July 12-19, 2006

Batman outdoors, Busby Berkeley, and the overlooked landmark that is Xanadu.

Batman Begins Memento director Christopher Nolan's 2005 Batman movie is very nearly as good as Tim Burton's legendary 1989 Batman and better than his 1992 Batman Returns. Co-writer David S. Goyer (Dark City) has jolted the necrotic Bat-franchise back to life. The key: a knotty, logical plot that takes comics seriously. Nolan's story (about some weaponized LSD dudes) is too complex to sum up, but incredibly for an action film, it's credible—a clockwork that actually works. There's logic behind every lovely chase and explosion. And the cast—apart from the miscast Katie Holmes—works, too. Michael Caine is the best Bat-butler ever, sparklingly witty, palpably paternal. Morgan Freeman doles out the Bat-accoutrements like Q in the Bond movies. And Christian Bale is the finest actor ever to wear the Bat-suit. He is by turns callow, terrified, yearning, downtrodden, bold, and triumphant, but always convincing and absorbing. (PG-13) TIM APPELO Fremont Outdoor Movies, N. 35th St. and Phinney Ave. N., 206-781-4230. $5. 7:30 p.m. (doors open); show at dusk. Sat. July 15.

BCC Short Film Festival Students at Bellevue Community College present Rocket Man: Death From the Past, made in the manner of the old 1930s serials that helped inspire Star Wars. Here, our space-age hero is vaulted forward from 1946 to 1966, resulting in culture clashes. The Ideal Wife has nothing to do with Wilde, but instead relates how a guy is granted seven wishes to help him find, yes, the perfect spouse. (NR) Kirkland Performance Center, 305 Kirkland Ave., 425-893-9900. $5. 7:30 p.m. Sat. July 15.

Cascadia Live Feed Show Vancouver, BC artist Stefanie Loveday presents a 70-minute program of her film works, with musical accompaniment from Deceptikon and others. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. July 14-Sat. July 15.

42nd Street Busby Berkeley is being showcased at NWFF this month, and his choreography for this 1933 movie musical (nominally credited to director Lloyd Bacon) pretty much defines the genre. The backstage melodrama—will showgirl Ruby Keeler get her big break?—isn't why the film is remembered, though sharp eyes will spy Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell among the company. In addition to the title number, "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" gets the full Busby treatment; you could call it expressionist excess. Overhead shots, pinwheel chorus formations, and legs, legs, legs are on glorious display. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. Fri. July 14-Sun. July 16.

The 48 Hour Film Project Local film crews began their projects Friday, July 7, and had two days to complete their writing, filming, and editing. Now you get to see the seven-minute finished products, which will later be entered in a national competition of the same name. About two dozen teams are expected to enter and screen their works. See Web site for further details. (NR) Harvard Exit, 807 E. Roy St., 206-781-5755, www.48hourfilm.com. $10. 7 and 9 p.m. Thurs. July 13.

Independent Exposure No program information; various short works are screened. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. July 12.

The Cuckoo An odd little movie in the best sense of both words, Aleksandr Rogozhkin's 2002 shaggy-dog parable contrives a way to bring together a young Finnish intellectual, a grizzled Russian soldier, and a Lapp shamaness in a rickety wooden hut in the waning days of WWII. The contrivance doesn't stop there: None of the three speaks more than three words of the others' language; and you wouldn't believe the number of amusing misunderstandings this entails. Well, maybe you would. But if you're willing to go with the premise, it's likely you'll be won over by the sheer charm of the performances—chubby, bullet-headed Ville Haapalo is a find as the Finn fed up with combat, and character actor Viktor Bychkov does a memorable and touching turn as the quintessential Russian everyman. Most winning all is the glorious desolation of a dark Northern landscape under a late-summer polar-blue sky, vividly captured in Andrei Zhegalov's cinematography. (Screened on video.) (NR) ROGER DOWNEY Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Thurs. July 13-Sun. July 16.

Kung Fu Grindhouse Movies First up is The Story of Meat, an old educational film followed by more of the same. At 7 p.m., Jackie Vernon's 1983 gross-out comedy Microwave Massacre concerns just that. Finally, For Your Height Only (at 9 p.m.) is a 1979 espionage spoof from the Philippines starring a three-foot-tall superspy known simply as Agent 00. Diminutive actor Weng Weng stars, apparently because Hervé Villechaize was busy making at least a three-figure income over on Fantasy Island. Drinking games and trivia contests are part of the fun. 21 and over. (NR) Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-784-4880. Free. 6 p.m. Mon. July 17.

Outdoor Movies at Linda's A compendium of cheesy old trailers and TV ads from the '50s, '60s, and '70s is screened. 21 and over. (NR) Linda's Tavern, 707 E. Pine St., 206-325-1220. Free. Dusk. Wed. July 12. Then it's more wacky old educational films that may raise dim memories from elementary school. Dusk. Wed. July 19.

Rachel Corrie: An American Conscience The hottest ticket at Seattle Rep next spring will be My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the play too hot for most American theaters to handle. By way of a preview, this frankly admiring documentary about the 23-year-old Evergreen College student bulldozed to death in the Gaza Strip in 2003 will be followed by a discussion with her Olympia parents. As our Nina Shapiro recently reported, they're presently suing the Israeli Defense Forces and Caterpillar (which manufactured the bulldozer). Though some consider their daughter naïve, even foolish, those who've seen the London production of the play say her own words and letters create a far more nuanced portrait of the doomed young idealist. (NR) Keystone Church, 5019 Keystone Pl. N., 206-632-6021. Free. 7 p.m. Fri. July 14.

Reel Grrls Young female filmmakers, age 13-19, present 14 short works on video in which the "girls explore issues of identity and empowerment." Discussion follows. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 p.m. Wed. July 19.

Sabrina Thank God it's not the remake. (And whatever happened to Julia Ormond, for that matter?) Rather, SAM's Audrey Hepburn retrospective continues with this utterly charming 1954 romantic triangle, a stage adaptation directed by Billy Wilder with a huge screenplay assist by Ernest Lehman (North by Northwest). Hepburn plays the chauffeur's daughter, of course, now all grown up and radiantly alluring to rich brothers Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, who employ her father. The 25-year age gap between Bogie and Audrey makes the film a kind of prequel to Love in the Afternoon (when Gary Cooper was also nearing death's door), but she literally breathes life into the veteran actor. Playing the sober businessman who keeps his feelings assiduously starched, Bogie must preserve a business deal by distracting her away from playboy Holden. The ploy leads to real romance, and though he mocks his second spring—"Joe College, with a touch of arthritis"—the tenderness between them is entirely convincing. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 206-654-3121. $35-$39 (series), $6-$8 (individual). 7:30 p.m. Thurs. July 13.

The Wizard of Oz Family flick, gay cult movie, midnight stoner jamboree—it doesn't really matter how you categorize this 1939 classic. It couldn't be sweeter or more family friendly—however your family is defined. Expect gays, straights, and kids of all derivations to sing along, misty-eyed, to the timeless songs by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. The Wizard of Oz has its roots in the book series begun by L. Frank Baum in 1900, but it's really a Depression-era picture reflecting both the sadness and hope of that era. For all today's CGI wonders, there's nothing quite like the moment when Judy Garland wakes up in a Technicolor Oz. No DVD or giant plasma screen TV can really do the scene justice. (NR) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. July 14-Sat. July 15.

Xanadu This film (screened outdoors) was a flop in 1980, but can now be appreciated for the landmark work it was. Olivia Newton-John is cast as Terpsichore, the Greek muse of the dance, who comes down to Venice Beach in leg warmers to recite Samuel Taylor Coleridge and inspire a down-on-his-luck painter (stone-faced Michael Beck) to open a roller disco. The film continues its artistic risk taking, the biggest being that Newton-John can't dance. At one point, Beck and Olivia are roller-skating on an empty movie set and morph into cartoon fish. Can you even imagine the creative studio minds that proposed turning Newton-John into a cartoon fish?This is nothing, finally, compared to what the movie did to Gene Kelly, who plays a saxophonist from the '40s who skates around chanting "Ho!" to summon a climactic number from Newton-John and E.L.O. (PG) STEVE WIECKING South Lake Union Discovery Center, 101 Westlake Ave. N., 206-342-5900. $5. Dusk. Fri. July 14.

Yacht Rock Sing-Along If you haven't streamed the episodes from the Web site Channel 101 to your PC, or downloaded them from iTunes, here's your chance to catch up on the viral videos of J.D. Ryznar, Lane Farnham, and Hunter Stair, which affectionately imagine-lampoon the recording studio dramas behind those sunset-heavy '70s and early '80s albums by Loggins and Messina, Van Halen, Steely Dan, the Eagles, Hall and Oates, etc. Egos and mellow hissy fits are the rule, despite all the fine Colombian and tequila on hand. The musicians are played by actors, of course, while the music needs no updating. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5. Midnight. Sat. July 15.

 
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