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African Film Festival Eight titles are screened representing seven African nations in this two-weekend fest. Opening night is The Golden Ball, about a boy from Guinea who becomes a soccer superstar in France. It's accompanied by the short African Middleweights, set in the Belgian Congo, circa 1960, as that region prepares to end colonial rule. Music and food follow. See Web site for full schedule and details. (NR) UW Ethnic Cultural Center, 3940 Brooklyn Ave. N.E., 206-325-6500, http://depts.washington.edu/ecct/aff/. $12-$20 (opening night gala); $4-$8 individual. 7 p.m. Fri. Feb. 24, 3 p.m. Sat. Feb. 25-Sun. Feb. 26. Continues Fri. March 3-Sun. March 5.
Cremaster 3 Architects battle, cars crash, and teeth are scattered in Matthew Barney's three-hour art-film epic, but the 2002 installment of his Cremaster cycle is anything but torture to watch. Barney creates an integrated world of myths, symbols, and signifiers in the whole Cremaster series, but its parts are also modular—each stands or falls on its own.Order and disorder are constantly at odds, from the two ogres that begin C3 to the Chrysler Building's basement, where five 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperials systematically compact a '30s-model sedan in a demolition-derby ballet. Destruction and creation converge. Barney's own apprentice character is horrifyingly tortured by Richard Serra's goons, yet what emerges from all this is oddly beautiful and transformed. (NR) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. Feb. 24-Sat. Feb. 25.
Dinner at Eight From 1933, George Cukor shows his usual impeccable touch with material (the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber) and stars (including John Barrymore, Jean Harlow, and Lionel Barrymore), all of whom converge for a fateful—and very funny—society soiree. Screened on video; admission includes snack and discussion. (NR) Movie Legends, 2319 N. 45th St., 206-632-2092. 1 p.m. Sun. Feb. 26.
Eva French hooker Jeanne Moreau puts the screws to a working-class Welsh novelist (Stanley Baker) as they travel around Europe in this odd 1962 tale of obsessive (and unrequited) love, directed by Joseph Losey. It's a stylish, poison-pen valentine, rendered in black-and-white, scored to period jazz and some suitably sad tunes by Billie Holiday. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Thurs. Feb. 23-Sun. Feb. 26; also 4:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
The Eyes of the Rainbow Black Panther figure Assata Shakur is profiled, including the period of her political exile in Cuba. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. Feb. 22.
Eyes on the Prize The award-winning 1987 civil-rights miniseries is screened two episodes per evening through February. Discussion follows. (NR) Bethany United Church of Christ, 6230 Beacon Ave. S., 206-324-1041. 7 p.m. Fri. Feb. 24-Sat. Feb. 25.
Flashforward Festival Primarily a conference for animators and professions using Flash software, this event will also include some screenings of their work. See Web site for schedule and details. (NR) Washington State Convention and Trade Center, 800 Convention Place, 877-435-2744, http://flashforwardconference.com. Mon. Feb. 27-Thurs. March 3.
The Greater Circulation Drama school students may be the best audience for this quietly arty feature by Bay Area avant-gardist Antero Alli. Three actresses and a male director—who had an affair with one of them previously—are rehearsing an adaptation of Rilke's Requiem for a Friend. Oh, but it's not a conventional stage performance; it's a "ritual," per the recently widowed director. Meanwhile, some nebbishy alt-weekly reviewer is spying on their workshop; in black-and-white flashbacks, the same actor plays Rilke, who originally wrote Requiem to eulogize an artist who died in childbirth. Themes of creation and mortality are solemnly addressed, while some guy called "the Embryo" rolls around on the floor among the three muses. ("I don't understand what's happening!" one exclaims.) Did Rilke's friend die for the wrong form of creation? Can women be both artists and mothers? Has anything changed in the last 100 years? Well, you can ask the filmmaker himself, as Alli will attend the screening. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $8. 8 p.m. Wed. Feb. 22.
Infra-Man The Shaw brothers try their hand at the superhero game in this 1975 chopsocky spectacular, to hilarious cult-movie effect. If you like bad dialogue, non-stop wire work, bizarre costumes, and kick-ass kung fu, this movie's for you. And Roger Ebert loves it. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. Feb. 24-Sat. Feb. 25.
Like Water for Chocolate A huge hit for Miramax among foodies and romantics, Alfonso Arau's 1992 love story involves magical recipes, heaving bosoms, a naked woman on a horse, and, yes, chocolate as an aphrodisiac. 21 and over for this wine tasting event. (R) Pink Door, 1919 Post Alley, 206-443-3241. $20. 7 p.m. Sun. Feb. 26.
Movies at the Sunset Note that all shows are 21 and over. Eric Idle's 1978 Beatles parody The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash actually has some clever songs, most by Neil Innes, in addition to the comedy. (R) Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-784-4880. Free. 6 p.m. Wed. Feb. 22. Teen skateboard gangs battle in the 1986 Thrashin'. (PG-13) 6 p.m. Thurs. Feb. 23. Project Grizzly (1998) is an often hilarious doc about a Canadian who wants to wrestle bears. (NR) 6 p.m. Mon. Feb. 27. Wrestler Roddy Piper stars in John Carpenter's 1988 satire They Live, in which magic sunglasses reveal the Earth is ruled by aliens. (R) 7 p.m. Mon. Feb. 27. And Ninja Death is a chopsocky/kung-fu revenge flick from 1987. (NR) 9 p.m. Mon. Feb. 27.
Mikio Naruse Retrospective The series concludes with two titles. Sound of the Mountain (1954) will be introduced by UW professor Ted Mack. It's an adaptation of a story by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata about a woman considering an abortion (the great, smiling-through-hardship Setsuko Hara); she's caught between her no-good husband and concerned, decent father-in-law. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. 7 p.m. Thurs. Feb. 23. The melodrama Floating Clouds (1955) follows a woman through postwar Tokyo, where she discovers her old lover, then married, is now a cad who won't have anything more to do with her. So much for rebuilding her life. Flashbacks to her happiness in Indochina cause our heroine to declare, "For us, the past is our only reality." Not exactly cheerful, but that's Naruse for you. (NR) 6:30 and 9 p.m. Fri. Feb. 24-Sun Feb. 26; also 4 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Notorious Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are quite wonderful, and Claude Rains none too shabby, in Hitchcock's taut 1946 espionage thriller. To bust a ring of Nazis down in Rio, undercover agent Bergman marries one of their leaders (Rains), which drives her handler (Grant) crazy with jealousy. It's a classic Hitchcock admixture of sexual guilt and feminine purity: Bergman is doing the wrong thing in order to do the right thing; while Grant can't decide which woman he loves or hates—the "good" Bergman (before) or the "bad" Bergman (after). And he, of course, is the cause of her sinning. And she does it for him. The dialogue (by Ben Hecht with help from Clifford Odets) is loaded and subtle; and Hitchcock's camera work is extraordinary—a master class in how to create wordless tension, where a mere look can incriminate, kill, or betray one's beloved. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-654-3121. $7. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Feb. 23.
Oscar-Nominated Shorts Not previewed (indeed, seldom seen by anyone outside festivals and the AMPAS), all ten of the Academy-selected finalists are presented in two programs: live-action and animated. Among the latter category, screened at Bumbershoot last year, Shane Acker's computer-animated UCLA student sci-fi film 9 is so good that it got him a deal with Tim Burton. It's like a tabletop post-apocalyptic fable, as a little google-eyed yarn-puppet creature tries to recapture the souls of his buddies from a spider that also seems to have been assembled from the jumbled contents of an old drawer. (NR) Varsity, 4329 University Way N.E., 206-781-5755. Opens Fri. Feb. 24.
Price of Letter For the trekking set who've always wanted to visit beautiful (but expensive) Bhutan, this hour-long doc follows a postman who's been traveling that rugged, gorgeous country by foot for 26 years. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 3 p.m. Sun. Feb. 26.
"Race Films" Marathon Like the Negro leagues of baseball, there was once a kind of parallel Hollywood system making all-black "race" movies. Pioneering director Oscar Micheaux will be well represented among the half-dozen shorts (some up to an hour or so long, most along standard genre lines), and augmented by several "soundies," pre-show musical performance vignettes—the music videos of their day. Look for greats like Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, and Ruth Brown among the latter group. The films are culled from the 1930s through the 1950s, when, of course, Sidney Poitier and others began to break the Hollywood color line. (NR) Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 206-386-4636. Free. Noon to 5 p.m. Sat. Feb. 25.
Seattle Jewish Film Fest Preview The upcoming festival runs March 5-19; here's a chance to watch a few previews and learn about the programming from the SJFF staff. With refreshments. (NR) Tree of Life Judaica & Books, 2201 N.E. 65th St., 206-527-1130. 7 p.m. Mon. Feb. 27. Tree of Life Judaica & Books (Bellevue), 137 106th Ave. N.E., 425-646-6466. 7 p.m. Tues. Feb. 28.
A Self-Made Hero Supposed Resistance heroism masks wartime defeat and collaboration for shyly undistinguished Albert (played by Mathieu Kassovitz as a young man, and by Jean-Louis Trintignant as a defiant old geezer). Mixing mock-documentary contemporary interviews with Albert's upward progress in this 1996 satire, director Jacques Audiard makes clear how easily the newly consolidating political order of post-WWII France is duped by Albert's meticulous prevarications. He's a buoyantly resourceful survivor like the heroes of Zelig and Being There. (NR) Shoreline Community College (Room 1102), 16101 Greenwood Ave. N., 206-533-6700. Free. 7 p.m. Wed. Feb. 22.
Taking the Heat Brave members of the Seattle Fire Department, presumably with women among them, will be on hand for a panel discussion following this documentary about Brenda Berkman, one of the pioneering women in the Fire Department of New York, and her legacy. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. Free. 4 p.m. Sat. Feb. 25.
Three Kings In the chaotic ceasefire after Operation Desert Storm, soldiers George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube discover a treasure map leading to a bunker full of stolen Kuwaiti gold bars—which they naturally intend to steal. David O. Russell's 1999 film purports to be a simple heist caper set behind enemy lines, yet after its promising M*A*S*H*-style beginning, it ends up a conventional feel-good cop-out. The looters quickly encounter the ugly political aftermath of the Gulf War, as an Iraqi rebel chides them: "We're fighting Saddam and dying, and you're stealing gold." Thereafter, our heroes' moral quandary—boost the bullion or help the rebels?—plays out just as simplistically and disappointingly as it sounds. (R) High Point Branch Library, 3411 S.W. Raymond St., 206-684-7454. Free. 2:30 p.m. Sat. Feb. 25.
Troop 1500 Screened locally prior to its March 21 broadcast on PBS, this hour-long doc looks at a Texas Girl Scout troop comprising daughters whose mothers are in jail. Austin troop leader Julia Cuba and filmmaker Ellen Spiro will be on hand to discuss the film. (NR) 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave. N., 206-682-6552. $5-$7. 9 p.m. Fri. Feb. 24.