Founder of hipster label Factory Records and the super-hipster Hacienda Night Club, Tony Wilson is the type of guy who put Manchester on the map. Well not a real map per se, but at least on the map in a world of music dorks with bad haircuts. But, as anyone who has ever seen Scarface knows, once you get rich and famous, it's best not to let your ego and coke habit get out of hand. That said, egos and coke were plentiful, and soon enough both the record label and club were no more. The end. Now let's look at the real problem with this movie: It's not interesting. As a subject, as a film, and as a time period--nothing about 24 Hour Party People screams "Make me into a movie!" Instead, it's just one of many small explosions of good music from bad towns that have occurred over the past couple decades. (Ezra Caraeff)
This film deals with the relationship between Afghanistan and Iran. Lateef, a 17-year-old, works with illegal Afghans at a construction site. Director Majidi examines friendship among Iranians and Afghans despite their country's disputes.
Grumpy Ice Cube runs a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago, but thinks he can do better for himself, like maybe working downtown at Vidal Sassoon. See review this issue.
Beauty and the Beast
A restored version of the 1946 classic film.
Blood Work 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)
Charlie is My Darling
Peter Whitehead's documentary that follows the Rolling Stones for three days in 1966.
Charm Bracelet Highlights
A refreshment party for the Charm Bracelet's newest project:YOU. Bring a paragraph about a person in Portland who inspires you for any reason (all to be published for an upcoming website, book, and exhibition scheduled for 2003). The Charm Bracelet will also be showing highlights from their screening series, a slide show on their previous Meeting People exhibit, and will be giving a presentation on the new project.
City by the Sea
De Niro faxes in a performance as--what else?--a world-weary cop coming to terms with his own homicidal history while searching the picturesquely derelict town of Long Beach for a murderer who turns out to be his own son (James Franco, doing his methody best to obscure his insanely good looks) in this dull and labored film soon to be clogging video-store shelves everywhere. (Tamara Paris)
Jill Sprecher will introduce (yes, in the flesh) her springboard film. What? You don't know who she is? Teamed up with her sister, they wrote this film and, more recently, have stormed the cinematic world with 13 Conversations About One Thing. An offhandedly charming film about four temps who, at first, bond in spite of their menial mind-numbing, soul-sucking jobs. But when trivial items begin to vanish from the office and the temps are suspected, their we-are-women bond frays in ways that are both ha-ha hilarious and oh-ouch biting.
This is a dark film. And by "dark," I don't mean brooding and gloomy--I mean the movie is poorly lit. And the inscrutable lighting is just one of many hellacious gaffes that makes you wonder how this movie ever made it past editors, producers, directors, and any bevy of Hollywood execs onto the screen. Other major problems include: the plot, the acting (including a faux Jack Nicholson playing a bad Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter--excruciating), and the script, a sort of D-minus David Cronenberg rip off. Feardotcom dabbles in bondage, voyeurism, and psychedelic dream/internet imagery that devolves into laughable, unintentional parody. (Josh Feit)
The Fast Runner is a profoundly excellent movie for many reasons. But one of its strongest points is that it's totally engrossing-once you're hooked into the story, all signs of surface noise scratching at your brain completely disappear. Timelessly set amid a group of arctic hunters in Igloolik, the film is based on the epic Inuit legend of the Fast Runner, which has been passed down orally for generations. It tells the story of an evil which infiltrates the tribe-greed and selfish desire-and threatens to destroy the interdependence that is essential for the survival of the people. And it's one of the best films I've ever seen. (Julianne Shepherd)
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)
When his fiancée gets sick of her blind step-daughter, Wu, retired Zhao takes responsibility for her. The loneliness that Zhao has arrived at in order to be wooing such a repulsive fiancée is never hinted at; instead we are treated to semi-raunchy sex jokes between Wu and Zhao, that turn into a tender relationship. Zhao's method of dealing with young Wu is to give her a job in his pretend hotel, creating an entire "massage parlor" in an abandoned factory, complete with padded walls and recorded street noise. His elaborate prank is supposedly for the benefit of his fiancée, but it becomes clear that it is bred out of a growing love for Wu. The trick is both duplicitous and touching, establishing a totally original tone that is eventually jerked out from under us by a third act that turns inexplicably and almost annoyingly tragic. (Justin Sanders)
The Humming Bee Project
A video on the art collective Jon Hammer (yes, a collective, not a person) and their Humming Bee Project, where they encourage folks to create an artistic humming bee and spin it round their heads.
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)
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)
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)
When her sister dies, workaholic chef Martha must step out of the kitchen and into the real world to care for her surviving niece. She's a fish out of water with real family, but feels like she's swimming with sharks at the restaurant, where the chef that's been hired to help during this rough period has charmed her entire staff. Beautiful food shots, clever montages, and the sparks that fly between chefs counterbalance a hurried conclusion. (Sarah Sternau)
MY Voyage to Italy
Hamanah, ha-ma-nah! From her slowly arching cheekbones to her enticing aloofness, Ingrid Bergman is a gem! The fifth of six films that Babalicious Bergman and director Roberto Rosselini made: A cucumber sandwich and crumpet English couple decide to take a holiday from the chaos of London only to discover that, without the bustle of the city, their marriage sucks! I mean, boring boring boring. But this film is anything but. Beautiful and soul-searing. And, did I mention Ingrid Bergman is in it? (Phil Busse)
One Hour Photo
One Hour Photo is an armchair psychologist's wet dream. And, like most pop psych and self-help programs, it's sorta cliché, sorta predictable, and not exactly snooze-inducing--but not riveting or illuminating either. The premise: Robin Williams plays Sy the Photo Guy, a balding control freak who manages a one-hour photo shop. Sy's longtime customers, The Yorkins--Will, Nina, and little Jake--are this picture-perfect, hottie yuppie family. He is utterly obsessed with the Yorkins; Nina and Jake in particular. Through processing their photos, he's followed their seemingly happy lives; and, because he's so lonely, he also pasted copies of nine year's worth of their photos to his wall in unabashed stalker fashion. Creepy. Like any stalker story, the film's fate lies in the hands of the director. And Mark Romanek does a good job setting up and unfolding the story. Unfortunately, as Romanek is also the scriptwriter, he only has himself to blame for the slow pace of the dialogue. (Julianne Shepherd)
An experimental film by Jeannie Paske, using animated paper cutouts, text, and minimal footage. Ambient score by M. Cooper.
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)
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.
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)
Gregory Peck (again!) and Audrey Hepburn star in this breezy little trifle about a slumming princess and an undercover reporter in one of the world's most beautiful cities.
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, and purple cowboy hats. A warning: it sucks.
Sex and Lucia
A Spanish love story about a waitress snd a writer in Madrid. Beautifully shot and compelling. See review this issue. Signs
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 director loses his lead actress halfway through production and, desperate to finish his "masterwork," decides to create his own actress via computer. This is the plot to Andrew Niccol's Simone--a bland, unfortunate Hollywood satire that aims to skewer the cult of celebrity, but instead manages to shoot itself in the foot. As a comedy, Simone manages a few well-placed shots (the bulk of which come courtesy of the always brilliant Catherine Keener), but as satire, it fails miserably due to the sheer unbelievability of the storyline's various twists and turns. (Bradley Steinbacher)
A teenage Fatal Attraction, where doggy Erika Christenesen seduces cutie Jesse Bradford into humping her, even though he's got the best girlfriend in the whole world. When he doesn't want to hump anymore, she inexplicably sets out to kill him and everyone he knows.
The T.A.M.I. Show
Concert footage from the Teenage Awards Music International, including performances by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, and the Rolling Stones.
Like most 15-year-old boys who acquire Sigourney Weaver as their stepmom, Oscar wants to doink her. But for the sake of efficacy and realism, he's willing to consider his stepmom's friend Bebe Neuwirth as a fall-back.
The Would-Be Senators
A parody of the senatorial race, made locally. See review this issue.
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. (Phil Busse)
Undisputed is great because Ving Rhames is great. He plays a world heavyweight champion who, like Mike Tyson, is convicted for raping a woman. Unlike Mike Tyson, but much like Muhammad Ali, Ving Rhames is articulate. He is not just a slugging machine but someone who understands his situation (his limits, his value) and able to express it with a deep and convincing voice. While in the maximum security prison, Rhames is confronted by the boxing champ of the underworld, Wesley Snipes. Prisoners from all over America have tried and failed to claim a victory from Snipes, a convicted murderer. So now the king of the overworld must battle the king of the underworld, and whoever wins is the master the universe--a title Rhames already holds." (Charles Mudede)
Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
This film initially lives up to it's boring title, following an unemployed business man who's chummy with a loopy fisherman who sends him to find a supposed treasure. Not having much else to do, he goes. Oh, you know, then he meets this woman who is really anxious to screw and--oh my god. She squirts out gallons and gallons of water when she orgasms. Literally. They flood the house. It's kinda sexy, but ew! Warm Water Under A... you tricked me! That's not quaint! It's gross and weird! Right, so she like "fills up" and has to "vent" (i.e. squirt like blow hole) by doing something wicked, like fuck or shoplift. The business man is, naturally, vehemently opposed to her shoplifting but generously offers to fuck her every time she "fills up," until she can sort out the ancestral, symbolic properties of her condition. (Marjorie Skinner)
Just how bad is XXX? 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)