Opening night of the Palestinian Film Fest (Wed March 24) brings us Al-Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948 which chronicles the displacement of 750,000 Palestinians with the birth of Israel in 1948. John Pilger's documentary Palestine is Still the Issue then goes inside Palestine to examine the tired spirit of the people. Finally, On the Ground: Witness, Resist, Rebuild shows filmmaker Sean Geary being arrested for civil disobedience while protesting the demolition of Palestinian homes. On Thursday March 25, catch one of the fest's highlights, Rana's Wedding, about a girl unhappy with the prospect of arranged marriage, who sets off on a journey to reunite with her true love, and smooth things over with her angry dad. Vollum Lecture Hall, Reed College
A team of world-class surfers travels the globe looking for monster waves (of the three-stories high variety) and for the most part are successful. There are shots of waves that demonstrate their incredible beauty and power, and there are also shots of the obligatory not-very-interesting surfers who yammer on incessantly about the "idea" of wave riding. And therein lies the problem with surf documentaries; though surfing itself has made startling advancements since the 1960s, surf movies have barely progressed past the narration driven format of Endless Summer. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Hollywood Theatre
* Bon Apetit
You know how the French hold their fists up really high when they're trying to kick your ass? Tonight (Friday), see how they kick ass when they're on a skateboard. French board company Cliche's latest video features killer skating by guys with sexy sounding names, like JJ Rousseau. Dept. of Skateboarding
Brothers and Sisters of the Toda Family
The Film Series continues its comprehensive tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, the mid-century Japanese director. Produced at the beginning of World War II, this film spins the war as an opportunity for economic expansion rather than military aggression. Even so, the core story remarkably foreshadows Japan's postwar world: After the patriarch for a seemingly wealthy family dies, the sons and daughters are saddled with his debts and with their mother, who each selfishly hands off one to the next. Guild Theater
* Bus 174
His name was Sandro do Nascimento, and on June 12, 2000, he boarded a bus in downtown Rio de Janeiro, a meager revolver in hand, and took the passengers hostage. He had no real mission; fresh from a grueling stint in Rio's jails, he was confused, addled, and desperate. Bus 174, a tiny, important documentary, chronicles Sandro's entire ordeal. The end result is a film that shatters and upsets. It is a documentary that is near perfect in its simple execution, and one everyone should seek out. (Bradley Steinbacher) Hollywood Theatre
Dawn of the Dead See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc
* Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
Sam Raimi's horrific, funny sequel to the story of campers who get slaughtered on a trip into the wilderness. The group's only survivor returns to the campsite, and the madness continues... Laurelhurst
* From Here to Eternity
In this time when fabrications such as Saving Jessica Lynch are rushed through production to crassly capitalize on our nation's warm and fuzzy feelings towards its military, a film like From Here To Eternity, with its rather bleak outlook on the armed services, remains, after 50 years, a fairly surprising enterprise. Based on the James Jones' epic novel, the film centers around military life in Hawaii in the month leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, casting a mean-spirited, harsh eye on the services. (Bradley Steinbacher) Hollywood Theatre
* Good bye, Lenin
In 1989, Alexander Kerner (Daniel Brühl) is a young East Berliner not beginning, as he had hoped, a career in space, but one as a TV repairman. Though not happy about his situation, Alexander is not an angry youth, nor is he openly hostile to his mother, whose faith in the Socialist Party contradicts his emerging political beliefs. During a protest against the state, which is brutally repressed by the police, Alexander's mother chances to see him being beaten and arrested by the very cops who serve the party that she is devoted to. The mother faints and has a heart attack, which sends her into a coma. During her sleep, the Berlin Wall falls, East Germany dissolves into West Germany, and the society changes its money, its clothes, its entire mode of material existence. After she awakes, it's at this point that Good Bye, Lenin! becomes interesting. Because of the mother's delicate condition, Alexander cannot inform her that East Germany is no more. The trick, and it is a trick devised by the clever director (Wolfgang Becker), works. In other hands it would have been silly and exhausted in a matter of minutes, but Becker manages to get over an hour's worth of comedy and drama out of it. (Charles Mudede) Cinema 21
* Grease Sing-a-long
Sandy and Danny's high school love immortalized to the sound of a theater full of beautiful voices. Kennedy School
Rumor has it that Viggo Mortenson was cast in this bloated desert adventure before he became one of the most famous actors ever via Lord of the Rings. I find that very hard to believe, however... because Mortenson STINKS. I can't imagine any casting agent in their right mind listening to his dismal cowboy accent or observing his nonexistent comic timing, and not saying, "Next!" (Justin Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Japanese Story begins as a beautifully photographed romance that is sustained by lead Toni Collette's professional performance. After the accident near the final third of the film, however, it becomes a bad melodrama that drags on and on. (Charles Mudede) Fox Tower 10
* Karate Kid
Ralph Macchio learns that karate is as much about waxing cars as it is about fighting from his brilliant, but often misunderstood teacher, Mr. Miyagi. Pix Patisserie
A spoof on how science can make for more efficient living, the fictional Swedish Home Research Institute sends observers to examine kitchen habits in 1950s Norway. The subtext of this gentle comedy is a homosexual love story. The "text" is much less interesting. Beware: your grandparents will love it. (Andy Spletzer) Fox Tower 10
* Life and Times of the Red Dog Saloon
A musical and visual ride through the late '60s dancehall scene that flourished in San Francisco. Much of the footage actually takes place at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada; a location also at the center of the movement. The film also features performances by deceased musician Nick Ogilvie. Mission Theater
* Little Darlings
Fifteen-year-old bad girl Kristy McNicol faces off against 15-year-old good girl Tatum O'Neal in a contest to see who can lose their virginity first. Has their ever been a better premise for a movie? Also starring Matt Dillon as a prospective lay. Blind Onion
* The Mobernists
Christian Roth, the founder of German skateboard company HESSENMOB examines the links between skateboarding and art, and art and commerce, and of course, the link between urethane wheels and pavement. (Shows Wed.) See My What a Busy Week pg 13. Dept. of Skateboarding
Had the movie remained within the limits of its basic plot, and stayed enclosed within this vibrant section of Paris (the busy narrow street; the boy's dark, book-packed apartment; the bright piazza where a teen girl practices American dance moves; and the small but well-stocked store), it would have been perfectly charming. But instead, the director, François Dupeyron, wanted something more than all he had--a warm relationship that develops between two people who come from opposing religions, ages, and races. This something more that the director wanted to squeeze out of the modest scenario is a major statement, a declaration about the fate of all mankind. (Charles Mudede) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
In an amazing feat, Charlize Theron not only manages to look like complete crap, she does a spectacular job of playing notorious serial killer Aileen Wuornos. (Katie Shimer) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall, Westgate
* My Architect
My Architect isn't really about architecture. It's not even about its subject, Louis I. Kahn, except insofar as the late master builder and his immortal buildings remain an enigma to his son Nathaniel, the filmmaker behind this extraordinary documentary. Nathaniel Kahn's film is about the void created by a father's absence from his children's lives, and the way that void is continually filled and depleted by the father's reputation. (Sean Nelson) Hollywood Theatre
* My Neighbor Totoro
Hayao Miyazaki's (Princess Mononoke) breakthrough film. Even the most cynical dolt will be reduced to girlish giggles with some of the cutest sequences ever set to celluloid. (Zac Pennington) Clinton Street Theater
Osama is not directly about bin Laden. The film is about a little girl forced to disguise herself as a boy to prevent her jobless mother and grandmother from starving under the oppressive Taliban regime--subtle. It's a fantastic film, with invaluable historic significance, but a devastatingly joyless experience. (Marjorie Skinner) Fox Tower 10
The Passion of the Christ
Jewish theologians have made a lot of hay recently about the anti-Semitic overtones of Mel Gibson's biblical drama, The Passion of the Christ--and they're right. The film is anti-Semitic. Even more surprisingly, it's hugely anti-Christian. In fact, it's just about anti-EVERYTHING, except anti-blood, guts, and gore. This is the story of Christ as told by Quentin Tarantino's evil twin, and to sum it all up? It's the world's first Christian snuff film; two full hours of Jesus Christ getting his ass KICKED. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Pitch Black and The Abyss
Pitch Black starts out great, dropping you onto a planet by means of a rather exciting crash of a passenger ship (which, of course, is also transporting a dangerous criminal). We learn that the planet has three suns, so it is never dark. Ah, but an eclipse is coming, and the creatures that live underground, the ones that can't stand the light, will once again have free reign over the planet's surface, and will once again kill everything and everyone they find. Follow Pitch Black up with James Cameron's The Abyss about a team of divers who encounters an underwater alien species while searching for a lost nuclear submarine. (Andy Spletzer) XV
Record of a Tenement Gentleman
An often overlooked gem from Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu. Produced two years after Atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, the story is a heavy-hearted story about an orphaned boy who is thrust into the care of a grumpy old lady. Tender as well as dour. Guild Theater
* Russian Ark
There's no denying that Russian Ark''s considerable buzz quotient depends solely on one dilly of a stunt; namely, a single 96-minute Steadicam shot. Requiring a cast of thousands and seven months of rehearsal time, the film chronicles a lucid dreamer's ghostly waltz through St. Petersburg's opulent Hermitage Museum, previously a palace to the Czars. The faceless, perplexed narrator soon meets up with an overbearing 19th Century French nobleman in the same helplessly voyeuristic boat. The unlikely duo then proceeds to trade national philosophies and personal musings for the remainder of the running time, as history becomes increasingly unstuck around them. (Andrew Wright) Whitsell Auditorium
* The Secret Window
Johnny Depp plays Mort Rainey, a depressed novelist who's got a bad case of writer's block and a divorce waiting in the wings. While his unfaithful ex (Maria Bello) gets it on with her lunkhead boyfriend (Timothy Hutton), Mort steams in a lakeside cabin in upper New York. His self-imposed privacy is broken, however, by a Mississippi hick called John Shooter (John Turturro) who claims Mort has plagiarized one of his stories. When the situation isn't rectified to Shooter's satisfaction, Mort's acquaintances and pets begin winding up with screwdrivers crammed into their heads. And while most levelheaded people would run screaming back to the big city, Mort remains, because he has secrets of his own. Secret Window is a thriller--and a quirky one, much to its credit. It flows along in the same pulpy style of its original author (Stephen King), which means it also shares its author's penchant for unbelievable denouements. Yet somehow Depp has the ability to play even the most eye-rolling moments with a brand of believable grace. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Sinister plots at the White House, the president's daughter gets kidnapped--it's one big, fat West Wing episode, care of David Mamet. Starring Val Kilmer and William H. Macy. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation
The impressarios of independent animation return. As always, if you're really, really high, it will be the funniest shit you've seen all night. Cinema 21
Starsky & Hutch
In this version, Starsky and Hutch (Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) enlist the help of street informant Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) to bring down a murderous coke dealer (Vince Vaughn). There are plenty of missed opportunities in this movie, and while I've certainly seen less funny films recently, I can't help but think Stiller and Wilson's talents have been largely wasted. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Statement features Michael Caine as Pierre Brossard, a sweating, mouth-breathing, murderous yet nauseatingly pious (a typical combination), French ex-Nazi supporter who killed a bunch of Jews and now, 44 years later, lives in hiding from police investigators and Zionist hit men. It's an intriguing premise because it involves some very important members of the Catholic Church in the plot to help Brossard lay low. However, despite that, and Caine's amazing performance, this film is so confusingly assembled, I didn't know the full extent of what was going on until I researched it afterwards. It's also very, very boring, which never helps in one's understanding, what with the struggle to stay awake. (Justin Westcoat Sanders) Fox Tower 10
* Taking Lives See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
* This is Spinal Tap
Smell the glove once again with David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls, in this band mockumentary by Christopher Guest. Clinton Street Theater
* Touching the Void
Have you heard the one about the two English men who tried to climb an icy mountain in Peru? One slipped, fell, and broke his leg. The other left him for dead. Now they've made a movie that would make make Ansel Adams blush! City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Westgate
* The Triplets of Belleville
An animated French film that speaks nary an intelligible word throughout its entire 80-minute running time, Les Triplettes de Belleville's jaw-dropping artwork alone could have kept me riveted for hours. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
* US Atomic Tests 1954
The first two of five films, Orientation Parts 5 & 6: Atomic Weapons Effects and Thermonuclear Weapon, show the physical characteristics of atomic and thermonuclear explosions and the destructive effects of light, blast, heat, and radiation. Scientific films show fireballs, mushroom clouds, underwater and underground blasts at the Nevada and Pacific atomic proving grounds. These films provide the 1950's history of atomic and thermonuclear weapons. The next two films, Operation Castle 1954 Commander's Report and Military Effects: Operation Castle, show the scientific and military preparation and detonations of the six thermonuclear tests conducted at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. A Civil Defense short, Let's Face It, shows the government's idea of what the US population should do to protect themselves and their family from an atomic attack. Laurelhurst
What Did The Lady Forget?
Another in the Film Center's comprehensive tribute to Yasujiro Ozu, Japan's mid-century director/genius. The film travels in the bourgeois heart of Japan and adopts a fun-spirited, quasi-Jane Austin feel. When a vivacious niece comes to visit, the normally henpecked Professor Komiya is inspired to rise above his constraints. Guild Theater
* What the Fuck Do We Know?
Mark Vincente's What the #$*! Do We Know?, is a tidy, slick, and thoroughly compelling documentary-infused narrative, which attempts to break the ice of quantum physics without putting us to sleep. The dramatized portions follow a few days in the life of Portland photographer Amanda, affectionately played by Oscar winner Marlee Matlin, as she deals with her separation from a cheating husband. These scenes were filmed at various sites around Portland, which adds a certain resonance to the action. Interspersed throughout the narrative, noted quantum physicists break it down, posing huge questions about reality, and our perceptions thereof. They touch on deliciously radical and heretical topics, but stop short of simple explanations, which gives the film a lovely, meditative feel, while simultaneously making you smarter. (Brian Brait) Bagdad Theater, Mission Theater
Window To Paris
The protagonists in this story discover a portal into a magical and fantastical world--except that the fantasy world is just Paris, replete with its exquisite culture and shopping. Then again, the window is an escape from the glum, decaying St. Petersberg. Both an enchanting and disheartening glimpse into post-communist Russia. Whitsell Auditorium