Nov. 29-Dec. 7, 2006

Béla Tarr invades the Northwest Film Forum.

The Big Combo The next-to-last installment in SAM's film noir cycle, Joseph Lewis' 1955 tale of mob scandal stars Jean Wallace as a reformed femme fatale. (NR) Museum of History and Industry, 2700 24th Ave. E., 654-3121. $58-$65 (series), individual ticket price not provided. May be sold out. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Nov. 30.

Dark Passage The third in the GI's Bogie/Bacall series stylishly posits Bogart as a prisoner on the lam and Bacall as his girl Friday. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935. $5.50-$7.50 Fri. Dec. 1-Thurs. Dec. 7.

Encounter Point The directors of Control Room explore the stories of an Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother, and a wounded Palestinian brother who have all sacrificed something in the conflict between them. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380. $5-$8. 7 and 9:15 p.m. (7 only on Tues.), Tues. Dec. 5.-Thurs. Dec. 7.

Ethiopian Film Fest The Blue Nile Children's Organization hosts this fund-raising event for a new medical clinic in Ethiopia by screening three films by Tewodros Teshome, who will be present for discussion afterward. (NR) Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., 684-4710. $10-25. 11 a.m. Sat. Dec. 2.

Green Film Series "Transforming City Spaces and Landscapes," co-hosted by the Sierra Club of Seattle, is the topic of this set of docs: A Lot in Common shows a BART lot's transformation to community garden; Pomegranate Center explores that organization's efforts to create a gathering space. (NR) 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave. N., 682-6552. $5. 7:30 p.m. Fri. Dec. 1.

NWFF Holiday Party Vintage holiday TV is screened at this bash, where you can sit on Santa's lap and sip a "Crazy Delicious" (hot cocoa and Rumplemintz, we hear) with your fellow movie buffs. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380. Free. 7 p.m. Mon. Dec. 4.

Sátántangó The NWFF begins a three-title Béla Tarr retrospective with his seven-hour magnum opus, a bleakly comic 1994 allegory of social disintegration on the muddy vacuum of the central plain Hungarians call the puszta. (This emptiness becomes amazingly rich, textured, and visceral.) Sátántangó is a characteristically East European tale of charismatic swindlers casting their spell on hapless peasants. Indeed, Tarr's hypnotic film constructs somewhat the same relationship with its viewers, as his camera circles his actors in lengthy continuous takes and he constructs his narrative out of these morose blocks of real time. Sátántangó has fewer shots than the average 90-minute feature, and two hour-long chunks of it would be remarkable movies in their own right. In one, a fat, drunken doctor spies on his neighbors, runs out of booze, and is forced to make an epic trek through torrential rain to get another bottle; in another, a 10-year-old girl poisons a cat and then herself. Not until halfway through the movie is it apparent that much of the action is unfolding simultaneously. (NR) J. HOBERMAN Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380. $5-$8. 2 p.m. Fri. Dec. 1-Sun. Dec. 3.

SIFF Poster Auction and Holiday Movie This year's festivities begin with a silent auction of popular and classic movie posters, followed by a screening of that candy-colored tear-jerker, Edward Scissorhands. (PG-13) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684. Auction begins at 5 p.m. $10-$12. Sat. Dec. 2.

Snow Falling on Cedars Visually, this scenic 1999 treatment of David Guterson's much-overrated 1995 best seller holds some promise, but turns out to be inert and literal-minded. As a Japanese-American war hero is charged with murder, reporter Ethan Hawke leers at the defendant's wife (Youki Kudoh of Mystery Train), his secret childhood sweetheart. His memories of her are sleek and fetishistic, but one-sided, making her the passive object of his ardor. The trial mainly serves as a framing device for Snow's gripping flashbacks of the WWII internment of Japanese-Americans and the combat faced by Hawke and the defendant (Rick Yune). Good-looking yet ultimately blank, Hawke is appropriately cast in this handsome, hollow picture. (NR) Orianda Guilfoyle Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 686-6684. $5. 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Wed. Nov. 29-Sun. Dec. 3.

Sophie Scholl: The Final Days One of the generally weak foreign-language nominees at the 2006 Oscars, this dramatization of the arrest and trial of an anti-Nazi dissident during World War II draws on "court" records discovered in the former East Germany since The White Rose addressed the same topic in 1982. But fresh transcripts do not fresh movies make. The Nazi court is obviously a kangaroo court, and Sophie (Julia Jentsch) and her small, brave band of fellow students are inevitably convicted and executed. There is no drama, no surprise. The material might work onstage, where two breathing actors could enliven the transcripts of the dead, but German cinema has moved beyond the need for any more such tedious self-flagellation. Sophie was good and the Nazis were evil. The movie is only alarming in its embrace of Protestant martyrdom at a time when we're trying to get the Muslim world to, you know, abandon such uncivilized notions. (NR) BRIAN MILLER Keystone Church, 5019 Keystone Pl. N., 632-6021. Free. 7 p.m. Fri. Dec. 1.

This is Spinal Tap Turn it up to 11! The original 1984 "rockumentary" returns, still the best film Rob Reiner has ever made. That's owing mainly to the writing and improvisational talents of its main cast (including Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer). Basically, you can't go wrong with this one. In the immortal words of Artie Fufkin (The Letterman show's Paul Shaffer), "Do me a favor. Just kick my ass, OK?" (R) BRIAN MILLER Egyptian, 801 E. Pine St., 781-5755. $6.25-$9.25. Midnight. Fri. Dec. 1-Sat. Dec. 2.

Twisted A preview of this new documentary tells the stories of people living with the neurological disorder dystonia. (NR) Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380. Free, but RSVP to rsvp@communitycinemaseattle.com. 4 p.m. Sat. Dec. 2.

We Found it in the Basement Assembled from the Grand Illusion's secret trove of celluloid oddities, this ragtag, 100-minute program is a visual mash-up of cartoons, previews, industry shorts, and God only knows what else. (NR) Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 523-3935. $2.50-$5. 11 p.m. Fri. Dec. 1-Sat. Dec. 2.

 
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