by Ted S. Mcgregor Jr.

After its summer-long orgy of sequels and based-on-a-comic-book masterpieces, Hollywood catches its breath here for a couple of months. It reloads its hit machine by November, but during September and October, a few other film offerings get a chance at attracting the ticket-buying public's attention. In the Inland Northwest, film lovers can take advantage by seeing an art house film at the Met, the Panida or the Kenworthy, catching a classic at the Garland or even taking in a brown bag lunchtime lecture by local film critic Bob Glatzer.

That doesn't mean there's nothing happening at mainstream theaters Regal and AMC. In fact, you can see a movie for free at any Regal cinema on Thursday, Oct. 2. At Regal's annual Cans Film Festival, if you bring three cans of food in, you'll get into the film of your choice and be treated to a small popcorn to boot.

Down at AMC, they're devoting one screen every weekend during the month of October to their fourth annual classic film festival. For $3, you can catch a beloved film up on the big screen with premium sound. This year's schedule looks like this: Oct. 3, Airplane; Oct. 4, Easy Rider; Oct. 5, Citizen Kane; Oct. 10, Office Space; Oct. 11, Die Hard; Oct. 12, The Magnificent Seven; Oct. 17, Wayne's World; Oct. 18, Singin' in the Rain; Oct. 19, Chinatown; Oct. 24, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Oct. 25, Silence of the Lambs; and Oct. 26, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

This week, AMC also is hosting not one but two premieres with filmmakers on hand. At 7 pm, Friday, Sept. 12, first-time director Tony Shalhoub (TV's Monk) will be in the theater to introduce his film Made Up, and answer questions afterwards. (For the full story, see our Film section on page 22.) At 7:45 pm that same evening, the folks from North by Northwest will discuss and screen their latest effort, the filmed-in-Spokane Hangman's Curse (see story below).

And Hollywood will be giving you plenty of other reasons to check out the mainstream theaters when some big-name stars and highly anticipated films hit the screens later in the fall. Tom Cruise is back in The Last Samurai, and the Wachowski brothers finish up their trilogy with Matrix Revolutions, which will also be shown at the IMAX. Just before Thanksgiving, Mike Myers will put on the red-and-white hat and play the lead in The Cat in the Hat (good news for producers: Dr. Seuss already wrote the sequel). December 17 marks the beginning of the end of what is sure to become the biggest film series in history, as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King opens. And as is always the case, Academy Award-seekers will be released on Christmas, this year including Cold Mountain with Nicole Kidman.

As mentioned, art house films are trickling into the Inland Northwest. The Met screens them whenever they have a few open days in a row; the Kenworthy in Moscow aims to have one each Sunday night; and the Panida offers a handful, too. With the spectacular Winged Migration having just flown south, the only film on the Met schedule is Spellbound (Sept. 15-19), the reportedly riveting documentary about the national championship spelling bee. (Watch The Inlander every week for the latest art house films to be scheduled at the Met.) On Nov. 21-23, the Banff Mountain Film Festival will hit the Met. Made up of the best of that prestigious festival, the films of all lengths and styles are required to address the idea of mountain culture, leading to everything from insights on native peoples to the crazy things people do on vertical surfaces.

Down at the Kenworthy, last year's Sunday-only schedule has been expanded: most films will run Friday through Sunday. This weekend (Sept. 12-14), it's Man on a Train, a celebrated French film that charts the chance meeting of a criminal and a poetry teacher. On Sept. 20, there's a 2 pm screening of the locally produced independent feature First Aid for Choking. Shot in Moscow, it's about the troubled past of a young woman who works in a small-town beauty school. The rest of their schedule is as follows: The Shape of Things, Sept. 20-21; Winged Migration, Sept. 26-Oct. 2 (except for Sept. 27); Dirty Pretty Things, Oct. 3-5; Whale Rider, Oct. 10-12; The Secret Lives of Dentists, Oct. 17-19; Bowling for Columbine, Oct. 26; Northfork, Oct. 31-Nov. 2; Legend of Suriyo Thai, Nov. 9; and I Capture the Castle, Nov. 16. But the highlight could be the just-in-time-for-Halloween run (Oct. 24-25) of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Check the Kenworthy Web site to learn about the etiquette of attending this campy film starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry.

At the Panida in Sandpoint, things start out this week with Whale Rider, a coming-of-age tale set among the ancient Maoris, on Sept. 11-13. Winged Migration, the Academy Award-nominated documentary about the lives of birds, will be screened Oct. 9-11. After that, it's all about getting ready to ski. On Oct. 18, the 54th Warren Miller ski film, Journey, will be shown. Details are sketchy at the moment, but the locales include Morocco, Chamonix, Aspen and Alaska. (Journey also plays at the Spokane Opera House on Nov. 9.) On Oct. 24-25, the Telluride Mountain Film Festival hits the Panida, with the Teton Gravity Ski Board film to follow on Nov. 1.

At the downtown Spokane Public Library, you can get deeper into the movies over lunch. Bring a brown bag and listen as noted film critic Bob Glatzer shares his insights, along with clips from some of movie history's best moments. The series started on Sept. 10, but continues on Sept. 17 with "The Great Movie Musical Stars" and on Sept. 24 with "Film's Great Dramas," concluding Oct. 1 with "The Whole Western Gang of Film."

The Garland will be offering up slices of movie history, too, with a classic series. On Sept. 24, see one of the great American films of all time, Casablanca. Bogie's in fine form in The Maltese Falcon on Oct. 8. On Oct. 22, see Gene Kelly at his best in Singin' in the Rain. Find out who Boo Radley really is on Nov. 12 in To Kill a Mockingbird. On Nov. 2, it's an all-star cast with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and James Stewart in The Philadelphia Story. And on Dec. 10, Alfred Hitchcock is at his least menacing and perhaps most entertaining in To Catch a Thief, with Grace Kelly. All these classics will screen twice a day.

For film on the fringe, Spokane will be treated to at least one festival this fall. Flicker Film Fests have been held in cities across North America, and they are made up of a mix of local films and ones from previous festivals. The Flicker Fest hits Spokane on Oct. 12 at CenterStage. Stoic, an avant-garde B & amp;W Super-8 short film made by four local filmmakers, will premiere at the Flicker Film Festival. In addition to Stoic, several other short independent films from around the country will be shown, including (perhaps) a quasi-documentary called Have You Seen Axl Rose?

And we've saved the biggest for last. At Riverfront Park's IMAX Theater, three new films will be opening this fall. As mentioned, Matrix Revolutions will open on Nov. 5. Two days later, however, a new holiday tradition may be launched when Santa vs. the Snowman debuts. Hatched in the brain of Steve Oedekerk after he wondered why no new Christmas specials were being made, the short film employs the latest in digital animation and will be presented in 3-D. Oedekerk isn't a household name, but some of his work is: Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor (he wrote them) and Jimmy Neutron (he created it). His Christmas world is updated for jaded, postmodern kids: Santa (voiced by Jonathan Winters) is more CEO than grandpa, and the Snowman is the poor rube who thinks Christmas should be about more than shopping. What ensues is a battle for the soul of everyone's favorite holiday, waged with hot cocoa squirt guns and dangerous gobs of fruitcake. Looks like a winner.

Finally, on Christmas Day, IMAX will open Disney's The Young Black Stallion, a prequel to the 1979 film. This one is set in Africa, when a young girl deserted (in the desert, no less) after World War II is rescued by a horse. She brings the horse home with her, and it becomes a winning racer. With sweeping cinematography, it's an IMAX-only release that's designed to get the most out of the giant format.

Publication date: 09/11/03

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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...