Aug. 16-23, 2006

Pee-Wee seeks bike, Mary Pickford versus alligators, and a Sideways-themed wine tasting at the Grand Illusion.

Ali Farka Touré: Springing From the Roots This hour-long 2000 French documentary honors the late Malian musical icon, who died this past March. Interviews and musical clips alternate to help form a profile of both the influential bandleader and the broader musical traditions of the Niger region that he helped influence. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 206-267-5380. $5-$8. 7 and 8:30 p.m. Wed. Aug. 16-Thurs. Aug. 17.

Bend It Like Beckham In this 2003 crowd pleaser, Jess (Parminder Nagra) just wants to be a soccer star. Her idol, David Beckham, is the star footballer who can famously arc the ball around opposing players. That bending effect is an inspired metaphor for just what Jess must do: get around her traditional parents' expectations to score her dream, and just maybe her handsome Irish coach (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) in the bargain. There is not one surprise in Gurinder Chadha's movie (which she also co-wrote), and the filmmaking is utterly pedestrian on a technical level, but so what? You'll be on your feet rooting for Jess to win all her goals. (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. Aug. 19.

Big Fish A traveling salesman with an oversized Alabama accent that somehow makes everything more outrageously fable-like, Ed (Albert Finney) claims to have once battled a giant catfish for his wife's wedding ring. The 2003 Fish mostly consists of Ed's deathbed flashbacks to his considerably embellished life story, told while his son (Billy Crudup) annoyingly rolls his eyes in annoyance. In all the scenes with young Ed, Ewan McGregor is all aw-shucks playing the dewy youth who grows up to be Finney. What should've made Fish ideal for director Tim Burton is the endless opportunity here for dreamlike eye-candy fantasy with a scary undercurrent. Fish is a shaggy-dog story that snaps its leash and barks in any and all directions, at random. (PG-13) TIM APPELO 4000 California Ave. S.W. (West Seattle), 425-445-5672. Free. Dusk. Sat. Aug. 19.

Cobra Verde SEE REVIEW, PAGE TK. (NR)

The Day My God Died Of course, this 2003 documentary is about a worthy and disturbing cause (Nepalese and Indian girls kidnapped into sex slavery). But, God! It's got Winona Ryder as "the voice of the children," making it an instant classic of the drop-your-jaw-in-horror variety. Sample lines: "I am a free spirit, under a free sky. The sky is my family. The stars are my friends." On the plus side, local photographer Jeff Speigner will show how relief efforts have helped other sexually exploited young women to recover in a Thai orphanage. The screening benefits that program, House of Joy, and the Maiti Nepal organization, which helps former Bombay brothel workers. (NR) 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave. N., 206-682-6552. $20. 7 p.m. Thurs. Aug. 17.

Election/Sideways Reese Witherspoon created a new kind of screen monster in the 1999 adaptation of Tom Perrotta's novel. Her scheming, high-achieving, brown-nosing pupil destroys the life of her dweebish teacher (Matthew Broderick, ever the ambivalent victim) and anyone foolish enough to stand in her way. She's a comic marvel of ambition so fierce and concentrated that it becomes a kind of poison seeping into the soil around her. Seattle native Jim Taylor co-scripted the film with director Alexander Payne. (R) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. Fri. Aug. 18-Thurs. Aug. 24. Then it's a special wine-tasting evening featuring Taylor and Payne's Oscar-winning Sideways (2004) to benefit the GI. Most still feel that Paul Giamatti was robbed of the acting Oscar that year; certainly he and Thomas Haden Church make a memorable pair as they tear through the California wine country, trying desperately to drown the discontents of midlife. You can bet pinots will be served before the screening (at 8 p.m.). As Giamatti says, "If anyone orders merlot, I'm leaving." 21 and over. $30 (individual), $50 (couple). 7 p.m. Mon. Aug. 21.

Fund-raiser/Documentary Screening Florida congressional candidate Clint Curtis, formerly a software engineer, will screen his film about being asked in 2000 to reprogram vote-counting machines to flip votes into the Republican column. Or so he claims in Murder? Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story. Here's your chance to meet and talk with the filmmaker, and support his neophyte campaign. (NR) Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave., 206-228-9890. $25 (suggested). 7 p.m. Thurs. Aug. 17.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Spielberg's third leg of the Indiana Jones trilogy doesn't quite match the first, but the interplay between Sean Connery (as Indy Sr.) and Harrison Ford is awfully fun to watch. It's a first-rate popcorn movie, with Nazis we love to hate, a big improvement over Temple of Doom. Denholm Elliot also helps to class up the non-action sequences, and the late River Phoenix does nothing but action stuff during the film's nifty opening sequence, a sad reminder of what might've been. Yet the film also reminds us that a fourth Indiana Jones script is in the works, which Spielberg hopes to shoot before Ford needs a walker to perform his stunts. (PG-13) Majestic Bay, 2044 N.W. Market St., 206-781-2229. $6-$9.50. Midnight, Fri. Aug. 18-Sat. Aug. 19.

Karma Two nuns venture out from Nepal's remote Mustang Valley (where ethnic Tibetans predominate), looking for the reincarnation of their recently deceased abbess. At the same time, in Tsering Rhitar's road movie, they're on a detective mission to learn whether or not a benefactor of their Buddhist order has criminal ties—if so, they'd have to return the money. The screening benefits the Home Away From Home charity, which subsidizes school holidays for Tibetan students during their long boarding school terms in Mussoorie, India. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $10. 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Sat. Aug. 19-Sun. Aug. 20.

Kiss Me Deadly Within one movie, Robert Aldrich's 1955 adaptation of the Mickey Spillane novel looks back to the tough-guy L.A. private eye tradition of Chandler and forward to the atomic age. What's "the great whatsit" in the box that everybody, including Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker), is looking for? And why do so many corpses pile up along the way? Well, it has something to do with the Manhattan Project, although even that doesn't explain what country the vaguely European Dr. Soberin represents. "How civilized this earth used to be," he says. Not any more, doc. Mike slaps and slugs and kills his way to the box—and he's the hero of a picture almost entirely lacking in sympathetic characters. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:30 p.m. Wed. Aug. 16-Fri. Aug. 18.

Lawrence of Arabia Here's a treat: David Lean's Oscar-winning 1962 epic, shown outdoors. Peter O'Toole and the desert never looked so good as in Freddie Young's stunning cinematography. It's likely the restored 1989 print, and a chance to see Alec Guinness in one of his typically fine, sneaky supporting roles. "On to Aqaba!" (NR) Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater, 206-684-7200. Free. Dusk. Sat. Aug. 19.

Lessons of Darkness SEE REVIEW, PAGE TK. (NR)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail The coconuts. The French tower guard. The killer rabbit. The knights who say "Ni!" They're all here in Python's 1975 sendup of all things Arthurian, and they're all just as funny as ever. Brace yourself, however, for what will probably be an interactive audience experience not unlike The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's likely that most viewers will know every line of dialogue in advance, and you'd be a killjoy to shush them as they shout out their favorite bits (or at least mutter under their breath). But what do elderberries actually smell like? (PG) Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy. N.E. (Redmond), 206-296-4999. $5 (individual), $15 (family). Dusk (8:35 p.m.). Wed. Aug. 23.

Movie Night at the Sunset First up is Radio Bikini, about the 1946 A-Bomb tests that contaminated half the South Pacific with radiation. At 7 p.m., Invasion U.S.A. is considerably more cheerful—it's a 1985 Chuck Norris action flick in which he kicks terrorist ass back in the good old days when terrorists were God-hating Communists. Finally, at 9 p.m., Gymkata (1985) stars tiny gymnast Kurt Thomas as a tiny secret agent dispatched to either A) "Karabal, on the Caspian Sea," or B) Parmistan, depending on what scholarly source you believe. Regardless, he also kicks lots of Commie ass. Drinking games and trivia contests will attend the proceedings. 21 and over. (NR) Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-784-4880. Free. 6 p.m. Mon. Aug. 21.

Outdoor Movies at Linda'sReefer Madness (1936) has undoubtedly inspired far more marijuana consumption than it was intended to deter. Truth be told, it's almost necessary to be stoned to find much amusement in the cheap old scare story. 21 and over. (NR) Linda's Tavern, 707 E. Pine St., 206-325-1220. Free. Dusk. Wed. Aug. 16. Then it's more wacky old educational films (think sex ed and driver safety) of the sort that had you throwing spitballs back in the day before there were text messages to check. Dusk. Wed. Aug. 23.

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure Underrated by other critics because they haven't had as many bicycles stolen as I have, Tim Burton's 1985 road-trip movie brought Paul Reubens' cable-TV man-boy character to the big screen in all his adenoidal glory. Resolutely pre-sexual, Pee-Wee lusts only after his tasseled one-speed cruiser, pursuing his bike across the Southwest. The whole thing is a kind of goof on De Sica's The Bicycle Thief, but it's more surrealist than neorealist—Burton makes America just as weird and plastic as his hero's underdeveloped yet overgrown imagination. Pee-Wee's cartoonish quest takes place in an oddly pliable world where his single-minded hunt begins to look like high principle. (PG) Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. Aug. 18-Sat. Aug. 19.

Raiders of the Lost Ark The 1981 Lucas-Spielberg trilogy opener became one of the biggest and most influential blockbusters of the '80s. The wisecracking, swashbuckling figure of Harrison Ford—back when he was fun to watch—created a huge surge in men's haberdashery (to say nothing of bullwhip sales). Ford's weary charisma and sense of put-upon humanity saves all pictures from Spielbergian excess. As artifacts from the Reagan era, they're corny, conservative, and perfect summer entertainment. (PG) Marymoor Park, 6046 W. Lake Sammamish Pkwy. N.E. (Redmond), 206-296-4999. $5 (individual), $15 (family). Dusk (8:50 p.m.). Wed. Aug. 16.

Script Reading The very talented Brian McDonald (White Face) applies his deft touch to the subject of death in Graverobbers. In it, a guy finds himself haunted by a past life. Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., 206-322-7030. $2-$5. 7:30 p.m. Wed. Aug. 16.

Sparrows Organist Dennis James provides live musical accompaniment (and a pre-show introduction) to this 1926 Mary Pickford silent. It's an acclaimed melodrama that sounds like a horror flick: She and other orphans are cruelly captured and forced into slave labor in a Southern swamp. Then, being Mary Pickford, she stands up for all that's good and decent and leads an escape through the bog—with alligators nipping at their tiny heels. This is a new Library of Congress print; those who've seen it say the restoration is gorgeous. (NR) Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 206-292-2787. $9-$12. 7 p.m. Mon. Aug. 21.

Standing on Common Ground Proceeds from this documentary screening benefit a Hurricane Katrina relief fund. Director Evan Allen-Gessessee and guest speaker Malik Rahim will conduct a Q&A about their firsthand witnessing of the New Orleans disaster zone. (NR) Neptune Theater, 1303 N.E. 45th St., 206-781-5755. $10-$15. 7 p.m. Wed. Aug. 16.

Stooges-A-Poppin'! The GI continues its retrospective of the slapstick antics of the famously abusive, eye-poking, face-slapping comedians of rage and infantile regression. Short works are expected to include Hot Scots, Movie Maniacs,and Slippery Silks. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. Aug. 18-Sat. Aug. 19; also 12:30 p.m. Sat. July 19-Sun. July 20.

To Sir, With Love Better remembered as a song than a movie, this 1967 classroom drama was the Dangerous Minds of its day (or the Stand and Deliver for that matter, or Up the Down Staircase). Sidney Poitier stars as an idealistic substitute teacher presiding over a motley group of east London kids. Initially he's at odds with his pupils; then he begins to question his intention to leave as he gets to know them better. The girl known as Babs is played by teen pop star Lulu, who sings the often-covered title song. (NR) Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater, 206-684-7200. Free. Dusk. Fri. Aug. 18.

Billy Wilder Lecture Having edited Billy Wilder: Interviews a few years back, Everett Herald critic Robert Horton should have plenty of value to say about the late, great writer-director, born in the former Austro-Hungarian empire 100 years ago. Expect Horton to discuss and probably screen clips from such classics as Some Like It Hot, Ace in the Hole, and Double Indemnity. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 206-622-9250. Free. 2 p.m. Sun. Aug. 20.

 
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