Sensitive Eli (Dan Bucatinsky, who also wrote the screenplay) and commitment-phobic Tom (Richard Ruccolo) are thrown together by their straight friends. In one quirky, spunky little scene after another they laugh, kiss, and bicker, struggling against what the audience knew during the opening credits: that this unlikely duo will fall in love. Duh! (Tamara Paris)
The myth of the city of Atlantis is super cool, even to a humorless person like myself. The movie, however, is not. A slow-then-fast and extremely contorted plot are to blame, as is the annoying voice of Michael J. Fox. (Katie Shimer)
Billy Bob Thorton and Bruce Willis, both with extremely bad haircuts. Also filmed at the Oregon State Penitiery.
Five family members all live in the isolation of their own misery, never turning to each other for help. When they all face crises, they are forced to interact. Directed by Ermanno Olmi.
* The Deep End
Though it comes dressed in the icy blue clothes of a suspense thriller, The Deep End is a far more interesting creature. Using its intricate plot as shrewd camouflage, the film serves as an examination of the evolving relationship between a lonely mother and her gifted teenage son, whose sexuality (homo) is such an impenetrable subject that Mom (the ineffable Tilda Swinton) would rather navigate a murder cover-up, blackmail, and death threats than talk to the lad directly. (Sean Nelson)
Don't Say A Word
Michael Douglas plays a New York shrink whose daughter is kidnapped by evil men who want only one thing: the six-number code locked away in the fashionably distressed head of Brittany Murphy, who is one of Douglas' patients. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be a number in Brittany Murphy's head.
* Driver 23 and Atlas Moth
An obsessive-compulsive inventor named Dan has a dream of making it big with his metal band Darkhorse in Driver 23. His story continues in Atlas Moth when Dan records and promotes Darkhorse's album Guts Before Glory.
Echos of Erin
Showing of the Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann 50th Anniversary show in Australia.
DUDE! FOUR TOTALLY EXTREME FRIENDS DISCOVER THEIR EXTRMELY DEEP INNER FEELINGS BY DOING TOTALLY RIGHTEOUS X-TREME SPORTS ON THE X-TREME WEST COAST.
A goofy band tours a lot, vomits a lot, plays out of their van, and never gets famous. See review this issue.
* Ghost World
Fans of Daniel Clowes' epochal comic novel about the listless inner teen life have been awaiting this adaptation by Crumb director Terry Zwigoff for years now, and the film delivers, though not in the direct way you might have anticipated. Clowes' super-detached geek queens Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) have graduated from high school, and, bored, they answer a personals ad placed by über-dork vinyl junkie Seymour (an R. Crumb surrogate played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi) responds. As an experiment, Enid decides to educate Seymour in the ways of love, and her world begins to crumble. (Sean Nelson)
* The Glass House
A fairly predictable horror flick with some great near-escape scenes and super-evil villians. Ruby's parents die in a car crash and she goes to live in a big freaky house with the Glasses. Unfortunately for her, though, they're totally psychotic. (Katie Shimer)
Going to see Mariah's movie, Glitter, is like being invited to a crazy booby rainbow train wreck. Set in early '80s NYC, this movie rips off heavily from Purple Rain, A Star is Born, and many other rags-to-riches movies. If anything, it should have been a campy romp with bubblegum music, but instead, Miss Thing tries to act and (big surprise) fails miserably. Sorry Mariah, but leave the acting to J-Lo, and honey, prepare your frail mental state for the onslaught of much meaner reviews than this! (M. Lon Free)
Ah, the novelist stuck in temp work-après Kafka, still a fine conceit for comedy. Josh, a perma-temp, finds that every time he accepts a permanent job he becomes a complete fuck up. The requisite epiphany ("I must become an adult") arrives in due course.
Brad Anderson made a fairly charming romantic comedy called Next Stop Wonderland a few years back, a movie that was vastly overrated due to the unusual presence of a smidgen of intelligence. Now he's back with this unwieldy attempt to meld romance with time travel. Marisa Tomei is your typical hot, successful New Yorker who can't find a mate, just like all her hot, successful friends. Whatever. She meets Vincent D'Onofrio, who starts looking more and more embarrassed to be there as the film goes on. He's from the future, you see, or so he says, and he's come back in time to save her life. But maybe he's just nuts. But if he's nuts, at least it's in a cute, relatively harmless way, right? Whatever. (Marc Mohan)
Although Steve Buscemi would have made this version of Black News Bears particularly poignant, news flash: Keanu Reeves can actually act! Although he doesn't sustain the edgy character of a hard-on-his-luck gambling loser in every scene, he does manage a rather heart-tugging job as the coach for a little league team of foul mouthed (but, of course, delightfully loveable) housing project babies. In spite of an awkward, abrupt, and predictable ending, like the main character, the movie has some redeemable qualities--a believable underdog baseball team, thumping rap soundtrack, and stylized ebonics. (Phil Busse)
Hearts in Atlantis
Stephen King needs to return to the stuff that made him great, like Christine and Maximum Overdrive. This sappy concoction plays like a potpourri of all his non-horror stuff: There's the wistful evocation of childhood's lost innocence (Stand By Me), the misunderstood outsider character with special powers (The Green Mile), the potentially perverse relationship between a young boy and a older man (Apt Pupil); you get the picture. Here it's Anthony Hopkins who comes to live in a boarding house with 11-year-old Bobby Garfield. The old guy teaches the kid about life, love, and being a psychic when he should be giving acting lessons (I know it's mean, but child actor Anton Yelchin is awful!). Putting the capstone on the whole "Wonder Years" feel is that this screenplay (from Oscar-winner William Goldman, fer Christ's sake!) actually includes the line "That summer was the last of my childhood." Crikey!
* Hedwig and the Angry Inch
John Cameron Mitchell wrote, directed, and starred in this Rocky Horror-cum-Velvet Goldmine-esque opus about a big-haired megalomaniac singing his/her way across the US. With 40-plus costume changes and songs that you will be singing for days, this is pure rock and roll candy which should be see on a big screen with big audio. (M. Lon Free)
A girl and her brother are road tripping home from college when shit... they encounter an indestructible force that desperately wants to chomp them. Unfortunately this is about a girl and her brother, so we can't expect those great scenes where coitus is interrupted by the indestructible force, or ewww, maybe we can.
* Joy Ride
A taut, smart thriller directed by John Dahl, the potboiler-switcheroo auteur responsible for such gems as Red Rock West, The Last Seduction, and the very underrated Unforgettable. Steve Zahn (yay) and Paul Walker (zzz) star as two brothers on a road trip who mess around with a CB radio and unintentionally arouse the murderous ire of a psycho truck driver. By the time they pick up Leelee Sobieski (rrr), there's a cross-country chase afoot. Thanks to the gut-churning suspense factor that is Dahl's specialty, the picture seems to be building up to some barely plausible twist. But just when you're trying to figure out who's duping who, the pure modernistic thrill of seeing a big old semi bearing down on some unsuspecting youngsters kicks into high gear. Pure pulpy pleasure. (Sean Nelson)
L.I.E. (Long Island Expressway) is focused on a teenage boy named Howie, his best friend Gary and "Big John," a pervy, wealthy ex-marine. The film navigates themes of adolescent apathy and petty crime as well as the sensual side of pedophilia, somehow without demonizing its characters. The dangerous mire of teen disenchantment is captured in Howie and his friends, who rob houses, fuck their little sisters and prostitute themselves to old men. The plot consists of Howie losing people: his mother is dead, his father is oblivious, and his friend runs away, not to mention the fact that this kid spends most of the movie with at least one black eye. What he gains in exchange is a surprising relationship with Big John (it's not what you think), and a hard-won maturity that isn't candy-colored enough to make it a happy ending. (Marjorie Skinner)
* 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.
Life & Debt
Based on Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place, this film dissects the destruction of coutnries like Jamaica, that receive money from international funds and must make up for their debt through sweat-shop labor and cheap imports.
Max Keeble's Big Move
When Max learns that his family is moving in a week, he takes the opportunity to wreak havoc on all the bullies that make his junior high a living hell. Then he finds out his family isn't moving after all, goes Zen, and prepares to die. Though it's a Disney movie aimed at kids, the subject matter strikes a deep chord in the hearts of all bully victims, past and future. (Sean Nelson)
Two men in love with the same woman must fight against each other over the fate of the world.
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, 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)
The fantastic tale of a boy who loses his mom and discovers another world inside a secret book. Cool monsters and dragons included.
One Fine Day
A high-class ad exec. accidentally kills a man and then realizes that his social standing protects him from the law. He then has to deal with his conscience.
* The Others
A well-executed, gothic, horror film in a Jamesian vein, starring Nicole Kidman as a post-war mom on a tiny British isle desperate not to let the new servants (including the great Fionnula Flanagan) expose her "photosensitive" children to daylight. The claustrophobic tension of the incredible house (the film's only set, and its true star) mounts through the eerie film as the truth, like the characters' lives, unfurls methodically in this truly frightening endeavor from Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar. As an added bonus, the always-gripping Christopher Eccleston (Jude, Elizabeth) has a supporting role. (Sean Nelson)
Our Lady of the Assassins
A bedraggled, soul-sick writer proves that you can go home again, but that if your home is murderous Medellin, you better expect some heavy existential catharsis... especially if you have a torrid affair with a young cartel soldier while you're seeking your redemption.
* The Princess and the Warrior
The second collaboration between director Tom Twyker and the stunningly 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.
Whoa. It's like a dream come true. Marky Mark is in a cover band, and omigod, then gets to be the singer for the band he's covering. Gawd. I hope that happens to Hells Belles.
Reggae allstars pull off a heist of a local mafia headman. See review this issue.
The Secret of the Old Woods
An old guy inherits a magical forest, filled with talking trees and plants. He is supposed to take care of it until his nephew is old enough, but encounters his own greed when he agrees to cut it down for money.
This film is hokey, as expected, relying on over-dramatized coincidences. You know: John Cusack comes out of an elevator just as the doors are closing behind Kate Beckinsdale in another one, she loses her jacket and he just happens to find it, etc. Oh, isn't love magical! How serendipitous! And so on. I sometimes embarrass myself by getting teary-eyed over this type of crap, but not once did I so much as bite my lip or chew my nails during this film. The plot was too obvious, the characters selfish. Molly Shannon's sorta cute in the chunky friend slot, Jeremy Piven is pretty funny as Cusack's best friend and if you like Eugene Levy, that spazz with huge eyebrows, he's in it too. But it's not enough to make it the cinematic comfort food that romantic comedies should be. (Marjorie Skinner)
* 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.
Sing-a-long Sound of Music
One of the greatest American musicals of all time. Especially relevant to a nation beseiged with greif. The film will delight and enlighten--specially when you're singing along.
This much delayed teen horror flick starring Wes Bentley, Casey Affleck, Eliza Dushku, Luke Wilson, and Melissa Sagemiller is sort of like Jacob's Ladder crossed with a whole bunch of other semi-coherent "psychological" horror movies, with a bit of vague sensuality (courtesy of Dushku's cleavage) thrown in for adolescent hormones. The story, about a girl tormented by the death of her boyfriend in a car crash, is pretty hard to follow, but the ending is actually kind of good. And Wes Bentley is a fox! Weird side note: the film takes place in Boston, but the opening of the movie features a medley of songs by Seattle bands. Curious. (Randy Octogenarian)
Synergy: Visions of Vibe
A documentary of the underground desert rave culture.
The Blank Generation
Early new wave performances by Patti Smith, Blondie, amd the Talking Heads.
Hippie family learns to stop bitching and work together.
A good cop/bad cop movie where goody two shoes Denzel Wasington smokes the cheeba. See review this issue.
Try this at Home
Hey, it'a all the Olympia bands that play in Portland all the time, but now they're in a movie. Footage of the Yo-Yo a Go-Go in Oly, with interviews of Sleate-Kinney, the Make Up, and Elliot Smith.
* Vertical Ray of the Sun
Tran Anh Hung shows a serene dream life for three sisters painted against a difficult and undiscussed real life of infidelity and in one sister's case, a near incestuous relationship with her brother. A visual stimulant with a pretty good story.
A hiphop documentary with more talking than hiphopping. See review this issue.
Ben Stiller plays a supermodel in what looks like an Austin Powers knockoff. If it were anyone other than Stiller (and his brilliant co-star, Owen Wilson), this would seem like very bad news. Since it is Stiller, it shall--no, must--be funny. Please, someone, be funny.