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Friday, March 5, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW Reviewer, Read This: Subtitles Aren't Foreign To All

According to a movie review published in last week's University of Washington Daily, "the American version of `The Vanishing' is more fun to watch than the French one, mostly because one has the option of not suffering through subtitles."

Maybe it's the current status of the UW film series that inspire such declarations in the largest student newspaper in the state. In the 1960s and '70s, the UW routinely held local premieres of European movies by Louis Malle and Jacques Rivette, and campus series were devoted to the works of Fellini, Bunuel and other foreign filmmakers. But what was once an art-film center now shows mostly Hollywood movies that have just left the discount houses.

Fortunately, theaters just off-campus have taken up the slack, and they're pulling in more than students with those pesky subtitles. The Metro, Seven Gables, Varsity and Grand Illusion often show foreign-language films, establishing long-run records with a "Raise the Red Lantern" or a "Delicatessen," and the Neptune frequently books three or four of them a week.

"Delicatessen" will be back at the Neptune Monday night, along with another French-language success from last year, "Toto Le Heros." Wednesday night, the theater is kicking off a 12-film Hong Kong festival with a double bill of the popular sequel, "Chinese Ghost Story II," and the local premiere of a wide-screen Jackie Chan vehicle, "Supercop: Police Story III."

The latter is an astonishingly fluid and funny comedy-thriller that makes most American action movies seem lethargic. Performing his own stunts, Chan recalls the athletic grace of Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks Sr. as he flies through his chase scenes with astonishing ease, especially during a daredevil finale in which he dangles from a helicopter, lands on a train and uses his high-kicking techniques on a collection of outrageously persistent bad guys.

Two more premieres are on the Thursday program: Stanley Kwan's "The Actress," a reflective biography of China's first movie star, Ruan Ling-Yu, and a semibiography of Jackie Chan's early days, "Painted Faces." Tony Leung, who played the title role in last year's "The Lover," co-stars in "The Actress" with Maggie Cheung, who does a brave and subtle job of impersonating a legendary star. Clips from Ruan's silent films (the few that survive) are interwoven with Kwan and Cheung's re-creation of her story, which ended in scandal and suicide when she was just 25.

Still to come in this series: John Woo's "Hard-Boiled" and "A Better Tomorrow," March 17-18; "Peking Opera Blues" and the first "Chinese Ghost Story," March 19-20; "Savior of the Soul" and "Once Upon a Time in China II," March 24; and two more Jackie Chan movies, "Project A, Part II" and "Armour of God, Part II," March 25.

-- "BAD BUGS BUNNY" is back for a two-week run beginning tonight at the Pike St. Cinema at Pike and Boren, but with a slightly different subtitle: "The Darker Side of Warner Bros. Cartoons."

The theater's manager, Dennis Nyback, says he's had some run-ins with what he calls "the PC police" since he played a program of Warner Bros. cartoons called "Bad Bugs Bunny: The Dark Side of Warner Bros. Cartoons" in January.

This collection includes six of those cartoons and six different ones. Nyback claims he's altered the program because the six replacements are superior. He feels that "suppression of these films only serves the purpose of denying that America has an obvious history of racism and sexism."

The cartoons are hardly as offensive to minorities as, say, "The Birth of a Nation." Parodies such as "Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs" (1942) and "Clean Pastures" (1937) are aimed primarily at the absurdities in Disney's "Snow White" (the heroine here is called "So White") and the black stereotypes Marc Connelly perpetuated in his stage show, "The Green Pastures."

As often happens in Warner Bros. cartoons, real celebrities come in for a roasting, including Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Bing Crosby, whose lawyers once threatened legal action against Warner.

Made up mostly of cartoons that are cut or suppressed on television, the program will play nightly through March 18 at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.

AROUND TOWN: The Backtrack Cinema Society has scheduled a "Mighty Mouse Cartoon Festival" at 8 o'clock tonight at the Ditto Tavern, Fifth and Bell. The selection includes the first Mighty Mouse cartoon made for theaters, "Mouse of Tomorrow" (1944), and the last one, "Cat Alarm" (1960). Also on the program is "The Mighty Mouse Acoustic Orchestra and Vocal Ensemble." Tickets are $5. . . . The Seattle Art Museum and 911 Media Arts Center are screening a collection of Kenneth Anger's films, including "Scorpio Rising," "Invocation of My Demon Brother," "Puce Moment" and "Lucifer Rising," at 7:30 tonight at the museum's downtown auditorium. Tickets are $4 for museum and 911 members, $6 for others. The museum's British comedy series continues at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the same auditorium with a 35mm Cinema Scope print of Stanley Donen's rarely shown 1960 romantic comedy, "The Grass Is Greener," starring Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons, Robert Mitchum and music and lyrics by Noel Coward. . . . Sunday only, the Neptune is holding a tribute to the late Audrey Hepburn with a double bill of "Roman Holiday" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's." . . . Shining Moment Productions will screen "The Eternal Return," Jean Cocteau's 1943 version of "Tristan and Isolde," at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the Jewel Box Theater at the Rendezvous Restaurant. Tickets are $4.

OUT OF TOWN: Charles Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" will be shown at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Temple Theatre in Tacoma. Andy Crow will provide organ accompaniment. It's a benefit for the Tacoma 4th of July Commission's annual Freedom Fair and the Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society. For ticket information, call 841-0757. . . . The 16th Portland International Film Festival concludes this weekend with "Visions of Light: The Art of the Cinematographer," Vincent Ward's "Map of the Human Heart," Italy's "The Stolen Children," Finland's "Back in the USSR" and the Dutch film, "The Northerners." The festival ends Sunday night with a screening of "Tous les Matins du Monde." For information, call (503) 221-1156.

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

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