Cameron Crowe's film about groupies, Lester Bangs, and learning to ROCK in the '70s. The truth of the matter is that this film is nothing more or nothing less than a light and entertaining crowd pleaser. Fine, but it still comes across so...clean. Like R-rated content in a PG-13 package.
The Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), using nothing but a 16mm camera and their unadulterated obsessions, document the Black American Pimp: the Blaxploitation hero/cultural caricature of our often-hysterical, sexed-up society. Winner of last year's Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Au Hasard Balthazar
Director Robert Bresson's 1966 classic film about the relationship between a woman and her donkey. (And we swear there's nothing dirty going on.)
Jamie Foxx stars as another black man under surveillance by White America.
Brendan Fraser makes faustian deals with the devil (all tits and ass and Elizabeth Hurley)! See review this issue.
* Best In Show
A dog show docu-parody from the makers of Waiting for Guffman. Most of Guffman's cast returns in different proportions, and all new guises. And while it might not be quite up to Guffman-level...well, but what is?
An adorable film about a sweet boy who wants to dance instead of working in a coal mine. Can you imagine !?
Bring it On
High school cheerleaders must endure endless practices and bikini waxes to compete in the national championships! While Kirstin Dunst is deeply annoying, the entire cast is filled with so much goddamn PEP, it's hard not to be swept up in the fun. Plus, all these high school cuties are hot, hot, HOT!
Brownfields in our Backyard
Students from the McCoy Academy Public Charter School and videomaker Patrick Rosenkranz produced this video about abandoned and potentially contaminated property in Multnomah County.
* But I'm a Cheerleader
Director Jamie Babbitt's feature debut may be a bit forced, but Natasha Lyonne as a cheerleader thought to be lesbian, is both believable and charming. Lyonne is sent to a homosexual rehabilitation camp run by RuPaul and Cathy Moriarty, and learns the valuable lesson that sexual orientation isn't as cut and dried as one might think. (Wm. Steven Humprey)
* The Cell
Viewed conceptually, this film is remarkable: an acutley visual journey through a serial killer's mind that is both deranged and ethereal. To achieve this, director Tarsem Duamdwar uses special effects in a unique way, one that relies not only on sophisticated, expensive technology, but also preys on your worst fears of sex, violence, and insanity--all presented in surprisingly beautiful aesthetics; Even when killer D'onofrio is slowly twirling out the intestines of Vince Vaughn, he does so with delicate scissors in a celestial room adorned with garish, golden decadence. The whole movies smacks of Alice in Wonderland, yet relies on the founding images of Catholicism; at one point Jennifer Lopez appears as Virgin Mary, ready to kill the evil beast with her enormous sword. Unfortunately, Lopez and her co-star Vince Vaughn remain true to the same, paper-thin characters they always play; beautiful, compassionate, out to save the world, blah, blah, blah. But the movie is undoubtedly worth seeing anyway--just think of them as background. (Katia Dunn)
* Chicken Run
Chicken Run is about chickens trying to escape. It is very funny and exciting; each chicken has a great sense of humor and is weird. Mel Gibson is the voice of Rocky, and Julia Sawalha (from Absolutely Fabulous) is Ginger. It all starts when Rocky the Chicken comes blasting over the fence and everybody thinks he can fly. The chickens ask him to teach them to fly but they don't make any progress. Something fishy is going on--Mrs. Tweedy (the farmer's wife) has a machine that lets the chickens go in and pies come out. They do whatever they can to resist becoming pies. (Sam Lachow & Maggie Brown)
Liberals have won the culture wars, and it's embarrassing. In this Hollywood version of the Lewinsky affair (with the Clinton character recast as a woman), the Democrats make all the great speeches you wish they'd made during the 104th Congress and the Republicans are as simply evil and as plainly hypocritical as you wish they were. The Contender plays like it was funded by the DNC and scripted by a college sophomore taking her first Intro to Women's Studies class. The first hour of the movie--featuring murders, behind-the-scenes White House meetings, strong arm politicking, and secret memos--is actually a blast, but once the the trite sermonizing kicks in (Democrats are pro-choice!) you'll start wishing they'd just cut to more footage of the sex scandal. (It seems Senator Laine Hanson, played by Joan Allen, got drunk and fucked a whole crew of boys one night in her past.) A B-movie about a B-rate episode in American history. One plus, though: Allen is fetching. (Josh Feit)
Mike Hodges' 1998 masterpiece Croupier makes a convincing case that a sleazy and specialized profession--in this case, the guy who rolls the ball and collects the chips at a roulette table--is a perfect metaphor for existential malaise. Jack (the very beautiful Clive Owen), is a wannabe London novelist with nothing to write, and no money coming in. He reluctantly takes a job as a croupier/dealer at a casino, and almost instantly becomes addicted--not to gambling, but to watching people lose. Like nearly all great films, Croupier is great specifically because of its genre trappings. It's the inevitability factor that gives the movie the power to be more than it seems. (Sean Nelson)
* Dancer in the Dark
Lars von Trier's new film may be an self-absorbed intellectual trainwreck, but Bjork is fucking awesome!
DIGIMON Not to be confused with Digimon: The Emerging Third Party in the American Political System.
A heroic muddle of pre-history, computer animation, and talking monkeys, this entertaining flicker posits that dinosaurs might have survived if only they'd learned to work together. If you're the kind of person who wished Jurassic Park had dispensed with all that plot and character crap and just made with the giant reptiles, this might be the one for you.
Dr. T and the Women
Richard Gere as a gynecologist?? Ewwwwwwww!!
Why see this mish-mash of cheesy product placements and a dozen contradictory genres? Not for Gwyneth as a skinny showgirl doing karaoke--see what I mean about contradictions? For Paul Giamatti. You may have forgotten his name, but his head and jowls make a figure eight, bags like eggcups under his eyes--first-rate comic apparatus. The script gives him nothing, the camera is either up his nose or jerking off in some awkward middle distance, and still he made me laugh out loud singing "Hello, It's Me." If he had two solos instead of one, I would recommend the movie. (Barley Blair)
Perhaps one of the greatest and grossest (with the largest amount of vomit per square foot of film ever) movies in recent decades, this 1973 thrilled sparked in-theatre hysteria and a new genre of psychological thrillers. The well-known premise mimics every parent's nightmare: That one's child is literally possessed by the devil. Sure, there are the indelible scenes as an adorable, vomit-splattered Linda Blair turns her head 360 degrees and violently masturbates with a crucifix. And, yes, there are the crowd-pleasing insults (to the exorcising priest from the adorable Blair: "Your mother sucks cocks in hell"). But, there also are many light touches--such as the bumbling detective desperately trying to score a date, the thieving priest who steals whiskey from confessing sinners and the chain-smoking doctor who gives Blair a spinal tap-that earned the movie nine Academy nominations (but only award) and four Golden Globes.
Eyes of Tammy Faye
A documentary on the rise and fall of former evangelist, druggie, and eyeliner addict, Tammy Faye Baker.
The Five Senses
Like trying to separate taste from smell, the characters of this film blend into one intimate experience. A cake maker, a masseuse, a mother of a missing child, and the freakish teenager who lost the young girl: all of these female characters proceed as an amalgamation. The film is exciting with surprises, a quality that fits nicely with its title. Something is vacant at the very center, though, and I suspect it's the uniting element of the senses: unconsciousness. Then, the story finishes by resolving itself too poignantly. (Paula Gilovich)
Sly Stallone stars as a New York mob enforcer who travels to LA for his brother's funeral. When he discovers that his brother had been murdered, Sly sets off to take revenge on the people responsible. BTW, you can place a bid on the goatee Stallone is sporting in this "brilliant" film on eBay. No shit!
* Girl on the Bridge
Patrice Leconte (Ridicule) has recently been outshined by the directors of the so-called "new new wave," which is unfortunate, as he is certainly one of the best directors working in France. Girl on the Bridge offers further evidence. A ravishing, breezily paced tale of amour fou, Girl on the Bridge stars Daniel Auteuil as a Svengali-like knife-thrower who meets his perfect foil in Vanessa Paradis' Adele. What makes the film great, though, is Leconte's feel for the effect of place on people: The roads are beckoning, Monte Carlo is impulsive, and Istanbul is confusion itself. Auteuil is never less than his dour self, and Paradisa gap-toothed woman, it's worth noting--is stunning throughout.
In Brooklyn's Red Hook district, Punchy Diana wants nothing more than to kick some ass in the ring, but nasty Daddy poo-poos the idea. It's an interesting, moving story with a bunch of crappy sub-plots seeping in to ruin the whole thing.
Forget that crappy-ass film with Matthew Broderick! This is the real Japanese-style shit! Godzilla can't get a good millennium's sleep without some asshole monster waking him up. This time a floating rock washes up which contains a UFO, which also happens to contain a monster named Gora! Gora gets all in Godzilla's shit, which forces Big G to burn Gora's ass off with his atomic ray. Films don't get much more subtle than this. (Wm. Steven Humprey)
Gone in 60 Seconds
You've seen the trailer, now see the remake of this obscure car-thief movie, which has been revamped and given the full Bruckheimer treatment (shame a bunch of good actors with massive paychecks so your crappy film has the patina of class). Big, red, fast, and loud-Kids'll love it!
Filmed at many of Portland's hipster hang-outs and by hometown filmmaker Andrew Dickson, this coming-of-age story may feel a bit too close to home. Although the acting is spotty and, at times, the meager budget is far too apparent, the premise of a teen geek struggling as his friends outgrow their fantasy world is captivating. See review this issue.
Goya in Bordeaux
In this spiritual cousin to Cezanne in Chardonnay, the titular sculptor must face his darkest demons while exiled in--where else? France. Can he explain the mysterious death of his lover to his young daughter before the wine gets cold? Wait and see.
The characters are good, the writing is terrible, and the acting so much worse. But magically, like taking a little pill, the movie makes you wonder--what if you had fallen into the rave life?--and you catch yourself picking out your DJ moniker? The movie also lets you comfortably writhe in embarrassment and smirk at this silly culture. Writer/director Greg Harrison makes raves seductive with great music, romantically empty warehouses, and good drugs. He laughs pretty hard at the PLUR scene, though, knowing exactly how falsely fulfilling it is with its glitter, lollipops, and new VW Bugs.
Hand Game: The Native North American Game of Power and Chance
This documentary, filmed by Lawrence Johnson, explores a fairly simple Native American game of chance, originally used for inter-tribal trade, and now played as a gambling event, like bingo. Interesting look at a hidden part of Native American culture, but better for sociologists and Discovery Channel addicts than those looking for a thrill.
The Hollow Man
Kevin Bacon stars as a scientist who discovers a serum for turning invisible. Which reminds me, a really good question to ask someone when you're just starting to date them is "Would you rather be able to fly, or turn invisible?" If they say "fly," then they're a keeper. People who wanna turn invisible are always sneaking around and getting in your shit. Never trust people who want to be invisible. Especially if it's Kevin Bacon.
The Ladies Man
Poor Tim Meadows. He stuck around long after the last talented SNL cast member cashed in and went home and still finished behind latecomers Molly Shannon, Chris Kattan, and Will Ferrell in the SNL 90-minute sketch sweepstakes. Now it's his turn to expand a paper-thin premise that made four minutes seem like an hour into a feature film.
LEGEND OF SURAM FORTRESS
Based on a Russian folk tale, a young boy must be stuck inside a fortress wall to keep it from crumbling.
Legend of the Drunken Master
Miramax attempts to make a little more money by dubbing Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II into English, and then re-releasing it. Meanwhile, fans of the Crow series have demanded a boycott of the film, in a harebrained attempt to convince Miramax to release The Crow: Salvation. Angry Jackie Chan fans responded by arguing that a boycott of Legend of the Drunken Master only really hurts Jackie Chan. Blood is gonna fly! Mark our words!
Long Night's Journey Into Day
This sobering documentary examines four cases presented to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established to offer amnesty to those who committed crimes during the period when the nation was ruled by apartheid. Long Night's Journey is essentially a story about forgiveness; why it's asked for, and why it's given or denied. In the '80s, "Free South Africa" buttons were commonly seen on the lapels of your political correct folks; Long Night's Journey offers an absorbing look at the real life stories behind the Big Issue, and how a country is still struggling to reconcile itself to its past. (Gillian G. Gaar)
Right on the heels of The Exorcist's re-release comes this pale imitation of a diabolical thriller, starring Ben Chaplin as an unwitting antichrist and Winona Ryder as the black-eyed, whispery mope who must convince him of his impending demonic possession. The few moments of suspense toward the end don't make up for the dull, plodding, wreck of a script, and it would take a superhuman suspension of disbelief to swallow the ridiculous plot lines ("SEX" spelled backwards equals 666?). You'll be wishing the devil would just hurry up and take you long before the film's "day of reckoning" arrives.
Tippi Hendren robs her boss and does the old identity switcheroo in this Hitchcock film from 1964. Also starring Sean Connory as the befuddled boyfriend. Take that, James Bond!
* Meet the Parents
Jewish complications (along with a smidgen of hilarity) ensue when Ben Stiller meets the pop of his new g-friend, Robert DeNiro. Ben is a male nurse who must travel to an unnamed metropolis to ask his future father-in-law for permission to marry his daughter. But wait! There's trouble brewing, because DeNiro is (surprisingly enough) KA-RAZY! Oh, goodness! This will certainly place Mr. Stiller in the most hilarious of predicaments!
* The Most Terrible Time in My Life
The Most Terrible Time in My Life is a wonderful film composed of the most basic elements. It has a young, handsome, private detective who specializes in tracking down people and drives around a big city in a cool convertible. Then we have a gangland war, a sidekick who drives a taxi and walks and talks in a clumsy manner, and a struggle to the death between two brothers who are hit men for the mob. But what is most impressive to me is the glorious style of this film: It's simply gorgeous! See review this issue.
Director Robert Bresson examines the final day in the life of a peasant girl in an isolated French village.
Night and the City
Robert DeNiro stars in this remake of the 1950 classic, where a New York loser tries to start up a boxing night, and runs afoul of the mob.
Not Love Just Frenzy
On the evidence of this awful film, Spanish people are even more annoying about sex than the goddamn French. The film itself is a mess: a twentysomething erotic thriller, with all the cliched characterizations intact-a fiesty bartender/actress who packs a pistol and uses sex as a weapon, a shy little cutie whose only male contact is her happy fag roomie, and a confused introvert with a secret past. All three are galvanized by the arrival of a studly gigolo who may or may not be a murderer, and blah, blah, blah. But the absolute worst part of this lame film is the aggressive sense of "sexy" that comes hissing out at you, like a stupid person with a big penis.
Betty (Renèe Zellweger), a diner waitress, settles comfortably into a thick confusion after accidentally witnessing her sleazy drug-dealer husband's murder. She instantly blocks out reality, and drives to Los Angeles in pursuit of her favorite soap-opera character, whom she believes is her long-lost true love. On paper, this sounds great--onscreen it's surprisingly disappointing. After watching these relentless caricatures strut around for 112 minutes, it's difficult to keep caring, and to keep rooting for Betty in earnest. (Min Liao)
The Original Kings of Comedy
Another of Spike Lee's so-called "jointz," this one being a documentary which shows stand-up comics Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, D.L. Hughley, and Bernie Mac in action.
OK, remember that episode of The Simpsons where Mel Gibson remade Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and ended up impaling the President on a flagpole or some such silliness? Well, now he's gone and made a three-hour movie that's just like that, but without the irony or humor. It's set in a colonial America where slaves and owners get along pretty darn well, the British are a bunch of baby-killing, dog-kicking hooligans, and the one French guy around makes Gerard Depardieu sound like Peter Jennings (don't worry, there's no sign of the Native Americans in this heartwarming saga). Did I mention that the movie justifies killing wounded soldiers and teaching your kids to fight in war, as long as it's for something you really believe in? And have I gotten around the sheer pomposity and lack of anything resembling subtlety in the film? And another thing--hey, leggo, I'm not done yet! There's this part where Mel- (Marc Mohan)
Pay it Forward
Kevin Spacey covered his face with Play-Doh for this strange, American study of karma. Also starring the kid from The Sixth Sense, which could possibly mean that Kevin Spacey is one dead son-of-a-bitch.
A Perfect Storm
Plot: Fishermen fight storm in hopes of getting home to some pussy. Protagonists: Marky Mark, Dr. Ross, Happy's competitor in Happy Gilmore, a few guys who are in every other movie, some no-names. Villains: Hurricane Grace, backed by two other vengeful storms. The money-grubbing boat owner. Perks: Awesome special effects: 50-foot sea swells, water rescues, hurricane clouds etc. Downers: Canned dialogue, excessive machismo, totally stupid ending. Recommendation: If you're looking for a marijuana freak-out, smoke some and head to this flick. If you're looking for an Academy Award Nominee, forget it. (Katie Shimer)
A in-depth look at the Black Panther movement, including interviews with co-founder Bobby Seale, law professor Kathleen Cleaver, poet/playwright Jamal Joseph, and musician Nile Rodgers. Power to the people!
Remember the Titans
Denzel Washington coaches a bi-racial high school football team. Will they win the big game? Or more importantly, will they have any nudie locker room scenes?
One of the great heist films of all time-filmed in beautiful French-O-Vision!
We've seen this movie before: A British fishing village, a lot of friendly villagers, the local pub, and a big plan that involves flouting the law in a relatively benign way but leads to an extended situation comedy. In Saving Grace, the situation involves a widowed middle-aged woman who cultivates pot to escape financial ruin. The town turns a blind eye because they love her dearly. She travels to London to sell her stash (phenomenal amounts of high-grade bud) and the plan falls apart. Before it's over, the movie, too, falls apart. This is a cute, light comedy with the humor based on contrast--a nice woman selling drugs, a responsible hippie dealer who has to pick his daughter up at flute lessons before Dungeons and Dragons night, and a career criminal who is nothing but kind. (Monica Drake)
Though I can't say Scary Movie was particularly witty, or even clever, the cast performs their over-the-top slapstick with such good-natured intentions, it's hard not to be swept up in the fun. Sure, there are the requisite off-color jokes directed at gays, potheads, teen sex, and the mentally challenged, but unlike the Farrelly brothers (Something About Mary, Kingpin), Wayans delivers punchlines as a nudge in the ribs rather than a slap across the face. (Wm. Steven Humprey)
Three old retired Air Force pilots want one last ride into outer space. Christ! Isn't it bad enough that these old farts always get the beautiful young chicks in the movies? And now they want to go into space, too? Forget it, Grandpa! It's off to the nursing home for you!
Steal This Movie
The charismatic clown Abbie Hoffman, who vitalized the leftist movement in the '60s, is unfairly remembered now merely for going underground for six years to escape prosecution for a drug bust that was the culmination of nearly a decade of invasive and unconstitutional persecution by the CIA's infamous agent of Fascism, the Cointelpro. He deserves a film as funny, sexy, and controversial as his life. Though Janeanne Garofalo and Vincent D'Onofrio give it their best, this, unfortunately, is not it. Despite his being permanently six feet under, I'm sure this plodding biopic is giving Abbie a really bad trip. (Tamara Paris)
The Tic Code
A 10-year-old jazz pianist teams up with a respected sax player--but they both have Tourette's Syndrome! Hilarity and heartbreak ensue!
A Belfast mother (Julie Waters) gets tired of the war raging in her neighborhood and demands that the IRA and British Army take their fighting elsewhere.
Gene Hackman is out for a morning jog, when--kaboing! There's a dead person! He reports the crime to police, and wouldn't ya know it? They're blaming HIM for the crime! The police fucking suck!!
Urban Legends:Final Cut
While working on her film thesis (a documentary about "urban legends"), a student becomes deeply annoyed when a murderer begins systematically killing her entire crew.
* Waiting for Guffman
Christopher Guest is Corky St. Clair, (way, way off) Broadway Director, in this "funny because it's true" mockfest about the big-city aspirations of small-town theater. With Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, and Eugene Levy as the soon-to-be-famous players of Blaine, Missouri.
The Watcher is a frightfully unimaginative, by-the-numbers thriller with no plot twists, no clever bits, horrendous slow-motion dance sequences, few thrills, and anemic character development, successfully leaving Reeves well within his depth.
What Lies Beneath
It's official! Director Robert Zemeckis (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forrest Gump) is a washed-up hack. In this latest Sixth Sense ripoff, Zemeckis doesn't even bother trying to come up with any new ideas to bring to the screen, choosing instead to ape what Brian DePalma has been doing for years--aping Alfred Hitchcock. Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford sink to new acting lows, and while the film still somehow manages to be occasionally entertaining, the jump-out-and-scare-the-shit-out-of-ya shocks can't make up for the waste of time and money. Pass! (Wm. Steven Humprey)
The Woman Chaser
A not very interesting, black-and-white anachronism fest, "Woman Chaser" takes a decent 1960 Charles Willeford L.A. noir novel about a 1950s want-to-be film director who loses his mind and makes a spoofy hash of it. Patrick Warburton ("Seinfeld"'s Puddy) gives it his chunky all, but it's not enough to bring life into this drearily scripted and clunkily directed item: dig those bongo drums! The script's called "The Man Who Got Away"; so did Willeford's novel. (Ray Pride)
Woman on Top
Spoiler alert! In one scene, the bronze goddess Penèlope Cruz captivates a man with her exotic good looks, distracting him to some lighthearted comedic end.
This movie is all fine and dandy, but there's one area where I got beef: Where the Hell is Psylocke?
* Young Frankenstein
One of the few Mel Brooks films which is truly hilarious. Starring Gene Wilder, Cloris Leachman, and Marty Feldman.