BOSSA NOVA --Harvard Exit
PASSION OF MIND --Broadway Market
SHANGHAI NOON--Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place
ALICE IN WONDERLAND--Grand Illusion
AMERICAN PIMP--Grand Illusion
ANOTHER GIRL, ANOTHER PLANET--Little Theatre
FILMS BY CHARLES AND RAY EAMES--Little Theatre
THE FILMS OF LUIS BU--UEL--Seattle Art Museum
THE FILTH & THE FURY--Varsity
FREMONT OUTDOOR CINEMA--Fremont Outdoor Cinema
THE HONEYMOON KILLERS--Grand Illusion
INDEPENDENT EXPOSURE 5/2000--Speakeasy
SATELLITES 2000: SCREENS FROM OUTER SPACE
SHOOTING GALLERY FILM SERIES--Uptown
SUBVERT IT!--911 Media Arts
WEBFLICKS--911 Media Arts
June 2--Seattle International Film Festival, Hamlet, Big Momma's House
June 9--Seattle International Film Festival, Gone in 60 Seconds, Kikujiro
Sandra Bullock is an alcoholic whose behavior lands her in Serenity Glen, a touchy-feely rehab center filled with the requisite cuddly goofs and embittered oddballs. Bullock carries an ultimately phony movie with something resembling humanity. (Steve Wiecking)
Alice in Wonderland
An X-rated version of Lewis Carroll's classic, from the director of Flesh Gordon.
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)
The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), using nothing but a 16mm camera and their unadulterated obsessions, document the Black American Pimp: the Blaxploitation hero/cultural caricature of our often-hysterical, sexed-up society. Winner of last year's Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Based on the much-reviled book by Bret Easton Ellis, the movie is actually pretty good. Really. Set at the height of the Reagan '80s, Psycho deftly satirizes the deadening effect of unchecked corporate wealth and power. (Andy Spletzer)
Another Girl, Another Planet
Shot in the grainy, black and white magic that is PXLVision, these two films by Michael Almereyda seem less like original works than examples of what Hal Hartley did on his summer vacation. The first piece is a shimmery take on magical realism, starring Eric Stoltz and based on a D.H. Lawrence story about a sick boy who picks the winner at a racetrack. The second piece is a gloomy urban anti-love story, which explores the oft-neglected world of New York slackers trying to find meaning through booze and sex. Featuring the usual Hartley culprits, AG, AP is redeemed only by an elephant cameo. (John Roderick)
So John Travolta is this 10-foot-tall alien who wants every living human to take the Scientology test. When the humans balk, it's goodnight planet... until a few rebels rise up against his tyranny and fight back, that is. As anyone who has seen the trailer to this howling dog can attest, it might be time for Travolta to fade back into obscurity.
*Being John Malkovich
It's the best film of 1999, and it has a monkey in it. Coincidence? We don't think so.
The Big Kahuna
Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito as a couple of crappy salesmen, is a play adaptation, which means that the filmmakers face the eternal challenge: how to make three people talking for 90 minutes into an actual movie. They fail. The problem isn't the subject matter--your basic wounded-business-male confessional boilerplate--nor the performances, which are pretty good (even DeVito manages a few affecting moments). No, the problem is the inherent pomposity of American theater; the degree to which playwrights are so enamored of their own language that they simply refuse to say what the hell they're saying. In this case, it's that even industrial-lubricant salesmen can retain a shred of humanity if they allow themselves to shed their reflexive bullshit bluster. Despite about 20 excellent minutes toward the end, the movie's not worth the ride it takes to get to the point. (Sean Nelson)
Amy Irving stars in this winning romantic comedy set against the majesty of Brazil and propelled by the rhythms of the dance of love.
Teenybopper dance movies are such a delicate, easily bruised genre that it hardly seems fair to judge them using the unwieldy tools of the critic. Center Stage, Hollywood's newest celebration of dance ("Dance!"), offers the usual story of underdog versus system, the strictures of ballet versus the creativity of modern dance, and love expressed via high art. It's campy, it's corny, and it's the feel-good movie of the year. (Traci Vogel)
A heroic muddle of pre-history, computer animation, and talking monkeys, this entertaining flicker posits that dinosaurs might have survived if only they'd learned to work together. If you're the kind of person who wished Jurassic Park had dispensed with all that plot and character crap and just made with the giant reptiles, this might be the one for you.
Everyone knows that dolphins are the smartest animals on the planet; Dolphins proves they're the coolest as well. (Gillian G. Gaar)
East is East
This decent little movie is set in the early '70s, in an English town called Salford. The great Om Puri plays a fanatical father married to a British woman (Linda Basset). They own a small chip shop and a small house, which is packed with seven rebellious kids. With the exception of one boy, all the children are headed one way (toward total assimilation of British culture), and the father the other (preservation of Pakistani values); all that's left is a big showdown in the end. A rather ordinary story, you will agree. But Puri saves the day by doing what he does best: deepening and extending his character's emotional and psychological range. (Charles Mudede)
Despite having been directed by indie superstar Steven Soderbergh, Erin Brockovich is just what it is: another big-budget Hollywood film starring Julia Roberts. In fact, because this is a Hollywood film, we suddenly notice aspects of Soderbergh's filmmaking that are harder to detect when he has complete control over his material: namely, how brilliant he is working with supporting actors, most notably men. In this case, it's Aaron Eckhart and Albert Finney. Without this, all you have left is a stupid plot and the dentiglorious spectacle that is Julia Roberts. (Charles Mudede)
Don't try this at home, folks. An entire film bursting and soaring with EXTREME sports, EXTREME risks, and the ULTIMATE in EXTREME challenges.
Films by Charles and Ray Eames
Besides brilliant contributions to modernist architecture, furniture, and industrial design, this overachieving couple also produced "artful films" that focused on modern ideas and revolutionary methods of visual presentation. Includes Powers of Ten, one of their best-known works. Thurs-Sun June 1-4 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30.
*The FILMS OF LUIS BUÑUEL
A thoughtful retrospective of the sensitive and satirical European/Spanish filmmaker's works. This week's film is Tristana (1970), another ravishing Catherine Deneuve flick that features the Buñuel muse as the young object of many men's obsessions. Thurs June 1 at 7:30; call 625-8900 for details.
*The Filth & the Fury
Julien Temple (The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle) compiled this portrait of the infamous Sex Pistols, with exclusive interviews with Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and of course Sid Vicious. Includes boatloads of unseen live footage, and an amazing capacity to energize even the most cynical viewer. Odds are that if you have preconceptions about the band, they'll at least be tested, especially once you've seen the images of Johnny Rotten serving up slices of cake to needy working-class kids on Christmas Day, 1977, or crying over the death of his mate, Sid. (Sean Nelson)
The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas
Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty: the early years. Yabba dabba don't bother.
*Fremont Outdoor Cinema
Get your lawn chairs ready for the return of Fremont's Outdoor Cinema, with its usual mixed bag of double features, shorts, live music from local bands, and contests. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me kicks the series off, along with Beatles cartoons and a performance by the Now. See Stranger Suggests.
A hodgepodge about time travel; ham-radio enthusiasm; the hazards of firefighting; baseball; mother love; and a father-son tag-team tracking down a nurse-butchering psychopath. This utterly confused film is a perfect example of Hollywood's shameless tendency to pillage the graveyard for the spare parts of its own schmaltzy genres. The result is a Frankenstein monster that bumbles and stumbles across the thin emotional terrain of an Americanized (and therefore totally false) idea of nostalgia and redemption. (Rick Levin)
*Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
When he was young, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) was saved from a group of street thugs by Louie (John Tormey), a low-level Mafioso who just happened to be passing by. In thanks, Ghost Dog pledged to serve Louie for the rest of his life, as faithful to him as any ancient samurai was to his master. Director Jim Jarmusch infuses Ghost Dog with the deadpan humor of his earliest films. (Andy Spletzer)
Director Ridley Scott tramps through the standard gladiator movie plot like a tipsy party host, embracing each and every cliché like a dear old friend. War hero General Maximus (Russell Crowe) is stripped of his position by a scheming new Caesar (Joaquin Phoenix). Escaping too late to save his family, Maximus falls into the hands of a slaver (the late Oliver Reed), and with the help of a former love and his rough-but-likable gladiator pals, seeks his revenge by finding glory within the Coliseum. Scott then uses all the technical advantages of modern filmmaking to make the details as lavish as possible. (Tom Spurgeon)
The delightfully irreverent Jamie Foxx branches out from comedy into action comedy.
A romantic comedy for guys. John Cusack plays the cynically introspective Rob Gordon, the owner of a small record store who, for various reasons, has shit luck with women. He's a jerk, basically, but he's not altogether clueless about his jerkiness. He struggles and obsesses and makes lists that he thinks define his life, but he's no closer to understanding women than he was in the fifth grade--which happens to be when he got dumped for the first time. Based on the popular novel of the same name. (Kathleen Wilson)
*The Honeymoon Killers
Leonard Kastle's 1969 underground B-movie tells the tale of a couple who meet through a "lonely hearts" ad and end up on Long Island, savagely murdering a bunch of single women while living in sin. See Stranger Suggests.
I Dreamed of Africa
Kim Basinger travels to the dark continent, presumably not in search of her roots.
*Independent Exposure 5/2000
Blackchair Productions' monthly showcase of short film/video/digital cinema by a bevy of undie filmmakers returns this month with its Satellites 2000 edition ("May Flowers") and an international lineup that's even more impressive than usual. Between the man hovering over a "wasteland," flying saucers over (or is it under?) Amsterdam, scratchy tone poems, and gruesome animation (you don't want to miss Hangnail), there's something here for all manner of microcinematic tastes. Thurs May 25 at 7:30, $4. (Sean Nelson)
*Island of the Sharks
There are SHARKS on the IMAX screen, and they're rickety RAW!
*Keeping the Faith
Any film that begins with a drunken priest staggering through the streets of New York and tumbling into a garbage pile is automatically fine by me. Edward Norton (who also directed) is the drunky priest and Ben Stiller is a confused rabbi. They love the same girl, a rad chick they hung out with back in the fourth grade. The film is genuinely funny and sweetly romantic as it focuses on all aspects of this not-so-holy trinity. And surprisingly enough, co-star Jenna Elfman doesn't bug. (Kathleen Wilson)
Love and Basketball
Boy meets girl. Boy plays hoops with girl. Girl takes boy to hole.
*Michael Jordan to the MAX
See the greatest basketball player in history as nature intended: on a 3,500-square-foot movie screen!
*Mission: Impossible 2
Tom Cruise returns as a super-secret spy guy with limitless resources and no knowledge of the word "fear." The last installment of this series showed us Emilio Estevez getting crushed by an elevator. If part two can deliver on that scale, Cruise could be looking at box-office gold. Thandie Newton co-stars as the incredibly hot love interest. Directed by John Woo. Woo! Reviewed this issue.
Passion of Mind
Wondering whatever happened to Demi Moore? No? Well, she's back anyway, in what looks like a thinly veiled remake of Kieslowski's The Double Life of Veronique. One difference, at least, is that Irene Jacob didn't have breast implants. Co-starring the great Stellan Skarsgaard.
Return to Me
A guy (David Duchovny) falls for a girl (Minnie Driver) who has received his dead wife's heart in a transplant. No, really.
Road Trip takes the 15-minute road-trip sequence from Animal House and expands it to feature length. In this case, "University of Ithaca" college student Josh (Breckin Meyer) accidentally mails his long-distance girlfriend Tiffany a videotape of him having sex with another woman, forcing him and a trio of college buddies to drive 1,800 miles to recover the tape and save his relationship. Relating the tale of this Odyssean quartet is Benny (Tom Green), the first unreliable narrator figure in what must be the first humanist teen sex comedy. Why "humanist"? This genre of comedy is generally predicated on fear and repulsion toward "the other." This movie parades a sea of creepy or scary archetypes past its travelers (the only one missing is a predatory homosexual)--and then allows them nuanced responses. The foot-fetishist and food molester are just creepy, but the large, horny black woman is allowed a dose of humanity, as is the likable, boner-bearing Grandpa. Josh's sidekick E.L. (Seann William Scott) discovers the joys of prostate stimulation, while dorky Kyle (DJ Qualls) wins over an all-black frat house with his dancing before bedding the aforementioned BBW. Repulsion executes a complicated dance with attraction, and we (and by we, I mean oversexed, underaged boys) emerge from the movie theater better people for it. (Eric Fredericksen)
Romeo Must Die
Romeo Must Die is pretty dumb, even for an action film, but Jet Li doesn't disappoint. (Gillian G. Gaar)
Rules of Engagement
When a movie is titled Rules of Engagement, I'm there. Too bad this one implodes like a giant star after a promising start. The performances of Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Lee Jones, Blair Underwood, Guy Pearce, and Anne Archer are sucked into the resulting black hole. In the end, we are left with nothing--absolutely nothing. (Charles Mudede)
*Satellites 2000: Screens from Outer Space
For those who want sweet relief from the long lines of SIFF, Seattle's independent film community offers a soothing alternative. Satellites 2000 will be screening films and videos at venues like the Grand Illusion, 911 Media Arts Center, Sit & Spin, Cinema 18, the Little Theatre, and the Speakeasy. See separate listings and Movie Times for details.
Danny DeVito, Norm McDonald, and Dave Chapelle star in this "deliciously ribald" comedy by the authors of Problem Child and that unforgivable Andy Kaufman atrocity from last year. Not to be confused with the Al Goldstein documentary from a few years back.
*Seattle International Film Festival
Our annual cinematic behemoth is back, this time with more movies and probably longer lines than ever. This year's exclusives include premiere screenings of Sunshine, with Ralph Fiennes, and Rumor of Angels, with Vanessa Redgrave. Archival treats include a remastered print of Raging Bull, an all-day Cinerama showcase (with the 1962 classic How the West Was Won), and post-revolutionary Russian films (The Young Lady and the Hooligan, 1918; Eye of Glass, 1929). There will also be a festival within the festival: "Passport to the World" offers foreign film buffs a marathon of subtitles from 19 different exotic locales. Call SIFF's info line at 324-9997; or see the Stranger SIFF Bible for details.
Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson: together at last! By the way: It's a Western. Reviewed this issue.
*SHOOTING GALLERY FILM SERIES
Indie film studio the Shooting Gallery showcases movies that were well received at various international film festivals, but never got a proper theatrical release. Adrenaline Drive, Shinobu Yaguchi's adventure flick in which a nerdy car rental clerk gets in a car wreck with menacing Japanese gangsters, is in the current spotlight.
Small Time Crooks
Woody Allen's 2000 entry is one of his unambitious, hoping-only-to-amuse movies. Too bad it's unoriginal, not very amusing, and a near waste of some of this world's greatest comic talent: Tracey Ullman, Elaine May, and Jon Lovitz. Allen casts himself against type as Ray, a poor dopey schlub married to an equally dim former exotic dancer, Frenchie (Ullman). He plans an ambitious bank heist--he and some buddies will buy a storefront two doors down from a bank and run a cookie shop as a front while tunnelling underground to reach the bank vault. The heist is a flop, but Frenchie's amazing cookies turn the front operation into a multi-million dollar business. At this point, a series of tired themes--money can't buy happiness or sophistication or taste, you know--clamp down on the movie, the plot conveys some typical twists, and the movie ends. (Eric Fredericksen)
Artists become activists in this collection of video projects that fight corporate power. Topics include taking on the McDonald's corporation, Coca-Cola, WTO, and consumer marketing campaigns, as well as the satisfying pie-in-the-face method of dealing with corporate bigwigs (The Pie's the Limit). Shown in conjunction with The Whole World Is Watching: Art, Images, and Literature from the WTO Protests, an upcoming exhibit at CoCA. Fri May 26 at 8, $6.
The screen is cut into quadrants. Four films on one screen. No editing. Story takes place in Hollywood; is about Hollywood. No script. Cast wears synchronized digital watches. Fortunately, the experiment is founded on a formidable story--the four films unfolding simultaneously onscreen are all facets of one large narrative, dealing with the quotidian emotional reality of showbiz folk. (Paula Gilovich)
One of the most important turning points in World War II was the Allied capture of the German code machine, Enigma. U-571 is an attempt to show us modern folks what this dramatic event must have been like. The only thing not historically accurate is the damn story. A British destroyer was responsible for capturing the machine, not Matthew McConaughey! Better you should watch Das Boot. (Juan-Carlos Rodriguez)
Up at the Villa
Sean Penn and Kristin Scott Thomas star as ill-fated lovers in the newest entry in the sex-leads-to-tragedy-leads-to-a-woman's-self-knowledge genre, based on the novella by W. Somerset Maugham. The fine supporting cast includes Anne Bancroft, Derek Jacobi, the great Sir James Fox, Jeremy Davies, and the dappled flora of Tuscany.
*The Virgin Suicides
The most consistent element of The Virgin Suicides is a steady stream of images that echo the feminine-hygiene commercials of the 1970s. Considering the material--five teenage sisters growing up in a repressive home and headed for funerals rather than graduations--the lightness of touch is surprising. But to juxtapose suicide with buoyant innocence might be uniquely appropriate; if the film has a message, it seems to be that a mythologized purity of youth can't survive into adulthood. (Monica Drake)
911's ongoing series is devoted to digitally distributed Internet films and animation, with tonight's focus being on creators and curators. A panel of digital film impresarios (from slammedia.com, texturadesign.com, honkworm.com, and microcinema.com) will be on hand for post-screening Q & A or discussion. Sat May 27 at 12, FREE.
Where the Heart Is
Attention Wal-Mart shoppers! Natalie Portman is giving birth on aisle 3!