Although film critics have fallen over themselves for decades praising this slippery and surreal film, the question that they never posit is: Would it be half as good if it were in English? Federico Fellini's quasi-autobiography wallows in memories of Guido's (a thinly veiled version of Fellini) sexual and artistic conquests (usually not the same event). On the brink of filming his next greatest cinematic work, Guido is discovering that he may not be all that great.
The Adventures of Pluto Nash
The tragic collapse of Eddie Murphy's career appears to be trudging new humiliating lows with his latest--an action adventure disaster that finds our man Gumby in the role of futuristic nightclub owner (on the moon!) defending his claim against futuristic gangsters (on the moon!).
All Power to the People
Beau Von Hinklywinkle, Portland's beloved organizer of DIY/indie events, has done it again. He'll be showing a Black Panther and A.I.M. documentary film, while also facilitating a potluck dinner. So bring a three-bean casserole or some macaroni salad, learn about the Black Panthers, and see the new non-profit bike shop in which the whole deal is being held. God damn.
Austin Powers: Goldmember
There are two things that aren't funny in this movie, and they are Beyoncè Knowles as Foxxy Cleopatra, and Myers' newest villain from Holland, Goldmember. And the reason why they aren't funny is because people from Holland are never funny, and neither is Beyoncè Knowles. Another thing that isn't funny are all the jokes from the first two Austin Powers movies--which happily, are nowhere to be seen. Wait that's not true. The bad jokes are in the movie, but they've been improved upon to the point where they actually are funny. Especially the poop and pee jokes.
Crispin Glover stars in a surreal black comedy about giving up. See review this issue.
Beauty and the Beast
A restored version of the 1946 classic film. See review this issue.
Bloodwork is a total bore. I was hoping this would be Clint Eastwood's swan song to a life of vigilantism, a retrospective of themes that have run through his work. But that's wishful thinking. The plot is thin, the characters aren't believable, the pacing and lighting are totally Matlock, and the performances are tired. Except for Anjelica Huston, who is not so much good but just never bad. As for the old firebrand himself, Eastwood acts constipated and ill tempered, like there's some annoying key grip just off-camera holding up a sign that says, "Go ahead, make my day." It's just too bad that someone talked the Great Warrior into this. (Michael Schilling)
So, you're getting sick of Portland's back-and-forth summer? Sure, the calendar says it's August, but what the hell's up with the weather? It's time for a goddamn vacation, to someplace warm and sunny. Maybe somewhere with a beach, where girls wear bikinis all day, and guys are shirtless. How about Hawaii? If you can't afford a plane ticket, you could go see Blue Crush instead. The plot's trite and cheesy--girl from Hawaii kicks ass at surfing, meets boy from the mainland, almost gives up surfing, until a crucial competition arises and he rallies behind her--but the surf scenes are awesome. Hawaii's gorgeous, as are the surfer chicks and their male counterparts. It's like a two hour vacation, especially for the part of your brain that does the thinking. (Amy Jennings)
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!").
Full Frontal catalogues the difficulty of maintaining a monogamous relationship when you're a Hollywood starlet, boo hoo. It shows how fucked up and stupid actors are in regards to sex and love, because they're never 100 percent invested in either. The film jokes about how Julia Roberts falls in love with any old lighting guy that kisses her ass, which is true, but funny, and I guess we're supposed to be charmed that Hollywood can poke fun at itself, even though those rich dicks are really like that. On top of the Hollywood spoofing, director Soderbergh, makes a film within a film within a film, a gimmick that has no clear purpose, but is nonetheless entertaining. On the whole, Full Frontal is pretty good, but not great, and loses big points for no sex. (Katie Shimer)
Full Frontal (The Other One)
My theory is that the makers of this film released it at the same time as Soderbergh's film in order to trick people into seeing it. Don't be a chump. This is an inside the porn industry, self-involved mockumentary made by people who are retarded, ugly, and not funny. No money shots either. (Katie Shimer)
The Good Girl
Justine Last (Jennifer Aniston) works at the Retail Rodeo. She has worked there for many many years, her husband and his buddy paint houses for a living and smoke a lot of pot. Justine is sad, bored, and unhappy, until... a weird young guy calling himself Holden (Jake Gyllenhall) befriends her. From there, it's all down hill. I had heard tons of hype about this film before screening it, "Jennifer Aniston plays against type... " and all that. Well, Jennifer does play against type, but isn't that what acting is all about? Given the directing and writing credits of director Miguel Arteta and writer Mike White who brought us the deliciously uncomfortable Chuck and Buck, I guess I expected a more ominous and darker tone, but The Good Girl seems more screwball than drama. This works on some levels, but overall it just feels melodramatic. (Brian Brait)
It Takes Two
Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and the Three Stooges, not Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Proving that Americans do pizza and movies better than the oily Eye-talians, Federico Fellini makes a noble attempt at a neo-realist take on adolescent boredom. Outdone by George Lucas in American Graffiti and blown away by Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
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)
Called one of the greatest films of time, L'avventura tells the story of a group of adventurers who land on an island. When one of their members disappears, the dynamic of the group changes substantially.
There is a sinister undercurrent running just below the surface of this limp ode to Salt Lake City suburbia, and it gives the movie's after-school special themes a certain morbid interest. Emily (Evan Rachel Wood) is a 14-year-old Type A violinist who runs a neighborhood stand hawking "secret keeping" rather than lemonade. Kids pay to confess their minor misdeeds and receive her sage advice, while she suffers silently under the burden of a mammoth secret of her own. Half-convinced the screenwriter's penchant for melodrama would infect the wholesome kiddie crimes, I dreaded each new confession. Would bland cat-napping admissions yield to revelations of child molestation, glue-sniffing, and anorexia? Well, no. But that fact doesn't make Little Secrets any less frightening and strange. (Annie Wagner)
Lost Film Fest
Underground film ranging from comedic pieces to footage of street protests in Argentina and the occupation in Palestine. Making appearances at the Sundance and Cannes film fests and equated to the visual representation of DJ spinning by wired.com, this definitely isn't a hokey night of bad cinema--but more a tight representation of what the underground is up to.
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)
Martin Lawrence Live: Rundteldat
Daaaamn GEENA! I'm making up words again! An' they gave me another concert movie! They so CRA-ZYY! You know I ain't making no MONEY without wavin' a gun or wearin' a big ol' prosthetic ASS! WHEN will they learn?!?!
Master of Disguise
A brief overview should demonstrate what a miserable, puny affair this Dana Carvey vehicle is. The men in a certain Italian-American family possess a genetic predisposition toward disguising themselves as other people (and turtles, and piles of poo). Their family name: "Disguisey." The imagination that went into developing this magical universe is truly astounding: the term for this mimetic talent, for example, is "energico," and it involves the use of a device called the "Disguising Ball of Knowledge." There is a running gag that dictates that whenever the villain tries to cackle, he farts. And to top it all off, somebody had the brilliant idea of putting a pedophilia joke in a kid's movie. I can't believe this didn't go straight to video. (Annie Wagner)
Me Without You
Two girls grow up in London as best friends--Marina is always being told she's the pretty one, and Holly is always surrendering to her command, even though Marina's a total backstabber. As they get older, it becomes obvious that Holly is more intelligent, motivated, together, and even better-looking, but they cling to their set patterns. The film expertly shows the twisting of their relationship over time. These girls, in their journey to become women, struggle against each other to a point of no return.
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.
My Wife is an Actress
Charlotte Gainsbourg plays a married actress who has a fling with Terence Stamp. Need I say more? I mean, how French do you want it?
No director in the universe (with the possible exception of John Waters) could save a bad novel like Possession, which was authored by A. S. Byatt. It's the one novel Hollywood should have left in its original condition: a bad book. Now it has a second life as a bad movie. (Charles Mudede)
Race to Planet X
Joe Wagner's rarely seen film about everyone's favorite topic, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers.
Read My Lips
Anyone who has ever enjoyed hiring power at a job where everybody hates their guts will sympathize with secretary Carla's potentially Christopher Makepeace-style choice to hire a newly-minted ex-con as her assistant. Everyone else will find something to relate to in the cycle of petty revenge-taking and blackmail that starts with some harmless lip-reading, but eventually spirals out of control.
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)
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Jesus Christ, can you just shut up? I'm trying to watch a fucking movie here! This is not the Life of Brian, people.
Gentlemen, start your boners. Javier Bardem, the soft-lipped beauty from Before Night Falls, stars as a lusty surgeon who tempts an engineer away from his wife and child and into a life of sin, sodomy, and intimacy.
Chandler and Hugh Grant's girlfriend unite for a rollicking, Vicodin-fueled road adventure that has something to do with a million dollars, divorce papers, purple cowboy hats. Another stirring Friends vehicle in the tradition of The Pallbearer and Ed.
In M. Night Shyamalan's most recent masterpieces, his obsessions with Philadelphia and the presence of God shine through, making the movie not only a thriller about crop circles and ohhh aliens, but also an interesting meditation on some deep stuff.
A film proving once again that real women are better than fake ones. See review this issue.
Spy Kids 2
Spy Kids 2 wasn't a bad movie. Really, it wasn't. And if you're an eight year-old who dreams of being a spy--something I always wanted to be when I was eight--then it's the perfect movie for you. There are some mildly funny parts (involving nose picking or camel poop) and it's a highly predictable kids movie (which means zero brain energy needed). At least I didn't hate myself for going. And that's always a good thing. (Megan Seling)
The end result of the national scriptwriting contest, Project Greenlight, this film is pretty much what you would expect: a sappy, eye-rolling film school thesis project that no sane studio would normally touch with a ten-foot pole. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Like most 15-year-old boys who acquire Sigourney Weaver as their stepmom, Oscar wants to doink her. But for the sake of realism, he's willing to consider his stepmom's friend Bebe Neuwirth as a fall-back.
The world's top heavyweight contender (Ving Rhames) relocates his training facilities to Sweetwater penitentiary after a little misunderstanding regarding that whole rape incident (oops!). Upon arrival, "Ice Man" is confronted with the ego threat of Monroe Hutchen (Wesley Snipes), former rising boxing star and current prison champion ten years running. Somehow Columbo gets involved, and Master P is in there somewhere--anyway, they fight, "one for his honor and one for his future, and only one will be...UNDISPUTED."
Who is Cletus Tout?
While watching this film, I came up with a plan to save the US economy: the government should sponsor Christian Slater and/or Tim Allen vehicles. Then the whole country could turn out to see them and pay $7 a ticket, plus a $4 popcorn, a $3 soda, and a $2 bag of M&Ms. In other words, if each American did their duty and paid $16 to see a Tim Allen and/or a Christian Slater movie, and the theaters turned over the proceeds to the government, then we just might get this country out of the economic shitter. Oh, wait... the movie? Told through amusing flashbacks, this is a silly, whimsical farce revolving around a funny/mean, movie-obsessed hitman (Allen), an escaped convict (Slater), his newfound true love (Portia di Rossi), her magician father (Richard Dreyfus), and a box of diamonds. Film noir and screwball sensibilities unevenly collide with modern, Pulp Fiction-like violence. It's not terrible, not great, but it could just save our economy. (Brian Brait)
XXX is worse than you've imagined. Seriously. I would rather be catheterized by a Parkinson's-afflicted nurse than sit through it again. It's that bad. Don't believe me? Then go see it. Flop down the $10 at your neighborhood multiplex and slouch your way through the picture. You'll see--and afterward you'll say, "Shit, man, I wish I'd listened to that chump from the Mercury." (Bradley Steinbacher)