recommended 101 Reykjavik

This deadpan, slacker-friendly Icelandic comedy gets underway when bespectacled, shiftless twentysomething Hlynur and his free-spirited mother, who reside at the titular address, welcome a houseguest. Mom's flamenco teacher, the lovely and very Spanish Lola Milagro (played by the lovely and very Spanish Victoria Abril), comes to stay with them for the holidays and the two ladies fall madly in love with each other. Even if Abril didn't scamper about half-naked through a good part of this flick, it would still be worth catching—the fact that she does makes it practically a must-see. (MARK MOHAN) Nordic Heritage Museum, Thurs Oct 26 at 7 pm.

24-Hour Film Challenge: Curiosities

Armed with the delectable theme of "curiosities," Seattle filmmakers were asked to create a film in a day. The results are screened here. Northwest Film Forum, Tues Oct 31 at 8 pm.

Bad Taste

Peter Jackson's 1987 sci-fi comedy about aliens run amok in a small town. Central Cinema, Fri-Sat midnight. (21+.)

recommended Billy in the Lowground

This film and performance about early American ballads is a collaboration between visual artist Mary Simpson, writer and musician Fionn Meade, and composer Rob Millis. Portland's Foghorn Stringband and Seattle dancers Amelia Reeber and Alice de Muizon will perform. Northwest Film Forum, Wed Nov 1 at 8 pm.

recommended Blue Velvet

"Heineken? Fuck that shit! PABST BLUE RIBBON!" Central Cinema, Thurs-Sun 9:30 pm (21+).

recommended The Bridesmaid

See review this issue. Northwest Film Forum, Daily 7, 9:30 pm.

Don't Bother to Knock

A 1952 film starring Marilyn Monroe as a mentally ill babysitter. Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Nov 2 at 7:30 pm.

Earshot Jazz Films

A festival including a jazz-themed narrative film (a not-available-on-DVD 35mm print of Paris Blues, the 1961 film starring Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier as expatriate jazz musicians living in Paris) and documentaries (about the pianist Cecil Taylor, the all-but-forgotten '40s singing sensation Jackie Paris, and Oscar Brown, Jr.). All films screen at Northwest Film Forum. Paris Blues, Thurs-Sun 7 pm. Jazz Transmissions, Thurs Oct 26 at 9 pm. Cecil Taylor: All the Notes, Fri-Mon 9 pm. 'Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris, Sat 5 pm, Sun 3 pm, Mon 7 pm. Music Is My Life, Politics Is My Mistress, Sat 3 pm, Sun 5 pm (director donnie l. betts in attendance). For details and tickets, see

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

A 1966 comedy starring Don Knotts as a lowly newspaper typesetter who gets it into his head to become a hotshot reporter. Central Cinema, Thurs-Fri 7 pm, Sat-Sun 4:30, 7 pm.

He Ran All the Way

SAM@MOHAI's film noir series continues with this 1951 John Berry film, starring blacklisted actor John Garfield as a thief hiding out in the apartment of a pretty girl (Shelley Winters). Museum of History and Industry, Thurs Oct 26 at 7:30 pm.

Kung-Fu Grindhouse: Night of Terror!

Classic Italian zombie movies. Sunset Tavern, Mon Oct 30 at 6 pm.

Michael Parenti: The Struggle for History

A filmed lecture about the distortion of history by the powerful. Keystone Church, Fri Oct 27 at 7 pm.

Mille Gilles

This documentary will not bring you closer to the aura of the last great philosopher of the 20th century, Gilles Deleuze. The documentary is really not about the life and afterglow of the man himself but about a number of internationally recognized artists, architects, and soft intellectuals who have been inspired by Deleuze's basic ideas. For the most part, their understanding of the philosopher is not rigorous but more of a feeling they have: This is how they feel about this or that major concept; and this is how they have incorporated this or that major concept into their work. Because the documentary was made in 1997, just two years after Deleuze committed suicide, what is expressed, what comes through the documentary, is the decade of the '90s as a specific unit of historic time and cultural reality. The music (jungle, triphop), the architecture (deconstructivist), and the emerging global mind—all of this excitement, which will be rudely silenced by 9/11, is at a peak pitch. What we see in Mille Gilles is the middle of Clinton-era prosperity; this is the birth of the 21st century, and the interviewees (DJ Spooky, Gregg Lynn, David Shea) are the babies of our present stage of late childhood. (CHARLES MUDEDE) Grand Illusion, Weekdays 7:30, 9 pm, Sat-Sun 4:30, 6, 7:30, 9 pm.

recommended The Shining

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Egyptian, Fri-Sat midnight.

Tourist Trap, w/ Camp Death

Camp Death, an improv show in the style of a horror film, promises "canoeing, marshmallows around the fire, NAKED showering, and mutilated coed corpses." Tourist Trap is a 1979 feature about terrifying mannequins. Grand Illusion, Fri-Sat 10 pm.

Twisted Flicks: Monster on the Campus

Jet City Improv generates new dialogue for a 1958 B movie. Historic University Theater, Thurs-Sat 8 pm.

recommended Who Killed the Electric Car?

If this lively agitdoc is any indication, early adopters of environmentally friendly technology are a bunch of stubborn children. When General Motors rolled out its ice-blue, all-electric car in California in 1996, celebrities and subcelebrities and dot-com arrivistes (including director Chris Paine) snatched them up like candy. But the EV1, as the model was called, was only available for lease, not for sale, and when GM decided (with the help of the state of California) that electric vehicles were not in fact the wave of the future, it took them all back. Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, washed-up Baywatch actress Alexandra Paul—all talking heads in this movie—were crushed. Systematically working through such potential "suspects" as SUV-minded consumers, battery capacity, oil companies, car companies, federal and state governments, and rival technologies (particularly the hydrogen fuel cell), the documentary crafts a compelling case that the decline of the electric car was misguided, collusive, and premature. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Zen Noir

Dear aspiring filmmakers: See Zen Noir, steal its central idea (a detective investigates a murder inside a Zen Buddhist monastery), and remake it. You can't do any worse than the original, which is too jumpy, stylized, and self-conscious for its own good. Plus, the acting is wooden and the script is terrible. (Opening line, with saxophone or something appropriately noir-ish in the background: "The morning fog clung to the city like the scent of desperation on an aging drag queen. Why do I talk this way?" It went downhill from there.) If the rational detective must be frustrated and ultimately enlightened by his stay among the Buddhists, don't let us see it coming a mile away. Dear the rest of you: Skip it. (BRENDAN KILEY) Varsity, Fri-Sun 2:45, 5, 7:15, 9:20 pm, Mon-Thurs 7:15, 9:20.


American Hardcore

Stripped down and bristling with bitterness, Paul Rauchman's documentary American Hardcore attempts to fill in a gap writer Steven Blush perceived in rock history between the seminal punk of 1977 and grunge's ascendancy to mainstream success. Loosely splitting its time between the history of individual regional scenes and larger sociopolitical themes, the film documents a slanted perspective on the aggression and origins of hardcore. (CHRISTOPHER HONG)

recommended The Departed

Returning at last from the gold statuette wilderness, Martin Scorsese has assembled The Departed with an absolute precision that's been lacking in his work since Goodfellas. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

Employee of the Month

Jessica Simpson stars as a retail hottie who agrees to date the store's employee of the month.

Flags of Our Fathers

The canvas here may be too large, or the history too weighty, for director Clint Eastwood to find an in. Whatever the reason, as both war epic and historical character piece, it feels weirdly insubstantial. (ANDREW WRIGHT)


You know what's weird to me? How the horse is, like, the world's most fragile animal. Any time anything happens to a horse, somebody's all, "well, I guess we'll have to shoot it in the head." I mean, REALLY? For serious? We can cure blindness with a magical laser beam but we don't possess the technology to fix a broken horse leg? That's just lazy. During the filming of Flicka, two horses fell down and died (just like that!), and now the animal rights peeps want to boycott. Sorry dudes, but when is a horse NOT falling down and dying? If you really want to boycott Flicka, try one of these actual reasons: 1. Everything Alison Lohman says. For example, "The history of the West was written by the horse." Um, no it wasn't. Everyone knows horses are illiterate. NEXT! 2. Not enough dirty naked ranch hand sex. This movie is full of hot, grimy, lonesome cowpokes, and nobody pokes anyone. LAME! That's why I hate kids. 3. Wild mustangs: "The hope for some kind of living memory of what the promise of America used to be or could be again." Who wrote that? A horse? Seriously, somebody shoot me in the head. (LINDY WEST)

The Guardian

The badasses in the Coast Guard deserve their own action movie. It's just too bad that this is what they got. (BRENDAN KILEY)

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints

On the whole Dito Montiel's film feels less like an honest memoir—about the volatile relationship with his hotheaded thug of a best friend—and more like a jacked-up memory of cool movies past. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

The Illusionist

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

recommended jackass: number two

The once endearing, fresh-faced nature of the participants has pretty much disappeared in a haze of tattoos and lingering contusions; the hidden-camera man-on-the-street segments are still more mean-spirited than funny; and the whole shebang has a weirdly staged, overproduced quality missing from previous installments. That said, I still laughed my damn fool head off. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Support The Stranger

recommended Jesus Camp

The filmmakers are more hands off than your average agitdoc director, but their point is unmistakable. The camp in question is called Kids on Fire, and it draws home-schooled evangelical youngsters from across the country to Devil's Lake, North Dakota. (Is that irony whistling through the trees?) In the opening sermon addressing her young charges, Fischer hauls out a stuffed lion cub. Satan wants to get you when you're young, she explains, and so he makes sin cute and cuddly. But if you feed it, the lion will grow. Her voice becomes menacing. By the end of her fire-and-brimstone threats, the kids are out-and-out bawling. Jesus Camp doesn't contain enough anthropological context to convince us that the children's distress is just another aspect of their highly performative worship service. It looks like abuse—or at a minimum, a sophisticated indoctrination technique, as Fischer herself brags about creating a children's army of God (she expresses ungrudging admiration for Islamic madrassahs in Pakistan). Where the film works best is during the moments it lets parents and camp leaders damn themselves: One scene, in which the kids are directed to kneel down and pray before a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush, is a real clincher. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended Jet Li's Fearless

Fearless, Jet Li's much-ballyhooed farewell to the historical martial-arts genre, serves as a rousing, philosophically high-minded reminder of the actor's glory days. If the subject matter occasionally cries out for a longer length—and how many action movies can you say that about?—it still feels like an appropriate capper to a career routinely defying the laws of physics. (ANDREW WRIGHT)

Keeping Mum

Keeping Mum is good when Maggie Smith is bopping people on the head, and pretty effing horrible the rest of the time. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended The Last King of Scotland

Though the film is not really about the historic Idi Amin, it is an entertaining film for a couple of reasons: one, Forest Whitaker, and, two, the fact that the movie was shot in Kampala, Uganda. The real events of Amin's spectacular rise and fall in Uganda are distorted by the narrative of this movie in much the same way the events of one's life are distorted in one's dreams—or, more comically (and the best elements of this film are comic), the way a body is distorted by funhouse mirrors. (CHARLES MUDEDE)

Little Miss Sunshine

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

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette is Sofia Coppola's cash-in, her reward for low-budget ka-chings and the crafty seduction of so many underserved grown-up filmgoers. It is, in a word, a waxworks. The movie can be strikingly gorgeous at times, an exploding plastic inevitable somewhere between Peter Greenaway's tableaux-nuts The Draughtsman's Contract and every other 18th-century costume epic ever made. But waxworks, being lifeless, are quickly perused spectacles; Coppola's film is over two hours and is almost perversely undramatic and repetitious. The history covered is straight up: Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria (Kirsten Dunst), at 14, is shipped to France in order to wed a 15-year-old Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzman). She has trouble getting pregnant, plunges into marital doldrums, then embraces self-indulgence (at the state's expense) and is eventually executed during the Revolution. Visually, Dunst is a veritable creamsicle, but her role is so featureless it comes to resemble the actress hanging out backstage, dressed and prepped with nowhere to go. Inadvertently, Coppola has painted a pathetic portrait of a spoiled kitten not unlike herself, born into unlimited resources and without a thought in her pretty head, before she lost it entirely. (MICHAEL ATKINSON)

Open Season

Open Season is a cartoon about man vs. beast. Not in the depressing Steve Irwin vs. stingray kind of way. In the Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd kind of way. (MEGAN SELING)

The Prestige

The complicated plot boils down to a mundane feud between rival London magicians, played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. The origin of their rivalry is the death of Jackman's wife (Piper Perabo), possibly at Bale's hands, in a dangerous but well-practiced stunt. Otherwise, their differences are minor. One has a talent for showmanship; the other boasts only ingenuity. One gets to put his grubby mitts on the likes of Scarlett Johansson (usually costumed like a peacock, and outfitted with an accordingly pea brain); the other has to contend with true love. They strive to steal each other's best tricks, and they push each other to unhealthy limits, including an ill-advised consultation with Nikola Tesla (David Bowie, hamming it evil genius). There's no rhythm to the budding of the plot, no tightening at its most interesting intersections (like the sadistic truth behind the apparent teleportation of a bird). The film is all formless and shallow until the final payoff—known in magic jargon as "the prestige"—when doubles and sacrifice and character all coalesce into one dark metaphysical conceit. There's no sleight-of-hand here, just sick magic (not slick, mind you, sick), and it's tremendous. (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended The Queen

The central conflict in The Queen is, literally, whether Her Majesty Schoolmarm will deign to mention the unseemly death of an ex-princess—but no one in the whole supposedly accurate movie even notices that Mother Teresa has gone tits up. Nevertheless, The Queen's myopia is so complete, the performances so meticulous, that you can't help but start to care about, or pine for, or want to overthrow the British monarchy. Basically, The Queen is The West Wing populated by stuck-up twits, and in addition to the studiously wooden figurehead (a metaphor that's never seemed so apt), there are a whole crew of politicians and staffers conducting surreptitiously from backstage. Michael Sheen, as Tony Blair, is excellent as the sort of squishy leader celebrity-era democracy is prone to. And the minutiae of public relations have never seemed so stupid—or so fascinating. (ANNIE WAGNER)

School for Scoundrels

Very loosely based on a 1960 British film about getting ahead in life by insulting people and exploiting their good breeding—which in turn was based on self-help manuals by midcentury parodist Stephen Potter—School for Scoundrels dispenses with all the middle-class anxiety and gets down to the basics. Losers get kicked in the balls. Winners kick other people in the balls. Hilarious! (ANNIE WAGNER)

recommended The Science of Sleep

Wads of cotton are tossed into the air and become clouds. A tiny stuffed horse is magically spurred to life. There are so many wondrous sights to behold that you can't help but get swept up in the cacophony; Michel Gondry's overactive imagination alone makes the film worth seeing. (BRADLEY STEINBACHER)

recommended Shortbus

It's a cozy invention, the NYC Shortbus cabaret whose orgies are presided over by a benevolently catty Justin Bond. But a setting can't sustain an entire movie, and the plot is outright lazy. (Literal climax, anyone?) The energy of the film sputters out halfway through. (ANNIE WAGNER)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

This prequel illustrates the birth of Leatherface.

The Wicker Man

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

2021 Social Justice Film Festival: ACTIVATE | REFUGE Online
Screening 50+ films that inspire and demand community action, October 7-17 at