COMING SOON

Kippur, Nowhere to Hide, Shadow of the Vampire, Sugar and Spice, The Wedding Planner


NEW THIS WEEK

The Amati Girls
An anti-feminist feel-good movie, The Amati Girls is an amazing, horrific artifact: A family of contemporary women live as though the culture is still locked down in the woman-should-do-everything-for-husband prison of the '50s. One of the Amati girls spends the entire film knowing that she doesn't want to marry her boyfriend and instead wants to be a singer. Finally, and with the help of her "wiser" sisters, she realizes that her desire to sing--or do anything outside of marry--cannot exist. Meanwhile, another sister dies the first time she stands up for herself in her marriage, as if to suggest a woman will instantly drop dead from a massive aneurysm if she asserts herself. In this head-splitting world of The Amati Girls, "surrender" is a woman's operant word. And that makes me want to take a long, sad walk. (Paula Gilovich) Opens Fri. Pacific Place 11

The American Nightmare
This documentary commits the only sin worse than not taking genre films seriously: It draws only the most obvious lessons from them, and hammers them home till the viewer is numb. Intercutting between TV footage of Vietnam and Night of the Living Dead is hardly provocative the first time; the fifth and sixth it's merely annoying. An emotional recounting of his wartime experience from Tom Savini excepted, the interviews with horror directors offer no more insight, merely confirming what you already suspected: Romero is the most sarcastic, Cronenberg the most self-consciously profound, Carpenter the most nuts-and-bolts pragmatic, etc. If it inspires you to watch again some of the finest films of the 1970s, however, The American Nightmare will at least have done the viewer a service. (Bruce Reid) Fri-Sat only. Egyptian

Animator's Social
Writer Giannalberto Bendazzi gives a lecture and presentation on his new book, Cartoons: 100 Years of Cinema Animation. He will also screen some recent Italian animation, and even offer critiques of your work if you bring it in on VHS cued up and ready to go! If you're going to have your dreams crushed, it may as well be by a well-respected author with a cool-sounding name. Fri only. 911 Media Arts

*FESTIVAL OF DEPRESSION
See arts feature this issue. Fourteen days, eight films, two wrists, one razorblade. Opens Fri. Grand Illusion

The Gift
See review this issue. White-trash Southerner with ESP tries to save white-trash southern housewife from her white-trash abusive boyfriend. Opens Fri. Metro, Pacific Place 11

*Goodbye, Boys
Movies have always been good at capturing a sense of bittersweet nostalgia. The Soviet film Goodbye, Boys does just that, looking back at warm summer days, swimming in the ocean, teenage romances, petty jealousies--before WWII took that all away. Three boys wile away the summer doing not much at all, before being naively drawn into a military recruitment center. They are proud to serve their county, but their parents have different memories of the hardships of war and are less than excited to see them enlist. Their fate is foreshadowed by a film they go to see, where the lives of three friends don't end well. Never overexplaining anything, Goodbye, Boys has its share of poetic ideas and beautiful images, and is a lovely cinematic experience. (Andy Spletzer) Sat-Sun only. Grand Illusion

House of Mirth
See review this issue. A society woman is brought to ruination by the cruelty of her peers. What the hell's so funny about that? Opens Fri. Seven Gables

*Iran Now: New Iranian Documentaries
This trio of recent Iranian documentaries all display topnotch filmmaking, but it is the four remarkable women they profile that make them so magnificent. Mohammad Jafari's Laleh and Laden concerns a pair of conjoined twins, united at their crowns since birth, who in their college years face the question of undergoing an operation. Jafari also directed the remarkable Christine: a Swedish-American citizen returns to Iran to find the family who abandoned her in a market 40 years earlier. The film discovers a community of hopeful parents and siblings buzzing with loss and grief, bonded by regret. Pirouz Kalantari's artful Alone in Tehran is a portrait of Benhaz Jafary, a 24-year-old actress and student; with her frankness, her strong-willed refusal to act for the camera on command, and her dissertation on misogyny in Strindberg, Jafary is the heroine of a film Bergman never made, in a country he never visited. (Bruce Reid) Wed only. Little Theatre

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains
Everyone who's seen it calls this 1981 film about a punk girl band one of the best rock 'n' roll movies ever made. If you couldn't care less about that, it stars the always wonderful Diane Lane. Wed Jan 24 only. JBL Theater at EMP

Last Holiday
Wan and twitchy Alec Guinness is living a life of quiet desperation as a farm-machinery salesman in post-war England when he is diagnosed with a disease that leaves him only weeks to live. Determined to enjoy the time he has left, he cashes in his life insurance and heads for a posh hotel to mingle with the smart set before he lapses into a coma and croaks. Of course his melancholy and decency make him tremendously appealing to everyone from the chambermaid to a visiting Cabinet Minister, and he is rarely without a partner for croquet. This grim fairytale is populated with jowly, mumbling aristrocrats; trim, closeted homosexuals with tiny mustaches; and stout girls in chintz dresses obviously forced by WWII rationing to subsist on sticks of margarine and hot tea, galumphing about the set doing their best Hedy Lamarr impressions. Recommended viewing only for hardcore Anglophiles and Star Wars geeks curious to see what the young Obi-Wan Kenobi really looked like. (Tamara Paris) Thurs Jan 18 only. Seattle Art Museum

The People Next Door
Odds are that the people who live next door to you look like happy families, but in reality the parents are alcoholics and the kids are dealers or drug addicts. That's what you learn from this 1970 film. When a hot-headed father (Eli Wallach) finds his daughter in her closet tripping on LSD ("I hear mountains," she says again and again), he goes on a reluctant journey of discovery about this whole drug culture. Chock full of over-the-top acting and abrupt plot twists, if The People Next Door doesn't turn you off of drugs, it may turn you off of drug-scare movies. Oh, who am I kidding? Neither will happen. The movie is just too much fun. (Andy Spletzer) Fri-Sat only. Grand Illusion

The Pledge
Crossing Guard II: With a Vengeance. Opens Fri. Metro, Pacific Place 11

*SILENT COMEDY CLASSICS
An evening of silent films, with musical accompaniment on the mighty Wurlitzer organ. This week: Harold Lloyd, least inventive but arguably most charming of the great silent clowns, in four shorts, including Never Weaken, with its running gag of attempted suicides. Fri-Sat only. Hokum Hall

Snatch
See review this issue. Who would have expected such smut in this paper? Opens Fri. Meridian 16, Metro

*Solas
This is a film (as the title says in economical Spanish) about women alone--a mother and daughter with a hard history behind them, affected by five men. The film makes heavy use of a technique called shot-to-shot matching: Many scenes begin with a shot that relates to the last shot in the previous scene. A scene ends with someone falling asleep in a chair, the next scene begins with someone else already asleep in a different chair, and the two shots are similarly framed and lit. Far from feeling contrived, the cumulative effect is to suggest, sadly, how much the characters have in common. If the end is sentimental--well, by then we wish these people a better end than anything but sentimentality would predict for them. (Barley Blair) Opens Fri. Broadway Market

*The World of Apu
No, it's not a Simpsons collection of Apu and the Qwickie Mart, it's the third in Satyajit Ray's stunning "Apu trilogy," about the life of a boy growing up in India. Now a young adult, he's a writer living in poverty (of course). Never having been in love, he allows himself to be drawn into an arranged marriage with his friend's sister. Watching them get married and then fall in love, Ray manages to make them one of the most romantic couples in cinematic history. But the Apu films are more about reality than romance, so happiness is balanced by tragedy. This is the worthy culmination of a powerful series of films. (Andy Spletzer) Sun only. Stimson Auditorium

*Yi Yi
See interview with director Edward Yang this issue. The Second Best Film of 2000, according to the Village Voice's poll of 50 critics; we think that's rather underrating it, ourselves. Opens Fri. Varsity Calendar


CONTINUING RUNS

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. 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. Needless to say, both 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) Pacific Place 11, Varsity

Anti-Trust
For the Microsoft-haters among us, Anti-Trust sounds like great fun: In very thinly disguised settings, a Bill Gates look-alike and his cronies use homicidal Big Brother methods to maintain their software company's monopoly. Sadly, despite the use of Microsoft rivals like Sun Microsystems and Linux as consultants, this film is so ridiculous and formulaic that even the raging geeks in the audience won't get anything more than run-of-the-mill suspense and a few laughs at the preposterous script (um... a life-threatening sesame-seed allergy?). Tim Robbins delivers a canned performance as the cookie-cutter megalomaniac, and baby-faced Ryan Phillippe, as the young tech hero, would be better off just doing cover shots for teen-dream mags. At one particularly low point, Phillippe utters this memorable line: "In the real world, when you kill people, they die, for real." Can't we make this film die, for real? (Melody Moss) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

Cast Away
Cast Away takes 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. (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate

Chocolat
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. 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. This is an attempt to wed emotionally reticent drama with the exhilarating freedom of Hong Kong-genre filmmaking, but director Ang Lee can't quite pull off the combination; for too long a time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's shifting gears only jam. 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. (Bruce Reid) Grand Alderwood, Neptune, Uptown

Double Take
This road and buddy move was based on a story by Graham Greene called "Across the Bridge." But this small piece of information is entirely irrelevant. Indeed, the fact that Greene's literary estate is receiving royalties from this film must strike one as nothing more or less than a bizarre oddity. What is relevant to this film is Orlando Jones, who is supposed to be Hollywood's next big comic. Is he hot or not? The answer is no. Why? Because he is not intrinsically funny. Eddie Griffin, his partner in this film, is naturally funny, but not the future star Orlando Jones. I agree, Orlando has a funny face, and even talks kind of funny, but he is not, at heart, a funny person. As for the film, it's not too bad. (Charles Mudede) Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Dracula 2000
From the high tech theft of Dracula's body out of Van Helsing's antiques shop (buried beneath so much security, they understandably thought it was treasure) to an explanation of Dracula's origins that brilliantly flashes back to Biblical times in order to explain his aversion to silver and crosses, there are some great ideas floating around Dracula 2000. The execution of these ideas is where it all falls apart. (Andy Spletzer) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro

Dude, Where's My Car?
The only fresh idea in this predictable but harmless doper comedy 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. (Bruce Reid) Pacific Place 11

The Emperor's New Groove
The Emperor's New Groove attempts to identify with black cool. But sadly, 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. (Charles Mudede) Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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. 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) Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific 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) Factoria, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

Malena
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 quickly, starts hanging out with the older kids who ogle Malena (Monica Bellucci), a beautiful woman whose husband is off at war. Pretty cinematography and a pretty girl do not make up for the ugly, voyeuristic core of this film. (Andy Spletzer) Harvard Exit

Miss Congeniality
Sandra Bullock plays Gracie, a tomboyish FBI agent who goes undercover--beauty pageant-style--in order to capture a terrorist preying on 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 whom 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, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Set in Depression-era Mississippi, George Clooney stars as Everett Ulysses McGill, a suave and well-groomed petty criminal doing hard time on a chain gang. Shackled to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), he convinces them to join him in escaping by promising to split a fortune in buried treasure with them. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a road movie, and in acknowledgment of that, the Coen brothers claim it was based on the granddaddy of all road pictures, The Odyssey, by Homer. But the true inspiration for the movie is the music. T-Bone Burnett has collected all sorts of music from the era and from the region, and it's a joy to hear so much bluegrass in a major motion picture. The buoyant music and ham-handed performances are enough to lift anyone's spirits. (Andy Spletzer) Egyptian, Factoria, Redmond Town Center

Quills
This film seeks to rehabilitate the Marquis 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) Harvard Exit

Save the Last Dance
Save the Last Dance is a hip-hoppin' drama about a rhythmically challenged white girl from the Midwest who sets out to endear herself to the spatially gifted, yet morally shaky, young brothers and sisters of a black, inner city Chicago high school. And how responsibly does this movie handle the potential conflagration of bad racial stereotypes it presents? I ask you all to picture matches, dynamite, and a very drunk monkey. Sure it's a bit early to be claiming something as the worst movie of the year, but I'll stick my neck out and call this dark horse a keeper come December. (Kudzai Mudede) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Oak Tree

*State and Main
Alec Baldwin, William H. Macy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and David Paymer descend on a small Vermont town to make a movie, bringing their sophisticated mores with them. 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) Aurora Cinema Grill, Guild 45th, Pacific Place 11

Thirteen Days
Taking its title from Robert Kennedy's book but its worldview from hagiography, Thirteen Days portrays the Cuban missile crisis as an episode in the life of St. Jack Kennedy. You may enjoy this movie, and that's okay, but I want you to hate it too. While Bruce Greenwood as Bobby Kennedy shows some extraordinary examples of body acting and Kevin Costner gives a performance of madcap ripeness as the Kennedy henchman Kenny O'Donnell, that's pretty much it for the enjoyment. And why should you hate such an innocuous piece of fluff? You should hate anything--any work of art, any literature, any fiction, any history--that pretends there is an obvious answer to any serious question. (Barley Blair) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

Traffic
Traffic begins by tossing a handful of random characters into the air, then sits back for the remainder of its 147 minutes to watch how they land. Some gently glide back to Earth, others crash violently, but in the end they all have one thing in common: They've all had to pick themselves up off the ground. That is the big message in Traffic, perfectly laid-out by its tagline: "Nobody gets away clean." Read the poster and you've saved $8.50. Drugs lead to bad things, that is the moral, and I believe I learned it in ninth-grade health class. All the flashy directorial touches and sterling performances in the world can't cover the fact that Traffic is just another example of Hollywood tackling a complex problem with the simplest and most conservative of solutions. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Varsity

Venus Beauty Institute
Nathalie Baye stars as a woman closing out her 30s with a dirge to the impossibility of true love. Of course, this being a French film, the impossibility of true love is itself an impossibility. Obsessed thirtysomethings, vainglorious lovers, and lonely widowers all stop in at the titular beauty salon at one point or another, for manicures or pedicures of just to see the girls. Unfortunately, even Ms. Baye's springfed charm cannot save the film from the age old, dogged curse of the French: too much whimsy in too small a package. (Jamie Hook) 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. Just as your subconscious craves, the body count grows higher, the scandals become sexier, and the obstacles hit one right after another in unbelievable proportion. (Megan Seling) Cinerama, Grand Alderwood, Pacific 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, 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! A flat, stale, and extremely profitable Hollywood film. (Traci Vogel) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

*You Can Count on Me
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, Seven Gables

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