It's 1987 and 13-year-old Jenna wants nothing more than to grow up and become the editor of her favorite fashion mag, Poise. In her way is a group of horrid junior high bitches, and her fat neighbor who carries a Casio and a huge crush. After a particularly traumatic experience, Lil' Jenna uses "wishing dust" to become Big Jenna--a 30-year-old knockout with a closet full of shoes, a hot boyfriend, and her dream job. But what's this? She still has her 13-year-old brain! Which means she doesn't know shit about sexual relationships, backbiting co-workers, or how to insert a tampon. Even worse, Big Jenna has grown up to be a big beaver. Therefore, Lil' Sweet Jenna must correct Big Bitchy Jenna's past mistakes in order to reunite with her fat neighbor boyfriend (who has grown up to be sexy Mark Ruffalo). "Waitasecond," you yell. "This is like Tom Hanks' Big, except for girls." You got it. And happily, there's no law against that. 13 Going on 30 is a goofy, candy-colored chick flick custom-designed for the 25-30 year old set that whips by so quickly you practically fly over the plot holes. Regal Cinemas, etc.
A great soundtrack from Iggy Pop and White Zombie backs up a fun story about a group of anarchists trying to produce a TV show and stick their thumb in the public's eye. Guild Theater
* The Battle of Algiers See review this issue. Cinema 21
Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius
The artist formerly known as Jesus (Jim Caviezal) tees off in this sporty story of the young Bobby Jones. Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV
* Bon Voyage
Bon Voyage has a big theme (Germany's invasion of France), big actors (in terms of reputation), and big emotions (a young man's eternal love for a famous but shallow movie actress). The speed of the film's narrative is always high, and the characters are kept in constant motion, rarely stopping to rest and look at the big world around them. If this were an American movie, it would have been described as intelligent and even profound; but as a French movie, it is big, dumb, and lots of fun. (Charles Mudede) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
* Carlos Castaneda: Enigma of a Sorcerer
Go inside the life of best-selling author, guru, and cult leader Carlos Castaneda. The filmmakers explore Castaneda's immense impact, controversial teachings, and cult status, splicing in experimental film footage and dazzling animation. Hollywood Theatre
The Cedar Bar
During the course of a night of hard drinking, angry artists confront an arrogant critic. Oh wait, it gets better. Throughout the film are woven snippets from porn movies, newsreels, and old TV shows. Some sort of social commentary about intellectualism and artistic temperament. Huh? Whitsell Auditorium
Coming Up Easy
In her first feature film, director Rebecca Rodriguez tells the story of two sisters. Both are raised in an abusive childhood. One hides; the other tries to mend her broken life. Eventually, they must figure out how to help each other. Whitsell Auditorium
* Crimson Gold
Crimson Gold is lumbering, at times a bit slow, but is kept under a gloomy and constant pressure that works to its advantage. The film's best scene, a long one in which the main character keeps an angry playboy company in his parents' opulent apartment, is so fraught with the possibility of disaster that you find yourself cringing at the most innocent things. You wonder how the upper classes stand a chance. (Emily Hall) Hollywood Theatre
* Dawn of the Dead
No longer content to lumber around like tranquilized robots, The zombies in Dawn, like in 28 Days Later, screech like hellish bobcats, and sprint at their prey with horrible speed. In short, filmmakers have finally figured out how zombies can still terrify this modern world hooked on high-speed wireless connections and instant messenger programs: They must be FAST. (Justin Sanders) Avalon, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater
Dogville is far from perfect--Lars von Trier's insistence on stilted dialogue (translated from Dutch to English) makes a few of his actors look like amateurs, and things drag seriously in the final stretch. But for every audience groan there are numerous gasps of perverse delight, the most memorable of which are supplied by Nicole Kidman. Not to be outdone by Breaking the Waves' Emily Watson or Dancer in the Dark's Bjork, Kidman submits to von Trier's scriptural sadism with gusto, bringing a piercing humanity to a character that is admittedly a superhuman ideal. (David Schmader) Cinemagic
* Don't Bother to Knock
Marilyn Monroe's first major role as a babysitter with a dark past who becomes obsessed with the father of the girl she's sitting. Admission is free. Umpqua Bank
Tim (Ben Stiller) and Nick (Jack Black) are best friends, co-workers, and neighbors, somewhere in under-the-powerlines California. "You're a dreamer," Tim tells Nick, condescendingly. Then Nick's invention--a spray-on fecal disintegrator called "Va-POO-rize"--hits the big time. Hijinx, as they say, ensue. Tim accidentally kills his neighbor's horse, which, in time-honored farce fashion, introduces the J-Man, a goofy longhaired barfly played with comic menace by Christopher Walken. Naturally, the horse presents a recurring problem, never more so than when Nick generously makes his beloved neighbor his business partner. Eventually, environmental concerns arise concerning the fate of the dispersed crap. A crowd chants, "Where does the shit go?" Black's role requires a cherubic sweetness unleavened by mischief, rendering his casting choice moot. Stiller veers between his babbling neurotic shtick and a decent portrayal of a troubled, harried man. Walken, in sideshow mode, never hits a false note (except when he sings). Levinson's best known satire is Wag the Dog; Black and Stiller could conceivably have helped to deliver a similar work of wit. Unfortunately, Levinson takes up love, success, and forgiveness at the expense of a sharp tongue. These are themes seen elsewhere in his work--notably the terrific, but highly sentimental, Avalon. The American myth of the decent little guy making it big and remaining decent underpins both films. Here, it stays the venom of satire, leaving a sweet-natured film that verges on stickiness at points. (Mike Whybark) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Whereas the last Michel Gondry/Charlie Kaufman collaboration, Human Nature, eventually crumbled under its own quirkiness (considerably helped along by the staggering blandness of Tim Robbins), Eternal Sunshine finds director and scribe fitting perfectly together. This is a film that travels far beyond most of our imaginations. It is also one of the most beautifully assembled romances you will ever see. (Bradley Steinbacher) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Cinemas, Moreland Theater
* Film Jeopardy!
Watch local celebrities and film afficianados battle for the title of "ultimate film geek" in this live trivia battle. It's a five dollar admission, but that's a small price to pay for an education. Hollywood Theatre
* Forest Film Festival
A collection of experimental shorts, documentaries, and animation by independent filmmakers. Monday's program includes Documentaries and Experimentals, Tuesday is Short Fictions, Wednesday is International Shorts, and Thursday is another roundup of Short Fictions. See their website www.forestfilmfest.com for a comprehensive schedule of each evening of film. Clinton Street Theater
Godsend is goddamn bad. Starring Robert De Niro, and directed by some English chap, the movie proves once and for all that the universe is without meaning. Agreed, a meaningful universe is a universe that is made meaningful by God. And if God were the creator and ruler of the universe, then He would have destroyed the production of this dumb film with a single bolt of lightning. But that did not happen. The movie exists in the world. I saw all of it with my own eyes, which means, irrefutably, that God does not exist. (Charles Mudede) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* 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 eight months, the mother awakes, but because she is frail, the doctor strongly recommends that her recovery not be shaken by shocks and surprises. It's at this point that Good Bye, Lenin! becomes interesting. (Charles Mudede) Cinemagic
Admittedly Mike Mignola's comic sounds shitty on paper: Hellboy--a baby demon clandestinely summoned by the Nazis in WWII--is adopted by the good-hearted Professor Bruttenholm, raised in the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, then proceeds to fight Nazis and various monsters. Ridiculous premise or no, Hellboy has been a mainstay of indie comics for 10 years, infusing that simplistic premise with insightful characterization and emotional resonance. As those are qualities usually ignored in Hollywood's comic adaptations, Hellboy should have failed fantastically. Instead, it succeeds in ways that no other comic adaptation has. Much of this is because writer/director Guillermo del Toro has fervent faith in the material, a near-perfect cast, and a production design that bears the stylish stamp of Mignola himself. (Erik Henriksen) Division Street, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV,
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 it very hard to believe, however, that the producers of Hidalgo weren't just trying to cash in on a bankable star... because Mortenson STINKS. Aside from him, though, Hidalgo could almost be cool. It tells the story of a cowboy at the turn of the century who entered a race in Saudi Arabia across a vicious desert. It's supposedly a true story, but regardless, it's a neat premise. Too bad the script is tepid and meandering and loaded with stupid family-friendly Middle Eastern stereotypes. Pretty scenery, though. And horses. (Justin Sanders) 99W Drive-In Theater, Cinema 99, Edgefield, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Tigard-Joy Theater
* I'm Not Scared
The advertising slogan for Gabriel Salvatore's I'm Not Scared, "Who can you trust when everyone's a suspect?," lends a poignant and desperate resonance to the film's unsettling plot. In an isolated village in southern Italy, 10-year-old Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) gradually uncovers an inhumane and jarring secret about his family. Michele's distrust of the people around him grows, and the young actor skillfully expresses the revelatory pain that arrives with the betrayal of unflinching childhood trust. Intense, subtle performances make it difficult to keep a critically objective distance as the film works to articulate a painful and eventually cathartic conflict between the loving abandon of childhood and fearful confusion of growth. The adults in the film are depraved and frightened, and Michele must shoulder the immense responsibility of remaining courageous in the face of their repression and threats. A devastating and provocative film capable of provoking uncomfortable philosophical illuminations. (Evan James) Fox Tower 10
Jersey Girl is not a film for fans of Kevin Smith's previous work, such as Clerks, Mallrats, or Chasing Amy. Why? Because Jersey Girl isn't funny, clever, stylistic, or crude. It's just one of those middling stories about a crappy dad who steps up to the plate and becomes a great dad, putting his career aspirations aside. (Katie Shimer) Kennedy School, Mt. Hood Theater
* Karamoja: Land Of Lost People See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
* Kiki's Delivery Service
An anime film about a young witch who must leave home for a year as part of her training. She starts a delivery service, transporting goods by broomstick, but eventually must face the challenge of no longer being able to fly. Clinton Street Theater
* Kill Bill Vol. 2
So the question most Kill Bill lovers are asking is, "How in the hell is Tarantino going to top the hilariously bloody finale of Vol. 1?" The answer: He can't. Therefore, Vol. 2 takes a fairly strong detour from the pop cultured, chopsocky love-in of Tarantino's first outing. Instead of the audience being treated to more amputations, this installment focuses more on the inner life of the Bride and Bill. While the first installment explored the expense of revenge, the second focuses on how the darkness of revenge has its roots in the deepest of loves. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
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
* The Lady Vanishes
Passengers on a train are delayed for the night in a small town, but when they return to the train, a woman--Iris--notices that the old governess Mrs. Froy has disappeared. She then sets out to find her. Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 thriller. Cafe Nola
Tom Hanks is a con artist who devises a plot to loot a Mississippi gambling boat by taking up residence in the home of a God-fearing widow. He convinces the widow to let him use her cellar as a practice space for his "renaissance quintet"--in actuality a gang of questionably talented criminals (including Marlon Wayans) who intend to dig a tunnel to the casino's money. Due to bumbling circumstances, the heist goes south, and the gang attempts to bump off the widow--a feat easier said than done. The problem with The Ladykillers lies in its clash of styles; scenes including Hanks and the widow play with the sparkling wit of Arsenic and Old Lace, but are interspersed with Wayons' modern-day ghetto comedy. Both are individually funny--but the juxtaposition is annoying. (Wm. Steven Humphrey)Regal Cinemas, etc.
Latter Days tells the story of a shallow L.A. fag and the Mormon missionary who enters his life (and more!) to teach him the value not only of spiritual depth, but of patience. The first half of the film is spent waiting for the inevitable moment when the obviously gay Mormon will allow the party boy into the kingdom of his underpants. The rest consists of wondering how and why you could ever possibly be expected to care about the travails and transformations of the two main characters. (Sean Nelson) Fox Tower 10
* The Laws of Attraction
Laws of Attraction is a flawlessly functional romantic comedy. I highly recommend it for those desiring heartwarming love-resolutions, or researching how to write romantic comedy screenplays. And, if I remember correctly, we get to see Pierce Brosnan with his shirt off three or four times, and once in a pair of skimpy black briefs. (Evan James) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Mad Max Trilogy
Mel Gibson stars in this revenge trilogy set in post-apocalyptic Australia. Included are Mad Max, Mad Max: The Road Warrior, and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Nocturnal
Man on Fire
Now, I've nothing against revenge tragedies. However, director Tony Scott (Enemy of the State, Top Gun) is a worthless washed-up hack that should've been kicked out of Hollywood years ago. A retarded lobotomized monkey couldn't ruin a movie with Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning--and yet somehow? Tony Scott has managed to rise to the task. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Mean Girls
Mean Girls is no Heathers--it lacks the surreal quality of the teenage years, the quality that's found a strange but correct analogue in supernatural teen dramas like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch--but it's pretty good. Really, when you think about what sort of crap is out there for teenagers, about how teenagers live and interact and what Hollywood thinks is at stake for them (Chasing Liberty, anyone?), Mean Girls starts to look great. It's funny, lively, and smart, with a couple of characters who seem realer than not, and had I seen it as a teenager it might have changed something for me. Regal Cinemas, etc.
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. Mimicking her telltale mannerisms perfectly, Theron plays the part with total believability. Her performance--and the smart direction of the film--evoke sympathy, anger, disgust, and an overwhelming emptiness. Granted, seeing a movie about a woman whose life went from child abuse to prostitution to rape to murder to betrayal by her lover to execution isn't a fun time; but it effectively makes you ponder the immense good and evil in humanity, and quite possibly, will make you cry. (Katie Shimer) Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, St. Johns Pub
Filmed in 1961, Man Ray looks back over his career and at the watershed, pre-World War I decades in his life when artists were flocking to Paris. A rare and personal glimpse into the origins of the Dada and surrealism movements, right from the horse's mouth. Guild Theater
New York Minute See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
A comical and lighthearted film about a bored, sweetheart of a postal clerk in Cuba. Displacing her desires for a better life, the postal clerk begins to steal mail and rewrite letters to help brighten lives, fix broken relationships and otherwise perk up dull lives. Guild Theater
* One Ganesh Productions Presents Short Independent Films
A local filmmakers showcase, including Exile from the Sun by Michael Poitevin, about a man who used to be a poet and an actor who has now settled into a life as an accountant. When tragedy strikes, he is forced to reevaluate his artistic vision. Also included are Salome and Transit, both seven-minute films, the first about a former junkie who injects himself with holy water and embarks on a psychedelic journey, and the second about a conversation overheard on the MAX. Finally, John Campbell's film Confessions. Hollywood Theatre
The Prince and Me
If you've ever wondered what goes through a 12-year-old girl's mind while she's jacking off, here is your opportunity to find out: The Prince & Me has one of the most endearingly logic-free plots in the history of cinema. It's a love story about the, uh, Crown Prince of Denmark and Paige (Julia Stiles), a farm girl and aspiring doctor from Wisconsin. (Marjorie Skinner) Avalon, Milwaukie 3 Theater
* The Prisoner, episode 12 & 13
The Mission is spotlighting this terrific cult television series starring Patrick McGoohan as a retired spy who finds himself imprisoned in a very mysterious village. A guaranteed marijuana freakout! Mission Theater
For those not in the know, The Punisher is an ex-cop named Frank Castle (Thomas Jane), whose entire extended family is wiped out in an act of gangland vengeance. The perpetrator of this outrage is one Howard Saint, played by John Travolta in a performance that echoes both his own twitches in Face/Off, and Mike Meyers' Dr. Evil. The loss of Castle's family drives him not so much crazy as beyond the law. The film refers to this as the realm of "natural justice" in an anarcho-fascist voiceover that may appeal to your inner torture specialist. It didn't appeal to mine, instead filling me with revenge fantasies about the film, the character, and my giggling co-viewers. (Bradley Steinbacher) Division Street, Movies on TV
* Raising Arizona
No matter how many episodes of Con Airs and Face Offs Nicholas Cage stars in, Raising Arizona will always redeem him as a superstar. As an ex-con coupled in love with a parole officer (Holly Hunter), Cage takes off across the Southwestern desert with a kidnapped baby, escaped convicts, and a nasty habit of robbing convenience stores. Blind Onion
Warren Beatty's passionate story about journalist John Reed. A bohemian and revolutionary, Reed chronicled the socialist revolution in 1917. Whitsell Auditorium
* Say Anything
John Cusack holds a boombox over his head outside Ione Skye's window and she can't help but fall in love in this cheesy but adorable Cameron Crowe classic. Pix Patisserie
An executioner in the pre-indendent British colony of India is suddenly faced with the reality that he has hung innocent men for the sake of higher-ups political whims. Meanwhile, his son begins a public protest against the death penalty. Yes, all politics are personal. Guild Theater
* Sunset Boulevard
Here's a chance to catch Billy Wilder's classic noir film on the big screen. Gloria Swanson is always a scream, with her melodrama and tragic hyperventilating; and Erich von Stroheim is excellent as her patient butler. Laurelhurst
Thief of Paris
A 19th-Century, rich brat is suddenly thrust into poverty and turns to a life of crime, both for practical and philosophical reasons. Whitsell Auditorium
* To Kill A Mockingbird
In this 1962 classic, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a man who, in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against a false rape charge. PSU Smith Memorial Union Rm 225
* Touching the Void
I'm not sure if Joe Simpson and Simon Yates are still active mountaineers, but it is clear that just speaking about their famous climb in this drama-documentary, detailing it in that near-formal language which distinguishes professional mountaineers from amateurs, gives them a pleasure that is satanic in its size and intensity. (Charles Mudede) Fox Tower 10
Trilogy 3: After the Life
If you've seen the first two of Lucas Belvaux's trilogy, you've got to see this one. Really, you've invested too much time not to. It's the "melodrama," about a hotshot detective who's got to cover up his wife's morphine addiction. Cue the melodramatic music and melodramatic acting styles! (Andy Spletzer) Fox Tower 10
* 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. Physically exaggerated characterizations and dark, dank urban landscapes give the film a particularly strong noir sensibility, and in the void of spoken word, layered sound effects add to the ambience. (Justin Sanders) Hollywood Theatre
Van Helsing See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Visuals II, Film, Video, & Music Festival
A collection of non-narrative, experimental film and video. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
What does a person want from an action movie starring the Rock? Well, if you're me, you want two things: 1) the Rock to walk around with his shirt off and 2) the Rock to beat the living Christ out of a bunch of bad guys. According to my relatively simple criteria for a good Rock action movie, then, Walking Tall completely sucks. (Katie Shimer) Clackamas Town Ctr., Movies on TV
* 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
* Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself
Wilbur is dark and troubled, and tries to kill himself about once a week. Maybe it's the morbid weather in Glasgow, maybe it's because his mother died when he was young, or maybe it's that he doesn't have a girlfriend. The reason for Wilbur's suicide attempts is never really examined--it's just accepted. Thankfully, Wilbur lives with his doting brother Harbour, who rescues him from death, successfully keeping Wilbur alive into his 30s. This film has a sleepy pace, but finds its arc when a woman and her daughter enter the equation, charming Harbour and Wilbur alike. It's when tragedy strikes that the family is upheaved, but then again, not very significantly. The story is unique because the characters are dealing with extreme circumstances, but they never turn on each other; they accept each other unconditionally, even when Harbour misses the daughter's birthday party, or Wilbur tries to hang himself in the study. It's this unfaltering love among the characters that both makes and breaks the movie. Seeing people who deal with difficulties so matter-of-factly is inspiring, but it's also kind of boring. I mean, Wilbur slits his wrists in the bathtub when the kid is sleeping in the next room, and that pisses me off. I want someone to go Dr. Phil on Wilbur's ass and tell him to either kill himself right, or cut it the out. In such an unconventional family, I'd hope for a little more fighting, if only to snap up the action. (Katie Shimer) Hollywood Theatre
Chase away sultry images of women soaping each other up in the shower--this is a serious film. A rare glimpse into the Iranian prison system, the film follows the story of a woman who killed her violent stepfather, and her relationship with the warden. Guild Theater, Whitsell Auditorium
A fast-paced and over-the-top drama about a cosmetic counter girl who is trying to find calm in the storm of turmoil in the Phillipines. Guild Theater