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Behind Enemy Lines, Texas Rangers, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust


New This Week

* American Job
See Stranger Suggests. From the directors of the great American Movie comes this stylistic prequel, in which yet another middle-American schlub wrestles with bad luck (some situational, some self-made) and diminishing returns on his quest to find a job that doesn't rob him of his humanity. Grand Illusion

Band of Outsiders
Revered this issue. One of Godard's lesser-known (i.e., hard to find on video) early works, Bande à Part is much beloved by those who know it, mainly because of its air of frivolity and invention--early Godard's most oft-overlooked attribute. Plus, Anna Karina in black-and-white is one of the reasons God invented eyes. Varsity

BurnBabyBurn
A fly-by-night documentary (shot and edited in a mere 12 days) about the annual gathering known as Burning Man, during which thousands of hippies agglomerate, get high, get naked, set shit on fire, and dance in the name of art. Little Theatre

Fat Girl
Seems every film that Catherine Breillat has ever made is about naughty sex, which might explain why she seems to have run dry on interesting approaches with her latest one. Titled à ma soeur! in France (which does not translate to "Fat Girl"), it's about Anaïs, a phlegmatic 12-year-old fat girl with a foxy older sister, Elena. This film exists only to underscore those facts, so you keep thinking maybe it's building up to some point or revelation... but you keep being wrong. Save for a tense, tortured, Nabokovian sex scene with Elena's law-student boyfriend (while Anaïs watches in plain view), the story never offers any real reward. Also, if you were a fat girl in junior high, you probably shouldn't see this movie because it will fuck you up. (MEG VAN HUYGEN) Harvard Exit

NIGHT WEBS FILM NOIR
This week: Quicksand, a stakes-raising classic starring Mickey Rooney (!) as a humble chump who steals a little money to impress his gold-digger gal pal (Jeanne Cagney; sister of James), then discovers how slippery is the slope of debt as he sinks deeper and deeper into the titular metaphor. Also starring the great Peter Lorre as a creepy enabler. Seattle Art Museum

* SILENT MOVIE MONDAYS
This week: Metropolis, Fritz Lang's justly celebrated 1931 masterpiece of tone, texture, and technophobia. Paramount Theatre

Stethoscope
Made by Kiyan Smith and Kenneth Thomas, Stethoscope is a work of "gore-nography" (part gore, part porn). In another era, the images in this film would have represented the Christian idea of eternal hell--bloody, cruel, dark, with desperate bodies having slimly sex while a majestic Satan admires the unholy mess from a distance. But in our Godless age, it's art-porn. Though I wasn't aroused by the sex in Stethoscope, I was certainly impressed that it was made by local directors who used local performers. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Little Theatre


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) Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16

* Amélie
A beautifully kinetic testament to human sweetness that has audiences lining up around the block and contrarians carping about its artificiality. I'm not saying you have to be an asshole not to like Amélie, but it would probably help.... When director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was in Seattle recently, I asked him if the criticism of the film's fairy-tale aesthetic bothered him. "In France," he laughed, "sometimes if you have too much style, they crucify you. They prefer films about men and women fighting in ugly kitchens. They think if you have style, if the film is lit well, or is poetic, then you are not making something true. The reverse is true. The style is important. I love to play with everything. I can't avoid it. You need the style to get to the emotion. It's actually more realistic, dans un certain sense. When you do a film, it's for you. Very egoist. But you can please people if you are sincere." (SEAN NELSON) Egyptian, Redmond Town Center

* American Astronaut
Cory McAbee directs, sings, and stars as Samuel Curtis, a greasy, laconic, and strangely sexy space cowboy pursued through a remote solar system by a homicidal professor who insists on zapping everyone Samuel cares about into piles of ash. At times discernibly a parody of '50s Westerns, sci-fi flicks, and musicals, Astronaut often veers off into uncharted, deeply perplexing territory. Watching a rubber-suited Samuel sing "The Girl with the Vagina Made of Glass" to a pasture full of beautiful Southern belles as they zealously guard their mummified lover is both hilarious and haunting. (TAMARA PARIS) Grand Illusion

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) Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center

Better Than Sex
Not to set the bar too high, but this Australian film is a whole lot better than Friends. About a one-night stand complicated by some pesky emotions, this film plays like a clunky episode of NBC's long-running sitcom. So why is it better? It's the sex, stupid. He goes down on her, she goes down on him, he fucks her doggy style, she rides him like a pony. If the script were half as convincing as the sex, well, this would be a pretty damn good movie. It's not, though, not by a long shot. But, hey, nice tits. (DAN SAVAGE) Broadway Market

The Black Knight
Martin Lawrence plays Jamal Walker, a brother who toils all day at a decrepit ghetto theme park known as Medieval World. While cleaning Medieval World's polluted moats he happens upon a medallion that transports him back in time to 18th-century England. The locals don't really know what to make of Lawrence's clothes, language, or mannerisms. And well, anyway, in an exercise of isolating exactly just what the world wasn't waiting for, Black Knight picks us up just where other "fish out of water" classics such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Turtles in Time left us: tunneling out of the theater with a spoon. (KUDZAI MUDEDE) Varsity

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) Factoria, Meridian 16, Northgate, Redmond Town Center

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition
A documentary of Seattle's new favorite tragic failure of a sea voyage, Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 quest for Antarctica, which wound up, as we all know, with an icebound vessel full of starving crewmen reduced to smoking penguin feathers. Lucky for this documentary that they had a camera crew with 'em.... Varsity

Focus
William H. Macy and Laura Dern play a couple who are mistaken for Jews by their anti-Semitic Brooklyn neighbors at the dawn of WWII in this adaptation of Arthur Miller's novel. Spoiler alert: This film deals with issues. Harvard Exit

From Hell
This movie is really awful. Meridian 16, Varsity

* Grateful Dawg
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) Broadway Market

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
Fans of the novels won't be disappointed by Chris Columbus' adaptation, which is so faithful that it often feels like they just pointed a camera at the book and said "Action!" Those who haven't read it--myself included--may fail to be captivated by what feels like an exercise in defining the difference between page and screen. I had been led to believe there was some underlying artistic merit in the stories of Harry Potter, and maybe there is, but not in the film. The actors, sets, and effects are all great, but this really is a movie just for kids. (SEAN NELSON) Cinerama, Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Majestic Bay, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Heist
In Heist, writer-director David Mamet adores his plot-twisting, line-stinging script so much the acting comes off plastic, and you repeatedly run into the thought that no one would ever, ever say "she could talk her way out of a sunburn," and "my man is so cool, when he goes to sleep sheep count him" when lives are in danger. This isn't really a problem in itself, though, it's the whole point: the script is the thing to "watch," and Gene Hackman, Delroy Lindo, and Danny DeVito are its vehicles. What becomes a problem, however, is that at the end of the movie you'll remember that Mamet is capable of writing characters of incredible--profound, even--emotional depth, and there is absolutely none of that here. Even Mamet's slick, script-dependent film Spanish Prisoner makes me think about interpersonal ethics. In Heist, when characters betray, love, fight, save, etc., each other, it doesn't really matter. You wish it would, but it doesn't. This is a perfect summer movie! (BRIAN GOEDDE) Aurora Cinema Grill, Grand Alderwood, Meridian 16, Metro

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. Broadway Market

* 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

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 to care. Rather than come clean, he 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. (SEAN NELSON) Grand Alderwood, Guild 45th, Meridian 16

* The Man Who Wasn't There
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 features Billy Bob Thornton's uncannily Bogartlike performance (In a Lonely Place-era) 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. 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, Uptown

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. 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) Factoria, Majestic Bay, Meridian 16, Metro, Oak Tree

* 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) Aurora Cinema Grill, Guild 45th, Meridian 16

Novocaine
Steve Martin stars as a dentist who becomes embroiled in a murder fiasco straight out of pulp fiction in this charming, if self-satisfied noir update. Martin and his girlfriend (the hyperbolically fastidious Laura Dern) live a sanitary existence until saucy little junkie Helena Bonham Carter and her incestuous brother (Scott Caan) enter their lives by force, demanding such things as medical cocaine and sex in the dentist's chair. Soon, someone is dead, and someone is blamed, and someone has to fight to clear his name. This would be a fully smug and frustrating exercise in genre resuscitation if it weren't peopled by a game cast of excellent actors. The presence of pros like Martin and Carter (and Elias Koteas in a glorified cameo) elevates matters considerably. (SEAN NELSON) Metro, Uptown

The One
It's a fact that the philosophical theories that explained The Matrix were derived from the most exhausted metaphysical concepts about the split between phenomena and consciousness. When one compares The Matrix's reality to the one proposed in Jet Li's The One, however, The Matrix sounds like Kant. The One, which is about a bad Jet Li vs. a good Jet Li who lives in a parallel universe, also lacks poetry and beauty, like the bamboo sequence in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. But despite its lack of substance, The One is still fun to watch, because, you know, it's about kung fu in space. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Aurora Cinema Grill, Factoria, Lewis & Clark, Meridian 16, Metro, Redmond Town Center

Out Cold
Snow-bros unite (in disgust): Out Cold is snowboarding comedy from Disney, starring Jason London, Flex Alexander, Lee Majors, and Victoria Silvstedt. Varsity

Riding in Cars with Boys
A film for 40-year-old soccer moms 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) Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

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) Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

Shallow Hal
A warning for dense women out there who believe a skunk can change his stripe: It's not going to happen. The Farrelly Brothers have handed out a new load of horseshit in the form of Hal (Jack Black), a chubby jackass who dates only physically flawless women. After a chance encounter with a motivational guru, Hal begins seeing inner beauty as outer beauty and falls in love with a 300-pound Peace Corps volunteer he thinks looks like Gwyneth Paltrow with falsies. Hal soon loses his new goggles, but does he go back to the way he was? Of course not, so all the heartbreaking fat gags and shameless burn victim makeup is acceptable, right? Because we all got enlightened? Horseshit. (KATHLEEN WILSON) Factoria, Grand Alderwood, Lewis & Clark, Metro, Oak Tree, Pacific Place 11

Sidewalks of New York
This film is way better than Ed Burns' other efforts, and it certainly towers over the last five Woody Allen misery marathons, and Stanley Tucci is great, and everyone else hits their mark and seems believable enough. However, it's nowhere near as good as Aerosmith, not even Draw the Line. (MICHAEL SHILLING) Metro

The Spy Game
Robert Redford and Brad Pitt pretend that anyone could take them seriously as CIA men in this action thrilla. Metro

* Tape
Richard Linklater bats two for two with this nervy character study that indicts all three of its subjects (played by Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Uma Thurman) by way of exploring questions of memory, friendship, and truth. Highly recommended. (SEAN NELSON) Harvard Exit

* 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) Seven Gables

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) Pacific Place 11, Redmond Town Center

* 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) Broadway Market

The Wash
Just as the laughs from Next Friday had begun to subside from the collective belly ("Damn, I can't believe such a big poo came out of such a little dog!"), now comes the new comedy from writer DJ Pooh. Pooh makes his directorial debut with this vehicle for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, who play a couple of hoodied miscreants who get a job at a car wash (hmm... ) to pay the rent. And that's when all hell breaks loose! I haven't seen the film, but I have a hunch that the wise words of Ice Cube (one of America's best movie stars) will prove prophetic: "Uh, yo Dre, stick to proDUCIN'!" (SEAN NELSON) Reviewed this issue. Meridian 16, Redmond Town Center, Varsity

* 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) Pacific Place 11, Varsity

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