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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Three for a memorable weekend

The theaters I saw movies at over the Memorial Day weekend weren't particularly crowded. I'm not sure that's because of where I spent my time (mostly at AMC River Park Square) or because people had better things to do (the weather being, for the most part, fairly sunny).

Whatever, it made my own movie-theater navigation easier. Here's what I saw:

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" — Bryan Singer's latest "X-Men" variation is the best of the lot. By using a plot conceit that usually feels like a cheat, namely time travel, he (aided by his crew of storytellers) is able to tell a more comprehensive, weighty story and still be true to the various characters he uses. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are particularly good.

"Only Lovers Left Alive" — Jim Jarmusch's trademark movie style always has been the epitome of cool, even when that cool predated the hipster life as portrayed in such films as "Stranger Than Paradise" and "Mystery Train." His latest is, of all things, a vampire movie. But while the bare-bones plot might confound some moviegoers, I found the atmosphere his characters — mainly Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton — inhabit alluring. And, though different in most ways, the movie deserves to be ranked in the company of "The Hunger" and "Let the Right One In" as among the most unique vampire movies ever.

"Locke" — I knew going in that "Locke" was based on a plot device, which is that nearly the whole of this one-of-a-kind movie takes place in a car traveling on an English freeway. And during its 85-minute running time, actor Tom Hardy is shown portraying a character speaking, either on the phone or engaged in an imagined conversation with his absent father. Credit writer-director Stephen Knight, whose other screenplays include "Eastern Promises" and "Dirty Pretty Things," for casting the right guy: Hardy ("Inception," "Warrior") gives his character the gravitas/vulnerability that kept me intrigued until the very end.

Expect the "X-Men" film, based on its box-office success, to be around awhile. But the other two? They're likely one week and gone. So see them as soon as you can.