By now you've heard that skipping Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace is a good idea. But if you don't believe in critics, at least

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Sun screenings

A few of summertime's most worthy.

By now you've heard that skipping Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace is a good idea. But if you don't believe in critics, at least save the Obi-Wan saga for late summer when the crowds have thinned, and meanwhile check out these other noteworthy movies.

Run Lola Run—Want speed and action? Try Run Lola Run, a German movie about a young woman who has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 deutsche marks to save her boyfriend's life from a malicious gangster. Admittedly, all I've seen of the movie is a photo of a pretty woman in a tank top running through the streets—but she sure looks better than Liam Neeson with his long, gray Fabio hair. The film is enthusiastically recommended by Ruth Hayler, the discriminating film programmer for the Egyptian, who comments that this is an enjoyable, high-energy flick with an MTV-like tempo. It was also a huge hit in Germany, which isn't surprising considering that Germans thrive on techno music and ecstasy-fueled raves. Due to open in late June, Run Lola Run also screens as part of the Seattle International Film Festival, 6/4 and 6/6.

An Ideal Husband—This one's for people who like brainy, refined comedy, what with the combination of Oscar Wilde's biting humor and a first-rate cast that includes the regal Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) and Rupert Everett, the supremely suave British actor who outshone Julia Roberts in My Best Friend's Wedding (and appeared—sigh—shirtless throughout the length of A Midsummer Night's Dream). Minnie Driver, Julianne Moore, and Jeremy Northam round out the ensemble cast. Directed by Oliver Parker (Othello), the movie also employs production designer Michael Howells, who created the sumptuous look of last year's Cinderella hit Ever After. Opens 6/18.

My Son the Fanatic—I saw this movie during the first week of SIFF and was astounded by the story's substance and the superb acting by Om Puri and Oscar nominee Rachel Griffiths (Hilary and Jackie), who wins the prize for defying typecasts—she plays a prostitute in this one. Set in northern England, My Son the Fanatic unfolds like a novel, packed with emotional subtleties that avoid the maudlin and instead make for wonderfully complex characters. Little wonder; the screenplay is by Hanif Kureishi, whose works of the past decade (Sammie and Rose Get Laid, The Buddha of Suburbia) have established him as a leading portrayer of multi-cultural Britain. Puri stars as Parvez, a Pakistani immigrant who drives a taxicab at night. To his pride, his son, clearly a product of British education and culture, becomes engaged to a white woman, symbolizing to the father his family's success in assimilating into English society. However, things go awry when the son attempts to reclaim a fiercer Pakistani identity by turning to Islamic funda-mentalism. Both Puri and Griffiths perform admirably, communicating volumes of emotions with a slight smile or a silent nod. Despite some of their questionable actions, the characters defy facile judgment, making their drama feel refreshingly genuine. Opens late June.

The Blair Witch Project—This low-budget indie horror flick was a huge hit at Sundance (there were more than 400 people on the waiting list at the movie's first midnight showing). It's also said to have been shot by the actors themselves, and as a result has a home-movie quality about it—which makes me a bit skeptical. But the story sounds like it could scare the fleece off us Northwest outdoorsy-types: Co-director Eduardo Sanchez has said that the movie, about three student filmmakers who disappear in the woods while shooting a documentary, does to camping what Jaws did to swimming. It's also the kind of self-referential work that keeps people guessing. Supposedly, the story about the filmmakers' disappearance is true, and The Blair Witch Project is what they left behind when they were gobbled up by the forest. Is the movie for real, or is it an elaborate hoax? Whatever it is, it's generated a lot of buzz for those who like spiraling questions about the blurry lines between art and fact. Opens mid-July.

Eyes Wide Shut—Hollywood (and now London) star couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman get together in this last film by Stanley Kubrick (the director passed away in March). Warner Bros. has kept the plot top-secret, but there's definitely some on-screen romance between the two, as well as a steamy nude scene involving a large mirror. (Both Kidman and Cruise have denied that a therapist had to be hired on the set to create believable sexual tension.) Opens 7/16.

Outside Providence—There's something about those Farrelly brothers. A year after Peter and Bobby Farrelly's smash hit involving a superpowered organic hair gel on Cameron Diaz, the brothers are back with this comedy about a pot-smoking teenager (Shawn Hatosy) who gets shipped off to prep school. The story, of course, doesn't matter; it's the wicked jokes that border on the offensive, involving a three-legged dog, disabled people, and bodily fluids, that keep us laughing despite our better judgment. Also starring Alec Baldwin. Opens late July.

Teaching Mrs. Tingle—Kevin Williamson, the smarty-pants screenwriter of Scream and The Faculty, makes his directorial debut with this absurd film (originally titled Killing Mrs. Tingle) about a star student who keeps her teacher hostage because of a subpar grade. The doe-eyed, lip-biting Katie Holmes (Dawson's Creek), who proved herself as a feature film actress in Doug Lyman's Go!, does the good-girl-gone-mad routine. Opens late August.

Fremont Outdoor Cinema—It's back, and so is the good weather, finally. Bring your chairs and picnic spreads to the parking lot behind the Red Door Ale House (670 N 34th) every weekend for fun double features along with performances by some of Seattle's best bands. For just $5, you get to see contemporary classics such as Spice World and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (5/29), Thank God It's Friday (6/18), The Poseiden Adventure (6/26), Sunset Boulevard (7/10), Smokey & The Bandit (7/24), and many more. Musical guests include Faster Tiger, Chris Ballew, and Maxx Average Corporation. Call 632-0287 for more information.

 
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