Coming Soon

Domestic Disturbance, Grateful Dawg, The Man Who Wasn't There, Monsters, Inc., The One


New This Week

13 Ghosts
Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver produced this remake of the William Castle screamer. It stars the great Tony Shalhoub, the pretty great F. Murray Abraham, and a bunch of lessers as a family that inherits a scary old digital mansion powered entirely by the energy produced by digital ghosts. Metro

Audition
The most fucked-up movie since The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, and maybe of all time. It begins with a sad, shy Japanese widower on a slightly disingenuous search for a new wife and ends up... oh, God, I can't go on. Reports have it that when this film screened at SIFF, half the audience left before it was over. Even the most nervy filmgoers should consider not eating before Audition; and you'll definitely need a few stiff drinks afterward. (Emily Hall) Broadway Market

Bones
Bones begins with two frat boys getting mauled by the ghost of Snoop Dogg. We then learn that Snoop was a prosperous pimp back in the day (1979), who was loved by his community and murdered by his closest friend. Snoop now haunts the house where the evil deed was committed. The day after the frat boys are mysteriously slaughtered, the teen sons and daughter of the double-crosser (who is now a black Republican with a white wife and home in the suburbs) decide to open a hiphop nightclub in Snoop Dogg's haunted house. Everyone in the 'hood warns them about the ghost, the hellhound, and... the movie theater's projector broke down. Twenty minutes later the projectionist came down and explained to the small audience that the projector keeps throwing the reel on the ground. "I place the reel on the projector," she said with deep amazement, "but when I turn it on, the projector rejects the reel." I never saw the end of Bones. (Charles Mudede) Lewis & Clark

Bride of Frankenstein
Capitol Hill's finest coffee house celebrates Halloween with a screening of James Whale's sentimental horror fave, in which romance is a jolt of electricity, a shock of white hair, and thou in the laboratory. (Sean Nelson) Victrola

Donnie Darko
A boy's life is changed forever when an airplane crashes into his house (note to producers, re: timing: ouch) and only he survives. The good news is he gets to go out with Drew Barrymore when he grows up. Varsity

* Gojira
Umm, I think you mean Godzilla? Little Theatre

High Heels & Lowlifes
Screwball comedy about two drab ladies (Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack--the latter at least is far from drab) who witness a bank robbery and get entangled with the Mob. Metro

Horror Express
Christopher Lee plays an English anthropologist who discovers a frozen monster in Manchuria. He takes the monster with him to Europe by train, which seems like a reasonable enough plan, but the monster thaws. What a brilliant plot device. Instead of thunderstorms or high winds (or both) being the representative of the dramatic natural world (as is typical in cinema), in Horror Express, the thaw is the act of nature that sets human drama in motion. (Brian Goedde) Paradox Theater

* Independent Exposure
Profiled this issue. This monthly program of rare (and sometimes wonderful) independent shorts by underground artists from around the world can be found at Vital 5 Productions, which can be found at 2200 Westlake Avenue (at Denny). This month is the "Halloweird Edition," and is the final program of the season, which is the final season. Thurs Oct 25. (Sean Nelson) Vital 5 Productions

* Intimacy
Sex is categorically stripped of its erotic value in this cold, harsh film about two Brits (Kerry Fox and Mark Rylance) who meet once a week for wordless, anonymous sex. We learn more about them as the man becomes intrigued enough by his partner (about whom he knows almost literally nothing) to begin stalking her around London. Writer Hanif Kurieshi bestows the "lovers'" entanglement with an aura of menace and dark revelation, but the film distinguishes itself by the very mundaneness of the characters' respective dilemmas. Thus, we are spared the existential superheroism (and misogyny) that today makes Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris feel like a truncheon of laughable overwrought self-importance. Instead, we get a French director's (Patrice Chereau) vision of the emotional life of the English. It's a rich and complex film, but you might want to bring an extra sweater. Brr.... (Sean Nelson) Varsity

K-Pax
Universal Pictures has requested that The Stranger not review this film, which stars Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. And who are we to cross Universal Pictures? I saw the trailer though, and it didn't look very promising. Sort of like Cocoon meets Phenomenon. I'd rather eat my own shit for a year than see either of those monstrosities again. (Sean Nelson) Metro

LESBIAN AND GAY FILM FESTIVAL
The sixth annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival includes over 100 films and videos at three different venues for seven glamorous days. See Movie Times for full info, or visit www.seattlequeerfilm.com. Egyptian, Little Theatre, Pound Gallery

* Music + Film at EMP
See Stranger Suggests. This week: Nosferatu, with a live soundtrack played by C Average. JBL Theater at EMP

* Nosferatu
A screening of F. W. Murnau's truly frightening Nosferatu (1922), the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. With a live soundtrack massaged out of the Paramount's Mighty Wurlitzer. Paramount Theatre

On the Line
Love isn't always on time, but the L train is. Just ask Joey Fatone (is that how you pronounce it?) and Lance Bass, the members of 'NSYNC who star in this romantic comedy, which takes place in Chicago, and whose pivotal moment occurs on said train. Grand Alderwood

* Ride Lonesome
NWFF's foresight in booking this series of Westerns from the Budd Boetticher-Randolph Scott-Burt Kennedy trifecta must once again be applauded. This film, which features a highly recognizable cast (yes, Virginia, that IS Roscoe P. Coltrane as the main bad guy Billy John; look closely and you might spot a young Trapper John M.D.... to say nothing of Lee Van Cleef and James Coburn), is perhaps the most overtly metaphorically relevant to our current thirst for the heroic. As bounty hunter Ben Brigade, our beloved Randolph Scott (okay, one more time: RANDOLPH SCOTT!) must brave Indian attacks (damn Indians!) and vengeful outlaws as he conveys to justice the brother of the man who killed his wife, while trying to lure the nefarious brother. Sound complicated? It really isn't. Beset on all sides, Brigade remains as stoic as a cactus, and the film rings as true as a dinner bell. I don't always love the Western, but there are few as unremittingly plain and pure as this'n. (Sean Nelson) Grand Illusion

Russ Forster's Tributary
A documentary about the phenomenon not of cover bands, but of TRIBUTE bands. 911 Media Arts Center

* Shadow of the Vampire
E. Elias Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire revisits the set of film director F. W. Murnau's 1922 horror classic Nosferatu to tell an imagined story of Murnau (John Malkovich) and his obscure star Max Schreck (played brilliantly by Willem Dafoe). Full of charm and whimsy, the film walks a subtle tightrope between creepiness and hilarity. (Caveh Zahedi) Egyptian

Trader Hornee
Nazi war criminals, hot jungle love, and good old colonial imperialism distinguish this sexploitation number from producer David F. Friedman. Grand Illusion

Under the Sun
On paper, this film's plot has all the elements of The Ed Gein Story: Olof (Rolf Lassgard), a big, lumpy, illiterate farmer, is lonely after his mother's death, so he advertises for a young woman to work as a housekeeper. Ellen (Helena Bergstöm in a shrewd, skillful performance), a lissome Swedish bombshell, answers the ad and takes the job, whereupon Olof becomes infatuated with her. Ellen, however, never blinks an eye at Olof's stalking and leering and even accepts it, which makes you question her agenda. The footage of the pristine, stout-hearted countryside coupled with the merry Irish-fiddle soundtrack (supplied by The Chieftains' Paddy Moloney) maintains the sense that this is just the innocent story of a sweet simpleton looking for love--but there is definitely something sinister going on, most of all because you're never told precisely what it is. (Meg van Huygen) Broadway Market

* Waking Life
Reviewed this issue. Richard Linklater's monologue-heavy, beautifully animated opus about the quest for lucid dreaming and active living is one of the coolest, most interesting movies you'll ever see. Or you might hate it and think it's talky and pretentious. If you liked Slacker, however--wait, not if you liked it... if you GOT Slacker--and have been waiting for Linklater to return to philosophical quandary mode, don't wait another second. Go see Waking Life. (Sean Nelson) Egyptian

* Wisconsin Death Trip
Reviewed this issue. Ah, those miserable Victorians. We all know they were miserable. Now see what happens when they get violent. Grand Illusion,²


Continuing Runs

Bandits
Not great, but certainly no travesty. Barry Levinson's new movie about two bank robbers (Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton) and the woman they both love (Cate Blanchett) fares well, especially when placed aside the stream of crap Hollywood has been cranking out over the past few months. Fairly funny and occasionally smart (save for a somewhat unbelievable ending), the movie is a breeze of oddball character development and marginally ludicruous scenarios. In other words, it's pretty fun. One bad note, however: Levinson needs to learn how to point a camera again. Much of Bandits is poorly shot, and it sometimes switches between film and video footage for no apparent reason (other than to annoy the audience). (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

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

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) Uptown

Corky Romano
That one guy from SNL plays a sissy Mary who becomes a mobster. Capice? Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Don't Say a Word
Don't say a word about how fucking lame this movie is? How lurid, ludicrous, and exploitative (hmm, let's see... how can we get Famke Janssen to spend an hour in her underwear...)? How mannered and profligate (how you gonna waste Oliver Platt AGAIN, Hollywood?) and preposterous, verging on the obscene? Okay, I won't. It's about head-shrinker Michael Douglas, his crazy girl patient (Brittany Murphy, who must be just tiny), his laid-up wife (Janssen), their daughter, and the bank robber terrorists who kidnap her. One thing though: The end, when the bad guys get buried alive in a collapsing grave, is kind of neat. Oh, wait... spoiler alert? (Sean Nelson) Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

From Hell
You're a naughty one, saucy Jack. A Jack the Ripper tale from the brothers responsible for such crap as Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, Allen and Albert Hughes. Johnny Depp and Heather Graham star. Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Meridian 16, Metro

Funny Girl
The film that launched a thousand drag careers returns. Barbra Streisand stars as Fanny Brice, lauded vaudevillian comedienne, who marries the (um, let's see, abusive? domineering? unappreciative?) Nick Arnstein, played by Omar Sharif. Cinerama

Hearts in Atlantis
Anthony Hopkins plays a magical old geezer with the power to see the future or some shit in this new Stephen King adaptation from Scott Hicks, the guy who directed Shine. Will Hopkins (who's undeniably great... when he's not in crappy films) and the redoubtable Hope Davis be enough to redeem this heaving torrent of moist schmaltz? Factoria, Majestic Bay

Innocence
Andreas and Claire were once young lovers in post-WWII Belgium. Now, half a century later, they find themselves neighbors in Melbourne, where Andreas has been a widower for 30 years and Claire is in an agreeable though passionless marriage. Unable to resist the tug of nostalgia, they resume their tempestuous affair, much to the chagrin of their loved ones. A big hit at Cannes and SIFF alike. Harvard Exit

* Iron Monkey
Directed by Yuen Wo Ping, the man who coordinated the fight sequences in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Iron Monkey (1993) is centered around a kind doctor (Yu Ruang-Guang), his beautiful assistant (Jean Wang), and a corrupt libertarian (James Wong) who governs a provincial city on the outskirts of a great civilization. Like Bruce Wayne, the doctor has another identity: He is a kung fu master who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Yes, it's "an Asian Robin Hood," as so many critics have eagerly pointed out. But it's also an "Asian Western" with a heady dose of Russian provincial comedy, made world-famous by Nikolai Gogol's play The Inspector General. Invariably described as an exercise in pure cinema because of its commitment to the visual music of human movement, what really makes Iron Monkey fascinating are the rooftop scenes that happen at night. Nothing comes close to the beauty of eating/romancing/fighting/running from rooftop to rooftop above a sleeping city; it's as if the kung fu masters were specters of a collective dream rising up from a thousand bedrooms. (Charles Mudede) Aurora Cinema Grill, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

* Joyride
A taut, smart thriller directed by John Dahl, the potboiler-switcheroo auteur responsible for such gems as Red Rock West, The Last Seduction, and the very underrated Unforgettable. Steve Zahn (yay) and Paul Walker (zzz) star as two brothers on a road trip who mess around with a CB radio and unintentionally arouse the murderous ire of a psycho truck driver. By the time they pick up Leelee Sobieski (rrr), there's a cross-country chase afoot. Thanks to the gut-churning suspense factor that is Dahl's specialty, the picture seems to be building up to some barely plausible twist. But just when you're trying to figure out who's duping who, the pure modernistic thrill of seeing a big old semi bearing down on some unsuspecting youngsters kicks into high gear. Pure pulpy pleasure. (Sean Nelson) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

* L.I.E.
Some movies implicate their audience by making them cheer on a dastardly act. This painfully beautiful drama does the reverse: It makes us dread an event which never comes, and when it doesn't, forces us to reevaluate our feelings not just about the film and its characters, but about the moral universe they inhabit. The story concerns a young boy in Long Island whose sheltered life turns rocky, much to the delight of a neighborhood chicken hawk. But despite the potentially lurid trappings, the film is an unsettlingly sensitive dramatization of the process of growing up out of the shadow of parental protection. (Sean Nelson) Neptune

The Last Castle
Robert Redford and James Gandolfini star in this story of power struggles and hypermasculine one-upsmanship behind the bars of a military prison. Also starring that really great actor from You Can Count on Me, Mark Ruffalo. Because it's directed by Rod Lurie (The Contender), expect the world this film presents to be divided into two camps: liberals and fascists. Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Max Keeble's Big Move
When Max learns that his family is moving in a week, he takes the opportunity to wreak havoc on all the bullies who make his junior high a living hell. Then he finds out his family isn't moving after all, goes Zen, and prepares to die. Though it's a Disney movie aimed at kids, the subject matter strikes a deep chord in the hearts of all bully victims, past and future. (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

* Mulholland Drive
This new work from David Lynch is confounding and bizarre (for a change). Originally conceived as a network TV pilot, Drive takes a long time establishing its characters--an aspiring actress, a glamorous amnesiac, a luckless Hollywood producer, and a mysterious gang of Mafiosi who are dead set on making sure a certain woman gets a certain part. Like all of Lynch's post-Wild at Heart work, Drive is more concerned with atmosphere and suggestion than linear meaning. But like all Lynch, period, it's beautifully constructed, bizarre, and funny. It's just impossible to say definitively whether this is good or not. (Sean Nelson) Guild 45th, Meridian 16

My First Mister
A teenage goth drama queen (Leelee Sobieski) finds an unlikely soulmate in Randall, a bemustached men's-store manager nearly three times her age (Albert Brooks). Though the movie's stylistic and thematic trajectory points to the curious middle distance between the MTV and Lifetime networks, and the script relies rather heavily on a shopping-mall understanding of youth culture (which might actually be prescient, come to think of it, since American youth culture is more or less defined by shopping malls), a great many good, tender, and true moments peek up out of what could have been a rankly sentimental sinkhole. One might attribute this to the stellar performances of Sobieski (who crafts a credibly in-progress teenager, sidestepping archetypes with stealth and humor) and the inestimably great Brooks. (Sean Nelson) Uptown

* 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 her 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, and 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) Meridian 16

Riding in Cars with Boys
A film for 40-year-olds of all ages. Drew Barrymore plays a Connecticut townie bad girl who gets knocked up at age 15, then spends the rest of her lapsed Catholic life negotiating the disappointments and joys of a life lived in service to an accidental baby. Because the film is directed by Penny Marshall, it is very very bad, indeed painfully so. The lovely Drew Barrymore (whom a lot of people seem to hate, but I just can't help loving) tries very hard, and turns in what counts for her as a strong performance. But the movie is mawkish and cloying, full of screenwriter homilies and syrupy strings, so all her efforts are in the service of the devil. It does have one saving grace, however: the great Steve Zahn, proving once again that he is to contemporary film what Robert Downey Jr. was to '80s film--the very best and often only good thing in a series of truly awful movies, capable of elevating even the flimsiest, underwritten roles into scene-stealing gems of naturalism and invention. (Sean Nelson) Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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) Grand Alderwood

Serendipity
John Cusack stars as John Cusack with a bad haircut, opposite the unremarkably beautiful Kate Beckinsale, in the very worst movie I've ever seen. Premise: They meet over Christmas shopping in Bloomingdales, sort of fall in love but not really, part ways, get betrothed to other people, and spend the rest of the movie trying to find each other again. Fine. The injury comes from the script relentlessly stabbing you in the gut with its transparent plot twists, maddening dialogue, and desperate "fateful coincidences." The fact that this film was ever made defies reason. If you like John Cusack, it will hurt your feelings. If you don't, it will make you want to die. (Meg van Huygen) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Metro, Pacific Place 11

* Together
Q: What do you get when you combine a '70s commune full of Swedish hippies, a soundtrack that features hits by ABBA and Nazareth, and a VW bus painted with flowers? A: This strangely sitcommish but thoroughly engaging little movie. Just when you think it's going to Cute Hell, the filmmakers add a wrinkle of probing intellectualism or kinky human frailty to keep things interesting. Throw in a middle-class domestic-abuse refugee and her kids, a pre-op transsexual, some hilariously passive-aggressive dialogue about the importance of nonaggressiveness, a nymphomaniac, and a central character who suffers like a sweet-natured Job trying to keep the whole thing together (as it were); stir; cock your head in wonder; and enjoy. (Sean Nelson) Guild 45th

Tortilla Soup
A remake of Ang Lee's 1994 Eat Drink Man Woman. This time the focus is upon a Latino community in Los Angeles, where a retired Mexican American chef prepares lavish meals for his emotionally distraught daughters. Broadway Market

Training Day
This capsule was written before seeing the film: "Denzel Washington stars as a dirty NYC copper who guides new recruit Ethan Hawke through a day in the life of a Machiavellian urban warrior." This message was received in response: "By the way, Training Day was set in L.A., not NYC. And it totally fucking sucked." --Ian.C.Jacobson. This rebuttal, then, was written after seeing the film: "What should have been and pretty much is a run-of-the-mill, overstylized L.A. cop morality play achieves glory because of the ravenous, flesh-chewing, blood-spitting performance of Mr. Denzel Washington, who has never had so complex a villain to play. He's usually overtly heroic, but on the occasions when his characters have been allowed to show a mean streak, they've always been tempered by a strain of nobility. In Training Day he's a complete bastard, and it's the best, most fun performance he's given in years. And Ethan Hawke, who plays the rookie on the receiving end of Denzel's fierce training, is not bad either. As for the film itself, the dramatic meat under the actors' flashy skin: It's nothing but a dumb, self-justifying Hollywood psychodrama full of platitudes about violence and corruption, with little in the way of actual insight into anything real or human... except the real, human beauty of watching a great movie star kick so much ass." (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Northgate, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

* Va Savoir
This latest film from underappreciated French master Jacques Rivette is a romantic comedy (this from the man best known for super-long works like La Belle Noiseuse, which runs about four hours) about Camille, an expatriate French actress who returns to Paris to star in a play, and becomes entangled in a bizarre love hexagon with her former lover, her current director, the student helping the director find an obscure manuscript, her half-brother, and his wife (who happens to be involved with Camille's ex). Harvard Exit

* Zoolander
This movie is a complete delight, fueled by the dual brilliance of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, who play rival supermodels who become embroiled in a global assassination plot. Not every joke succeeds, but the gut laugh success rate is pretty astounding, and the moments of total comic transcendence (such as the male supermodel gasoline fight) are many. It's such a pleasure to watch an American farce that doesn't make you feel like a moron for enjoying the funny parts. In Zoolander, even the between-gag bits are good. A-fucking-men. (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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