* 9 1/2 Weeks and Bound
First Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger play headgames, gender-bend, and use food-play in the psychosexual 9 1/2 Weeks, then Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon go lesbo in Bound. XV

* Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets
A trio of glue-sniffing urchins scramble through urban rubble, wheeling, dealing, and stealing in order to give their fallen comrade the burial of a prince. This film is at turns grim, sentimental, and funny, much like the little boys themselves, whose harsh and horrifying existence has failed to extinguish their stubborn spirits. The director's unflinching gaze, and the astoundingly nuanced performances by these child actors lift this tale into the realm of poetry. (Tamara Paris) PCC Cascade Campus

All the Notes: Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor shares with Jackson Pollock and Thelonious Monk an ability to be both liberating and controlled at the same time. At the center of Taylor's music is the perplexing and intricate question: How does one structure chaos? Director Chris Felver does a remarkable job of capturing Taylor's elusive spirit. Guild Theater

* Amandala!
The documentary, whose title means "power," is constructed conventionally, with newsreel footage and interviews with South African musicians and activists (many of whom suffered exile, arrest, and torture for their efforts against institutionalized oppression). The experience of viewing Amandla! consists of a complicated series of jolts to the consciousness. It's astonishing to see so much history encapsulated so effectively, to hear so many eloquent accounts of misery, to be exposed to so much stirring music. But the biggest jolt is generated by a simple fact: For nearly half of the 20th Century, the governing principle of a predominantly black nation was that black people were not entitled to the same social, legal, and human rights as a tiny minority of white people. (Sean Nelson) Kennedy School

* An Angel at My Table
A woman who grows up in a poor family is considered abnormal. After she gets a teaching degree, she is locked up in a mental institution, but finds success when she starts writing books. Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Barbershop 2 See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Better Off Dead
John Cusack avoids a creepy paper boy and skis the K-2 in this 1985 classic. Laurelhurst

The Big Bounce
Based on the Elmore Leonard book, The Big Bounce stars Owen Wilson as Jack, a good hearted criminal on the lam, who is enticed by a beautiful girl (Sara Foster) into a scheme involving her rich lover, his alcoholic wife and a sweet 200 grand. A genial and occasionally funny film thanks to Wilson, The Big Bounce is more a mediocre way to spend an evening than a big hit. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.

Bubba Ho-tep
Bubba Ho-Tep has an ingenious premise: Elvis (Bruce Campbell)--who didn't die, but instead swapped places with an Elvis impersonator--is stuck in a dilapidated rest home, spending his days desperately trying to convince nurses and visitors that he's The King. Unfortunately, the only person who'll believe Elvis' claims is another rest home resident: JFK (Ossie Davis), who insists that he survived his assassination, was dyed black, then stuck in the retirement home thanks to a Lyndon Johnson-led conspiracy. Elvis and JFK soon notice their geriatric compatriots are dying off even more often than usual. After some investigation, they discover that the culprit is an evil, soul-sucking mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep. So, as only two American mega-icons can, the two combine forces to kick some undead Egyptian ass. (Erik Henriksen) Laurelhurst

The Butterfly Effect
Dude, where's my chaos theory? The latest feature-length advertisement for Ashton Kutcher's bone structure, this film is so stultifyingly poor on every level that unless you're (a) 12 years old, (b) a sadly desperate gay man/straight woman with a thing for hunky morons, or (c) 13 years old, you really have no business watching. (Sean Nelson)

* Carnages See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre

Catch That Kid
A kid's heist movie about a young daredevil who tries to help her father afford an expensive operation by robbing the bank where her mom works. Regal Cinemas, etc.

Charles Mingus: Triumph of the Underdog
Director Ron McGlynn's documentary is perhaps the most comprehensive portrait of the seminal bass player Charles Mingus. Given the manic, uneven, and combustible genius of Mingus, it is no wonder that it took more than nine years to pull together clips, interviews, and concert footage that make a coherent story of the musician's life. Guild Theater

* City of God
City of God chronicles gang warfare in one of the most impoverished and depraved slums in Rio de Janeiro. It revolves around a young man named Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) as he struggles to get high, get laid, and finally get a real job in photography so he can get out of the slums. He narrates the film in a dazed, almost aloof tone as waves of drugs, guns, and murder swirl around him. Lush mounds of twisting story lines and visual treats pile up, your eyes greedily devouring them like candy, but never seeming to quite get full. (Justin Sanders ) Fox Tower 10

Cold Mountain
Nicole Kidman and Jude Law are both freakishly beautiful people, with chilling blue eyes that slice through the tragedies surrounding them. Despite gritty, tough performances from both in this civil war epic about a soldier trying to get home to his lover, they are ultimately miscast, as their beauty objectifies them, and as a result, distances them. (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.

The Company
Neve Campbell and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago star in this dance-centric film about a young woman (Campbell) who is conflicted about becoming a principal dancer in her company. Hollywood Theatre

The Cooler
The Cooler is a small, unremarkable film that's watchable due to one thing: sex. Specifically, a sex scene between William H. Macy and Maria Bello. Director Wayne Kramer has managed to give audiences something all too rare in films these days--a sexy scene that not only causes the audience to flush, but makes sense as well. The coitus in The Cooler is refreshing, fun, and the tangling of bodies helps elevate the entire endeavor above its somewhat middling quality. (Bradley Steinbacher) Fox Tower 10

* Dancer in the Dark
Lars von Trier's film may be a self-absorbed intellectual trainwreck, but Bjork is fucking awesome! Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Elephant shows us a couple days in the life of two grumpy teens who go all Vice City on their Portland high school. Both the boys are cardboard characters who shop for guns on the internet, play violent video games, and have a brief homosexual affair. Neither is likeable, neither evokes sympathy. Their fellow high school students, however, are worse. (Katie Shimer) Kennedy School, Laurelhurst

* Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Part of the Mercury's Winter Prozac Film Series, where you spill beer on yourself while yelling at the screen, don't miss the series opener Fast Times. Check Sean Penn as a stoner, Mr. Hand as a hardass, and don't miss the part where that dude blows his load after about five seconds of humping Jennifer Jason Leigh. Clinton Street Theater

* The Fog of War
From World War II through Vietnam, Robert McNamara was like an evil incarnation of Forest Gump: He was everywhere and wrapped up in some of the most destructive aggressions by the U.S. military. It was his brainstorm to firebomb cities in Japan, so that bombs would not just destroy what they impacted but would set fire to entire towns. Under his guidance, U.S. forces in Vietnam relentlessly dropped Napalm. (Oddly, also, in a foray into the private sector, under his direction, the Ford Corp. insisted on seat belts and other safety measures that have saved countless lives!) Interspliced with historical footage, the interviews are simple and sober. They bring to the surface an old man who is less remorseful than defensive. The parallels to current political leaders are never touched on, but are nonetheless present. Directed by Errol Morris. (Phil Busse) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10

Girl with the Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring is stuffy to a fault, no matter how many shots of Scarlett Johansson's pout director Peter Webber can fit in, and the final tally falls somewhere between the best of Merchant Ivory and the worst of Merchant Ivory. Which is to say this: It is a well-made but nonetheless empty and, quite often, outright dull affair. (Bradley Steinbacher) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10

* Gothika
In the psychologically disarming scare tradition of The Ring, Gothika tells the suspenseful tale of Dr. Miranda Grey, a gifted shrink (Halle Berry) treating Chloe, a mentally disturbed woman (Penelope Cruz), who's convinced the devil himself is raping her, "filling her with fire." "You can't trust someone who thinks you're crazy," Chloe tells Grey. Pretty soon, Grey figures out what that means when, after having a frightening encounter with a beaten and shivering woman on a bridge, Grey wakes up in the very insane asylum where she works--as a patient. (Julianne Shepherd) Avalon, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Mission Theater, St. Johns Pub

The House of Sand and Fog
When a recovering addict/slacker (Jennifer Connelly) temporarily loses her family's house on a technicality, a disgraced Iranian officer (Ben Kingsley) dives through the loophole and refuses to budge, resulting in mounting levels of righteous obsession for all concerned. (Andrew Wright) Hollywood Theatre

The Howlin' Wolf Story
Growling and rambling, Howlin' Wolf's music captured an entire murky Delta culture. Even after a 1000 listens, "Back Door Man" and "Shake For Me" still have that bawdy hothouse allure. A remarkable montage of interviews, concert footage, and music clips piece together to form a comprehensive picture of Howlin' Wolf's early years. Guild Theater

Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photographs of Milt Hinton
When Milt Hinton wasn't playing music (for 65 years), he was photographing it (60,000 photos in all). From Cab Calloway to Billie Holiday, Hinton's music and camera traveled through the heartland of American jazz. Guild Theater

Loius Prima: The Wildest
David Lee Roth may have famously covered Louis Prima's "Just A Gigolo," but Diamond Dave is a mere whisper of lounge king Prima, whose blend of jazz, Italian beefcake, and flamboyance were a potent cocktail in the '40s and '50s. Director Don McGlynn gives a colorful portrait of the original swingin' hep cat. Guild Theater

The U.S. hockey team upsetting the seemingly indestructible Soviets at the 1980 Olympics was truly one of the great moments in sports, when politics, teamwork, and pride all met in one supernova nexus. A chimpanzee with a camcorder and 20 guys on skates could make an exciting film based on the true story. However, Disney nearly blows it. They would have been better off simply showing footage from the 4-3 upset over the Soviets. That game had more tension in a single power play than the movie Miracle has in its whole two-plus hour run. Long, drawn-out moments where players wrap their sticks or stare blankly at the ice rinks hardly substitute for the raw emotions that the players (and fans) enjoyed back then. Moreover, Disney's nod to the historical context is so dismissive it is insulting to a third-grader. Please! Showing one headline about the Soviet's invasion into Afghanistan hardly imports the fear and hatred of the Cold War. Go back to the Mighty Ducks, Disney! (Phil Busse) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Monster
In an amazing feat, Charlize Theron not only manages to look like complete crap, she does a spectacular job of playing notorious serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Mimicking her telltale mannerisms perfectly, Theron plays the part with total believability. Her performance--and the smart direction of the film--evokes sympathy, anger, disgust, and an overwhelming emptiness. Granted, seeing a movie about a woman whose life went from child abuse to prostitution to rape to murder to betrayal by her lover to execution isn't a fun time; but it effectively makes you ponder the immense good and evil in humanity, and quite possibly, it will make you cry. (Katie Shimer) Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Roseway Theatre

Mystic River
For all the "inexorability" and "meditation" of its violence, Mystic River feels desperately contrived. Whether director Clint Eastwood has some deep understanding of the nature of violence remains unclear. What is certain is that he knows how to make a movie, even a dumb one, well worth watching. I only wish someone would send him some better books. (Sean Nelson)

Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Once Were Warriors
With much of the same cast from Whale Rider, this film chronicles a few weeks in the life of a family from the Maori tribe in New Zealand. The father has serious problems with alcohol and beating his wife, one son is in trouble with the law, another son is thinking about joining a gang, and the young daughter has her own problems which make up most of the film's story. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225

The Perfect Score
Just like the anxiety-ridden teens who are forced to take the SATs every year, The Perfect Score could have done anything with it's courteously short life. I mean it's about teenagers staging a heist to get the answers to a hated and controversial standardized test! They should have been all up in there, picking locks with the shoelaces of their Chuck Taylors and spinning safe dials with their tongues in each other's throats. But no, instead we are presented with the most uncreative and least suspenseful heist in the history of cinema. (Marjorie Skinner) Regal Cinemas, etc.

* Pieces of April
Starring Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, and Oliver Platt, Pieces of April has a look and feel that I hesitate to label "documentary-like." Gritty due to its transfer of digital to celluloid and mainly handheld, there is a certain spontaneity in the film, almost an improvised feel, that is enhanced by the sharp cast. Clarkson is particularly good, becoming the heart of the film that the rest of the group rotates around. (Bradley Steinbacher) Laurelhurst

* Revenge of the Nerds
Nerds get revenge on the jocks using nerd warfare and see a whole bunch of titty while they're doing it. And who needs titty more than a nerd? Clinton Street Theater

* The Revolution Will Not be Televised
Even if you're well versed in the events that occurred in Venezuela on April 12-13, 2002--the two-day failed coup d'etat against democratically elected President Hugo Chavez Frias--nothing will prepare you for the footage in The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. The Irish filmmakers, Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain, were allowed intimate access to the presidential palace before, during, and after the coup, yielding chilling footage, and a possibly unprecedented cinematic look into the political machinations of overthrow. (Julianne Shepherd) Laurelhurst

Saxophone Colossus
Like jazz improv itself, director Robert Mug weaves recent concert footage of Sonny Rollin's with interviews, vintage clips, and elegant insights. The whole is greater than the parts. Guild Theater

* The Station Agent
Fin McBride (Peter Dinklage), The Station Agent's protagonist, was born a dwarf, and has built up a stone-faced resistance to the stares and slurs directed at him daily. When he inherits a small abandoned train station in rural New Jersey, he leaves the city and makes the shack his home. Within a day, the locals notice him and are banging on his door. First comes Joe (Bobby Cannavale), a recent transplant taking care of his ailing father and running a Cuban food truck parked just outside Fin's station. Next is Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a painter living in semi-seclusion after the death of her young son, who meets Fin after nearly running him over with her SUV. All three are damaged goods. Through conversation, beer, and lots of walking the rails, this unlikely triangle forms a fucked-up family of sorts. Dinklage stands out as a great performer and brings depth to a role that could have been treated as novelty. Cannavale and Clarkson add weight and texture to their character's lives. The film has a lazy swagger, like a train swaying down the rails. (Brian Brait) Hollywood Theatre

* Touching the void See review this issue. Cinema 21

* The Triplets of Belleville
An animated French film that speaks nary an intelligible word throughout its entire 80-minute running time, Les Triplettes de Belleville's jaw-dropping artwork alone could have kept me riveted for hours. Physically exaggerated characterizations and dark, dank urban landscapes give the film a particularly strong noir sensibility, and in the void of spoken word, layered sound effects add to the feeling of ambience. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10

* Waiting for Happiness
A 17-year-old boy goes to a small Mauritanian villiage to say goodbye to his mother before departing for Europe. Even though he does not speak the native language, the simple goings on of the town intrigue him and he is sucked into the villagers' stories. PCC Cascade Campus

You Got Served
You Got Served is hilarious, but no one battles using actual hiphop dance steps. See this for laughs, then rent Wild Style. (Julianne Shepherd)