Brief Encounters

DANCING OUTLAW, PARTS I AND II

Experience Music Project, Wed., Nov. 20.

Beginning with its opening montage—Boone County, W. Va.'s own Jesco White performing a frenzied flatfoot dance to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' "If You Want to Get to Heaven" while a coal train rumbles past in the background—Jacob Young's 1991 documentary Outlaw is sui generis, a cultural artifact that, like Jesco himself, has few identifiable precedents. So-called dancing outlaw Jesco was a reprobate boozer and gasoline huffer until the spirit of Elvis and a decision to follow in his dancing daddy's footsteps set him on the path to fringe stardom. Over a decade after its original release, Young's film shows no signs of aging—indeed, it seems to become more and more poignant with the passing of time. Those who watch Outlaw and its 1994 follow-up in order to get a quick laugh at the expense of a bunch of ignorant hillbillies aren't simply elitist pricks—they're missing great and deeply moving art. (NR) BOB MEHR

EL BRUTO

Seattle Art Museum, Wed., Nov. 20.

From Luis Bu�'s rich but underappreciated Mexican period, this 1952 social- realist melodrama is kind of like a low-budget John Ford movie, with beefy-armed Pedro ArmendᲩz in the Victor McLaglen role. "I'm not so dumb," protests the slaughterhouse worker hired by an evil landowner to intimidate poor tenants out of an apartment complex slated for redevelopment. Gradually, Pedro begins to wise up to the unjust economic forces that are keeping him and his fellow proletarians down. "The law is for the rich," one peasant exclaims, and El Bruto is firmly on the side of the oppressed. Fortunately, Bu� also mixes the politics with some torrid passion and (implicit) sex—leading up to a cat fight between Katy Jurado (the landlord's conniving wife) and El Bruto's innocent child bride. Look carefully and you'll even catch a few perverse Bu� flourishes, as when Jurado lets her aged father-in-law suck her tequila-dipped thumb! (NR) BRIAN MILLER

FRIDAY AFTER NEXT

Bellevue Galleria, Meridian, and others

For those of you bemoaning the dearth of originality in American cinema, behold this sequel, which yields two groundbreaking phenomena: (1) a ghetto landlord threatening her male tenants with anal rape if they don't make rent; and (2) a diminutive pimp using pliers to drag a hulking ex-con onto the street, testicles first. Garnish these magic moments with repeated collard greens/ribs references, eye-popping booty shots, major chronic flow, and the franchise calling card, "You got knocked the fuck out!" and . . . damn! What would Bamboozled auteur Spike Lee think? This third installment of the profitable Ice Cube series—no, Three Kings was not his ticket to Shakespeare—mostly works because Mike Epps is again as good an anti-social, fuck-up sidekick as Chris Tucker, who bowed out after the '95 original. Epps just may be the African-American Tom Green; that's as much a compliment as it is a kiss of death. (R) ANDREW BONAZELLI

INTERVIEW WITH THE ASSASSIN

Uptown

Interview is a faux documentary about an unemployed loser (convincingly nerdy Dylan Haggerty) whose wife is getting sick of his refusal to give up his filmmaking dreams and get a damn job. Alas, a dream subject falls into his life: his next-door neighbor Walter Ohlinger (Raymond J. Barry), who claims to be the deadeye who shot JFK. Cold, battered-looking, and snappishly laconic, Ohlinger is like a human shell casing. He takes the doofus filmmaker on his grand conspiracy tour of Dealey Plaza and his own past. We meet Ohlinger's ex-wife and his old Marine confrere (Jared McVay, who was at the Bay of Pigs in 1961—in real life!). Irascible Barry and the wobbly-cam DV look are so good, it's heartbreaking that aimless plotting kills the film. Interview is no more preposterous than Oliver Stone's JFK, but it utterly lacks the kinetic mastery that makes Stone's fable so dangerous. (NR) TIM APPELO

NAKED EYE DOCUMENTARY FEST

Seattle Art Museum, Fri., Nov. 22-Sun., Nov. 24.

Considering what Hollywood annually foists upon us, truth is almost always preferable to fiction. Appropriately, this three-day fest celebrates the documentary form with a dozen-odd films and a panel discussion. Opening night's OT: Our Town follows schoolteacher Catherine Borek and her student thespians as they mount the Thornton Wilder perennial in a rather inhospitable Compton, Calif., high school—by the end of the feel-good doc, she and cast emerge as thoroughly likable figures. The fest concludes with Spellbound, about eight obsessive spelling-bee champs with the focus and determination perhaps only possible for preteens not yet in the throes of puberty. Several are the children of first-generation immigrants; all share a certain premature gravity that comes from being the brightest kid in the classroom. Their dorkiness is sometimes both painful and endearing to watch. On a local note, Seattle-based Gen-Y directors Brian Quist and T. J. Martin will unspool their A Day in the Life of America Nov. 23. B.R.M.

OFFICE SPACE

Egyptian, Fri., Nov. 22-Sat., Nov. 23.

Well worth revisiting in our present economic doldrums, Mike Judge's sharp 1999 comedy centers on a group of frustrated, underappreciated employees at a company about to downsize. It's a fine study in modern corporate absurdity, with its actors possessing all the color and goofiness of cartoon characters. Every one of these figures is a comic gem. The only disappointment is Jennifer Aniston, who'd be tolerable if her role were small and one-dimensional, but Judge tries, unsuccessfully, to infuse her with some depth by casting her as the symbol of all that is good and true in a young man's life. After ditching work, our hero looks straight into her eyes and declares, "I'd like to take you out to dinner, then I'd like to go back to my place and watch some kung fu." "Kung fu? I love kung fu," she answers breathlessly—as if she'd been waiting all her life for a man to make such an offer. (R) SOYON IM

 
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