* American Graffiti
Suzanne Somers' first major role. She is perfect as the non-speaking, elusive blonde in this seminal coming-of-age film. Cars, condoms and botched attempts of James Dean coolness. Perhaps not laugh-out-loud funny, but charming nonetheless.
Bad Boys 2 See review this issue.
Capturing the Friedmans
The Friedmans are a middle-class Jewish family from Long Island. Three sons comprise the Friedmans, along with two parents, Arnold and Elaine. The dad is a schoolteacher who instructs computer classes to young boys in his basement on the side. Also located in the basement is Mr. Friedman's collection of kiddie porn, which he has hidden behind the piano. No one knows about the kiddie porn until dumbass Mr. Friedman gets busted in a sting operation for sending kiddie porn through the mail. After he gets caught for the porn mags, a wave of hysteria and sloppy police work sweeps the town. Arnold and, oddly, his youngest son Jesse, are charged with about a million counts of child rape. Thankfully for the filmmakers, during all of this insanity the three annoying sons record the dissolution of the Friedman family on video, which is the basis of the movie. There is lots of yelping and screaming and blaming but, shockingly, no footage that endears any of the subjects, except maybe the mom. The boys just seem like a gaggle of self-righteous tools, who apparently think their father and brother are innocent of the crime, but don't stand behind them with any conviction. The only thing they do with conviction is tape-record, snivel, and yell at their poor mother. (Katie Shimer)
This is a documentary about a group of New Yorkers who are imprisoned by their own cinephila or unparalleled obsession of film. The subjects, while encyclopedic in their knowledge of cinema, are, for the most part, on the verge of nervous breakdowns and are deprived of the most basic non-cinemagraphic life experiences (love, companionship, mental and physical health). The body of the film is footage of their introspective dialogue and their misadventures scurrying around the Big Apple, trying to, nightmarishly, view up to six films a day. While compelling in theory, to look at such specialized neuroses under a microscope is remotely cruel and even unpleasant for the viewer. The closing shot is of the group, screening themselves in the documentary made about them, which philosophically, is about as pointless as aiming two mirrors at one another just to see what happens. As you may have already guessed, the result is nothing. (Lance Chess)
Come Drink With Me
Drunken beggars, winsome warriors, scar-faced thugs, exiled sons, kidnapped aristocracy. It has all the makings for a very feverish dream or a very jumbled, but intoxicating, kung-fu classic.
* Cremaster Cycle See review this issue.
Jamie Lee Curtis and her punk rock daughter switch lives in this unnecessary remake.
Gadabout Traveling Film Festival
A slew of independent films with live music by power-poppers the Kiss Up.
Garage Days See review this issue.
How to Deal
Though I feel that I should have some conception of pop singer Mandy Moore as a distinct living entity, for some reason I just can't seem to separate her toothy mug from that of Jessica Simpson's. In order to emphasize Moore's individualism, I spent a little time on the internet--where I learned that Moore is the proud owner of three cats: Milo, Zoe, and Chloe. Please meditate on this fact as you consider dropping real money on her latest opus How To Deal. (Zac Pennington)
The Iceman Cometh
Every year Hickey (Lee Marvin) floats through a skid-row bar and lightens up the mood like a string of X-mas lights. The washed-up souls who haunt the place await his arrival like the coming of a messiah. But, in this 1973 film rendition of Eugene O'Neill's play, Hickey shows up this year sober and preachy, trying to persuade the other drunkards to hop on his steady-wheeled wagon. A fascinating tale about camaraderie, wasted lives and, ultimately, deception. Great performances by Marvin and then boy-faced Jeff Bridges. (Phil Busse)
The Film Center continues with their salute to regional newcomers. This week a horror film produced by Kris Kristensen, who, fed up with the jump-out-of-the-shadows, in-your-face slasher films, decided to create the yin to Scream's yang. The effect is a much more psychological thriller, one that is frightening for what it does not show. Ready to graduate from college and happily engaged, everything seems hunky-dory in Abbey's life. Then, the batty old lady she takes care of dies and leaves her a potentially haunted mansion. Next thing Abbey knows, she may be going bonkers! Or maybe it's just the old lady's ghost. (Phil Busse)
With his tired, hound-dog eyes and withdrawn countenance, Jean Reno (The Professional) is an apt choice for the title character in Jet Lag. Felix is a world-class chef traveling from New York to Munich to attend his ex-girlfriend Nadia's dad's funeral--a man he's only met three times. He is trying to mend his relationship with Nadia, a woman we never see or hear but who calls intermittently on his cell phone. But when Felix's plane is grounded in Paris (first due to weather, then a computer glitch, then), his travel itinerary is accidentally intertwined with Rose's (Juliette Binoche), a beautician on the run from her drab suburban life and abusive boyfriend. In spite of flawless performances by both actors, however, the emotional chemistry never quite comes to a boil, leaving us with a cute movie, but not a lot of passion. (Phil Busse)
The once-brilliant Rowan Atkinson (Black Adder, Mr. Bean) dumbs it down for America once again (following the dismal Bean) in another misguided attempt at smug Hollywood celebrity. When every other British agent is dead or missing, the nation's only hope is the inept Johnny English, who, I imagine, gets his head caught in a commercial dishwasher or some shit.
legend of suriyothai
In the 1500s Sian Queen Suriyothai dies defending the king.
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Literary types of the 19th Century and far beyond thrilled to the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Professor Challenger, as well as the horrors of Dracula, The Invisible Man, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And the reason we still remember these characters is because they had so much to offer; along with being sharply drawn they were also pointed reflections and satires of Victorian society. Unfortunately for those of us living in the days of Sonicare and Arby's, director Stephen Norrington (Blade) has chosen to take a few of these characters and suck out the last bit of their satire and humanity in a grueling trifle called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Medea See review this issue.
* Nowhere in Africa
Nowhere in Africa follows a rich Jewish family that leaves Germany in 1938 and moves to Africa. There they can avoid the Nazis, but have to deal with some other issues like, oh, the lack of water. Naturally, the characters all experience guilt (you just can't have a Holocaust movie without guilt), but there are also things here you never see in any movie, such as the scene in which a swarm of locusts plunder a field of maize. The hazards of humanity and the hazards of nature are not dissimilar, this movie argues, though (at two and a half hours long) not very succinctly. Thankfully, the actor Merab Ninidze, who's very sexy, is in almost every scene. (Christopher Frizzelle)
* One-Armed Swordsman
This 1967 Hong Kong film helped establish the cheer-for-the-underdog mindset for decades of future kung-fu films. Fang Gang (played by Jimmy Wang Yu) is an orphan, shunned by the wealthy townsfolk. One day, a spoiled rich bitch spots the studly young buck chopping wood, sweating, gleaming, and looking all desirable. Simultaneously, she is consumed by lust and hatred. In a mad frenzy, she chops off his arm (A-HA, the title!). He retreats to the woods, learns to fight left-handed and returns to settle the score--and then some! (Phil Busse)
Pirates of the Caribbean
"Pirates of the Caribbean" is, in case you've never been to Disneyland, a really great, dark ride. It has a cave filled with pirate skeletons and treasure, a mocknaval battle, looting, pillaging, arson, and drunks singing a jolly sea shanty about well, about getting drunk. In the big finale, a gang of shit-faced marauders whip out their flintlocks, penetrate the town's arsenal, and take cross-eyed potshots at kegs of gunpowder. Then you go up a waterfall, and that's the end of the ride. Nobody saves the day! How cool is that? It's much cooler than Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate so swishy that upon first seeing him, a kid sitting behind me cried out, "He walks like a girl!" Depp acts as if he were auditioning to play a new Austin Powers villain, Rear Admiral Stinky. Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, was born to play a scrofulous, cursed old seadog, and he gives almost as convincing a performance as your average theme park robot. Plus, he has a naughty zombie monkey who rides around on his shoulder. As much as I love the ride, if I were thinking of ways to improve it (mind you, I'm NOT, because you CAN'T), making it two and a half hours long would be at the bottom of my list. (Dan Howland)
* Planet of the Vampires (1965)
An Italian film about explorers who land on the planet Aura, only to find that their crew immediately begins fighting and killing each other. Soon they discover other ships/crews who have met similar fates. Turns out there is a race of bodiless vampires inhabiting the planet.
The Qualified Astropath
A 71-minute DIY film made by Nick St. James while living in the Virgin Islands in an observatory. Visit a mystical place that melds Eastern philosophy and science fiction, all while being DIY.
* Quest for Fire (1981)
Three prehistoric tribesmen who speak a primitive language encounter wooly mammoths and cannibalistic tribes while in search of a fire source.
Brothers Vincent and Clay are reacquainted at their father's funeral and discover how similar they've grown to look. Vincent is excited to see his brother, but is unaware of Clay's plot to kill him and pass Vincent's body off as his own.
A mousy, frigid English woman (Sarah) who writes popular mysteries retreats to her publisher's mansion in the south of France. Then his illegitimate daughter Julie shows up unexpectedly, a slutty, bratty French vagina--I mean, character. The film follows the women as they eventually become friendly, and the uptight Brit mellows out with weed, swimming, and sex. A thriller element enters the film, shifting it suddenly from stereotypical Odd Couple stuff to highly improbable, anemic drama. By the end of the film, it's revealed why things have became so cardboard and predictable. But it's an extremely flimsy excuse for mediocrity. On the other hand, Julie shows a ton of skin and has sex with a succession of nasty older men, which is fun to watch. (Marjorie Skinner)
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
While T3 might work as a slightly overwrought allegory of governmental excess gone wrong, as a vehicle for entertainment it plain SUCKS. Every ounce of creativity was put into wrecking vehicles and blowing shit up, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are mere window dressing, and Arnie has obviously stopped trying altogether. Say what you will about his lack of acting ability; in his past roles, he would at least put out a modicum of effort. Now, when he utters his textbook monosyllabic lines ("Get out." "I'll drive." "I'll be back."), one can almost see his mind drifting off to long, luxurious dinners entertaining heads of state in the Governor's mansion. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Video Slam 2nd Heat
It's the second heat of Orlo's video slam where they'll be showing the best four-minute videos about water. Come at 7 pm to sign up with your own water video (must be under 4 minutes) and at 7:30 pm to view.
* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film, and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. I like it because it captures traditional Maori ceremonies and songs on film, while also showing that New Zealand is not just a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Shannon Gee)