Brief Encounters: Ghosts of the Abyss, Goke, Levity, and Spike & Mike

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GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS

Opens Fri., April 11 at Pacific Science Center

And you thought Titanic was big enough. Well, James Cameron has news for

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Brief Encounters: Ghosts of the Abyss, Goke, Levity, and Spike & Mike

  • Brief Encounters: Ghosts of the Abyss, Goke, Levity, and Spike & Mike

  • ">

    GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS

    Opens Fri., April 11 at Pacific Science Center

    And you thought Titanic was big enough. Well, James Cameron has news for you: There are still ways to wring even more money out of the franchise. So he's going back to Titanic, 12,000 feet under the North Atlantic, and he's making an hour-long 3-D IMAX documentary about it. To help narrate, he drags along Bill Paxton— apparently Leo wasn't, you know, available—who actually does look nervous in one of the small, claustrophobic subs that circle the rusting undersea hulk like flies buzzing around an elephant carcass. (I kept hoping he'd flip out like in Aliens, squealing, "Game over, man! Game over!") Although Cameron is an egomaniacal control freak (he gets to drive the tiny remote-control "sub-bots" that photograph inside the wreck), and although the 3-D goggles viewers must wear are frigging uncomfortable, the resulting images are undeniably cool. Cameron overlays CGI scenes of elegant passengers on the eerie, crumbling, barnacle-encrusted ship (hence the "ghosts"), making for a worthwhile school or family field trip. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

    GOKE: BODYSNATCHERS FROM HELL

    Runs Fri., April 11Sat., April 12 at Grand Illusion

    The trouble begins when a Japanese passenger plane enters a funnel of red- orange cloud cover. "I've never seen a sky like this before," says the pilot. The co-pilot replies: "Like flying in a sea of blood." Goke is a pleasantly goofy 1968 import from Japan's kitsch-horror genre, so it's only a matter of time before the plane crashes on mysterious, Mars-like terrain. One by one, the fearful passengers are possessed by an alien entity that looks like Aquafresh toothpaste and turns its victims into vampires with weird, vaginal growths on their foreheads. Despite all the cheese, Goke does have some astonishingly timely points to make. After all, the film argues, how could aliens successfully invade and conquer Earth if we were not already warring so passionately amongst ourselves, thinning our own ranks with impunity? As our nation is once again in a military conflict, Goke reminds us that interstellar body snatching might be the price we have to pay. Where do I enlist? (NR) NEAL SCHINDLER

    LEVITY

    Opens Fri., April 11 at Metro

    Ed Solomon evidently had entirely too much levity in his life after writing Men in Black, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, and the first scene of Charlie's Angels. So he wrote and directed Levity, the opposite of a laff riot. Billy Bob Thornton plays gravely guilt-ridden convict Manuel Jordan, released against his will 23 years after killing a clerk in a convenience-store heist. The other cons called him "Righteous," and by now he is. So when he answers a ringing pay phone and minister Miles Evans (Morgan Freeman) asks for help at his inner-city chapel, Manuel agrees. Obsessed with flashbacks of his crime, Manuel seeks redemption by helping a club kid and frequent ecstasy OD (Kirsten Dunst) and Adele (Holly Hunter), who does not know at first that he's the man who killed her brother long ago.

    Oddly, it is as a writer that Solomon half-fails himself. Though scene after scene is resonant, the subplots connect clunkily—the story is way too wandering. But as a debut director, he's more promising. He draws deeply felt performances from all concerned. Billy Bob looks like a scraggly haired version of his role in The Man Who Wasn't There, only this guy is stunned, filled with quiet grief instead of empty of affect. The movie looks great, with a feel akin to The Man Who because it, too, was shot by the great Roger Deakins. Solomon got rich with his pen, but his eye and heart are more valuable. (R) TIM APPELO

    SPIKE & MIKE'S SICK & TWISTED FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION

    Runs Fri., April 11Sat., April 25 at Varsity

    Hey, dirty old man with the fart fetish: You like cartoons? Like quickies, too? I knew you did. Check out Spike & Mike's Poop & Blow-Job Fest—as it should be titled— and you'll get Five Fucking Fables, in which a man gets sucked off by a tulip, and 1,300 CCs, which features an old lady pulling a gat on a big fat thug and then slapping him in the face with a dead fish. (I guess I shoulda made sure that you're into violence, too.) Rotting vegetables, fascist hippos, and urination also figure prominently. Nothing too highbrow here, sir, and I know that's just the way you like it. Let the art houses have their cerebral, message-laden crap; here, you'll get a whole range of styles from a whole slew of different sources. Showcasing cel, CG, clay animation, and more, these nearly two-dozen shorts leave no belch unburped, no perversion untested. (NR) LAURA CASSIDY

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