April 26-May 3, 2006

Ken Russell, Louis Malle, Robert Bresson, and more!

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Belle de Jour Luis Buñuel's 1966 tale of sexual repression and expression finds supposedly "frigid" newlywed Catherine Deneuve working in a Paris brothel, catering to a variety of fetishists, unbeknownst to her clueless husband. It's a remarkably weird, funny take on divided consciousness, on the collision between the supposedly normal and the supposedly perverse. And the sweetly serene Deneuve is just plain beautiful to watch. (R) Big Picture, 2505 First Ave., 206-256-0572. Call for price. Fri. April 28-Thurs. May 4.

Beyond Atlantis Shot in the Philippines in 1973, this collision between treasure hunters and the goggle-eyed lost descendents of Atlantis sounds both lurid and tame. The American adventurers (John Ashley, Patrick Wayne, Sid Haig) run afoul of a strange race with decidedly fishy characteristics; soon, they're being invited to cross-breed with the strange creatures. Extra points for environmental sensitivity come when giant clam shells are used for transportation, apparently like the Prius of that era. (PG) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. April 28-Sat. April 29.

Big Eden What if the slow-drawling Marlboro Man and pie-baking biddies conspired not to set up Dick and Jane at the monthly hoedown, but Dick and Dick instead? That is what Big Eden (2000) imagines, and that is its only exemplary trait. Writer-director Thomas Bezucha (The Family Stone) adds nothing else nearly as interesting to what is otherwise essentially a gay, middle-aged Pretty in Pink. (R) ANDREW BONAZELLI Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 6:30 and 9:15 p.m. Sat. April 29-Sun. April 30.

Church Ball NOT REVIEWED. A kind of bowdlerized Mormon version of Dodge Ball, this sports drama has Fred Willard coach his underdog hoops squad to victory—and perhaps a little closer to God. (PG) Bella Bottega

Dirty Pretty Things Stephen Frears' 2003 Dirty is an endearingly straightforward, traditional thriller—like Casablanca with different skin tones and accents. In a posh London hotel staffed with illegal immigrants desperate not to be noticed, Nigerian doctor Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) works as a desk clerk when not driving a cab. He and Turkish maid Senay (Audrey Tautou) secretly share the same flat, with only one key and bed between them. Then Okwe stumbles upon an organ-sales scheme being run out of the hotel by its malevolent manager. You could call the movie immigrant noir, as the nefarious (white) authorities circle to deport every decent, sympathetic character. Screened on video. (R) Revolution Books, 1833 Nagle Place, 206-325-7415. Free. 7:30 p.m. Fri. April 28.

The Lair of the White Worm Loosely based on Bram Stoker's last novel, written while the Dracula author grappled with illness and insanity, this 1988 film is high-camp horror at its Ken Russellian best. Lady Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) growls around the countryside in a Jaguar, picking up and disposing of hitchhiking Boy Scouts to pass the time while she waits for a suitable human sacrifice to pop up (her white worm deity is quite choosy). Russell, as usual, bakes a big surprise into his cake: The special effects, which seem to originate somewhere between Godzilla and Pasolini, feature large but fleeting doses of '60s psychedelia. With Catherine Oxenberg, and Hugh Grant in an early supporting role. (R) MARY BRENNAN Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:15 p.m. Wed. April 26-Fri. April 28.

Langston Hughes African American Film Festival Standouts in the ongoing fest include The Wedding Proposal (7:35 p.m. Wed.), a documentary about the difficulty professional black woman have finding husbands; A Knockout (8:05 p.m. Wed), about British lesbian boxer Michele Aboro; Outside Looking In: Transracial Adoption in America (4:30 p.m. Fri.); and the feature documentary, Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks (7:30 p.m. Fri.), about the late photographer and director. See Web site for full schedule and details. Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., 206-684-4710, www.langstonblackfilmfest.org. $5-$10. Continues through Sun. April 30.

Living With Wolves The contentious issue of reintroducing wolves to Idaho is the subject of this nature documentary by Jaime and Jim Dutcher, who lived for a season in the Sawtooth Range among the once-endangered beasts. (NR) Camp Long, 5200 35th Ave. S.W. (West Seattle), 206-762-1976. $3-$5. 7 p.m. Thurs. April 27.

Louis Malle Retrospective Maurice Ronet plays a drunk looking for a reason to live (or stop drinking) in 1963's The Fire Within, based on a 1930s novel by Drieu La Rochelle, a writer who later committed suicide. The book (and film) owe a debt to Fitzgerald's Babylon Revisited; it's a study in disillusionment and depression, as Ronet, "waiting for something to happen" in life, instead finds that all his old dreams and friends (including Jeanne Moreau) have given up their youthful idealism. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-654-3121. $58-$65 (series), $7 (individual). 7:30 p.m. Thurs. April 27. Malle's 1986 documentary And the Pursuit of Happiness looks at his fellow immigrants to America, including Cubans, Russian Jews, and Mexican migrant workers. Another doc, God's Country (1986), examines how—over the course of Malle's two visits six years apart—a small and initially bucolic Minnesota town undergoes wrenching social change during the Reaganite '80s. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. Fri. April 21-Thurs. April 27.

Mister Roberts Henry Fonda made this WWII tragicomedy a six-year smash on Broadway before bringing it to Hollywood in 1955. The movie did pretty well despite director John Ford's binge drinking (which eventually necessitated that Mervyn LeRoy help finish the job). Jack Lemmon won an Oscar as the apparently feckless Ensign Pulver, who stands in contrast to Fonda's Mr. Roberts—a man who wants some real action away from the cargo ship ruled by tyrannical Captain Morton (James Cagney). Fonda and William Powell do wonderful work together as the older naval officers who've seen both the best and worst sides of war. Screened on video; ticket includes discussion and snack. (NR) Movie Legends, 2319 N. 45th St., 206-632-2092. $5. 1 p.m. Sun. April 30.

Mouchette As strict, unsentimental, and unsparing as any Robert Bresson film, the 1967 Mouchette—anticipated soon on DVD—both typifies his canon without being its best example. Like the superior Au Hasard Balthazar (made the year before), this is a highly distilled and indirectly Christian parable of suffering. Fourteen-year-old Mouchette (Nadine Nortier) lives with her dying alcoholic mother and booze-smuggling father. When she's not hurling clots of dirt at the popular schoolgirls who make her an outcast, she's wandering the woods or caring for her constantly crying infant brother. It's a hateful existence, and she appears to feel nothing but spite for anyone—except for a poacher who's being stalked by the village game warden. She and the poacher spend a stormy night in his shelter, where she's permitted a moment of near tenderness. But that, too, must be punished, and Bresson makes Mouchette the instrument of her own grubby martyrdom. Godard aptly called the film "Christian and sadistic." (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. Fri. April 28-Thurs. May 4.

Paper Clips This sweet-natured 2004 documentary is about a rural Tennessee school, where nearly everyone's white and Protestant, that starts a Holocaust curriculum. Whitwell Middle School begins collecting paperclips—worn by Norwegians during World War II to express their resistance to Nazism—to memorialize the millions murdered by the Third Reich. Where some might see trivialization in genocide reduced to a crafts project, directors Elliot Berlin and Joe Fab see only uplift. When WMS tries to acquire a German cattle car used to transport Jews to Auschwitz, I sensed good intentions and good taste parting ways. Yet the resulting monument—the car, on a stretch of track, filled with 11 million paperclips—is powerful. (G) NEAL SCHINDLER Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way (Mercer Island), 206-232-7115. Free. 10 a.m. Sun. April 30.

Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky From 1991, this is an insanely violent Hong Kong kung-fu revenge flick with the exploding head shot once featured on The Daily Show. If you have to see one exploding head movie this weekend, Riki's the one for you. (R) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. April 28-Sat. April 29.

Seattle Polish Film Festival In its 14th year, this mini-fest spans two weekends. Highlights include The Collector, winner of the Polish Oscars, whose director, Feliks Falk, will appear to introduce the film (6:30 p.m. Sat. May 6). The film concerns a ruthless Yuppie repo man, product of Poland's wrenching market transformation since 1989, who won't let mercy get in the way of profit. Several other filmmakers are expected to attend and introduce their movies. Some two dozen titles are screened over six days. See Web site for full schedule and details. Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-323-4008, www.polishfilms.org. $8 (individual), $50 (pass). Fri. April 28-Sun. May 7.

Short Film Night Local directors including Brian Labrecque and Greg Wylie show their new avant-garde works, some of them animated. Wylie's Speed Date may provide inspiration, or fear, for lonely-hearts everywhere. 21 and over. (NR) Alibi Room, 85 Pike St., 206-623-3180. Free. 7 p.m. Sat. April 29.

Showgirls Eleven years have passed and David Schmader is still making fun of Paul Verhoeven's Vegas folly? Isn't it time to move on and deconstruct, say, Starship Troopers? (NR) Triple Door, 216 Union St., 206-838-4333. $15. 7:30 p.m. Wed. April 26.

Voices From the New American Schoolhouse Maryland high-school students narrate this documentary account of their non-traditional institution of learning. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 1 p.m. Sun. April 30.

Rob Zverina Short Films All 16 episodes of his Seattle Community Access Network TV show are screened. The montage artist works with 30-second scenes taken all around Seattle, as our Laura Cassidy recently described in her profile of Zverina: "A bulldozer rolls languidly, as if playing the romantic lead in an ultramodern dance. Pedestrians become performers, unaware. These scenes are lithe and lovely even when they're gray and empty, but a spliced-together stream of them is immusical. The images are random and discordant, but harmonious." 21 and over. (NR) Jewel Box Theater (Rendezvous), 2320 Second Ave., 206-441-5823. $2. 6 p.m. Wed. April 26.

 
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