All the performances in A.I. are up to snuff (especially Jude Law as a cybernetic gigolo who serves as David's spirit guide of sorts), but Spielberg outdoes himself by taking us on an exhausting journey of a world that teeters on the brink of logic, sci-fi, and fairy tale. It's as if some futuristic scientist took Spielberg and Kubrick's brains out of their formaldehyde-drenched jars and shmooshed them together to create a film that strives to be nihilistic as well as kinda cute. While long enough to become boring, A.I. can be still be chalked up as a success for Spielberg, who has managed to put aside the cotton candy for a moment. WSH Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Vancouver Plaza, Washington Square Center, Wilsonville

* The Abyss
An all-wet Cold War sci-fi about a team of oil-drilling divers coaxed into disarming a sunk nuclear sub. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was so spooked by her claustrophobic role as an underwater crack-scientist in this 1989 film, that she developed an intense fear of water. Playing a tough old salt captain of a swordfish boat in The Perfect Storm more than a decade later, she refused to even leave the cabin of the boat during filming on the actual sea. That's how spooky The Abyss is! (Phil Busse) Hollywood Theatre

America's Sweethearts
I just have some questions: Isn't Billy Crystal famous for having a razor-sharp wit? Why then, does his script for this latest Hollywood schlock-fest resort to the lowest levels of comedy, including a man getting hit in the head with a golf ball, and another man getting his balls licked by a doberman? And why is uber celebrity, Julia Roberts, cast in the role of the Ugly Duckling? Why has Catherine Zeta-Jones played a despicable bitch in every movie she's been in? Type-cast perhaps...? Why are bad movies that make fun of movies still getting made when the genre is as stale as old bread? And why, for God's sake, is John Cusak in this bad, bad movie? Why are tender doves aflight invariably brought back to Earth, burned down by the fires of capitalist whorishness? Why, why, why? (Justin Sanders) Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate, Wilsonville

* Amores Perros
Amores Perros begins at a screaming dead run and maintains one kind of intensity or another over the next two-and-a-half hours. Pungently translated as Love's a Bitch, Amores Perros comprises three stories of life, love, and aggressively twisted fate in the most polluted metropolis on the planet. Alejandro Gonzàlez Iñàrritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga have enrolled in the Tarantino school of storytelling, but Gonzàlez Iñàrritu's own style and vision is so distinctive and assured in this directorial debut that no one should dwell on that point. This is a breakthrough work for Mexican cinema. Laurelhurst Theater

Anniversary Party
Inspired by her back-to-basics experience making the Dogma film The King is Alive, Jennifer Jason Leigh called up her pal Alan Cumming and said something like "Hey, do you have a digital video camera? Cuz I know how we could make our own movie with just us and all our friends and it would be sooo cool! You do?! Well, come over!" Then Jennifer and Alan made a sort of Cassavettes-lite tale where they play a recently reconciled couple--she's a actress past her industry-dictated prime; he's a predictably androgynous novelist who's about to direct a film of his most recent book. The guests at the titular get-together at their sumptuous Hollywood Hills home are played by folks like Kevin Kline, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Beals, and Gwyneth Paltrow as the starlet who's stealing Leigh's thunder. She also provides the Ecstasy that pushes the emotional dysfunction and repressed insecurities of the partygoers into the open. Eventually, it all devolves into a fairly self-indulgent barrage of screaming, swimming, and sobbing that made me feel not a bit of sympathy for these pampered souls. (Marc Mohan) Cinemagic, City Center 12

Baby Boy
Baby Boy, John Singleton's companion film to Boyz N the Hood, follows a single, male character, Jody (played by the sexy-ass model Tyrese Gibson), through his struggle to grow up and become A Real Man. That's the plot. Beyond that, it gets kind of confusing. There's all this weird imagery through the whole movie, like the grown-up Jody writhing around in amniotic fluid and this nasty fake womb that looks like the leftover water from my eighth grade sea monkeys. And everyone acts like babies--thumb-sucking, whining, acting out--because the people in this hood (the same one from Boyz N the Hood, but ten years later and with different characters) are trying to figure out how to be responsible for themselves and their children. Lloyd Mall

Most people are calling Baise-Moi a feminist milestone. After all, it's a movie in which women are finally allowed to go apeshit onscreen! They're fucking, then murdering! Wahoo! However, I think this movie's message is very far from "pro-woman." In fact, I was surprised the film wasn't written by a man. Even with the supposed female-empowerment undertones, the whole thing seems like a stereotypical male fantasy--two hot chicks with guns--and falls into the tired trap of women finding empowerment by assuming stereotypically male characteristics. At the same time, the premise that men have the power to drive women batty enough to kill is rooted in dramatic, 1950s pulp. Though the graphic nature of Baise-Moi is a product of this age, it nevertheless plays into 50-year-old philosophies. (Julianne Shepherd) Clinton Street Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater

Blow is Hollywood all the way to the bank. But despite all its predictability--a young man (Johnny Depp) rises to the top of the international drug trade and then falls to the bottom of the prison system--its portrayal of Mexicans, Central Americans, and middle America is unexpectedly sympathetic. Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater

Larry Clark's (Kids) third film is a true story in which a group of children murder the school bully. See review this issue. Cinema 21

Today I'm not weak. The film critic in me has control over my emotions; it can and will repress my wolflike desire to fill this review with hungry words that praise the celestial beauty of Juliette Binoche. That said, the movie itself is unremarkable, and has absolutely nothing new to offer. (Charles Mudede) Laurelhurst Theater

The Closet
An accountant at a condom factory realizes he's about to be fired. Divorced, alienated from his 17-year-old son, he contemplates suicide, but is instead given some rather odd advice from his neighbor, a retired psychiatrist: Announce that you are gay at work, and the powers that be will be too frightened to fire you, lest they get slapped with a nasty lawsuit. The accountant takes his neighbor's advice, and, well, hilarity ensues. Or, if not hilarity, at least a few laughs here and there. Actually, how well you like The Closet may in fact depend on just how high Three's Company ranked on your laugh-o-meter. If the answer is 10, then by all means, rush out and see it. If, on the other hand, the number is five (or four, or three), you might want to stay home. (Bradley Steinbacher) Koin Center

Dr. Doolittle 2
The doctor who talks to animals is back, and this time he is attmepting to save a forest from loggers by teaching a bear how to get laid. This film is just as bad as you would expect the sequel to a bad movie to be. Although the idea of seeing animals talk may be hard to resist, you are better off tuning in to Discovery to watch them do what they do best: eat each other. Now THAT'S funny. (Russell Cowan) Cinema 99, Division Street, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza

East is East
This decent little movie is set in the early '70s, in an English town called Salford. The great Om Puri plays a fanatical father married to a British woman (Linda Basset). They own a small chip shop and a small house, which is packed with seven rebellious kids. With the exception of one boy, all the children are headed one way (toward total assimilation of British culture), and the father toward the other (preservation of Pakistani values); all that's left is a big showdown in the end. A rather ordinary story, you will agree. But Puri saves the day by doing what he does best: deepening and extending his character's emotional and psychological range (Charles Mudede) Fifth Avenue Cinemas

Ecce Bomba
Nanni Moretti once again portrays Michele, a benign filmmaker. After a series of amorous adventures, Michele and his friends decide it's time to shut up, and grow up. Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

Elk Creek Cinema
Varied and callous entertainment from a couple of experimental filmmakers from the sticks. Disjecta

Everybody's Famous
An out-of-work factory laborer kidnaps a pop star and demands as ransom that a song he's written be performed on national television. You know where this is going, but you'll enjoy getting there. Remember Zero Mostel in The Producers? Werner De Smedt is in the same class as the sleazy but oh so brilliant promoter. (Barley Blair) Fox Tower 10

The Fast and the Furious
Burning rubber is the order of the day in this fuel-injected testosterone-pumped fluff piece from director Rob Cohen. Paul Walker is a SEXY undercover cop sent to infiltrate a gang of street racers (including the aptly named Vin Diesel) who he suspects of hijacking trucks, but what's this? He actually learns to love the big lugs, as well as the adrenaline rush of street racing. While the plot holes are big enough to drive two hijacked trucks through, and the story is an almost scene-by-scene ripoff of Point Break, everyone in the movie is H-O-T. HOT, and the cars are beautiful. But be sure to watch the papers, because this flick will surely inspire a nation of jar-head kids to begin racing and killing themselves at a record pace. For example, as soon as I left the theater I saw a kid in a Grand Torino peel out of the parking lot, lose control, and smash into the parking median. He might not have been fast...but he was FURIOUS! Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, St. John's Theater, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate, Wilsonville

Final Fantasy
Basically, you should go into Final Fantasy with the notion that you're about to be slapped on the forehead with a big slice of cheese. If you're already prepared for bad jokes, convoluted plot, yet very cool special effects, and a fairly standard anime storyline (peaceful Eastern philosophy vs. destructive Western decadence), Final Fantasy is going to be a decent way to spend two hours. But if you never actually enjoyed an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, it's time to dust off that Godard collection and forget you ever read any of this. See review this issue. (Julianne Shepherd) 82nd Avenue, Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Wilsonville

Fringe Fest 2001
Paying tribute to the art of guerilla filmmaking, the Clinton Street plays host to a two day festival including the world premiere of Attack of the Killer Monkey Brain as well as finalists from Tromadance 2001, and Lapdance 2001. Clinton Street Theatre

The Golden Bowl
The Golden Bowl is, in part, a drama of manners, and Merchant Ivory's production moves neatly upon the joints and hinges of a repressed society. But the filmmakers seem to think that a well-appointed costume drama with the weight of Henry James behind it doesn't need any creative help to succeed, so the neatness is plodding. People enter rooms, whisper to one another, make out passionately behind closed doors while holding lit candles, and glare portentously at photographs--but the movie remains too damp to make a spark. Koin Center

James Bond meets Pussy Galore. Laurelhurst Theater

I Am Self Sufficient
Shot on Super-8 for $1,500, Nanni Moretti's film is a parody of totalitarianism as seen through an experimental theater group. Northwest Film Center at Whitsell Auditorium

Kiss of the Dragon
Remember when Bridget Fonda actually had a promising career? What did she do to deserve this? Playing a North Dakotan-turned-Parisian hooker, Fonda fulfills the role of tonic to the high-octane Chinese chopsuey acrobat Jet Li. Fonda is, we learn, in the City of Lights trying to kick a heroin habit and longing her orphaned daughter. Jet Li is there dodging grenades and trying to bring down a corrupt police chief who runs a prostitute ring and (for reasons as obscure as an ancient Chinese secret) has killed an Asian diplomat. Would it kill them to hobble together a plot? (Phil Busse) 82nd Avenue, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Sherwood 10, Wilsonville

Tod S. Lending's documentary of a family's fall into poverty, and their eventual success. Six years in the making! Northwest Film Center at The Guild Theater

* Legally Blonde
In Legally Blonde, Witherspoon plays a Southern California Barbie doll named Elle Woods. When her boyfriend dumps her (she's "not serious enough"), she decides to win him back by attending Harvard Law School, getting in even though her brain operates, with the savantish exception of matters of fashion, at the level of a 10-year-old. Legally Blonde is Witherspoon's show. She's committed and bizarre and fantastic, elevating the film's mediocrity into an enjoyably breezy farce without apparent effort. Her performance is a taunt to her contemporaries. And justifiably: No other actress of her generation could make Elle seem genuine, and none of them could take so much cinematic dross and spin it into silk. The fire of Witherspoon's talents should make them cower in fear. Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Wilsonville

Puffy, I mean P.Diddy, gets mixed up with two wanna be boxers who start a crime ring. Fox Tower 10

The Man Who Cried
With a list of characters that should end with "...all walk into a bar," and scenes that often seem like they've been taken from romance novels, The Man Who Cried tells the story of a Gypsy (Johnny Depp), a Jewish refugee (Christina Ricci), and a Russian dancer's (Cate Blanchett) attempts at love in World War II Paris. Heavy on the pregnant pauses and aggressively poignant violin music, the whole two hours is an exercise in well acted depression, i.e. children kidnapped, villages burning, horses dying. (Nathan Albee) Mission Theater

* Mau Mau Sex Sex
A documentary on the careers of Dan Sonney and David Friedman, two octogenarian filmmakers responsible for decades of "nudie-cutie" films. Northwest Film Center at The Guild Theater

* Memento
Memento has a lot of starch in it; the film sticks with you for days as you rehearse it over and over in your mind. It's also a movie so good that you fear a critical backlash against it. You come out of it feeling almost resentful at how good it is, and given that almost everyone is an aspiring filmmaker these days, this resentment is unvarnished jealousy. But this reviewer is pure of spirit, or at least spite: I may have seen a better film so far this year than Memento, but if I have, I've forgotten it. (D.K. Holm) Fox Tower 10, Lake Twin Cinema

Moulin Rouge
You may remember Baz Luhrmann as the director of the absolutely dreamy William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Unfortunately, Moulin Rouge does not fare nearly as well. The film is filled with clever contrivances: Dizzying choreography and sets, visual tips of the hat to the early cinematography of Vincent Whitman (A Trip to the Moon, 1914), a script loosely based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, and co-mingling modern songs by Madonna, Elton John, Nat King Cole, and even Nirvana. All extremely clever ideas--however, it's these same contrivances that turn Moulin Rouge into an overwhelming visual mess. Koin Center

The Mummy Returns
The first 30 minutes of this film are excruciating; the rest are better, thanks mostly to the appearance of John Hannah, but writer/director Stephen Sommers gets trumped by a ceaseless parade of god-awful digital effects. Avalon, Laurelhurst Theater, Mt. Hood Theater

* O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Set in depression-era Mississippi, George Clooney stars as Everett Ulysses McGill, a suave and well-groomed petty criminal doing hard time on a chain gang. Shackled to Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), he convinces them to join him in escaping by promising to split a fortune in buried treasure with them. (Andy Spletzer) Laurelhurst Theater

Pearl Harbor
Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor--and that's really what it should be called (like Fellini's Roma or the George Foreman Grill, the vision expressed could only belong to one man)--is everything the preview led you to believe: overlong, overlit, overwrought, and overpaid. It's nationalism porn, delivering all the basest flag-waving heroism with none of the meat and mettle of actual history or conflict. And as with real porn, your blood surges in the heat of the moment--with digital bombing raids over phallic turrets standing in for cum shots--and then, the second it's over you feel dirty for having let yourself watch. (Sean Nelson) Kiggins Theater, Washington Square Center

Planet of the Apes
The apes are here, and they sure do look like shit. See review this issue. Broadway Metroplex, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, City Center 12, Clackamas Town Center, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Lake Twin Cinema, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, St. John's Theater, Tigard Cinemas, Vancouver Plaza, Westgate, Wilsonville

* The Princess and the Warrior
The second collaboration between director Tom Twyker and the stunning beautiful German actress Franka Potente. This time around, though, the pair has replaced the frenetic Nintendo plot of Run Lola Run with a carefully paced romance. No, we're not talking about a fawning Julia Roberts running around with her estrogen hanging out, but an eerie and tragic fairytale where castles are replaced by an insane asylum, and Prince Charming by a stoic street punk. Fox Tower 10

Princess Diaries
An almost-crazy 16-year-old discovers that she's actually a princess in a small European country. ohmigod?! WHAT SHOULD SHE DO? Stay in San Francisco or move to Europe?! Oak Grove 8 Theater

* The Road Home
Yusheng's mother Di has called him home with an ancient request: He must gather a party of villagers to walk the body of his dead father home. Over the snowy mountains and all the way to their remote village, the bearers must tell the dead Mr. Luo, "This is the road home," so that he will always know. Some love stories could have happened anywhere. Others, like The Road Home, belong to their settings like the view from a particular hillside. The story of Di and Luo is communal territory, like the schoolhouse, and as necessary to the life of the village. Where director Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern was sweeping, The Road Home is tiny--and it's still completely overwhelming, especially when staring into Zhang Ziyi's doe eyes. (Evan Sult) Koin Center

Rust Never Sleeps
A concert film. Woop de do. Said to be a great one, starring old dog Neil Young when he was a younger dog in 1979. Clinton Street Theatre

Scary Movie 2
If you thought the first one was funny... you were wrong. Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, Division Street, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Vancouver Plaza, Washington Square Center

* The Score
This is a fully functional, if perfunctory heist film that benefits greatly from its attention to the procedure of safecracking and breaking and entering, to say nothing of the utterly relaxed brilliance of its three lead actors, Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, and best of all, Marlon Brando. It feels like these three pros took one look at the script and threw it away, realizing it was derivative trash (DeNiro plays a master thief who agrees to "one last job"--it's kind of like Ronin lite--in cahoots with fence Brando, and young buck Norton), but then realizing they could pull it off with the improvisational ease of a master acting class exercise. Though it's legitimately sad to see Brando (who now makes Sydney Greenstreet look like Kate Moss) as enormous as he is, the comic grace with which he glides through this otherwise inferior work--and again, it's totally watchable and entertaining--makes you remember that he really is the best of all time. (Sean Nelson) 82nd Avenue, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Hilltop, Lloyd Cinemas, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Tigard Cinemas

* Sexy Beast
Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is a retired gangster, living high on a hill in the Costa del Sol, enjoying a lethargic existence. But he is as out of place here as the heart-shaped ceramic tiles on the floor of his pool. Bad news arrives in the shape of Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, so great), there to coax Gal back to England for a job. Gal resists, but Don won't take no for an answer, setting in motion a verbal boxing match so artful and intense it turns the sprawling Spanish vista into a pressure cooker in which Gal is forced to reckon for his ill-had comforts. A voice buried deep within Gal tells him and us that this can't last. Don is that voice, given brutal, relentless human form. In the fallout of their confrontation lies one of the finest films in recent memory. City Center 12, Fox Tower 10

* Shitkicker Nite
It's a redneck jamboree with films, food, and wet t-shirt contest--and it's all to celebrate that most holy of cultural confections, trailer trash. Adults only. Dress appropriately. Clinton Street Theatre

With fart and poop jokes aplenty, this computer animation flick is like a little boy's dream come true. Mike Myers puts on his Irish accent as the misunderstood Ogre Shrek, and Eddie Murphy ceaselessly yaks as his over-zealous, donkey sidekick. The most horrible actress in the world, Cameron Diaz, succeeds in making her character an inflamed, bloody ear sore that one would rather see squished than find true love and happiness. I found this movie kinda cute, but pretty annoying, while my boyfriend was doubled over in hysterics. Dads, take your sons, but be prepared for a lot of tooting and snickering afterwards. (Katie Shimer) 82nd Avenue, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99, Division Street, Evergreen Parkway, Hilltop, Koin Center, Lloyd Mall, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Oak Grove 8 Theater, Sherwood 10, Tigard-Joy Theater, Vancouver Plaza, Washington Square Center

File this one under male adolescent fantasy: Bank heists, explosions, sleek cars, breasts falling slo-mo out of sparkly dresses. John Travolta plays a smug man's man with a horrifically embarrassing goatee. As an ultra-sleek, heartless-yet-patriotic terrorist, Travolta tries to rekindle the Tarantino magic, but every postmodern attempt to cross-pollinate the bad guys with good morals is little more than a transparent sheen. A few sexy stunts and clever swooping camera shots lend the film some big-action credibility; but the movie fails to live up to the promise of its first chilling minutes. (Phil Busse) Kiggins Theater

Given his flaccidity in love and his sinewy vigor with the sword, Matsuda doesn't just have a penis, he is a penis. And as bewitchingly handsome young recruit, he wreaks havoc among his fellows and his commanders; even the lieutenant who serves as Nagisa Oshima's stand-in questions his own ability to withstand Matsuda's spell. What's taboo in this movie is not love between men--Oshima and all the characters in the movie are utterly matter-of-fact about homosexual preferences--but rather the disorder that results from love. (Barley Blair) Fifth Avenue Cinemas, Hollywood Theatre

Tomb Raider
The masturbation fantasy of a billion preteens is made flesh as Angelina Jolie (the masturbation fantasy of a billion post-teens, ahem) gives corporeal dimension to the video game heroine whose outrageous measurements and minimal garment cover do not deter her from running through ancient temples, kicking evil robots in the "face," and blowing a bunch of shit up. Bla-DOW! Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School Theatre, Kiggins Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Mission Theater

* With a Friend Like Harry
This Hitchcockian thriller took France by storm last year, winning several Cesar awards (France's version of the Oscar). The blackest hue of comedy tints the tale of Harry (Sergi Lopez), a wealthy bon vivant with an unshakable affinity for Michel (Laurent Lucas). Harry, firm in his belief that Michel's child-strewn, moneyless life could be made more easy, begins to use his influence--and cash--to remove various obstacles to Michel's happiness. A new car here and a case of champagne there escalates to a predictably absurd degree. The film is plain in comparison to its obvious inspiration, Hitchcock's oeuvre. But a deft French wit, and that oh-so-well-done trick of Euro-allegory (this film is about the difficulty of making art) rise like cream to the top of this film: The first taste is awfully sweet, even if it doesn't linger long. (Jamie Hook) Cinemagic