Dec. 7, 2005

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Cineoke Order yourself a stiff drink, choose a favorite song from a movie-musical (or possibly bring in your own), and get ready to make a fool of yourself for the benefit of friends and onlookers. JewelBox Theater at the Rendezvous, 2320 Second Ave., 206-441-5823. $5. 8 p.m. Mon. Dec. 12.

Critics' Year-End Panel It's the season of year-end awards and critics' ten-best lists, and our own Sheila Benson will appraise the hits and misses of 2005 with other writers including erstwhile SW contributor Kathleen Murphy. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 206-622-9250. 7:30 p.m. Fri. Dec. 9.

Double Suicide This 1969 adaptation of an 18th-century bunraku puppet play demonstrates what happens when passions get out of control: A paper merchant falls for a prostitute, threatening his family, and tragedy can only ensue. Interestingly, the same actress (Shima Iwashita) plays both his wife and the prostitute. In black-and-white, appropriate to the deterministic theme. (NR) UW Gowen Hall, Room 201. Free.7:30 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 8.

Fight Club Every lame buddy flick features a ritual fist fight that bonds its two male leads, and that clichéd meta-scene is the inspiration for this dark, gleefully incoherent 1999 comedy. Office drone Edward Norton receives his first beating from a loony, polyester-clad guy he meets on a plane (Brad Pitt). Turns out there's a whole nutty philosophy of male liberation to their fisticuffs—but just ignore it with the other manifestoes. In his first good movie, director David Fincher employs an elliptical structure of multiple flashbacks and fantasy sequences, digressing frequently to prowl the sordid details with slo-mo computer-generated camera trickery. Early on, Norton compulsively attends disease-survivor support groups—without being sick himself. It's a fresh, funny, fast-paced beginning, and FC's next two acts inevitably sag by comparison. Helena Bonham Carter barely dignifies her klepto-nympho role. (R) Egyptian, 805 E. Pine St., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. Midnight. Fri. Dec. 9-Sat. Dec. 10.

Firecracker Forget the David Lynch comparisons. Forget the scenes shot in black-and-white, then in color, to depict the double life of a murder victim, or the big, glaring Oedipus-appreciation sign that positions Karen Black as the deceased's mother and his secret carnival-show lover. Forget the fact that this is based on a shudderingly creepy true story (embellished with folklore), set in Wamego, Kansas, and that every single image in this film is disturbing, whether implicitly or explicitly. Just appreciate Black's performance as a crucifix-clutching, Mary-prayin' loony one minute, and a snuffing, crazed sideshow seductress the next. (Mike Patton from Faith No More is also cast in a double role.) And try not to think about the rest, because your multiple interpretations may drive you mad. Although the psychosis behind the story is unsettling, the temptation to pick director Steve Balderson's brain is unavoidable. Can't wait for the DVD commentary. (NR) CHRISTINA TWU Metro, 4500 Ninth Ave. N.E., 206-781-5755. $6-$9. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 8.

Funny Face Pure delight. Fred Astaire plays a fashion photographer (based on Richard Avedon) and Audrey Hepburn his new discovery. Stanley Donen directs the 1957 musical comedy; the songs are mostly by George and Ira Gershwin. The sendup of beatnik culture and the movement called "empathicalism" is hilarious and Kay Thompson ("Think Pink") is a hoot as Astaire's magazine editor. Screened on video; ticket includes discussion and snack. (G) Movie Legends, 2319 N. 45th St., 206-632-2092. $5. 1 p.m. Sun. Dec. 11.

Independent Exposure Eighteen short films are scheduled into one program (which repeats). Subjects include imperialism, kissing dogs, and a woman with a serious stocking fetish. Best of all, you can order drinks during the shows. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9 p.m. Wed. Dec. 14.

NWAAFF Preview Party The Northwest Asian-American Film Festival runs Jan. 26-29; here's a chance to learn what'll be shown, see some highlights, then drink and mingle at the after-party (which also includes karaoke). Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, 429B Eastlake Ave. E., 206-254-2824. RSVPs encouraged at $5. 8 p.m. Mon. Dec. 12.

Open Screening Bring it down on VHS or DVD, but nothing over 10 minutes in length, please. First come, first screened, and prepare for feedback. (NR) 911 Media Arts Center, 402 Ninth Ave. N., 206-682-6552. $2. 7 p.m. Mon. Dec. 12.

Pootie Tang Given the pants-peeing audacity of Pootie Tang's inspired prologue, it's a shame how thuddingly inept and unfunny the remainder of this 2001 comedy is. At the onset, producer Chris Rock and cronies from his undiluted HBO days give us a blaxploitation banana split: inarticulate, crime-fighting celebrity Pootie Tang (think Bean for the playa set) takes on a smorgasbord of gimmicky, Dick Tracy-style baddies, armed with his dead poppa's ass-whuppin' magic belt. Writer-director Louis C.K. paints his one-joke hero into a corner that a feature-length film cruelly magnifies. (PG-13) ANDREW BONAZELLI Grand Illusion, 1403 N.E. 50th St., 206-523-3935. $5-$7.50. 11 p.m. Fri. Dec. 9-Sat. Dec. 10.

Poster Sale Not sure what to give your favorite movie lover for the holidays? Hundreds of posters from 2005 titles will be on sale. Early shoppers will likely benefit most. Seven Gables, 911 N.E. 50th St., 206-781-5755. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. Dec. 10.

Screenwriters Salon In what will apparently be a guided group discussion, aspiring screenwriters will examine what makes It's a Wonderful Life tick. Director Frank Capra was one of five writers who contributed to the 1946 holiday perennial (which coincidentally begins its annual run at the Grand Illusion Dec. 16). Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., 206-322-7030. Free or $2-$5 (depending on memberships). 7:30 p.m. Wed. Dec. 14.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Ah, yes, the yuletide season brings us Pia Zadora the way she was always meant to be—stilted, seventh-billed, and in green make-up. Future camp icon Zadora has a small part as Girmar, one of two distracted tots from Mars who concern father Kimar by "sitting in front of the video set all day watching those ridiculous Earth programs." What else is a loving parent to do but kidnap St. Nick? Huh? This 1964 holiday dud is so random and numbingly inept it's guaranteed to bore the bejeezus out of children who aren't already put off by its unintentional creepiness. (The older actors, all clearly in a professional Hell, don't convey much mirth.) Adults so inclined, however, can savor choice dialogue gut-busters delivered with the grimmest sincerity. Our favorite: Kimar, unable to get Zadora and Martian brother to go to bed, tells his wife, "I had to use the sleep spray on them again." (NR) Steve Wiecking Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 and 9:15 p.m. Wed. Dec. 7 and Fri. Dec. 9-Sat. Dec. 10. Also 4:30 p.m. Sat. Dec. 10.

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan Local critic Tom Keogh, valued former staff writer at our sibling Eastsideweek, will introduce this 1982 feature, still judged by many to be the best of the big-screen Star Trek spinoffs. Ricardo Montalban has a blast as Khan, chewing the scenery with a determination that not even William Shatner can match, and that's saying something. Apart from the brain-eating worm Khan puts in Chekov's ear, the climactic moment of this revenge opera has got to be Khan's immortal, Moby-Dick-cribbed lines, "From hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee." (PG) Experience Music Project (JBL Theater), 325 Fifth Ave. N., 206-367-5483. $4-$6. 4 p.m. Sun. Dec. 11.

Tetsuo: The Iron Man Shinya Tsukamoto's 1988 Japanese fable about a guy gradually turning into metal is accompanied by live music from Metal Men & Bill Horist. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 p.m. Sun. Dec. 11.

When the Spirits Dance Mambo Discussion follows this documentary screening about the legacy of African spiritual practices in Latin American countries like Cuba, whence the mambo craze was born in the 1950s. (NR) Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave., 206-686-6684. $5. 7 p.m. Thurs. Dec. 8.

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