A Nazi student in New York City struggles to understand Judaism.
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course
Steve Irwin has somehow managed to volley his agonizing nature show into what promises to be an equally excruciating action-adventure film. The premise goes something like this: Steve wrestles a croc ("crikey!"), Steve involves himself in a wacky mix-up ("crikey!"), Steve is bitten by things ("crikey!"), Steve creates hilarity ("crikey!"), Steve gets a pink slip ("crikey!"), Steve receives and eviction notice ("crikey!").
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
How do you make a movie that mixes comic book animation with film, but still allows Jodie Foster to play a terrifying nun? Start by adapting a script from a novel about a '70s Catholic school where boys read a whole lot of comic books. Add Todd MacFarlane (of "Spawn" fame) to handle the cartoon end. Finally, choose a title that will attract tons of crowds who expect to see ravenous priests working their magic. Serve chilled.
Eight Legged Freaks
A messy mish-mash of '50s paranoid propaganda films, but instead of the Commies, it's the Iraqi menace, get it? Spiders, Arachnids, Arac Attack. Ug!! The film rips off all the good elements of classic scare films such as Dawn of the Dead, Gremlins and Them, and pieces them together with boring computer animation and insipid dialogue I wouldn't let my grandma write. So save your hard-earned unemployment check and wait until this one is on the UPN Saturday Matinee, that way you can fall asleep in the comfort of your own home. (Brian Brait)
* The Fast Runner
See Review This Issue
Great McGinty w/the Lady Eve
It's an all-Preston Sturges night, with showings of two fine Sturges films: The Great McGinty is Preston Sturges' illustration of how the idea that anyone can be president is untrue; and The Lady Eve is the story of some glamorous ladies aboard an ocean liner.
Hang on a second... this is ANOTHER Halloween film? That makes eight. Jamie Lee Curtis is in it, too, along with Busta Rhymes. The last one (Halloween H20) was garbage, as were the rest. So, the fact that this one deals with reality TV bodes what? Ill!
Harold and Maude
The 1971 classic in which a death-obsessed 20-year-old kid meets a positive, life-loving 70-year-old. Then they have sex.
A cartoon movie about a cartoon TV show. It's about time, too! I'm guessing Arnold is a nerd who outsmarts some greedy capitalists.
Al Pacino plays Will Dormer, a hotshot homicide cop from L.A. who travels to a small town in Alaska to help solve the brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl. However, as it turns out, the real reason for his arrival is to escape a murky internal investigation back in Los Angeles. When Dormer's partner is accidentally killed while chasing after the murderer, Dormer is then drawn into an unholy alliance with the suspect (Robin Williams), who has developed a convincing scheme that will make both of their problems go away. Insomnia plays like a pot-boiling page-turner you can't put down, and this is largely due to the talents of director Christopher Nolan (Memento). When Dormer's character develops insomnia (due to Alaska's perpetual daylight, as well as his own guilt), Nolan uses the surrealistic side effects of the condition to fuel the cinematography; the atmosphere is constantly charged with the feeling of claustrophobia and dread. Meanwhile, the script wisely reveals its many secrets slowly, keeping the audience on seat's edge while pulling them easily from scene to scene. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Filmed in 1916, Director D. W. Griffith weaves together the stories of the fall of Babylon, the death of Christ, the massacre of the Huguenots, and a modern drama. Tremendous.
K-19: The Widowmaker
This workable Cold War intrigue plot--a Soviet nuke-sub commander is forced to risk the lives of his men rather than seek help from Americans--is long to begin with, but the moral tensions of the story might have been enough to carry it through... if the film weren't completely submarined by the casting of Harrison Ford in the lead role. I mean, Liam Neeson as a Russian is bad enough. We've all seen Schindler's List. We all know Neeson can't do accents. He's a known quantity. But Ford's pitiful patois makes Neeson look like Meryl Streep. It's embarrassing on a Kevin Costner scale; on a Sofia Coppola in Godfather III scale. I mean, what the fuck? Did he think we wouldn't notice? Jesus, what a botch. (Sean Nelson)
* 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)
Akira Kurosawa is one of the most famous and important filmmakers of our time, and he's also dead. See the first-ever documentary about his life, where his family members and colleagues discuss the importance of his work.
The good news: Crispin Glover is in the film, playing the Fagin-like head of a "group home" for racially diverse orphans; this means the filmmakers aren't completely callous morons. The bad news: the movie, which concerns a kid who climbs up on power lines to retrieve some magic Nikes that make him a pro basketball star, is every bit as mediocre and irresponsible as the trailer suggests. It's insulting to kids, indefensible to parents, and abominable to everyone else. At one point fairly early on, I stopped taking notes on the film and just started noting the corporate logos I saw on screen. Here's the list: Nike, Krispy Kreme, Staples, Gatorade, AT&T, TNT, NBC, Jansport, Minute Maid, Coke, Sprite, Sheraton, Crystal Geyser, Mars, Spalding, ESPN, Sharp, Rite Aid, Vicks, USA Today, Washington Mutual, Phat Farm, Scrabble, Yahoo, Independence Day (the movie). I may have missed a few... (Sean Nelson)
Lilo & Stitch
An animated film about a Hawaiian girl who adopts a dog who falls to earth near her island home (and who is really an alien genetic experiment). She embraces her new pet and teaches him "ohana"--the "Hawaiian concept of family." Good thing the dog wasn't a white tourist...
* Lovely and Amazing
This follow-up to the similarly graceful Walking and Talking is a shrewdly respectful character study of a fractured family of women trying to ride herd on their raging neuroses. Fantastic acting and sensitive writing underscore the simple DV directorial approach. (Sean Nelson)
The Mars Canon
Set in Tokyo, this is the story of a 29-year-old girl, Kinuko, who is having an affair with a 43-year-old office worker. She is unhappy about the fact that she only sees him once a week, and meets a woman, Hiriji, who advises Kinuko to end the affair. Watch the relationship develop between the two women.
* Master of the Flying Guilllotine
In Master of the Flying Guillotine (1974), the One Armed Boxer (OAB) returns to battle an opponent who refuses to have his beans refried. While Flying Guillotine may look like just another old blind coot, in actuality, he's a high-kickin' get-up-and-go grampa who has a flying hat he uses to chop off his enemy's heads! So after receiving news that two of his disciples have been done in by OAB, he gets madder than a poodle in a pigpen and storms off to get revenge.
Men in Black II
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith revisit their lucrative schtick (Jones' is being gravelly and severe; Smith's is ripping off everything Eddie Murphy ever did) in this multi-platform, fully cross-promotionalized sequel.
Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise team up for this well-made futuristic thriller, based on a story by Phillip K. Dick, and featuring several special effects that are identical to ones used in Attack of the Clones. Report works best when Tom Cruise is actually running--he's a future crimes cop being set up to commit murder-and when the maddeningly glorious Samantha Morton is actually freaking out. Complex in good ways, simple in others, the film marks Spielberg's second attempt at allegorical Kubrick paean (check the allusions to Clockwork Orange) that ends with a cop-out. Still, a worthy effort, and much more intriguing than most sci-fi.
Adam Sandler is always cute and his gross physical humor is funny, but Mr. Deeds is bad. A cliche plot and a crappy remake to boot, Sandler seems to be doing it for the dough. John Turturro, however, is awesome and sort of makes up for the overall crappiness of the film, but then Winona goes and fucks it up by being the worst actress ever. Expect nothing and you might be slightly pleased. (Katie Shimer)
As a resident of N/NE Portland, I was thrilled that a documentary film has been made allegedly looking at gentrification in Portland--made, by local filmmakers! It is truly a fascinating and anxious time in these neighborhoods. Unfortunately, Northeast Passage is largely a disappointment. The filmmakers essentially use one do-gooder woman as their vehicle for issues of gentrification and housing displacement. Although this woman--and her young daughter--are compelling and heroic, at the end of the day her perspectives on these massive issues are just one person's slim vantage point of the neighborhood. As much as the film tries to make a mountain from a molehill, it feels woefully incomplete. The filmmakers miss out on pressing issues like the commercial development of Alberta Street and the Interstate MAX line. There is not a single mention of Latino families--which is like trying to explain physics without mentioning gravity. As much as black and white residents, the influx of Latinos in N/NE Portland is shaping the future of Albina and Concordia neighborhoods. The craft of the film is top-notch, but by ignoring vital issues and failing to exploring more than a small corner of the neighborhood, it seems to be all sizzle and no substance. (Phil Busse)
* The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Being amused for superficial reasons with the cartoon before watching the film, I was worried that 75 minutes of Powerpuff Girls would be a snorefest, and--even scarier--that watching it with a bunch of five-year-olds would be torture. On the contrary, the writers of this movie have done a great job realizing that kids, like adults, don't like stupid movies.
At first I thought this Christina Ricci vehicle about the consequences that occur when an uptight sorority girl falls in love with a "challenged athlete" was a savage parody of those "Something About a Half-Wit" films that grind the butts of the mentally retarded for cheap laughs from audiences who should know better. By the time I was in the ladies room, I'd revised my opinion to include the possibility that this was actually a sophisticated spoof of those ubiquitous Channel for Weeping Women films that seek to beautify retarded people simply for being born. It wasn't until I was sitting in my car that the possibility occurred to me that it was neither. What if it was just a bunch of retard jokes hiding behind a cloaking device of intellectualized irony? Does that mean I'm going to hell for laughing my head off? (Tamara Paris )
Reign of Fire
This is one useless movie. It's the year 2020, and instead of picking flowers and falling on their butt, a brood of flying dragons have burnt most of the human population to a bunch of crispy bits. Christian Bale (American Psycho) stars as a limey wuss who hides out in a castle along with a bunch of other limey wusses, until an AMERICAN comes along (McConaughey) and teaches them how to FIGHT. And that's pretty much it. The good points: The cinematography is okay, there are a couple of laughs, and McConaughey is built like a brick shithouse. The bad points: EVERYTHING ELSE. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
* Road to Perdition
Starring Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jude Law--a ridiculously stellar ensemble--Road to Perdition tells a rather simple tale, and it tells it nearly perfectly. A hit man (Tom Hanks) sees his family slaughtered, save for his oldest son. Father and son hit the road to exact revenge. Perdition transcends every revenge film currently documented within my brain. Mendes, working once again with Conrad Hall has fashioned a heartfelt, exquisite, and above all, patient revenge epic. (Bradley Steinbacher)
A boy and his father navigate the more tumultuous psychic byways of the father-son dynamic, including (but not limited to) Alzheimer's, care for the elderly, joblessness, and self-destruction. A film about people from the point of view of a reformed derelict.
The story is that the Mystery Inc. gang has been reunited and recruited to investigate Spooky Island, a Halloween/Mardi-Gras theme park that's inhabited by demons who steal people's souls. They're commissioned by Rowan Atkinson, who poses as a concerned proprietor but is actually evil instead. He and his demons need a completely pure soul to sacrifice for some voodoo thing, so they lured the kids there to abduct Scooby. There's a midget and a Mexican lucha libre wrestler who go around assaulting the gang. Then everybody's at a beach party, and Fred and Daphne have this sexual undercurrent, Shaggy and Scooby have a fart contest, and Velma gets drunk with some dude. It's not even non sequitur in a funny way. It's cheap and desperate. There's no place for demonic repossession and Busta Rhymes in a Hanna-Barbera production. It's a goddamned shame is what it is. (Meg Van Huygen)
* Showgirls w/David Schmader
Showgirls, the Paul Verhoeven/Joe Eszerhas (also known as Team T&A) debacle, has achieved a tremendous cult following among those who love camp 'n' catfights. So who better to narrate the film--in the tradition of Mystery Science Theatre--than David Schmader? It'll be a scream, we promise.
Though Spider-Man boasts tons of computer-generated action, in actuality, this is a teen romance about dealing with adult feelings and responsibilities. And while I generally despise Kirsten Dunst, the sparks literally fly off the screen whenever she and Tobey are together. Sure, this flick has all the trappings of a kid's comic: sappy dialogue, over-the-top action, and a scenery chewing performance by Dafoe--but it's fun, it's innocent, and it works. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
A mockumentry about a film crew trying to catch a ghost on tape and encountering a barrage of problems--from lack of funds to loss of sanity.
Stuart Little 2
Stuart Little is a cute little cartoon mouse with Parkinson's... wait, didn't we use that joke already? Anyway, cats and CGI mice channel the voices of Nathan Lane, Michael J. Fox, and Steve Zahn in this further bastardization of classic childhood literature.
* Sunshine State
This cinematic soap opera of familial and neighborly drama centers around a small stretch of Florida coastline. Employing writer/director Sayles' benchmark standards for dialogue and acting, the film uses a tug of war over prime resort real estate to showcase prime human flaws and insecurities.
A Thing of Wonder
Local documentary makers (remember their short film on Lucky Buster?) train their unblinking camera eye on an 84-year old magician, inventor and dreamer. Like spending an evening with a very energetic and imaginative grandfather, the film balances sensations of awe and woe for the old man as he offers his tricks, opinions and treaties on reality. Shown with Drowning Boy, an animated adaptation of Zak Margolis' comic strip about a aquaphobic young man working through his post-graduate woes.
UB has a few funny jokes and some relevant racial commentary, but attempts to do way too much in too short a time. A love story, a critique on racial stereotyping in cinema and beyond, commentary on how white people gank black culture, white people being stereotyped, black people being stereotyped, a wide-reaching conspiracy plot on how 'The Man' keeps black people down, spying, a mystery, explosions, brainwashing, etc. etc. Oh, and Denise Richards is fucking repugnant. (Katie Shimer)
Very Annie Mary
A heart-warming, Welsh tragicomedy/musical involving a woman and her troubles with singing and gambling.
Standard WW2 flag-flying and derring-do, blessed with a master's touch. Nicolas Cage uncorks his patented intensity as a combat-shocked life entrusted to nursemaid a young Navajo codemaster (Smoke Signals' Adam Beach, bringing a few welcome burrs to the usual shaman/saint portrayal) with extreme prejudice. Explosions of all shapes and sizes follow. Director John Woo blows up the desert and lops off heads as well as you'd expect, but, as always, his greatest interest and success lies in the shifting relationships of heavily armed men under extreme pressure. (He still can't deal with females, however, as an achingly dopey subplot proves.) Windtalkers is irritatingly formulaic at worst and unerringly schematic at best, but Woo's guileless sincerity propels it above the rah-rah norm again and again. What other living director could pull off a soldier with a harmonica? (Andrew Wright)