Coming Soon

Amelie, Heist, Maze, Shallow Hal, The Wash


New This Week

The Big Clock
The old axiom "never date a co-worker" is revised to "never date your boss' mistress"--especially when your boss finds out, kills the girl, and tries to frame you! Ain't it the truth. This film, starring greats Charles Laughton, "X-" Ray Milland, and Maureen O'Sullivan was remade as No Way Out in 1987. Seattle Art Museum

Blackmail
Frank is a Scotland Yard detective whose girlfriend, Alice, is two-timing him. When her secret paramour tries to rape her, she stabs him to death with a bread knife. Frank's assigned to the case, of course, and knows the truth, but so does someone else--so he needs to work to avoid blackmail. Paramount Theatre

* Comanche Station
The NWFF's Budd Boetticher series winds down with this tale of a cowboy (Randolph Scott--surprise!) who Zen-avenges the long-ago kidnapping of his wife (surprise!) by buying freedom for other kidnapped women and returning them to their homes. When another aggrieved husband offers a reward, it becomes a race between Scott and the nefarious Claude Akins (that's Sheriff Lobo to you) to bring the woman to safety. Grand Illusion

Desperately Seeking Susan
You know, Madonna is a famous singer because she's a good actress. Egyptian

Domestic Disturbance
John Travolta is the dad, and Vince Vaughn is the stepdad. One of them is a nasty murderer and one of them is an underdog hero. It's up to the kid to decide. A propos of nothing: my late grandmother was fond of calling Travolta "John Revolting" when she was alive. (Sean Nelson) Varsity

* Grateful Dawg
Reviewed this issue. Ever wonder what Jerry Garcia did when the Grateful Dead weren't on the road (besides a lot of heroin)? Me neither. But this documentary is nonetheless a warm, entertaining, and sometimes beautiful examination of the musical partnership between Garcia and David Grisman--two true reverent aficionados of old-timey bluegrass picking--which spanned some 30 years. The music is absolutely stellar. (Sean Nelson) Varsity

Life as a House
Kevin Kline has cancer, but he hasn't told his ex-wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), who's too busy letting herself be an emotional doormat, or his son (Hayden Christensen), who's too busy huffing Scotchguard, wearing makeup, and masturbating with a rope around his neck (Michael Hutchence-style). Rather than come clean, Kline decides to fix everything by making his dysfunctional son help him build his dream house. In the process--surprise of surprises!--he does fix everything: the son wipes away the mascara and stops giving head to rich men for cash (hooking up with a nubile hottie in the process), the wife realizes she's still in love with her ex, and Kline gets to die the heroic death of a saintly drop-out. Histrionic folderol aside, this film is a guilty kind of good. Despite all the male menopause baggage, there is a nugget of human goodwill somewhere, possibly just in Kevin Kline, who is such a fine actor that he invests what should be pure trash with a patina of integrity. This is the kind of film one should watch with one's parents and then, when it's over, as a gift, pretend it wasn't bullshit. (Sean Nelson) Meridian 16

* The Man Who Wasn't There
See Stranger Suggests. The new film by the Coen Brothers, shot in glorious black and white, recalls the low-budget, slow burning, postwar noir of directors like Edgar G. Ulmer and Nicholas Ray, although the latter similarity might be attributable more to Billy Bob Thornton's uncannily Bogartlike performance (recalling crucial middle-period Humphrey, à la In a Lonely Place) as the eponymous Man. Thornton's Ed Crane is a drastically affectless man, a barber who chain-smokes his way through a sexless marriage to a bourgeois wannabe in a postwar California town. When he discovers his wife (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with her boss (James Gandolfini), Ed hatches a scheme and soon becomes embroiled in a complex imbroglio involving blackmail, murder, and dry cleaning. Like all protagonists in such films, you get the sense that fate is waiting to smear Ed all over life's highway like so many turtles in a Steinbeck novel. But, also like all protagonists in such movies, Ed has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. But, also, like all movies featuring such protagonists, all the tricks in the world can't save you from cosmic destiny. The Coens' genre fetish works astoundingly well in this film, which mines noir's deeply American absurdities for rich laughs, shrewd plotting, top-flight performances from all the actors (Thornton and Gandolfini in particular), and visuals that make your eyes swell. (Sean Nelson) Neptune

¡MIRA! FESTIVAL DE CINE Y VIDEO LATINO
:sta Festival de Cine y Video Latino se llama "¡Mira!" porque Ustedes tienen que verla. La festival empieza en Viernes, el dos de Noviembre, con la película Mexicana Sin Dejar Huella. Es una película sobre Ana y Aurelia, dos mujeres corriendo del norte de México al sur. Son personajes muy amables y fuertes, pero la cosa lo más belleza en la película es México sí mismo. Se puede notar que la directór Maria Novaro ama a las protagonistas, pero también ama a la naturaleza maravillosa de México. Aunque tiene muchos problemas sociales (por eso las mujeres estan corriendo... ¡no le digo nada más!), ésta país tiene una corazón rica y bella que Ana y Aurelia conozca. La festivál incluye mucho más: véase Movie Times o su website www.mirafestival.com para que se educa. (Brian Goedde) 911 Media Arts Center, Little Theatre

Monsters, Inc.
Sully (John Goodman) is one of Monsters, Inc.'s top Scarers, meaning that he excels at getting kids to scream in fright--and bottled screams are the fuel upon which Monstropolis, his hometown, depends. Kids, however, are supposed to be highly contagious, so when Sully accidentally brings a little girl back to Monstropolis, he's got a lot of nervous running and hiding to do. The first two-thirds of this film are pleasant to watch, though the narcotizing currents of confused cultural allegory that run through modern Disney films course just as strongly through this one. In Monsters, Inc. this includes a truly uncomfortable fetishizing of the sleeping American child, and the assumption of a world benevolently owned and operated by a private corporation. But the final third of the movie is excellent and beautiful, arriving suddenly at one of those gorgeous imaginary landscapes that legitimately become a part of a child's dream fabric. (Evan Sult) Metro

* Music + Film at EMP
See Stranger Suggests. This week: The Sounds of Science, a series of undersea films by the famed French filmmaker Jean Painlevé, with a live soundtrack provided by Yo La Tengo. Cinerama

The One
Dude! Jet LI! DUDE! Kung fu in space! If nothing else, this movie promises to justify the physics-defying acrobatics of most martial arts films, because in space, no one can see your wires. Metro

Princes and Princesses
The latest from French animator Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress), which took him 10 years to make. This film is framed by two kids who find an abandoned moviehouse where they act out six ethnically diverse prince/princess stories (dressed for each part by something called "Ugly Robot"). Ocelot takes advantage of his tight funds by reserving color and relying on detailed silhouettes for the entire film, which makes for an exquisite and kind of scary effect. The thing is, the plot is just straight-shooting fairytales, so it's not exactly for grownups... except that it's subtitled and kids can't read, so it's not really for them either. Go if you're into novelty or frivolity, but don't expect the substance of an esoteric "animated film." It's just a pretty little cartoon. (Meg van Huygen) Grand Illusion

She Freak
Claire Brennen is "Jade Cochran," a cynical waitress who quits her job to join the carnival, where she conducts a tawdry affair with the Ferris wheel operator, ends up marrying the freakshow owner, and rises into managerial power. Not to be missed is the six-minute montage of the carnies taking down the rides and setting up in the next town. Grand Illusion

THEATER OF SOUND
A disjointed showcase of Canuck performance art (featuring David Yonge, Shawn Bristow, Nicole Dale, and Mexican Microphone Wrestling), which has been touring Pacific Northwest cinemas and bowling alleys. Little Theatre

Where Is Your Town Center?
A traveling research project on urban sprawl made by Action: Better City (A:BC), a not-for-profit organization that promotes linking Seattle to its surrounding environment. The creators dressed up in orange jumpsuits, piled into a Winnebago, and went around to pissant little towns in Western Washington to ask locals what they thought about community culture, which freaked them out. Seattle Art Museum


Continuing Runs

13 Ghosts
How bad is 13 Ghosts? Bad enough that when the woman sitting next to me fielded a call on her cell phone during the movie, I wasn't even annoyed--in fact, I was more interested in what she had to say than in any of the characters onscreen. Her conversation went something like this: "Girl, I'm in a movie... "Thirteen" something.... Nah, lemme call you back. I'll call you back, all right?" Then, once she'd hung up: "Damn, she's always callin' me." So there you have it. (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

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

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. (Bradley Steinbacher) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Oak Tree, Redmond Town Center

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 a 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... then the movie theater's projector broke down. I never saw the end of Bones. (Charles Mudede) Lewis & Clark

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. (Sean Nelson) Aurora Cinema Grill, Meridian 16

* Donnie Darko
Donnie, a brilliant, disturbed teenager languishing in a Reagan-era suburb, is lured from slumber by the malevolent whispers of Frank, a giant, horrifically deformed bunny rabbit who informs him that the world will come to an end in 28 days. Moments later, an airplane engine crashes into his bedroom. And from there things get really spooky. Donnie Darko has either gone mad or come unstuck in time in this frightening, funny, and darkly imaginative film. Imagine American Beauty with an insect-headed monster or Magnolia with time-travel, and you're in the right neighborhood. Though it's definitely flawed (what is Drew Barrymore DOING?), I am tempted to call this one a Halloween must-see. But be sure to bring a date--maybe the impossibly convoluted ending makes some sort of sense if discussed over lots and lots of drinks. (Tamara Paris) Uptown

High Heels & Low Lifes
Screwball comedy about two drab ladies (Minnie Driver and Mary McCormack--at least the latter is far from drab) who witness a bank robbery and get entangled with the Mob. Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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. (Charles Mudede) Aurora Cinema Grill, Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center, 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) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

* 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) Broadway Market

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. Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

* 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, Redmond Town Center

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. (Sean Nelson) Uptown

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 N'Sync who star in this romantic comedy, which takes place in Chicago, and whose pivotal moment occurs on said train. Grand Alderwood, Pacific Place 11

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. 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. (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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) Aurora Cinema Grill, 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. 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
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. (Sean Nelson) Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Northgate, Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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)

* Va Savoir
This latest film from underappreciated French master Jacques Rivette is a romantic comedy 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

* Waking Life
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

* 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. (Sean Nelson) Grand Alderwood, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

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