Jersey melodramas that combine meticulous plotting with realistically frazzled, just-this-side-of-haywire characterizations—but this adaptation of his 1998 novel is disappointing. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

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)

Illusion
Illusion is a film so intent on doing no harm—so eager to inspire and yet far too cowardly to inspire any real thought—that it bores you beyond tears and burns itself, as all wretched art does, deep within your gray matter like the memory of passing a kidney stone. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Manderlay
Manderlay is a massive failure from whose ruins nothing can be recuperated—not even Danny Glover's performance survives this write-off of a wreck. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Match Point
Woody Allen's Match Point is a light and brutal thriller about the opposing forces of contempt and desire. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Mrs. Henderson Presents
Judi Dench is Mrs. Henderson, a cantankerous aristocrat who, after being rudely and abruptly widowed in 1937, can think of no feminine occupation worth her generous allotment of salt. She hires a producer with the spectacular name of Vivian Van Damm (a sturdy Bob Hoskins), buys a theater with the less spectacular name of the Windmill, and makes an entrée into the world of striptease. Only there's no strip to the tease. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Munich
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)

Night Watch
While certainly filthy with Western influences, Night Watch, co-writer-director Timur Bekmambetov's genially incoherent Russian blockbuster (the first in a projected trilogy), is at its best when it taps into its own cultural wellspring of downright weirdness. I'm not sure what the hell I saw, but I wouldn't mind watching more of it. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

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)

Running Scared
If I've learned anything from the moving pictures, it's that Russians are always bad. They're totally crazy, would love to punch you in the head, and are usually up on some high horse about the old country. Running Scared, the new Paul Walker vehicle from writer-director Wayne Kramer, offers nothing new—except that Kramer's Russians are also meth addicts. This movie is fucking silly. (LINDY WEST)

The Second Chance
I can't really make fun of this movie, because I was never meant to see it. This is a by-Christians-for-Christians kind of thing, and judging by the small but ecstatic audience (They sang along with the hymns! Out loud!), The Second Chance already has its target market peeing their lordly pants. (LINDY WEST)

recommended The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
An award winner at Cannes, director Tommy Lee Jones's ferociously entertaining deconstruction of the West begins deep in Peckinpah territory, but soon forges its own unique, queerly beautiful path. Keeping in tone with the visible decomposition of the title character, Jones and his exceptional supporting cast give things a shockingly earthy vibe. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Transamerica
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)

recommended Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
This movie, like Laurence Sterne's book, is hilarious. The rhythm is slick: "I am getting ahead of myself, I am not yet born," Coogan suddenly says, then there is a slight pause, then the camera slides somewhere else in time. The cast is excellent—and then it gets better. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

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)

Why We Fight
This agitdoc, from The Trials of Henry Kissinger director Eugene Jarecki, tries to tread the thin line between dry but thorough Frontline documentaries and Michael Moore's gotcha journalism. Both styles of filmmaking are persuasive in their own right, but transferring techniques from one to the other makes the argument start to feel patched together and limp. (ANNIE WAGNER)

The World's Fastest Indian
For a film about a speed freak, it has a pleasantly loose, rambling quality. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

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