Baghdad Cafe

A movie about a truck-stop cafe. Tickets $20, includes wine and appetizers. The Pink Door, Thurs April 13 at 7 pm.

Crossing the Lines

Video interviews with a range of people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bitter Lake Community Center, Wed April 19 at 7 pm.

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s The Nutcracker is Back Onstage at McCaw Hall! Tickets start at $27.
Join PNB for a timeless tale of holiday adventure performed by PNB’s amazing dancers and orchestra.
Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story

See Stranger Suggests. Rendezvous, Fri April 14 at 7:30 pm.

recommended Deliverance

A bucolic canoeing trip turns nasty in this 1972 film by John Boorman. Central Cinema, Thurs–Sun 7, 9:30 pm.

recommended The Devil and Daniel Johnston

See review this issue. Varsity, Fri–Sun 2, 4:30, 7, 9:35 pm, Mon–Thurs 7, 9:35 pm.

recommended The Devil's Miner

A documentary about the intersection between superstition and labor in the silver mines of Bolivia. Free with an email to Northwest Film Forum, Sat April 15 at 4 pm.

recommended Girls in the Director's Chair

Videos by young women from the Seattle area. It's free if you're under 21 ($10 otherwise). Consolidated Works, Thurs April 20 at 7 pm.

Hamburger Dad

A locally produced movie by Wil Long and Kevin Clarke in which a man named Harold wakes up to find himself transformed into a hamburger. No thanks to Kafka. Grand Illusion, Fri–Sat 11 pm.

recommended Innocence

See Stranger Suggestsand review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Fri–Thurs 7, 9:30 pm.

recommended The Land Has Eyes

If you liked Whale Rider (and I know some people in this town liked Whale Rider, because it won the big audience award at SIFF), then you'll love The Land Has Eyes, a movie about a young woman growing up on an island 300 miles north of Fiji and learning to question injustice. Grand Illusion, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm, Mon–Thurs 7, 9 pm.

recommended The Lovers

SAM@MOHAI's Louis Malle series continues with this 1958 film starring Jeanne Moreau and a very famous (and Supreme Court-approved) sex scene. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs April 13 at 7:30 pm.

recommended Occupation: Dreamland

A memorial screening of work by Garrett Scott, a former Seatle resident who died days before before he was to receive a major documentary award. Occupation: Dreamland, his last film, is a documentary about soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division who were stationed in Fallujah in early 2004. Rendezvous, Thurs April 13 at 7:30 pm.

Point Break

"You're a real blue-flame special, aren't you, son? Young, dumb and full of come." Egyptian, Fri–Sat midnight.

recommended The Quicksand of Mediocrity

A panel discussion about filmic mediocrity, with Adam Sekuler (NWFF program director), Annie Wagner (me!), Karl Krogstad and Sue Corcoran (filmmakers), and Jonathan Marlow (critic/programmer). Moderated by Andy Spletzer, former Stranger columnist and film editor. Northwest Film Forum, Thurs April 13 at 7 pm.


The first in a three-part series about the refugee experience, Refugee is a film about three young Cambodian-Americans from San Francisco who take a trip back to Cambodia. Capitol Hill Library, Thurs April 20 at 6 pm.


Adrien Brody stars as Chris, a would-be playwright and more successful drunk who pays bills by bartending. His co-workers at the establishment run the predictable scale—from the raucous, party-boy kitchen staff to Jeannine (Elise Neal), the sweet, sensitive African-American newcomer who wants to be a singer, and inevitably catches Chris's eye. Though some interesting possibilities come to mind from this set-up, the result is one of the most confused dispatches yet concerning America's great failure: race. When confusion passes itself off as knowledge, you get cheap sentimentality, embarrassing juxtapositions, and a hopeless, self-contradictory mess of a movie. You get Restaurant. (BRUCE REID) The Pink Door, Thurs April 20 at 7 pm.

recommended Search and Rescue

NWFF program director Adam Sekuler takes viewers on a guided tour of 16mm films from the archives. Northwest Film Forum, Tues April 18 at 8 pm.

To Be or Not To Be

A 1942 Ernst Lubitch comedy about the Nazi annexation of Poland. Movie Legends, Sun April 16 at 1 pm.

Venezuela Bolivariana: People and Struggle of the Fourth World War

A doc that explores the leftist movement that brought Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela. Central Cinema, Wed April 19 at 7, 9:15 pm.

recommended Zazie in the Metro

Louis Malle's 1960 adaptation of the Raymond Queneau novel is about a crass little girl named Zazie. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs April 20 at 7:30 pm.

Now playing

16 Blocks

16 Blocks, Richard Donner's first film in three years, is an initially spiffy exercise in gritty neo-noir finally torpedoed by the director's lingering vanilla sensibilities and an intensely annoying central performance by Mos Def. (ANDREW WRIGHT)


A horror movie about you know what.


A movie about roller-skating in the hood.

Basic Instinct 2

The costumes (by famed Hungarian designer Beatrix Aruna Pasztor) are an award-worthy mix of original, noir-appropriate pieces and pristine vintage couture, while the slick sets and tony London locations are easy on the eyes. Aesthetics aside, this is an absolutely terrible film. Screenwriters Leora Barish and Henry Bean are lazy at best and borderline plagiaristic at worst. The plot trajectory is a cut-and-paste of the original, and laughably reprises nearly every scene sequentially (opening sex-and-death hook, verbal jousting in the police station, an "erotic" nightclub sequence, and so forth). The most egregious offense is the most unexpected: There's not nearly enough sex. Take away erotic incentive and juicy dialogue and all we're left with are a lot of pretty clothes and a few dry chuckles. (HANNAH LEVIN)

recommended The Benchwarmers

Not every nerd who gets bullied goes all Columbine on their assaulters; some just grow up to be adult nerds like Napoleon Dynamite and David Spade. Now that these nerds are all growed up, kids in town still flip 'em shit for their questionable hygienic habits and weird hobbies. Good thing they're friends with Deuce Bigalow, though, because with his bitchin' baseball skills, they're able to shut down the shit-talking by beating every Little League team in town. Hooray for dorks! But Deuce Bigalow has a secret, and once that gets out, his nerdlinger posse will never forgive him. Ooooh, suspense! Now if you thought Napoleon Dynamite was heeee-larious (like me), you're probably gonna love Benchwarmers' endearing geekiness. But if you're a jerk without a sense of humor, you'll quickly get bored with the innocent PG-13 rating and onslaught of hilariously lame third-grade jokes. (MEGAN SELING)

recommended Brick

Brick is a hardboiled detective narrative retrofitted to high school, where homeroom lockers fill in for smoky offices, assistant principals (Richard Roundtree!) apply police-commissioner levels of heat, and everyone talks in a knowingly archaic, Miller's Crossing-ish rapid-fire patter. As a premise, it sounds cutesy-horrible, but the conviction and earnest wit involved carries it well past the conceptual experiment stage into a genuinely effective reinterpretation of classic noir. His film might still sputter out, were it not for the astounding central performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as a bespectacled, shaggy-haired loner whose quest to find a tardy ex-girlfriend drives the plot. Whatever the genesis, his dogged, world-weary demeanor does the old-time gumshoes proud. So does this weird, glorious freak of a movie. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Brokeback Mountain

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

Support The Stranger

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)

Don't Come Knocking

This meta-Western has a beautiful pedigree. Wim Wenders co-wrote and directed; Sam Shepard co-wrote the screenplay and stars; and Jessica Lange puts in a lovely performance. But nothing about the movie is as memorable as its setting in Butte, Montana. (ANNIE WAGNER)

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. The dogs hunt some birds. The dogs settle in for the night. A dog dies. The dogs scavenge some orca blubber and have a nasty run-in with an animatronic leopard seal. Ice shards sparkle, and the sky is wide, and it's impossible not to get caught up in the camaraderie of the pack. It's Survivor, doggie-style. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Failure to Launch

Oodles of nonsense, a horribly unfunny series of slapstick animal attacks, and several full minutes of Terry Bradshaw's gleaming, bare buttocks. (LINDY WEST)


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)

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)

recommended Ice Age: The Meltdown

You know what rules!? Ice Age: The Meltdown rules! A bunch of famous people did the voices (Denis Leary, Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Queen Latifah, Jay Leno...), and the animation is infinitely better than the first installment, with vivid colors and far more detail. Plus, that little acorn-loving squirrel guy is back. He's funny. (MEGAN SELING)

recommended Inside Man

Denzel Washington plays Keith Frazier, a New York Police detective, and when a bank holdup turns into a complex hostage situation, he's called to put his silk 'n' granite conversation skills to the test. The film is a long 129 minutes, but that's fine by me. Not only does it allow Spike Lee (working from a silly/smart script by Russell Gewirtz) to take lightweight detours into racial profiling, violent video games, and the exceedingly unfortunate names lovers give to each other's genitalia, but it gives you plenty of time to hypothesize about the hostage-takers' motives. (Is that anti-capitalist speech in Albanian a clue?) The plot has spongy spots, like the amorphous Aryan evil that both the good and bad guys ultimately have to contend with, but it's never less than fun. (ANNIE WAGNER)

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)

Lonesome Jim

Casey Affleck's character, Jim, is afflicted with chronic despair and, life-wise, he's run out of options. So he runs home to rural Indiana where he meets Anika (Liv Tyler) in a bar. She's wearing her nurse's uniform. He's wearing his Brooklyn haircut. He's sheepish about failing in Manhattan; embarrassed, he mentions he worked at an Applebee's. Without irony, she says, "I love Applebee's." They both identify as writers. The first time they have sex, it's in the hospital where Anika works. The second time, it's in Jim's bedroom, his walls covered with portraits of Hemingway, Parker, Richard Yates, Woolf, Plath—a who's who of suicidal literati. There's a side story about a drug mix-up, there's a fat guy on a motorcycle, there's a moment when Affleck starts singing along to "If You Leave Me Now," but there's nothing very daring in this movie. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)

Lucky Number Slevin

This frenetic pastiche of a movie is about a pudgy-cute dude named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) who inadvertently wades into an all-out race war—excuse me, noble blood feud—between The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley). But most of the time Lucky Number Slevin looks like a feature-length advertisement for Target home décor. It's a good thing there's so much to look at—even if the style choices are baldly budget-chic—because it's hard to care much about the convoluted tease of writer Jason Smilovic's plot. There are lots of murders and double-crossings and mistaken identities and novel terms for bloody sleights-of-hand, plus one reference each to North by Northwest and James Bond. Lucky Number Slevin is no work of genius. But if you get bored, you can always imagine the grisly proceedings are actually taking place in some heretofore-uncharted corner of IKEA. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School

When a movie is so bad it defies description, it sometimes helps to compare it to a better movie. Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School is, in an odd sort of way, the inverse of Fight Club. Whereas Fight Club featured self-help-group parasites who found a way out of their addictions by punching each other in the face, Marilyn Hotchkiss features authentically grief-stricken self-help-group participants who make their way back to reality by doing the merengue. Fight Club got Meat Loaf (!) to sob. Marilyn Hotchkiss gets Donnie Wahlberg (!) to tango. Fight Club: dirty sex with Helena Bonham Carter in a dilapidated house. Marilyn Hotchkiss: floury sex with Marisa Tomei on a baker's kneading table. Of all the bad things about this terrible movie, it's the bread fetish that puts it beyond the pale. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Match Point

Woody Allen's Match Point is a light and brutal thriller about the opposing forces of contempt and desire. Chris (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) is a former tennis pro with scheming Irish eyes and a permanent frown. While coaching at a tony London country club, he meets a rich young man named Tom (Matthew Goode), who bizarrely appears to be coming on to him. The drinks and box seats at the opera are not in fact invitations to bed, but invitations into the family. In no time at all Chris is engaged to Tom's perky and annoying but equally rich sister Chloe (Emily Mortimer), and another sort of love triangle has developed. 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)

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont

Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is a not-very-good movie about old ladies: cute ones, nice ones, grumpy ones, dead ones. (LINDY WEST)

recommended Neil Young: Heart of Gold

Heart of Gold documents a 2005 performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium that took place in the wake of Neil Young's recovery from a nearly fatal brain aneurysm. Joined by a gospel choir, an intermittent string section, vocal contributions from his wife of 20 years, and the angelic Emmylou Harris, Young works his way through Prairie Wind, the understandably downbeat record he made shortly after his diagnosis. The material makes for a sleepy first half as Young ponders mortality, dreams best discarded, and the accumulation of inerasable memories. It isn't weak songwriting, but the pacing is so languid and the musicianship so surgically precise that there's zero momentum. Blessedly, this inertia evaporates almost instantaneously when Young pulls out the back catalog and unfurls songs like "I Am a Child" and the titular "Heart of Gold." He also plays the most moving version of "Harvest Moon" I've ever heard. (HANNAH LEVIN)

Night Watch

There's vampire-fighting, an attempt to forestall a world-ending prophecy, and a guy who likes to use his own spine as a broadsword. I'm not sure what the hell I saw, but I wouldn't mind watching more of it. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Phat Girlz

A feel-good movie about an aspiring plus-size fashion designer.

Scary Movie 4

Scary Movie 4 is just as entertaining as all the previous Scary Movies (something tells me that if you’re reading this, you found the preceding flicks at least mildly amusing), and due to some lucky timing, it’s actually even funnier. See, last year was full of movies and moments that practically spoof themselves, and the writers of Scary Movie 4 take care to touch on every single one. Jokes about homosexuals, thanks to Brokeback Mountain? Check. War of the Worlds and a lot of “Tom Cruise is crazy” jokes? Check. Self-mutilation gags thanks to Saw? Carmen Electra in a tight and busty little corset that makes boys in the audience go “Woo! Boobies!”? Amy Farina being hilarious? Check, check, and mate! Hooray! (MEGAN SELING)

The Shaggy Dog

Tim Allen lifting his leg to pee in a urinal. Tim Allen licking a pretty lady's face. A grotesquely elongated CGI tongue lolling out of Tim Allen's mouth. The end. (ANNIE WAGNER)

She's the Man

A Twelfth Night update set on the prep-school soccer field (from the screenwriters of Ten Things I Hate About You).


Written and directed by James Gunn (who also did the screenplay for 2004's Dawn of the Dead along with a few of the Troma movies), Slither lives up to all expectations: It boasts an onslaught of blatant gore, a tentacle rape scene, and the complete understanding that it's a total joke. Slither isn't trying to break the mold, as far as horror movies go, it's paying homage to the old flicks that made you wanna puke and laugh at the same time. Well done, Mr. Gunn. (MEGAN SELING)

Stay Alive

A horror film about a video game in which the stakes are literally life and death. Yawn.

Take the Lead

Based loosely on the life of ballroom-dancing revivalist Pierre Dulaine, Take the Lead is the familiar tale of teenage redemption via fox trot. The story arc is soothingly predictable: Latin dandy Dulaine (Antonio Banderas) shows up at a New York City public school, inexplicably yearning to teach merengue to the snarling masses. The beleaguered, no-nonsense principal (Alfre Woodard), after laughing in his ignorant face ("Life for these kids is like a fight to stay alive and a hustle to make ends meet, not ballroom dancing"), wearily agrees, and Dulaine's delinquents montage, montage, montage their way right into the Big Competition. Take the Lead is neither as charming nor as satisfying as its documentary predecessor, 2005's Mad Hot Ballroom. The scripted progression of professional actors and dancers can't touch the exhilaration of watching spazzy preteens master it for real, but TTL's dancing is polished and entertaining nonetheless. It's the rest of the movie—vaguely racist, enthusiastically sexist, and weirdly anticlimactic—that stinks. (LINDY WEST)

recommended Thank You For Smoking

As a work of satire, Thank You for Smoking is safely and securely dated. The book it's adapted from (by conservative novelist Christopher Buckley) was published in the mid-'90s, when tobacco lawsuits were flying fast and loose and the word "probe" was rampant in headlines in the Washington Post. But what the movie loses in relevance, it gains in absurd comedy. When Nick visits his kid's school for a career day, a smarty-pants kid up front announces, "My mommy says cigarettes kill." Without batting an eye, he bends to her and sweetly inquires, "Now, is your mommy a doctor?" Eckhart, a blond Mormon with a toothpastey grin, plays Nick with evident relish; Cameron Bright, of the preternaturally blue eyes, brings his baby gravitas to the role of Nick's son. There are some hilarious smaller performances by Adam Brody (as the hyperactive assistant to a Hollywood agent) and William H. Macy (as a tongue-tied liberal senator from Vermont), and one very bad performance by Katie Holmes (as a spunky reporter). It's fast-paced and fun, and if some of the movie's values seem creaky, that's because neoconservatism has won out over conservatism, and public-speaking skills have become ever less relevant. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada is a masterpiece, flat out. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Tibet: A Buddhist Trilogy

First released in 1979, and made during four long years, this documentary is about Buddhist monks doing the sort of things that Westerners love to see them do: go on about how life is a dream, about how to achieve enlightenment, how to zone out from reality and be one with a universe that is essentially brutal and dumb. The documentary is long and the monks are not as profound as Westerners love to believe they are. In all honesty, Buddhist philosophy is dead slow and lacks the sense of adventure and urgency that motivates the best thinkers in Western philosophy. If the monks just cut down on all of that humming and chanting, then they would have more time to think about the nature and structure of human existence. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

recommended Tsotsi

Tsotsi, which means thug, tells a story that goes all the way back to Native Son—a young man whose life is a product of a festering ghetto. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

recommended V for Vendetta

As a work of cinema, V for Vendetta is no Batman or Matrix. But its timing (it opened the day before the third anniversary of the second Iraq war) is impeccable. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

The Wild

A Disney movie about escaped zoo animals.