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. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon, Mt. Hood Theater
3D Film Fest
Would you like to see how things are going to look... in the future?! The National Stereoscopic Association's annual 3D Exposition features a full day of films, all in futuristic 3D! Be moved by The Little Magician, about a little boy from India who moves to New York... in 3D! Be impressed by the the Cannes-included Sea Dream... in 3D! In the 1983 sci-fi film Spacehunter, Molly Ringwald plays "Niki the Twister"! Watch her twist... in 3D! Also, get ready for some gruesome teenager-slaying with Friday the 13th, Part III... or perhaps that should be Friday the 3Dth, Part 3D! Cinema 21
America's Heart and Soul
America's Heart and Soul is a coffee-table movie. From its generic, patronizing title to its sound-bite, human-interest-story segments, it is meant to be looked at, its images and basic ideas admired, but never really watched or studied. Disney's reintroduction to the documentary is a kind of catalog illustration of right-wing talking points, filled with all the best and coolest-sounding things about cute, plucky poor people who never let adversity get them down, and artists/hobbyists who perform the kinds of activities that appeal to the SUV crowd. Director Louis Schwartzberg never rests on one subject too long, giving the audience just enough time to register a brief, one-note colorization of each person. (Adam Hart) Fox Tower 10
* Animal House
Perhaps the only good thing to come out of Eugene besides Joey Harrington. (Joey Harrinton is the quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and everybody likes him!) Laurelhurst
Around the World in 80 Days
The only adults I can fathom wanting to watch this unfunny movie are masochistic Californians just dying to see their elected governor prance about in a hot tub and gaze lustily at pale French maids. The Jackie Chan action sequences are few and feel tacked-on, and the cheesy message about the evils of 19th-Century colonialism is cheerfully undermined by the xenophobia in the rest of the picture (the aforementioned Schwarzenegger plays a ditzy, polygamous Turkish prince whose most prized possession is a Rodin sculpture of himself). (Annie Wagner) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* The Black Shoe Drifter
A local independent film written by Clifford Olson about a man whose crappy life circumstances turn him to drugs and crime, which turn him into a homeless drifter. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Bloodsucking Redneck Vampires
What happens when you give a video camera to a couple of Oregonians with a frat-house sensibility for boring humor? I only wish it had been Girls Gone Wild; Bloodsucking Redneck Vampires. This film is excruciatingly slow, almost never funny, definitely never scary, and only marginally interesting (in the same way that sitting down for two hours and half-heartedly masturbating is interesting). It might be worth watching if you know the people who made it, but other than that, it's not worth anybody's time. (Though to the filmmakers' credit, the sound effect for the vampire bite is hilariously crunchy.) Fortunately for you (I guess), the premiere will be in a bar, so you have the option of getting completely shit-faced and unleashing years of repressed anger in a monsoon of cruel heckling. (Evan James) Sabala's Mt Tabor Theatre
* 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) Laurelhurst
Chronicles of Riddick
The good news? This sequel to Pitch Black is almost worth admission price for the set decoration and special effects alone. Geiger-inspired, the set, costumes and CG are sweeping affairs, loaded with tons of beautiful, interesting detail. Unfortunately, though, even effects can't make up for the fact that Vin Diesel sucks and the script is pure crap. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Coffee and Cigarettes
Based upon the existentialist's perennial props--coffee, cigarettes--it's easy to assume Coffee and Cigarettes will fulfill the circular non-aspirations of '90s slacker art films. A collection of black-and-white shorts directed by Jim Jarmusch (some of which were in fact filmed in the '80s and '90s), it follows a formula similar to his 1991 film A Night on Earth: concretize the mise en scene (here, conversation over coffee and cigarettes) and flow in the players, for a portfolio in character interaction and bare direction. It's a meditation on the extraordinary in the mundane--and, at first, it seems the emphasis is "mundane." But, starting with the short starring Tom Waits and Iggy Pop, magic starts to happen. As the scripts unloosen, tension between players becomes more genuine, recurring topics emerge, the magnetic pull of coffee and cigarettes is pondered, and the film attains a hypnotic shiplike sway. (Julianne Shepherd) Fox Tower 10
* The Control Room See review this issue. Cinema 21
Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story
A documentary about Shawn Nelson, an unemployed plumber, who in 1995 stole a tank from the army and ran amok through his suburb. Through interviews and archival military footage, the film recounts not only Nelson's surreal rampage, but also the personal and sociological conditions that allowed it to happen. Guild Theater
* The Day After Tomorrow
The Day After Tomorrow is a summer blockbuster--an all-purpose film, meant to entertain you and me and popcorn-huffing Middle Americans and apocalypse-watchers and the Jake Gyllenhaal Fan Club alike--and in the interim, hopefully earn back some of the 100 million clams it dropped on special-effecting the Empire State Building to freeze up and bend over. But that's just gravy. The Day After Tomorrow is, in actuality, a two-hour-long, stern visual memo from director Roland Emmerich to George W. Bush RE: his absentee environmental policies, and it couldn't be more awesome. Okay, it could be more awesome--but it's more interesting than you might expect. (Julianne Shepherd) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Happy Gilmore is the absurd story of an underdog beating a chumpy jock competitor, and the same goes for Dodgeball. In fact, these two movies share almost the exact same premise, some of the same actors, and predictably, some of the same jokes. Happy Gilmore, however, is just a little bit funnier. (Katie Shimer) 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) Cinemagic
* Fahrenheit 9/11
While Bush triple-bogies the Iraq situation, Michael Moore sinks a hole in one. City Center 12, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower 10, Milwaukie 3 Theater, Movies on TV, Tigard Cinemas, Wilsonville
Garfield: The Movie
Sure, this movie is bad, but maybe not as bad as you'd think. Bill Murray sounds great as Garfield, and amazingly, the script doesn't compromise on making him an asshole. He's self-centered and mean, and even has a couple pretty adult jokes. Now, if they had just fleshed Jon's (Breckin Meyer) relationship with Garfield into something substantial and not perfunctory for the insipid plot (which isn't worth relating, trust me), and if Jennifer Love Hewitt wasn't in the movie at all, and if there hadn't been a blatant product placement for Pepsi, Wendy's, and Ford Trucks in EVERY OTHER scene... why Garfield might almost have been slightly okay. (Justin Westcoat Sanders) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Hardcore fans insist that this original Japanese version of Godzilla (not the Anglicized version that featured a poorly-edited-in Raymond Burr) is a serious social commentary, a dark meditation upon the dangers of modern technology. They have a point, but it's an overstated one--when it comes down to it, the appeal of any Godzilla movie is watching a man in a cheap monster suit smash the shit out of miniature cardboard buildings. This re-release of the original Godzilla restores lost footage, boasts a new 35mm print, pretends Burr never lived, and has fresh translations and subtitles. More importantly, Godzilla's smashing of various shit looks better than ever--you name it, Godzilla smashes it, and it's awesome. (Erik Henriksen) Hollywood Theatre
* Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
First of all, how did the director of the super-hot hetero/homoerotic sex romp Y Tu Mamà Tambièn end up working the new Harry Potter pic? Though the producers' answers are standard press-junket fare--"works great with kids," "a visually exciting director"--the choice to bring Alfonso Cuaron aboard the Potter juggernaut was a risky and inspired move. Happily for all, it paid off with the strongest installment yet. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Regal Cinemas, etc.
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. (Erik Henriksen) Avalon
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 star... 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!" Aside from Mortenson, 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) Valley Theater
The Howlin' Wolf Story
Growling and rambling, Howlin' Wolf's music captured an entire murky Delta culture. Even after a thousand listens, "Back Door Man" and "Shake For Me" still have that bawdy hothouse allure. A remarkable montage of interviews, concert footage, and music clips piece together to form a comprehensive picture of Howlin' Wolf's early years. Presented by the Northwest Film Center as one of two entries in the "Reel Blues" portion of the Waterfront Blues Festival (also see Hubert Sumlin: Living the Blues below). Waterfront Park
Hubert Sumlin: Living the Blues
A documentary about blues and rock guitarist Hubert Sumlin, Living the Blues follows Sumlin's career and his role in the evolution of the blues, plus his collaborations with Howlin' Wolf. Presented by the Northwest Film Center as one of two entries in the "Reel Blues" part of the Waterfront Blues Festival. Waterfront Park
* Kill Bill Vol. 1
Unlike the meandering plots of Tarantino's previous films, Kill Bill is dead-on simple: Uma Thurman stars as "The Bride"--an assassin who's shot in the noggin on her wedding day by a band of killers sent out by her former boss, Bill. Unfortunately for the prop masters who had to come up with a kajillion gallons of fake blood, The Bride didn't die--and after snapping out of a coma, she commissions a samurai blade from a venerable sword-maker (Sonny Chiba) and sets off to slice and dice everyone who dared ruin her perfect day of wedded bliss. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Mission 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) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Kiggins Theater, Laurelhurst, Mission Theater, St. Johns Pub, Valley Theater
Life is so peaceful in a small town that the police station is about to go out of business... until the soon-to-be-unemployed cops start committing their own crimes! POW! Guild Theater
* Love Me If You Dare
A standout. A boy and girl grow to adulthood, bound together by an escalating game of dares. Will they consummate the romance that lies behind the game? Strikingly designed and shot, this film is by turns comedic, tense, and frightening. Inevitably reminiscent of Amèlie, but with a much darker worldview. (Mike Whybark) Fox Tower 10
* 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. (Emily Hall) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Kiggins Theater, Laurelhurst, Mt. Hood Theater, Valley Theater
* Monster Road See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater
* The Mother
May (Anne Reid) is a recently widowed, 65-year-old woman thrust into the exhausting suburban lives of her children. Lamenting the time she spent wasting away in bleak marital servitude, May advances into a dizzying, lusty affair with her daughter's boyfriend (Daniel Craig). A brief period of unrestrained sexual bliss proceeds, until her daughter discovers what's happening and grudgingly attempts to stuff May back into the comfortable, harmless role of "the mother," setting her up with a geriatric lameoid and urging her to move back to the country. Director Roger Michell takes risks that challenge the audience, addressing mortality, elderly sex, and the passage of time with a naked eye--themes that mainstream cinema usually sanitizes with heavy doses of oversimplified poetic spin. To its immense credit, The Mother handles these cultural taboos with visionary honesty, neither painting too rosy nor too revolutionary of a picture. (Evan James) Laurelhurst
Napoleon Dynamite See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
* Noi Albinoi See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre
The Notebook is based on a book by the biggest hackasaurus scribbling today, Nicholas Sparks. Directed by Nick Cassavettes (talentless son of supremely talented John Cassavettes), this film is utter bullshit--a weepy, obvious, and painfully unromantic romance. The anorexic story: Allie Nelson (Rachel McAdams) and Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling) meet cute, date cute, break-up not-so-cute, and re-unite cute. Along the way, there are stints in WWII, flings with widows, proposals from wealthy gentlemen, and family strife. And framing this bluster (since all romances following Titanic must have a frame)? A backstory involving an eldery man (James Garner) reading the tale of Allie and Noah to an Alzheimer's patient (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home. Ugh. (Bradley Steinbacher)Regal Cinemas, etc.
The Passion of the Christ
Jewish theologians have made a lot of hay 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) Valley Theater
* Rear Window
Unfortunately, Jimmy Stewart is best remembered--especially during the holiday season--as a saccharine chump. What should overshadow that role are his moody and wise-cracking characters that he played to perfection in Hitchcock films. Bed-ridden after an accident at the race track, Stewart finds solace spying on his neighbors. When he witnesses what he believes is a murder, he takes it upon himself to play Sherlock Holmes. His saucy and beautiful girlfriend (Grace Kelly) thinks he simply has a bad case of cabin fever. Surprisingly edgy and gripping, Rear Window is considered one of Hitchcock's greatest films. Pix Patisserie
This lighthearted flick is a teen comedy set, strangely enough, in a Southern Christian high school. And while one may assume these types of learning institutions are devoid of the standard public school cruelty, Saved! proves us wrong. After discovering her b-friend is G-A-Y, Mary (Jena Malone) turns to Jesus for help and decides that premarital sex is the answer to her prayers. However, not only does the boyfriend stay gay, Mary finds herself with a bun in her oven. Her pregnancy creates a divide between her Christian ethics and best friend, bitchy class queen Hilary Faye (Mandy Moore), who, after learning Mary's secret, sets out on a bitter path of destruction and revenge--all in the name of Christ, of course. (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Century Eastport 16, Pioneer Place Stadium 6
Scooby Doo 2
Scooby Doo 2 wasn't great, but it was strangely charming--charming enough that I don't feel like attacking it. It's just a kid's movie, after all, and to pick on it would feel like picking on an eight-year-old; Ruben, of American Idol fame makes a cameo, and that kind of makes me want to barf, but other than that it's a sappy, lesson-to-be-learned kid flick. (Megan Seling) Avalon, Edgefield, Kiggins Theater, Valley Theater
Shrek 2 can best be described with a shrug. As in: it's fine, no big deal, just what you would expect. It is a harmless home run--uninspired, for the most part (especially when compared to the original), but certainly watchable. This, I'm well aware, is not high praise, but then Shrek 2 is impervious to both praise and derision; safe and cozy thanks to the massive success of its predecessor, the film can just sit back and patiently tally what is sure to be its massive profit. (Bradley Steinbacher) Regal Cinemas, etc.
* Spider-Man 2 See review this issue. Regal Cinemas, etc.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring
The five seasons are governed by very different generic conventions--meaning it's entirely possible to enjoy one and abhor the next. The opening parable, "Summer," is successful, but the next two episodes (a coming-of-age vignette and a cop drama) come up short by comparison. Then "Winter"--by far the most successful segment, and the only full episode to feature director Kim Ki-duk as the main character--explodes into an astounding ode to labor and atonement. (Annie Wagner) Laurelhurst
The Stepford Wives
Sometimes a bad movie hits the spot. One that keeps you entertained despite the plot flaws and crappy acting with cool clothes or a funny sidekick. Not so with The Stepford Wives, a remake of the 1975 film that doesn't even have the courtesy to be diverting as it plummets to its failure. Joanna (Nicole Kidman) and her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick) move to Connecticut to escape the big city after Joanna loses her high-powered job and suffers a nervous breakdown. As they settle into their new town of Stepford, they notice that a few things are off. For instance, all the women are housewives and all the housewives are robots. "Hilarity" ensues. (Marjorie Skinner) City Center 12, Fox Tower 10
* Super Size Me
In an inspired bout of artistic commitment, Morgan Spurlock set aside a month during which he ate nothing but McDonald's. The effects of this endeavor were astounding. He put on 30 pounds in 30 days, suffered periods of intense chest pain, shortness of breath, and was told by multiple doctors that if he continued at his unorthodox eating he would die from liver failure within six months. As the movie progresses, a palpable sense of dread mounts, as Spurlock continues to stuff McNuggets and French fries in the face of terrible health reports. (Justin Sanders) Fox Tower 10
If you love food, Tampopo is one of the most erotically charged movies ever made. A Japanese cowboy/trucker who rolls into town and helps the lovely madame Tampopo create the perfect Ramen noodles. There is also an insanely sexy scene where a freaky couple plays tongue hockey with an egg yolk. (Katie Shimer) Blind Onion
Tom Hanks stars as Viktor Navorski, a traveler from the phantom country of Krakozhia who arrives at JFK airport only to discover that, while in the air, his country has fallen into revolution. Because of this, he is officially without a country--which means he must stay inside JFK until matters are settled, eking out a life among weary travelers while battling sloth-like bureaucracy. This is an intriguing premise, I suppose, but it has been thoroughly squandered by Spielberg and his over-eagerness to reach for the sugar. The intention from the outset may have been to capture that old Forrest Gump feeling (a dubious intention, to say the least); however, though The Terminal certainly achieves the raging ineptness of that film, it somehow feels far more insulting. (Bradley Steinbacher) 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 Rob Reiner. Fifth Avenue Cinemas
* 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) Kennedy School, Laurelhurst, St. Johns Pub
* 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) Laurelhurst
* Two Brothers
Jean-Jacques Annaud's great trick is to turn the essential, undeniable, heart-exploding adorability of two tiger cubs into the stuff of proper drama. Annaud handily pulls off that feat by making Sungha and Kumal distinct characters--one is timid and sweet, the other ferocious--and by suffusing their plight with emotions you can only call human. Because this is a movie about animals, he also supplies an endless array of scenes in which beasts suffer and die at the hands of men. And because the animals remind you of your sweet little housecat, you cry. But somewhere in there, you also become invested in the story, which is so primary as to be almost Greek, and is told with techniques so purely cinematic as to confirm the essential power of movies. (Sean Nelson) Regal Cinemas, etc.
Hugh Jackman plays Van Helsing, a long-haired Nancy-boy, who is paid by the Vatican to run around Europe and kill monsters, and who's eventually sent to Transylvania to kill Dracula. On his journey, he meets up with a sweet piece of ass (Kate Beckinsale) who also wants to kill Dracula because--surprise!--he killed her family. BUT! Unbeknownst to them, Drac has an evil scheme in mind! (Wm. Steven Humphrey) Avalon, Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Mt. Hood Theater, Valley Theater
* What the Fuck Do We Know?
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) Hollywood Theatre
The Wayans brothers protect the hotel-heiress Hilton--err, Wilson--sisters from a heinous kidnapping plot. Regal Cinemas, etc.