At Highest Risk

A documentary about maternal health care in the Peruvian Andes. With filmmaker and Fulbright scholar Rebecca Rivas. Central Cinema, Sat-Sun 4 pm.

Borderless Sounds

A series of ethnographic music documentaries, made by Swiss filmmakers. Accordion Tribe (a road trip with Euro accordion-players), Fri Sept 22 at 7, 9 pm; Das Alphorn (witness the diversity of sounds produced by the famous horn of the Alps!), Sat Sept 23 at 7, 9 pm; Ombres (a doc exploring the creation of a violin concerto by Heinz Holliger), Mon Sept 25 at 7, 9 pm; Irène Schweizer (about the free-jazz pianist), Tues Sept 26 at 7, 9 pm; Namibia Crossings (about a troupe of African musicians who "meet with Namibian villagers to locate the origins of music"), Wed Sept 27 at 7, 9 pm; Step Across the Border (about British composer/performer Fred Frith), Thurs Sept 28 at 7, 9 pm.

Chasing Daybreak

A documentary about growing up mixed race in America (fundraiser for the Mavin Foundation). Central Cinema, Tues Sept 26 at 6:30 pm.

Daybreak: A Film About Mixed Race in America

A special screening of a documentary on America's growing mixed-race population. Sponsored by the Mavin Foundation. Central Cinema, Wed Sept 27 at 6 pm.

Dirty Harry

"Now I know why they call him 'Dirty' Harry. He gets the shit end of the stick every time." Central Cinema, Fri-Sun 9:30 pm.

An Evening with Mariano Baino

The horror filmmaker Mariano Baino screens short films and answers questions. Scarecrow Video, Tues Sept 26 at 6 pm.

Favela Rising

Though Favela Rising wants to show us the good that has come out of an incredibly bad situation (a slum completely run by violent drug dealers and corrupt cops), it ultimately fetishizes this misery, which, because of its size and scale, achieves, through the lens of the filmmakers, Kant's (or romanticism's) idea of the sublime. For example, the frequent aerial shots of Vigário Geral—a colorful mountain of poverty and crime—tell you nothing about Third World poverty and everything about a kind of cinema that has its highest expression and aesthetization in City of God. The IMF, World Bank, neoliberalism, structural adjustment programs (institutions and policies behind slums like Vigário Geral) play no role in this picture. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Harvard Exit, Tues Sept 26 at 6:30 pm (free, 21+, with cocktails to start and Q&A with directors Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist to follow).


See review this issue. Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

Four-Eyed Monsters

Arin and Susan are a couple of those horrible, adorable, Brooklyn artsy-fartsies who are good at drawing and have confusing haircuts and are magic and unattainable and you kind of hate them (but also you're kind of jealous). Since they're artists, they treat their relationship as a Very Special Art Project—a constant process of self-creation that's so consciously directed it almost doesn't exist. They make rambling, insecure video love letters. They draw funny pictures of their malaise. They spend weeks silently passing notes to avoid the pitifully mundane dating patterns of the normal masses. Then they make their perfectly quirky courtship into a movie, and market and distribute it independently using the internet and their cute fucking faces. The result, Four-Eyed Monsters, is frustratingly noncommittal. It makes smug fun of inseparable couples, pretentious artists ("create from your core!"), and self-indulgent self-absorption, while being all of those things in a humongous way. How endearing. How annoying. (LINDY WEST) Grand Illusion, Thurs Sept 21 and 28 at 8 pm.

Head Trauma

A schlubby drifter named George Walker (Vince Mola) returns to claim his dead grandmother's condemned home. By day he toils away cleaning up the years of neglect, but by night he has strange dreams of a hooded stranger strangling coeds in the nearby woods. Are the dreams real? Is George going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs? Director Lance Weiler (of minor cult fave The Last Broadcast) gets a lot of creepy mileage out of the dark house, especially its flooded basement, but as things wrap up all spookiness drains away. When the big twist is visible from miles away, it's hard to get too worked up about it. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER) Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 11 pm.

recommended Independent South Asian Film Festival

ISAFF kicks off with short films (Lucky, All Roads Lead to Here, and The Last Race), a one-person show by D'Lo, a dance performance by Archana Kumar, and a reception. Festival continues through Oct 1 (see review next issue). Broadway Performance Hall, Wed Sept 27 at 7 pm. (For tickets and details, see

recommended Ma Vie en Rose

The adorable Georges du Fresne plays Ludovic, a little French boy with long, long eyelashes and a big, big thing for girl's clothes. He also adores Pam, a benevolent plastic doll who acts as his guardian angel. And, of course, there's a boy next door, whom Ludovic longs to marry. A sweet and yet not at all cloying story about being wrongly chastised for who you are. (ANNIE WAGNER) Central Cinema, Fri-Sun 7 pm.

Ray of Darkness

Winner of the NWFF Local Sightings/Altoids Independent Cinema Award for best feature, Ray of Darkness is a horror film by Redmond native JK Reams about the search for a missing person. Northwest Film Forum, Sat Sept 23 at 11 pm. (Continues through Sept 30.)

The Road to Clean Elections

Bill Moyers narrates this documentary on the struggles to get clean elections for everyone. A fundraiser for Washington Public Campaigns. Central Cinema, Wed Sept 27 at 6 pm.

Sir, No Sir!

An impassioned, long-overdue look at those Vietnam war protestors who also happened to wear dog tags, whose disapproval of the war came via underground newspapers, nonviolent demonstrations, and occasional out-and-out refusals to serve. Director David Zeiger's film begins with a ferocious blast of acid rock, which perhaps helps to explain the somewhat jumbled format. (One of the more fascinating digressions involves a man who has made it his mission to debunk the urban myth of civilians spitting on returning soldiers.) Occasionally clunky flow aside, this is a vital, absorbing documentary, with a wealth of archival footage and present-day interviews (including an exuberant Jane Fonda), and a subject that could hardly be more timely. (ANDREW WRIGHT) Keystone Church, Fri Sept 22 at 7 pm.

Stars in My Crown

NWFF's family film series reemerges with this 1950 Western about a preacher who leads his small-town flock through racial unreast and a concurrent bout of typhoid fever. 'Cause kids love pestilence. They just eat it up. Northwest Film Forum, Fri 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm.

Tales of the Rat Fink

Ed "Big Daddy" Roth is the father of post-WWII car worship. He is responsible for the culture of car customization and played a central role in the hot rod craze of the '50s and '60s. Roth brought the art of cartoons to the culture of car customization. His gross Rat Fink character symbolized the hot rod spirit-naked engines, monster exhaust pipes, big wheels, burning rubber, the rebel without a cause or pause. Tales of The Rat Fink is about Roth (John Goodman plays the voice of Roth, who died while the film was being made), and successfully expresses the energy of the culture (teen hunger, city limits, living fast). But ultimately the documentary will only entertain those who, like my father-in-law, are already entertained by hot rods. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Grand Illusion, Weekdays 7, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 3, 5, 7, 9 pm.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated

See review this issue. Varsity, see Movie Times for details.

Viva Pedro

Pedro Almodóvar's crazy excesses are a font of pleasure. He has created a baroque universe of recurring characters, high drama, ridiculous slapstick, and stories that repeat themselves both within one film and throughout his career. His is a fantastic, exaggerated, and always darkly comical fairyland of coincidences and cosmic justice. (BRENDAN KILEY) All films screen Harvard Exit. This week's film: Matador.

recommended The World According to Sesame Street

If you want to improve your understanding of our present global society, watch this documentary about the internationalization of Sesame Street. It's not a great-looking film, but its content is totally relevant and revealing. The show that epitomizes PBS is spreading across the world, entering homes in Soweto, Mexico City, and Dhaka. "Our producers," says the cofounder of the show, "are like old-fashioned missionaries. But it's not religion they are spreading—it's learning." In short, Sesame Street is a form of soft imperialism. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Northwest Film Forum, Sat Sept 23 at 4 pm. (Free with an email to



Accepted is about a bunch of horrible, entitled, middle-class teens who don't get into college for perfectly legitimate reasons. Well, boo fucking hoo. You're such a smarty-pants that you only applied to Yale? Your bad! Busted rotator cuff busted your sports scholarship? How about some studying, champ? Oh, you just didn't try that hard? Wow! Fuck you! I wish it were possible to punch a movie in the face (can we get to work on that, science?). (LINDY WEST)


Humanized cows do NOT make good cartoon characters. You can't stand a cow up on its hind legs and make it talk and dance around with its bright pink phallic udder swinging everywhere! That's not cute and goofy! These cartoon cows don't even have buttholes drawn onto them, yet we get to watch their perverse udders just flap around in the wind the whole fucking movie? Uh, ew! (MEGAN SELING)


There are wiener schnitzel jokes, a Das Boot satire, and gallons and gallons of beer—it's about as funny as a barroom belch. (BRENDAN KILEY)

The Black Dahlia

Starring Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart-as Officer Dwight "Bucky" Bleichert and Sergeant Leland "Lee" Blanchard, respectively—The Black Dahlia reimagines the notorious murder of Elizabeth Short, whose bisected and otherwise mutilated body turned up in a vacant lot one cruel morning in the winter of 1947. Comparisons between The Black Dahlia and 1997's L.A. Confidential are unavoidable. Both were born from the obsessions of writer James Ellroy. Both take place amid the glamour and hidden grime of postwar Hollywood. And both are less about crime than they are about men with bruised knuckles searching for redemption. But The Black Dahlia, despite the direction of Brian De Palma and a some solid performances, can't achieve the greatness of Curtis Hanson's film; if it accomplishes anything, it will be to remind you of just how much of a miracle L.A. Confidential turned out to be. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Boynton Beach Club

A jaunty geriatric comedy that just happens to be the ickiest smut-pile ever made. Listen. I'm all for the old folks doin' it. Especially when "it" is foxtrotting, eating Werther's Originals, talking about the Depression, or giving me $50 for my birthday. And okay, I'm even for old people having sex. But is it really necessary—REALLY?—for Sally Kellerman's dead naked titties to be all dingle-danglin' in my face? (LINDY WEST)

recommended Conversations with Other Women

Conversations with Other Women is one of those movies built entirely on ponderous chitchat. It unfolds entirely in split screen: an annoying, disorienting gimmick that I totally liked. An overly literal he-said she-said, the two sides inform and enhance and contradict each other in an organic and charming way. (LINDY WEST)

recommended Crank

Jason Statham plays a hit man injected with an experimental poison. In order to stay alive long enough to get revenge, he has to find ways to keep his adrenaline pumping. Said regimen includes snorting coke off a filthy bathroom floor, nailing his girlfriend in public places, and kicking incredible amounts of ass. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Support The Stranger


An "urban drama" set in the world of underground streetball. Preston A. Whitmore II directs.

Everyone's Hero

The animation in Everyone's Hero isn't great. The story doesn't make any sense. The jokes basically consist of a talking baseball not wanting to smell the farts of a human boy. Also, Babe Ruth is fat. (LINDY WEST)

recommended Factotum

This adaptation of the semiautobiographical novel by boozer-sage Charles Bukowski refuses to sugarcoat the nature of the inwardly torpedoing protagonist (here a bearded, growly Matt Dillon), but permits a few hazy rays of light to shine through. (ANDREW WRIGHT)


The new biopic about the late-'70s Philadelphia Eagles walk-on sensation Vince Papale has a fairly healthy awareness about its hardwired limitations. Led by Mark Wahlberg at his most underdoggedly appealing, it's about as soft sell as the prefab sports genre gets. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Gridiron Gang

Gridiron Gang breaks absolutely no new ground in its chosen field: the weepy, rah-rah sports movie. Based on actual events (the grainy documentary snippets of which, as shown in the closing credits, prove more compelling than anything in the script), the film follows L.A. County juvenile-corrections officer Sean Porter (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), an ex-jock frustrated by the revolving door recidivism and increasing mortality rate of his teenage charges. Under the wary gaze of his superiors, he forms a ramshackle football team, which is soon competing against local high schools. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

recommended Half Nelson

Man, you guys! Ryan Gosling (or "the Goz," as I like to call him) is fucking attractive! Even when perched on a feces-encrusted toilet smoking crack and crying. I crown him King of Babes. And I guess the movie—about an idealistic, drug-addled 8th-grade history teacher—is pretty good, too. (LINDY WEST)


Banish all fantasies of Chinatown, part the second, now. Hollywoodland, like the stories it's clearly trying to emulate, presents a revisionist take on a footnote in Golden State history. In this case: Was George Reeves, erstwhile television Superman, truly a suicide? While Chinatown's footnote really was a footnote—water rights—and one awash in clear, blue possibility, all Hollywoodland has to offer is just another hopped-up celebrity conspiracy theory. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended How to Eat Fried Worms

If you're not familiar with the story (the movie is based on a popular kids' book), let's recap. As a way to make some friends in a new school, this kid, Billy, accepts a dare to eat 10 worms in one day without puking. Ewww!! Worms! SOOO GRODY! Anyway, the whole "10-year-olds running amok in the neighborhood" montage ensues and it's pretty funny. (MEGAN SELING)


Idlewild stars OutKast, so the musical numbers are, of course, enjoyable, but there's also no denying that it's simply this generation's Moonwalker jazzed up with a little bit of Baz Luhrmann-circa-Moulin-Rouge! attitude. (MEGAN SELING)

The Illusionist

The Illusionist is, according to usually staid critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, "a lush piece of romanticism" (read: a sepia-stained triumph of ahistoricism); or, if you prefer to have it from Stephen Holden, The Illusionist "rouses your slumbering belief in the miraculous" (read: Jessica Biel is so boring you'll nod off in your cushioned megaplex seat). I saw The Illusionist (twice) at the Seattle International Film Festival, back before beer bongs and airborne snakes ruled the screens, and I can assure you, with all confidence, that the movie is dumb. Really, really, dumb. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended An Inconvenient Truth

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)

jackass number two

The once endearing, fresh-faced nature of the participants has pretty much disappeared in a haze of tattoos and lingering contusions; the hidden camera, man-on-the-street segments are still more mean-spirited than funny; and the whole shebang has a weirdly staged, overproduced quality missing from previous installments. That said, I still laughed my damn fool head off. Scoff at the electrified dwarf, if you must, or the guy who nonchalantly chugs horse goo, but, honestly, any real complaints about form or content pale before the sight of idiots cheerfully doing such idiotic things to themselves. (The overall conceptual beauty of the gizmo known as the Fart Helmet, especially, is beyond my ability to describe.) Yes, yes, it’s very likely the death of cinema and society and all that, but, jesus, I seriously thought I was going to have to put down plastic. (ANDREW WRIGHT)


Homeward Bound with an accent! (MEGAN SELING)

Little Miss Sunshine

A dysfunctional family road trip comedy built upon a mountain of character quirks. Call it Indie Filmmaking 101. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Miami Vice

Miami Vice is an outright mess, underfed and seemingly filmed on the fly—a surprise from a director vaunted for his painful perfectionism. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

recommended Monster House

Old Man Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi), like all neighborhood coots, really, really wants you to stay off his lawn. He screams and howls, threatens bodily harm ("You want to be a dead person?"), and he will not give you your ball back. But it's for your own good, really, considering the giant carnivorous child-gobbling monster (Kathleen Turner—no, seriously) masquerading as Nebbercracker's house. Across the street, neighbor kid DJ peers through his telescope, suspecting foul play, determined to get to the bottom of things. Leafless trees flank the house like sad, dead fingers. Grasping tendrils of lawn drag unsuspecting trespassers to their doom. Long story short, I now have nightmares from a movie meant for babies. (LINDY WEST)

recommended Quinceañera

When Magdalena (15 years old and pregnant) moves into the back unit of a duplex with her Tío Tomas—the most adorable old man in the history of adorable old men—she finds another cousin, the rough Carlos, hiding out after being caught perusing gay porn on his parents' computer. Soon they form a fierce friendship, sketched with a supremely light hand. Their situation is the stuff of after-school specials, but the casual way they recognize themselves in each other's plight is anything but shrill. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles

Resolutely small-scale, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles manages to evoke deep feeling while mostly dodging excess sentiment. Japanese mainstay Ken Takakura stars as a tight-lipped widower seemingly content to live out the rest of his days in self-imposed isolation in a remote fishing village. After his estranged son takes ill, however, he impulsively travels to rural China, with the goal of videotaping a rare folk opera. Upon arrival, he finds himself forced to rely on the kindness of the local townspeople, with an inept translator as his only bridge. The universal brotherhood message seems rather simplistic at first glance (it may be worth noting that director Zhang Yimou, the subject of repeated governmental bans, here depicts the rural Chinese authorities as generous to a fault), but the small, humanist details eventually add up. Above all, Takakura brings a masterfully stoic presence that fully complements Zhang's chosen grayscale. Within a scenario that could easily devolve into schmaltz, his slightest eyebrow lift carries the weight of a tectonic shift. (ANDREW WRIGHT)


Match Point was slick, a film that politely looked the other way as you began to sympathize with the lead character's alternating lust for and horror of women (an ambivalence that ends in homicidal panic). Scoop is a screwball murder mystery—frequently funny, but somehow less fun. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on a Plane is not good, per se. It could be a double feature with Mansquito on the Sci-Fi channel. Samuel L. Jackson is in the FBI. He wants a dude to testify against a hot Asian mobster named Eddie Kim. They have to fly to L.A. for the trial. On a plane. With snaaaaaakes!!! So are you happy, America? Your movie is here. Now shut the fuck up already. (LINDY WEST)

Trust the Man

Two fracturing couples, one (Julianne Moore and David Duchovny) severely undersexed, the other (Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal) terminally afraid of commitment. Round and round they go, with a series of foibles intended to amuse, but building instead to an overall flatline. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

The Wicker Man

On the matriarchal commune of Summersisle ("a tiny place in Puget Sound"), a brave cop named Edward Malus (Nicolas Cage) searches for a missing child. Obscene anti-feminist propaganda that it is, The Wicker Man is almost too retarded to be offensive. (LINDY WEST)

World Trade Center

Oliver Stone's movie (written by Andrea Berloff) is exactly what everyone was terrified United 93 was going to be. It's crass, lazy—and worse—it represents a distinctly evangelical form of pro-American fervor. (ANNIE WAGNER)