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Friday, February 19, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Look For `Matinee' To Be Among Best Family Films In '93

If you found the mean-spirited "Home Alone 2" a poor excuse for a family movie, you're not alone.

An organization called Families Watch Together, which is committed to calling attention to quality G-rated and PG-rated movies, couldn't find a place for Macaulay Culkin's violent antics on its list of the best family films of 1992. Polling the nation's newspaper critics, the group gave its seal of approval to 10 other movies, only one of which has been as big a box-office hit as "Home Alone 2."

Robert Redford's film about a Montana family, "A River Runs Through It," won first-place honors. Disney's blockbuster cartoon, "Aladdin," was No. 2, followed by "Howards End," "FernGully . . . The Last Rainforest," "Enchanted April," "A Brief History of Time," "A League of Their Own," "The Muppet Christmas Carol," Disney's "Newsies" and "Truly, Madly, Deeply."

"The critics' choice of `A River Runs Through It' underscores the mission of Families Watch Together," said the group's co-founders, Terry and Catherine Catchpole, who wrote "The Family Video Guide: Over 300 Movies to Watch With Your Children."

"It wasn't a huge box-office success and many parents may not think of it as a `family movie.' But, as the vote indicates, it's an excellent film for parents and children to watch together, and talk about later, and we hope this survey encourages more parents to do so."

For more information write to Families Watch Together, P.O. Box 812461, Wellesley, MA 02181.

A prime candidate for the group's 1993 list is Joe Dante's "Matinee," another family film in the best sense of the term. On one level it's a rousing re-creation of the best Saturday afternoon anyone ever had at the movies. On another it's a remarkable evocation of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Unfortunately, the picture has grossed less than $10 million, and it's fading fast. Maybe it's the title, maybe it's that John Goodman is more TV star than movie star, maybe it's just that it doesn't have Culkin or a toy tie-in.

Whatever the reason, "Matinee's" solid reviews and good vibes haven't been supported by critics of Hollywood's lack of "family values" - who sometimes seem to be everywhere but at the box office.

Also recommended for families this weekend: the fascinating 1929 Native American movie, "The Silent Enemy," playing at 1:15 p.m. tomorrow at the Neptune.

AROUND TOWN: Ford A. Thaxton's "Soundtrack Cinema," at 9 p.m. tomorrow on KING radio (98.1 FM), is a two-hour special featuring Laurence Rosenthal and Joel McNeely's music for "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles."

Tonight's show at the Pike St. Cinema (Pike and Boren) is a mixture of short films, starting at 7:30 with Gus Van Sant's "Little Jimmy and His Dog" and Ed Wood's "Crossroad Avenger," and live music, starting at 9 p.m. with singer-guitarist Joey Kline. The theater is also continuing its banned-film series at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. tomorrow with an early gay film, Jean Genet's "Un Chant D'Amour." This week's silent film at the same location is Fritz Lang's "Spies," at 7:30 p.m. only Sunday; musical accompaniment is by cellist Laurie Goldston. Tickets for all shows are $5.

A Gus Van Sant double bill, "Drugstore Cowboy" and "My Own Private Idaho," plays tomorrow night at the Neptune. The theater has also scheduled two Italian classics, "Icicle Thief" and "Cinema Paradiso," Sunday, and a wide-screen Gerard Depardieu double bill, "Jean de Florette" and "Camille Claudel," Monday night

At 7:30 and 9:30 tonight, the Jewel Box theater in the Rendezvous Restaurant is showing Rick Barnes' feature-length comedy "The Enquirers," which was filmed inside the Jewel Box a couple of years ago. At 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, the theater concludes its "Archetypes of Horror" series with Carl Dreyer's 1931 film "Vampyr." Next Friday and Saturday, a mixed film-and-performance show, "Truer West," is scheduled.

The Seattle Art Museum's British comedy series continues at 7:30 p.m. Thursday with the 1952 Alastair Sim comedy "Folly to be Wise." Janice Findley's "I Am the Night" will have its world premiere at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at the museum. It returns in March to New City Theater.

A program of new experimental films by women, "Just Beneath the Skin," plays at 8 o'clock tonight at 911 Media Arts Center. Titles include "Girls Daydream About Hollywood," "Second Skin" and "Chronicles of a Lying Spirit." At the same time next Friday, 911 will show Andy Warhol's "My Hustler." Tickets are $3 for 911 members, $5 for others.

Filmmaker Trinh Minh-ha will give a lecture, "A Musical Accuracy: Performing Across Cultures," at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Room 210 of Kane Hall at the University of Washington. Admission is free.

OUT OF TOWN: The Tacoma Art Museum is winding up its Black History Month series with a Thursday screening of the 1974 Harlem Renaissance film "From These Roots." A tour of the Faith Ringgold exhibition begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by the film at 7 p.m. Tickets are $3 for adults, $2 for students and seniors, $1 for children ages 6 to 12. Tuesday through May 23, the museum has the exhibition "Photographs of Weegee," drawn from the collection of New York photographer Arthur Fellig, who was played by Joe Pesci in last year's movie "The Public Eye."

The Rose Theater in Port Townsend is showing an early Chaplin short, "The Rink," along with the Robert Downey Jr. biography "Chaplin," tonight through Thursday. At 11:30 p.m. next Friday and Saturday, the Rose will show the 1968 film "Planet of the Apes," along with a Warner Bros. cartoon.

The Olympia Film Society is screening "Bob Roberts" and "The Living End," at 6:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday at the Capitol Theater in downtown Olympia. At midnight tomorrow at the same location, the society will screen the 3-D version of Alfred Hitchcock's "Dial M For Murder." For information, call (206) 754-6670.

The 16th Portland International Film Festival continues this weekend with "Strictly Ballroom," "Like Water For Chocolate" and "The Last Laugh." The festival will run through March 7. For information, call (503) 221-1156.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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