LIMITED RUN

42nd Street

The Depression-era musical by Lloyd Bacon, with kaleidoscope choreography by Busby Berkeley. Northwest Film Forum, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm.

recommended Batman Begins

Taking equal inspiration from Sin City creator Frank Miller's Batman: Year One miniseries and artist Neil Adams' classic grim and gritty '70s run of Adam West apologia, the scenario circles back to the basics and has a ball reinventing the mythos. For the first time in a live-action recounting, the title character is actually allotted more attention than the inevitably showy villains. (ANDREW WRIGHT) Fremont Outdoor Movies, Sat July 15 at dusk.

Sponsored
recommended Breakfast at Tiffany's

Seattle Art Museum (in residence at MOHAI) continues its Audrey Hepburn series with her iconic turn as Holly Golightly. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs July 20 at 7:30 pm.

Cascadia Feed Live Show

Laptop musicians and visuals, with Deceptikon, thegreyroom, and others. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

Chaos

A Japanese thriller by Hideo Nakata (the original Ring). Central Cinema, Thurs July 20 at 7 pm. (Continues through July 23.)

recommended The Cuckoo

Upon first meeting glamourless Anni (Anni-Christina Juuso) in The Cuckoo, we might conclude that she will function in this film as a stolid Earth Mother, on screen to teach us some valuable, if necessarily humorless, lessons on Life and The Land and, since this is a wartime film, undoubtedly Man's Inhumanity to Man. Turns out, though, that she's been without her husband for a couple of years, and what she really, really, really wants is to get laid. So the sudden arrival, thanks to the war, of two wandering slabs of manflesh is rather more urgent than any concerns she might have about all that Man's Inhumanity stuff. This is merely the first of many expectations to be upended in Alexander Rogozhkin's film—a humorous, human, and nifty piece of enchantment. (CLAUDE ROC) Central Cinema, Fri-Sun 7 and 9:30 pm. (Late show 21+.)

Favela Rising

See review this issue. Weekdays 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm.

For Your Height Only

The Kung Fu Grindhouse series continues with a short about luncheon meat, plus other educational films from the '50s (at 6 pm); Microwave Massacre, a 1983 narrative film about the miracle of microwave cooking (at 7 pm); and For Your Height Only, a 1979 film starring Filipino little person Weng Weng as Agent 00 (at 9 pm). Sunset Tavern, Mon July 17 at 6 pm.

Girls in the Director's Chair

Short films by teenagers, produced through the Reel Grrrls after-school program. Central Cinema, Wed July 19 at 7 pm.

recommended The Hidden Blade

See review this issue. Varsity, Fri-Sun 1, 3:45, 6:45, 9:30 pm, Mon-Thurs 6:45, 9:30 pm.

recommended Police Beat

See "Guided by Voices". Director Robinson Devor and screenwriter Charles Mudede will be in attendance for Friday evening shows. Varsity, Fri-Sun 1:10, 3:10, 5, 7, 9:10 pm, Mon-Thurs 5, 7, 9:10 pm.

Rachel Corrie: An American Conscience

An uncritical documentary about the Olympia woman who died in front of an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip. Corrie's parents will be in attendance. Keystone Church, Fri July 14 at 7 pm.

Sabrina

The Billy Wilder favorite featuring Audrey Hepburn as the adorable daughter of a chauffeur. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs July 13 at 7:30 pm.

recommended Three Times

See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Weekdays 7, 9:30 pm, Fri-Sat 3, 5, 7, 9:30 pm.

recommended The Wizard of Oz

Technicolor before color movies became boring, nostalgic innocence before it became corrupted, Judy Garland before the drugs. The Wizard of Oz makes Kansas look so sepia drab that the first shot of the Yellow Brick Road can still take your breath away after all these years. (BRUCE REID) Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

recommended Xanadu

"You have to believe we are magic!" South Lake Union Discovery Center, Fri July 14 after dusk.

Yacht Rock Sing-Along

Northwest Film Forum brings the internet comedy show to the big screen for one night only. Apparently, Yacht Rock is a piercing parody of '70s soft rock. NWFF, Sat July 15 at midnight.

Now Playing

Cars

With Pixar movies, you know the story is going to be bursting with loveable characters housing their own endearing little quirks. Toy Story had Buzz Lightyear, Monsters, Inc. had Mike Wazowski, Finding Nemo had Dory and those awesome stoner turtles—but who do we get in Cars? Just a bunch of stupid cars! Cars are machines. Metal, plastic, rubber... just machines. Even with a face painted on them, they're not warm. You don't wanna cuddle with a car. You don't want a car for a friend or even a pet. You kinda just want 'em all to drive themselves off of a cliff so they can be scrapped and turned into something cool. Like Transformers. (MEGAN SELING)

The Da Vinci Code

Everything about this movie is boiled until tough. The cinematography (by Cinderella Man's Salvatore Totino) is without flair; Tom Hanks is charmless; Audrey Tautou looks like a dusty china doll; and the scavenger-hunt plot is stretched out over 149 draining minutes. Only Ian McKellen wrings any fun out of the movie, but then again, he gets two crutches to play with. (ANNIE WAGNER)

The Devil Wears Prada

Is Meryl Streep afraid of Anna Wintour? There's something weirdly soft in her portrayal of "dragon lady" Miranda Priestly, the editor at Runway magazine (read: Wintour's Vogue), that completely contradicts the spirit of the movie. But to be fair, it's not her fault: Streep can't help but play a human being, and the characters in The Devil Wears Prada are not human beings. A Hollywood movie, I would argue, can do satire, but it can't usually do personal or dishy. Hundreds of people create a movie; one aggrieved ex-employee, sitting in a garret somewhere, types a novel. The entire mechanism of cinema works to make its content presentable: Scenes are performed, not cattily divulged. If Streep's performance softens under this pressure, Anne Hathaway, as the perky Weisberger stand-in, simply dissolves. Her character is nice and, we're repeatedly told, smart—and conspicuously, no longer Jewish—but she's incredibly dull. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended District B13

Clocking in at 85 minutes, District B13 serves as an ideal sampler for writer-producer Luc Besson's (The Professional) distinct flavor of Eurotrash, where the men have manly goo-goo eyes for each other; the women are gold-hearted, punked-out skanks; and even the sluggiest thug wears Gautier. What makes District B13 stand out from the pack is the incorporation of parkour, a frankly dumbfounding extreme sport involving crazy rooftop shenanigans. Whatever the pseudo-philosophical bullstuff of its origins (the Wikipedia entry expounds at length about harmony and "being fluid like water"), it makes for the most irresistibly cinematic martial art since the hallowed Gymkata. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Expiration Date

Why must so many American independent films be so cringe-worthy? Why must the cast, crew, friends of the filmmaker, producers, etc., be so gosh-darn awed at the prospect of participating in a minor motion picture that they neglect to point out that, for example, there are truly painful Asian stereotypes in the script that make no discernible contribution to the plot and whose only possible purpose is misguided humor? This (I hate to admit it) completely typical American indie is marred by numerous such missteps, most not quite so patently offensive, but still so obvious that it's hard to imagine anyone read over the screenplay before the cameras rolled. A very broad comedy—certainly not black in hue, but perhaps a mild shade of gray—set in Queen Anne, Volunteer Park, and other picturesque locations with views of the Space Needle, plus the (film insider joke!) Alibi Room, Expiration Date is about a Native dude named Charlie who is doomed to be run over by a milk truck on his 25th birthday (family curse, apparently). It's almost funny whenever a Smith Brothers milk truck is mowing Charlie down, but it's almost never funny when he's wooing the most annoying girl in the world—a cutesy, bug-eyed bohemian dancer! who might have cancer! who teaches geriatric aerobics! against whom the animal control depot has taken out a restraining order, but who still stages a puppy breakout halfway through the film! Seattle actor Brandon Whitehead plays a caffeine addict. There are several conspicuously placed copies of The Stranger. But no amount of local shout-outs is gonna make Expiration Date a good film. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Friends with Money

Friends with Money atones for its shortcomings in the plot department by kicking unprecedented ass in the great-actress-triumvirate-of-delight department: Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, and Catherine Keener. But it's still a movie about the emotional pain of building an addition to one's house. (LINDY WEST)

The Heart of the Game

Since being picked up by Miramax, The Heart of the Game has become a big, fat juggernaut modeled after Hoop Dreams and narrated by Ludacris—but it began as a scrappy, no-budget local movie about the girls' basketball team at Roosevelt High School.The big games are all raucous intra-city blowouts against Garfield. There's plenty of grainy video footage courtesy of KOMO TV. It's impossible to approach the movie with anything resembling objectivity—and that's what makes it such gripping fun. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth is workmanlike and clumsy at times—but it's also hugely invigorating. Tracking Gore's global-warming lecture as he schleps his Apple laptop across the country and to China, it's a collection of scientific facts and correlations made urgent through human drama and low-tech slide-show magic. It should be required viewing for every American citizen. And if it kicks up a storm of speculation regarding Al Gore's political prospects in 2008? So much the better. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Mission: Impossible 3

Clearly, in retrospect, what the Mission: Impossible franchise needed was a director young and hungry enough to shoot the moon, yet humble enough to work comfortably within the system. In short, a TV guy. Enter Alias/Lost creator J. J. Abrams, whose television work displays a genuine affinity for the ol' cloak and dagger, as well as a winningly snarky knack for subverting the dustier conventions of same. His feature debut lives up to his small-screen predilections, which should please audiences and studio accountants alike. Abrams's script, cowritten with Alias cohorts Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, finds Tom Cruise's IMF hotshot semi-retired to instructor status and on the cusp of settling down with adorable nurse Michelle Monaghan. Before long, however, circumstances draw him back into the field, in the person of Philip Seymour Hoffman's sociopathic arms dealer with a grudge. Pesky personal matters aside, there's always been something uncomfortable about Cruise's screen presence—that feeling that he's always blaringly on, giving even the quietest moments 140 percent. Abrams's solution—steadily jacking up the emotional and physical intensity to match the star—pays huge, pleasantly exhausting dividends. He's got game. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Nacho Libre

Gosh! Rip off my frickin' movie why don't you, Jared Hess! This is pretty much the worst movie ever made. I mean, I guess it's an okay movie. It's pretty funny. Now that I think about it, it's pretty much my favorite movie ever. (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE)

Support The Stranger

Over the Hedge

This movie is about cartoon animals with feelings who learn lessons about junk food and waste and suburban sprawl. There are three funny parts. 1. RJ the Raccoon teaches the other animals about big fat humans: "The human mouth is called a piehole." 2. The exterminator is fooled by a lawn flamingo: "Those things are so lifelike. Curse you, plastic moldsman!" 3. A cat's pick-up line: "Inside, I have a multi-leveled climby thing with shag carpet." Wait. I fucked up. Number three's not funny. The rest—despite an all-hits-no-misses cast and an awesome Ben Folds soundtrack—is a shrill combo of recycled jokes, less than hilarious mayhem, and demonic porcupine babies. But the kiddie audience loved it. In the climactic moments, when Stella the Skunk pops her anal plug and fills evil Gladys's house with skunk stank, they burst into triumphant applause. (LINDY WEST)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

The first Pirates of the Caribbean film rose from the ashes of low expectations, dragged up from its dubious theme-park origins by a subversive and hilariously twisted performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. What should have been un film stupide turned into one of the few surprises of 2003. Now comes the midsection of the trilogy, which picks up shortly after the first film ended. Capt. Jack remains a truly weird invention, but now everyone around him is trying desperately to keep up, and what's left is a film so amped up it flirts with being cartoonish. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is the expected romp: swords are clashed, cannons are fired, and many a quip is unsheathed. But what's missing this go-around is the genuine surprise of the first film. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

A Prairie Home Companion

In his ballyhooed return to the environs, if not the concerns, of Middle America, Robert Altman takes on a script by Garrison Keillor about the end of his famed radio show. G. K., as the dour host is known backstage, looks rather like some heretofore-unknown breed of fleshy-lipped bulldog. But nothing particularly impugns Altman's contribution: his patented ensemble whirligig, which sweeps through and around scenes with an almost mechanical precision. Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin are adorable as a pair of indifferently harmonizing sisters. Lindsay Lohan, as Streep's poetry-scribbling daughter, is, like the children of Lake Wobegone, merely above average. But all this delicate chemistry is nearly ruined by the script. It's sad to see Keillor making miscalculations about the nature and appeal of his own creations. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Russian Dolls

In this follow-up to the minor sensation L'Auberge Espagnol, Xavier (Romain Duris), a hack pencil for hire, struggles to find love while being severely handicapped by his own self-absorption. Director Cédric Klapisch has yet to meet a visual gimmick he didn't like, but you can't help but be won over by the overall effort. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

A Scanner Darkly

What is the core truth of this film based on a Philip K. Dick short story of the same name? That capitalism is not progressive; it does not move from a lower condition to a higher and better one, but is circular. By purchasing the commodity of labor, it manufactures commodities that will be consumed by those who must sell their labor as a commodity to buy commodities. The whole business is sinister. That is the substance of A Scanner Darkly, a film made by a director, Richard Linklater, who believes in his own importance, who believes he has the imagination to navigate a massive work of pop art toward a simple but devastating truth. It took nearly 50,000 hours to animate A Scanner Darkly: 500 hours for every minute that transformed real actors (Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr, Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson) into animated ones. In the end, that is the best thing about the movie. The content is weak, but the feat is amazing. Don't watch this movie for any other reason than to see the mass expenditure of labor. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

recommended Strangers With Candy

Strangers with Candy is basically just an extra-long, perfectly passable bonus episode of the original TV series, which means, of course, that it's fucking hysterical. (LINDY WEST)

Superman Returns

For a movie featuring a hero who can conceivably give God a wedgie, there's precious little zowie to be found. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

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. (ANNIE WAGNER)

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)

Waist Deep

The problem with B movies these days is that they all seem ashamed to be Bs. The new urban thriller Waist Deep would most likely have made for a decent late-night Cinemax staple, but its stabs at higher significance only bring on the giggles. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Wordplay

A mild documentary about crossword puzzles and those who love them, featuring interviews with Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart (who valiantly tries to inject some zaniness into the proceeedings), the Indigo Girls, and of course, puzzle editors Will Shortz and Merl Reagle. Compared to the several Scrabble documentaries that came out a few years ago, Wordplay is conspicuously lacking in crazy characters. (ANNIE WAGNER)

X-Men: The Last Stand

It's a shameful way for the trilogy to end: not with a brain, but with a whimper. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)