The Films of Alec Guinness, Letter Never Sent, Traffic, Wings of Desire


See Stranger Suggests. A poetic tour through contemporary Berlin, courtesy of Wim Wenders and Jean-Luc Godard. Wed only. Little Theatre

*Citizen Kane
Risibly overinterpreted this issue. Orson Welles stars as a guy who's gained power through the newspaper business, but remains lonely. Brilliantly told through flashbacks from several points of view, Citizen Kane gives you clues as to who the man was without telling you straight out. Oh, and it's not a mystery, so if you already know Rosebud is a sled, then you're two steps ahead of the game. (Andy Spletzer) Sat-Sun only. Admiral

A Clockwork Orange
Of Stanley Kubrick's 13 feature films, this eternally popular one is far and away the worst, its callousness and ham-fisted irony just barely compensated for by Malcolm McDowell's ingratiating sneer. Fri-Sat only. Admiral

The May Lady
Reviewed this issue. Making a feminist documentary in Iran isn't as easy as it used to be, as this fictional film asserts. Opens Fri. Grand Illusion

*O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Reviewed this issue. Depression-era Mississippi, Coen-Brothers style. Chain gangs, the Klan dancing in formation, and a cow on the roof of a barn. Based, of course, on Homer's The Odyssey. Opens Fri. Egyptian

*Sarah T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic
See Stranger Suggests. Linda Blair continued her string of humiliated adolescents playing a dipsomaniac teen in this made-for-TV cautionary tale. Fri-Sat only. Grand Illusion

*Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Finally accorded respect this issue. It's your standard story, really: Boy meets Chocolate Baron, Boy offends Chocolate Baron, Boy inherits Chocolate Factory. Sat-Sun only. Admiral

The Wiz
It was a stupid gaffe on the part of the makers of The Wiz--stupider even than hiring talented but distinctly unflashy Sidney Lumet to direct a musical or diva Diana Ross to play the innocent Dorothy--to recreate Oz as merely a parti-colored version of New York, complete with sweatshops, streetwalkers, and the Coney Island roller coaster. Locking the fantasy down to such lovely but familiar locales as the Brooklyn Bridge or New York Public Library only strips the story of its escapist sense of wonder. On the plus side, Michael Jackson is a wobbly-legged wonder as Scarecrow, and delivers a stunning vocal performance of the movie's best song, the funky, world-weary "You Can't Win, You Can't Break Even." (Bruce Reid) Wed only. JBL Theater at EMP


102 Dalmatians
102 Dalmatians was really funny but pretty boring, because it seemed really long. For example, the movie wasn't very exciting because almost half of it was dating and talking about stupid stuff. Glenn Close was very good as Cruella. Most of the actors besides Glenn Close were corny, because everything they said you knew they were going to say, and they said it in a fake way. In this movie it seemed like there was only about 50 dogs, even though the name of the movie is 102 Dalmatians. All you saw were about 20 dogs escaping up the stairs, a few more dogs nursing, and a couple dogs helping the 20 dogs escape. We would have liked it better if we saw more dogs in the movie. (Sam Lachow & Maggie Brown) Factoria, Metro

All the Pretty Horses
Not to give anything away, but the moral of the story is: Don't be too tough on yourself, Matt Damon, because everybody has something they feel guilty about. If that sounds like the moral of Good Will Hunting, well, that must be a coincidence. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, Damon plays an out-of-work cowboy in 1949 who travels to Mexico with Henry Thomas to find work on one of the big ranches down there. Two things go wrong: an annoying kid with a violent past (Lucas Black) tags along; and once they do find work, Damon falls in love with the boss' daughter (the luminous Penélope Cruz). Needless to say, they end up in prison and one of 'em ends up dead. Though it's trying to be a Western, and really wants to be a love story, All the Pretty Horses ends up being just a standard coming-of-age film. What a pity. (Andy Spletzer) Grand Alderwood, PaciÞc Place 11, Varsity

*Best In Show
Christopher Guest's latest with Eugene Levy follows several dog owners on their quest for the blue ribbon at the 2000 Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. A well-executed, ridiculous little film lovingly mining ridiculous little people's ridiculous little lives. (Jason Pagano) Broadway Market, Varsity

*Billy Elliot
As the BBC put it, "You are heartless if you don't love every minute of this film"--and I'm not heartless. Thirty minutes into it, I gave in; there was no way I could hate it. I must make a confession: I almost cried during this film--yes, it's that touching. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market, Metro

Cast Away
Cast Away takes a lurid delight in cataloging the various losses that accrue upon once-wealthy FedEx international systems supervisor Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) after a freak Christmas Eve plane crash strands him somewhere in the South Pacific. The stupid simplicity with which Hanks is shown crafting his world so utterly subverts any but the most priapic observations that one comes away from the film feeling a trifle molested, or just bored. As an allegory for the perils of the new American capitalist of the sort that our system is loath to lose, however, Cast Away is quite fascinating. (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate

*Charlie's Angels
Completely brainless, God bless its heart. Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu kick, chop, giggle, and dance their way through some sort of story involving technical thievery or... something. It doesn't really make sense, but then again, it doesn't really matter because director McG has created a world of lunacy where people levitate with relative ease, and there is absolutely no explanation for it. Hot chicks kick ass and fly, and either you accept it and have fun, or you don't. (Bradley Steinbacher) City Centre

The film critic in me has control over my emotions; it can and will repress my wolflike desire to fill this page with hungry words that praise (in greater and greater detail) the celestial beauty of Juliette Binoche. I will not describe her rippling lips, her cat-dark eyes, or the black mole that languishes on the left side of her neck. My straightforward review will open with a detailed plot summary ("The movie is about a French village whose serenity is shattered by a mysterious woman who moves into town with her illegitimate daughter and opens a sexy chocolate store."), and then state the truth ("The movie is unremarkable!"). Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the job of a film critic. (Charles Mudede) Guild 45th, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Legendary warrior Chow Yun Fat can never declare his love for fellow martial-arts expert Michelle Yeoh. Instead, he entrusts her with Green Destiny, his nearly magical sword, but in the dark of night a hooded thief steals it, which leads to a fight held mostly in mid-air. An attempt to wed emotionally reticent drama with the exhilarating freedom of Hong Kong-genre filmmaking. Director Ang Lee can't quite pull off the combination; for too long a time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's shifting gears only jam. But the film finds its rhythm and earns the accolades it has received once it leaves the stars behind and gives its heart over to the young and engaging Zhang Ziyi, who plays the aristocratic daughter of privilege who opts instead for the dangerous yet thrilling occupation of a thief. (Bruce Reid) Neptune, Uptown

Dracula 2000
Are long capes and Hungarian accents still considered sexy by anyone? Still, here's the one holiday movie guaranteed not to even try to improve your morals, character, or feelings of goodwill. Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Varsity

Dude, Where's My Car?
It's unfair to complain that Dude, Where's My Car? lacks the utter, beguiling brilliance of the two Bill & Ted's films, since this is not a smart film about two dumb kids, but rather an unapologetically dumb movie about two dumb kids. Of the pair, Ashton Kutcher has more lanky, dope-fuzzy appeal than the frankly simian Seann William Scott, but the actors aren't the point either. All that matters is that our heroes wander obliviously through extraordinary circumstances; that enough jokes are made about sex, dope, and hauling out garbage; that the special effects for the alien morphing scene (don't ask) are tacky enough to chuckle at. The only fresh idea is actually a charming one: This may well be the first buddy movie where the two pals willingly share a wet, sloppy kiss and feel none the worse afterward. Chalk one up for dumb movies. (Bruce Reid) PaciÞc Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Dungeons & Dragons
Straight world: Please, please just turn away. Geeks like me: If you know the difference between a drow and an orc, it's too late for you anyway. It doesn't matter that this movie is wretchedly incomprehensible, or that it was made at least 15 years too late; the promise of seeing mages and Beholders and the Thieves' Guild and a deadly labyrinth is just too tempting, if only so we can go and harrumph our way through the whole thing. And let's finally face the facts, shall we? We're geeks by nature, we belong to this stuff; Dungeons & Dragons is really only as embarrassing and unbearable and uncool as we are. (Evan Sult) Aurora Cinema Grill, City Centre, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Varsity

The Emperor's New Groove
The movie is bad, so I'm not going to judge or compare it to other bad Disney animation films. The Emperor's New Groove attempts to identify with black cool. But sadly enough, outside of the twisted slave/master relationship that exists between the emperor and the loyal peasant who saves his life, and Eartha Kitt's role as the empire's wicked witch, there is nothing really black about this film, which is shrouded in a mist of black themes, slang, styles. Imagine walking into a funk disco only to discover, once inside, that it's packed with knee-slapping square dancers. But despite this enormous letdown, Disney's marketers are well aware that America's cool codes are black codes. (Charles Mudede) Factoria, Majestic Bay, Metro, PaciÞc Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*An Everlasting Piece
Like too many films (and political commentaries, for that matter) about the Irish Troubles, An Everlasting Piece falls into the trap of trying to have it both ways: it's a rambling comedy about a toupee salesman and a drama about living in a war zone; the jokes are meant to be giddy, but the threat of murder is supposed to be real; the IRA are both foils for gags about folks with guns deciding to buy wigs and dangerous terrorists, just as the British Army are brutal policemen and fresh-faced young kids. But I'm recommending it anyway, because due to several miscommunications I went to the wrong theater for the screening, and the press representative was nice enough to give me a ride to catch it. So what the hell, for once I'm wrong and the audience that lapped up every stupid gag was right. (Bruce Reid) PaciÞc Place 11

Family Man
The first half of this movie is funny. Nicolas Cage, a fastidious, fabulously wealthy arbitrageur, is magicked into a lower-middle-class schlumph. I shall not soon forget his reaction when he opens his schlumph closet; and his schlumph mother-in-law and father-in-law are priceless. There's a moment in a bowling alley where I saw a glimmer of hope for the second half; it could have been a still funny and tender riff on the thought that happiness, like bowling, is a skill that can be learned and practiced. But no, instead we have to have some goopy gush about the path not taken and falling snowflakes. Don Cheadle is good. Josef Sommer is good. There's no law that says you can't walk out after the first half. (Barley Blair) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, PaciÞc Place 11

Finding Forrester
A kid from the Bronx excels at both basketball and composition, befriends a hermit writer, undergoes a crisis from which the writer must extract him, thereby helping the writer overcome his own reclusive blah blah blah. Sean Connery wrote the Great American Novel and he never goes out now, except he will go out to watch a baseball game--well, he always used to watch baseball. Well yes, he watches basketball out the window now, but then he and his brother--oh, did I forget to say he had a brother? Well, he had one, and anyway, F. Murray Abraham tried to publish a critical book--no, F. Murray Abraham isn't the brother, he's a teacher. Yes, he's teaching at the school where the kid--well, okay, I guess I should have said that the kid gets into this snobby day school.... It goes on like that. (Barley Blair) Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

*A Hard Day's Night
Of course you're going to go see A Hard Day's Night, the wonderful movie about the Beatles made by Richard Lester in 1964 and rereleased in a glorious new print, as crisp and tasty as fresh lettuce--you'd be daft not to. (Barley Blair) Broadway Market

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Grinch is much different than the old cartoon. In this movie, the Grinch has a huge house with a telephone, a pulley, and trap doors. In the old cartoon he doesn't have any of that stuff. If you watch this you will find out where the Grinch came from, and why he hates Christmas. Like always, Jim Carrey is FABULOUS! He is sooo funny--you couldn't find a better actor to play the part. On the other hand, the actor who played Cindy Lou Who was not very good--she was pretty corny. The Grinch was funny but not as good as I thought it would be. (Sam Lachow, 10 years old) Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Director Giuseppe Tornatore spun childhood nostalgia into international box-office gold with Cinema Paradiso (1988). With Malena, he tries to repeat that success by making an art-house Porky's set in Sicily during World War II. Renato (Giuseppe Sulfaro), not even a teenager but wanting to grow up quick, starts hanging out with the older kids who ogle Malena (Monica Bellucci), a beautiful woman whose husband is off at war. Actually, the whole town ogles Malena, to the point where she's been unfairly painted as the town slut. Renato thinks he's different from the townsfolk, but she's never more than his masturbatory fantasy, a fact made distastefully literal by the end of the film. Pretty cinematography and a pretty girl do not make up for the ugly, voyeuristic core of this film. (Andy Spletzer) Harvard Exit

Meet the Parents
Ben Stiller is about to pop the question to Pam, his kindergarten-teacher girlfriend. But he realizes in the nick of time that he must first ask her father (played with vicious delicacy by Robert De Niro) for permission. Complications invariably ensue. (Tamara Paris) Aurora Cinema Grill, PaciÞc Place 11

Miss Congeniality
Some movies never aspire to be anything more than a decent diversion to boredom that provides a few soft chuckles, some squishy romance, and little else. Miss Congeniality is one of those faultless movies, and its star, Sandra Bullock has made a career of these perfectly harmless films (The Net, Speed, 28 Days) that place her in the role of "the self-effacing, funny heroine" who always gets the guy in the end. Here Bullock plays Gracie, a tomboyish FBI agent who goes undercover--beauty pageant-style--in order to capture a terrorist preying on its contestants. Michael Caine, Candice Bergen, and William Shatner all figure prominently in this none-too-subtle romantic comedy that will leave no one guessing who the terrorist is and who Gracie will end up with. Yeah it's simple, but who expects complication when Sandra Bullock is the star? (Kathleen Wilson) Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, PaciÞc Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*My Twentieth Century
Blessed with the gentle surrealism and genuine whimsy that remain Ildikó Enyedi's greatest gifts as a director, My Twentieth Century more than makes up for its total lack of organization or even purpose by alternately charming and amazing you. Loosely constructed around twin sisters, born in 1880 and entering the new millennium as a prim, bomb-throwing radical on the one hand and a sexually adventurous free spirit on the other (both played, in a pair of amazing performances, by the luminous Dorota Segda), the film rambles along with little incident but great charm. I know for a fact that if you're in the wrong frame of mind the film can grate; but surrender to its pixilated mood and it's quite lovely. (Bruce Reid) Little Theatre

Proof of Life
Meg Ryan's husband, in South America overseeing a dam-building project for oil conglomerate QUAD Carbon, has been kidnapped by the bickering, incompetent Marxists of the Liberation of Army of Tecala, and only Russell Crowe's rugged good looks and subdued masculinity can bring him back alive. Then--in an awkward, flat romantic subplot that the skeptical audience member will recognize as hastily emphasized for the sole purpose of exploiting the real-life romance of the film's lead actors in order to manufacture "buzz"--Ryan finds herself enveloped by the intoxicating Aussie sex appeal of the seasoned professional in charge of negotiating her husband's rescue. With David Caruso as another rugged, sexy man, you know, in that middle-aged way. (Jason Pagano) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

Quills is loosely (very loosely) based upon the latter years of the Marquis de Sade's life. Shortly after the French Revolution, de Sade resides locked away in the Charenton mental hospital where he is allowed, briefly, to continue writing his pornographic prose. Though meant for private consumption only, the writings are secreted out of Charenton by the laundry maid, Madeleine (Kate Winslet), and their popularity on the streets of France causes outraged apoplexy among the powers that be. Unfortunately, the film seeks to rehabilitate de Sade's image into that of Brave Soldier in the Noble Battle against Hypocrisy. Which not only flattens and dulls the film's subject, it also makes for one hell of a hypocritical movie in its own right. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Harvard Exit

Requiem For a Dream
Requiem for a Dream comes off as so much high-school posturing: puerile; craven; and, in hindsight, embarrassingly tacky. (Jamie Hook) Broadway Market

Rugrats in Paris: The Movie
This is the season when the entertainment industry presents its most enticing new kiddie-crack. Why waste time dabbling in the waters of those fancy foreigners with their unintelligible offerings (Teletubbies, Pokémon, etc.) or those epileptic fit-inducing upstarts who employ every cheap trick involving violence, sex, and subliminal messaging (everything on Fox Kids, for example). Your child does not need variety--your child needs success! And you know full well that the Rugrats have been, are, and for some time to come will be the bearers of the formula for success. Sing when you're winning my friends, sing when you're winning. (Kudzai Mudede) City Centre, Lewis & Clark

*State and Main
Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, Sarah Jessica Parker, and David Paymer descend on a small Vermont town to make a movie, bringing their sophisticated mores with them. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the traditional role of the scriptwriter, one who is in but not of Hollywood, a belletrist with a heart of gold. The town end is held down by Charles Durning, Clark Gregg, Ricky Jay, Patti LuPone, Matt Malloy, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Julia Stiles... do you begin to see a problem here? The cast is as fixedly big-city as a traffic jam. Though to tell you the truth, I was laughing too hard to worry about small inaccuracies. David Mamet has said that he was thinking of Preston Sturges when he put this film together, and it's a worthy successor to the Master. (Barley Blair) Guild 45th, PaciÞc Place 11

Bruce Willis sleepily stars as a mild-mannered security guard, who walks away without a scratch as the sole survivor of a two-train pileup. Soon after, he is approached by Samuel L. Jackson, a comic-book collector who's become convinced that Willis is a charmed person, immune to harm, perhaps gifted with psychic powers. Willis portrays Dunne, whose grudging awareness that he is different from the rest of us is told with as little humor or even enjoyment as possible. Thus introducing a whole new genre: the glum, glacially slow, risibly pretentious superhero flick. (Bruce Reid) Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro

*Vertical Limit
Three survivors are trapped after a disastrous attempt to climb K2, the most challenging mountain in the world. Fueled by a "reward" of a measly half-million dollars apiece, three teams of two climbers each risk their lives and set out to save those who are now stranded and left to die. And, just as your subconscious craves, the body counts grow higher, the scandals become sexier, and the obstacles hit one right after another in unbelievable proportion. It's a no-holds-barred world in the mind of a seven-year-old. (Megan Seling) Cinerama, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, PaciÞc Place 11, Southcenter

What Women Want
Mel Gibson, playing high-level advertising exec Nick Marshall, gets tripped up in his slick 'n' chauvinistic act when, instead of being handed the promotion he expects, a woman (Helen Hunt as Darcy McGuire) is hired in his place. Rolling his eyes, Nick heads woefully home, gets drunk, tries on pantyhose, mousses his hair, and while blow-drying falls in the tub and electrocutes himself. And suddenly Nick is in the best position to know what women want: he can hear their very thoughts. We're living in a culture that offers women fake power--the power to determine what products are created and consumed--and one can hardly blame director Nancy Meyers for taking the low road and producing a flat, stale, and probably extremely profitable Hollywood film. (Traci Vogel) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

*You Can Count on Me
As a teenager, alone in my teenager room in America, my greatest longing was for a state of sadness. My craving was so strong it became clear that "sadness" was the very root of desire for me. Now with my thoughts gathered in full-blown adulthood, I realize that all I wanted in my quest for "sadness" was to be an adult. In Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me, "adult" and "sadness" and "American" become a knot of synonyms as the story focuses on the pure inability a brother and sister have with one another now that they're adults. It is as though being an adult, and a member of a grownup American family, is the path of loneliness and sadness. Without any trendy embitterment, the sad path of the story is inspired, beautiful, and desirable. And the case is made for loneliness as the Great American Pursuit. (Paula Gilovich) Broadway Market, Harvard Exit, Seven Gables

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