A British romantic comedy. Three dudes pursue three chicks, and all the characters are in various states of distress throughout the movie. Kind of like Swingers, except with British people.
* 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 dry as one might think. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Chain Reaction III & Third Down
Who needs plot tension and character development when you have gearheads cascading over 20 foot cliffs on their mountain bikes? Themes? How about cowards are the bane of society? The usual thrills and spills to kickstart mountain biking season.
Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck are involved in a fender-bender rendering Jackson immobile. Affleck speeds off, unknowingly leaving behind an extremely important document; a bitter Jackson misses an important custody hearing, and a grand old feud is born. So Affleck attacks Jackson's financial credibility, while Jackson prepares an old-fashioned smackdown. Who wins? You won't care. (Kudzai Mudede)
A scientist invents a gun that makes time stand still for whomever it hits. The normal cliche science-movie things happen after that. If you can't get into this movie, just rent Flubber instead. You'll never know the difference.
An aging, unlucky-in-love school headmistress in an English village (improbably played by horsey cracker Andie MacDowell) finds comfort in the cackling company of her two similarly desperate girlfriends. Until, their weekly bitchfest is complicated by the arrival of her true love in the age-inappropriate form of a 25-year-old hottie. Okay, this is a perfectly acceptable set-up for nice little comedy. So why the shocking lurch into Stella Got Her Groove Back and Then It Got Hit by a Truck more than 3/4 of the way through the movie? Whoa! What is this crap? No Weddings and the Funeral of the Lovable Male Lead? Pick a lane and stay in it, people, you're giving me a headache. (Tamara Paris)
Diamond Men is like a masculine version of Thelma & Louise--lots of driving, otherwise law-abiding characters suddenly immersed in criminal dealings, and big time male bonding. The duo in question are a pair of diamond dealers, and the film follows the relationship that develops between them on the long drives out to meet with clients. Things start to get shady when they begin frequenting a massage parlor in the sticks. It was a kick to see Donny from NKOTB, and the film studies an interesting relationship that crosses age lines, but the sentimentality grows tedious at times, and the characters are somewhat predictable. Then again, Father's Day is coming up and this would certainly make a decent daddy date. (Marjorie Skinner)
Not even bad enough to pass for a cheesy film rife with ironic hilarity, this crapfest follows the horrendous acting of Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, and Powers Boothe through the most condescendingly stupid plot about a guy who believes God is instructing him to slaughter "demons" (i.e. hairdressers, old men, nurses) on earth. The plot twists are predictable, the script was written by a two-year-old, and if you force yourself through the whole thing like I did, you'll have a little less self-respect after it's over. (Julianne Shepherd)
Ever wonder what the dark, dank, and cobweb filled interiors of Portland's finest minds look like? Tonight's film festival, Gore-O-Rama-A-Go-Go gives a frightening and fascinating glimpse into the netherworld. A mixed bag of short films, from really, really good to campy horrible. Last Girlfriend tells the troubling story of a young man who has to decide whether an army of bloodthirsty zombies are better or worse than being locked in a cabin with his ex-girlfriend; and, in the slick, high production of Goodbye Mr. Feingold, three friends reveal their tantalizing fantasizes of offing their grating boss. The festival benefits p:ear, a new downtown organization for Portland's street kids.
This bad film is directed by the great Carl Franklin, who directed Devil in A Blue Dress. The movie (which stars Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd) is not horrible, just too professional and conventional. Set in an army court, it lacks sweeping shots of spectacular army helicopters and, in the court scenes, it fails to sustain and exploit that efficient military speak ("These are the rules of engagement, sir!"). The result is a bland version of Denzel Washington's superb Courage Under Fire, which had lots of helicopters and military speak. (Charles Mudede)
Doomed to the life of an outcast, Lila (Patricia Arquette) was born with an abnormal amount of body hair--not just cursed with hairy legs or coot, Lila's golden sheath of fur makes her look like a frigging Golden Retriever. Because of this, she moves into the wilderness to write nature books with titles like Fuck Humanity. Eventually, however, thanks to the yearn in her loins, she returns to civilization, where she gets electrolysis. Fur-free, Lila will date anybody--even Nathan, a stuffy scientist whose life dream is to teach proper table manners to mice (played by Tim Robbins). It's a weird movie, to be sure, but it's almost like writer, Charlie Kaufman, was afraid of being too weird, and it held him back. Human Nature is worth seeing for its sheer uniqueness, but unfortunately, it's lacking a little spark. (Julianne Shepherd)
* Italian for Beginners
The characters of Italian for Beginners begin in a state of despair. This being a romantic comedy, their lives begin to intersect through a series of coincidences--coincidences that could feel contrived, but due to the rough integrity of the script, performances, and direction (shaped in part by the monastic rigors of the Dogme 95 ethic), they feel like the organic waywardness of life. (Bret Fetzer)
The indestructible horror staple, Jason, goes sci-fi as he's cryogenically frozen and thaws out in 2455.
* Kissing Jessica Stein
With the dumb title and no name actors, you wouldn't think this would be a good film, but it is. Sex-fiend Helen places ad in the paper because she wants to try getting her lesbian freak on, and uptight girl, Jessica, is so taken by the ad that she decides to give it a chance. The gals end up trying it out together for a while, and Jessica overcomes a lot of issues, including, whether she's gay or not. The peripheral characters are hysterical, and the relationship between Jessica and Helen makes you question how easy it would be to go gay or to be gay without realizing it or to be unhappy without seeing the solution. (Katie Shimer)
* Lalee's Kin
A 62-year-old grandmother cares for over a dozen of her kin in one of the poorest parts of the country, Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Likewise, a school superintendent tries to raise test scores with no resources. See review this issue.
The talents of six of the finest British actors alive (Tom Courtenay, Bob Hoskins, David Hemmings, Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, and Ray Winstone) are squandered by this moist little movie about a journey to deliver a dead man's ashes to the seaside. (Sean Nelson)
The Last Waltz
Scorsese proves he can RAWK with this loving documentary about The Band's final performance.
Life, or Something Like It
Thank god, I saw this movie with a friend, because without someone to listen to my loud annoyed sighs, I would have exploded. Angelina Jolie looks fairly heinous with blonde hair, and plays a career obsessed newscaster who thinks she's got it all... until a fortune teller says she'll die next Thursday. Yeah, yeah. So she reprioritizes, gets laid by a nice guy she used to hate (Edward Burns, what are you doing?), does not show any tit, and learns the true meaning of life is getting drunk and screwing. I could have told you that. (Katie Shimer)
Narrated by a prehistoric fish, we explore the superficial life of Bibiane, who runs a chain of high-fashion boutiques in Montreal. When things aren't going her way, she ends up getting drunk, driving home, and fatally injuring an old fisherman. She is then forced to take a look at herself and reconcile her guilt.
An exploration of the life and ideas of Noam Chomsky with a focus on his skepticism of the mass media.
The Mechanized Eye
Early to mid 1900s avant-garde films.
Metropolis is a beautiful and stylish hybrid-one of those future worlds imagined from the distant past, where above ground looks like an Ayn Rand dream, below ground is pure Blade Runner, and the characters are retro in the style of Hergé's Tintin. The malicious, but helpless President Boon presides over Metropolis, and the true power lies with the Roarkian Duke Red, builder of the Ziggurat and the muscle behind Tima, a gorgeous android who will someday rule the world. What makes Metropolis--which has a production pedigree that includes much of anime's royalty--feel like something truly new is the animation, the mood (speakeasy 1920s, complete with Dixieland Jazz and gumshoe detectives), and its refusal to divide the world into absolute good and evil. Mostly, yes, it's eye candy, but everyone's eyes should be so lucky. (Emily Hall)
* Monsoon Wedding
At first, it seems like Mira Nair is just doing family drama. The film is stylish, brisk, witty, and beautifully filmed (marigolds are so vibrant they would leave bright orange dust on your fingers if you touched them). But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its relationship with tradition. (Sean Nelson)
Monstrous Balls is more like it. Hank is a racist prison guard, son of a retired racist prison guard and father of a young, non-racist prison guard in a Georgia State Penitentiary death row. Hank falls into a desperate affair with Leticia, a black woman, after both of their sons die. Also, Hank executed her husband. Hank's dad says "nigger" and "porch monkey," and Hank fires a shotgun at some black kids, so we know that the film is about breaking the cycle of bigotry. A few nice notes are struck, but too many coincidences motorize this melodrama; its morality is tinny and safe. Via their affair, Hank is cured of racism, and Leticia is cured of grief. She even gets a truck! "I thank we're gone be all right," Hank says at the end. I thank I'm gone puke. (Sean Nelson)
Murder By Numbers
Sandra Bullock plays her usual cheesecake self. She becomes a cop after being a victim of domestic violence. Luckily, Michael Pitt saves this bad acting fest by playing a pretty convincing teenage killer. (Katia Dunn)
Murder on a Sunday Morning
A 65-year-old woman is shot in front of her husband. He identifies a 15-year-old boy who signs a confession and the case seems cut and dry; that is, however, until the public defenders uncover new evidence that implicates the police and the American justice system.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder
A zany college romp that tries to be Animal House for a new generation, this film lacks both the zaniness and the wit that made the Delta Brothers' movie so entertaining. Stay away. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Other Side of Heaven
A farm boy from Idaho falls goes to the Tongan Islands in the 1950s, leaving behind his girlfriend. Don't worry though, she lifts his spirits with meaningful letters and the experience teaches him valuable lessons about life and love. A film for freshman girls whose boyfriends have gone off to Cal State.
Jodie Foster's husband is a rich, cheating prick, so she buys a giant Manhattan brownstone in order to get revenge. The house was previously owned by a dead, paranoid millionaire, and comes complete with a "Panic Room" with video camera monitors, a phone, a motion sensor door, and food. The son of the millionaire, unscary Jared Leto, knows there's money in a safe inside the Panic Room and gets crazy Raoul, and a security expert (docile and friendly Forrest Whitaker) to help him get rich quick. But herein lies the problem: For some reason, dumbass Leto allows the house to sit empty for two weeks before performing the heist, and before he knows it, Jodie and daughter are all moved in. Instead of waiting until they're not home, Leto and pals debate for an hour about whether to try for the money anyway, and a bunch of implausible events ensue. (Katie Shimer)
The Piano Teacher
An uptight French piano teacher gets a chance at some hot loving from an equally hot young stud and screws the whole thing up with her S&M fetishes. See review this issue.
The Road Warrior
The world is out of gas, Mel Gibson is stoic and pissed off, and a miniature Eddie Van Halen toss around a killer boomerang in this post-apocalyptic voyage.
The Scorpion King
Who cares if this movie is any good, you get to stare at the most intelligent, gorgeous beefcake in Hollywood--The Rock.
The Seventh Continent
A dispassionate account of a couple preparing to take their own lives while their daughter looks on in confusion. Directed by Michael Haneke.
Shadows of Sundance
The Shadows of Sundance is a collection of short pieces that run the gamut from animation to a cheesy cop show spoof. Detective Kent Striker Film and Me & The Big Guy are aggressively humorous in that "if I laugh hard enough, maybe they'll stop" kind of way, because the joke isn't funny or complex enough for a feature film and too long for a sketch comedy skit. Here is by far the most effective in using its length to an advantage. It's a quick, but rapt study of a hit-man (Lee Majors) and his floundering save for purpose. Window is a sort of sad, droning cartoon about a paper-stamper and his decision between security and "the window" of the unknown. Scarfmania is silly, about a guy in a town where everyone wears scarves, but he can't seem to wear one without getting it wrapped around his ankles. (Marjorie Skinner)
Can't afford the million dollar price tag to ride the Russian's MIR Space Station? Finally, IMAX used for worthwhile purposes: Feel like you're floating in outer space! An IMAX documentary about the in-orbit assembly of the International Space Station. See rocket launches, pans of the universe and zero-gravity astronaut shower scenes in 3-D (nothing sags in zero-gravity!). Narrated by (not gay) Tom Cruise. Replete with retro-pop soundtrack and goofy astronaut jokes. (Anna Simon)
A Streetcar Named Desire
Starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh, a film of the classic Tennessee Williams play about a man, Stanley Kowalski, who destroys the false illusions of his sister-in-law and in turn, destroys her.
The Sweetest Thing
Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate, together at last! Also, as my friend Michael is fond of saying: someone get that Selma Blair a steak. The film is some kind of romantic comedy bullshit from the director of Cruel Intentions.
Trembling Before G_d
A portrait of Hasidic Jews living gay lifestyles, and how stinking hard it is. Included are lots of beer guzzling, strip club visiting, masturbating, and crack smoking. No, just kidding. Gay Hasidic Jews try and function, support groups are formed and other things like that happen.
* Village of the Damned
A truly creepy B&W thriller from 1960! An entire village is mysteriously knocked unconscious, and when they wake up, all the women have been knocked up. The resulting children have weird unearthly powers, and let me tell you, they don't like being bossed around!
* The Warriors
The finest entry in the genre of turf-war-films-where-one-gang-dresses-in-Yankees-outfits- and-another-battles-from-roller-skates; no other such film can touch it. Choreographed fight scenes exquisite enough to make Natalie Wood swoon and desolate subway chase scenes so chilling that Freddie Krueger would wet his pants.
* Y Tu Mamá También
As two Mexican teenagers frantically fuck, the boy, Tenoch (Diego Luna), pleads/demands that the girl not screw any Italians on her impending European trip with her best friend. Meanwhile, that best friend is having rushed pre-departure sex with her boyfriend, Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), who is also Tenoch's best friend. When the girls have left, we settle down to watch these two boys spend an aimless summer. Everything gets thrown sideways when they meet a sexy older woman (that is to say, in her 20s) named Luisa. Y Tu Mamà También is a brilliant, incisive core sampling of life in Mexico. It's both slender and profound; the movie's greatest pleasures are often its smallest ones--even the title comes from a tossed-off bit of banter. Any individual moment could be trivial, silly, pointless, even embarrassing--but the accumulation of moments has a devastating scope. (Bret Fetzer)