Four Wall Cinema brings us a two-day collection of work by Jonas Mekas, who in the '50s and '60s was at the forefront of experimental film, asking the deepest questions of life and death through beautifully simple, succulent imagery. On April 8, they'll screen Paradise Not Lost, Cassis, and Street Songs. April 9 sees Cassis, Zefiro Torna, and the wonderful Notes for Jerome. (Julianne Shepherd)
All About My Father
A candid look at the director's father who, hold on to your panties, happens to be a small-town transvestite!
John Travolta is a DEA agent in Panama called in to investigate a murder at a local army training station. (Six army ranger commandos were sent on a jungle training mission; two returned to report that their much-maligned drill sergeant is dead, as well as four other rangers.) Travolta's character, Tom Hardy, is enchanting because he mirrors an internal conflict for so many Americans: We want to believe that patriotism is a virtue, but also understand that it can poison the mind. Then again, this tension is a mere subtext to the film, and who really cares? After all, Basic is less a war movie than a fast-paced whodunit. (Phil Busse)
Bend it Like Beckham
Not exactly a masterpiece, this film is a lighthearted, cute escape best suited for parents and teens. An adolescent, soccer-playing daughter struggles against her Hindu parents, who would rather gear her interests towards cooking and preparing herself to be a proper Indian bride. (Marjorie Skinner)
Charlie "Bird" Parker
It is not clear why it took a Norwegian to produce the definitive documentary about the life of this jazz great, but here it is: Three hours of heroin addict and sax blower Charlie Parker. That's right, three hours!
Young hottie geology professor Josh Keyes (Aaron Eckhart) is yanked out of class one day by Federal agents to explain a score of unusual occurrences: People with pacemakers dropping dead, flocks of birds going wacko, and the space shuttle accidentally being forced to land in downtown Los Angeles. With the help of a Frenchie pal (Tchèky Karyo) and a Carl Sagan look-alike (Stanley Tucci), Josh figures out that the core of the earth has mysteriously stopped spinning. Who gives a crap, right? Well, you would, when the electromagnetic field started breaking down and your skin bursts into flames. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Cracked Lens Film Fest
A collection of locally made short films. If you don't support our troops, you can at least support our local filmmakers.
Cigar-shaped star critters wage a slimy back-door assault against the human race. Somewhere, Freud is moaning. Stephen King fans are a forgiving bunch by necessity, but it's hard to imagine anyone cottoning to director/co-writer Lawrence Kasdan's grievous mishandling of what amounts to a compilation of the author's greatest hits (childhood friends reunited against evil, kids with freaky powers, military gone amuck, snow). (Andrew Wright)
See review this issue.
After both his mom and his brother die unexpectedly, Danish filmmaker Sami Saif was left without any family--or, at least without any family that he knew. You see, his dad split when he was an infant. To bring some order back to his life, Saif sets off in search of his dad. The mystery leads him into Yemen and into a shadowy territory of love borne by blood relationships and obligations. Without heavy-handed sentimentality, the story flows naturally through its twists and turns.
Sigourney Weaver stars as an upper-class jounalist who helps a fire captain (Antony LaPaglia) compose eulogies for eight of his men who died on SEPTEMBER 11.
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
How hysterical that as conservatives in this country denounce the French over Iraq (Freedom Fries anyone?), the French cinema machine releases a film starring Amelie's Audrey Tautou--probably the most beloved French export to come along since the first Gulf War--in a fairly nasty role as a rather cuckoo young Parisian woman in love with a doctor. Politics (and possible bad timing) aside, however, is He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not any good? Oui, though it's not quite as entertaining (nor as nefarious) as the continual rantings of insipid war hawks. (Bradley Steinbacher)
Trained to be the ultimate special ops murder machine, Benicio del Toro sees a bit too much bloodshed while on a mission in Kosovo. Upon his return, he's awarded for his bravery, yet ironically, is driven crackers by the endless screams of the dead. When Benny goes AWOL, he becomes a marked man, and it's Tommy Lee Jones' job to capture him. It's almost impossible to describe how jaw-droppingly pathetic this movie is--but therein lies the fun. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
Love Liza is a story about a man whose wife kills herself. She leaves a suicide note, but the man is too sad to open it, and we see him cope with his loss and his inability to read the note. His main method of coping with his wife's death is to huff gas. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the borderline-crazy husband, Will, and does a good job. But while his performance and the insane premise make Love Liza worth watching, they don't make the movie good. (Katie Shimer)
A Man Apart
Vengence, violence, Vin: The hot dog-necked action hero returns, and this time (much like the other times) it's personal.
Northwest Faculty Exhibition
A collection of six short films tonight produced by the Film Center's faculty members, from a film with trombone playing zombies to, of course, meditations on September 11.
See review this issue.
Songs from the Second Floor
Imagine a movie made entirely of commercials, 46 of them, each absurdly intense, but not for antacids or razor blades. Instead, they advertise... oh call it human decency; call it poetry. Thrillingly, they are both earnest and sardonic. They tell 46 small tales, many interrelated, of Economic Man. I'm resigned to making an ass of myself by trying to describe this movie; in fact, one of the subjects of its cruelest mockery is any attempt to philosophize or theorize our way out of the human muddle. All I can say is that the minute it ended, I wanted to watch it over again from the beginning. I refuse to pretend I don't like poetry. (Barley Blair)
See review this issue.
Aira Samulin is a 90-year-old dancer with the spunk of a horny teenager. All she wants is one last performance--something special and insightful, to tell the story about her pained life as a war refugee. But isn't there always an obstacle to art? In a story that captures the inherent struggle of an artiste, Samulin wrestles with a money-grubbing, exploiting producer. The film is made much more interesting because it is in Finnish!
Till Human Voices Wake Us
A deliberately somber Guy Pearce returns to his home town for his dad's funeral, just in time to rescue the mysterious Helena Bonham Carter from drowning after she throws herself off a train trestle. Intended depth and meaning are stirred in like too much heavy cream.
A View from the Top
Playing out like a saccharine, low-rent version of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, A View From the Top is pure ocular Wonderbread--featureless, familiar, and entirely inoffensive. Characters appear and disappear without relevance or explanation, the plot plods along with heart warming comic relief, and the whole slapdash mess ends almost painlessly. Almost.
What a Girl Wants
Amanda Bynes, Colin Firth, and Kelly Preston star in Girls Gone Wild: London Edition, in a film filed somewhere between "Coming of Age," "Fish Out of Water," and "Product Placement Opportunity."
Wings of Glass
Is it possible to be born an Iranian but grow up to be a Swede? Teenager Nazli is coming of age in her home country of Sweden, but is stuck with her traditional Iranian parents, who want her to have nothing to do with ABBA, Saabs, or Swedish hunks of Nordic love.
Women and Tradition (Margaret Mead Film Fest)
Duka's Dilemma chronicles an Ethiopian woman's difficulties in dealing with her husband taking a second wife. Short film Alpana animates Indian folk dance.