COMING SOON

Before Night Falls, Chunhyang, Invisible Circus, Moonlight Whispers, Rebels With a Cause, Spaceman, Valentine


NEW THIS WEEK

*Blue Sunshine
Blue Sunshine (1977) is not a warning to stay off of drugs as much as it's a horror film that says the drugs you experimented with in college will came back to haunt you 10 years down the road. Not only could they ruin a political career, they may very well turn you into a balding homicidal maniac. Zalman King (later to become the king of softcore porn) stars as Jerry Zipkin, an inept amateur sleuth trying to figure out why his friends are becoming follically-challenged killers. The answer, of course, is an LSD they took in college called Blue Sunshine. Why does it affect people so adversely 10 years later? That's not important. What is important is that the climax to this highly entertaining and bizarre horror story takes place in a mall discotheque, after a puppet show that features the likenesses of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. (Andy Spletzer) Fri-Sat only. Grand Illusion

Desperate Teenage Lovedolls + Lovedolls Superstar
Dave Markey's beloved but obscure cult classic about a punk band's ascendance; playing with its less beloved but even more obscure sequel Lovedolls Superstar. Wed only. JBL Theater at EMP

*Heat
Idealistic youth butts heads with a cynical tractor driver in this communist version of Duel. Sat-Sun only. Grand Illusion

Kippur
See review this issue. The Yom Kippur war of 1973 finally gets its very own Apocalypse Now. Opens Fri. Broadway Market

*The Lavender Hill Mob
Alec Guinness is a sort of J. Alfred Prufrock who dares not just to eat the peach but to rob the whole blooming bank (at which he has faithfully labored for years) for a half a million pounds of gold bullion. Nobody does "stuffy Englishman lit up from within by his first ray of hope" better than Guinness, but he is happily aided here by three other likable cockney characters. It is these believable relationships, not the crime itself, that drives this charmingly constructed caper film forward. Be sure to watch for the delightfully dizzying sequence in which Guinness and his partner-in-crime dash down the winding stairs of the Eiffel Tower, their coat and hat flying off towards a freedom they will never know. A touching image with all the melancholy power of a painting by Magritte. (Tamara Paris) Thurs Jan 25 only. Seattle Art Museum

*Nowhere to Hide
See review this issue. "Injong sajong polkot opta," indeed. Opens Fri. Varsity Calendar

Odyssey 2001
Short documentaries from our doppelgänger to the North. These products of the Vancouver Film School prove once and for all the town is overrun by liars, miniature train fanatics, and (worst of all!) curling aficionados. Fri only. 911 Media Arts

*Shadow of the Vampire
See review this issue. Hey, speaking of the undead, anybody got those Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast tapes? The whole enchilada, not just that "Best Of" thing. Reply to ihavethedeanmartincelebrityroasts@thestranger.com. Opens Fri. Guild 45th, Meridian 16

*SILENT COMEDY CLASSICS
An evening of silent films, with musical accompaniment on the mighty Wurlitzer organ. This week: The greatest gay comedy duo in film history. Four classic Laurel and Hardy shorts, including the immortal Soup to Nuts. Fri-Sat only. Hokum Hall

Sugar and Spice
Cheerleaders rob a bank. Good Lord! Opens Fri. Meridian 16

The Wedding Planner
Jennifer Lopez dates Matthew McConaughey. Jesus fuckin' Christ! Opens Fri. Metro, Pacific Place 11

*The Wisdom of Crocodiles
See Stranger Suggests. Crocodiles are stupid; vampires, when you think of it, are stupid; Jude Law, however, is worth sitting through any amount of stupidity. Fri-Sat only. Egyptian


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

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 marriage--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) Pacific Place 11

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. It's 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 movie 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) City Center

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, 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, Pacific Place 11

*FESTIVAL OF DEPRESSION
Did you read that really nice piece we ran last week about this series? And you're still not thinking of going? Suit yourself, loser. Grand Illusion

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

The Gift
Set passively in a Georgia swamp--the very landscape of horror--The Gift is about a woman, Annie Wilson (Cate Blanchett), who has a special and unusual gift: She's psychic. She uses this gift to help the community. Then! She starts seeing bad stuff. A murder occurs. She uses her gift to solve the murder. Nothing remains here of Raimi's insane ambition to make films of terror and slapstick so exciting they would significantly alter the entire genre each time he passed through. Ever since Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness, Raimi has been assimilated as a working Joe in the moviemaking factory. His candle has gone out in the Hollywood wind. (Paula Gilovich) Metro, Pacific Place 11

House of Mirth
British director Terence Davies' The House of Mirth, starring Gillian Anderson and Dan Aykroyd, adapts Edith Wharton's 1905 novel about New York high society. It tells the tragic story of a beautiful young woman looking to marry a rich husband and finding herself torn between her need for financial security and her desire for personal integrity. Davies' film brings his trademark style (mannered performances, stately tracking shots, symmetrical compositions, and exquisite cinematography) to Wharton's novel, and the result is, on the one hand, singular and moving; on the other, stiff and narratively confusing. If one is able to get over the initial discomfort due to the overly mannered acting style, one may, by the end, find oneself authentically moved by the film's tragic denouement. (Caveh Zahedi) Seven Gables

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 adventures, 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

The Pledge
An aging, chain-smoking, and lonesome Jack Nicholson plays a retired Reno police detective who, during his last investigation, promises the parents of a brutally raped and murdered 8-year-old girl that he will, upon his eternal salvation, apprehend the culprit. Almost immediately they find a mentally deficient Benicio Del Toro instead. Through an odd interrogation, Del Toro confesses the crime to Aaron Eckhart (the best part of the flick, incidentally), but Jack doesn't buy it. In fact, he becomes obsessed with finding the real monster at the cost of his potential happiness and sanity. Of course Jack is decent (although reserved), and Robin Wright Penn is bearable. But Sean Penn's direction here is kind of smug, kind of condescending--not bad, just really not that good. Neither is the movie. Opens Fri. (Chris Dougherty) Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Southcenter

Quills
Quills 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

Snatch
I remember reading that after he saw a screening of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels in London, Tom Cruise leapt to his feet and screamed, "This movie rocks!" I'm sure he'll probably scream the same thing about Snatch. I thought it was funny and well made, if kind of rambling and pointless and smart ass, and the people at the screening seemed to like it. So, there you go. If you liked Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, you're gonna like Snatch. If you didn't, well, Brad Pitt is pretty funny (and let's not forget hunky!), so maybe it's worth a matinee or something. I dunno. But it was directed by that Guy Ritchie guy, the one who knocked up Madonna and then married her, forever labeling her first daughter a bastard. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, 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

*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, City Center, Lewis & Clark, Redmond Town Center

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, Oak Tree

*YI YI
Yi Yi opens at a wedding and closes at a funeral, and in between lies a remarkably observant summation of the ups and downs of a middle-class family in Taipei. A computer engineer and his wife, Min-Min are pulled away from his brother-in-law's wedding when Min-Min's mother suffers a stroke and goes into a coma. They eventually bring her home and are encouraged to talk to her in a game attempt to bring her back to consciousness. These one-sided conversations with the comatose woman allow the family members a forum to work out their individual concerns. Do not miss this opportunity to see this wonderful film that will draw you in and make you forget about time and space. (Andy Spletzer) Harvard Exit

*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, Metro

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