Coming Soon

Boys to Men, The Glass House, Glitter, Innocence, Knockaround Guys, Miracles, Musketeer, Our Song, Rock Star, Soul Survivors, Two Can Play That Game

New This Week

Reviewed this issue. Episode one of the five-week Jamaican Music on Film series includes screenings of two narrative neorealistic movies about Reggae culture: Jimmy Cliff's beloved The Harder They Come and the lesser-known Rockers. JBL Theater at EMP

* Fellini Satyricon
Reviewed this issue. Rome wasn't all sodomy and murder, you know. There was corruption, too. Egyptian

* Hybrid
See Stranger Suggests. With a scratchy, hand-made visual style that recalls the dark b&w stop-motion of the Brothers Quay, this fantastic documentary makes the almost impossible case that nothing in this world is more hypnotic or compelling than corn. It grows, mates, dances, withers, dies, and thrives, as a scratchy voice-over tells the story of Milford Beeghly, a pioneer in the development of hybrid corn seed. Itself a hybrid--part tone-poem, part experimental collage, part texture orgy--this bizarre, human, hilarious, and endlessly creative film is an absolute must-see. (Sean Nelson) Grand Illusion

Jazz on a Summer's Day
A new 35mm print of concert footage taken from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Highlights that are sure to impress jazz purists include performances by Thelonius Monk, Dinah Washington, Louis Armstrong, and Mahalia Jackson. Little Theatre

Jeepers Creepers
Just in time for September, a teen horror movie. This one is about some evil thing that likes to kill people, but only every so often. Leave it to the protagonists to come along just at the right moment.... Metro

* Juliet of the Spirits
My favorite Fellini film, Juliet is a love song (one of many) to the quiet beauty and no-nonsense grace of the great Giulietta Masina (Fellini's real-life wife), who plays a dowdy lady whose life becomes a great big, uh, Felliniesque acid trip of garish women (like Sandra Milo, rrrr) and nuns on beaches when her husband cheats on her. One assumes that this recurrent theme was the master's way of apologizing for, or at least explaining his philandering ways to the little woman. Whether or not that's accurate, it makes for a beautiful movie. (Sean Nelson) Egyptian

* O
Reviewed this issue. This intelligent, effective film transposes the plot and characters from Shakespeare's Othello to an American high school. This time, Othello (Odin--a very convincing Mekhi Phifer) and Iago (Hugo--Josh Hartnett, very good) are not soldiers embroiled in a war with the Turks, but the star and utility players, respectively, for a prep school basketball team bound for the state championship. When the coach (Martin Sheen in full coronary mode), who's also Hugo's dad, favors Odin over his son, the tragic course of events is set in motion. All the big Othello themes--jealousy, love, manipulation, hearsay, and betrayal--are in the paint. (Sean Nelson) Varsity

* 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 hamhanded performances are enough to lift anyone's spirits. (Andy Spletzer) Egyptian

* Quadrophenia
See Stranger Suggests. We are the mods, we are the mods, we are, we are, we are the mods! Varsity

Wet Hot American Summer
The people behind the Upright Citizens Brigade are responsible for this Meatballs-to-the-wall lampoon of the pubescent summer-camp comedy. It seems hard to imagine anyone doing it better than that Mr. Show sketch about the Tibetan Monks and the rich fat kids, though. I'm just saying. Cast includes Janeane Garofalo. Broadway Market

Continuing Runs

* A.I.
If you like this film, you will be the only person you know who does, so prepare yourself for some abuse. (Sean Nelson) Pacific Place 11

All Over the Guy
Sensitive Eli (Dan Bucatinsky, who also wrote the screenplay) and commitment-phobic Tom (Richard Ruccolo) are thrown together by their straight friends. In one quirky, spunky little scene after another they laugh, kiss, and bicker, struggling against what the audience knew during the opening credits: that this unlikely duo will fall in love. Duh! (Tamara Paris) Broadway Market

America's Sweethearts
This film is a total rip-off. (Kathleen Wilson) Aurora Cinema Grill, Pacific Place 11

American Outlaws
A preposterous and completely unnecessary retelling of the infamous James-Younger gang's robbery spree in the Wild West. The Dawson's Creek gang more like it. Hell, in this laughable disaster the tough guys throw male-model tantrums over unflattering wanted posters, and even the horses wear hair gel. Don't be swayed by the film's tagline, which claims that "Bad is Good Again." Trust me: A film this bad stays bad. (Tamara Paris) Aurora Cinema Grill, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

American Pie II
The first American Pie was all about male humiliation, with each male character enduring some sort of horrific trauma--accidentally drinking someone's come, explosive diarrhea, premature ejaculation broadcast over the Internet, etc.--before the film was through. But what kept the film from sinking completely into the toilet was the fact that the filmmakers actually had something to say about sex and adolescence, even if it was fairly simplistic. American Pie II, unfortunately, has very little to say, which doesn't make it all bad, just not as surprising as the original. (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

An American Rhapsody
We've all done it: You're sneaking across the heavily-guarded border of Communist Hungary on your way to refuge in America, and in the heat of flight you suddenly notice something's missing--whoops!--I thought you brought the baby. Young Suzanne grows up Hungarian, while her family basks in the full glow of '60s capitalism before retrieving her a few years later. But Budapest beckons her back, despite the lure of TV, hula hoops, and Coca-Cola. Stars Nastassja Kinski, Tony Goldwyn, and Scarlett (Ghost World) Johannson. (Sean Nelson) Harvard Exit

* The Anniversary Party
Though it skirts the edges of a dozen poisonous pitfalls (vanity production, written and directed by actors, movie about movie people, et al.), this party actually winds up being a very good examination of the inner life of a gaggle of rich, famous, and beautiful people who spend a day and night at the titular celebration. (Sean Nelson) Uptown

* Apocalypse Now Redux
Seeing Redux is akin to hearing the Beatles' Anthology: You have to, if only out of curiosity. And with the refurbishment and digital remastering of Walter Murch's inestimably powerful sound design, you really have to, in a great theater, right now, today. Among the new bits are a few minutes more of vintage Marlon Brando as the vainglorious Kurtz, some nice moments of masculine camaraderie on the boat, and a long, gorgeous sequence set in a ghostly French plantation. While none of these new scenes are at all necessary, all but one are interesting extensions of thematic concerns running through the original. What Redux amounts to is less a director's cut than a revisitation of a work so massive in scope as to have been heretofore not only unfinished, but unfinishable. (Sean Nelson) Cinerama

Bread and Tulips
Saddled with a loud, bombastic, plumbing fixture-selling husband with a hair-trigger temper and two disaffected teenage boys, Rosalba (the utterly lovely Licia Maglietta) seems all but eclipsed by her family. When, on a summer vacation in the south of Italy, her tour bus leaves a rest stop without her, she seizes the opportunity to head home to Pescara for some quality time alone. Instead, she ends up in Venice: prime romantic real estate, yes, but also a superior place to lose yourself. Which she promptly does after falling in with an eccentric crowd that includes an aging anarchist florist, a wacky masseuse straight out of Ally McBeal, and Fernando Girasole, a sad, suicidal maitre d'. Sweet, dopey, predictable, and still charming, Bread and Tulips is the story of a housewife discovering why freedom is so much more romantic than life at home. (Emily Hall) Seven Gables

Bubble Boy
Bubble Boy is raised lovingly, in a bubble, by a suffocating mother (Dad stays downstairs). Bubble Boy watches Land Of The Lost. Bubble Boy gets an "electrical rock music guitar" for his birthday and proves his coolness by learning the Land Of The Lost end credits. Bubble Boy attracts the beautiful girl next door and speaks Pakuni to her and reaches through the bubble with rubber gloves to teach her the Land Of The Lost end credits on guitar. The road portion of Bubble Boy spits like an AK-47 on a merry-go-round at every easy target cultural or social; it's the worst film of the year except Scary Movie 2. (Andrew Hamlin) Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
From its winding, ancient cobblestone streets to its gorgeous Adriatic vistas, the Greek island of Cephallonia is disarmingly beautiful. This beauty lords over Captain Corelli's Mandolin, an adaptation of the Marquez-ian (if I may) novel by Louis de Bernieres, to the point that there's little room left in the camera's eye for matters of story or character. Which is fine, because in those areas, not much is going on. The cast are like a bunch of conscripted waiters, and as head waiter, Nicolas Cage states everything like it's the special of the day. It's especially sad to watch Cage, who, after a brief respite of quality in The Family Man, uses Corelli to continue his brutal downward slide as an actor. (Michael Shilling) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

The Closet
An accountant at a condom factory realizes he's about to be fired. Divorced, alienated from his 17-year-old son, he contemplates suicide, but is instead given some rather odd advice from his neighbor, a retired psychiatrist: Announce at work that you are gay, and the powers that be will be too frightened to fire you, lest they get slapped with a nasty lawsuit. The accountant takes his neighbor's advice, and, well, hilarity ensues. Or, if not hilarity, at least a few laughs here and there. (Bradley Steinbacher) Guild 45th

* The Crimson Rivers (Les Rivières Pourpres)
Though this film takes its cues from American thrillers of the most manipulative variety, being French, it does so with a certain élan. The plot follows two detectives, Jean Reno as a gruff Parisian and Vincent Cassel as the hippest of provincials, whose separate investigations dovetail at an elite school high in the French Alps. Someone is torturing and brutally (but beautifully--the cinematography's gorgeous!) murdering key school administrators and planting the bodies to force discovery of first the motive then the identity of the vengeful killer. Tension builds and story accelerates as the trail of frozen corpses turns to fresh kills and the detectives themselves are caught by the slippery murderer. (Sarah Sternau) Broadway Market

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Woody Allen and Helen Hunt play bitter rivals at a 1940s insurance agency who, under post-hypnotic suggestion, turn into thieves, liars, and lovers. The supernatural contrivance is one Allen has used before, to better effect, in his very funny chapter "Oedipus Wrecks" from the underrated trilogy New York Stories. In that film, the device makes a schzlubby guy come to his senses, ditch his shiksa goddess, and take up with a nice, albeit crazy, Jewish girl. In Scorpion, it makes a busty, powerful blonde fall head over heels for a man twice her age. In that difference lies the sad truth about Woody Allen's movies: though they will always be beautifully crafted totems of cinematic design and crack comic timing (even when the jokes fall flat), the human side of their universe is growing less and less tethered to a recognizable universe every time. Poorly cast (Hunt is awful, Charlize Theron is squandered, and what the hell is Dan Aykroyd doing there?), awash in discomfitting dirty old mannishness, and after all that, still gorgeously directed, Scorpion is a pretty sad comedy. A side note: When Groucho Marx was six years younger than Allen is now, he had the sense (following a series of shitty Marx Bros. movies) to preserve the intergrity of his persona and jump to TV. Allen is too talented a filmmaker for me to suggest a similar move, but maybe he should stop trying to be the romantic lead, even in farce. It's fucking embarrassing. (Sean Nelson) Grand Alderwood, Guild 45th, Meridian 16, Oak Tree

* The Deep End
Though it comes dressed in the icy blue clothes of a suspense thriller, The Deep End is a far more interesting creature. Using its intricate plot as shrewd camouflage, the film serves as an examination of the evolving relationship between a lonely mother and her gifted teenage son, whose sexuality (homo) is such an impenetrable subject that Mom (the ineffable Tilda Swinton) would rather navigate a murder cover-up, blackmail, and death threats than talk to the lad directly. Throw in a hunky, menacing Croatian (Goran Visnjic, very good) who appears--demanding a hefty paycheck--with a very private videotape linking the son and the murder victim, and you have the ingredients of a deceptively engrossing (or engrossingly deceptive?) potboiler, where the plot takes many an implausible turn, but the real action takes place in the lead character's mind. (Sean Nelson) Harvard Exit

* Diary of a Chambermaid
Nothing is worse than being subjected to a sequence of silly situations that add up to nothing. In Diary of a Chambermaid, an elegant Parisienne (Jeanne Moreau) goes out to the countryside to work for an aristocratic family and enters their disjointed medieval world: A macho laborer loves to torture geese before he kills them, an old man has a foot fetish, a sex-starved master of the house hunts wild animals, a girl was raped and murdered while collecting snails in the forest. Luis Buñuel's films go on forever, like bad dreams--in fact, we never see the real lives of his characters, only their movements through levels and layers of dreams. Many will find this film challenging and difficult to understand, but it's really neither because it doesn't mean anything. This movie is not about the chambermaid and her deep secrets, but is just a nightmare raging in the head of a city woman who had too much to drink at a posh downtown party and is now passed out on her bed. (Charles Mudede) Varsity

* Downtown 81
A time capsule of NYC in the new wave, starring Jean Michel Basquiat (as himself), with a special appearance by the Plastics, one of Japan's finest exports since sushi. Grand Illusion

* Enlightenment Guaranteed
This super-engaging story of two German brothers waylaid in Tokyo on their way to a Japanese Zen monastery is a study in unclassifiability: elements of farce (their travel fiasco lands them in lederhosen before long) mingle with serious human drama and an abiding desire for spiritual credence, though the hapless brothers are basically foolish, a Teutonic Laurel and Hardy. The video photography gives the film a guileless quality, not unlike a demo recording, that lends immediacy to the proceedings which, in hands less skilled than those of director Doris Dörrie, might have grown tendentious. Hurry to see it. (Sean Nelson) Crest

* Ghost World
Fans of Daniel Clowes' epochal comic novel about the listless inner teen life have been awaiting this adaptation by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff for years now, and the film delivers, though not in the direct way you might have anticipated. Clowes' super-detached geek queens Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) have graduated from high school, and, bored, they answer a personals ad placed by über-dork vinyl junkie Seymour (an R. Crumb surrogate played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi). As an experiment, Enid decides to educate Seymour in the ways of love, and her world begins to crumble. (Sean Nelson) Neptune

Ghosts of Mars
Where have you gone, John Carpenter? Time was you could count on Carpenter to churn out A-plus, B-grade genre pictures like Halloween, Escape From New York, and later, They Live, and In the Mouth of Madness. His latest effort--which stars the great Ice Cube as the Snake Plisskenesque "Desolation" Williams, a convict on the matriarchal colony of Mars who becomes a guerilla hero when a bunch of Marilyn Manson-looking creeps starts killing up everything in sight--is just tired. With a few exceptions, the dialogue is stiff, the acting forced, and the villains (always Carpenter's weak spot) completely silly. Even for a Carpenter fan (and I am), this is hardly worth bothering with. (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

* Hedwig and the Angry Inch
With its charming pop-art magical realism, cinematic flashbacks, and the ability to present intimate documentary-style footage of Hedwig's misfit band on tour with their charlatan business manager (an excellent character addition), the movie version of Hedwig emphasizes the rich plot far better than the stage version did. (Josh Feit) Broadway Market

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is intended to be Kevin Smith's swan song to the characters (and universe) he created starting with Clerks. But as it turns out, it's more of an off-key jingle than a song. Ridiculously juvenile, often painfully unfunny, it shows Kevin Smith's true talent as a filmmaker: entertaining himself, his friends, and 13-year-old Internet geeks who think he's a god. Despite whatever protests those folks may loft to the contrary, the fact still remains that the film is a piece of shit. There are a handful of funny moments, sure, but in the end all that is left is a steaming pile of fag jokes, numerous variations of the word "fuck," and direction so completely void of inspiration it often stuns. (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

Jurassic Park III
Though the 20 minutes it spends in expository build-up--Sam Neill is back as the skeptic hero paleontologist, lured into going to the dinosaur island by some "rich adventurers" (who are actually middle-class Ohioans looking for their son)--are nigh on interminable, once the dinosaurs show up and start screaming and chomping and smashing people and each other, this movie makes its worth known. (Sean Nelson) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
The Tomb Raider series of loosely cinematic action games has gotten lots of attention for its busty main character, Lara Croft. Some people have even tried to interpret Croft's popularity as having a kind of Charlie's Angels postfeminist import--she is supposed to be a polylingual and kickass (if voluptuous) adventurer--but one look at the video game leaves little doubt that her primary appeal is in the "if voluptuous" department. Tomb Raider isn't even kind of good. (Traci Vogel) Admiral

Legally Blonde
The movie isn't much, but Reese Witherspoon, before whom all living young actresses should cower, owns every frame of it. (Michael Shilling) Pacific Place 11

Original Sin
This psychoeroticsexualogical thriller starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas isn't half as bad as early press reports led one to believe. That said, it's still pretty goddamn bad, with its sweaty, swarthy tale of revenge, lust, and obsession, ultimately masking the real movie underneath: a tone poem about Jolie's lips, forever in tight close-up. Banderas is a believable hero/dupe, and both leads are easy on the eyes, but the would-be erotic luster remains largely theoretical, subsumed under the heavy pastiche of Cubano iconography. (Sean Nelson) Uptown

Osmosis Jones
A disjointed mix of shoddy live-action and slick animation that will be watched in junior high health classes for generations to come. An unshaven and startlingly slovenly Bill Murray, shuffling through the proceedings as an unhealthy zookeeper, oozes contempt from his very pores. But the animation, starring Chris Rock as a renegade white blood cell battling Laurence Fishburne as lethal virus, is eye-popping, inventive and lushly colorful. If you would like to learn more about the hypothalamus or simply enjoy watching Bill Murray spray venom, don't let me stop you. (Tamara Paris) Pacific Place 11

* The Others
A well-executed gothic horror film in a Jamesian vein, starring Nicole Kidman as a postwar mom on a tiny British isle desperate not to let the new servants (including the great Fionnula Flanagan) expose her "photosensitive" children to daylight. The claustrophobic tension of the incredible house (the film's only set, and its true star) mounts through the eerie film as the truth, like the characters' lives, unfurls methodically in this truly frightening endeavor from Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar. As an added bonus, the always-gripping Christopher Eccleston (Jude, Elizabeth) has a supporting role. (Sean Nelson) Aurora Cinema Grill, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Planet of the Apes
At first glance, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes remake has everything you could wish for in a summer blockbuster--i.e., massive budget, marginal script, entertaining result. But, upon further inspection (a.k.a. actually watching it), it turns out to be the stupidest film of the year. Sure, sure, it's fun to watch good actors frolic about in brilliant chimp makeup, but the story--which the credits list as being based upon a book by Pierre Boulle (although I doubt the book was nearly as stupid as this film)--is so ridiculous, so unnecessarily convoluted to the point of inanity (not to mention poorly thought out), that the end result actually becomes an insult to the audience. (Bradley Steinbacher) Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Pacific Place 11

The Princess Diaries
In this G-rated Pygmalion, bespectacled, curly haired, Doc Martens-sporting wallflower Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) discovers she's heir to the throne of Genovia and, courtesy of "princess lessons" from her queenly grandmama (Julie Andrews), blossoms. When will Hollywood learn that girls with glasses aren't ugly? (Heather Muse) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro

Rat Race
Rat Race should not be considered an actual chase comedy but a clone of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Cannonball Run I and II, and Million Dollar Mystery, brought to you by a movie industry so short on ideas that it's now peddling third-generation photocopies of itself to an audience raised on replicas (apologies to D.C. Berman) and desperately nostalgic for 20 years ago. (Jason Pagano) Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

Rush Hour 2
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan reteam as a black cop and a Chinese cop in this sequel which, being exactly as funny and entertaining as its predecessor, transcends all critical inquiry. Zhang Ziyi, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is in it, though. (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Northgate, Redmond Town Center

* The Score
This is a fully functional, if perfunctory heist film that benefits greatly from its attention to the procedure of safecracking and breaking and entering, to say nothing of the utterly relaxed brilliance of its three lead actors, Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, and best of all, Marlon Brando. (Sean Nelson) Meridian 16

* Sexy Beast
Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired gangster living high on a hill in the Costa del Sol, enjoying a lethargic existence. But he is as out of place here as the heart-shaped ceramic tiles on the floor of his pool. Bad news arrives in the shape of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, so great), there to coax Gal back to England for a job. Gal resists, but Don won't take no for an answer, setting in motion a verbal boxing match so artful and intense it turns the sprawling Spanish vista into a pressure cooker in which Gal is forced to reckon for his ill-had comforts. (Sean Nelson) Uptown

Spy Kids
A director's cut of Robert Rodriguez's wildly successful franchise mustard seedling, Spy Kids Redux boasts 20 minutes of new footage, including several new scenes of Marlon Brando improvising and a long sequence set in a French plantation that never made the original cut. Admiral

Summer Catch
No, not a story of hot, generation-Y fishmongers... this is a baseball movie starring the acharismatic Freddie Prinze Jr. as a minor league pitcher who dreams of the majors in between trying to get laid with trashy townies. Redemption, love, and copious K's ensue. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Pacific Place 11

Thomas in Love
Agoraphobic Thomas Thomas hasn't left his apartment in eight years, nor has anyone passed through the air-lock that leads in. In this Blade Runner-like future, Thomas (Benôit Verhaert, in voice only) can live his life via computer and videophone: He has sex, argues with his mother, and arranges for vacuum cleaner repair at a safe remove from everyone. One day, in the name of shocking him into improvement, Thomas' therapist recommends that he engage with a real woman instead of his Sextoon pal Clara. What follows is a kind of reverse Bubble Boy as he tries to let childlike Melodie (Magali Pinglaut) and then hapless Eva (Aylin Yay) under his skin. But Thomas is grumpy, snide, and--shades of Humbert Humbert--a little pervy (he likes women who cry); it's truly hard to give a shit about his emotional welfare despite the film's philosophical queries about technology and isolation. (Emily Hall) Egyptian

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