Two straight Irish boys suck gay cock all over London in order to finance their boozing. Things get so crazy that people end up dead, and the two end up servicing a dwarf.
* American Splendor
The team of Jonze and Kaufman no longer own the meta-film genre. This Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner is an ingeniously structured biopic on the sublimely ordinary life of underground comic book writer Harvey Pekar. As an examination of the self-loathing artist, it is arguably a better film than Adaptation, thanks to auto-on-autobiographical nature of the material and the on-the-nose performances by Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, combined with disarmingly deadpan voice-overs and interview interstitials with Pekar himself. (Shanon Gee)
* Blue Gate Crossing See Review pg 48.
* Brother Outsider
Brother Outsider explores the life of Bayard Rustin, an adviser to MLK Jr. and A. Philip Randolph, and a man consistently left out of the spotlight during the civil rights movement because of his homosexuality. This film gives him due credit, plus shows intriguing archival footage of Dr. King, Malcom X, Ghandi, Bob Dylan, and more.
Bubba Ho-Tep has an ingenious premise: Elvis (Bruce Campbell)--who didn't die, but instead swapped places with an Elvis impersonator--is stuck in a dilapidated rest home, spending his days desperately trying to convince nurses and visitors that he's The King. Unfortunately, the only person who'll believe Elvis' claims is another rest home resident: JFK (Ossie Davis), who insists that he survived his assassination, was dyed black, then stuck in the retirement home thanks to a Lyndon Johnson-led conspiracy. Elvis and JFK soon notice their geriatric compatriots are dying off even more often than usual. After some investigation, they discover that the culprit is an evil, soul-sucking mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep. So, as only two American mega-icons can, the two combine forces to kick some undead Egyptian ass. (Erik Henriksen)
* Bulgarian Lovers
Set in Spain, the older Daniel falls for a young straight man, Kyril, who is a Bulgarian refugee. Although Kyril has a fiancée back in Bulgaria, he agrees to be Daniel's lover out of convenience, while poor Daniel becomes more and more in love. And when Kyril winds up in some shady dealings, stupid Daniel does everything he can to protect him. Man, love's a bitch.
Capturing the Friedmans
The Friedmans are a middle-class Jewish family from Long Island. Three sons comprise the Friedmans, along with two parents, Arnold and Elaine. The dad is a schoolteacher who instructs computer classes to young boys in his basement on the side. Also in the basement is Mr. Friedman's collection of kiddie porn, which he has hidden behind the piano. And no one knows about the porn until dumbass Mr. Friedman gets busted in a sting operation for sending magazines through the mail. After he gets caught, a wave of hysteria and sloppy police work sweeps the town. Arnold and, oddly, his youngest son Jesse, are charged with about a million counts of child rape. Thankfully for the filmmakers, during all of this insanity the three annoying sons record the dissolution of the Friedman family on video, which is the basis of the movie. (Katie Shimer)
* Casa de los Babys
Adoption is as much as a crapshoot for the adoptive parent as it is for the adopted baby--neither entity has yet to take form. And that is the heart of Casa de los Babys. Most of the central characters in the film don't matter--there are mothers all over the film, either wanting, relinquishing, or enduring children. In the end the audience is left to wonder what will happen, and I guess that's the point John Sayles is trying to make: It's a crapshoot. (Kathleen Wilson)
* The Children's Hour
Starring Audrey Hepburn, a student at an all girl's school accuses two girls of being lesbians.
Cold Creek Manor
Two well-to-do New York City-slickers (Dennis Quaid and Sharon Stone) take their kids and high-tail it for a life in the country. They find the house of their dreams in the titular estate. There's only one problem: the former inhabitant (Stephen Dorff) wants it back. Cold Creek Manor is a creepy movie about creepy people, which plays out like a yuppie version of CSI mixed with The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and a smidge of the The Ring thrown in for good measure. The acting is solid--Dorff's shirtless scenes are worth the price of second-run admission--and Juliette Lewis camps it up as a Dorff's poor, white-trash girlfriend, but the script is a dreadfully clichéd, boring mess. (Brian Brait)
Concert For George
A tribute to George Harrison.
* Cremaster Cycle
The hype surrounding the five Cremaster movies makes them out to be important, impenetrable, overly symbolic works of art. Knowing a little bit about them will keep you from feeling totally overwhelmed, but being overwhelmed is part of the experience, so don't worry if you don't feel like you "get it." Here's an overview of each of the five films. Cremaster 1, (1995, 40 minutes): Set in Boise's Bronco Stadium, where director Matthew Barney played high-school football, the movie cuts between a field of choreographed dancing girls in Isaac Mizrahi-designed hoop skirts and two Goodyear blimps floating overhead. A joyous romp full of pleasing surfaces, Cremaster 1 is without the sense of conflict that informs the rest of the series. Cremaster 2, (1999, 79 minutes): The beehive is the symbol of the state of Utah. Harry Houdini is rumored to be the grandfather of Utah's most famous killer, Gary Gilmore. Norman Mailer wrote The Executioner's Song about Gilmore, and Mailer plays Houdini while Barney plays Gilmore. Dave Lombardo, the former drummer of Slayer, has a drum-playing cameo while Steve Tucker of Morbid Angel, covered in swarming bees, barks into a telephone, possibly referring to Johnny Cash's alleged phone call to Gilmore on the night of his execution. Cremaster 3, (2002, 182 minutes): After a prologue with a couple of goofy Celtic giants, the movie shifts to New York in 1930 as the Chrysler Building nears completion. Below the building, the now-female corpse of Gary Gilmore crawls out of the ground and is carried to the back seat of a Chrysler Imperial New Yorker. Five 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperials (each bearing one of the five Cremaster emblems) crush the car into a small hunk of metal in the lobby of the building. Meanwhile, Barney, as "the Entered Apprentice," reenacts a Masonic myth by ascending the tower to kill Hiram Abiff, the Architect (played by venerable minimalist sculptor Richard Serra). Ultimately, the movie is about hubris, failure, and the inability of an artist to completely finish a work. Cremaster 4, (1994, 42 minutes): Two motorcycles with sidecars race around the Isle of Man in opposite directions, one "ascending," the other "descending." Meanwhile, the Loughton Candidate (a satyr played by Barney) tap dances through the floor of a white room on the end of a pier. He then crawls through a strange underground tunnel and reunites with three androgynous (female) bodybuilders who play the three faeries of the island. Cremaster 5, (1997, 55 minutes): In Budapest, the birthplace of Harry Houdini, a magician (played by Barney) attempts an escape routine by jumping shackled into the Danube River. In this five-act opera, Barney also plays a diva who climbs the proscenium arch of the opera house, and a giant wading through the waters of a sprite-infested bathhouse. At the end, The Cremaster Cycle either fails or begins again. You decide. (Andy Spletzer)
* Dangerous Living
Janeane Garofalo narrates this story about the "Cairo 52," 52 men who were imprisoned under the guise of criminal wrong-doing, when in actuality it was because they were gathered at a gay discotheque.
* Die, Mommie, Die
Set in 1967, and starring Frances Conroy, Natasha Lyonne, and Jason Priestley, the story of a washed up pop diva who may or may not have poisoned her husband to death. A whodunit, double-cross-filled comedy.
Dirty Pretty Things
An African illegal immigrant works as a cab driver by day and a hotel desk clerk by night, despite his training as a doctor. When he does sleep, it's on the couch of a Turkish illegal immigrant (Tautou from Amelie). He soon discovers an illicit kidney-selling scheme that is praying on fellow immigrants. Frears' London is engaging in that it is a place where corruption is taken for granted, but unfortunately the plot resolves itself mechanically. Tautou, however, remains feisty and adorable throughout. (Andy Spletzer)
* Don't Worry, It'll Probably Pass
Three real girls record their thoughts over four years about liking boys and girls.
The Film Center continues its fawning fest over Alain Delon, the French heart throb of the early '60s. Michelangelo Antonioni directs the story about an uneven love affair between a too-cool-for-school stock broker (Delon) and a hot-to-trot lady (Monica Vitti) who has just quit her longtime lover for greener pastures. Seductive and sophisticated, the film will run you hard and put you away wet.
* The Event
When Matt's life with AIDS becomes unbearable, he offs himself, and an attorney played by Parker Posey investigates his death. Flashbacks ensue.
* Evil Dead 2 See My What a Busy Week pg 23
An Italian Thelma and Louise about a lesbian couple that lives a blissful life working at the local gas station, until one of the gal's mean moms is accidentally killed and the two have to dispose of the corpse.
* Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Background information: When he was young, Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker) was saved from a group of street thugs by Louie (John Tormey), a low-level Mafioso who just happened to be passing by. In thanks, Ghost Dog pledged to serve Louie for the rest of his life, as faithful to him as any ancient samurai was to his master. Their relationship forms the core of Jim Jarmusch's film. Whitaker's Ghost Dog is like Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name"--coldly professional when it comes to killing, but instead of Ennio Morricone's strings and whistles, he's got Wu-Tang Clan's RZA doing his soundtrack. But the movie isn't all guns and bloodshed. Thanks to a relatively simple story, Jarmusch has room to play with some of the characters and situations, often for comedic effect, giving Ghost Dog the same deadpan humor of his earliest films. (Andy Spletzer)
* Girls Will Be Girls
Three Hollywood women navigate show business, love affairs, and age; and all three are played by men.
Good Boy! See review this issue.
* H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
Get your sci-fi on with this three-day festival at the Hollywood, of films adapted from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, including Maria's Hubris (The Thing on the Doorstep), Necronomicon, and The Shunned House.
History of the Line
Using the soon-to-open Tri-Met extension along Interstate as the focal point, a dozen North and Northeast high school students made documentary movies about their neighborhoods and the changes coming. Tonight is the premiere. Sponsored by the Film Center.
House of the Dead
Another in the wave of teen horror movies. This time a group of perky breasted teens arrive on an island for a rave, only to discover it's been taken over by zombies. House of the Dead begs the question: what kills an ecstasy buzz faster than a gaggle of zombies trying to rip your arms and legs off?
The Coen brothers' latest. See review this issue.
* It's Raining in Santiago
A film about the original 9-11, 9-11-1973, when 3,000 people were killed in a coup (supported by the US) against the democratically elected government in Santiago.
* Kill Bill: Volume 1
Uma Thurman chops off appendages right and left in Quentin Tarantino's newest. See review this issue.
* Laughing Matters
A showcase of four out lesbian comedians, Kate Clinton, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Marga Gomez, and Karen Williams.
* Lost in Translation
In less delicate hands, Lost in Translation could easily have been a dull, pretentious disaster, but Sofia Coppola has two cards tucked up her sleeve. One is the city of Tokyo itself, which has never looked so mysterious and engaging in an American film, and the other is Bill Murray, the bulk of whose part comes across as having been improvised. Why someone has not thought of dropping Murray among the citizens of a strange foreign city before remains a mystery, but without him--and despite the fine work of Coppola and Scarlett Johansson--Lost in Translation would surely fail. (Bradley Steinbacher)
What happens when a bumbling young man emerges from the cocoon of the seminary as a 16th Century rebel rouser? Martin Luther (played by Joseph Fiennes), is an Augustinian monk who shook up the Roman Church as much as Elvis shook up the music industry, minus the hip swiveling.
The Magdalene Sisters
Serious as a heart attack, this unabashedly enraged lapel-grabber focuses on a trio of young women unjustly confined to an Irish convent/slave labor camp. Director Peter Mullan gives absolutely no quarter, placing shivery moments of genuine power and beauty within long stretches of cranked to eleven Legion of Doom-villainy. Provocative to a fault, helplessly moving, and a definite conversation piece for those with the fortitude to ride it out. Based on true events, and condemned by the Vatican. (Andrew Wright)
Man on the Train
Director Patrice Leconte brings us this oft-told tale of two aging men from vastly different backgrounds coming to understand and--yes--even like each other. One is a retired poetry teacher, the other a bank robber preparing for his last heist. Despite the unbelievable premise, the acting is fine, the story is sweet, and there's nothing much else to it. Hey, I like "sweet" as much as the next guy, but c'mon. I'm kinda busy here. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)
In truth, Nicholas Cage could have been airlifted from any number of his films and dropped into the middle of Matchstick Men, a film about a nervous con man, his odd-couple partner (played by Sam Rockwell), and his estranged 14-year-old daughter. Rambling to his shrink or just puttering anxiously around his impeccably clean house, Cage picks up the wild goose chase of neurosis right where Adaptation left off. With his ticks, abrupt laughs, and adorable anxiety, this has become Cage's trademark character, which is to say that overuse has worn down its uniqueness and sharp edges. (Phil Busse)
Merci Docteur Rey See Review pg 49
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Robert Rodriguez's latest venture as director/writer/editor/cinematographer/composer/effects guy, is a bit of a glorious mess--exhilarating in parts, but migraine-inducing overall. Picking up a few years after 1995's Desperado, this third (and presumably final) installment in the El Mariachi series finds Antonio Banderas' vengeful guitarist blackmailed by a shady CIA agent (Johnny Depp) into interfering with an attempted plot to assassinate the Mexican President. The double-crosses soon quadruple, culminating in all-out war, and what may be the gnarliest shotgun-inflicted wound ever. Narrative coherence has never been Rodriguez's forte, but his scripts have never quite had this slapdash, 52-pickup quality before. Bad guys die repeatedly, flashbacks stumble into flash-forwards, Mickey Rourke shows up with a Chihuahua--flowcharts should be issued at the door. (Andrew Wright)
Out of Time
Denzel Washington gets set up again, this time as a respected police chief, who must cover his tracks before being pinned with a murder.
In a study of what goes around, comes around: Three Chilean youth watched their worlds turn upside down when General Pinochet grabbed power in 1973. Their dads were killed, and they were slapped in the face with a stark new life. A decade later those same three became student leaders against Pinochet's regime. See the connection? With chilling archival footage and bare bone honest interviews, director Paula Rodriguez puts together a remarkable history film.
Pirates of the Caribbean
"Pirates of the Caribbean" is, in case you've never been to Disneyland, a really great, dark ride. It has a cave filled with pirate skeletons and treasure, a mock naval battle, looting, pillaging, arson, and drunks singing a jolly sea shanty about well, about getting drunk. In the big finale, a gang of shit-faced marauders whip out their flintlocks, penetrate the town's arsenal, and take cross-eyed potshots at kegs of gunpowder. Then you go up a waterfall, and that's end of the ride. Nobody saves the day! How cool is that? It's much cooler than Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Johnny Depp plays Captain Jack Sparrow, a pirate so swishy that upon first seeing him, a kid sitting behind me cried out, "He walks like a girl!" Depp acts as if he were auditioning to play a new Austin Powers villain, Rear Admiral Stinky. Geoffrey Rush, on the other hand, was born to play a scrofulous, cursed old seadog, and he gives almost as convincing a performance as your average theme park robot. Plus, he has a naughty zombie monkey who rides around on his shoulder. As much as I love the ride, if I were thinking of ways to improve it (mind you, I'm NOT, because you CAN'T), making it two-and-a-half hours long would be at the bottom of my list. (Dan Howland)
A scarecrow comes to life and kills people in this cheesy late '80s horror flick.
* Queen Christina
Greta Garbo plays the Queen of Sweden.
* Radical Harmonies
A chronicle of the Women's Music Cultural Movement and the musical revolution women have undergone.
Roll on Columbia: Woody Guthrie & The Bonneville Power Administration
Way back in 1941, folk singer Woody Guthrie took the unusual job of writing songs to buck up the employees of the Bonneville Power Administration. Writing 26 songs in a single month, Guthrie's tunes promoted the building of dams and included classics such as "Roll on Columbia" and "Jackhammer Blues." Filling out this testimonial are clips and quips from Studs Terkel, Pete Seeger, and Arlo Guthrie.
The Rock and Stifler from American Pie star in this entertaining action/adventure flick about a bounty hunter (The Rock) who has to track down his employer's son (Stifler) in the jungles of Brazil. Beautiful scenery and great fight scenes make up for a formulaic plot and terrible Brazilian accents. (Katie Shimer)
School of Rock
While I am passionate about rocking, The School of Rock, starring Jack Black, employs every cliché imaginable, from Kindergarten Cop to Spinal Tap, while promoting a sickly Gen-X nostalgia and not being funny, to boot. If the film is about the generation gap and the power of rock to span the ages, it's unfortunate that its power stinks like a rotten corpse. (Julianne Shepherd)
Before being discovered by an oddball trainer in the 1930s, Seabiscuit was a lazy lie-around horse with a goofy gait. He was unruly, abused, and could barely keep pace in minor-league country fair races. But coupled with a nearly blind and down-on-his-luck jockey, Seabiscuit stormed into the top tier of horseracing and, for a stretch of three years or so, became the most written-about celebrity in America. The moral, as the new film version of the horse's life crams down our gullet, is "you don't throw a whole life away because it's banged up a little." Yet in spite of this spirited true-life story, DreamWorks does the story complete injustice by kicking Seabiscuit's corpse for the sake of a summer blockbuster. It's unclear why DreamWorks bothered to work with a true story. The film version deletes and adds major facts at will. In a classic Disney turn of events, they omit Seabiscuit's follies and loses, and clean and sober up Seabiscuit's primary jockey, Red (played by Tobey Maguire), who was endlessly profane and often drunk in real life. (Phil Busse)
A film about a boy who is left by his mother to spend an indefinite amount of time with his uncles, who, upon first impression, are stubborn hicks with a big barn. Through stories told by Michael Caine, the boy soon learns that his uncles are not hicks at all, but war heroes with glorious pasts. The eldest uncle, Robert Duvall, was in his youth a man of action, a great soldier who defeated powerful sheiks and seduced a dark woman while riding a wild horse on the shores of Arabia--a man-among-men who, even in his old age, has not lost an inch of his erection. Impressed by this example of pure manhood, Osment switches his dependency on Mommy for an even more unhealthy dependency on this violent father figure. This movie just sucks. (Charles Mudede)
* Stan Brakhage Tribute See review this issue.
A mousy, frigid English woman (Sarah) who writes popular mysteries retreats to her publisher's mansion in the south of France. Then his illegitimate daughter Julie shows up unexpectedly, a slutty, bratty French vagina--I mean, character. The film follows the women as they eventually become friendly, and the uptight Brit mellows out with weed, swimming, and sex. A thriller element enters the film, shifting it suddenly from stereotypical Odd Couple stuff to highly improbable, anemic drama. By the end of the film, it's revealed why things have became so cardboard and predictable. But it's an extremely flimsy excuse for mediocrity. On the other hand, Julie shows a ton of skin and has sex with a succession of nasty older men, which is fun to watch. (Marjorie Skinner)
Older people tend to address this film in an alarmist tone, while the younger set thinks it's crappy. (Except for the excellent tight jeans, slit shirts, and hoop earrings.) It tackles a lot of very real issues about maturity, but it takes on too much at once, to no effect. The lead protagonist is a smart, well-behaved child--until the hottest, brassiest, most popular girl in school criticizes her socks. Then it's like she slipped on a banana peel and became the embodiment of parental paranoia: Drugs! Tongue piercings! Boys! Shoplifting! (Marjorie Skinner)
Tipping the Velvet
A campy, crowd-pleasing film version of Sarah Waters' celebrated novel of Victorian England's sexual demimonde. Originally released as a six-part BBC miniseries, Tipping the Velvet offers three hours of dykey Victorian slap-and-tickle, from female cross-dressers to SM-loving society ladies, all wrapped around a lesbian love story. Part of the lesbian & gay film fest. Free screening Thurs, October 9 at the Guild. (David Schmader)
Under the Tuscan Sun
Under the Tuscan Sun finds Diane Lane luminous as Frances Mayes, a San Francisco writer who gets totally reamed in a messy divorce and hops a plane to Italy, when single life in the city becomes unbearable. She stumbles across Bramasole, a dilapidated villa in the country that becomes her home. In Tuscany, she finds love, empowerment, and humility. Plus some hot Italian guys! Be fooled not, however; the tone of Tuscan is light as frothed milk, with numerous cultural inaccuracies and beige gloss-overs of life abroad, a reality pureed for easier and more enjoyable consumption. Too bad life abroad isn't all amazing vistas and music queued montage, but then again this is pure fantasy. The film is enjoyable--if not entirely forgettable--if you just let it wash over you, like a sunny day. (Brian Brait)
Once again Romeo & Juliet is dusted off and given a refurbishing. This time the setting is the gloomiest of all gloomy cities, where vampires and werewolves wage a secret, exhausting war with one another. The experience: much Matrix-like action (save for the wire work), crackpot dialogue, and a PVC-clad heroine (Kate Beckinsale) who looks sexy as all get out, but can barely muster a sprint thanks to her garb. The result: A boring, uninspired hack work. (Bradley Steinbacher)
* Venus Boyz
A documentary on Drag Kings across the world, with commentary on how gender works in modern society.
* Weather Underground
In 1969, the Weather Underground went underground. An ensemble of college students spawned from the Students for a Democratic Society, the group began protesting racism and the atrocities in Vietnam--first by organizing communities and, eventually, by bombing buildings. They were preparing for the revolution, which seemed likely given the civil unrest and general tumult during the '60s. The Weather Underground, an incredible film documenting their origins and years spent hiding, deftly conveys the events which turned that era into a pressure cooker, using rarely seen footage (most notably: Vietnam and the aftermath of Fred Hampton's murder) and current interviews with Weather Underground members. (Julianne Shepherd)
Who knew that Corvallis could look so much like Middle Earth. A once famed and brave knight has fallen on hard times, carousing with gypsies and playing dice. But after he loses, yes, his valuable and magical ring, he is aroused to kick some medieval ass and reclaim what is his. Northwest film director Brock Morse filmed his odyssey in Oregon, just off I-5.
* Whale Rider
Audiences at Toronto and Sundance loved this film and so will you if you like triumphant tales of charismatic youngsters who defy the stoic immobility of old-fashioned patriarchs. I like it because it captures traditional Maori ceremonies and songs on film while also showing that New Zealand is not just a backdrop for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Shannon Gee)
* Winged Migration
Following geese, cranes, swans, puffins, penguins, pelicans, and gulls, the makers of the insect documentary Microcosmos spent four years capturing impossible images of birds, via a bevy of methods and a gaggle of cinematographers, for Winged Migration, a documentary that is as much about the wonders of flight as the migration of birds.
* Yossi & Jagger
Based on a true story, two Israeli commanders keep their love affair a secret at a remote army base, all the while wasting their youth fighting for a cause they might not believe in. A huge hit in Israel because of its portrayal of the plight of so many young Israelis who are forced into the army.