The Circle, Driven, The Forsaken, Himalaya, Town and Country, With a Friend Like Harry


Beautiful Creatures
Reviewed this issue. A film composed of rotting bodies, pallid junkies, and the panacea of a pretty girl. Opens Fri. Broadway Market

Black Lizard
Roland Barthes once described Charles Baudelaire's poems as passionate and vulgar. Kinji Fukasaku's Black Lizard is exactly that, passionate and vulgar. The movie is about a detective, Japan's greatest detective (Isao Kimura), who meets his match: an evil temptress/genius called Black Lizard (Akihiro Miwa). The top detective and top criminal compete for the possession of a beautiful young virgin. There is not one flaw in this movie. (Charles Mudede) Sun only. Grand Illusion

Broken Music
This selection of experimental shorts lives up to its title right from the get-go with Record Players, which simply depicts a bunch of records being scratched, bent, wobbled, and smashed. Then Sonic Youth destroys a piano in Piano Piece #3. Other standouts in this program include the elegantly transmuted video work Violin Power, in which the vibrations of the violin's strings twist across the screen like a humidity graph or a sine wave. Then there is I-Beam, a fascinating documentary of a mad performance in some Euro warehouse, in which the musicians play dry ice, aluminum plates, steel beams, and liquid nitrogen. Unfortunately, some slow pieces keep this show from taking off, but on the whole, it's strong of theme, and a must for visual music fanatics. (Jamie Hook) Thurs April 19 only. Little Theatre

The Claim
Michael Winterbottom adapts Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (guy "sells" wife and child, the evil deed haunts him). I haven't liked Winterbottom's previous work, including his version of Hardy's Jude the Obscure, but I loved The Claim. Winterbottom sets the story in the Gold Rush, with the gigantic Canadian Rockies overplaying the part of the merely big-shouldered Sierra Nevada. Wes Bentley is beautiful, Milla Jovovich is strong, Michael Nyman's score saws away dramatically in the background, Joanne Hansen's costume design makes everyone look better than real, and the hush in which Winterbottom requires almost all the lines to be delivered for me served as a useful equivalent to Hardy's literary airs. High-toned hooey, extremely enjoyable. (Barley Blair) Opens Fri. Broadway Market

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles
Reviewed this issue. He's from the Outback, but now he's in Los Angeles! He doesn't even know what traffic is! Oh man, this is gonna be great! Opens Fri. Lewis & Clark, Oak Tree

The Films of Andy McAllister
Andy McAllister has been making short films in Super8, 16mm, and video for the past decade. His singular vision is distilled from '70s exploitation films, but manages to avoid the death-knell of irony. Tonight's screening is a benefit for his upcoming feature, Shag Carpet Sunset. Eat popcorn, drink wine, schmooze with the powerless, and support local filmmaking! (Jamie Hook) Fri only. 911 Media Arts

*The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh
In this obscure late-1970s oddity, a new-age astrologer (Stockard Channing) uses her star charts to guide a lowly basketball team to the NBA championship. Along the way, the team dons snazzy silver disco uniforms, takes on Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and forecasts today's glitzy hiphop NBA. The muddled shorthand plot features greedy white owners, dumb white coaches, a struggling ghetto family, weird moments of Hollywood blaxsploitation, and a high-flyin' slam-dunkin' Julius Erving (as Pittsburgh star Moses Guthrie). An inexplicable "love" scene, featuring a late-night playground dunk session by Dr. J in a Brooks Brothers suit, mandates that you stay up past your bedtime to catch this midnight movie. (Josh Feit) Fri-Sat. Grand Illusion

Freddy Got Fingered
MTV prankster Tom Green co-writes, directs, and stars in the film you have either been anticipating for months or would sooner die than sit through. Opens Fri. Metro

Graffiti Rock
Back in the early '80s, Graffiti Rock was a kind of hiphop Soul Train which offered information on the meaning of hiphop terms, styles of clothes, music, and so on. It was very low budget, and what redeems this particular episode for our age is the appearance of Run DMC (the number one rap crew at the time) and the New York City Breakers (the second best break crew--the best was Rock Steady Crew). Following Graffiti Rock, there are two shorts which feature NYCB in full effect: one finds them breaking for a crowd at a nightclub (I think it's the Roxy, but I'm not sure); and the other for the craziest president in American history: Ronald Reagan (second craziest is Bush). (Charles Mudede) Wed April 25 only. JBL Theater at EMP

Keep the River on Your Right
Seventy-eight-year-old New York artist Tobias Schneebaum, who disappeared for months into the jungles of Peru in 1955, has an emotional reunion with the land he disappeared into in this documentary by David and Laurie Gwen Shapiro. Warning: You may exit the theater as he did from the forest--naked and covered in body paint. Opens Fri. Varsity

*The Last Laugh
See Stranger Suggests. F.W. Murnau's 1924 silent masterpiece, with a live cello score by Laurie Goldston of the Black Cat Orchestra. Fri-Sun. Little Theatre

The Low Down
With a name like The Low Down, you'd think this movie actually goes somewhere, but it doesn't. It is at heart a plain and unremarkable British movie about plain and unremarkable British twentysomethings drinking, falling in love, and essentially going about their rather plain and unremarkable lives. In order to escape these trappings, the movie blends a lively soundtrack with interesting camera angles and well-rehearsed, snappy British banter. (Kudzai Mudede) Opens Fri. Uptown

The Lower Depths
The Lower Depths is Jean Renoir's adaptation of Gorky's play of the same name. Though set in Russia, it's still hard to reconcile the Russian passion (the shouting, sudden music, and loud fighting) with the clarity and smoothness of the French language. This is why the film fails; but this failure is matched and at times eclipsed by Jean Gabin's great performance. Here we have everything we love about Jean Gabin: his earthy elegance and his full body. Indeed, if we were to cut open Gabin's wrist out would pour a robust French wine. (Charles Mudede) Thurs April 19 only. Seattle Art Museum

The Neverending Story
Just when you can't bear yourself, your tangled relationships, or one more article about our terrible President, relief arrives--in the form of yourself at 10 years old. That was the moment you first saw Falkor, the dog-faced dragon, and you fell in prepubescent love. Seek relief at the Egyptian this weekend, where Falkor, Bastian, the Childlike Empress, and the Rock Biter will be battling the Nothing which threatens Fantasia. Watching this movie as an adult may well yield a new, tragic reading of a fantastic ideal doomed by the encroaching tendrils of the mundane world--but try to resist. This is a movie about a book, a little boy and girl, and a world of funny, innocent creatures. (Evan Sult) Fri-Sat. Egyptian

The Short Films of Matt McCormick
See Stranger Suggests. Portland's newest patron saint of experimental filmmaking visits Seattle for one night only. Mon only. Consolidated Works

Reviewed this issue. The debut film by Emmanuel Finkel (an understudy of Kieslowski and Godard) focuses on three women searching for their lost cultural identity. Opens Fri. Grand Illusion


The Adventures of Joe Dirt
A mullet stars as David Spade's hairstyle in the story of a down-and-out redneck in search of his parents. This film was co-produced by Happy Madison, and features everything (an affable loser, a nostalgic '80s butt-rock soundtrack) that made Adam Sandler so successful that he now has his own production company. Everything, that is, except for Adam Sandler. You'd be amazed at what a difference that makes. (Jason Pagano) Factoria, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Along Came a Spider
Along Came a Spider is a prequel to Kiss the Girls. Again, Morgan Freeman plays Dr. Alex Cross, a detective who deals with the most psychotic white men in America. Though Kiss the Girls is the better of the two thrillers, I still enjoyed Along Came a Spider because Morgan Freeman is Morgan Freeman. (Charles Mudede) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Amores Perros
Amores Perros begins at a screaming dead run and maintains one kind of intensity or another over the next two-and-a-half hours. Pungently translated as Love's a Bitch, Amores Perros comprises three stories of life, love, and aggressively twisted fate in the most polluted metropolis on the planet. Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga have enrolled in the Tarantino school of storytelling, but González Iñárritu's own style and vision is so distinctive and assured in this directorial debut that no one should dwell on that point. This is a breakthrough work for Mexican cinema, and for a bold and powerful new talent. (Richard T. Jameson) Egyptian

*Best In Show
The latest from the folks who brought you Waiting for Guffman follows several dog owners on their quest for the blue ribbon at the 2000 Mayflower Kennel Club Dog Show. Dogs are always funny. (Jason Pagano) Broadway Market

*Billy Elliot
Granted, the story is unoriginal (a small town boy beats the odds and becomes a ballet dancer), but its setting (a working-class family struggling through the worst of the Thatcher years) disrupts the sleep of the tired narrative and unexpectedly, steadily, it comes to life. (Charles Mudede) Broadway Market

Blow is much, much better than Steven Soderbergh's incredibly ridiculous and racist Traffic. It's more realistic and complex, and yet is by no means an art film or have any such pretensions. Blow is Hollywood all the way to the bank. But despite all its predictability--young man (Johnny Depp) rises to the top of the international drug trade and then falls to the bottom of the prison system--its portrayal of Mexicans, Central Americans, and middle America is unexpectedly sympathetic. Forget Traffic, denounce fucking Soderbergh, and give Ted Demme a chance. (Charles Mudede) Factoria, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

Bridget Jones's Diary
Bridget Jones's Diary features a successful career woman (Renée Zellweger) with a personal life that leaves one wondering how she attained any success at all. She desires a boyfriend, sets her sights on the office cad (Hugh Grant), and moans when he dumps her. The film banks on "the eye-rolling sisterhood of solidarity," the notion that girls love to grumble over a lying, dog-ass guy. Hollywood seems to be saying, "You may not identify with her professional success, but we bet you'll identify with the mess she's made out of her personal life." (Kathleen Wilson) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

The Brothers
The Brothers is a coming-of-age comedy/drama about four successful young black men coming to terms with commitment and adult relationships, a sort of Waiting to Exhale for men. I will, however, vindicate this film, if only because seeing four black men in the same place at the same time is such a novelty in the Northwest. (Kudzai Mudede) Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11

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!"). (Charles Mudede) Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

*Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The film 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. 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) Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Neptune, Uptown

The Day I Became a Woman
A tripartite parable, Marzieh Meshkini's directorial debut commemorates Iranian maiden, wife, and crone in unique, cumulatively mythic styles. The most viscerally affecting chapter in Meshkini's film begins in exhilarating motion: the brilliantly choreographed bicycle-ride and horse-chase scene takes your breath away and breaks your heart. The Day I Became a Woman exemplifies the subversive visual poetry that flows through the best Iranian cinema. (Kathleen Murphy) Uptown

The Dish
Here at last is a film that is about a radar dish and it really is about a radar dish! The huge dish, which is in the middle of Australia (which is another way of saying nowhere), is the star of the film. In fact, it overwhelms even the stars (Sam Neill, Patrick Wharburton) and the plot (which is about Australia's participation in the Apollo 11 moon mission of 1969). (Charles Mudede) Guild 45th, Meridian 16

Enemy at the Gates
Enemy at the Gates is the story of a Russian World War II sniper (Jude Law) and the German sniper (Ed Harris) who is sent to eliminate him. When the dueling snipers embark on a cat-and-mouse chase to assassinate each other, the movie becomes genuinely exciting. And if the film is at times rather silly... well, it's from Britain and its a minor miracle that they even have running water out there let alone significant movies. (Kudzai Mudede) Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

Exit Wounds
Exit Wounds tells the story of how Steven Seagal, with the help of rapper DMX, cleans up a corrupt police precinct one bad cop and unattended jelly donut at a time. Steven Seagal has lost a bit of weight for this one though, he's healthier, younger looking, his flexibility is once again bordering upon functional and there is a lot of chemistry between him and his onscreen partner DMX. Not that the film is good: it's bad. (Kudzai Mudede) Grand Alderwood

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, and with the help of a former love, seeks his revenge by finding glory within the Coliseum. (Tom Spurgeon) Cinerama, Southcenter

Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt play a mother-and-daughter con team with a fervent understanding that men will screw them over, and that they must beat those suckers at their own petty game. But as every cool-headed dealer knows, the revenge con never works. Heartbreakers is certainly amusing, but its unimaginative approach will disappoint viewers who want to feel the wicked cinch of the complex con. (Traci Vogel) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11

Hit And Runway
Alex is a macho young Italian with dreams of writing the perfect action screenplay; Elliot is a gay, neurotic Jew who get roped into being Alex's writing partner. There is not a single moment in this film where we break fresh ground: the tired Woody Allen by way of Jerry Seinfeld schtick is painful, the self-reflexive film jokes are stupid, and aside from one inspired performance (J.K. Simmons as producer Ray Tilman), the cast is inept. (Jamie Hook) Uptown

Josie & The Pussycats
A grotesquely cynical live-action update of the flimsy 1970s cartoon, Josie and the Pussycats is set in a manic present-day fantasia of corporate space, a parallel world in which no space, be it in two or three dimensions, lacks for corporate sponsorship. Logos proliferate madly: sidewalks pulse with Target targets; storefronts beam forth golden arches, and skyscrapers scream Starbucks; carpets read "Revlon." It is as if the youth-market-driven multinationals had tattooed the entire body of the city, leaving no part of its flesh unadorned. (Jamie Hook) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Just Visiting
Jean Reno plays Count Tibault of Malfete, a knight stranded in modern Chicago with nothing but sword, a suit of armor, and a manservant (Clavier). He must somehow find his way home to the 12th century to prevent the treacherous death of his new wife Rosalind (Christina Applegate), so he enlists the help of a distant ancestor (also Applegate). Slapdash, sloppy, and vapidly fun about half the time. (Evan Sult) Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

Kingdom Come
Kingdom Come should have been a television sitcom. It has passing moments of interest that should have been juxtaposed with amusing car insurance advertisements. It should have had a laugh track to distract the viewer from the suspicion that there's not an awful lot going on here. And most importantly it should have been edited down to about 30 minutes in length. A movie about an African American family (played by a superb ensemble cast, LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett, Whoopi Goldberg) from the South coming together to mourn the death of a despised relative should have been a surer bet, unfortunately this movie just wasn't nearly developed thoroughly enough. (Kudzai Mudede) Lewis & Clark, Pacific Place 11

*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. (Andy Spletzer) Harvard Exit, Redmond Town Center

Pokemón 3
Pokemón 3 is about a little rich girl who is traumatized by her parents inexplicable deaths. One night, a magical lion appears in her bedroom. "Papa, you've come back," she says to the magical lion. "If that is what you think I am," says the magical lion, "then that is who I am." Then, the whole world is slowly turned into crystal. This film is a must for all child psychologists. (Charles Mudede) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

This is actor Ed Harris' directorial debut (he also stars), and seems in too big a hurry to establish the iconic events of painter Jackson Pollock's life--see Pollock urinate in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace, see Pollock overturn the Thanksgiving table, see Pollock accidentally discover drip painting--without letting any of these moments achieve any natural resolution. (Emily Hall) Seven Gables

See Spot Run
See Spot Run was a great movie about a dog named Agent 11 who was trained by the F.B.I. since he was a puppy. Agent 11 is trying to catch these bad Mafia guys. The head Mafia guy hires these two other Mafia guys to kill Agent 11, but he escapes and winds up staying with the main character played by David Arquette. The funniest part was David Arquette doing his great George Jefferson breakdance. (Maggie Brown, age 10) Grand Alderwood

Shadow Magic
Ann Hui's debut film is blandly conceived but nicely delivered. Jared Harris stars as Raymond Wallace, a 1902 Cockney ex-pat in Peking, trying to stake out the new medium of moving pictures as his own private sphere of influence. Xia Yu co-stars as a Chinese photographer taken by the sparkling celluloid. The political socioeconomic backdrop--of course, film is the poor-man's ticket to upward mobility--grows stale quickly, but the imagery, especially in the films within, is nicely rendered. (Jamie Hook) Harvard Exit

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. So, there you go. If you liked Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, you're gonna like Snatch. (Bradley Steinbacher) Metro

Someone Like You
In the lead role, Ashley Judd chews, licks, and snacks her way through nearly every scene, all the while remaining trim and fit despite no apparent exercise regime. So much for empowerment. As for the rest of Someone Like You's message, don't expect anything more than feisty Judd getting a bee in her bonnet after getting dumped. (Kathleen Wilson) Factoria, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Spike and Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation
Forty-five minutes of painfully gratuitous one-note gags are built around maybe four or five amusing shorts (two involving monkeys), and a brand-new piece by evil genius Don Hertzfeldt (Billy's Balloon), who again proves that "sick and twisted" can mean other, more inspired things than "crack whore gives blowjob, expels fetus." (Jason Pagano) Varsity

Spy Kids
Fellow earthlings, I regret to inform you that even now as we speak, it is too late. Spy Kids is headed towards us like a juggernaut and only the childless have means of escaping. (Suzy Lafferty) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate

The Tailor of Panama
Brit superspy Andy Oxnard (Pierce Brosnan) has been banished to Panama for overindulging his appetites. He sizes up the tense, complicated international scene at the Canal and finds himself a hapless ex-pat British tailor (Geoffrey Rush) to squeeze for information. Boorman's film is far too awkward an self-conscious to allow the audience to sink into spy fantasia; as a result, Brosnan's absurdly dashing spy becomes utterly grotesque, even sickening. (Evan Sult) Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro

Tomcats is a raunchy, made-for-fratboy comedy. It involves a young man who wishes to marry off his friend in order to win a bet. And now I am at the part of the review where I can toss up uninspired and obvious adjectives such as outrageous, risqué, and zany just to get it over with, and you know what, I'm disinterested enough in this pile of rubbish to do so. (Kudzai Mudede) Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16

The big message in Traffic is perfectly laid-out by its tagline: "Nobody gets away clean." 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, Majestic Bay, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11, Varsity, Varsity Calendar

*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. (Paula Gilovich) Metro