May 3-10, 2006

Short films, El Mariachi, Val Lewton, and The Lost Boys of the Sudan.

Send listings two weeks in advance to film@seattleweekly.com

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. May 5-Sat. May 6.

The Cat Returns Since kids don't like subtitled cartoons, this is probably the dubbed version of a 2002 Studio Ghibli anime about a girl who rescues a cat who turns out to be a king in the magical feline realm that she visits. There, he even wants her to marry a prince. Other gentle adventures ensue in this family-friendly Miyazaki knock-off: nothing too scary, and only 75 minutes long. (G) Seattle Asian Art Museum, 1400 E. Prospect St., Volunteer Park, 206-625-8900. Free. 1 p.m. Sat. May 6.

Cineoke Cue up a DVD of your favorite movie musical, then sing along to your friends' boozy encouragement. Or hoots of derision. 21 and over. Jewel Box Theater (Rendezvous), 2320 Second Ave., 206-441-5823. $5. 8 p.m. Mon. May 8.

El Mariachi If we had known that Robert Rodriguez's 1992 indie breakthrough, later the basis for Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico, would also lead to all those dreadful Spy Kids movies, would we still want it to be a hit? On balance, yes, because he also gave us Sin City. The unreasonably prolific Texan director made his bones with this gritty shoot-em-up, built upon the oldest conventions of mistaken identity and the mysterious stranger riding into town. But El Mariachi is a $7,000 wonder—if you really believe that oft-cited budget—of souped-up clichés. The guitar player, the girl, and the gangsters are so iconic that they could've been lifted out of silent movies. The way Rodriguez propels these figures through his simple yet inventive story would've also made him a star in the Hollywood of Chaplin and Fairbanks—who, come to think of it, were just as fast and furious in their filmmaking. (R) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:15 p.m. Wed. May 3-Sun. May 7.

Eyes and Ears Supernova In a hybrid evening of avant-garde local short films and live music (by Noggin, Blood Clot, Tom Swafford, and others), directors screening their work will include Sara Biagini, Jason Gutz, Doug Lane, Danielle Morgan, Jon Behrens, Kevin Jacobs, and Tyson Theroux. Most are 5-10 minutes long and shot on super-8 and 16mm. Vintage amps and loud volumes are promised, and Olympia artists will also be represented. In addition, look for a multi-projector work by Eric Ostrowski. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. 11 p.m. Sat. May 6.

Independent Exposure This collection of nine short films from around the globe sounds cooler than it is. Untitled gives a visual explanation of an math theorem—great if you're a Ph.D candidate, boring for the rest of us. Wrong Place Wrong Time has the right idea, wrong development; it's narrated by friends of a murdered art student, bringing home the tragic randomness of his shooting death at a pay phone. Better, and presented in silent black-and-white close-ups, South Korea's The Moment illustrates the fleeting preciousness of infant development. How To Disappear Completely more explicitly (and pretentiously and morbidly) addresses the significance of photographs in human remembrance. The animated Rain is cool, inspired by Chinese watercolors to successfully render a cloudburst. Rocco Never Dies has moments of great cartooning, although its subject, Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi, is a turn-off. Australia's Mrs. Paruzel touchingly examines notions of death and the afterlife, generating real character development in only 12 minutes' time. (NR) EMILY PAGE Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. May 10.

Val Lewton Double-Feature Famed producer of effective little suspense flicks filmed for pocket change, he handed a Cornell Woolrich crime novel to noir-riffic director Jacques Tourneur for 1943's The Leopard Man, yielding a suspenseful and atmospheric tale of small-town murders which might, or might not, be the work of an escaped feline. Made the same year, The Seventh Victim stars Kim Hunter, who discovers that her sister has fallen in with Satanists in Manhattan. Anything for a cheap apartment, right? Screened on video; ticket includes discussion and snack. (NR) Movie Legends, 2319 N. 45th St., 206-632-2092. $5. 1 p.m. Sun. May 7.

The Lost Boys of Sudan What with the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, this 2003 refugee documentary is still timely. But whether its two young Sudanese protagonists have arrived at the right place is a different matter. America, they will learn, is strong on compassionate rhetoric but weak on follow-through. In Houston, we follow Peter and Santino, two skinny lads in their late teens or early 20s. Peter is the star of the movie: kind, patient, watchful, with a sadness only half-masked by his half-smile. His pal Santino is more free-spirited, and has more trouble adjusting. There's a great moment when a high-school journalist interviews Peter: He talks of massacres and dead parents; she, the astonished and unprepared reporter, looks to be on the verge of tears. Then he clams up—less out of grief, one suspects, than from the polite desire not to upset his hosts. (NR) Capitol Hill Branch Library, 425 Harvard Ave. E., 206-684-4715. 6 p.m. Thurs. May 4.

Louis Malle Retrospective For completists only. Jeanne Moreau and Brigitte Bardot star with—brace yourself now—George Hamilton in the 1965 farce Viva María!, about showgirls in pre-revolutionary Central America, who A) invent the striptease, and B) help lead an oppressed people to freedom. It's meant to be an historical romp, with a revolutionary subtext beneath the echt-Hollywood gloss, but mainly the film is remembered for its two stars flouncing about like innocent, fun-loving Marxist sex kittens. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-654-3121. $7. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. May 4. From 1975, Black Moon features both Joe Dallesandro and a unicorn in a girl's coming-of-age fable. Heroine Lily (the granddaughter of Rex Harrison) stumbles into a war zone where a magical old crone communicates with animals. It's said to be like a surrealist take on Alice in Wonderland; appropriately, Malle co-wrote the script with the daughter-in-law of Luis Buñuel. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. Fri. May 5-Thurs. May 11.

The Passenger They don't make 'em like this anymore. Jack Nicholson basically kept this slow, existential 1975 thriller off the market for decades, and now he's helped release this new print of Michelangelo Antonioni's original European cut (soon to be on DVD, we hope). Among those who aren't so keen on the pacing of Blow-Up or L'Avventura, The Passenger won't earn Antonioni any new fans. Nicholson expertly plays a reporter, failed in career and marriage, who makes a fresh start by assuming the identity of a dead man. We follow him from North Africa through various European cities, as do his wife and some ominous agents of an African dictatorship. He picks up a girl (Maria Schneider, best left to the '70s) who tells Nicholson this new identity gives him a purpose, some political meaning: "That's what you wanted." But such beliefs are dangerous for the formerly indifferent reporter. It's like The Bourne Identity played at half speed—deliberate, but never dull. (PG) Big Picture, 2505 First Ave., 206-256-0572. Fri. May. 5-Thurs. May. 11.

The Princess Bride Rob Reiner's 1987 adaptation of the William Goldman children's story is sweet and well played down the line for both parents and kids. Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn are the lovers; Wallace Shawn, Mandy Patinkin, and the late André the Giant help get them together after many amusing adventures. (PG) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. May 5-Sat. May 6.

Seattle Polish Film Festival Titles remaining during the second weekend of the fest include 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 Unburied Man (9 p.m. Sat. May 6) imagines the fate of Hungarian Prime Minster Imre Nagy after his imprisonment (and eventual disappearance) following the 1956 Soviet crackdown on that country. In the contemporary Persona Non Grata (2:30 p.m. Sun. May 7), a Polish diplomat confronts the possibility that an old Russian friend was secretly working against underground forces for democracy. 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. Through Sun. May 7.

Strange Days In the decaying, race-torn L.A. of 1999, an entertainment black market has arisen around a virtual-reality technology. Ralph Fiennes happily hawks the software until he dons his rig, pops in a disc, and sees a female friend raped and killed. Intertwined with Fiennes' story is a Rodney King-like incident that threatens to blow apart the City of Angels in time for the millennium. The narrative can't support the dystopian nightmare the filmmakers erect on top of it, and the movie suffers from terminal disproportion; it's a bloated freakathon. (Critic Kathleen Murphy provides an introduction to Kathryn Bigelow's 1995 film.) (R) MICHAEL SRAGOW Experience Music Project (JBL Theater), 325 Fifth Ave. N., 206-367-5483. $5-$6. 4 p.m. Sun. May 7.

 
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